Today we have the third of my Seven Realms excerpts, this one (as the title suggests) is from the beginning of the forest realm story. If you missed the other two, you can find the jungle realm HERE and the desert realm HERE.
In a nutshell… three friends on their way to a vacation catch some teenagers hassling a little old lady – of course they come to her rescue. But it turned out the little old lady was a fairy godmother and granted them a wish as their reward. It was to be used for something personal, and the three wished to meet the men of their deepest desires.
Fiona could hear birds chirping. She opened her eyes, frowning when she realized it was still dark out. Blinking rapidly she sat up, feeling around for her glasses. She could feel dirt and leaves and small sticks, but no glasses. They were heavy enough that she'd know if she was wearing them. God, she hoped she hadn't lost them, they were expensive as hell.
The last thing she remembered was sharing a bottle of wine around the camp fire with her friends. Or was it two bottles of wine? It certainly wasn't enough alcohol to cause her to wander off by herself into the woods. She was more careful than that.
Wait, there was something else ... that old woman they helped earlier in the day. What was her name? Estella? Esperanza? No ... Esmeralda, that was it!
They saw a falling star and for some weird reason they could hear the old woman's voice. Something about being given a wish to use on a star ... "To reward your kindness I promise you this: whatever wish you make tonight upon that star will come true. But mind it's a personal wish, something frivolous that will benefit only you. None of that world peace nonsense."
After hearing Esmeralda's voice the three of them had laughed it off, deciding to wish for their dream lovers to come to life, or some such rubbish. Fiona didn't know what the others wished for, but she'd always had a thing for the elves in The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings movies, so it seemed only natural to wish for an adventure to help a dispossessed Elfin lord who would fall madly in love with her.
Fiona snorted. "As if."
The birds continued to chirp and she could hear a breeze rustling the leaves above her. She tilted her head back to look up and listen. How deep into the woods had she traveled? Surely she should see at least a hint of the stars or moonlight. Why was the dark so all encompassing?
Squelching down a sudden frisson of panic, she got to her feet. It was just clouds, she told herself firmly. There was a storm front moving in, that's all. Dark, heavy clouds were obscuring the moon and stars. It happened all the time.
Then why were the birds singing, a niggling little voice asked her. And where was the smell of moisture in the air?
"Taylor? Eva?" she called, ignoring the voice. If she was out here then her friends couldn't be too far away. "Guys? I hope one of you has a flashlight, it's dark as hell over here. Wherever here is. Guys?"
All at once she remembered her watch. Raising her wrist to eye level, she pressed the little button that would activate the light. Nothing happened. Holding the watch to her ear, she listened to the faint ticking and then tried again. Still nothing.
"Guys? I'm in real trouble here."
Fiona shivered, despite the warm breeze. This time she was unable ignore the panic starting. Hands held out in front of her, she shuffled forward a few steps, stopping dead when she felt the sun on her face.
"No," she whispered. "It's too soon. I'm not ready."
* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
Finnovarr paused to get his bearings. This is what came of taking a shortcut. First he lost his horse, and now ... it was a shameful thing for an elf to admit, but he appeared to be lost. Somehow he'd left the narrow trail he'd been following and now he had two choices: continue in the direction he was going and hope he picked up the trail again, or retrace his path back the way he'd come.
Having no idea how far back he'd wandered from the trail, retracing his path was out of the question. He'd already been out here too long, he couldn't afford the time. As long as he kept heading east, he should still be able to find the shrine in time.
A flash of blue caught his eye and he frowned. Too big for a bird, but what else could it be? He became more cautious, keeping watch for anything untoward. Then he scented it.
Finn's head snapped up and went on full alert. Magic. He could smell it on the air. Why would he be smelling magic out here?
He found out a few feet later when he stepped into a clear space in the trees. There, in a shaft of sunlight, a woman slumped next to a tree.
Her long curly hair shone with a fiery glow in the sunlight. The style of her clothing was strange, dark blue trousers and a brighter blue, the blue he'd glimpsed through the trees, strangely designed tunic that clung to her like a second skin. She reeked of magic but it was fading.
He stood in the shadows provided by the trees, watching her. Whatever trouble she was in, he couldn't afford to get involved. He was on a mission; he didn't have time. And yet he lingered, unable to just leave her there.