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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2239979-Where-Rainbows-Dance---Chapter-14
Rated: 13+ · Novel · Fantasy · #2239979
The brownies flee their prison, pursued by monsters under the kraken's orders
Aira and Boroden tore through the labyrinth of passages, their frantic breathing frightening them almost as much as the pursuing redcaps. They had both grown weak. Boroden had forgotten none of his training in tracking and path finding. The denizens of the Unseelie Court could not all live on blood or cavern ooze alone. There had to be water and where it flowed they might find a way out.

Boroden’s sensitive nose picked out the smell of fresh water. It was a welcome flare to his hopes as the redcaps closed in. Neither Aira nor Boroden would give up now, not after they had come so far. A redcap youth dashed between them, trying to cut them off. He made an unsuccessful lunge at Aira then scrambled onto a rock above them, waiting to pounce. Aira was so annoyed at his attempts to disrupt her and Boroden that she slapped him with a force that took him off guard. The watercourse was close enough to hear now and nothing would stop them from reaching it.

They rounded a corner. It was a river as Boroden had hoped. Yet before they reached it a host of redcaps ran in their direction. Grim determination carried the two brownies on with a strength more than their own. Boroden and Aira charged and by dint of fierce battle cries, shoving and kicking, managed to get free from the redcaps with only cuts and bruises.

The river was swift and flowing in the wrong direction. Fortunately, the rainfall had not been heavy and there was a ledge of clear rock along the brink of the river. Boroden pulled Aira towards this. Relief brushed over them as they realised that the tunnel was angled so that the light of the redcaps’ torches could not penetrate. To the goblins it appeared that the brownies must have slipped into the river. A search was made in the opposite direction to that which Aira and Boroden had taken. By the time that the goblins realised their mistake the brownies were out of the Unseelie Court.

The sight of sunlight suffused Aira’s face with a smile of joy. Boroden stood at her side blinking not, as she first thought, from the shock of light after years of darkness, but because he wept. She loved him even more for valuing his freedom so.

The brightness revealed painful truths. Boroden had been used evilly and bore marks of torture that made Aira wince. Holding hands, they helped each other over the boulders strewing the ground about the base of the waterfall. Though it was beautiful, it relieved them to get away from the rush of falling water to a place where they might hear pursuers and speak to one another.

‘I should have always known you’re the most valiant and loyal to me. When we met the day that I saved Blackthorn from Midhir’s palace I told you to run but you stayed behind the trees with your knife drawn, I saw you. I thought all Midhir’s hoards were coming and I would have stayed and faced them whilst you ran home. I would do anything to protect you, my dearie,’ Boroden said, stroking Aira’s face. ‘Oh, I’m sorry.’ He drew back rubbing his hands to clean them as he noticed the grime that he had left on her pale skin.

‘I don’t mind a bit.’ Aira laughed, squeezing his arm.

He smiled back, but then his gaze became serious. ‘Aira, I used to think a sense of duty to ties of clan and kin vital. That loyalty stemmed from them. Now I know it’s not duty but love that’s the true prize. Love is unshakable.’ He reached out to her and she threw her arms about him, hugging him tight. Boroden bent to kiss Aira as he had longed to so often during his bleak imprisonment. A loud sniff behind him made him start away from her.

‘Now, I must interrupt because you are going to want to hear this,’ said the interloper.

Aira stared puzzled at the brownie that had appeared, although she quickly pieced back her memories and identified him. ‘Klaufi.’

‘You’ve been spying on us, Spadefoot?’ Boroden demanded, disgruntled.

‘No, Majesty. I wasn’t sure what was going on with Miss Aira with her dress all shredded and you all mired with muck.’

Embarrassed, Boroden apologetically handed Aira his cloak. ‘It’ll keep you warmer. I’m afraid it isn’t exactly fragrant though.’

‘No, it aint.’ Klaufi continued, ‘you look right dreadful, Majesty. What happened to you? Yer hair’s all hacked off and gone grey. I almost didn’t know you.’

Aira sought to soothe Boroden’s hurt feelings. ‘It’s not grey. It’s just dried on mud, Boroden. It’ll wash off.’

Boroden cast a derisory look over Klaufi’s plush mauve robe and gold fringed satchel. ‘And I almost didn’t recognise you. I see you’ve been living it up whilst we languished in a dungeon fearing for our lives.’

‘I didn’t know. It was like you’d vanished until Hëki give me the message. He’s always been a proper hero.’

