marched intently through the deep, dark forest. She
kept to the faery roads, hoping that the Sidhe of Elfame would
know the whereabouts of her friends. But even from the safety of
the trail she could feel a thick, ominous presence nearby that
perturbed her terribly.
further, Lianna began hearing ghostly moans coming from beyond the
path. She looked in their direction to see strange lights dancing
between the trees, casting sinister shadows on the surrounding
woods. They bore a strong resemblance to Will o’ the Wisp, but Lianna’s premonitions were seldom wrong and she knew them to be
tricksters. Peering through the darkness, she saw more lights
farther off, all of which seemed to flow towards one destination.
this most peculiar, Lianna decided to follow the spectral
procession, trusting in her faery sight to guide her. She strayed
deeper and deeper into the forest, towards an eerie glow in the
distance. It emanated from a remote clearing, and what she saw
there left her too scared to scream.
of tricksters poured in from all sides, intersecting at a single
nucleus in the center. It was overflowing with them; to the point
that as new tricksters flooded in from outside, some were pushed
back into the forest through outgoing streams. They illuminated
the glade with their radiance, distorting the bark of the trees to
look like grotesque fiends. The core itself was enclosed in an
astral membrane. It was not unlike the barrier that Keramis had
disappeared into, so she reasoned it to be a gateway into the Land
amidst the sea of tricksters was the form of a large, dead tree
wound with a sturdy chain that extended a ways away from the
trunk, and to which was shackled a humanoid being. He reminded her
of a satyr, for he had hoofed feet and a pair of branching antlers
growing out from under his disheveled hair. But the aura he
emitted was so potent that she knew he was infinitely more
powerful than a simple satyr; it was more akin to a god’s. He
paced restlessly around the gnarled tree; sometimes charging it
with his horns, other times snarling erratically at the air. But
the tree was stronger than it appeared.
his reach stood a chunk of black crystal as tall as Lianna,
pulsating with darkness. The moment she caught sight of it, she
knew it to be the source of the gloom that led her here. The
god-like being whirled about wildly to face her, his eyes locking
straight onto hers. Their intense gaze pierced straight to her
soul, for though they burned with sheer ire, she could sense an
untamed beauty inside them. The tricksters flared forebodingly,
changing into menacing shapes that threatened to lunge out at her
through the barrier.
was then that Lianna realized that the host of tricksters and the
antlered man were all guarding the dark crystal. Even with faery
sight and a strong will, fighting hundreds upon hundreds of
tricksters in their own realm would surely overwhelm her. And even
if she could get past them, she stood no chance against the
tempestuous god. Lianna slowly backed out of the clearing and
retraced her steps to the faery path. She had to get help.
and Keramis awoke on the floor of a damp cave to the sound of a
muffled melody being hummed from deeper in the grotto. It echoed
throughout the caverns, blending with the dripping of water.
Tricksters hung here and there from the ceiling like bats, glaring
at them with beady little eyes.
was quick to notice the female figure in the adjoining alcove. She
was kneeling beside a pool of water, leisurely stirring the liquid
while gazing into its murky depths. The girl ceased humming and
raised her head. Shakily, she got to her feet and staggered over
to the elves, tripping over a rock along the way and settling in a
crouch next to them. She clasped her hands over her face and began
to rock back and forth, giggling inanely.
are you?” Keramis stared at her in fascination.
girl stopped rocking and parted her fingers to look up at him, her
eyes like dark voids. “Sylvia,” she answered in a hoarse
was pale as a corpse, except for the dark circles under her eyes,
and her lips were of a deathly blue tint. Her hair was pitch
black, unkempt, and stuck out like coarse wires. She wore a ragged
gray dress and no shoes. Overall, Sylvia gave the impression of
someone who had stared at the living ceiling for far longer than
turn,” her eyes darted between Keramis and Raven.
am Keramis,” he introduced himself, “Fifth rank of the North
Raven muttered, “First rank of the North Forest.”
