"Come on, Corstelis," I said, knocking on her door. "It's me, Bryan. We'll figure something out, okay? Come on out." I knocked again and frowned. "Corstelis?"
I walked in. The home was completely empty. I checked her room but she was gone. The blankets were mussed, though, as if someone had just come out of it. I went back to the front and there was a note on the door. I read it and sighed.
Bryan. I don't know what else to do. I love you too much to let this happen. Let Mother and Father know what I did. And tell Wren I'm sorry; that I wish we could have spent more time together. Bryan, I love him. It's for all of you that I do this. Please understand. Love, Cori
"Oh, Corstelis," I groaned and went out to find the Queen Mother.
Wren and I stood at the entrance to the forest. I could feel that pull I felt when Bryan and I had entered so long ago. I gulped and Wren held my hand, lacing our fingers together. I looked at him and he smiled reassuringly, kissing my fingers.
I nodded and we walked in. At first, everything seemed peaceful. As it got darker, though, I felt as if something was watching us. I shivered and moved closer to Wren. He had brought his bow and arrow, too, but if it's true that there are over 300 of them, he wouldn't be able to do much.
An hour went by and nothing happened. I was tired, though, and we sat in the middle of the forest path. I hadn't packed food. I put my bow and the arrows I brought on the floor. I sighed and looked around the dark forest.
"How long have you done this?" I whispered.
"Fifteen years," he whispered back. A cold wind blew through and we shivered, moving closer to each other. "Shortly after my mother...." He sighed. "What's that?"
He pointed to my flute.
"Oh. It's the flute Onvyr made for helping him and Ryllae, remember? I know it won't do any good out here, but I felt the need to bring it."
I leaned into him and he put his arm around me. I sighed. It figures that, the moment I find someone who loves me is the moment I've come to sacrifice myself. Sighing, I began to hum the Song of Goodbye. His hold on me tightened as he joined me.
I was crying and he kissed me. I wrapped my arms around his neck and he lifted me onto his lap. I sighed into his lips, wanting to remember this for the rest of my short life. He ran his hands up my legs and pulled back, his eyes full of question.
What the hell? We're about to die anyway.
I nodded and kissed him passionately, untying his outer tunic.
I lay in his arms, playing with his fingers. He kissed the top of my head and I sighed.
"We should probably keep going," I whispered.
"You're probably right," he replied.
We got up and redressed. I got the flute out and blew it quietly as we walked.
"Sounds like an owl," he observed and I nodded. "The second most beautiful noise I've ever heard."
He smiled and whispered in my ear. I turned red and shoved him. He chuckled and put his arm around my waist.
"How much longer do you think?" I asked after another hour. "I had thought they would come out her by now."
"Perhaps it's the presence of another being," he suggested. "You have a lot of energy to begin with and-"
A grey mass was emerging from the forest ten feet ahead of us and we stopped walking. I swallowed thickly and grabbed my bow. I may be sacrificing myself, but I wasn't going down without a fight.
Behind us, another Moarte was inching forward. We stood back to back and docked arrows.
"Corstelis," they said in unison. "Corstelis has arrived."
I swallowed thickly. "Do what you will," I said. "Just leave the human and elven realms alone!"
"Corstelis has arrived," they repeated. "Corstelis has arrived."
The chorus lifted as more Moarte surrounded us. In sync, we let our arrows fly. I quickly docked another and aimed for the next one. I only had ten arrows, though, and they were soon gone. Wren had brought more than I had and passed me some.
It was useless, though, and soon two slimy arms grabbed us. I kicked against them but they were dragging us into the forest. I didn't bother calling out for help. There was no one around and they wouldn't be able to help us anyway. The trees and thorns snatched at our clothes and tore them. I reached for Wren's hand but the best we could do was link our pinkie's together.
Ten minutes later, the Moarte released us and we fell to the forest floor. Wren immediately grabbed me and pulled me close, my back against his chest. We looked around.
We were in the clearing where the green smoke had come from. We were surrounded by the Moarte. I couldn't even count them. They were chanting again and I assumed they were saying Corstelis has arrived some more. I shook in Wren's arms and he tightened his grip.
"I am with you," he said in my ear. "No matter what, I am with you."
"And I am with you," I whispered.
A large, grey Moarte slinked over. It towered over us; it was even taller than the other Moarte. Its head bent down towards us and we leaned back.
"Corstelis," it rasped. I was starting to get tired of hearing my own name. "You have arrived."
"So we've heard," I said and Wren snorted.
"You raise many questions, Corstelis." I frowned. This one spoke fluidly, as if it were a human or elf. "The possibility of your birth, the way you have three species inside of you, the way you have ensnared the love of this elf."
I looked over my shoulder at Wren, frowning. He did the same and shrugged.
"What does Wren have to do with this?" I asked.
"Love," it responded. "It produces more energy than my fellows realize."
"You are not a normal Moarte," I said. "What are you?"
"I used to go by the name... Elyon," it said and Wren gasped.