The sun was beginning to set on the day as the Bexley family finally reached the campgrounds after getting lost and turned around for the last three hours. Once the Volkswagen came to a halt and was placed in a full park, the Bexley children quickly climbed out of the car, completely relieved that the car ride was over.
The eldest and middle child, Thomas and Bradley were the first to get out of the car and run off. Their little sister, Elora attempted to keep up with them as she scrambled out after them.
“Bradley! Thomas! Look out after Elora!” Their mother shouted after the children as she got out of the car to help her husband to help set up the campsite before it got too dark.
Struggling to keep up with her older brothers, Elora pushed her little legs as hard as she could as the thirteen year old and ten year old continued to run off in the distance laughing loudly.
“Hey, wait for me!” Elora called as she came to a halt to catch her breath. Her brothers disappeared from view as she pushed her mousy brown hair back that was plastered to her face from sweat. “Tommy? Brad?”
Resting her hands on her knobby knees for a moment, the girl waited as she listened to hear her brothers. Hearing Thomas first, she inhaled deeply before running off in the direction. However, after running for quite sometime, Elora still didn’t come upon her siblings. She turned around, debating whether to turn around and run back to where her parents were setting up camp. But looking around, she wasn’t sure which direction she had came. The sun was nearly completely set, leaving her in a growing darkness.
The sounds of animals scurrying around on the forest ground caused the girl to jump at every noise.
“Mummy? Daddy?” she called out, her bottom lip trembling as she couldn’t hear any voices of her family.
She called out louder and louder, but no one responded to her yells.
Hot tears streamed down her face as she became more and more frightened standing alone in the dark.
“MUMMY! DADDY!? BRADLEY?! THOMAS?!”
Elora wandered in multiple directions but she continued to just walk around in circles unbeknownst to her.
Terrified and incredibly upset, the five year old plopped down to the forest floor and cried, hoping that someone would soon find her. After a few minutes, she became distracted from her sobs, as a bright glow grabbed her attention. Lifting her head up slightly, she caught sight of two bright orbs dancing around her.
“Wh-…’ Wiping at her eyes quickly, Elora focused her eyes on the colorful lights to see two small figures in the midst.
Their tiny bodies fluttered around with their dragonfly-like wings moved about. Curiously she lifted her hand out to touch them, but before she could, the two flew away from her. In a matter of seconds, Elora jumped up to run after them.
In disbelief that she had possibly witnessed fairies before her, she ran after them as fast as she could.
The little faeries despite their little frames and wings, flew incredibly fast causing Elora to push herself as hard as she could to keep up. Eventually though, her scrawny five year old body betrayed her. Her lungs were on fire as she struggled to catch her breath, the lights faded and disappeared into the darkness, leaving Elora all alone once again.
Knowing all too well that she had truly screwed up by running further into the unknown, Elora was close to tears again, when she suddenly felt the ground shake beneath her feet. Stumbling back slightly at the feeling of the vibrations, Elora looked all around trying to figure out what the thunderous noise was.
Less than a minute later, Elora had her answer as she found herself surrounded.
Mounted on horses, were several cloaked figures loomed over the young girl as she shivered nervously.
One of the figures dismounted, towering in height compared to her, she tried to take another step back, but one of the horses snorted in her direction making her squeak.
“Pl-please…I want to go home.” Elora pleaded. “I’m lost…my mum and dad are-“
Before she could say anything, her face was grabbed by her cheeks in one gloved hand forcing her to look up.
A blinding light was shined in her eyes bringing Elora to see all sorts of colors and shapes in replacement of the cloaked figure. With her eyes burning from the light, a few tears fell from her eyes as a reflex.
The cloaked figure removed the hood, revealing an older man with a scraggly beard and stringy black hair. Elora cried out loudly in fear of the stranger causing her any harm.
Her initial thought had been to run, but as she moved in the opposite direction of the man, she was snatched up.
She screamed and thrashed with all her might to escape, unfortunately, the man was far stronger than she was.
Not a word was said among the horsemen as the man walked over and lifted Elora onto the saddle of the horse. Quickly, Elora attempted to leap off the other side but she was held in place by the back of her shirt.
“MUMMY! MUMMY!” Her voice was becoming hoarse from all the yelling that was bringing her no success in returning to her family. Her sobbing had caused her nose to become stuffy, her eyes were irritated and puffy and her head ached terribly.
The man took a firm grip of her shoulder and made her face him once more before blowing something in her face.
Elora coughed and gagged at the dust like particles she inhaled as she tried to spit out what she suspected to be poison.
Everything progressed so quickly after that, Elora lost control of her body as it fell fully numb. She began to fall over but the man held onto her as he mounted his horse behind her. The child began to feel herself become instantly tired. Her eyelids became heavy and droopy, threatening to close completely with every blink.
