"Zuri, open your mind," Maz called to me. I was staring in amazement at the snake, mist thing. "Zuri! You trust me right?" Maz asked again uncertainly. I tore my gaze from the snake mist and met Maz's eyes.
"Yeah! Course I do Nutbrain! I already said that!" Was he slow or what? He smiled at me and nodded.
Good I heard a voice say. I gasped in shock. Oh, Nature! Was I losing my mind?
"What was that?!" I demanded.
Ah! No, Little Nature, you may not talk in the crossing the voice chided me lightly. How does he know my nickname?
He's Al'leako, he's is the master of riddles, Maz thought at me. I only know he thought it because he smiled at me slyly as he thought it so I could tell he wasn't moving his lips. I shot him a incredulous look and was about to say something when Maz raised his eyebrow to remind me not to speak. I pouted and he chuckled. He looked back to the lake. I saw him relax and then step off the cliff. I squeaked in alarm and was about to try and save him but then I saw that he hadn't actually fallen. He was actually walking in thin air!
Once you start walking, you cannot stop, Zuri. You can stop for nothing, if you do you will become that which is not. Just walk, Zuri, and don't stop until we meet Al'leako, Maz instructed me. He glanced back to make sure I'd heard and I nodded. With that, I walked forward much like Maz had and continued walking. Maz slowed for me so I could catch up. I shouldn't be worrying. I was with Maz who I trusted more than anyone. Still, I was walking in the air so I think I'm entitled to panic a little bit.
Do not worry, Little One. This test shall not be as hard as yours was for you have entered here once and so shall not become unmade if you stop. Make sure, Little Nature, that you do not stop. I nodded absently and got the sense that Al'leako was pleased with me.
The snake mists wrapped themselves around the two of us as we walked. There was a tangible change in the air and the cliff disappeared. I glance at Maz but he seemed to be expecting it so I didn't worry. Much.
There was a greenish tinge to the fog. A voice was singing and as we neared we heard the words being sung.
"Silently waiting, he comes again. Silently waiting, but who he bring? Oh who could it be, this new being? Will they make it? Will they make it through the mist?" Well, that really helped my nerves.
When we reached solid land (blue and red grass?! Grey trees?!) the singing stopped. The snake mists faded away. I stood and gaped at this strange world. Before us was what could only be Al'leako. Tentatively, I smiled at him.
"Welcome, Little Nature, you did well," Al'leako turned to Maz, "You made a good choice, Little One." There was a pause.
"Um, if you don't mind my asking, where are we exactly?" I whispered. Al'leako smiled.
"I understand your reluctance. Your Nature isn't here and that makes you feel vulnerable but do not fear. Your connection with Nature is so strong you can reach Nature even though we're in a different world. To answer your question, this is the Black Twilight World." Al'leako said.
"Why am I here? What purpose do I have?" I breathed.
"You are here to undergo some tests."
Super, I thought sarcastically, sounding eerily like my half-sister for a minute.