are sons of the Dragon doing in these woods?” she smirked.
are going to the Forestside Kingdom,” Keramis replied.
threw her head back in manic laughter that soon turned into a
coughing fit. For a split-second, Raven thought he glimpsed little
lights between her teeth.
that?” he inquired, pointing an unsteady finger at her mouth.
coughing became a series of retching and choking, which worried
the two elves until Sylvia reached down into her throat and slowly
pulled out a tiny being by its head. It fluttered away and settled
on the ceiling. Raven and Keramis gawked in astonishment as she
opened her mouth even wider and reached down with both hands,
pulling out two more tricksters and flinging them into the air.
more where that came from,” she flashed a broad smile, another
set of blinking eyes plainly evident behind her teeth. Noting
their puzzled expressions, she explained, “Onedia sent my family
to die in this forest. For days I wandered aimlessly through the
woods before surrendering to my fate–”
you’re dead?” Keramis asked tentatively.
tricksters found and reanimated my corpse. They now take turns
living inside me to keep me functioning. We are one, the
tricksters and I,” Sylvia curtsied, “They are my subjects and
I am their Queen.
it is hard to get so many of them to cooperate on a single
task,” she chuckled, “They still didn’t learn to coordinate
my body.” Grumbled protests resounded from the walls.
this is the Unseelie Court,” Raven acknowledged, “Does this
mean that all the trickster who brought me here promised – all
the treasure upstairs – was not real?”
Keramis perked up, “What treasure?”
Sylvia snickered, “Those are my creepy crawlies. Viper-infested
there’s no real treasure?”
not insult us,” she clapped her hands three times, “You think
we have nothing to show for our exploits?” There was a loud
rumbling noise as a slab of rock rolled away from the wall to
reveal a new room. In the flickering torchlight, the two elves
could see mountains of silver and gold sprinkled with jewels; they
scampered towards the hoard.
and marvels indeed,” Sylvia smirked. She watched Raven hack at
the gold with his sword while Keramis poked at the silver with his
daggers, “Do you know how many merchants tried to pass through
these woods? How many luckless travelers we pillaged? How many
trinkets we stole from the Seelie Court?”
real enough,” Keramis fingered a coin.
still say it’s a trick,” Raven leaned on his sword,
“Tricksters are not to be trusted.”
no trick,” Sylvia croaked, “You have been truthful with me and
I repay you with truth. You can have as much as you can carry. If
I wanted to kill you I would have done so earlier.”
amuse me,” she said simply, “It is not every day that mortals
walk through our trickster mirrors and survive for as long as you
did, let alone turn our own illusions against us.”
way,” Raven sheathed his sword, “I’ll have no part of blood
is money,” Keramis scolded, “The dead don’t need it anymore,
but we do,” he picked up an emerald and stuffed it into his
pouch, “How else do you propose we finance our trip across the
Forestside Kingdom?” He clambered to the top of the heap and
began throwing handfuls of sparkling coins up into the air,
watching them rain down on him.
have two friends in this forest,” Raven faced Sylvia, “One is
called Lakai and he is human, the other is Lianna and she is from
the North Forest. Can you help us find them?”
human friend lives as Laurel’s pet in the eastern quarter,”
she answered, “As for your other friend…” Sylvia tiptoed
back over to her pool, narrowly avoided falling into it, and sat
down at its edge. She gestured for the two elves to join her.
Raven went after her and seated himself by the water. Keramis
hastily crammed several more gems into his pouch, then slid down
the treasure pile and joined them at the pool. Sylvia gazed into
the liquid with her unblinking eyes, and commenced her chant:
spirits who dwell in the water,
me a vision of the Dragon’s daughter.
water churned violently as she stirred it, turning different
colors and glistening in the firelight. Raven and Keramis stared
into its bottomless depths, mesmerized by the swirling ripples.
