Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Suggestion Box, Vol. 3: "One Thousand Words," List #15

Suggested by: Zachary Totah

The List:
-The Forgotten Wood
-one hour before dawn
-a solidified moonbeam

The Result:
("Soul Mates" Part 6; "Serenity's Light" Part 2) 
Deep in the Forgotten Wood, Relaya waited. She sat on the steps behind her little wagon, as the curtains made of shimmering rainbow billowed in the night breeze. It made her shiver, as it managed to cut right through the sheer night-shawl she wore. Relaya pulled the sides closer around herself.
One hour before dawn, she head a small snap. Relaya lifted her gaze, scanning the shadows around the trees. Had her contact arrived?

The bushes rustled. Relaya kept her eyes focused, but the movements seemed too small to be the one she sought. A brilliant bouquet of twilight blooms broke through, trotting along on four legs, it seemed. As it drew closer, Relaya could see that the four legs belonged to a bright-copper fox, who carried the boquet in his mouth. Its fluffy tail twitched back and forth as it approached the woman in the wagon. Relaya accepted the flowers from the fox, upon which the animal scurried up the steps and curled up beside Relaya. After all, he had traveled a long ways, and he was waiting, too.

Relaya kept her watch, as the dew fell over everything. The flowers were a calling card. Their sender would arrive soon.

The young Fae nearly dropped the flowers at the sound of a familiar voice whispering her name.
A figure stood before her, clad in armor seemingly made of moonbeams, a fist-sized gem gleaming with the light of a star hanging over the chest plate.

Relaya immediately bowed before this one.
"Lady Serene," she murmured the name reverently. "Star-bringer, Light-bearer—"
"Enough." The armored lady cut her off impatiently. "I am Nerissa, Agent of Serenity." Nerissa paused and brushed her fingers over the surface of the gem called Serenity's Light—all that was left of the star that once served as the sun for their world. She looked down at the genuflecting Fae. "Oh, do get up!" She snarled.

Relaya immediately bounded to her feet. "I'm sorry—"
"Relaya, look at me," said Nerissa. When the overwhelmed young Fae did, Nerissa continued. "We were neighbors once, remember? I am still the same little girl who ran through the streets on Market Day beside you; the same headstrong warrior who went into the Forgotten Forest all those years ago—"
"But you're the only one who was able to find the Light!" Relaya insisted. "You were the only one to come out of that darkness alive." She pointed to the glittering canopy over their heads. "You are the reason we have stars and moon in our Endless Night!"

Nerissa looked upward and sighed. "But the Darkness still lingers," she said heavily. "The Dawning of Serenity's Light cannot happen until that which was stolen has been returned." She touched Serenity's Light again and smiled. "And to do that, we need a historian."
Relaya had never heard of such a thing. "Pardon?"
The Light-bearer shook her head. "Never mind. Relaya, I arranged this meeting because I need to do something, and you are the only person I trust."
Relaya clasped her hands over her heart. "Anything!"

From the scabbard at her side, Nerissa drew her sword. It glowed in the night, almost as if it had been forged from a solid sliver of moonbeam.
"This sword," said Nerissa, "is all that remains of the Three Relics that vanished when Serenity's Light  fell." She slid it back into the scabbard and unbuckled the belt. "The other two, a bronze collar and a golden diadem, were scattered in a realm I had never heard of—one without magic. In that realm, the Relics will appear as simple artifacts belonging to some forgotten age of that dimension. But you will know them, because you are Fae."
Relaya felt her heartbeat race at the suggestion. "Y-you want me—"
Nerissa was already fastening the buckle around Relaya's waist. "The Darkness is already tracking down the other two. Their appearances changed, but they still have incredible power in that realm—power that should not exist there. He cannot get this Sword! So long as he does not possess this sword, the Sword of LaƬdreacht, his strength is weak and I can hold him at bay."
"Oh, Nerissa, I can't!" Fear was almost choking her. She gripped her friend's hands tighter. "I am not strong enough!"
Nerissa smiled. "With this sword, you will have all the strength and courage you need. Now go! Agents of Darkness are on their way!" She turned Relaya and gave her a little push. "Just keep running till you see the portal!"
"Go! Find the Lore-Master and tell him of the Relics!"
It seemed to the young Fae that a gust of glowing wind swept over Nerissa, blowing Relaya down the path. She nearly tripped over her own skirts as she dashed blindly in the direction of the wind. She could hear shouting behind her, but she dared not stop.
A bright light some ways away caught her attention. Relaya peered closely, as the very fabric of reality seemed to bend around a certain point in the forest. That must be the portal! Relaya ran right for it, cringing and squeezing her eyes shut as she pushed through.

She felt the coldness of the portal over her skin, yet when she opened her eyes, the place in which she now stood was not all that much different than the Forgotten Wood she had left behind. Everything glowed with its own gentle light, and the place was absolutely crawling with pixies and sprites. A bright-yellow flower pixie floated to land gently on her shoulder.
“Hello,” said the pixie. “My name is Anara. Welcome to Duirfin Forest, traveler.”
Relaya gasped as she gazed all around. “I—“
“Is something wrong?” Anara asked. “What is your name?”
“I am called Relaya,” answered the Fae, “and I was told that this realm had no magic.”
Anara laughed, like the sound of harp strings. “Ordinarily, it doesn’t—but there are pockets of magic spaces that the humans—that is, the chief inhabitants of this world—cannot fathom, such as this one. They call them ‘druid circles’, and we can inhabit them safely, completely hidden behind a veil that makes us invisible to their eyes.”
Relaya’s hand brushed the hilt of the sword Nerissa had given her. Immediately, a calm seeped through her fingers, and she remembered her mission.
“Anara, this may be a strange question,” she said, “but have you heard of the one called the Lore-Master?”
Anara hovered in front of her face for a moment. “As a matter of fact,” she said, “I saw him not too long ago.”
Relaya’s eyes widened. “You did?”
Anara bobbed, and she spoke quietly. “He came into the circle with a wood-sprite named Nakoma. He seemed to recognize our Warden as someone else, but his words only made her angry. Then Nakoma spoke of a magical collar—“
Relaya felt a small thrill in her heart; the second Relic!
“—and they departed by another portal to find it.”
Relaya could hardly contain herself. “Show me where this other portal is! Quickly!”
Anara hesitated. “I—I can’t!” she chimed in her delicate voice, as her petals turned orange in agitation. “The portal is beyond the veil, and Lady Allyra has forbade all her subjects from going there!”
Relaya sighed. “But I am not her subject. Just tell me where it is, then!”
“It is not far,” Anara answered. “Come.”
The flower pixie led her to a little path that led beyond the edge of the Druid Circle.
“Just follow this path, and you will find it.”
“Thank you, Anara!” Relaya didn’t hesitate a moment longer, but burst right through the thin magical veil.

There, just as Anara had said, was the portal, bending light and color around it. But something caught Relaya’s ankle and she tumbled forward into the dirt. She could not move her body. She lay, facedown and helpless, as rough hands pulled the sword belt off of her. A strange animal cried out, and the thief dropped the sword with an oath. Relaya heard flapping wings and saw a brown shape out of the corner of her eye as darkness consumed her and she knew no more...

Previously in This Series: