Thorn watched Rosalie as they continued to fly westward.
“What did you say?” he said as his voice caught in his throat. He thought perhaps his ears were playing dirty tricks on him.
Rosalie was so innocent, and pretty too, with her braided rust-coloured hair, even though the sack-cloth showed that she was from a poor family.
“I said that, before I was swept up in a blaze of white, something that burnt like fire, yet did not harm even a hair of mine, I heard the sweetest sound. I was running, you see, and I wouldn’t have heard it otherwise. It was so unusual, not like any bird or beast, or fish or elf, that I’d ever heard.
“I shouldn’t have stopped. I guess that’s when the colourful, blank whirlwind got hold of me. But the music was so sweet. It didn’t have that over-powering quality that a lot of regular music does. And so I stopped. I stopped so I could hear where the lovely music was coming from. I looked up, and there were the trees, bowing to something that I could not make out. The branches moved, but not in the wind, not even in the oncoming storm of mist…
“They were moving, singing, dancing to something else.”
Thorn nodded intently, though his heart was racing faster than ever. Things were beginning to make sense, even though the greatest knowledge was still miles away, hidden with safety.
“Arrow!” he turned to the guard sitting at the back of the phoenix.
“Can I help you, Prince Thorn? Please, do not fret,” he added, as though he could hear the drum-beat of Thorn’s dancing heart.
“Arrow,” muttered Thorn, “before the rushing wind took you from you place and into the forest, do you remember anything out of place? Do you remember, perhaps, an unusual singing, or ethereal music?”
Arrow paused for a second, and his brow became furrowed as he thought.
“I was not paying attention, Sire, but I do believe there was something. Though I dismissed it as music from the celebrations…” He looked pensive as he spoke. “I remember now you mention it, low and sweet, the kind of music that I find most pleasant to the ears. It was there for a second, but I was so busy and I did not think… And then I was here. I’m sorry I can not be more useful.”
“It’s okay, Arrow,” replied Thorn. He sighed inwardly, but somehow, just a little bit, felt like something had been achieved against the danger that had gradually been swarming around their little group of survivors.
Emerald had been watching the exchange, her eyes glinting with eagerness.
“I was young…I didn’t hear much about it the first time this dreadful thing happened, but there was said, at that time, of some people saved from the Mists. I dismissed it as rumours, and everything was over so quickly, but perhaps…” She trailed off and glanced at Rosalie. “What was said was that there were a few elves were gifted with ‘tree-singing’, a genetic gift that is passed on to one elf out of a million. It’s a gift that needs practise, too. Elves are born with it, but, as with everything, they can do nothing unless they know about it…and if they’re not taught…” Emerald shook her head.
“What sort of gift is it?” asked Kamika.
“The elves gifted can hear the trees sing, which they do at the oddest of times: when there is peril, when there is utmost bliss, and when there is a change in the atmosphere of time. The most gifted of elves are able to sing back to the trees, so it’s said, and, effectively, the whole of nature is at their power.”
“The whole of nature?” gasped Thorn. “Are you sure?”
“I don’t think I’m wrong,” Emerald replied.
Thorn was amazed. He’d never even heard of something so powerful. Yet, this birthday had been one filled with so many surprises and revelations.
Suddenly Thorn was aware that everybody was silent. They were waiting for him…but he had nothing to say. He could not, at the moment, see a way out of the predicament. This just made things more complicated. And why did everyone always look to him for the answers?
“There’s something else I’ve remembered,” added little Rosalie, suddenly.
“Go on,” whispered Kamika, stunned by their conversation.
“The trees they were… happy. They were singing because of the something that was warding away the mist. It was weak at that time, but it could have been strong. There’s something going against the mists!”