’Mummy…” she muttered collapsing against the man’s chest. “Daddy…”
Her eyes closed.
What only felt like several minutes of being asleep, Elora was awoken rudely as she was shaken harshly until her eyes were fully open.
“Straighten yourself, child.” Her clothes were being brushed roughly by a large hand that was knocking her body forward with every hit. She looked up as her legs became steady and saw the man from earlier looking down at her.
She went to scream but not a sound escaped her lips. Attempting to speak, Elora realized she had no ability to speak or make any noises.
Panic rose in her chest as she stared up at the man, his eyes watching her with a stern expression. In that moment, she was able to get a better glimpse of the man in the lighting of the room. She could see that he bore two different eye colors, one black and one a lighter brown, leaving her very perplexed by the situation.
Going to run off, Elora found her feet firmly planted in place, leaving her no chance of escape.
“I said straighten yourself, it’ll disrespectful to stand before the queen otherwise.” The man’s voice was deep and firm, but it didn’t sound malicious.
Elora didn’t care, she wanted to get away and get back to her parents as soon as she possibly could. Looking around at her surroundings, Elora hadn’t even realized where she was.
No longer did the girl stand in the middle of the dark forest. Instead, her new environment consisted of glamorous marble like walls, where large silken tapestries hung neatly. She didn’t recognize any of the symbols that were embroidered on the tapestries. Her eyes continued to wander the room, to see a majestic looking throne made of what appeared to be smooth polished wood rested in the center.
The sound of two doors opening, caused Elora to jerk her head to the left. Only to witness a middle-aged woman to walk in gracefully slow. She dawned a deep purple gown that covered her from the neck down to her ankles. The fawn like color of her skin reminded the young girl of the many deer that had skipped across her front yard many of times, but the woman before her held no nature of a fawn. Despite her beauty, the woman carried a strong presence about her, everything about her commanded everyone’s attention as soon as she walked into the room.
Not one black strand of her hair was out of place as all were pulled back into a tight braid that resembled a crown, little white flowers, decorating the crevices of her hair.
“Kneel!” the man said tugging on Elora’s shirt once more.
Pulled from her daze, Elora glanced over at the man to see that he was kneeling, and every person in the room was kneeling as well, besides her and the woman.
It didn’t take a genius to piece together that the woman was the queen the man had mentioned earlier.
Before she could think to kneel, the Queen made her way over, a hint of a smile on her face as she approached the spot where Elora and the man were.
“My,my.” The woman spoke, her voice reminding Elora of a pleasant lullaby. Her brown eyes only holding warmth and kindness. “What a beautiful child.”
The queen’s hand reached out and touched Elora’s chin gently, bringing Elora to lift her head.
“Those eyes…” A bright smiled appeared that settled Elora a bit more. The woman only seemed to be kind. “Do you know what is so special about your eyes?”
Elora furrowed her eyebrows together, unsure if she was able to reply since she hadn’t been able to speak earlier.
When the Queen didn’t get a response, she continued to speak.
” You have the Eyes of the Forest. One resembling the soils of the Earth, and the other representing the green growth that allows life to flourish. You are a very special little girl.”
Again without receiving a response, the Queen turned her attention to the kneeling man beside Elora.
“Did the fae bring her?”
“I can only assume, your highness. There is no other way she would have been able to enter the realm without guidance from the fae. We found her while out on patrol.”
“Seems you have found yourself the newest Keeper then. I expect great things from this one.”
The man nodded as the Queen turned away.
Elora felt him grab onto his wrist to pull her along, but Elora immediately protested, trying to free herself.
“WAIT!” Her voice had returned to her as she called out to the Queen, hoping someone would listen to her. The woman paused in her step and turned back around. Elora could see the look of disgust on several people’s faces as she had called out disrespectfully to the woman, but she didn’t care.
“I want to go home!” Elora cried. “I want my mum and dad! Please, can I go home?”
The Queen smiled with a small chuckle.
“My dear child, you are home.”
Unable to come up with a response in the pure confusion she found herself in, Elora was lifted up by the man to be brought out of the room. She fought every second of the way as the Queen faded from view. As the large floor to ceiling doors began to close over slowly, Elora’s eyes became fixated on a young boy who appeared, peeking through the gap. He seemed to be the same age as her bearing a striking resemblance to the Queen, his face full of confusion as Elora’s fight came to a halt as she watched him.
The two children watched each other until the doors blocked their view entirely.
Knowing all too well that the man had no plans of releasing her, Elora slumped in defeat.
“My parents will come looking for me!” she told the man as anger overtook her. “And when they find me, you’re going to be in big trouble!”
“Correction,” he answered.” Your parents will forget all about you and in due time, you will forget all about them.”
Elora narrowed her eyes at him.
“Never. I will never forget them!”
“You will…every Keeper does eventually. It’s only a matter of time.”