The beating of the drums beckoned her from the safety of the trees. The promise of dancing and chilling songs was far too much for her to resist. It wasn’t as if they would notice another body joining in the dance. They wouldn’t be watching her feet either so they would not know what she really was.
This group of people was new to the area. She knew all of the tribes that lived within the territory and most of them knew how to banish her from their celebrations. If they just let her dance, they would not lose so many good warriors to the woods. Dancing was her life’s joy, ranked just behind the raising of her daughters and their offspring. But dancing remained even as her daughters sought safer wood to lay roots.
With so many human encroaching upon the area, the woods were shrinking and the animals were moving. But this was her home; she had been born among these trees and had grown as tall and as confident as they had. She would not leave. She would die with these woods.
But she would die doing what she loved and not in fear.
Her muscles tensed as she waited for the right moment to slip into the group dancing around the flames. The beat of her heart matched that of the drums as she joined the throng. It was a new dance but she had always been a quick learner. No one questioned her presence, not when her dark hair and tanned skin fit right in. They were too busy dancing to honor whatever even they wished to honor and enjoying themselves.
Women took her hand without fear or disgust, filling her spirit with warmth. It did not matter that she was not truly mortal or that they did not know that she wasn’t yet, the dance connected them all. An idle wish for it to always be like this crossed her mind before being chased away by the quickening beat of the drums.
Pounding feet and bodies twirling in time with the beat were the things that had made her addicted to the dance. Deer women were all attracted to the dance, it was in their nature. Yet, none of her daughters ever sought it out so much as she did. If they could join, they would not hesitate, but she traveled from village to village hoping for a chance to dance. When the mortals had banished her from the dance, her anger got the best of her and a warrior was taken to father her next daughter before he lost his life.
Pushing such negative thoughts aside, she focused on the drums and the warmth of the fire that acted as their centerpiece. While her spirit soared, her soft brown eyes slid open only to lock gazes with a young child. He was not yet old enough to keep up with the dance but he was allowed to watch and he was staring at her with the weirdest look on his face. Her heart dropped to her stomach when his gaze went to her hooved feet and she was caught between her need to flee and her addiction to dance.
The other dancers continued around her while she stared back at the child. Usually it was an adult that would eventually figure out what she was and then she would be unable to dance with that group any longer but this was a child. Could she continue and hope that no one would believe the fanciful stories of a young boy?
When the child stood, she couldn’t breathe. Was she going to be ousted now? Much to her confusion, he did not move forward nor did he move to one of the adults that were watching the dancers still. Her presence was looked over by all except for this one child.
Instead of revealing her existence, the child only stomped his feet. It was the most bizarre reaction that she had ever received and her brow furrowed with her confusion. The truth of what he was trying to do only dawned on her when he stomped his feet again and then did a little spin that earned him amused laughter from the adults around him.
He was telling her to continue dancing.
No one had ever done that.
Not one to spit upon such fortune, even fortune in the form of a small child, she smiled brilliantly at the boy. Giving a small stomp of her own in response, she threw herself more readily into the dancing group. Even if she was one day barred from dancing here, this would be one village that would never feel her wrath.
It would be her way of returning the kind understanding of the one small child.
I’m trying to crack down more on myself to get the last twelve of these creatures out. I know I’m well over a month late for the finishing date but I will continue!
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