‘Gave, Spadefoot, not give me the message. If you want my opinion, I don’t see him that way. Hëkitarka is a traitor and should be shunned.’ Boroden gritted his teeth, a steely look coming into his eyes. ‘Worse than than a traitor. A murderer. He killed Harfan.’

‘No! What?’ Aira was stunned.

‘I can hardly believe it too. I don’t want to, but I have the evidence of my own eyes. Leanan Sídhe has enchanted him.’

Aira gasped. ‘He never seemed enchanted when I knew him there.’

‘Well, he is now. He is no longer the Hëkitarka we knew. And since that is so he is no longer my cousin and I make no pretence at forgiveness. I will not hesitate to avenge Harfan should I meet Hëkitarka. The true Hëkitarka would want me to.’

Klaufi gaped, horrified. ‘You can’t kill him.’

‘Don’t put it past me.’

Aira held her tongue. She had seen her fill of killing but was in turmoil about how to react to Boroden’s news. Harfan dead by Hëkitarka’s hand was so unlikely a horror that she knew not what to believe or feel. Yet, had not Hëkitarka been on her side still when Midhir came? He had tried to forestall the wedding. Aira recalled how she had been tricked into thinking nightmares real when she had first been taken prisoner. It was likely that Boroden had received the same treatment and believed his vision of Hëkitarka killing Harfan to be real.

Boroden looked determined. ‘I must go back. Believe me, it’s the last thing I want to do now I’m with you once again and things seem so free of care out here. But they’re not. Even as we speak the others might be being tortured by those monsters.’

Aira nodded. Giving up on their friends was not an option. ‘I’ll come with you.’

‘No. I don’t want to say I saved you in vain. Stay here, Aira. Get up into one of the trees and await my return. You’ll be safe hidden there should the redcaps start searching the forest.’

‘I can make sure she’s safe,’ Klaufi said.

‘I thought you were coming with me? I assume you wouldn’t have come all this way without a plan to get into the Unseelie Court and free our kin.’

‘I’m not sure my magic is strong enough,’ Klaufi protested.

‘Well, I’m going to risk my life to save them and my magic is far less than yours,’ Boroden reasoned.

Klaufi barely heard him. Instead he crowed with delight upon seeing a sable clad brownie bound towards them.

Aira’s greeting was more reserved. ‘Hëki.’

‘Things are all going to plan. Leanan gave me Silvelenon,’ Hëkitarka explained, handing the sword to Aira.

‘Did she now? Ah, but I see you two care so much for each other. Nothing for anyone else.’ There was a bitter sting in Boroden’s last words that frightened Aira to hear. Clearly, he meant to punish Hëkitarka for a crime that she did not believe he had committed. This fixed rage in Boroden might be deadly. She had to find a way to divert his attention.

‘There will be time enough to deal with him later. I’m worried about Carnelian. As you said time is of the essence. What about the others? Please try and help them,’ Aira beseeched.

‘I thought you dead this last hundred years, and then I thought I was going to lose you again today. I don’t want to go through that again,’ Boroden said, his voice laden with emotion.

‘But I’ll be safe here. I’m sure Hëki means me no harm. We’ve often seen each other since he became Leanan’s knight. I’d rather put my trust in someone I know and love and stay out in the free open air than die prisoner to the Unseelie fey,’ Aira reasoned.

‘Know and love?’ Boroden scoffed, looking hard at Hëkitarka. ‘You neither know nor love the creature he is now. He is changed. Not of our clan. I want no more to do with you, Hëkitarka. Ever. I shan’t forgive you as long as I live.’

Hëkitarka fixed Boroden with a look like that which a faithful dog would give its master if he slapped it. Aira’s heart went out to him but Boroden was unmoved.

‘Please go,’ Aira urged. ‘What about Carnelian? We’d both think our lives well risked saving him I’m sure. Now that you’re gone there is no reason for them to keep Carnelian or the rest of our clan alive. They’re in more danger than ever before. You’ve got to go back. I’ll come too.’

‘I opened one of the doors in the cellar near the dungeons for them before I left. It should make things easier for them,’ Hëkitarka said.

‘How are they going to get a chance of escape? I don’t believe you. It’s just a trap!’ Boroden sneered. ‘Besides, what do you care for them, murderer?’

Hëkitarka took a step back as Boroden strode towards him in fury. ‘Let me explain…’

There was a rustling in the bracken behind them. Harfan charged out and flung his arms around Hëkitarka.

