The walk through the forest was just as creepy as the first day. I kept my bow in my hand. It was getting warmer and warmer as we walked which confused me. It was fall, not summer. Bryan put my cloak in the pack. Wren had his bow out and an arrow docked as well; I could tell he sensed it, too. As for Ryllae, she was humming and swinging her arms.
"Would you stop that?" Wren hissed. "They'll find us."
"Don't be ridiculous. We're on a forest path. Any creature with a brain knows we're here already. It's not like when we're in the trees.
Wren shook his head and kept his eyes on the trees. There was movement to our left and I docked my bow, spinning on the spot. Wren did the same and I held my breath. The leaves were rustling and Wren and I pulled our arrows back.
"What is it?" Bryan whispered.
"Hold on," I whispered back.
I was tense. Then, a blur of white jumped out and Wren sighed.
"A rabbit?" he grumbled. "I didn't know there were rabbits in this forest."
"We need to go," Ryllae said, her eyes wide.
"It's just a rabbit," Wren said, frowning at her terrified expression.
"That's not just a rabbit," she said. "Just trust me and run."
Wren rolled his eyes, putting his arrow back in its quiver. "You're over-"
He yelled as the rabbit - which had grown in size and its front teeth now resembled daggers - bit his shoulder. I pulled my arrow back and sent it flying through the rabbit's left eye. It roared and stumbled back, dropping Wren in the process. It squealed and transformed back into a normal sized, fluffy white rabbit. The arrow shrank with it and I stared in fascination. It hopped across the path and disappeared into the forest.
"Wow! Did you see that? The arrow got tiny, too!"
"Corstelis," Bryan snapped. "A little help would be nice."
"Huh?" I turned. Wren was on the ground, face down, and his left shoulder was bleeding profusely. "Oh! I'm so sorry! Hold on a second!"
I dug through the pack that Bryan was struggling out of. I passed him my cloak to put pressure on the wound. Ryllae was speaking to him in her native tongue and he replied weakly.
"Here," I said, giving him the ointment.
"This is going to sting, Wren," Bryan said, pulling down the green arm guard. "How many layers are you guys wearing!?"
There was another long sleeved, skin tight green shirt underneath. Under that was a mesh-like armor.
"It protects us from everything," Ryllae said. "Except for rabbit bites."
The cut wasn't too deep; it was just long. Bryan dabbed some of the ointment around it and Wren struggled.
"What are you putting on me?" he yelled.
"I warned you," Bryan said grimly. "Stop struggling. It's healing already."
"Of course it is! I'm an elf!"
Ryllae slapped him upside the head. "Don't be rude, Wren. If you could see how long this is, you'd know we needed their help." She rolled her eyes. "Thank you. What is that?"
"Our doctor at the palace created it," Bryan answered, passing me the jar of ointment. "It works well on minor wounds and bruises."
"Useful," Ryllae complimented. "Get up, Wren," she added, dragging him to his feet. "We still have another hour of walking."
He glared at his sister. "Real compassionate. It's not like I just got bitten in the shoulder by a monster."
"A cute monster," I said, trying not to laugh. Bryan glared at me but his mouth was twitching, too. "What? It was adorable! Before it turned into a huge beast, that is."
"Thanks," Wren mumbled, rubbing his shoulder, and set off walking again.
"I'm sorry," Ryllae said, frowning after him. "I don't know what his deal is. First he wants to help you guys, then he doesn't trust you. He's curious about humans yet, now that he has the chance to interact with you, he wants nothing to do with you."
"It's fine," Bryan assured her. "I just want to get out of this forest."
"Agreed," I said and we hurried to catch up with Wren.
Ryllae walked beside her brother, arguing with him in Elvish. I wish I could understand what they were saying. By the way she kept gesturing, though, I assumed it was about us. The darkness was starting to go away so Bryan put the torch out and stuck it in the pack. I ran in front of everyone, holding up my skirts so that I wouldn't trip.
"Aren't you going to stop her?" I asked the human, Bryan.
He was smiling sadly. "No. You have no idea how long she's waited for this moment."
When we got to the edge of the forest, the girl had fallen to her knees. Her mouth was gaping and tears were streaming down her face. Bryan sat beside her and held her hand.
"It's beautiful, Bryan," she whispered.
"Yeah, yeah it is Cori," he whispered back.
"Somewhere in there, someone knows what I am."
Ryllae stood there awkwardly. I knew she didn't want to interrupt but we had to keep going. We had to give the Queen Mother our report.
As if sensing that, the girl stood and wiped her tears away. Bryan adjusted the pack on his back, standing as well. I led the way down to the Bridge where two elves were guarding the way.
"Wait a minute," one of the elves said. "More humans?"
"At least they don't have a werewolf with them like the last ones," the second grumbled.
"The Queen Mother is expecting us," Bryan said.
"Sure she is," the first elf said sarcastically.
Bridge elves. They were the worst.
"Shove off," Ryllae snapped. "They're the guests she announced."
The elves just stepped to the side, glaring at Bryan and the girl. Elves stopped to stare at us but I ignored them, ready to get to the tower. When we reached the Queen Mother's tower, I jogged, wanting to get this over with. The sooner we dropped these two off and gave our report, the sooner I could get back in that forest and kill more of those creatures.
The Queen Mother was at the window facing the forest, not her bed as she usually was. I was the first to arrive. I could hear the human and the other one slowly making their way up.
"You do not need to be so suspicious," the Queen Mother said, not turning to face me.
"Different," she interrupted. She finally looked at me. "Something I know you can understand."
"I'm just here to escort them and give my report," I said.
"We will wait for the others." She looked at my shoulder. "What happened?"
"Were-rabbit," I sighed. "I'd never seen one before. I didn't even think they existed."
A smile tugged at her lips. "Yes, they're quite the...."
Her voice trailed off and I looked behind me. Ryllae stood beside me. The human came up next and the girl followed. When the girl finished catching her breath and stood up straight, her eyes landed on the Queen Mother.