Thunder rumbled through Aiofe's dreams, breaking into the sweet moment she shared with a faceless knight. She turned away from the blond-haired man, glancing behind her into the blackness that surrounded them as the intensity of the storm picked up. The thunder boomed, going from a gentle roar into a fierce pounding.
"Aiofe, wake up! We have to go."
The red-headed faery hunter opened her eyes and blinked into the darkness of her bedroom. She was sleeping on her side and she could see a bright swath of light streaming under the door from the hall. The pounding continued until she rolled herself out of bed and stumbled to the door.
"What?" she grumbled as she threw it open, shielding her eyes with one hand.
Her grandfather was standing on the other side, fully dressed in his hunting gear and holding a bow. He thrust it toward her. "Take this. And get dressed quickly. An emerald sprite was spotted two towns over. We need to get moving if we want to find it."
Aiofe groaned and snatched the bow, letting her arm drop with the weight of it. "It'll take us an hour to get there. The sprite will be long gone by then." She closed her eyes and sighed as she propped herself against the door frame, letting her head settle against the wood.
"Aiofe, come on." Aloysius shook his granddaughter's shoulder gently but firmly. "David is tracking it, but he can't handle it on his own. Martin is out of town and he needs our help. Hurry up."
Her grandfather's voice held an edge to it as he commanded her to get dressed. With an sleepy glare, Aiofe slammed the door in his face. Stalking to the dresser, she tossed the bow on the bed as she walked by. Dressing quickly, she pull on a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved t-shirt. After yanking socks onto her bare feet, she snatched an elastic band from the top of the dresser and pulled her hair back into a sloppy bun. A glint of metal caught her eye, the locket her grandparents had given her recently. She picked it up, examining the exquisite detail before hooking it around her neck and tucking it into her shirt. She glanced quickly into the mirror. David would see her like this, without makeup, a tired mess. Growling, she grabbed the bow off the bed and threw the door open.
The hallway was empty and she could hear muffled voices coming from the kitchen. Clomping down the stairs, she found her grandparents talking near the door. Her grandmother was fussing about, filling two thermoses with steaming coffee and packing a small cooler with quick breakfast items. Aiofe ignored the look her grandfather gave her and headed into the mud room. After slipping on her leather jacket, she plopped herself on the bench and pulled on her boots. They were still caked with dirt and she stomped her feet, leaving a crumbled mess of dried mud on the floor. Aiofe stared at it. Her grandmother would have to clean it up later. For the briefest of moments, guilt threatened to overtake her and she looked for the broom, but her grandfather entered, saving her the trouble.
"Ready?" He was carrying a thermos of coffee and had the cooler draped over his shoulder. A bowie knife was sheathed at his hip, along with a pistol. He was wearing a leather harness that was filled with extra ammo and other items they might need.
Opening a cabinet behind her, Aiofe pulled out a quiver full of arrows. Each arrow was tipped with iron. She slung it over her shoulder and reached for a belt. Attached to the belt was another bowie knife, as well as a handgun and two pouches filled with bullets. She strapped it on and turned around.
Picking up the bow that she had set on the bench, she nodded. "Ready."
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