When the liquid settled, a glimmering image formed within it: that
of a dark-haired woman striding confidently along a faery path.
she is still in the western quarter, but making fast pace to the
east. She is looking for you,” Sylvia pointed a bony finger at
them, “And I can take you to her,” she nodded encouragingly,
agreeing to their request before they had a chance to ask it.
Come! Come!” Sylvia hopped up and wobbled up to a wall.
“Op–” she gagged as a trickster tried to force its way up
her throat. The two elves now understood why she had trouble
speaking. Swallowing hard, she raised her hands and started again,
thundering sound reverberated across the cave as the wall cracked
and moved apart, exposing an ascending staircase. Raven and
Keramis followed the Trickster Queen through winding caverns,
passing through another tingling barrier before climbing up to the
forest floor at the break of dawn.
virtually lived in Saillie’s cabin for the past few days, only
returning to the chicken-legged cottage at sundown. Lakai’s
memories crystallized as he spent more time outside Laurel’s
borders, and Saillie came to enjoy the human company. He helped
her tend her garden, and she helped him recover his faery-gifted
powers. All in all, they grew quite fond of each other.
Laurel’s suspicions were only bolstered by Lakai’s giddy
behavior. One morning, when he left the house, she quietly
followed him to see for herself the cause of his uncanny mood
swings. Lakai felt as though he was being watched, but every time
he turned to check, he only heard the whispering of the wind. She
sneaked after him as he crossed the quarter’s borders, and hid
behind the hut when he went to meet Saillie by the pond.
morning,” he greeted her cheerily.
what a good morning it is!” she smiled, putting down the pitcher
which she used to water her plants, “I have figured out a way
for you to escape from here.”
Lakai asked, he had nearly forgotten his predicament in her
presence and was having mixed feelings about the whole idea,
Saillie exclaimed, “Now! You’ve got no time to waste.”
I want to stay here,” he took her hand, “With you.”
she ripped her hand away and glared, “I want you to leave, now.”
stared back with pleading eyes.
is going anywhere!” Laurel bellowed, stomping into the clearing.
gasped, gaping at her mother in shock.
spiteful child!” Laurel glowered at her, “You have divine
blood so I will not kill you. But you!” she cast a fierce
look on Lakai, “Ungrateful human! I made you Lord of the Forest,
gave you everything you ever desired! And how do you repay me? You
disobey me, disdain my gifts, and choose my deceitful daughter
am not Pan and I can never be Pan!” Lakai whimpered, shrinking
away from the anger he sensed inside her.
you will die just like the others!” Laurel growled, a ball of
lighting forming in her palm.
shoved Lakai out of the way and the sphere flew harmlessly over
him. She tipped the pitcher over, mumbling an incantation as the
water poured onto the ground. It gushed out like a rushing river,
joining with the pond to create an aquatic barricade between them
and the enraged Goddess. Wasting no time, Saillie grabbed
Lakai’s wrist, pulled him up, and dragged him southwards. He
offered no resistance and tried to keep up with her as best as he
let out an infuriated roar and the river’s current turned, now
racing after the runaways in the shape of a swelling tidal wave.
Saillie and Lakai ran and ran without looking back, hearing the
sound of water getting closer. When they could almost feel it wet
their heels, Saillie tossed an acorn over her shoulder. The trees
behind them entangled their trunks and interwove their branches,
creating a dam. The aquatic barrage rebounded off the wooden
impediment, subsiding and diluting into the nearby forest.
raised a squall to tear the obstruction to pieces by bombarding it
with mighty gusts of wind, sending splintering bark and twigs
raining down on the escapees. Saillie and Lakai kept running, but
they were pelted with wood and tripped over idle roots and
branches. When they could not take the assault any longer, Saillie
tossed some thistles over her shoulder. A wall of thorns grew out
of the ground and the sticks bounced off of it, landing blandly on
the forest floor.
