“Sappers,” Kōrrin spat distastefully onto the fleshy trunk of a nearby tree.
Looking out from the cover of the trees to a wide open area filled with fallen trees and barren earth, Legin shared the dwarf’s anger.
“They are destroying the forest,” Aurora added sadly.
“How does it work anyway?” Legin asked curiously, “To create Sap I mean. I never really thought about it.”
“Ya ever take the drug?” asked Kōrrin as he turned and looked to Legin.
“No, of course not,” Legin shook his head emphatically, “Me and Pip never did that stuff. It messes with your mind.”
“But ye know it’s a powder right?” Kōrrin asked and Legin nodded, “Well ye see these large trees that look like over-grown flowers? The Sappers bleed the plant dry of its sap, hence the name, before dryin’ it out and crushin’ it into a power. I had a taste once, didn’t do anything. But I’ve known lots of people who ‘ave gone crazy ‘cause of the stuff.”
“They profit on the suffering of others,” Pip said darkly, “Let’s kill them.”
“There are a lot of them, Pip,” Legin remarked as he squinted towards the small huts made from fallen trees, “Do you really think we could kill them all. Perhaps we should just go around.”
“Yer daft, boy,” Kōrrin snorted, “We’re killin’ em an that’s final.”
“Agreed,” nodded Aurora seriously.
“But Kōrrin, you only have one hand,” Legin added, “How can you fight?”
“Only need one hand,” snapped the dwarf, “Help me lash a shield to me stump an I’ll cut ‘em down with me left.”
“Alright,” Legin said excitedly as he turned to their luggage nearby and grabbed Kōrrin’s round wooden shield.
Several minutes later Legin had successfully strapped Kōrrin’s shield to his arm and the dwarf picked up his single headed axe. Giving his buckler a solid slap with the axe he gave nod and smile to the others.
“Can’t believe you were thinking of going around, bro,” Pip remarked with a shake of his head as they all walked calmly from the cover of the trees and towards the encampment of drug harvesters.
“Of course I wasn’t,” Legin was quick to reply, “I was merely making suggestions, Pip. You know I detest cruelty and all things evil. But, there are quite a lot of them.”
“A lot?” Kōrrin laughed, “I’ll take half of ‘em an you guys can divide the rest between yous.”
Legin smiled wide and looked to Aurora who was belting a slender sword to her hip as they walked.
“Think your magicks won’t be any good Aurora?” Legin asked curiously.
The yineth shrugged, “They have been unpredictable. So it is always a good idea to have a backup plan.”
“That’s good thinking, ay Pip?” Legin remarked and his friend nodded as he readied his bow.
“You know what I think?” Legin said suddenly as he jumped in front of the group, making them stop, “First kill is mine.”
With a laugh he turned and sprinted off towards the camp of over a dozen buildings. The calls of disagreement from Kōrrin followed Legin as he covered the distance quickly and made for the group of tall trees that still stood. At the base of the trees Legin figured they would be working on gathering the sap and thus there would be the most Sappers.
Summoning his power within him, Legin’s speed increased and he darted between two of the cabins and towards the group of Sappers. As he neared one of the men saw him and began to call out in alarm. But Legin silenced that call as he closed the fifty meter distance between them in a blink of an eye and blasted the Sapper in the gut. So powerful was his punch that Legin could feel his fist smash through clothing flesh and bone. Twisting away from the dying man Legin jumped high into the air where he hovered slightly as he gathered his strength and magick power into a ball of energy above his head. The group of Sappers below him called out in shock as they noticed him and tried to run for cover, but it was no use. With a yell Legin launched the ball of Fog magicks into the center of the five trees and sap gathering stations where it exploded in the cloud of flame and Fog.
Legin landed lightly on his toes as a secondary explosion sounded followed by a gust of dirt and flying bodies. There came a loud creak as one of the massive trees toppled over and thundered into one of the huts, crushing it along with anyone inside.
