My feet are radiating pain with every step I take, and the tremors are getting worse. I know I haven’t fully recovered from yesterday’s activity yet, but this kind of exhaustion has to be caused by something else as well. I stumble and fall hard on my knees. I take a couple of deep breaths and try to loosen some of the tension in my muscles, but it doesn’t help. At all. I don’t think I can get up anymore. I can’t be very far from the meadow, but I’m too beat to even care anymore. The shock I felt has worn off and now I just feel stupid for running off like a scared rabbit instead of finding out what the hell actually happened.
I lay on my back and watch the trees around me. I don’t know what kind these are, but by the sizes of their trunks I’d say they must be very old. And the huge green leaves will soon turn golden. The autumn isn’t too far off. I listen to the rustling of leaves and close my eyes. It’s so peaceful here. I could stay like this forever…
Get up, girl! This place is filled with dangerous creatures. The ancient magic draws them in. If you fall asleep you might not wake anymore. I open my eyes, startled. My inner voice is warning me again? I feel anxious as I look around , but nothing seems amiss. Still, I get up. What kind of creatures? Wolves?
Nothing as pleasant as that. Nighttime is very dangerous around here. Be thankful you still have many hours till dusk. And leave as fast as your legs can take you.
I’m starting to panic. Which way do I go? And I have strong doubts about my limbs being able to take me anywhere. The adrenalin rush is long gone and my feet are killing me. I don’t know how I even got this far.
I hear a crack behind me and turn quickly. I relax when I see Caleb and exhale loudly.
“I… I got lost. Could you show me a way out of here?” I wince at the pleading note in my voice, but my gut tells me I should listen to what I was told. One part of me kind of loves this ancient-looking forest, but another part feels that something really is off here.
Caleb raises an eyebrow while looking at me with a serious expression. He crosses his hands in front of his chest and leans his back on a tree.
“Does that mean you’re all done with the hysterics?” I know he’s baiting me again, but I ignore it.
“Yes. Please, let’s just leave. We shouldn’t be here.” He nods and turns around. I follow him, ignoring my aching feet as best as I can. We walk in silence for a while. It’s not long before I notice that the trees we are passing are getting smaller and more ordinary-looking. Something eases inside me. I take a fortifying breath before I ask.
“About earlier. That blast. How or why…?” I don’t know how to finish my question. I’ve never seen anything like that before. I can’t say I believe in magic, but there’s no other explanation that comes to my mind. And a couple days ago I didn’t think Elfs existed, either. So anything is possible.
He looks at me mockingly, and I feel my cheeks heating up. Did I ask something wrong?
“Now that is a rather stupid question. How could I possibly know why you do the things you do?”