Boroden looked taken aback to see the two brothers embracing and laughing hysterically.

‘Sorry about the scratch. I hope it’s not too bad. You scared me when your mouth filled with blood,’ Hëkitarka told his brother.

‘I bit my tongue for effect, which hurts far worse than anything you did,’ Harfan reassured him.

‘What’s that?’ Klaufi asked, catching an approaching sound.

‘Horses. Get up into the trees, stay out of sight,’ Boroden urged Aira, following her towards the trunk of an ash tree.

Hëkitarka looked gleeful as he peered over his shoulder. ‘They’re coming.’

The sound of hoofs was accompanied by the tinkle of bells and glimpses of green and gold sídhe harnesses. ‘Midhir,’ Boroden growled under his breath, imagining that Hëkitarka was in league with the evil ones who wished to have him caught.

Aira knew it was not Midhir that came; the riders were too small. Quentillian was gripping onto the saddle of his horse with white knuckles. Gefi was too preoccupied with making sure that Carnelian was secure and not overly jolted to mind where his horse was heading. Hëkitarka took the reins of Midhir’s grey stallion.

‘I’d love to see the look on Midhir’s face when he comes to give chase and finds all his horses freed or stolen. Twice we’ve taken the steads from him. You’re as plucky as your cousin, Hëkitarka,’ Gefi chuckled.

‘Always do you seek to ape me. I suppose you’re pleased with yourself, imagining you are the hero. You’ve basked in the lap of luxury whilst we got tortured to the end of our wits. You do not know suffering. You want us all to give you the credit and fall at your feet.’ Boroden interposed himself between Hëkitarka and the horse.

‘Cousin, you have no idea what Hëkitarka has done for us. It cannot have been easy watching all these years, biding his time for an opportunity to free us knowing all the while that he might be killed for it. Forgive him,’ Harfan implored.

‘Forgiveness is not in my nature. We have only his word for it. It cannot have been an easy life being pampered as Leanan Sídhe’s First Knight, I am sure,’ Boroden said sarcastically. Not waiting for a retort, he mounted one of the horses and urged it on. He made no effort to check back over his shoulder to see if the others followed him, although they kept up closely.

Aira rode with Harfan. It was not the easiest of journeys for Harfan was clearly more concerned with hearing more from Hëkitarka. He doubted that his brother would be without a plan having ample time to think things over in Leanan Sídhe’s care. Harfan wanted to hear him out, regardless of whether Boroden approved or not. He was concerned too in case Hëkitarka’s spirits were dampened by Boroden putting down his eager reunion.

Seizing the next opportunity as they dismounted to eat foyson from some of the provisions they found in the saddle bags, Harfan came and sat beside Hëkitarka. They spoke as if none of the terrors of the intervening years had ever been.

Boroden shifted uneasily. He had been casting Hëkitarka ireful looks all day. He was awaiting a chance to unburden his wrath on his young cousin and Harfan guessed this. Protecting Hëkitarka and keeping companionably close to his brother was second nature to him.

Hëkitarka, deprived so long of Harfan’s watchful affection, was filled with a sense of the full worth of it. ‘Harfan, I’ve something to say to you. Being without you all this time has given me time to think, to understand things that I’ve never understood before. I see I was a fool but Leanan taught me a lesson that I needed to know. I always wanted more, some dream relationship like in the romances, and I never appreciated just how much I’ve got. Worst of all I don’t think I fully appreciated you and all that you do for me. You’ve fought beside me, protected me, thought about me first always and most of all you’ve put up with me for 489 years. You’re the best brother anyone could wish for and I shouldn’t look for anyone better.’

Harfan laid a hand on Hëkitarka’s shoulder. ‘Hëki, I’m flattered by what you’ve said but I pray that you will find someone to love. Someone who deserves you. That you will know the blessing of a wife and children. You have such a warm-hearted nature. You need someone to love you true. It’s not right that Leanan has crushed you and you mustn’t let her cloud your hopes.’

‘No. I suppose not. It would be nice to have someone who loves me as much as Myfanwy loves you. You’re very lucky,’ Hëkitarka smiled.

For an instant Harfan’s brow betrayed a pained contraction. He took a moment before answering. ‘Yes. One day you’ll find someone who is chosen for you, as I was for Myfanwy.’

‘How about a spot of hunting? It’ll make the provisions go further. Hëkitarka, you have your bow?’ Gefi suggested.

