Chapter 20-Paths Gone Awry
Lorcan sat up, hitting his head against the shrubbery out front of Elaine’s home. The town was quiet, too quiet. He looked around smelling smoke and immediately stood up seeing a lone pixie exit the house.
Cordelia was already awake. A giant black and blue mark rested on the side of her face. Lorcan’s head throbbed immensely, he touched the back of it finding blood on his head.
“What happened?” he wondered out loud.
He eyed Colt suspiciously seeing the demon sitting on the porch looking grim and more brooding than usual. Lorcan bit his lip not seeing his mate anywhere. He wanted to blame Colt, but he suspected the demon was innocent with his growing interest in Elaine.
He looked at Cordelia in panic. She grimaced while placing a hand on her hip and steadying herself on the railing of the house.
The demon’s gaze was downcast. He rested his head in his hands. “He was here,” Colt murmured.
“Who?” Cordelia demanded sharply.
She suspected he was working with this demon brother of his from the moment she laid eyes on him. After all, he didn’t appear to have a scratch on him.
Colt stood up and unsheathed his sword having enough of the snooty woman. He stabbed the wooden column near her head. She ducked while Lorcan flew at Colt.
Somehow, the faery managed to take the weapon from him. He quickly felt it beginning to sting his hands and he dropped it, but kept his foot on top of it. Colt’s shadows slid underneath Lorcan’s shoe though and brought the sword back to its maker.
Lorcan took a shaky breath watching Colt sheath the sword. “We have to work together. That’s what Elaine would want. I can feel she’s in trouble.”
“You can’t feel anything but that giant gash in the back of your head!” Colt argued, “She is not your mate!”
“She is,” Lorcan countered evenly.
Cordelia was still trying to piece together why the town appeared destroyed. Not another faery besides Lorcan and her were in sight. She patted her hair down so it would fall neatly over her shoulders.
“Shouldn’t we be worrying about where these pixies are now?”
Colt spoke up ignoring Cordelia and stepping dangerously close to Lorcan. “We should have left yesterday. This is your fault so quit acting like it’s mine!”
“She wanted to stay and you know it.”
“Whatever, Viktor has her now. We need to leave.”
Lorcan narrowed his eyes at the dark-haired man. He knew he was hiding something and he was fairly certain it had a lot to do with this faceless “brother” of his. He was beginning to doubt Viktor was even real.
He thought Colt was making things up and had hidden Elaine away probably so he could lure them all to their death.
Even so, he decided to go along with things because Elaine also mentioned Viktor too and seemed to be telling the truth. Then again, the demon could have made her lie about it all.
Lorcan’s voice hardened, “We should check the town for survivors. Let’s start with her house.”
“I already looked. Her parents are here. I moved them downstairs on the couch,” Colt admitted while returning inside Elaine’s home. “We should grab them and go. We don’t know how far ahead they’ve gotten.”
Elaine wasn’t expecting Viktor to be such a fast runner, but he had caught up with some stragglers and told them she was her brother before she could stop him.
Everyone in the town, of course, was shocked. They had not heard about this brother from her parents -- who had yet to be accounted for.
The walk to the edge of Hunrel led them to pass droves of pixies running wildly everywhere. Unknown to Elaine, the older faeries in the front of their traveling group had created a glamour field around them to hide them from any passing pixies.
They did not wish to fly because they would be exposed much easier than beneath the shade of the trees. So they walked towards the woods.
Elaine heard a rumor they were going to another town named Garned and that it would take at least a day on foot to reach it. She was not really sure who was leading them to the next town because Viktor and she were more towards the back of the large group of faeries.
It was crowded and cramped. She couldn’t help feeling a little claustrophobic especially with the demon by her side.
“If I still had my powers I’d just burn a path through these mindless sheep and we’d be there already,” Viktor scoffed with fury while “accidentally” stepping on the back of the person’s foot in front him.
The faery turned around and glared at Elaine instead of the culprit.
“What’s your deal? I can only walk as fast as the person in front of me!” the faery man said heatedly.
“I’m sorry,” Elaine replied quickly.
The faery’s gaze moved to the golden-haired man standing next to her. “Oh, and you must be her brute of a brother. I’ll make sure you get short rations if it comes down to that. I know it was you who stepped on my foot, boy. Keep it up, see where it gets ya,” the faery threatened.
I really hope we’re not out here that long to have to be rationing food, Elaine thought.
One by one, each faery of Hunrel entered into the woods with Viktor and Elaine trailing behind.
She felt like the trees swallowed them as they stepped into the thick wooded area leaving the outside world behind. The trees were close together and appeared never-ending. The ground was rocky and covered with roots that waited to grab their feet when they weren’t looking.
Eventually, evening drew on and the faeries had yet to arrive at their destination.
They settled in a narrow valley where less trees were grouped so closely together. Then they got to work hanging up their tents for the night.
Elaine was glad she wore her hair up to keep it out her face. It made her feel a little more prepared to handle their time in the woods. With Viktor around, it was hard for her to even think about relaxing. She felt like she was waiting for him to murder someone.
And now that they were constantly surrounded by other faeries, she would have to remember to address him as her brother just so Viktor wouldn’t hurt anyone.
She watched silently as the group of faeries handing out tents came over to her and Viktor. She was thrown a pile of cloth and hugged it to her chest. The families were made to share a tent and there was no way she was sharing anything with him.
Elaine looked over her shoulder. She was surprised to find Viktor messing around with the tent. He looked preoccupied. She didn’t turn her back on him for long in fear he might try something.
