The kingdom past the forest was a wasteland, and as Megil rode through it he was caught in many dust storms, and forced to take shelter in the clumps of twisted shrubs that grew everywhere around.
When he finally reached the hall that Arduial had spoken of, he marvelled at how there could be such a beautiful place in such a forsaken land.
He wandered the passageways of the keep, but it seemed to be deserted. He found no living soul anywhere, and yet there was a banquet set out on the table, and music played from some unknown location.
He followed the sound and came into courtyard, in the centre of which lay a deep pool. He looked down into the crystal waters, and saw to his amazement, another world far below, where people in fine clothes danced and made merry.
He reached out to touch the water, but a voice behind him caused him to spin round. A raven stood perched on a stone balustrade, its head cocked to one side.
“Mesmerising, isn’t it?” it cawed, “makes you want to dive in and join them, to live happily and without worry forever.”
Megil stared at the bird, open-mouthed. It hopped toward him.
“Many have fallen for the spell it casts, never to return to this world. That is why there’s no one here. They jumped in. I would have done the same but I dislike water.”
Megil recovered himself enough to say, “You can speak!”
“Of cause I can speak, I’m not an animal, you know.” It replied, ruffling its feathers indignantly.
“Actually… um, you are.” Megil said, slightly disconcerted.
The bird looked down at itself, and exclaimed,
“Oh. This is just a disguise. Here.” There was a loud bang and a puff of smoke, and when the smoke cleared a small man with bluish skin had replaced the raven. He looked Megil up and down, before asking,
“So, what brings you here?”
“I’m going to the house of Nar of the Pictsies, to ask him to come with me to the Forest of Eridor.” Megil replied. The man spread his arms and grinned.
“Then you need travel no further.” He said, “But pray tell me what my beautiful cousin wants my help with, for it was her lady Arduial who sent you, was it not?”
“Yes Sir. She needs your help to save Meleth.”
“A friend of yours by any chance? Oh and there’s no need to call me sir, just Nar will do.”
“Yes sir…Nar.” Megil said, he sighed, “She’s the best friend I’ve ever had.”
“Well then, you must tell me about her. But maybe on the journey, it will be getting close to midday by now, and as you said, we have a girl to save.”