‘There’s no time. We must be far from here by nightfall. The Unseelie Court has many spies that Krysila shall send after us,’ Boroden cautioned.

‘What chance do we have? The power of the Unseelie Court extends over all the earth. We cannot outrun them,’ Quentillian exclaimed.

‘We can try.’ Hëkitarka urged his pony on.

The forest that they fled through had an evil air and they dare not stop amongst its twisted thorns for fear. In places it grew so dark that many times, especially as their fears heightened with the lengthening day, they thought it was nightfall. They stumbled across a river, treacherously turbulent and inky black.

‘We cannot cross it. We should try heading downstream and perhaps there will be a place we may ford. I’d feel safer with this torrent between us and evil,’ Quentillian declared.

The brownies set off along the edge of the ravine.

Boroden fell into step with Klaufi and asked the question that had been puzzling him since Klaufi had hesitated to accompany him on a rescue mission into the Unseelie Court. ‘Why did you come if you hadn’t thought of a way to get us out? You said your magic would not be strong enough to attempt it.’

‘No, but Bresil’s might be. He promised he would find help. He said he knew few now who might help us, still less did he believe that they will come. Yet, he must try. He left me to keep guard and said he’d fetch these allies he knows to meet us if they agree.’

‘Allies? Who are they?’

‘I don’t know for sure, although I have a few guesses.’ Klaufi looked far from easy, which made Boroden suspicious. ‘He has many friends. Some of them quite strange.’ Klaufi went on to narrate tales of his visits with Bresil as if they were sat about a campfire and not fleeing in peril of their lives.

The light dwindled. The horses stamped uneasily, and the brownies looked anxiously into every shadow. Then they heard the sound that they had been dreading. The yowl of skrikers. It mingled with another noise equally frightful; the baying of Midhir’s hunt pack.

The brownies urged their ponies into a gallop, desperately scanning the river for a spot to jump or wade across.

‘It’s no good!’ Hëkitarka fretted, glimpsing the white form of one of the hounds spurting after them.

‘Then we’ll have to make a way.’ Klaufi pointed at a tree with his hazel wand. Obediently it keeled towards the river, spreading its knotted trunk across it as a bridge.

Boroden exchanged a worried look with Carnelian.

Aira found herself longing to be safely on the other side of the river. Carnelian was in front of her. He took each step carefully, so that the time she spent following him across to the other bank seemed interminable. Klaufi came last and almost lost his footing as his boot snagged on a jagged branch. Barely had he alighted than they saw the forerunners of the pack of skrikers break cover upstream. The swiftest leapt onto the makeshift bridge. At a cry from Klaufi it cracked, sending the creature toppling into the ferment of gushing water.

‘Let’s get on!’ Klaufi shouted.

‘Wait.’ Gefi had glimpsed a small figure running through the trees on the opposite bank. ‘There’s a brownie after us.’

The lass that tore hopelessly towards the bridge held her long gown hitched above her knees. It was Leanan Sídhe in brownie form. ‘Tatty!’ she screamed.

To his annoyance, Boroden saw Hëkitarka pause. ‘Don’t be a fool. She’s not on our side. Why do you think she wants her mother dead? Because she wants Velmoran for herself. Seeming to fight on our side, there would be nothing we could do to prevent her closing in. She would marry you and find a way to kill me and Harfan and thus be queen, the only reason being to get her hands on the elixir of the fruit of the Tree of Life.’

‘No. She’s not like that. You don’t know her.’

Boroden frowned. ‘Your words only prove that she has you under her spell. I remember the last time I saw you that you dreaded her. Nothing but an enchantment could have effected such a change.’

A clear, shrill note rang through the forest. Midhir’s hunting horn.

Stricken, Leanan tried to scramble down the bank but she was swiftly surrounded by the milk white bodies and glowing crimson eyes of Midhir’s hounds.

‘You can do nothing to help.’ Harfan looked surprised at the concern shown by his brother.

It was lucky that Harfan urged him on when he did. The width of the ravine was no barrier to a strongly built, agile skriker and soon the whole pack came leaping over, rabid with excitement for the kill.

Klaufi hurled lightning bolts at the skrikers using his wand but this did little to stop their onslaught. The brownies wasted time trying to climb trees only to find the branches too brittle or the bark too slippery.

‘Hold fast. We stand and fight them,’ Boroden cried as his fifth attempt to climb failed.

