Chapter Six: Forest of Luminity
The hooves of the horses were thumping on the snowy ground, leaving deep marks in it as they went forth. The air was prickly, but they were sheltered from the wind in the trees. Sylvia looked at the map on which Morgana had drawn a circle indicating where the forest was. She said that she wasn’t sure, but it was worth a try. She questioned how Morgana became such a powerful witch, she had mostly no knowledge of magical creatures. She probably didn’t know that Sylvia was a Lycan. If she was such a great witch, she should know everything about magic and how it works. That’s what witches do, they study magic and use it for making life easier and safer.
Sylvia put a hand where her wound used to be, and felt nothing, it was completely healed, but she knew it left a scar. She was fine with having a scar, it was like a symbol of her bravery, that she didn’t give up.
“Do you think the forest is still alive? Or do you believe it is only tales?” Sylvia asked.
“You said that you went there as a child, so I have no problem with believing.” He said with a smile. “We should rest at sundown, there is a small village approaching, we might be able to stay with them.”
“Do you think so? With all this talk about the werewolves, they’re probably going to be suspicious.”
“Doesn’t hurt to ask.” Wes said.
Sylvia left it to Wes as they neared the small village they talked about. The two of them tied their horses directly out of the village by some trees. They walked side by side into the village, and all eyes were on them, perhaps nobody stumbled upon this village that was deep in the forest. The people looked at them and whispered to each other, mumbling and muttering. Sylvia could hear them if she wanted too, but she tried not to. She knew her powers were useful, but she felt corrupt invading others’ privacy. Going into people’s minds without them knowing, eavesdropping on their conversations, she felt that she violated those people. She had always tried to only use her powers when her life depended on it.
“Who are you?” A guard asked the two of them, he was huge and his armor didn’t make him look any smaller. “Speak.”
“We are traveling, and it will be dark soon.” Wes started. “We were hoping you could let us stay the night in your village, keep us sheltered from the cold.”
The guard looked down at the two of them, his eyes scanning them. Some village folk had gathered around them and were looking at what was happening. “I will go ask the chief, you two stay here.” He said and hurried into a building not far from where they were standing.
The two of them awkwardly stood, as the gazes of people flooded over them. They tried to take sneaky glances that weren’t sneaky, therefore making them just glances.
“These people are very curious.” Wes whispered in her ear.
“Are we that suspicious-looking?” She whispered back.
“No, a small village, nobody passes through, they will be curious when they see new people.”
The two of them stopped their whispering when the guard came out of the building, he slowly walked back towards them and scanned them again. “The chief has given his permission for you to stay.”
Wes looked at Sylvia with a smug look on his face and she just rolled her eyes.
“You two are married?” the guard asked.
“Of course they are, Jerome.” A lady walking by said. “Why else would they be traveling together.”
Before Sylvia opened her mouth to deny the fact that they were married. Wes nodded his head and said yes. Sylvia gave him a ‘we’ll talk about this later’ look and followed the guard to their bed for the night. The guard walked up to a cottage and opened the door, revealing a completely wooden inside. The floor, walls, furniture, decorations, they were all made out of wood. They were all different colors of wood, some lighter than the others, but it was surprisingly pleasing to the eye.
“You can stay here for the night.” the guard announced. “The owner is gone running an errand.”
Before the two of them had a chance to thank the guard, he had left. He was awfully quick to leave, and both Sylvia and Wes had noticed that. He had closed the door behind them, and they were left amidst the wooden cottage.
“Huh?” Sylvia looked up at him.
“The owner of the house, he is most likely to be a woodworker.”
“Yeah, looks that way.” Sylvia said and slumped down on the sofa. “So, we are wed.”
“I had no other choice.” Wes said.
“The other choice was saying no.”
“If I had denied their question then they wouldn’t have let us stay.” Wes said. “They would think of you poorly.”
“They would think of you as a whore.” Wes said bluntly. “They see a woman with a man, and if they are not married the woman gets the infamous title, while the man is cheered on. You should know of this.”
“I don’t know, perhaps it left my mind.” Sylvia stopped when her stomach rumbled out loud. “I don’t remember the last meal I had.”
“I’ll go ask for some food.” Wes said as he began to head out but Sylvia grabbed his arm.
“No, we have already asked of them too much.” Sylvia said. “I can survive without food for a night.”
“Don’t be silly, you have to eat.”
“In the morning.” Sylvia replied. “We’ll ask them for food in the morning.”
Wes looked at her and thought about it for a while. “Alright.” He sighed, finally giving in.
“It’s so quiet.” Sylvia said. “And look out the window, nobody is out even though there is some light left.”
“It’s a small village they don’t have that many people wandering around, and they probably retire early ever since they heard of the werewolves.” Wes explained peeking out the window. “They are smack in the middle of the forest, they know they are hard to reach, so they take more precautions, they don’t risk anything.”
