-A Name: "Nakoma"
-A Time: "Either Sunrise or Sunset"
-A Place: "the forest"
-An Object: "the Druid Circle"
She could see the sunlight streaming through the canopy from high above the giant trees as she waited. They had promised to meet, Kharrie and Nakoma; the Wood-Sprite knew her soul mate too well to have missed her coming. They were kindred spirits, connected by powers of Fate and Fidelity entirely beyond their choosing. The only difference was that Nakoma could cross the boundaries of the Druid Circle where she lived, and Kharrie could not follow. This is why she waited now, with the shimmering boundary behind me. Others in her clan would rather stay within the Circle, where they were invisible to the eyes of their enemies, and lived at peace—but Nakoma knew no enemies beyond the borders, only a friend, and that friend had pledged never to harm her.
Nakoma closed her eyes as the sound of wings beat in time with her heart. She heard the sound of Kharrie's voice, lifted in gentle song. Finally, the streaming sunlight glinted off the snowy-white feathers covering her head. Kharrie had arrived at last. Nakoma scooted to the side and Kharrie reached with golden talons to hold the branch beside her.
“Kharrie,” Nakoma said to the eagle that was almost twice her size, “let us go quickly to this new sight you desire to show me. You know the laws of my people; the shadows grow long as our time grows short.”
Night in the Duirfin Forest was not kind to the Faefolk such as Nakoma—to remain outside the boundary beyond the sunset was to be trapped there until the barrier lifted at dawn.
Kharrie chirped reassuringly and bent her head toward the little sprite. White feathers mingled with brown hair as she leaned against Nakoma. Her tongue rattled inside her beak, and Nakoma relaxed in the soothing sensation.
“Show me,” she whispered, and Kharrie took flight once more. Nakoma followed her, wending her way through the treetops as easily as the squirrels.
Ahead of Nakoma, Kharrie had come to rest on the branch. Her bright golden eyes fixed on something below. Nakoma looked down and gasped.
There were creatures she did not know milling about in the clearing not ten yards below the two friends. These creatures resembled Faefolk in the faces and the bearing, but they were large and strong, like giants! Three Wood-Sprites standing atop one another’s shoulders could very likely just reach the shoulder of one of these giants. They grunted and growled at each other as they moved about in a small village (almost the same size as the whole Fae Glen!) made of cloth and wood and large yellow vines. Some of the giants hunched around a steaming black hole. Nakoma could see flickers of light beneath it, which she could only assume were fire spirits trapped underneath the smoking hole; she could see other giants, looking at a large flat skin that from this distance she could see was a map. The more Nakoma listened, the more she began to understand their strange noises. The giants were talking with one another!
“Where do you suppose it is, then?” said one of the giants with a red covering.
The one covered in brown rubbed his head. “Legends say the Druid Circle can be found at the intersection of these two lines,” he pointed to the skin.
The giant with a large covering on his head made a hard noise like a grunt. “Well, we’re here,” he spread his arms, looking around. Nakoma shrank against the trunk of the tree as his gaze swept past her hiding place. “So where is it?”
The giant in brown placed a hand against his chin. “Perhaps my calculations were a bit off—“
Nakoma could not hear any more over the rush of fear that swelled in her ears. The Circle! Giants were planning to invade the Circle! Nakoma needed to warn her clan. She turned to whisper to her soul mate.
The young eagle had sensed the sprite's fear of only moments ago and had fled already. Nakoma could just barely see her white tail-feathers in the distance. Desperately, she scrambled after her. The vast forest was much too large for a Wood-Sprite—without the eagle to guide her, Nakoma would never be able to find her way back to the Circle.
At just the worst possible moment, a branch snapped under her feet.
“What’s that?” Nakoma heard a giant yell. Very soon, they were all yelling.
“Something’s up there!”
“In the trees!”
“What is it?”
“Get the lanterns!”
Nakoma was glad of the deepening shadows to hide her escape—until she realized what those shadows meant—sunset! Nakoma swung back through the trees, trying to guess the position of the sun in the dying light on the horizon, and placing it over her left shoulder, as it had been on her right when they had come upon the giants’ village.
Below her, the forest rang with their howls.
Nakoma swung up high into a tree, where the branches crossed so thickly that no eyes would ever spot her. The chill of dusk wrapped around her, and Nakoma knew that—even if she did find the way back to the Circle—she would not be able to cross the border.
Night had fallen on Duirfin Forest.
The voices of the giants faded into the distance; all she could hear were the gentle chirps of the forest crawlers. Her narrow toes found purchase in the bark of the tree as she worked her way down to the ground. Nakoma reasoned that she could find her way to the outer Circle from below, if she had lost the path from above.
Nakoma had only advanced twenty paces when a host of glowing orbs swung into view behind her.
“I see it!” cried a giant.
Crouching low, as small as possible, Nakoma immediately began running as fast as her legs could carry her. All the while the great thump-thump-thump-ing of giant feet swelled behind her.
Running swiftly out of sight of those glowing orbs, she spotted a small hole and dove inside. Crouching at the very back of the hollow log, Nakoma stared out toward the path. The giants ran past, swinging the orbs in their hands around. The Wood-Sprite saw the flickering forms of fire spirits trapped in glass; how cruel! She did not stir until every flicker of light and every shouting voice had faded. Only then did Nakoma venture forward—
Until a glowing orb suddenly filled the mouth of the log!
Nakoma let out a piercing shriek. The orb receded, but only slightly. She was caught well within its light; surely the giant knew she was there.
“Hello?” The voice was soft, as smooth as a rippling brook. Not at all harsh and growling like the other giants. Nakoma peeked between the fingers of her hands covering her face, and saw the brown cover she had seen earlier.