No map could help one through, nor could one have a memory of the beaten path, for there were no trails to find. The forest moved far too much.
But Kayt was more than capable. She was smarter, and had twice as much heart as her knights. A modest cloak draped her, and she was armed to the teeth. Her face was soft, and pleasant, and she had cobalt eyes and royal flaxen hair.
Kayt meandered through with the star Pora as her compass. As she did, she listened to the sounds of the forest. Chirping, growling, scratching, the breath of wind, and fortunately, the murmurs of a nearby brook. She was getting close.
Quietly, Kayt tracked the beck, and followed it upstream. For hours, she strode the winding banks until she came across a glade in the grove. The trees around here were older and taller, and drooped downward they were so thick with leaves; they clouded the sky on a cloudless night.
And yet it was bright, the fireflies’ glow of green and blue pervaded the atmosphere, which while inviting, had a drowsing effect. But Kayt prevented herself from yawning; she had no intention of staying long.
Kayt tousled her hair, and dirtied her hands before entering the mossy clearing. Bugs crawled away from her boot whenever she stepped. Occasionally, she would trod on fungi, and found delight in the aroma of their vapourised spores.
On either side of the gap, where the linden and alders made a ring, sage and lavender, raspberry and rose were in full bloom before Kayt’s eyes. The sweet perfume of this flora was as intoxicating as the last, but still, Kayt fought the urge to sleep.
The beings who lived here were curious, for humans weren’t capable of wandering so far, without succumbing to the sedatives. Their wide and wary eyes peered through knotted weeds and grasses, but they stayed hid away.
She too was nervous, for the Fae were known to be frightful. Yet, Kayt soldiered on, and eventually waded through tall fronds of dewy grass, and trudged through sopping mud. Much time passed on her approach, but finally, Kayt found who she was seeking.
On a pile of wet sod, and hair, sat a gaunt and fragile creature. It was the size of a child, with skinny arms and legs, donning the rags of leaves and feathers. Kayt decided it was a girl based on its sharp and feminine features. The chin and cheekbones were pointed, as were her nose and ears. Her pale face was sad and dirty, while wild and twisted was her hair.
Suddenly she looked up, and dashed a searing stare at Kayt, with large and dark mauve eyes. Their gazes met, and so Kayt curtseyed.
“Your majesty,” said Kayt.
The faerie spoke in a gentle whisper, as if she had no air in her lungs. “Ye hath ventured long and yonder, pretty one. What is thy name?”
“I am Kayt, m’lady. Daughter of Efa and Donar,” she replied softly, and humbly.
“Know ye my name?”
“And true, m’lady. Thou art Andraste. Queen of Faeries.”
“Why are ye not dead?” Kayt was taken aback by this question, but she expected she knew why. While the Fae were similar to men in many respects, they had a fondness for human flesh. Such was the nature of the tranquil lighting, and calmative miasma of the plants around her. However, Kayt answered cordially, “There is a tonic, m’lady. It counters the effects of the hypnotic haze.”
Andraste’s scowl became a smile, and she showed off her razor-fine teeth. She admired Kayt’s beauty, even though she did her best to look plain and humble. “Prithee, what purpose entails this meeting?”
“A spell… magicks, of which ye alone may know. M’lady, I was sent for knowledge to spare my darling brother from death.”
“Indeed, m’lady. Heir to my father’s court.”
“Thou wisheth for a cure…Forsooth, I know of one. I know of many.” Andraste eyed Kayt, deciding if she was feeling more helpful or hungry. “Confess the poison of thy kin.”
“A sting of a white adder ails him, m’lady.”
“Within a week, he must boil, and eat the heart of the adder.”
“O, your majesty, thou’st my sincerest thanks!” said Kayt happily. She turned to leave, but was stopped when Andraste cried out, as if she changed her mind, “Hold, mortal!”
Kayt spun around, and Andraste asked, “Where doth ye tread?”
“I maketh haste, m’lady.”
“Methinks thou’st her spell. Methinks thou’st her magicks, of which I alone knew. But no longer. What hath I, besides thanks?”
Kayt became nervous again, “Of course, m’lady. I meant not to steal.”
“Thou needn’t make amends. A token is all I ask.”
Unfortunately, Kayt had few supplies, and none would satisfy a faerie.
“I hath little, m’lady. Rations. Metal tools.”
“Hmm. Give me thine hair… and ye may go,” salivated Andraste.
“I want it for myself. Cut it quick, or I’ll rip it off. Or thou shalt return scalpless.” said Andraste standing now.
Kayt accidentally defended her coiffure with a hand. A fatal mistake.
Andraste grimaced, “Hold still.”
Andraste leapt on Kayt’s face, and began scratching, and tugging her hair. Kayt screamed, clearly in pain, while the faerie laughed, eager to inflict it.