Legin was on the move then, and he darted to the main path through the half dozen buildings where the fight was on in full. Coming out from behind the broken building Legin tumbled into a group of Sappers. But those poor souls had no clue what was happening as Legin slid low and jumped up in the middle of them with his fists and feet flying.
The first fell away screaming as Legin broke his leg and launched several heavy punches into his rips and guts causing bones to crack with each strike. As that man fell away Legin spun away and executed a powerful turning kick to a blood elf’s head, snapping his neck and sending him flying into the dirt. The next in line managed to bare her sword towards Legin, but he was too quick for the woman. In one fluid motion he grabbed her wrist with one hand and snapped her arm at the elbow as he pulled the short sword from her grasp and plunged it through her shoulder blades. The woman died without uttering a cry of pain.
Twisting away from the last kill Legin felt the power of the Fog build within him as he launched a double punch into the chest of the last Sapper of the group. A small explosion of Fog flashed from the impact and the half-elf went flying backwards into a trio who were facing Kōrrin.
“Hey, find yer own,” the dwarf shouted angrily when he realised what had happened.
Legin offered a shrug before he raced off towards the next group of Sappers. But it was not like there were not enough to kill, and many more were appearing from the buildings.
No blade could touch Legin as he tore through yet another group. With each punch or kick he sent them flying to the dirt or backwards into the side of one of the buildings with broken bones and blasted skin. Even without the power of the magicks Legin was formidable but now this new surge of strength made him unstoppable.
His companions, however, were not as strong. Dispatching a Mōrgul cat with a titanic upper cut which ripped the unfortunate Sappers head from his shoulders, Legin glanced about the battlefield to see yet more of the drug harvesters approach.
A cry from the side grabbed Legin’s attention and he looked to see Pip fall to the ground with two Sappers poised to strike. Legin’s power surged within him and he shot through the air to strike the back of snow elf with a heavy kick. The weight of the blow shattered the Sapper’s spine and launched him into the other one.
“Thanks,” Pip nodded to Legin as he sucked in deep breaths.
He returned the nod and looked back to his other companions. Kōrrin seemed fine as he battled a dwarf and two others, but Aurora was in trouble as she faced off against two.
Six more came running from the side towards Legin and Pip their blades shining in Inüer’s light and their faces masked with outrage. Legin quickly set his feet and brought his hands together at his side. Gritting his teeth Legin looked deep within himself and summoned his unfamiliar strength. Wisps of Fog began to float around him and a blue light began to glow between his palms. The ball of energy grew and Legin could feel its power pulsate. The charging group suddenly realised their doom and slid to a stop. But it was too late and Legin thrust his hand forwards, releasing the ball of energies to thunder through the air and catapult into the group. Dirt and debris exploded outwards as the energies hit the group, sending them flying backwards and ripping them apart.
Legin let out a deep breath and smiled slightly as the dust cleared and all evidence of the group of six Sappers completely vanished. A grin of triumph came to his face but quickly vanished as he looked to his companions. Kōrrin had somehow lost his shield and was rolling around in the dirt as he fought the other dwarf. But the real problem was with Aurora as she still fought the two who faced her, and to make matters worse several more were moving to join the fight.
“Aurora,” Legin called out as she saw the yineth stumble.
He was about to try and summon his strength again and fly through the air to save her as he had done with Pip. But the ground suddenly began to shake violently, causing him to lose his footing and fall to his backside. He looked to Aurora thinking her doomed, but all others were similarly on the ground. Suddenly the cracks began to tear through the earth causing one of the buildings to crumble and the bodies of the fallen to tumble into the chasms. Those chasms quickly shot back together causing spikes of rock to shoot seven feet into the sky, impaling bodies and destroying more of the remaining buildings.
