The forest of Wellwood, named so by its resident wood sprites, thrived in most seasons. The groundwater, unusually pure and untouched by human influence, fed the many trees and plants the health they needed for strong growth. Animals lived out their balanced lives as nature intended them to, with populations of predator and prey fluctuating in time with each other.
The wood sprites, keeping to themselves in the heart of the forest, had only learned in recent years that humans existed.
Humans. Huge giants that could grab a group of sprites in one hand with no effort at all. Whose boots could destroy the idyllic village where it lay in hiding.
After the revelation that giants existed, the sprites kept even more cautiously to themselves, knowing all too well the threat even one human could pose to their pacifist community. They had few defenses except for their seclusion, and no one was about to take that away.
Thankfully, the sprites did have some humans they could trust. Humans that they knew without a doubt would come to their aid if there was danger, and even risk their own safety to protect them. One such human was present in the forest in the early autumn. His orange hoodie went well with the turning leaves of the maple trees, but that was where his camouflage ended. Even knowing how to keep his footsteps light and generally avoid crashing loudly through the forest, Jacob Andris was big and hard to miss.
Bowman was sure to point this out as he drifted on lazy wings through a sunbeam. "Y'know, you keep telling me you can somehow sneak up on these monsters you fight with Dean," Bowman mused, absently catching a fallen leaf in his hands as he flew ahead of the strolling human. "But I'm just not convinced it's possible."
Jacob rolled his eyes and made a point to shuffle his boot through a small bunch of dry leaves. The forest was halfway through its transition to fall. Some of the trees were turning faster than others, marbling the canopy with greens and oranges and yellows. "Keep talking shit, Leafwing. What'll you do when all the leaves turn red and fall off?"
Bowman's wings didn't shift color along with the leaves they mimicked in appearance. They remained as verdant as ever even with the trees changing. Bowman sent Jacob a scowl over his shoulder and threw the leaf he'd caught, but it fluttered off course in the breeze. "I'll stick to the pine trees, human," he shot back.
Their banter often went that way. Despite their unceremonious first meeting, during which Jacob had pulled such charming stunts as grabbing Bowman out of the air and trapping him under a vase, a lot had happened since then. Jacob, learning to hunt the supernatural from Dean Winchester and his sprite-sized brother Sam, had made a mistake then; but Bowman had earned their loyalty now, helping the humans without prompting multiple times.
Especially after the fiasco with the trickster. Bowman left the forest behind for days to offer help. He'd gone through his own terrifying situations even as Jacob dealt with the reality of surviving at such a small size. Having been reduced to an inch and a half tall, Jacob truly appreciated everything that people like Bowman and Sam had to do every day just to stay safe. That trickster had done it to "teach him a lesson," and it stuck, in more ways than one.
Jacob's wounds had healed, but he still had deeper scars to deal with. The burn mark on his hand was nothing compared with the nightmarish memories that his mind still brought up on plenty of occasions. Thankfully, Jacob was getting a better handle on it. Being able to go on a few hunts like normal and visiting Wellwood in the meantime had helped.
Everything else, he kept to himself. The others didn't need to know about the bad days.
The strolls through the forest, with its cleaner air and vibrant colors, calmed him. Jacob looked up at a sky painted here and there with fluffy white clouds when the two of them emerged into a small clearing. Bowman zig-zagged back and forth in the air, letting himself enjoy the simple pleasure of sun on his wings.
"Don't overdo it, or you'll never get to sleep," Jacob warned with a laugh as Bowman wheeled around in the air.
In response, the sprite fluttered over to him and landed unabashedly on a shoulder. After the trials of the trickster, it always warmed Jacob's heart to be so trusted by his small friends.
Bowman flicked his wings in annoyance. "The sun goes down eventually. There's no such thing as overdoing photosynthesis!" While it wasn't strictly true, as a sprite could become incredibly sluggish, Bowman wasn't about to go into that. Satisfied that he'd told the human what was what, he fluttered off his shoulder again.
In time for a pop! to sound off and something to collide with Bowman from the side.
A net?! Bowman writhed against the bonds as they whipped around him and forced his wings to his sides. He fell in an arc and winded himself when he landed in the grass. He heard Jacob call his name in surprise, and then felt enormous human footsteps thundering in the ground.
More than one set of footsteps.
Bowman tried to wriggle around to see what was going on. A second human, one he didn't recognize, had rushed into the clearing. Jacob was taken by surprise by his sudden ambush, and fell to the ground with a crash that shook every blade of grass when the newcomer struck his head with the handle end of one of those 'gun' weapons Bowman had seen Dean use.
Jacob groaned in surprised pain, unable to do anything to stop the man as he stomped over to where Bowman had fallen. Everything had happened so quickly that Bowman was hardly surprised to find himself grabbed and yanked into the air so fast.
"You mountain of snakeskin, what do you want?! Let me out! " Bowman demanded when the man opened his palm before his face. Bowman was hopelessly trapped in the bundle of netting, but even so the man roughly pinned the willowy sprite to his palm with one thumb.
"Been hard at work already, I see," the man growled at him. "Seems it doesn't matter what kind of bug you are, you work your way into someone's head. Making this perfectly normal kid your plaything."
