“Why are you hiding behind me? What did you do?”
This one was fun. Way too much fun.
Visiting the village of Wellwood had become something Jacob looked forward to with every opportunity that arose. Long weekends off school or extra time off from his odd jobs almost guaranteed he would make the drive back to the forest that no one else seemed to realized contained a secret. Far beyond the campgrounds and the fence, Jacob made his way towards the idyllic village tucked away in the heart of the woods.
Out there surrounded by the green and gold of the canopy and the earthy tones of the tree trunks and the ground under his boots, Jacob felt the stress falling away. Out here, the most he had to worry about was stepping on slick mud and losing his footing.
The closer he came to his destination, the more he watched where he walked. If someone was wandering outside the village, he didn’t want to risk stepping on them. The sprites were smaller than his hand.
Wings or not, they were vulnerable when he was around, and he didn’t plan to betray the trust they’d placed in him years ago.
The gentle sound of water coursing through the stream ahead signalled that he was close. The village came into view not long after, small homes grown right onto the branches and trunks of a cluster of pine trees. The water in the stream glinted cheerily, and beyond the pines there was a sunny, round clearing. The village of Wellwood seemed to greet Jacob like a long-wandering resident.
He grinned at the sight, pausing on the other side of the stream. Sprites going about their business flitting among the trees or playing on the ground by the trees spared him quick glances.
He scanned the area for Bowman Leafwing, his best friend among the wood sprites of Wellwood. When he spotted the little guy, he didn’t expect him to hurtle right for him.
Jacob flinched back as Bowman speedily closed the distance between them, only to swerve to the side and angle around him. Jacob tensed, but didn’t twist around to see what the sprite was up to. He felt the faintest weight on the hood of his jacket as Bowman alighted there.
Jacob smirked. “Why are you hiding behind me? What did you do?”
“Nothing at all!” Bowman groused in his usual mock-annoyed way. “Shut up!”
Jacob complied, but he couldn’t remove the grin on his face. He stood there at the edge of the village while other sprites Bowman’s age finally caught up and spotted him there. They paused, hovering, and Jacob waved at them.
One of them, a girl with pastel green hair and tattoos inked into her arm, flipped her hair over her shoulder. “Imagine that, it’s Jacob. Just hanging around, human?” she called, leading the others towards him.
Jacob nodded. “That’s right, Jiria. Just enjoying the view of the village from here. How have you been?”
Jiria smirked knowingly and shrugged in midair. “Cannot complain, Jacob, I cannot complain. For the most part. Say, have you seen Bowman since you arrived?”
Jacob snickered. “As a matter of fact, I have seen Bowman,” he said. He knew without a doubt that, even if Bowman missed Jiria’s question, he couldn’t have missed the answer.
And, as predicted, Bowman couldn’t hold in a complaint. “Jacob! What are you blasted doing?”
There was a tug on his hood and a flutter, and Jacob finally laughed. A squirming followed, and he didn’t move. “Bowman’s … in my hood.”
Jiria snickered along with the others that had been trying to race Bowman through the trees. “Well, you just stay right there. We’ll get him out.”
“Jacob, you’re a traitor!” Bowman called, his voice muffled by the hood. Even his griping couldn’t cover up the smirk in his voice. “You didn’t even try!”
“But this was more fun,” Jacob retorted, even as the other sprites darted around him to converge on his hood.