Just as suddenly the earthquake stopped and the spears of rock crumbled to the ground. Legin jumped to his feet in a flash and raced over towards Aurora. Jumping over the broken rubble he could see that the Yineth was still down and he feared the worst. Darting past Kōrrin, who was picking himself up from the ground and dusting off his cloths, Legin noticed Aurora move slightly.
“Aurora,” Legin called and jumped another pile of broken rock and slid to his knees beside the yineth.
“You’re alive,” exclaimed Legin happily as he helped Aurora to a sitting position. “Did you do that, it was incredible.”
“It was not I,” Aurora shook her head and slowly got to her feet.
“But all the Sappers are dead, and we still live,” Legin scratched his head in confusion. “And it wasn’t me. Was it you Kōrrin? Or you Pip?”
“You daft boy?” Kōrrin snorted as he picked up his axe.
“Wasn’t me,” Pip shook his head, “My magicks are useless now.”
“It was them,” Aurora said seriously and she nodded behind the group.
Legin turned a curious eye to the other side of the encampment to see a group of Yineth walk cautiously towards them.
“Wait here,” Aurora instructed them all and he headed over to the Yineth.
Legin shrugged to Pip and Kōrrin, but none of them argued the point.
“Useless job strapping me shield, Legin,” Kōrrin grumbled, “Might as well not have had it. Damn thing fell off after the first couple of hits.”
“Well perhaps you should graft it to your arm then,” Legin quipped and the dwarf snorted.
“Those Yineth are real pretty, aren’t they?” Pip remarked as they all gazed over to Aurora and the other Yineth.
“They are quite beautiful,” Legin agreed, “Don’t wear much though do they? Their clothes look like leafy vines.”
“Not enough hair to be real attractive,” Kōrrin added with a shake of his head.
“What are you talking about?” Legin scoffed, “That one with the black hair has a braid all the way down her back.”
“I meant not enough hair on the face, idiot,” Kōrrin was quick to reply and Legin and Pip laughed.
“Is it true that King Lienthor has a Yineth wife and they have a daughter?” Pip asked once they stopped laughing.
“Don’t know Pip,” Legin shrugged.
“What was that?” asked Kōrrin as he turned a curious eye to Legin.
“The King of Krnōrel and his Yineth wife,” Legin said, “They have a daughter don’t they?”
Kōrrin shrugged and they all turned back to gaze at the gathered Yineth.
“By the way bro, you have some pretty mean moves now,” Pip remarked as they watched the Yineth continue to talk, “Since when did you learn them?”
“Not sure where I got those moves, Pip,” Legin shrugged and looked to his friend and smiled, “They just kind of happened. But I’m glad they did. I feel great.”
Kōrrin grumbled something in his beard and shook his head as Pip laughed and nodded.
“We would have been hard pressed with those Sapper if you hadn’t found those skills,” Pip said seriously, “You saved my life.”
“I saved Kōrrin’s life as well,” Legin laughed and the dwarf glared at him.
“I had it under control,” snapped Kōrrin.
“Look Aurora is coming back over,” Legin said and pointed in the Yineth’s direction.
“She don’t look too happy,” remarked Kōrrin.
“What did they say?” Legin asked before Aurora could say anything.
“Many things,” Aurora gave Legin an annoyed look, “They thanked us for our aid with the drug harvesters.”
“We should be thanking them,” Legin cut in with a slight laugh, “They’re the ones who saved us. Did you tell them why we are here?”
“If you let me speak I will tell you,” Aurora snapped with an exasperated sigh.
“Sorry,” Legin mumbled apologetically.
“To cut to the chase, they do not know what you are Legin,” Aurora said simply.
Legin felt crestfallen and a wave of disappointment washed over him.
“So we came this way for nothin’,” Kōrrin huffed, voicing Legin’s despairing thoughts.
“Not entirely,” Aurora was quick to say, “They invited you to accompany us to the Settlement where you may speak with someone who may know.”
“Really? Who?” Legin exclaimed excitedly.
“They would not say,” Aurora shrugged.
