Assignment#27: Plot: Background Story
|Danny was waiting for him at the stables. Oberon was surprised to see her but his step didn’t falter or hesitate. His mind was made up.
Oberon ignored the question. If Danny was here then she already knew the answer to it. He nodded as he walked past. She quietly turned and followed him inside.
“Come on, Lilly. This is complete madness. The moment Una finds out, she’ll send a tracking party to bring your ass back.”
Oberon couldn’t help but smile. It was telling that his friend didn’t use the Queen’s title when no one was around. “Danny, I’m touched by all this sudden concern.”
“Mock me all you want, Lilly. You know damn well it’s true.” She watched him for a moment as he quietly and methodically prepped the horse. She was so engrossed in her thoughts, it took her a moment to realize what he was doing. Startled, she moved quickly towards him. “Damnit, Oberon! What do you think you’re doing? That’s my horse!”
Oberon stopped what he was doing and turned to face her. “Could you please not alert the entire encampment please?” He turned back to finish. “I’m well aware who’s horse this is.”
Danny grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. “There’s no way you’re taking Fenrah out of here.” She had the collar of his tunic scrunched in her fists and she drove him again the horse in anger. “I’ll kill you right here and now.”
Oberon stared into her eyes. He didn’t seem surprised or panicked. If anything, there was a hint of amusement dancing in his dark irises. A smile slowly crept to the corners of his mouth and the beginnings of a chuckle rumbled in his throat.
“Fuck you, Oberon. You want to get yourself killed, that’s on you. But you aren’t taking Fenrah.”
“I’m not getting Fenrah ready for me, woman. It’s for you.”
Danny let go and stepped back. “What are you talking about? I’m not going with you. I like my life.”
Oberon smiled appreciatively at her. “I know. But I need someone to take me to the stones. Since you’re here, makes sense to take advantage of that.”
“You’re crazy, Lilly, if you think I’ll help you commit treason.”
“It’s not treason and yes, you’ll help. You and I go way back. I need your assistance and you won’t turn your back on me, not for this. Plus I know damn well your curiosity is through the roof right now.”
“It is treason, Oberon.” Her voice was quiet now, almost fearful. “Try to reason it away if you like but abandoning your duties comes with only one title.”
It was Oberon’s turn to speak softly. “How long have you been here, Danny? Can you even remember?” She didn’t answer but Oberon didn’t need her to. “I’ve been longer than any of the Guard. One hundred and fifty-three years. Oh yeah, I’ve most definitely kept track. I pledged my loyalty for one hundred. Una got an extra fifty because I had nothing better to do.”
Danny couldn’t hide the awe on her face. “I can’t be more than thirty years on.”
Oberon snorted. “Thirty-seven in another two months.” He saw the look that passed her eyes. “It’s not just you. I know everyone’s. It’s an annoying habit I picked up.”
“Wait, though. If you’ve honestly been here that long, why even go back? You’re human which means they are as well. No human lives that long without the help of magic.”
“That’s true.” A sad smile pulled his lips tight. “But it hasn’t been that long back home. Una’s oath to me for service was ten to one. Ten years in Twilight and only one human year would go by out there. It’s only been fifteen years to my family.”
Danny walked over to Fenrah, tightened a strap and stepped up into the saddle. She held out her hand to Oberon. “Let’s get you home then.”
They woke no one nor met any guards on their way out of camp. For a time they enjoyed the quiet of the night, the cool air holding just a hint of dampness. After a while Danny finally had a question. “Why exactly am I delivering you the stones? Why didn’t you just take Handl’hal with you?” She felt him stiffen behind her.
“No. He’s been a faithful friend for far too long to do that to him.”
“He’s a horse, Lilly. I think he could handle the Human world.”
“Maybe. But he’s a warrior, not a wanderer. And that’s what I’ll be doing I’m guessing, for some time. Since you brought it up, I actually need you to watch him for me.”
“That’s not up to me and you know it. One rider, one horse. Don’t even think to ask me to give up Fenrah.”
“No, of course not.” He chuckled. “I mean, I need you to make sure he gets handed over to the right person. You know how Handl’hal is. Not everyone can handle his temperament.”
Danny sighed. “I’ll do what I can but ultimately, it still isn’t up to me.” Now she chuckled. “Ultimately, it’s up to Handl’hal. Pity for those he doesn’t deem worthy.”
They both had a laugh over that then slipped back into their thoughts.
Danny turned off the road and pushed Fenrah through the dense woods. The night was suddenly alive with life. The nocturnal creatures of the woods were out and about in search of food and not becoming dinner. They ignored the intrusion of the riders and horse. They posed no threat to them nor were they viable food, therefore not worth their time or attention.
After an hour of moving through the maze of trees, they emerged into the expected clearing. The ground was covered in a light mist, reaching just above Fenrah’s hooves. As the horse moved towards the center, its steps didn’t seem to disturb the swirling mass. Upon reaching the center, they easily spied the faerie ring. Rich dark purple mushrooms the size of a grown man’s fist encircled bare ground. The mist couldn’t or wouldn’t pass the earthen sentinels to enter the circle. Oberon climbed down.
“Well, thanks for the ride.”
“Really, that’s it? Thanks and see you?”
“Sorry. Would you like a kiss goodbye?”
“Only if you’d rather die than be on your way.”
He smiled up at her. “I’ll see you soon enough.”
Danny stared down at this man, one of a handful she could truly call friend. “You don’t know that, Oberon. Once you pass through, it might be final.”
“Maybe. But Una will send someone after me. I’m betting it’ll be you.”
Danny looked surprised. “Hadn’t thought of that. I suppose you’re right though.” A wicked smile spread across her face. “My tracking skills versus you. I’ve wondered how that would go.” She reached down, hand extended.
Oberon stepped forward and grasped it firmly. They squeezes tight, not in opposition but in respect. “I’ll be interested to see how this plays out. I don’t expect you to do any less than what our Queen demands.” He stepped back. “When you come for me, know I’ve no intention on returning. That’s what she’ll want.”
“Yeah, I know. But she’ll also have her second option.”
Oberon nodded. “Kill me.”
She looked up at the stars. “Beautiful night. I’m in hurry to get back.”
Taking the hint, Oberon tuned and stepped over the mushrooms and entered the circle. As Danny slowly turned her horse around and headed back towards the forest, the mist suddenly broke through the ring. It quickly surrounded Oberon, flowing over his boots and sending a chill up his legs. When he looked up the world was bright and before him was an open field. Around him, large stones encircled him where once the mushrooms were. Movement caught his eye and he saw a young boy slide off one of the stones and back away in fear. As Oberon stepped forward, the boy turned and ran away. He was definitely human.