You'll never see your brother again… this time I'll make sure of it.
The eerie, hollow voice of an owl echoed in the cool night air.
Tears ran grimy streaks down Sam’s cheeks. He huddled against the trunk of a tree, trying to hide as far back in the shadows as he could. His terrified silence was only broken by the occasional sob.
Every shadow that crossed his line of sight sent a jagged spike of icy fear up his back. Leaves wafted in an invisible breeze, an idyllic, innocent scene rendered foreboding by his current circumstances.
He didn’t know exactly how big he was, but he definitely wasn’t the size he’d been before the attack. That, or the world around him wasn't the one he remembered, with its towering shadows looking like they could swallow him up.
A leaf fluttered down from the canopy above. It landed next to Sam, rustling gently in the air. The leaf alone was broad enough to block him from sight.
Young shoots of grass poking up out of the dirt were taller than he was.
Where am I?!
With shaking, hesitant hands, Sam gripped the edge of the leaf tight and pulled it close. A cry hiccuped in his chest.
The green leaf formed a canopy of his own over his head. Sam scrunched back against the thick bark, using his leaf as a makeshift tent to hide from the sight of any nearby predators. A strident breeze tried to pull it from his grasp, but he persevered. White knuckles clenched tight.
Those animals lurking out in the forest were huge. He couldn’t even risk getting up to see where he was.
The owl hooted once more and Sam shut his eyes.
Dean, where are you?
Morning came and the sun found Sam still huddled under his leaf.
He’d long since drifted into an uneasy slumber, often disrupted by the painful yowling of his stomach. Long hours stretched out since he'd awoken in the distorted, dark forest. All that kept the leaf in place, shielding him from the bizarre sight of the world around him, was a small arm draped loosely around the stem. The morning air was still, and no errant breeze lurked around the corner to snatch his shelter away.
Sunlight replaced darkness, and it was almost enough to convince Sam that things were looking up as he slid in and out of an uneasy sleep.
A snuffling came from close by, unnoticed by the tiny ten year old who would be lucky to reach two and a half inches in height.
The patter of feet slowly approached the leafy tent, and a nose pushed against the leaf and snuffled curiously at the unknown scents that clung to the human boy. The morning dew that had collected on the leaf started to run together, forming a drop the size of Sam’s hand.
Another nudge against the leaf, and the drop fell on Sam’s head, splashing him back into the waking world.
He gasped, spluttering as he wiped off his eyes. The stem he was clutching to overnight fell away, making the animal beyond back away for a second, then sniff curiously at the strange scent that clung to it.
Sam found himself staring into the dark eyes of a squirrel that could knock over an elephant, and gave a yelp of fear, desperately scrambling for his knife.
There were no signs of trouble that morning, but Scar Wolfblind decided to fly out for a short patrol anyway. The restlessness that always pervaded him wouldn’t let him stay in the village, and he had long since learned to trust in his gut feelings. He didn’t get his position as the High Knight by counting pine needles.
With his rapier strapped at his side and a confidence in fighting unmatched by anyone in Wellwood, he set off from the cottonwood treepalace. The other knights could have their training without his guidance for one day.
Few sprites dared fly past the patrol borders. The speedy patrolsprites kept an excellent watch on the forest around the village, alerting the wood sprites of Wellwood when any danger appeared. Their vigilance ensured the knights could ready themselves if a wolf or fox wandered too close. Those who needed to could hide away in their homes while the knights dealt with the threat.
Scar glided right past the borders. The wind in his face and the sun on his wings tried to put a sense of serenity and ease in him, but Scar wasn’t fooled. Even as he enjoyed his forest home, he stayed watchful and keen.
It proved to be a good thing.
Not even a mile from the village, Scar heard a cry of fear. It didn’t come from any animal he knew. It sounded like a sprite, and the terror in that voice sent adrenaline surging through him like a flooding stream while he looked around desperately for them. Pictures of a patrolsprite chased and hurt by a bird filled his mind, and Scar wouldn’t let them come to any further harm if he could help it.