Wes jumped back as a girl suddenly appeared in front of the window, she seemed to be glancing inside the house, and ran away when she saw Wes.
“What scared you?” Sylvia said with a chuckle.
“This girl jumped up out of thin air when she saw me she ran the other way.”
“I would run if I were to see your face when I peek through a window,” Sylvia said, this time unable to keep control of her laughter.
“Is that what you think?” He said in an amusing tone and Sylvia nodded. “Well, the ladies of our town seem to think quite the opposite.”
This seems to hit Sylvia hard, she hadn’t expected something like this to affect her, but it did, and she didn’t know what to say. She just kept her eyes on her thumbs, which she was fiddling with. She knew that Wes had noticed her strange behavior, but again she found herself unable;e to do or say anything.
“Are you mayhaps...Envious?” Wes asked as he sat down beside her, a smug smile tugging on his face.
“What? No.” Sylvia blurted out in a hurry. “Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Hmm.” He hummed and continued. “The hue of your face differs from what you said.”
“I’m going to sleep.” Sylvia said rushing into the bedroom. “You’re sleeping on the couch.”
“Whatever you say, my dearest wife,” Wes said and waited for a response, then smiled again as he heard the door slam.
Wes laid down on the sofa with a smile on his face, he had gotten accustomed to teasing Sylvia, he liked to see her reactions. He liked it when she puffed up her cheeks in anger, and how red her face got when she was embarrassed and ho she bit her lower lip when she was in deep thoughts. He had found himself thinking of her way too much. His heart was always faster around her, he could feel it.
When he almost drifted to sleep, a knocking pulled him back. He groaned as he stood up and went towards the door. He looked out and nobody was to be seen, his gaze went down, and he found the girl that was peeking through the window. She stood in front of the door with a determined expression as if she was here to be invited in and she wasn’t going to go until she was.
“Yes?” Wes asked his voice laced with concern, it would be for everyone if a girl wandered to your steps in the middle of the night.
“I need to speak with the two of you.” the girl declared. “It is important, otherwise I wouldn’t be here, would I?”
“Alright, alright, come in,” Wes said his mouth agape at her firm and guarded demeanor.
He opened the door wider for the girl to come in and closed it behind her, as the two of them reached the living room they found Sylvia sitting down.
“You were awake?” Wes asked.
“Hasn’t been that long.” She said then noticed the girl. “You took her hostage?”
“Huh? No.” He said as his eyebrows furrowed.
“I need to talk to you, both of you.” The girl said again and sat down.
“Well, go on.” Sylvia said intrigued by what the girl had to say.
“We all know you are going to the forest of Luminit,” she stated. “Everyone that stumbles in this village goes to the forest.” Wes and Sylvia opened their mouths to deny but the girl raised her hand. “No need to deny. This is my house or it was my house. I lived here with mother, father, and older brother. One day father and brother left for the forest of luminosity, they were curious, they always were. They left a fortnight ago, my mother has been sickly so we are staying with the healer. I know this too much to ask, but I would like you to find them, or at least try.”
Wes and Syliva looked at each other, their thoughts were visible on their faces, and the girl could read them too. “Please, they won’t let me go, because of the werewolves.”
“What’s your name?” Sylvia asked.
“Look, Mary” Wes said. “We will try to look for your dad and brother, but we don’t promise you anything.”
Mary looked up with a smile and nodded. “That’s all I want you to do.” And she too likes the guard ran out of the house before they could say anything else.
“Are we going to look for her father and brother?” Sylvia asked.
“We will try. I gave her my word.”
“I don’t have anything against it.” Sylvia said, “but we have bigger things to worry about, we won’t waste all our time on finding them. We can always come back after we have gotten rid of those creatures.”
“I know.” Wes whispered to himself as Sylvia went back into the room.
The noises of the horses whining outside woke Sylvia up, at first, she was confused about where she was, but then she remembered. She got up quickly and set her hair, then went to the bathroom to wash her face. She looked out to see that the sun almost fully rose was still sound asleep on the couch. She looked at his peaceful face, his dark brown curls were messy and all over the face, his pale skin was dry and brittle from the cold air blowing against his face. She gently used her fingers to pull back the hair that was covering his hair. Her eyes traveled down to his rosy lips, and his sharp chin. She didn’t doubt the fact that he was an attractive man, in fact, she knew that the first day she met him. When she jumped up behind that barrel. She shut her eyes at the embarrassing memory.
“What are you doing?” Wes said as he grabbed her hand as soon as his eyes fluttered open.
Sylvia didn’t jump up, she stayed there and looked at him. “Your hair is like feathers.” She said with a smile. “It’s soft and fluffy.”
