Taking a deep breath, he entered the hall and approached the Gold wood double doors. Each door containing half of an intricate carving of the Eldest Tree, said to be the origin of their kind.
He had been before it many times before, but he dreading it. The Missions he was being given were becoming more dangerous and he worried that one of these times he wouldn’t come back in one piece.
He nodded to the guards and each returned his nod before together pushing the ten foot tall door, open. Light poured into the hall and a knot grew in his stomach. He knew what awaited him inside.
He was greeted by the stern faces of the Council. Each was different from the other, but all of them Fae.
“Ash,” an Elder greeted and he attempted a smile.
“Elders,” he greeted softly.
“We have called you here today,” an Elder on his left started, none of the others blinked an eye at the fact that each Elder spoke for the whole of the Council, “because a Seely has slipped through the Gate and into the Human Realm,”
“Another one?” Ash asked exasperatedly before regaining his composure. A few before him cleared their throats.
“Yes, we have sent Avalon to investigate the source of these breaches,” the Elder who greeted him said, a few others grumbled and grunted in agreement.
“Rain is expecting you this evening,” one of the other Elders to his left spoke. They all fell silent and stared at him. Ash knew that they were waiting for his response, but under their eyes his skin crawled. He nodded once before turning and heading back to the Golden Wood doors. They opened on cue and he exited the Council room.
Grumbling to himself Ash headed back to his room. He hated how vague they were with their instructions, he disliked being in a room full of Judging eyes like that, and he especially didn’t like Seelies. They were ugly, hairless creatures that smelled of sulfur and left a trail of black ooze in their wake.
Opening the solid wood door he entered the room he called home. It was nothing special, but the view was wonderful. The balcony looked out over the pure ocean that shined like crystals, even in the night. Something he had yet to find in the Human Realm.
“Ash!” a small blond squealed and rushed from somewhere inside the room.
“Lavender,” he smirked as he hugged his little sister close to him.
“You have been gone too long,” she said, her bottom lip pushed in a pout.
“Yes, and I’m going to have to leave again,” he said as he stepped aside and headed for the chest, containing his armor and sword.
“No!” she cried. She knocked the breath out of him as slammed her body into his back and wrapped her arms tightly around his waist.
“Lav...” he huffed out as he pulled her arms from around him. He turned to look at her, before kneeling down to look her in the eye, “you know I have to go. I will be back soon,” his heart clenched as the tears started down her face.
“Why do father and mother make you do this?” she sounded heartbroken as she looked into her brothers blue eyes.
“They don’t make me, Lav, I do it because it’s the right thing to do,”
“So, you don’t actually have to go?” she asked him, hope in her voice as she stifled down her cries.
“Yes, I do,” he reached up and ruffled her hair, “I made a vow when I became a Warrior, I would protect both Realms with my life,” her pout made him frown. He felt a bit sad to watch his sister cry. He knew she was lonely without him. The castle was full of busy adults that had no time for children, and she was the only one living here, and being of noble blood, she wasn’t often aloud to leave.
“How about I have Avalon take you into town when she returns?” he asked. He knew the idea would spark her interest. She loved seeing the town, especially the venders and booths in the market.
“Oh-kay...” she agreed sadly.
“I’ll be back before you know it,” he said poking her on the tip of the nose.
“I’ll miss you,” she said, wrapping her arms tightly around his neck.
“I’ll miss you too, Lav,”
He watched as she turned on her heels and took off out of the room.
With a sigh he stood and backed his “bookbag” with his armor and weapons before changing form his leathers into his human realm clothes, a pair of dark-wash jeans and a black t-shirt with a deer-skin leather coat he had found in the human realm. It was the only thing that reminded him of home when he was there.
Slipping the cotton hat snugly over his head and double checked that it covered the top of his ears; he swung the bag over his shoulder and headed out of the room.
The hall was quiet, not that it was ever really loud or busy. Nothing much happened that would cause a ruckus in the castle.
People nodded to him as he passed them, silent as always. He listened to the soft squeak of the soles of his sneakers, something this realm was not accustomed to, rubber.
“Good evening Lord Ash,” a tall, silver haired man greeted as he approached Ash, with a bow, his cloak flared, as if the wind had picked it up.
“Good evening, Wise One,” Ash greeted causing the pale man’s eyes to fall on him; the sharp yellow color almost glowed like a lantern.
“Off to the Human Realm again, I see,”
“Yes,” he acknowledged with a sharp nod.
“Seely again, my Lord?” Ash silently nodded again, “Safe travels, my lord, and good hunting,” he said with another bow.
“Be well, Wise one,” Ash responded with a respectful nod before parting ways with the older man, his long hair smoothly lifting from his shoulders as they parted ways.
“Ash!” someone called as he approached the entrance hall. Turning he found his brother in arms, Leo, stalking toward him.
“Leo,” he greeted the man dressed in full leather armor, his hair slicked back around the curved horns just above his pointed ears.
The ben clasped each other’s forearms in greeting.
“Didn’t you just get back from a mission to the human realm?” he asked, taking in his appearance.
“Yes, but another Seely has escaped?”
“Another one? How do these guys keep getting out of their cages?” his wild eyes sharpening, the cat like slits contracting at the movement.
“I have no idea,” Ash shook his head, “They have sent Avalon to investigate it,” a cruel smile graced Leo’s face.
“She can find out anything,” they both nodded in agreement at the comment.
“Well, I better head to the portal, I hate entering that area of the human realm when it is dark,” Leo nodded and they turned to head opposite each other.
“Oh, Leo?” Ash called back to him, remembering his words to Lavender, “Can you let Avalon know, I want her to take Lavender into town when she returns?” he asked looking his friend in the eye.
“Of course,” Leo said with a smile before turning and heading down the hall.
Taking a deep breath he headed across the entrance hall. The marble door was the only one of its kind; it was crafted with old magic unknown to anyone alive.
The area outside was calm and quiet, the weather just right, no humidity, no dry air, just a soft, cool breeze through the warm air.
Ash tried to enjoy it as he trudged down the path to the Sacred Temple, which really wasn’t a temple at all. It was for walls not touching leaving gaps where the corner would be, and one archway to enter, not that the walls really stopped anyone.
In the center of the stone walls was a large archway eight men high. It was said to have been built that way to accommodate the Giants that had once lived. But that was just myth, there was no proof that Giants existed in either realm. The center of the arch was a fluid, glasslike substance that looked like nothing but the other side of the Temple. But when you touched it, it rippled and you knew there was actually something there.
Ash took yet another deep breath of the fresh air of this realm before stepping through the archway. The sensation of the portal was indescribable. It was warm and cold at the same time, it felt wet yet you felt completely dry. It moved along your body like sap down a tree and you couldn’t breathe but it didn’t suffocate you.
And then it was over. It only took a moment to move from one realm to the other. The first indication was the air around you. It was both hot and humid, making your skin sticky or cold and possibly snowy, making you wish you had thicker clothes.
This time it was warm, not humid and sticky warm, but a stagnant warm, as if the air wasn’t moving.
The second thing was the smell. The human realm was overpowering with smells, bodies, food, and pollution. Each time he came, he wondered how they could survive so long with all these smells.
Opening his eyes he found himself in a familiar ally, the same one that he always arrived in. This ally and the wall behind him, housed the portal. The wall looked like an ordinary building to anyone unknowing, but the two different bricks was a dead giveaway to the fae. The old tan stone arch, mirrored the other side, and they rusty red bricks around it created the wall around it.
Ash took no real notice to his surroundings, giving them a once over for onlookers and danger but otherwise set off to his destination. The “Magic Shop” ran by Rain, a fae that worked as a contact between realms.