“What does it matter who,” Pip remarked, “Whoever it is might know where you are from bro.”
“You’re right, Pip,” Legin nodded with a wide smile, “Let’s go and see this person.”
“Alright,” Aurora nodded with a smile, “We require that you wear a blindfold whilst traveling to the Settlement.”
“What you mean ‘we’”,” Kōrrin asked suspiciously.
“I have come home, master Dwarf,” Aurora replied, her eyes sparkling, “I need no blindfold to cover my eyes form the secrets of the land.”
“Preposterous,” Kōrrin huffed and crossed his arms across his chest.
“As a Dwarf I thought you would respect others keeping their own secrets,” Aurora was quick to say and Kōrrin narrowed his eyes at the Yineth.
“Who cares about wearing a blind fold, let’s go already,” Legin jumped excitedly.
Kōrrin continued to grumble loudly in his own language as Aurora began to cover their eyes with a heavy black fabric. Legin happy accepted the blindfold and as his world turned black he smiled as Kōrrin grumbled all the louder.
Letting out a slight sigh Legin stretched his neck and waited for someone to guide him. The rays from Inüer were hot on his skin, drying the sweat he had produced from the fight. The wind kicked up blowing through his hair and carrying with it beautiful fragrances from the flowers of the forest.
As the wind died down he heard the soft footsteps of someone coming alongside him and the gentle touch of a Yineth hand on his arm. The smells of the flowers grew stronger and crisper as if this yineth wore the very flowers on her person.
“Let me guide you,” a soft voice said in his ear and Legin let himself be led by the hand.
The yineth’s grip was firm as she led him from the area, slowly at first to allow him to come accustom to the lack of vision. The pace soon quickened and the crunch of dirt under Legin’s leather shoes soon became soft as they moved into the covering of the enormous trees. The heat of Inüer was taken away by the shady leaves and the air became moist and thick. The coolness of the trees soon too disappeared and was replaced by humidity and still they walked.
Despite moving through a dense jungle Legin had no troubles walking blind. For most of the trip the path seemed flat and when needed the yineth gently guided him. The sounds of the wildlife filled Legin’s ears with strange and beautiful cries, and he could have sworn that those animals were right beside him.
The path began to climb and Legin found himself stumbling upon rocks and tree roots. But always his guide was there to stop him from falling, catching him before he tumbled.
The hours seemed to drift by slowly and the air became heavier and stuffy. Eventually the terrain evened out again and Legin felt grass under his feet. The sounds of the animals continued to chatter around him and the wind whistled through the tree tops, but there was another sound that echoed in Legin’s ears. Walking along he tried to focus on the familiar sound above the rest of the din, but he could not make it out.
The animal’s calls lessened somewhat and Legin once again felt the fresh wind on his face. The heat of Inüer at his back took away the humidity of the jungle and the familiar sound Legin could not place sounded louder.
Still he was led on by the yineth with a warm hold of his hand. They had been walking for hours now, no doubt for the majority of the day, and Legin’s legs were beginning to get sore, but still they walked.
All of a sudden Legin’s ears picked up the sound of music rising above the calls of the animals and the wind. Many light voices were singing in the distance, lifting his heart and taking the weariness from his legs. The sounds of flutes joined the voices as they grew louder and the yineth leading him joined in.
Gradually the beautiful song of the Yineth filled his ears and flooded his thoughts making him feel as he were being carried along by the wind into the Yineth’s Settlement.
Just then the song of the sirens subsided and pleasant voices seemed to greet them. Although Legin could not understand any of what was being said, it seemed friendly to his ears. He was suddenly stopped by his guide and the heavy blindfold was pulled from his head.
Legin quickly shut his eyes against the sudden light before slowly opening them to view his surroundings. His eyes immediately fell upon the massive lake that stretched out to his left and far into the distance. The afternoon light from Inüer causing the gentle laps of the water on the stony beach to sparkle.
