Was anyone wondering what exactly happened to poor Belissa, Lord Beldons sister? Well here you go. Just remember what happens to curious minds…
The echo of a pixies giggle was the first sign that she had gone where no wise man dared to tread. The soldier ignored the sign and trudged on. Her heavy boots sunk into the moist earth with every determined step. She kept her fists clenched tightly at her mail clad sides. Refusing to touch the mossy sides of the trees, to raise her fingers to the golden rays of the sun that filtered through the leaves to the forest underneath.
A breeze sighed through the underbrush and wisped her hair around her face.
“Come, “ It whispered into her ear. “Come with us and be happy. “Be free.”
She shut her ears to the voices that couldn’t hurt her. Ignoring the second sign.
Another breeze tousled hair flattened by a helmet long since tossed aside. Joining her sword on the forest floor. Both relics of a war she had left behind forever.
She stepped over a clear, chuckling stream. Keeping her head up so as not to see her grimy dirt streaked reflection. The marks of a battle she had fled from.
The air she breathed into her lungs was heavier on this side of the stream. Every heave of her chest took a little more effort. It was only that she had been walking for so long. But she refused to sit on the grassy bank. She could rest when the war was far enough away to be but a distant memory.
She was the only sign of war in the forest. The trees were still unbroken, the ground unmarked by hundreds of stomping feet. Marching off to yet another battle in the never ending war.
There was one battle weary soldier here, one who batted aside chattering pixies like flies. Flies didn’t dare enter this part of the forest.
“Come,” The pixies coaxed deaf ears. “Come with us. Come be happy.”
“I could use some happiness,” the soldier said unknowingly. Unable to hear the triumphant laughter of the pixies who flew ahead of her to ready the path.
The trees grew in twisted shapes here, unlike the straight trunks of the forest behind her who reached up to the sky in joy.
Faces appeared in the nooks of the crooked limbs. Smiling and winking at the heedless woman.
The air underneath the trees was close and warm. The woman stopped to remove her armor, leaving the worn and dented metal underneath a tree, alongside another pile of armor long since rusted beyond repair.
“It didn’t do me much good anyway,” The woman said with a shrug, walking with a spring in her step. “A war can’t make me happy.”
“Come with us instead,” The faces in the tree cooed. “We will make you happy.”
“The King didn’t make me happy either,” The woman told herself, beginning to walk alongside a whispering stream. Her next sentence was muffled. “All he asked us, his ‘loyal soldiers’,” she spat out the words. “To do was fight in a civil war. To uphold a promise he made to defeat the Rebel and undo the evil he has caused.” The dryad in the stream murmured her sympathy. The soldier kicked a stone that squealed as it bounced away. “I can’t believe I bought into that.”
“Come,” The dryad lifted her white head from the water. Beckoning with long fingers and a charming, sharp toothed smile. “We will right your wrongs. Come.”
The woman plodded along the stream.
Fluttering wings announced the pixies return. They teased her hair and tugged at her clothes with their tiny hands. The woman sighed out the last bit of the determination in her eyes. The steel in her gaze fading to a dull eyed stare. The dryad laughed in delight and splashed back into the stream.
The faces in the trees crawled out onto the branches and chattered from their perches, “Keep going. You are almost there. Come and be happy!”
“Be happy,” The soldier muttered in response. The pixies fingers tugged more insistently. The naiads spoke louder. The dryad laughed longer. All fell on deaf ears. The soldier’s eyes saw only the path in front of her. The grins and sly winks going unheeded.
The soldier stumbled on to a chorus of faeries whispering, “Come, come and be happy.”
“Be happy,” the soldier repeated, stumbling over a log who glared at her retreating back.
Tripping over another stone, the soldier stumbled into a sudden clearing. The chorus of shrill voices stopped. The pixies flew away, the golden sunlight reflecting off their wings in sparkles of gold. The woman blinked in the bright sunshine that put every leaf and tiny blade of grass in sharp relief.
The bubbling stream went silent as it made its way to the center of the hidden meadow. Pooling at an old stone archway.
The stones of the archway were covered in wet moss. The cloud of sparkling pixies guiding the soldier alighted there. All silently watching the woman.
The dryads head lifted out of the water just before the pool. She grinned, a fierce smile copied by the carvings peeking through the moss warning the woman of the place no soldiers ever dared to touch.
The dryad beckoned to the woman who lurched forward to the archway. Barely heeding when she splashed into the pool.
Now the view through the arch revealed itself. A castle stood on a faraway hill, its flag waving proudly in the wind that rustled the treetops of the forest below.
“Home,” The woman whispered. She sloshed through the pool, eyes so focused she did not heed the lack of sound. She stretched out her arm to touch the place destroyed long ago.
A spindly hand grabbed her ankle in a vice. The woman frowned and tried to lift her foot. She looked down at the grinning dryad. A film fell from her eyes and she beheld her faeries guides for the first time.
A gasp tore from her lips as she reached to her side. Her fingers grasping empty air where her sword used to be.
A giggle came from the dryad. Echoed by the pixies that rose as one into the air. The woman’s gaze went again to the archway. Yet it too had revealed its true self.
Thorns and darkness awaited her beyond the mossy stones. Darkness full of grinning eyes and glinting teeth. The woman recoiled from it, but the dryads hand stayed firm.
“No!” The woman wailed. “No! Let me go!”
“Come with us,” The dryad chortled. “Be happy!”
“Be happy!” The pixies repeated, flying over her head. Little hands were placed on the woman’s back and hundreds of little wings fluttered.
The woman flailed for the carven stones, reading their warnings even as her hands slipped on the moss. Her shriek echoed through the meadow. But there was nothing to stop her fall into darkness. The faeries laughed. The arch had claimed another life.