Just a Faerietale
There was no way this was happening. According to all the stories Maeve had ever read or been told, they were just stories. This... being standing in front of her was just a story.
The old book of faerietales her mom kept in the family bookshelf was filled to the brim with terrors like them. Looming creatures with far too few teeth and too much fur. Lumbering about in spaces they did not belong, trying to take nature for themselves. Every faerietales Maeve had ever read about them was punctuated with a simple moral lesson: don’t poke around in places you don’t belong. Because that’s all that these creatures did. Poke around where they didn’t belong and hurt beings like her. They took whatever they wanted from the world around them and left those like her to clean up their messes and suffer the consequences
When Maeve disobeyed her mother and went to the edge of the forest that one time as a child, she had thought that she had seen them. Or, their homes at least. Great edifices made of stone and wood, imposing in the clearing. Maeve could have sworn she heard the high-pitched squeals of their children, emanating from within the structure. The entire experience was terrifying and she never again asked why her mother called her away from the forest’s edge.
Her mother... what would her mother say when she told her that those nightmarish creatures were real? Maeve’s mother has spent so many years consoling her after nightmares and ghostly horror stories told by her friends, holding her and swearing to her that these ugly creatures were just figments of a child’s overactive imagination. They weren’t real and weren’t going to hurt her.
Yet, here Maeve was, standing face to face (or face to stomach) with this horrifying being from every childhood night-terror, looking exactly like her book of faerietales described. Furry face and fuzzy limbs, hulking body, an axe in hand. Maeve eyed that axe warily. Obviously, the stories had gotten more correct than just his appearance. This creature was looking in places he didn’t belong, taking them for himself.
Maeve trembled all the way to her bones, waiting for the moment he turned his axe on her. But the creature didn’t seem to take any notice of her, and for once Maeve was grateful for her ability to go unnoticed by those around her.
The creature stared past her, to the tree she had just been picking apples from, and turned his axe to it.
Maeve threw herself to the side and watched through shaking fingers as the creature hacked away a branch of the apple tree, not caring that the way he had cut into the tree would likely leave it dead before long. He just took his find and lumbered off through the underbrush, leaving a trail of broken branches and upturned forest floor in his wake.
Maeve waited till he was long gone before standing up on unsteady legs and staring at the place the creature had disappeared through. If not for the disrupted forest, Maeve might have believed she had made the whole experience up. But there it was. And there she was, the first faerie with definite proof that humans were very real and very dangerous.