“Lapping of the water,” Legin shook his head as he realised what the familiar sound he could not place was, “I should have known.”
Turning his attention from the beautiful emerald lake Legin gasped slightly to see dozens of yineth approach through the sparse trees and thick green grass. All of them were near on several inches taller than he was, with flowing hair, beautiful features and long delicate ears of a rabbit. Each of them also wore basically nothing with only thin fabric designed like vines and leaves covering their privates. Legin did not know where to look in all honesty with so many beautiful women wearing skimpy costumes so he ended up looking awkwardly to Kōrrin and Pip. He could see that Pip was feeling just as awkward as he was, but Kōrrin was soaking all the sights in with a grin hidden in his beard and a twinkle in his eye.
“Lovely place, ay Legin?” Kōrrin gave him a wink.
“No beards though,” Legin smirked back.
Kōrrin chuckled, “Yer right about that, but I can appreciate all forms of beauty.”
“This is the one you speak of,” said one yineth loudly in common tongue as she walked towards Legin.
“Indeed,” nodded Aurora as she walked beside the white haired Yineth.
“He has a strange music to him,” the white haired yineth remarked as she studied Legin with her blue and gold eyes.
“I don’t know how to play any instruments,” Legin shook his head curiously and the yineth laughed lightly.
“You are an endearing creature,” she smiled warmly, “But I too cannot say what you are or where you are from.”
Legin sighed heavily and bit his lip and he looked to the ground.
“Perhaps there is one who may,” the white haired yineth continued, drawing Legin’s eyes back to hers.
“Where are they? Are the close by?” asked Legin excitedly.
“I shall take you tomorrow,” smiled the yineth.
“Tomorrow,” Legin groaned, “Why can’t we go now?”
“Legin,” scolded Aurora, “Show some respect, Triel is the Matriarch of this Settlement.”
“The day is late strange one,” Triel smiled at Legin, “You shall rest now. I Triel welcome each of you as guests into our Settlement. Please make yourself comfortable and relax from your journey. Tonight we invite you to join us as we welcome your companion Aurora back into our Family.”
“So you guys aren’t angry she left before?” Legin asked curiously, drawing a scowl from Aurora.
“On the contrary, we encourage our young sisters to venture forth and learn about the world,” Triel replied, “And when they return we welcome them back with open arms. Come now, join us.”
Triel motioned for them to follow her as she walked back through the trees with the rest of the Yineth beside her. With a smile Legin was quick to follow and alongside Kōrrin and Pip they moved into the Settlement of the Yineth.
It was not like anything Legin had ever seen, it was as if the very trees had grown specifically to create houses within their bows and stairways up their tall trunks. The clump of dozens of trees made up the entirety of the Settlement and all grew intertwining with each other in a circle around a central clearing and shallow pool which was fed from the lake.
Legin walked wide eyed right up the edge of the emerald pool and gazed around at the tree dwelling around and above his head. Both Pip and Kōrrin were beside him similarly agape at the wondrous beauty they saw.
“Look,” Pip gasped as he knelt on the stony beach of the pool, “These are not simple stones, but uncut gems.”
Legin’s mouth hung open as he also noticed the many raw diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds amid the grey pebbles.
“Incredible,” Legin breathed as he picked up a few of the gemstones and dropped them back down.
“Not surprising,” Kōrrin remarked indifferently, “We’re at the north spur of the Amber Mountains and they mine mostly for gems.”
Legin shook his head in wonderment and stood back up as he continued to gaze about. By now most of the Yineth had dispersed to their own dwelling to go about their daily activities, but Legin always noticed they sent curious looks their way.
“Greetings travelers,” welcomed one young yineth as she came up behind them, “Triel has asked we bring you food and drink. Please come.”
The yineth motioned to the other yineth sitting at the base of a tree with a large platter of food.
“Don’t have to offer me twice,” Kōrrin chuckled and Legin readily agreed as they moved quickly over to the food.
