We passed along the message to those in the palace that were still sane how to fight what was going on. Meanwhile, I went outside and stared at the strange cloud. I frowned. There was a small trail of it leading to the forest. Knowing how much trouble I would be in, I ran and followed the trail.
The more I ran, the faster I got. I had never run this fast before but I didn't have time to think about it. I had to save my family and friends. If we were in danger, the elves were, too.
I burst into the trees. They were too tall for me to see the cloud so I jumped for the nearest branch. I pushed off the ground so strongly, though, that I reached the very top branch. I swayed and spun my arms like a windmill so that I wouldn't fall. I gripped the trunk and looked up. I had a decent view of the sky now.
Now came the hard part: getting from one tree to the next without falling. I saw a branch about five feet away and, with a deep breath, I jumped for it. I landed and something in my body said to keep jumping.
My dress was getting torn up from the leaves and branches but I didn't stop. I took occasional looks up to make sure I was still going the right way. The forest was starting to glow green and I knew I was getting close to the source.
I jumped to one last branch and pulled to a stop, putting my hand over my mouth. Down below, over ten of those creatures were gathered around a fire. It was producing the smoke that covered the castle. So it wasn't clouds after all.... They were chanting something and I listened closely. Some of the words I couldn't understand but I clearly heard my name among them.
I looked around me and saw a branch with large leaves. Praying it would work, I kicked the branch. It easily broke and fell to the earth, putting the fire out. The creatures let out screeches of anger and looked up. I bit my lip and was about to run when something grabbed me across the waist. I gasped as it carried me back the way we came.
I tried to fight whatever it was and it tripped. We went tumbling to the earth just outside of the forest on the human side and rolled in the grass.
"What the hell were you thinking!?" Wren yelled at me.
I pushed him off of me and stood up, panting. I ran off to the castle, knocked off balance slightly.
"Corstelis!" he yelled and I heard him following me. "Stop!"
I turned into the village and fell to my knees in relief.
"It's gone," I panted.
"What's gone?" he demanded.
"The smoke that was driving everyone insane," I answered, feeling lightheaded. "It's gone."
I put a hand to my forehead and blinked a couple times.
"What were you doing in those trees?" he asked. "You almost got yourself killed!"
"I had to save my family," I snapped, standing back up. I glared at him. "You may not know what love is, but I do."
"Of course I know what love is," he snapped back. He pointed to the forest. "But you almost died in there!"
"Then so be it! If they're safe, that's all that matters!"
"They want you, Corstelis! They drew you in there on purpose! This was a trap!"
"How do you know?" I spat.
"Bryan," he answered. "He got the creature to talk."
"Trap or not I couldn't let those I love spiral into insanity!"
He groaned and threw his hands up in the air. "Seriously, Corstelis!? You almost let yourself get killed because of family?"
"Why do you care so much?" I demanded, stomping my foot. "Why do you care if I live or die?"
He stared at me. "You don't know?"
I rolled my eyes. "Would I be asking if I did?"
"I thought it was obvious," he said slowly. "I guess Ryllae was right...."
"You're not making any sense, Wren," I snapped. "I have to go check on my family."
I made to leave but he grabbed my wrist and turned me. I was going to yell but he kissed me. I pulled back in shock. He was staring into my eyes with a look I had never seen before. I didn't know what to do or say. The hand not holding my wrist was on my lower back. Before I could say anything, I heard someone shouting my name.
Wren let me go and disappeared back into the trees. I stared after him, utterly confused and touching my lips. I turned and Angel wrapped her arms around me tightly.
"You did it," she sobbed. "I don't know how, but you did it. Everyone's okay."
"Where's my father?" I asked, suddenly remembering the smoke. "I need to get back to the Realm. Something's going on and they're in danger, too."
Angel shook her head. "No way. You're not going back into that- Corstelis!"
I was already running back to the palace. I saw my father hurrying down the palace steps, probably looking for me.
"I have to go back," I said, grabbing his arms.
"Are you crazy? It's dangerous in there!"
"No, Father! They're in trouble! I saw the creatures! They can make some kind of fire that drives everyone mad! You have to take me back!"
"No," he said immediately.
I glared. "Fine. Then I'll go through the forest myself."
"Damn it, Corstelis!" he yelled, grabbing my arm. "This isn't a game!"
"I'm aware of that!" I yelled back. "But Bryan is still over there! We have to at least go back for him! I have to tell the creature hunters what these beings can do! But we have to make sure the creatures know I'm going back."
"Cori," he began and I stomped my foot.
"Stop arguing with me!" I screamed and he stepped away in shock. "Just do it or people are going to die!" I pointed to the palace. "This is just the beginning!"
He growled and transformed. I got on his back and, before anyone else could stop us, he ran into the forest.
"Shit!" I yelled at myself as I ran through the trees. "You never should have done that, Wren!"
I was getting close to the Bridge and jumped onto the ground. I shook my head with an irritated sigh. But how could she have been so stupid? All I could is how lucky she was that the creature had talked. I was about to cross the Bridge when the two elves screamed in high pitches and ran away, tossing their spears over the side of the Bridge.
A large, pure white werewolf came tearing through the forest. As soon as it slid to a halt, Corstelis jumped off. I stared at her, my jaw dropped. Was she insane!?
"Go back, Father!" she yelled. "Warn them! Show them where they are! Tell Uncle David to send a troop or something! I don't care! Get the clan!"
The werewolf growled then turned and disappeared into the trees again. Corstelis held up what was left of her skirts and ran across the Bridge. I was dumbfounded. What the hell was she doing back here!? Didn't she realize how much trouble she was in?
I groaned in frustration and took off after her. She ran right for the Queen Mother's tower.
"She's not in there!" I yelled and she skidded to a stop.
"Where is she?" she demanded and I hesitated. "Damn it, Wren! You tell me where she is right now!"
I glared at her but pointed towards the gardens. I hovered between wanting to follow her and wanting to tell Bryan what happened. I decided on Bryan and ran into the hut with the secret passageway that led to where we kept creatures.
"Your cousin has a death wish," I snarled.
"What are you talking about?" Bryan asked.
He was sitting on the floor by the creature's cage. The creature hadn't given us the name of his kind yet but he seemed to have taken a liking to Bryan. I told him what happened and Bryan shook his head.
"I'll kill her. I will kill her!"
"Tell me about it," I grumbled, throwing myself on the floor beside him.