When he awoke, he found himself in a dark, circular room. It was filled with small flickering lights. His body tingled slightly, and when he looked down, he saw that his arms and legs were covered in lights.
He briefly wondered how he’d got there. He sat up, causing some of the lights to fly off before realighting on his skin, and looked around for Meleth, panicking slightly until he saw her lying on a small bed on the other side of the room, surrounded by more of the lights.
He made his way over to her, and stared in amazement, her wounds were almost completely healed, and the cut on her head was almost gone. He reached out to touch it, but the lights buzzed menacingly and he drew his hand back.
A warm glow seemed to fill the room and he turned round. There before him stood the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, with long locks of hair that shone like the moon. She wore a loose fitting gold dress that faded to a sky blue at the bottom, and on her head was a crown of pure diamond.
“They’re clever, are they not?” she said, gesturing towards the lights. Megil opened his mouth, but no words came out, her voice as beautiful as she was herself. He recovered himself, and replied,
“Yes, but… what are they?”
She laughed, “Fairies, of course, they’re the best healers there are. Come Megil, tell me how you came to be in the heart of the Forest.”
“How do you know my name?” he asked, surprised.
“I know many things, Megil, about you, the girl.”
“Then let me ask who you are, so I may know one thing about you.”
She smiled, “I am many things, but my name is Arduial of the elves. Now, tell me the tale.”
So he told her the whole thing, from the argument in the inn, to when he fought Gul outside the stables, to training Meleth with the sword, and finally to when they were ambushed by goblins.
“Is she going to be alright?” he asked, nodding toward Meleth as he spoke.
“It’s hard to say,” The lady answered, “it seems she is fighting with some internal power that is trying to get free. You said she couldn’t control her magic? Then that is probably the cause of all the problems.” She sighed, “If only I had my cousin here, then together, we may be able to help her.”
“Who’s your cousin?”
“He’s known as Nar of the Pictsies.”
“Where does he live?”
“Five days ride due west, you come to a great hall, another day east, and the great forest of stones lies before you, his home is built into one of the trees closest to the edge of the forest.”
“I’ll go and ask him to come and help. I’ll leave today. I’ll need a sword though, and a horse, what happened to mine?”
“Your sword, or your horse? Your horse is here, sleeping in one of the stables. But your sword was shattered when we found it. Come, we’ll find you another.”
She walked up to the wall and pressed her hand against it, murmuring some strange words. The wall slid silently open, and they stepped out into the broad daylight outside. As it closed behind them, Megil realised they’d been inside the trunk of a huge tree. He stared up at it until Arduial called him over to where she stood talking to a man
He was tall and fair-haired and was holding a delicate sword wrapped in leather. He held it out to Megil, who took it, testing the balance.
“The balance is perfect but isn’t it a bit thin?” he asked the man, “Surely it will just snap?”
“It’s elven steal, sir, you couldn’t break it if you tried.” His speech had a slight lilt to it like Arduial’s, but the tone of his voice was much harder. Instead of being a delicate flower blowing in the breeze, he was more like a strong tree, gently swaying to and fro.
Another man arrived, leading Megil’s horse behind him.
“How did you know I’d want these?” Megil asked them, taking the reins from the second man.
“The trees told us.” The first answered. Megil stared at him, but when he realised he’d get no further explanation he turned his attention back to Arduial.
“Thank you for your hospitality.” He said, bowing his head. She smiled softly.
“There’s food and water in the saddle bags, and plenty of streams along the way. You should reach the edge of the forest by sundown tomorrow, but hurry, I’m not sure how long she has left.” Her eyes flickered towards the tree a she spoke, and Megil felt a sudden fear rise inside him.
“She will be alright, won’t she?” he asked.
“I hope so.” She replied gravely, “Now go and get my cousin.”
He swung himself up onto the horse, and turning his back to the rising sun, rode into the dark trees.