The two yineth remained as Legin and his friends ate and they talked readily, clearly each of them curious to learn more of the others.
“So where is Triel taking me tomorrow, Zaniele?” Legin asked the curly brown haired yineth with green and red eyes.
“It is our holy place,” the young yineth replied, “Only the Matriarchs of the Settlement usually visit.”
“Are there many Settlements?” asked Legin.
“There are ten,” replied Thouin, the yineth with raven black hair, “Each positioned around the lake, Fayil.”
“Yous said ye were young Yineth, right,” Kōrrin remarked after he took a long drink, and the two girls nodded, “How come yous haven’t ventured out into the world like Aurora did?”
Thouin and Zaniele looked to each other and shrugged.
“Perhaps we shall one day,” Thuoin replied and Zaniele nodded.
“For the time being though, I am at peace here,” Zaniele said, “Many have the burning desire to venture forth, but I have not felt that yet.”
“Nor I,” agreed Thuoin.
By now the afternoon had drifted into evening and the light grew dim. As Inüer vanished behind the western horizon hundreds of large fireflies began to come out from their homes and fly around the Settlement. Some of the plants also began to come alight with a soft glow, reflecting in the shallow pool and bringing an air of mysticism and magick to the dell.
As the night became darker and the lights grew brighter the Yineth of the Settlement began to gather around the pool. The beautiful sound of flutes filled the air as the Yineth began to sing a soft and haunting song.
“We are welcoming Aurora back home,” Thuoin said before Legin could ask a question and she and Zaniele stood up to join their sisters.
“Up here,” Legin said to Kōrrin and Pip as he climbed a few steps of the natural staircase to get a better view.
The song grew louder as Legin watched on curiously and found a comfortable perch in the branches. Just then Aurora emerged from the crowd, now out of her travelling clothes and wearing a light robe of white cloth. The air before Legin’s eyes seemed to sparkle with the song of the Yineth and Aurora casually disrobed before walking naked into the shallow pool.
“I’m not sure Aurora would appreciate us watching this,” Legin remarked awkwardly.
“I can’t look away though,” Kōrrin replied slowly.
“Nor I,” said Pip, similarly enchanted.
Legin did try and look away from Aurora’s naked and stunning body, but he too found he could not.
Waist deep in the center of the pool Aurora’s voice joined the song of the Yineth and gems within the water began to sparkle. Legin watched mesmerized as the pool shimmered beautifully and droplets of water began to float into the air around Aurora. Thin streams snaked up through the air and joined the droplets before they began to spiral around her, sprinkling her body with glowing water and pooling above her head. Aurora’s eyes were closed now as she continued to sing above the rest of the Yineth and her arms stretched above her head. The water of the pool was suddenly forced away from her body by an unseen power and began to reach into the air and cocoon around Aurora.
Hundreds of spirals of water twisted into the air as the glowing water fully encapsulated Aurora, shielding her from sight. Suddenly the Yineth fell silent and a different solitary voice rose up in a beautiful chorus. Just as abruptly the unseen voice stopped and the water of the pool slowly sprinkled back to the ground to reveal Aurora standing waist deep in the emerald pool as the water rained around her. A brighter glow appeared from under the surface around Aurora and slowly silver vines began to creep from the pool and curl around her, covering her.
Legin blinked for the first time in many minutes and closed his gaping mouth as Aurora walked from the pool, now clothed in the customary Yineth dress. A new song came forth from the Yineth’s lips as Aurora joined her sisters and echoed melodiously throughout the dell.
“Well, that was quite the sight,” Kōrrin remarked with a grin he walked back down the stairs and found a place to sit at the base of the tree.
“It was truly beautiful,” Pip remarked as he too sat down.
“You’re right Pip, it was,” agreed Legin as he dropped from the tree branch and lounged beside Kōrrin in the soft grass. “Not really sure what happened though.”
The songs of the Yineth went long into the night and before long were joined with Kōrrin’s snores as the dwarf fell asleep.
