The terrain had a new feel to it, not only in stark contrast to the environment she had been, but it had an ancient forgotten sort of stillness in which many things hung unseen. She didn’t know what or who lived there, what danger or adventure awaited, so she kept up her vigil, always alert, always listening. Being here reminded her of the feeling she had being around the henge of stones back in her own country, unsure if what you cannot see but sense will turn out friendly or try to kill you. She stopped beside a brook. As she searched into the bottom of her pack for the last ration of bread, her peripheral vision caught a reflective speck on the moving stream. Munching, she leaned to get a closer look. Tricky. At first it looked like a bug skimming on the surface, but no, it was in the sky. Too high almost for her to follow except by watching the stream. She couldn’t tell what it was, but she melted back noiselessy into the shade. So there were things living here.
She continued on into the terrain following the stream, careful to stay out of sight. Now late afternoon, she kept a lookout for a safe crevice or somewhere to spend the night. The trees had changed now; taller like monuments with scatterings of plants and barren ground. Long shadows stretching the voids. Suddenly she heard a sound. It was like a wind stirring but the forest remained as eeire and still as ever. It drew closer. She hid in a cluster of trees that grew close together. Suddenly the whole air seemed a whir as the wind got increasingly louder. She looked around. Glancing up, her eyes went wide in amazement. it was a horse, with wings! Like those drawn on stones long ago. She ran renewed with strength and determination. She ran right out of the forest to a short grassy plain that dropped to cliffs. Running nearly to the edge, she stopped, panting for breath.
Above her were too many to count. She stood, watching as one, bigger than the rest and the color of flame swooped and descended toward her, not having to seem any idea of stopping. Alarmed, she backed up several paces. The majestic creature spread its wings to slow, letting out a fierce sound of its kind. It was much taller than her and three times so when it reared up.
She wasn’t used to screaming, being raised in a barbarous land but this she didn’t know how to communicate she wasn’t an enemy, and having never seen one, especially when its hooves could smash her skull without effort, she screamed. Unbenownst to her, someone heard her cry. He came running out of the forest, his feet speeding across the space, his wind making the grass dance in wake. He place himself in front of her, speaking soothingly, showing no fear. The huge equine with the dazzling coat and large dark eyes, pawed the earth with its front hoof, calming slowly out of its frenzy. Breathing like a bellows, it lowered its massive head toward the stranger.
Tristinia watched as the grey prince of the elves ascended on his ebony stallion flapping toward the sky in the sacred grove. The grove began to glow cooly flooding from the grass and leaves of the circle of rhododendrons began to blossom. The haggard old soothwitch hissed at her like a serpant as she circled Tristinia. Tristinia held out the dirk in front of her. The blade began to sing the song of water. She had climbed and dove for this in the cave of ancient secrets. She recalled the wisdoms and warnings that still echoed in her ears from the waterfall.
Her heart struggled with love and selfishness. She had never held someones love and life and fate in her hands. Now, all that depended on what she would do with the blade. She had always been chosen. She had never had to make such a choice for someone else’s joy and path. She had tried to rescue her husband, the only she had known, if only for a short time as a royal decision. She had only woven her heart to his as he passed from here, and what they could have been she now had chance to share with someone she loved, but deep down past self deception, she knew in his eyes, he considered another more precious. Her love had gone from this world.
In that moment she connected with his heart. She knew how he felt. Breathing heavily with cluttered mind yet sharp eyes, she dodged several times the strikes of the old hag who was growing long nails and transforming into the hideous creature she had wounded in its attack on the village. The soothwitch grinned triumphantly seeing the battle in her opponents eyes.
“Look at how handsome he is,” she caressed her thoughts. “he would learn to love you. What can this mystery maiden you know nothing of do to make him happy? He doesn’t know she has changed. She wouldn’t love someone after so long.”
Their eyes met, locked. That was a mistake. Tristinias anger boiled and bore into the soothwitch’s eyes. Looking past her at Nefel on the boulder, his soul pleading her to release his love.
The soothwitch lunged at her, teeth tranforming. She knocked Tristinia down and they tussled. The soothwitch now grabbed her by the throat, squeezing the beautfully scented air from her lungs. Her nose was overwhelmed by the stench of her enemy. She still had strength in her arm. The enemy sensed her movement and grabbed at her wrist with the dirk to defend herself. Tristinia leaned her weight forward pushing with all her might, slowly feeling the strength of her enemy’s grip transfer off her neck and to her arm, allowing her to breath.
Her head clearing from the shock of near stranglement, she pulled back unexpectedly in a burst of energy her enemy did not anticipate, releasing the grip she had on the weapon momentarily as she shifted, landing it in her opposite hand as she jumped backwards, the ugly countenance with its teeth bared coming at her, her free hand now having the dirk shot forward slashing across the creatures throat as black blood spewed forth.
A raspy noise emanated as the whole grove seemed to lose all color in the lights glow which strengthened. Tristinia knew she had done right. She let a war cry out of her lungs, her eyes afire with determination. The soothwitch looked up at her pleading mercy from human eyes but Tristinia knew the truth. There was nothing human left of this creature. Only torment. She plunged the knife down with force deep into the demonic chest, to the hilt.
The light of the grove was now blinding as the key of the story of love turned in the light and a beautiful pale elven beauty stood in the middle of the grove as the light melted the dark creature into oblivion and the dirk shattered in a explosive shower of sparkles. The lovely woman encased in ice moved her fingers as the ice peeled away, puddling into the lawn. Quickly her body was free. Nefel came running toward his love and Tristinia was able to escape in the overpowering light, pulling into the forest as it changed to head south east.