Laurel got to the barbed fence, she clenched her fist and the
brambles crumbled to dust. The Goddess walked straight through the
rubble, steadily gaining on her targets. Saillie frowned; she was
running out of ideas.
was strolling boldly along the shimmering faery road when two
figures jumped out from the bushes and onto the path. Before she
could register who they were, her whip and short sword were
already in hand; Keramis and Raven had hopped back with their
weapons drawn as well.
do that,” she relaxed, fastening the whip and sword to her belt;
the elves sheathed their own weapons. Keramis rushed up to her,
wrapping her in relieved hugs while Raven smiled at her warmly.
“Welcome back to the physical world,” Lianna smirked.
did you miss me?” Keramis flashed her a charming grin.
was worried about you both,” she patted him on the head. “Oh!
I have to show you guys something! It’s incredible! Deep
in the forest there’s this place with more tricksters than you
can imagine, and in the middle there’s an antlered man chained
to a tree–”
came a rasping voice from the underbrush, “The antlered man is
Pan.” Lianna froze in place at the sight of a wraithlike form
standing a few feet away from the faery path, in the shade of
that?” she asked her companions.
is Sylvia,” Raven introduced the girl, “Queen of the
helped us find you,” Keramis attested.
smiled cryptically, “Pardon my aloofness, I can not go near the
can see why,” Lianna said derisively. With her faery vision, she
saw the girl was hollow; teeming with tiny specks of light that
moved among her rotting innards. Her aura told of death and decay,
of unspeakable horrors that made men drop dead from fright.
“Nevertheless, you have helped my friends and I will not oppose
you unless you give me reason to.”
smile widened and she gave a courteous nod, though Lianna could
tell that her threats meant nothing to this being.
I was saying,” Lianna, unnerved, turned back to Raven and
Keramis, “Next to the antlered man, I mean Pan, there is a slab
of crystal radiating really weird energy. I’m convinced it’s
the source of the forest’s curse. If we can just go there,”
she signaled them to follow, “And find a way to break it–”
was a loud, crashing noise in the distance: of flowing water,
falling trees, and lots of yelling.
like Laurel got tired of yet another pet,” Sylvia giggled.
Keramis took a step forward, “We have to go help him.”
bother?” Sylvia yawned, “He’s as good as dead.”
we have to try,” Lianna gripper her barbed whip. Without a
second thought, she raced after Raven and Keramis, in the
direction of the racket. Sylvia shrugged; hundreds of tiny
trickster wings raised her off the ground and propelled her easily
through the woods.
their way towards the din of dreadful shrieks, they heard rumbling
noises akin to that of an earthquake mixed with tumbling rocks.
Running on, Lianna, Keramis, and Raven found themselves wading in
water and dodging driftwood. Soon enough, they ended up in a newly
made clearing. A crescent formation of looming cliffs blocked off
all exits for the two persons huddled fearfully at their base, and
a woman stood on the opposite side, her hair flaying wildly in the
not Pan!” Lakai shouted between sobs, clinging onto a
blue-haired girl who glared defiantly at the woman across from
are still mine!” lightning sizzled in Laurel’s eyes and her
voice boomed like thunder, “But you have turned against me, and
for that you will die!”
hid behind Saillie.
escapes me!” Laurel roared, the turbulent clouds echoing her
tried urging the underground plants to sprout up through the rock
and break it apart, but abandoned the idea when she realized the
rock face would simply collapse on them both. Meanwhile, the air
around them crackled with the gathering static that precedes a
powerful electric charge – the kind that can sear the life out
of any mortal being. Lakai closed his eyes and clung onto Saillie
tighter, overwhelmed by the Goddess’s wrath.
the howling of the wind and the clash of thunder, only one thing
could have distracted Laurel from her single-minded goal. “I
know where Pan is!” came a voice from the rear. The lightning
fizzled out and the clouds receded slightly.