“Hey, Pip, check out Kōrrin,” Legin was saying as he turned to his friend but stopped as he noticed that Pip too had fallen asleep.
Legin smirked and shook his head at the sight, he was not ready to fall into a slumber just yet as he was curious to see what else might transpire that evening.
But it was no use trying to keep his eyes open and the next thing he realised he was being awoken by a gentle shake of his shoulder.
Legin’s eyes popped open and he jumped into a sitting position.
“I fell asleep?” he mumbled as he shook the cobwebs from his mind.
“And slept soundly throughout the night,” Triel said with a smile, “But now, if you are ready I shall lead you to a place where you might learn who and what you are.”
Legin was on his feet in a flash, all drowsiness gone from his thoughts.
“Please show me the way,” Legin said with sparkling eyes and Triel led him from his sleeping friends.
Legin was quick to forget his disappointment over falling asleep before he had seen the closing of the homecoming ceremony for Aurora and a smile spread across his face as he followed Triel from the Settlement.
The hour was very early and Inüer was just brightening the eastern skies as Triel led the way through the trees to the edge of Lake Fayil. The bright emerald waters of the lake lapped gently upon the stones and gems of the shore, reminding Legin of the beaches of the Gornl Sea at Pentra where he grew up.
Legin’s mind flashed back to those carefree days he and Pip spent running the streets and rooftops of Pentra, getting into trouble and just as quickly getting out of it. But as he grew older those carefree days had disappeared as he began to realise that he was so very different to every other race in Essinendeür. Of course he had hidden his feelings of unease and confusion under a layer of careless naivety from everyone, even Pip. But he knew Pip had always known of his frustrations.
But all that frustration and inner turmoil had been leading up to this, Legin could see that now, when he would travel to the ends of the world to discover who he was and where he was from. Perhaps now where Triel was leading him he would find his answers.
“I will find the truth,” Legin said quietly to himself as he followed Triel at a swift pace along the stony shore of Fayil as it headed southwest.
Inüer soon climbed above the eastern skyline and still they walked. Past a few other Settlements they went, but Triel did not stop to offer a greeting to her sisters. By now the mountains in the distance were much closer and by mid-day they had come to the southern end of the lake.
Even though Legin considered himself quite fit, his legs were aching and sweat was running freely down his forehead. The day had grown warm and he could see the heat haze of the Crimson Wasteland in the southern skies. Finally Triel slowed her walk and ventured from the edge of the lake towards the foothills of the closest mountain.
The shade of the trees was a blessing to Legin as they began to move along a well-used trail lined with beautiful trees which were alive with a pink flower. The petals of the flowers covered the path as Legin walked along and breathed in the sweet aroma.
Suddenly Triel came to a stop and turned to Legin.
“You shall go on ahead,” the yineth remarked simply.
“Why?” Legin asked suspiciously and glanced along the trail as it headed for the roots of the mountain.
“For that is how it must be,” Triel replied simply, “It is how she wants it.”
“Who wants it?” Legin looked curiously back to the yineth who smiled.
“You will see,” Triel said and motioned for Legin to head down the path covered in pink flowers. “There is nothing to be afraid of, I assure you.”
“I’m not afraid,” Legin was quick to say and the yineth smiled wider.
Straightening his shoulders Legin confidently headed off along the trail and around the few twists and turns, trying to seem completely at ease about venturing in to this unfamiliar place.
“Maybe I am a bit scared,” Legin mumbled as he glanced over his shoulder.
No longer could he see Triel and many more flowers were falling from the trees like snow. Around the next turn Legin went, the fall of the pink petals becoming heavier and becoming caught in his hair and clothes. Out of the pink curtain the wide mouth of a cave engulfed him and he ventured slowly down into the bright grotto.