Hëkitarka and Klaufi came to Boroden’s aid. The first skriker flew at Klaufi. Boroden and Hëkitarka skewered it on their swords before its paws touched the ground.

Klaufi showed off his skill at creating lightning sparks to keep four other skrikers at bay, glad that Aira and Carnelian watched. Even Quentillian looked proud.

Hëkitarka darted towards the largest of the skrikers, his sword eagerly poised. The beast leapt but Hëkitarka deftly circled out of the way. As the confused skriker looked about, growling, Hëkitarka jabbed its flank unexpectedly. It was too quick for him to do much harm and swiped its paw at him.

Hëkitarka tumbled beneath it, rolling out the other side and slashing it on the nose. All was a flurry of claws and snarls, the glint of Hëkitarka’s brisk blade and the skriker’s teeth.

Hëkitarka came out victorious but he had been forced back to the bushes into which Boroden was chasing a skriker. It had grown so dark that Hëkitarka did not see the skriker lurking in the thicket until it thumped into his back, pinning him to the ground. He tried to throw himself out of the way of its lunges, but its claws caught in the collar of his cape, tearing the black velvet.

Boroden looked at his cousin impaled beneath the skriker and then to the rest of his clan. He took a step away.

With a roar Harfan tossed his war hammer through the air and charged towards his brother. The stunned skriker relinquished Hëkitarka. Hëkitarka clutched his back and licked up the blood from his cut lip.

Harfan turned his attention to Boroden. ‘You left him there to die. I saw you looking at him lying there knowing that you could save him, but you turned away. Monster! You’ve wanted him dead ever since we escaped the Unseelie dungeons. You don’t understand one bit anything he’s been through. It was quite as bad as anything we suffered, and he had to be ten times as clever to escape it.’

‘As bad? Oh yes, when he had the finest food, a nice soft nest and a beautiful lady set on satisfying his every whim? If he’s been putting about that he didn’t enjoy himself then he’d better admit that he’s been lying.’

Harfan and Boroden were almost at blows when a skriker charged between them having singled out Carnelian. Aira hurled her dagger at it with a venom flamed by her annoyance at the discord in the clan.

One of the skrikers doubled back, bounding over the river on the far bank. There a rank of other skrikers waited to spring.

‘Run!’ Aira urged the others, although the attempt seemed futile.

Every heart electrified with terror at the sound of Krysila’s cry. She urged on the six nuckelavee drawing her chariot, whipping at breakneck speed after a massive ogre who felled the trees before her. The river would be no obstacle to a kraken.

Boroden looked to Carnelian for help, but there was no time to formulate a plan. They had to run for it.

The forest grew dark, dense. The trees seemed to conspire with Krysila, for roots overthrew the brownies. The sharp slap of dense thorns sent them reeling back, forcing them to attempt to break through by a different route. The forest felt endless, closing in, entrapping.

‘They’re gaining on us!’ Hëkitarka yelled.

The skrikers yowled, a bloodthirsty song, bounding over the thickets that had been an obstacle to the brownies.

The darkness illuminated with a flash of gold so bright that it was as if they had plunged into another world. The forest seared beneath a cascade of flame, not kindling up from the undergrowth into the trees but from the sky. The fire was so intense that the brownies could not look at it. Their eyes smarted as smoke plumes drenched the trees.

Hëkitarka tried to watch, both terrified and enchanted. In the white heat sprite-like bursts of blue, red and orange flame snapped and laughed. High up, climbing further than mountain heights, were shapes made strange by wreathing smoke and heat shimmers. Some instinctive tug told Hëkitarka what they were.

Firs whipped into spirals of flame like inverted tornadoes. Skrikers gave horrendous shrieks as their coats seared. The flames raged out of control. Though they had been directed over the skrikers, the flames tore towards the brownies, engulfing everything before them far faster than a skriker could run. The brownies choked on the smoke, the heat blistering at their backs.

A chill plunged over them at once refreshing but in an instant so cold that it hurt. It began to snow. The delicate wreaths of snowflakes fell so beautiful and unexpected that tears prickled in Aira’s eyes. Harfan caught a snowflake on his finger tip.

Hëkitarka laughed and began to form a snowball. Boroden looked to him and tried to frame some words.

‘It’s all right. It’s forgiven.’ Hëkitarka playfully pelted Boroden with the snowball. Boroden grinned and threw it back.

‘We must make haste. The fire won’t hold our enemies back for long,’ Carnelian warned. Already the flames dwindled and sank in on each other.