Some of these faeries really came prepared. It made Elaine wonder if she was the only one who expected a short trip.
If she had known it was going to take more than a day, she would have preferred to come better prepared herself. Then again, Viktor didn’t exactly give her all the time in the world to pack.
The smell of warm caramel wafted through the chilly evening air and her stomach grumbled. She set the tent cloth down and followed the aroma to find a short faery boy carrying a steaming pot over to a long window table where food was being placed. She was glad the pixies hadn’t managed to totally steal their food supply.
“Hi, I’m Elaine. Do you need help carrying that?” she asked the child.
However, the faery boy brushed off her offer and managed to set down the pot of hot chocolate. He scooped her out some and handed her a cup.
“My name’s Mason...and I’m stronger than I look!” the child insisted with a pout.
“Of course you are,” Elaine cooed.
“I think it’s going to be dinner time soon. We should get in line!” Mason said with excitement.
Elaine smiled watching him fly over to the line forming at the other end of the table.
The buffet of food looked quite welcoming. There were pastries that were round-shaped and white as snow, cookies with light pink frosting and cooked vegetables. Pitchers of water were scattered around the other bowls of food.
She naturally began to make her own way over to the line too tempted to just grab food since she was already near the table. Then she remembered Viktor. The growing line behind her was void of him.
She stepped out of line and marched back to the bonfire where she last saw him fiddling with the tent. She strode around some of the tents and walked a little bit into the wooded area around the camp, but she still couldn’t manage to find him anywhere.
Elaine heard leaves crunching behind her as she rounded another row of times. “Elaine!” Mason shouted.
The faery child looked up at her, bouncing on his feet -- a result of his sugar rush from eating too many frosted covered desserts. “Some of the girls are weaving clothes. Onella wants you to come!”
Elaine recognized the name. Her parents told her Onella was part of Hunrel’s very tiny town council.
She tried to smile, but inside her mind was reeling.
“Oh okay,” she replied.
She had a feeling she was being summoned.
Mason led her over to where some of her townfolk were sitting on the ground together and tying flowers into their skirts.
“Elaine, join us. You looked bored,” Onella told her with a hearty laugh. The older faery woman was sitting in the middle of the circle instructing the others how to tie and sew the flowers into their clothes.
Elaine tried to come up with an excuse. “I’d love to, but I don’t have any clothes I could weave those into.”
“Jennifer, can you be a dear and grab one of my extra skirts from my tent?” Onella asked the faery woman next to her.
Jennifer nodded and jumped up, dashing off into the tent behind their circle. When she came back out, she handed Elaine a long white twill skirt.
“Oh, thank you.”
Elaine kind of felt bad for taking Onella’s clothes, but at the same time, she thought it would be nice to have something new to wear instead of her dirty clothes.
“No problem, now have a seat and get started. You can use the flowers out of the basket next to you when you run out of flowers just go pick some more,” Onella replied.
After a while of weaving, the faery women started to empty their baskets of flowers as they just about finished their weaving.
Elaine had barely used half of the flowers in her basket yet. She still hadn’t spotted Viktor anywhere and their circle was right in the middle of the camp. She had a pretty good view of the glen.
Eventually, they all took their finished pieces of clothing and headed to their own tents. Feeling a little anxious, Elaine glanced around the campsite for what felt like the millionth time. Most of the faeries were already in their tents now.
“Mind helping me carry the empty baskets back in my tent?” Onella asked her while heaving a pile of clothes onto her shoulder.
The two faery women walked around to grab the baskets. When they finished putting the baskets and clothes away Onella walked back outside of her tent.
“You should try that skirt on when you get back to your tent. If it doesn’t fit I’ll give you another pre-made skirt. Wait here a second...” she murmured while going back in her tent.
When she came back out, she held a tank top made out of the same color and material of the skirt.
Onella tossed her the shirt. “Here, take that too. You might as well have a matching outfit.”
“That’s very kind of you,” Elaine replied genuinely happy for once in what felt like a very long time.
After Onella said goodnight to her, Elaine turned around and wondered what tent she was supposed to even go in now that Viktor was gone. She considered they had extra ones. Eventually, she found a light blue tent that no one was occupying. It was probably one of the furthest ones away from the fire pit.
Inside the tent, there were several wool rugs scattered across the ground. A lit lamp hung from the center of the tent by a threaded string. Its glow would soon be the only source of light and she dreaded knowing Viktor was still somewhere out there wandering around.
She hoped he hadn’t hurt anyone.
Since he was still gone, she took the time to throw off her clothes and put on the clean shirt and long skirt. The clothes were very comfortable, but the skirt was a little long and dragged on the ground behind her. She didn’t mind at all because deep down she was beginning to panic.
Viktor had been gone for a long time, and the more she thought about it, the more her heart raced with guilt and worry. On the way to the glen in the woods they now resided, the demon was complaining to her about his back itching and it feeling weird.
It reminded Elaine of what her parents told her about the turning. It was the initial signs of blooming into a faery. She didn’t know why she was bothering to worry over him, or even think for a second, that a demon could change into her kind. Her parents were still back in Hunrel comatose because of the demon.
It was laughable to consider Viktor could turn into such a light-hearted fae as her kind was known for.
She also didn’t even see Lorcan or Silvia yet and wondered if they departed with the town or went their own way. Her thoughts were cut off though when she saw the silhouette of someone walking beside her tent.