Laurel turned to confront the newcomers, her hair settling back
down to her sides. Lakai peeked out at them from behind Saillie
with a vague sense of recognition.
know where Pan is,” Lianna repeated more civilly.
looked on her impatiently.
can lead you to him,” she quickly added, “In exchange for the
trade,” Laurel examined her closely. Saillie slowly took
Lakai’s hand and tried stepping away from the cliffs, but the
rock trembled as Laurel bellowed, “You are coming with us!”
then told Lianna, “We trade once I get Pan.”
nodded solemnly and backed into the woods with Laurel, Keramis,
Raven, Lakai, Saillie, and Sylvia in tow. She walked westwards,
leading them farther and farther into Unseelie territory in an
attempt to retrace her steps to the accursed glen. Finally, she
saw the lights of the trickster nucleus from between the trees,
and knew she was headed in the right direction.
your eyes,” Lianna whispered to Raven and Keramis as they
approached the place. “There!” she said when the group entered
the clearing, “In the midst of all those tricksters you will
shook her head and sniggered in amusement.
took a good, long look into the trickster mass. “Where?” she
tapped her foot with irritation.
Over there!” Lianna insisted, pointing through the tricksters.
Laurel snapped, seizing her by the throat, “Do you think I’m
stupid, mortal? All I see is a dead tree!” Lianna tried to pry
the hand off but its grip was of inhuman strength. Reacting to the
commotion, Keramis made a swift knife-hand cut to Laurel’s
wrist, but was thrust backwards by an electric shock and caught by
Raven. “How dare you try to trick me!” Laurel let go of Lianna
and spun about, the rage returning to her eyes, “Now you will all
have to go in there,” Lianna coughed, rolling away from a surge
of electricity, “And break the crystal.”
recklessly hurled lightning bolts in all directions, cursing as
they hit rocks and bark instead of their intended targets. Raven
pushed Keramis away and sidestepped the streak of blinding energy
that rushed by him to scorch a nearby tree. Lakai and Saillie
ducked, narrowly avoiding Laurel’s attacks. Just as Keramis
managed to regain his footing, a gust of wind knocked him back to
the floor and sent him skidding across the ground. He grabbed hold
of a boulder and crouched beside it to shield himself from a
stream of fire that singed the ends of his hair.
unleashed a torrent of air strong enough to split the trees. It
rapidly developed into a cyclone, lifting up loose twigs, rocks,
and clumps of soil, and dashing them against the earth and each
latched her whip onto a root by the center of the clearing and
pulled herself forward, making sure to place her hands between the
barbs. Raven was already next to the core, so he leaped headlong
into it to avoid a hurtling tree branch. Laurel then faced Lakai
to launch some more lightning blasts at her main objective. Taking
advantage of the diversion, Keramis took out his daggers and dug
them into the ground, creeping toward the nucleus as one scales a
very steep wall.
they thought the danger would cease once they went through the
trickster mirror, they were mistaken. Immediately, Raven and
Keramis met with a vicious onslaught of killer bees. The two elves
tried swinging their weapons at the swarm but their attempts were
countered with relentless stings. The buzzing was nearly
deafening, and some of the bees went so far as to enter their ear
canals. Scaly bodies coiled about their ankles, dropping them to
the floor, and envenomed fangs sank deep into their legs. The
poison spread up their bloodstream like hot acid, and they felt
myriads of insects burrowing through their flesh. Keramis and
Raven dropped their weapons; even in the haze of excruciating
pain, they had enough sense not to cut at their own limbs. But in
a few seconds it did not matter, for their skin boiled and began
melting off their muscle tissue. Terrifying images flashed before
their eyes as their vision blurred.
not real!” Lianna yelled, seeing her friends screaming and
rolling around on the ground, clawing at themselves and swiping at
the tiny trickster lights like mad. But she herself shrieked and
reeled back in surprise as the horned man lunged at her, stopped
only by the length of his chain. Their eyes converged once again,
and she saw the same feral beauty within them… though now
coupled with desire?
sighed, partly annoyed and partly amused that nobody bothered to
ask for her help. Shrugging it off, she stepped through the astral
barrier. The Trickster Queen raised her hands in a gesture of
receptivity and inhaled deeply, sucking up the Unseelie horde.