Wes grabbed her other wrist and pulled her face closer. He kept pulling her face down until there was only a thin layer of air separating their lips. Their hearts were moving at the same speed, both were faster than the normal pace. Their eyes were locked on each other, not able to look anywhere else. Then as a knock echoed through the silent cottage their eyes widened, but they were compelled to stay in the same position.
“Why is it that your smile makes my heart forget to pump blood through my veins?” he asked before he let her go.
Sylvia hurried to the door before another knock would echo through the cottage. Sylvia opened the door to see the woman who had confirmed the guard that they were married. She had a basket hanging from her arm and a smile frozen on her face.
“Good morning.” She finally said in a sweet voice. “How was your night?”
“It was wonderful,” Sylvia said. “Would you like to come in?”
“Oh no, I am a busy woman.” She said. “I came here to deliver your breakfast, you will need the energy for your travel.”
“You are too kind,” Sylvia said grabbing the basket form her.
“It is bread and some of my famous blueberry jam.” She said. “Now excuse me, I have work to finish.” Sylvia thanked the woman again and got back inside.
“Who was it?” Wes asked was now sitting straight up on the sofa, still yawning and stretching.
“The lady who assumed we were married,” Sylvia answered as she placed the basket down. “She sent us breakfast. We should eat fast, time is going by fast, we wouldn’t want to waste much of it.”
“You are right,” Wes said as he took the towel off the top of the basked and began eating.
The two of them were fastened on to their horses and were thanking the villagers before their departure. Sylvia locked her eyes with Mary and gave her an affirmative nod. That seemed to make Mary smile and mouth the words ‘thank you.’ then with their last farewells,, they tightened their grip on the rights and galloped towards their destination. If they calculated it correctly, they would reach the forest by high noon.
The journey was quiet, ever since this morning, they were both afraid of saying anything else. They would sneak glances at each other at the same time and then swiftly look away. They were both glad that the bigger focus was finding a rest, getting the grimoire and then saving the kingdom from the werewolves. They worried about that more, which prevented them from thinking about their feelings. They both denied it and were good at ignoring it, for the time at least.
The horses came to a sudden stop when a shroud of mist appeared out of nowhere. It was thin and only misty at first but soon it thickened like it was being fed. They were only able to see the white fog, the horses were hard to control, as they were scared. As quickly as the mist appeared it disappeared and they found themselves in a different forest. The trees were darker, there was still a slight mist lingering around, but it was the feeling, something inside them new that they had entered the forest of humanity. The name ‘Luminity’ was derived from luminosity, but the forest was anything but luminous. It was dark and eerie, no animals, no sounds. They could only hear the thumping of the horse hooves against the ground. To their surprise, the trees were not holding up leaves, but the whole forest was clear of snow, but it didn’t make it warm, even Sylvia felt a chill around her body. Since it was a magical forest she wasn’t at all shocked to find out that her powers were also limited, her senses weren’t as strong as they were outside. She was shocked at how much it had changed since she was little, she remembered the trees with the glowing blue leaves, the ground was a warm brown, with levitating rocks here and there. She remembered the strange animals running around, now it seemed like nothing inhabited this forest.
Wes seemed to be scanning the forest, so far nothing magical had happened except the mist teleporting them here. They hadn’t encountered anything dangerous, not that he wanted to, but he had expected it. Nonetheless, he had his sword ready to go anytime fanger fell upon them.
“We are to find a cabin in here?” Wes asked. “There is nothing but dead trees.”
“We don’t even know how big this forest is, might take us ages to get to it.” Sylvia sighed. “How did Morgana think we could find a cabin in this hollowness?”
“Maybe it’s because it is not hard,” Wes said. “Maybe it is easy to find.”
“If it were easy to find, we would’ve found it,” Sylvia said.
“No, maybe we need to look differently,” Wes said.
“And how so?”
“Get off your horse.” He said as he jumped off his own.
Sylvia stopped her questioning and jumped off Artemis, holding his rein in her hand she landed on the ground. A gasp escaped her mouth as she saw the scene in front of her, the landscape had changed, they were standing in front of a lake, it’s water dark ebony. The trees seemed to have disappeared and they were on land, nothing to see miles ahead of them.
“Magical forest,” Sylvia said. “That was a smart move, but we are still on square one.”
“One step at a time, Sylvia. One step at a time,” he said as he looked around all directions, up and down, left and right.
Sylvia grabbed the bag from the back of the horse and put it on herself in case they get separated from the horses. They needed the potions inside to get back home. Sylvia thought about what would change the landscape and smiled as she looked at the ground.
“Wes,” she called. “Lay on the ground.”
The two of them lay down on the ground, they were both a bit skeptical about this, they had no idea what landscape would greet them next.