Streams if light cascaded into the green dell, reflecting off the colourful flowers and other plants. The largest loft of light shown down before him and in front of massive roots of some tree as they twisted through the blue stone and curled across the ground and into the natural pool. The air was cool in here and seemed to refresh his weariness from the swift trek from the north. But there were no sounds of animals in this place either and an eerie stillness hung heavily in the air and lingered in the shadows. The sound of dripping water and his own footfalls echoed off the stone and in Legin’s ears as he made his way to the edge of the dark pool.
Looking into the water Legin could see the glow of the Fog deep within the pool as it seemed to pulse from a single source. A bird suddenly flew in from the ceiling causing Legin to duck instinctively and it fluttered over his head and out the mouth of the cave.
Shaking his head at his own jumpiness Legin looked back to the Fog within the pool and gasped aloud as he saw it was no longer there and only his own reflection could be seen in the dark water.
“Greetings,” came a voice from behind Legin, causing him to jump and turnabout.
But there was no one there.
“You are quite welcome, Legin.”
Legin quickly turned back around to see a beautiful woman standing on the surface of the water before him. Her long dark green hair curled around her, covering her naked body like the clothes of the Yineth, causing Legin’s mouth to hang open.
“You know me?” Legin managed to stammer as he tore his eyes from the woman’s attractive curves and look to her eyes.
But he got lost there as well and Legin fell into the bright moss green depths of her gaze.
“Only a name,” the woman replied as she began to walk slowly across the surface of the water causing small ripples to run across the dark pool. “And a reason for coming.”
Legin did not know how to reply and his false confidence of walking into this grotto crumbled under the power he felt from this being before him.
“You have a question of me,” the woman stated, her voice like the song of a bird.
“Who are you?” Legin breathed in awe.
The woman laughed lightly, “My name is beyond mortal comprehension, but you may call me Faylorien.”
The name seemed familiar to Legin, but he could not place where he had heard it before.
“Is there not another question you have, Legin?” asked Faylorien sweetly.
“Yes,” Legin said as he swallowed the lump in his throat, “Who am I? What am I? Where am I from?”
Faylorien narrowed her eyes playfully at him, “That is three questions.”
Legin suddenly realised that the woman was standing right before him, within arm’s length. He could feel the push of her power and told his feet to take a step back under the weight of that force, but his feet were rooted to the ground.
“But I shall answer,” Faylorien smiled, “Or rather try to.”
“I know not what you are,” the woman said sadly.
Legin let out a breath and his shoulders slumped in defeat.
“You are no creature of this natural earth,” Faylorien continued and Legin looked at her curiously.
“What does that mean?” Legin was quick to ask.
“But what I do know,” Faylorien continued, ignoring his question, “Is who you are, and where you are from.”
“And?” asked Legin with an eager smile coming to his face.
“You are Legin,” the beautiful woman smiled warmly, “And you are from Pentra.”
Legin sighed in defeat again and closed his eyes tight.
“I am sorry I can offer no more,” Faylorien said and Legin opened his eyes to see the woman’s face inches from his.
He tried to back away, but again he could not move.
“You have sought the answers to these questions for so long,” said Faylorien sadly, “Perhaps you will find your answers once you stop searching.”
The woman gently held Legin cheeks and kissed him on the forehead before she dissipated into nothing.
Legin stood motionless for many minutes, still feeling Faylorien’s touch and his mind still whirling in confusion and defeat. He collapsed to his knees then, his chin dropping to his chest as he stared dully at his reflection in the water.
“Even here, in this awe inspiring place, I find no answers,” Legin lamented softly and sighed heavily. “So what now?”
For many more minutes Legin stayed there, staring into his own refection before he finally departed the grotto. No more flowers fell from the trees as Legin made his slow way back to Triel who waited patiently as she sung a soft tune and danced around the plants joyously.
“Did Faylorien have your answers?” Triel asked curiously as she noticed Legin approach.
All Legin offered was a shake of his head as he moved past the yineth and headed back towards the Settlement where his friends waited.