Hearing the summons of their Queen, the tricksters released the
two elves and diligently came to her call. She drew in every last
one of them, so that the only beings left inside the etheric walls
were and her companions and Pan. Raven and Keramis got to their
feet, staring wide-eyed at their restored bodies, grateful that
the pain was gone. They picked up their weapons and turned to gaze
at Sylvia in awe. She burped for effect.
moment would have lasted longer, but Pan’s low growling and
frenzied yanking on the chain reminded them of their purpose here.
They faced the God, watching him with trepidation as he paced back
and forth by the deformed tree.
surveyed the situation; the chunk of black crystal was positioned
several feet behind Pan, entirely within the God’s reach. Raven
flung his sword at the crystal, but Pan caught it in his antlers
and thrust it aside.
now?” Lianna asked.
observed the horned man closely, and noticed something none other
in his party could have seen: the god was hardly paying attention
to them at all, focusing his lustful gaze primarily on Lianna.
“I have an idea,” the elf spoke up, “Lianna, go run around
face twisted in protest, but she promptly understood what he was
getting at and nodded. Reluctantly, she inched closer to Pan. He
watched her every step with growing interest, then finally rushed
her at full speed. Acting on instinct, Lianna ran around the tree
as fast as her legs could carry her. But Pan’s legs were that of
a stag, and it did not take him long to gain on her, at which
point Keramis jumped in from behind and tripped the galloping God.
Raven dove for his sword and deftly rolled away from the stampede.
tried to claw at Keramis, but the elf nimbly hopped back. Snarling
in frustration, the antlered man resumed his chase after Lianna.
His chain wound round the tree tighter and tighter until he was
held fast to the trunk, barely able to move beyond the short
stretch of his tether.
knew what he must do. True it was risky, the outcome
unpredictable, and there were probably safer ways, but the
half-elf was not one to fear death. He scrambled to his feet and
charged the crystal with his sword held high, bringing the blade
down on the Dark Mirror with all his strength. It shattered into a
million pieces, which would have impaled him if he had not been
blown away by the explosive energy shield that coated it.
sound rang throughout the woods like an ethereal foghorn, lifting
the veil that bound the eyes, ears, and hearts of the Lord and
Lady of the Forest in one mighty blast; Laurel forgot all about
Lakai and Pan about Lianna. As the astral walls dispersed, they
saw each other for the first time in what seemed like an eternity.
Dropping all she was doing, the Goddess ran up her God and
showered him with amorous kisses. His shackles dissolved as they
entwined in a passionate embrace under the ancient tree, which now
blossomed with new life. Through their blissful union, the divine
couple became transformed back to their shining glory. The glaze
of illusions was dispelled and tricksters returned to the shadows
from which they came. It was as if the forest had awakened from a
deep slumber – like the thawing of earth in spring after the
mantle of winter has melted away. The woods bloomed with renewed
and Keramis helped Raven off the ground and led him to the edge of
the clearing. Saillie doused any flames that still smoldered the
bark, and smiled as shoots of greenery sprouted from the splinters
to mend the broken trees. Lakai laughed joyfully and hugged her,
happy to be alive. Deciding to leave Laurel and Pan alone to catch
up on things, Raven, Lianna, Keramis, Lakai, Saillie, and Sylvia
left the clearing to head for the nearest faery path – Lakai and
Saillie keeping their distance from Sylvia.
we just need to get out of the Enchanted Forest,” Lianna reminded her friends.
should have no problems now that Onedia’s curse is lifted,”
Saillie told her, “Just go southwards.”
are you going to the Forestside Kingdom?” Sylvia asked the two
for all the assistance the Trickster Queen provided, Keramis felt
she should know the truth, “We are here on a mission to sabotage
Onedia’s astral castle.”
Why?” Lianna blurted out. She had hoped they would be rid of the
girl once they leave the woods.
