When last we met our heroine, the elf princess, Ackerlea was separated from her party within the Silva Somma. It was otherwise known as, “The Forest of no Return”. She had nothing but her wits and determination to guide her through the dense haze-obscured foliage. Her long robes and brown hair flowed from her willowy frame. She wove her way through with purpose. As she did so, she could not smell nor taste anything but ash. Her throat quickly grew hoarse from calling out to the others. After but a few attempts she felt as if she had swallowed a small flame. Her bright emerald eyes stung.
I stopped, glancing blankly at the page. I tapped my pen restlessly on the near edge of the drawing table. Not bad. It looks good, I thought. I may finish this latest installment by tonight after all. Yes, I affirmed to myself with pride, I finally sat down and am getting it done.
Tap. Tap. Tap.
It was still early. If I was to continue on this pace I needed some tea. Yes, a little sugar and some caffeine will keep me on the ball, I thought. Does tea even have caffeine? I glanced up at the morning sky through my window, pondering this question. No matter. I got up to boil some water.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she stopped cold. Her heart suddenly racing. Before her, a few feet ahead, stood a large shadowy figure. “How queer”, she thought, “I hadn’t heard another nearby. Could it be that this place has hindered all my senses? No, my eyes deceive me. Surely it is a large stone or…” She stood motionless, staring at it for several moments. Did it move? No, it was just the dark vapors shifting in the air. Wasn’t it? Finally, she called out. “Hello? Who goes there?”
I glanced at the page with satisfaction. I’m on a roll now, I thought. I rolled slightly to and fro on my chair. Yup. It was indeed going well.
I took the last sip of my tea. Something glinted through the window. I stood up and walked around the table to lower the blinds. That was better. I turned and surveyed my small, messy room. Where did I leave my phone? I walked back around the drawing table. Gingerly, I walked over the books strewn across the floor. I spied my phone just under one of my sketchbooks. I bent down and spied yet another book under my phone. I was looking for that. How did that get there? I brushed my phone aside and picked up the book. “Musings on Classical Roman Architecture”. Interesting…
“Princess Ackerlea?” A familiar voice sounded. Ackerlea’s heart skipped a beat. She raced toward the shadowy form. It was him! “Matias!” She croaked, her voice still felt aflame. She embraced the large, cloaked man. He wrapped one arm around her and placed his other hand upon the crown of her head. He looked down at her. Behind his beastly visage were the kind eyes of a man. “What in Heaven’s name are you doing here, foolish youngster?”
Ackerlea couldn’t find her voice. She sobbed into his cloak. There was so much that she wanted to say. How he was right all along, how she should’ve listened and appreciated his lessons. Finally, he pulled her away and gently shook her shoulders. “Speak, blast you! Why have you come here?”
“To find you!” She croaked. She looked up at him, still sobbing. “The dwarf twins, my sister and I all fled in search of you! We knew you still lived!” Your banishment was a great wrong. I’m sorry! We should have heeded your warnings!”
“Fool!” Matias growled. “You are all in grave danger yet! Where are the others?”
“I do not know. We were separated…” The princess inhaled deeply to compose herself and instantly regretted it. Her throat was afire. Even though her old friend was but an arm’s length away, his features were nothing but a blur. It was the combination of her tears and the haze.
“Actually… I think I can track them as I did you. But we must hurry!” Matias turned his head about. “Within the center of this forest lies a great beast. It is a fiery thing that will soon erupt from it’s slumber to consume us all!”
Startled, I dropped the pen. I looked up at the dark blue sky before me. I turned on the lamp hanging over my drawing table. When did it get so late? I was in the zone. Yes, a little more and I would be finished. Just a little more. My stomach rumbled. Perhaps, I thought, I should go out to get some pizza. Treat myself to a nice dinner for a job well done. Well, not quiet. But once I had finished my dinner, I intended to return and finish the story. Yes, then I could rest happily. I stood up to get my coat.