Before they lost their illumination altogether, Bresil appeared on the road before them. ‘I bring good news. Lord Gormor welcomes you to his home in Drackenfel. Indeed, you have much to praise him for already, for without his help you would not have survived the night. I say now that it will be some time before the Unseelie legions are willing to venture forth in pursuit of you. Krysila will be chary to risk an unforeseeable attack from ones to whom neither the lores of Seelie nor Unseelie Court apply.’

Most of the clan sighed in relief but Boroden was suspicious. ‘Lord Gormor must be a powerful magician indeed if he can hide from the two faerie courts and command both fire and ice.’

‘I did try to warn you about him. He’s rather odd,’ Klaufi told Boroden.

Bresil frowned. ‘You are too distrustful. The forces rising against you are stronger than those that are for you. You should learn to put more faith in those who would befriend you. It is for you to all be tested at Lord Gormor’s house and it shall be perhaps the most crucial test of all.’

None of the brownies liked this idea. They too well recalled what Bresil’s prophecy of testing had meant before and could see that it had come about through the trials that they had faced thus far.

They dare not stop all that night nor the next day, when they found their way made clear by crisp floes of snow that had settled on the path and been caught in the branches. The second morning was colder and fresher than many that they had known for a long while. A sunbeam or two ventured to the forest floor and Hëkitarka chased these as eagerly as he did squirrels, twirling and laughing in their brightness when they touched him. ‘The sun, oh, the sun! I never thought to feel it again.’

Harfan shared his glee, basking in the light which was thawing the snow.

As they went on they passed through such a myriad of changing scenes that Aira was left bewildered with the feeling that they had traversed a hundred and more different woods. Only Bresil’s guidance stopped her from feeling utterly lost with no hope of ever seeing the light again. Boroden and Quentillian, doubting the wizard, did not like to thus rely on him.

Many miles had passed, and the winter was loosening its fangs by the time that they came to a part of the forest utterly strange to anything that they had yet known. Bresil quickened his pace, telling them that they drew near to their destination.

Above them leaves strong as leather and glossy as emeralds imprisoned the light. The trees trailed thick, tattered sleeves of moss and their trunks sprung lithe across the ground, sprouting up wherever they could and knotting together. They reminded Aira of beasts with odd bulges and clumps of fungi for eyes, many toed feet and a mass of entwined arms spreading over the ground.

Some, Aira noticed with apprehension, had their bark made red and shaggy as bearskin by the rubbing of some vast beast. This was not all that made the clan’s whiskers prickle. There was an otherworldly power about the place as if they had passed some magical boundary to a hidden land.

Klaufi, who had left the path intrigued by a flight of yellow fungi descending from a branch, returned shaken and pointed out a dragon’s face with piercing eyes carved into a fallen trunk. Journeying on, they spotted several more carvings, some with odd beaks and wings.

Quentillian rounded on Bresil. ‘What do you think you’re about leading us here? It’s not on this not knowing where we’re heading and being led down a route where all manner of strange beasts might be marauding. It doesn’t feel right this place.’

‘This is the only path. I meant to bring you an ally that you would be glad of on your quest to regain Velmoran. Already he has shown great kindness to those of your kind whom he has met.’

‘Why does Lord Gormor choose this forsaken place for a home? What’s he hiding from and why? I notice that his name is not amongst the Seelie Court.’ Boroden’s voice was full of suspicion.

‘Nor yet of the Unseelie Court, as I have told you before. Lord Gormor prefers to keep to himself. If you must know he is a pixie of sorts.’

‘A pixie!’ Quentillian’s face was a picture of horror. ‘Long have they been nuisances to the Seelie Court. We won’t accept their help.’

‘You mean to turn back after this long journey?’ Gefi moaned.

‘It’s probably this Lord Gormor and his friends making it a long journey. Haven’t you ever heard of being Pixie-Led? It’s common knowledge that they like to transform a path into an endless looping labyrinth for a prank,’ Quentillian grumbled.

‘Lord Gormor is both powerful and wise. He will make an enemy that Krysila will find hard to deal with since his magic is of an uncommon kind.’

‘Why would this pixie want to help us?’ Boroden asked.

Bresil was becoming exasperated. ‘I’m sure you can make some bargain with him. Once it’s settled you will be as glad of him as he is of you.’

Boroden doubted this, but he had little choice other than to trudge on.
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