Onedia claimed the Forestside throne,” Sylvia explained, “The
tricksters chose me to take her place as their Queen. Then one day
she comes back and steals a whole third of my subjects – I want
have helped us greatly,” Raven granted, “And we will help you
to meet at the outskirts of the Enchanted Forest the next day,
Sylvia and the others went their separate ways – Sylvia to the
Unseelie Court, and the rest to the Seelie Court by way of the
faery roads. With Lakai and Saillie speaking in their favor, Lianna, Keramis, and Raven had no trouble getting admission
through the pearly gates. Delicate harp music accompanied them
through the crystalline caverns that lead to the breathtaking
Underworld city of Elfame.
group was greeted with much festivity and merriment, and a whole
entourage of jovial faeries followed them through the streets and
into the luminous castle at the hub of the metropolis. At last the
Caldorians beheld the true grandeur of the Sidhe court; it was
infinitely more beautiful than the tricksters could ever create
with their glamour.
welcome all of you to our wonderful city!” the Faery Queen
hailed them in reverence, “We are all in your debt for freeing
our forest of Onedia’s wicked curse, and for helping Lakai.”
Lianna, Keramis, Saillie, and Lakai humbly bowed to her.
show our gratitude,” Erunei continued, “We will have rooms
prepared for each of you. I am certain you will find your stay
refreshing for both the body and spirit.”
must leave for the Forestside Kingdom in the morning, Mother,”
Lakai beamed a smile at the Queen.
that case we will also outfit you with Forestside-style clothing,
and provide mounts to carry you to the borders of this wood,”
Keramis, Lianna, Lakai, and Saillie stayed in the palace for the
night; the scent of budding lilac drifted through the hallowed
halls and they were rocked to sleep by the gentle lullaby
radiating softly off the walls.
the morning they were dressed in fresh garments tailored to
resemble a peasant’s attire. Though they did not look
first-rate, the group was informed that these garbs were enchanted
– they would keep them warm at night, cool in the midday heat,
and would never wear out. Lovely glass beads were woven into their
hair and it was braided in the style of the Lossi mainland. The
five of them were also given magical backpacks that could not be
emptied of food.
refused the gifts, explaining to Lakai that she must stay in the
Enchanted Forest to oversee the growth of new plants. Saillie also
admitted that she wanted to get to know the real nature of her
mother – if she ever managed pry her off Pan, that is. While it
pained him to part with her, Lakai told Saillie that he chose to
leave, but promised to return as soon as the whole affair with
Onedia was over. They sat in silence for a long time, basking in
the essence of each other’s auras.
noon, Lianna, Keramis, Raven, and Lakai rode out of the faery
mound on sparkling white unicorns. They raced southwards through
the brightly lit forest at the speed of wind, the steeds’ silver
hooves splashing across woodland brooks and maneuvering between
the trees with exceptional grace, coming to a halt at the
forest’s boundaries. The four friends dismounted and met up with
Sylvia at the outskirts.
they crossed the treeline into the Forestside Kingdom – the
first mortals to do so in over twenty years. Raven was quick to
report to Queen Dinictis that they have saved the forest from
Onedia’s vindictive curse. He also gave Lakai the extra crystal
to wear; though the supernatural creatures of the Enchanted Forest
could understand his speech without it, the ordinary humans of
Lossi would not.
their things together, the five of them commenced their trek
across the Forestside Kingdom. For over two days they walked past
ghost towns scattered throughout a vast expanse of abandoned
farmland. Once in a while they would pass by a dried-out well, the
skeleton of a rundown house, or the bleached bones of a starved
cow. Not many citizens were brave enough to remain in dwellings so
near the haunted woods, and those that did were doomed to ruin.
All that remained of this once-prosperous region was a parched
landscape overrun with weeds that grew out of the cracks.
nights the group camped out under the stars – sleeping on the
hard, dry ground. But on the eve of the third day, they saw
pinpoints of light in the distance that signified a modest
village. The elves put on hoods to shroud their telltale ears, and
the party made fast pace towards it in hope of finding a nice,
soft bed for the night.