Bowman actually paused in his struggles to peer at the man. He was pale, but with slightly darker skin than Jacob's, leathery from lots of time in the sun. His cold eyes looked Bowman over with nothing but contempt and disgust. "What?!" Bowman asked incredulously.
"You can't fool me, bug," the man said in a lower voice, holding Bowman even closer to his face. "All of you sprites just want one thing, to cause trouble for us humans. You think you're better, but I'm here to prove you're not.”
That said, the man was content to ignore Bowman's further struggles and protests. He turned and stepped over where Jacob had fallen in shock, and retrieved a mid-sized duffel bag from where he'd hidden it in the trees. Bowman's heart fluttered in fear when huge fingers curled over him and sealed him in darkness. This human, this insane human, had somehow been waiting to ambush the pair of them. And for who knew how long?
Jacob, still on the ground, was dazed from the strike to his head. Even with all his training with Dean, he wasn't much use against an ambush. He didn't even have a weapon out here; he'd never anticipated finding a threatening human in the woods.
He could hear Bowman protesting as loudly as his voice allowed, even through what Jacob recognized as a closed fist. He'd been the first one to ever trap Bowman in a hand that way, after all.
Jacob winced, his vision still swimming from the strike, but managed to drag a phone out of his pocket while the man busied himself with something in his bag. He couldn't risk taking this guy on by himself. Not unarmed. Jacob flipped open the beat up old phone and started texting as fast as he could manage.
trouble. wellwood. 1 human maybe hunter was what he managed to scrawl out before desperately pressing SEND. Their assailant was coming back for him.
Jacob was dragged upright by a tight grip on his hoodie. He heard the man say something that sounded like "It's a pity it already got into your head. Can't let you go running off warning the little bug bastards, kid." But it didn't seem quite right.
What got into my head Jacob wanted to ask. But the harsh sound of duct tape tearing filled his ears right before it was shoved over his mouth, preventing him from telling the man he was off his rocker. Jacob, only still coming out of his daze, was easy for the bulky human to drag over to one of the thinner maple trees at the edge of the small clearing.
As he was moving, Jacob saw something that filled him immediately with rage. Bowman was still struggling in the strange net that had flown at him from out of the clearing, but his wriggling form had been dropped to the floor of a sparse metal cage. It looked like a rabbit trap.
Jacob knew exactly what it was like to be that helpless. He struggled against his attacker, but though he was quite strong, he wasn't clearing his head quickly enough. His wrists were tied behind the trunk, and he found himself secured to the young tree with strong ropes. Jacob glared at the man as he stood up to his full height and looked over his work.
The attacker smirked, satisfied, and easily sidestepped Jacob's attempt to kick his feet out from under him. He walked back over to the cage where he'd left it and nudged it with a boot, tipping the whole thing over. Bowman landed on the side but kept up his struggles.
"What do you blasted want?!" Bowman yelled while the human snickered at his plight. Even if he broke free of that netting, he'd still be hopelessly stuck in a cage. Bowman hated cages.
"Justice, you insect," the man spat. "Sprites like you are out here roaming free when you should be locked up. If no one else will do it, then I'll be the man for the job, and I'm not gonna quit 'til you're dealt with one way or another. Every last one."
“Aw, c’mon. I dare you.”
Sam shot a glare up at his older brother, then stared down at the lemon that was sitting on the side of his plate. They were in a corner booth of a bar, having a drink together-- as much as they could, considering Sam was only four inches tall and it was dangerous for him to be spotted by anyone else at the bar.
Sam shrugged. “Fine. But if I do it, I get to be in charge of the radio the next time we drive.”
Dean pursed his lips. “Deal,” he declared, holding out a hand to seal it.
Sam hid a smile, reaching out to ‘shake’ with Dean. With Dean standing over six feet tall, that one hand could completely envelop him in a fist. Yet he didn’t flinch as a finger and a thumb the size of his body closed around his small arm in a pantomime of a handshake, as close as they could ever come with their size disparity.
Sam took his hand back and eyed up the lemon Dean had got off the waitress with his Corona. It was the only way to drink one, he’d declared with a grin in her direction. Now, it was Sam’s opponent. He was supposed to take a bite, a real bite of it without gagging.
Sam had faith he’d be fine.
Sam lifted a small piece of the lemon, a bubble of fruit that contained the juice and skin he’d be ‘enjoying’ in a few seconds. He took a deep breath, going to…
A guitar riff cut through the air, startling both brothers. Dean instinctively flinched a hand over Sam, blocking the smaller hunter from sight as he realized what had gone off.
Sam got a breather before he had to go through with his dare as Dean fumbled the phone out.
“Got a message,” the hunter mumbled as he unlocked the phone. “It’s from Jacob.”
Sam came to the edge, peering at the device held in his brother’s huge hand. His blood froze at the message as it scrolled onto the screen.
trouble. wellwood. 1 human maybe hunter.
The two brothers shared a look, the lemon in Sam’s hands forgotten as it sunk in. Humans. In the Wellwood forest, where an entire civilization of small sprites waited, defenseless. Even if it wasn’t a hunter, news like this could spell disaster for the peaceful village, and maybe for more sprites across the world if word got out about them. Even Sam’s people might get affected, if humans suddenly started searching for signs of smaller people.
Sam was already climbing up Dean’s arm to get to his pocket hiding spot as the hunter yelled out “Check, please!” in a voice edged with determination.