She was weak when she signed it. She didn’t know if they could
kill her, and they didn’t know whether she could die. It was
put together as hastily as they could, and, looking back,
flawed as a result. Nobody could have known the consequences
then; they had had the upper hand for a moment, and they did
what they thought was best. The pact was signed willingly by
The tributes started small, and her reciprocity was seen as
goodwill– rewards seen as marking one aspect of the journey to
adulthood. A coin, a toy, a banknote… trifles to an adult,
but to a child? Magical. Enticing. A tale of wonder to relate
to friends. But then they do it, too. After all… when they
fall out, what do you do with them? Where’s the harm in a
little trade? Fairies are all sweetness and magic, aren’t they?
There are none alive who remember her reign, and and she is
content with the long game… for now. A few more generations
and nobody will remember the slightest scrap of her story. Her
long memory, and the carelessness of the keepers of tales have
served her well: no text survives with the accounts of the
witnesses, nor the illuminations which required such a great
deal of red ink, and drawn with shaking, fearful hands.
Drawings of mouths, wrenched open… and empty. She was far
less subtle then, and could afford to be.
Of course, she can’t use them all. Many are unsuitable, and
most lack roots. Some are rotted to the center, or are filled
with noxious metal. And they’re all smaller, now. But soon,
she’ll have enough. A new generation will will wake to find
that wicked, wide smile before them… and will learn that
fairy tales rarely have happy endings.