The angry chatters of a squirrel drew his attention. Scar narrowed his eyes at the beast. Its tail fluffed out and twitched endlessly, and the overlarge rodent crept towards a cleft between two tree roots. Squirrels weren’t overly aggressive by nature, but they were omnivorous and filthy opportunists. No matter what had injured its quarry, that squirrel would still tear into it like a fallen baby bird.
Scar couldn’t see the poor sprite cornered in there, but it didn’t matter. With a confident cry, he drew his rapier and dove.
The squirrel turned towards him in surprise when his boots hit the ground, but Scar didn’t give it time to get its bearings. The best way to deal with scavengers, Scar had found, was to make it abundantly clear that it wasn’t worth the trouble.
He lunged forward and, rather than drive the weapon towards the heart of the beast, slashed the blade along its front flank. Cuts antagonized the opponent, and left them with a more impressive reminder. Even with his stalwart attitude against anything that might harm a sprite, Scar didn’t want to kill what he didn’t have to.
His strategy paid off. The squirrel gave a hissing chatter and scrambled back, nursing its hurt leg. Scar’s leafy green wings flared up behind him in triumph and he held his sword at the ready. The rodent chattered in frustration and scampered away.
Scar gave a short bark of a laugh before wiping the blade of his sword on a nearby stalk of grass and returning it to his belt. “That’s a lesson you don’t want twice,” he called after the squirrel.
That done, he turned towards the tree to check on the poor soul cornered there, and froze. Scar blinked rapidly at the sight, wondering for a moment if his eyes were playing tricks on him. He’d never seen a person like the boy huddled in fear.
It was a child, with very pale skin and no wings to be seen.
Scar’s brow furrowed and he stepped forward and crouched a few inches in front of the boy. At the moment, it didn't matter how odd the boy looked. He was alone and wingless out here, and he needed help. "Child,” he said in a much softer voice, “are you hurt?”
Sam sniffled, trying to scramble back against the tree. He rubbed the tears clumsily from his eyes with his one hand, and the other was clutched desperately around his silver knife. It wasn’t much for protection against an animal as big as that squirrel had been, but it gave him a connection to his older brother that he didn’t want to lose.
Now more than ever.
The strange man standing in front of him had saved him. But he had wings, and didn’t look like any person Sam had ever heard of. Fear clutched at his chest.
He’d been saved from a squirrel.
“I’m n-not hurt,” Sam managed to stutter out, clutching his knife to his chest. “W-what… are you?” His big hazel eyes were wide. He was all alone in a huge, towering forest.
Dean was gone.
John was gone.
“I don’t know where I am!” Sam said, unable to hold it in anymore. The tears overcame him again as the rising emotion over losing his family started to take over again. It was a tidal wave and he was caught in the current. “I want my big brother!”
Scar frowned deeper. From the looks of things, the kid had been out here all night. A glance over his clothes revealed that he wore nothing like what the sprites did. There were many pockets, for one thing, and the shoes were made of materials that Scar couldn't even name. The blade in the child's hand shone far brighter than any metal Scar had ever seen.
The thought of another boy out here on his own sent a desperate pang through his heart. Scar scooted forward slowly, opening his wings gently to block the view of the big world behind him while the boy cried. "Hush, boy," he said gently. "We'll find him. You're in Wellwood, and we have many patrolsprites that can help look for him."
Scar didn't want to crowd the kid any more, especially while he held that knife, so he waited patiently. He didn't know what the kid was, and it was clear the kid didn't recognize what Scar was either, so he wasn't some kind of sprite.
It didn't matter. He needed safety and he simply wouldn't find it out here without any wings and only a little knife to defend himself.
Scar tilted his head to catch the boy's eye and try to offer him a faint smile. "My name is Scar. I am a wood sprite knight of Wellwood, and I want to help you. What's your name?"
Sam tried to scrub the tears from his eyes, but his chest wouldn’t stop heaving. He hiccuped as he tried to bring himself under control again. Chick flick moments, Sammy, Dean’s voice teased in the back of his head and he sucked in a gasp of breath, using that voice as an anchor. Your life is one big chick flick moment right now.
“M-my name’s Sam,” Sam introduced himself shyly as his breathing started to calm down. He lowered the knife down, but didn’t let up his tight grip. “I’m traveling with Dad and Dean, but I think… I think something w-went wrong.” Tears leaked out of his eyes against his will all over again, and he couldn’t stifle them. “Squirrels aren’t supposed to be so big, and the trees, and a leaf’s bigger than me!”
Scar hummed thoughtfully. He couldn't quite make sense of what Sam told him, try as he might. The only thing he could glean was that the boy's family was out there somewhere, most likely searching frantically for him. Scar would do what he could to make sure Sam was safe until they could figure everything out.
"Hey," he whispered, scooting forward a little more and closing the distance with Sam. "Come here." His rough voice was as gentle as he could make it, and he reached out to take Sam's small shoulders in his hands. Ever watchful of the knife, Scar drew Sam into a gentle embrace, shifting his wings around like a leafy green cocoon around the sobbing child. He might not be a wood sprite, but he was still just a nestling, lost and separated from his family. Scar hummed quietly for a few seconds.
"It'll be alright, Sam. We will find them," he said with a quiet conviction. Then, he released Sam from his hug so he could look him in those teary hazel eyes. "For now, do you want to get inside where it's safe? You can have something to eat and tell us the whole story so we know who to look for. Okay?"
Sam nodded mutely, glad for the warm embrace. The night had stolen away any warmth in his body, even with the jacket and jeans he wore covering him. The only part of him that might have any heat left was his feet, snug in the leather boots his father had provided him and Dean with.
With a shaking hand, Sam tried to put his knife back in the sheath he kept hidden in his jacket. It was part and parcel of the present Dean had crafted for him earlier on in the year, making the silver knife to guard his little brother against the dark creatures that lurked in the dark.
Sam had never imagined he’d need to use it to defend his life so soon, and not for what it was made to combat.
Silver was the weapon of choice against werewolves, shapeshifters, and revenants. He’d learned that when he’d snitched their dad’s journal out from under Dean’s pillow. That knowledge was what compelled Dean to make Sam a weapon of his own to defend himself with. The younger boy had feared what was out there in the night, and still hated to think that they might lose their father to one of those monsters.
Yet here he was, brandishing his knife against a squirrel.
Sam wrapped his arms around his chest, shivering a little in the early morning air. He blinked hazily up at Scar. “Where will we go? Is it far?”
Scar twisted around and pointed towards the village, though it wasn't visible from this distance. "Not a mile in that direction," he explained. "The animals won't bother you there. I and the other knights will make sure you're safe." He turned back to meet Sam's frightened gaze. He knew the next proposition might worry the boy, seeing as he had no wings.
"I think it'd be best to fly there. If you hang onto me, I will make sure you don't fall and we will be there in just minutes. The sooner we get there and explain, the sooner I can send other sprites out looking for your brother."
Sam looked at where he was pointing, and squinted at the distance. A light morning fog hazed the farther trees, obscuring anything from standing out in his view. A question nagged at him.
How far is a mile?
If a squirrel was so big… what if everything else had changed with it? A mile would be a lot further away if he was smaller than a squirrel.
To keep his mind off of the disturbing thoughts that threatened his recently recovered composure, Sam tried to focus on the second part of Scar’s statement. “Dean’s afraid of heights,” he supplied. “I don’t think he’ll like it very much if he has to fly. He always tries to hide it around Dad, but I can always tell.”
Scar smiled faintly. If Sam's brother Dean was similarly wingless, it didn't surprise him in the least that the kid was afraid of heights. He couldn't wrap his mind around living one's whole life flightless at their size, but then again there were sprites like that out there.
"Well, Sam, I hope you aren't so afraid of heights. Perhaps once we've found him you'll have to teach him how to fly with a sprite." He glanced up and around, his wings twitching as he felt the wind. At least it wasn't a windy day to impede his ability to carry some extra weight around.
He ducked down a little more in his crouch and gestured to Sam to approach him. "Arms around my neck would work best, if you're ready to try."
“Okay,” Sam said. Any hesitation in him was washed away by the memory of the squirrel that had attacked not so long ago. He didn’t know where he was or what was going on, but he knew it was important to get somewhere safe to regroup and figure out what was going on. And hopefully find out what had happened to Dean.
This time I’ll make sure of it.
Sam shook his head to dispel the frighteningly ecstatic voice that had shrieked right as he blacked out.
He would find Dean.