Bloodlines, p.22
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       Bloodlines, p.22

           Trisha Lynn
 

  Chapter Twenty-One

  Her brain wrapped around all she was told. She couldn't deny it was fascinating, intriguing, and all other synonyms for the word. This realm had leaders and histories just like the human world. It had tales and stories and beginnings and ends. It was just on so much of a larger, broader, magical and different scale. She assumed when magic was involved things tended to be different. Especially wars, she imagined wars were pretty darn epic. She almost asked Loki this, when he had slowed and she almost ran into him. She looked around, but saw nothing different. The forest was dense and green with filtered light through the canopy above them. Birds chirped, rustles of leaves, small animals scurried about. Her eyes landed on a bright green grasshopper as it teetered on a branch close to her, preparing its long legs for a leap. She looked up and a very bright orange bird flew across the trail above them, its tail feathers long and flowing; like a string of flame from the end of its body. She had seen nothing like it in her life. It was ethereal, surreal. Stunning.

  A tiny bead of sweat trickled down her back from the warmth of the forest and the exertion of walking. Just as she was about to ask how much further, she heard a crashing through the woods. Loki's hand came up and he stepped back, obviously guiding her behind him and pushing her back. His other hand went to the sword at his hip, his fingers clenched at the hilt as he began to slowly pull it from its scabbard.

  Suddenly a fat bear came tumbling from the woods, its coat was the color of milk chocolate, and it’s snout a peanut butter color, along with its paws. It was adorable, and looked rather young for a bear, not that she was an expert; it just appeared to have a baby face. It had golden colored eyes, and it was gazing at Loki, adoringly.

  “Oh, great.” He said it with annoyance in his voice.

  “Ah, do you two know each other?” The bear looked friendly enough, but she was sure bears in her own realm were cute but also deadly. She backed up another step.

  “Yeah, I guess you could say that. This is Yaido. I sort of nursed him when his mother was killed by Ravenswood hunters. Now he thinks we are somehow blood.”

  She couldn't help it, she giggled. She could not imagine tall, stoic Loki affectionately nursing anything back to health.

  He shot her a deadly look over his shoulder, which just gained another bout of snickers from her. Finally, she had to put her hand up against her mouth, so that she wouldn't burst out again. She watched him step forward.

  “Now Yaido, you know the rules. Your old enough, you have to make your own way in this world. Okay? Now go on.”

  The bear looked so rejected Adeila's heart went out to the little guy. He was so adorable and cuddly looking she could not picture him killing his own food, making a life in these woods. And the way he was staring at Loki as if he'd been waiting for him for centuries, twisted her heart even further.

  “Loki...”

  He put his hand up to her. “No, no. I have to be harsh. He needs to learn. I don't want him to be trusting of us. He will get himself killed.”

  She only nodded, she'd seen shows on wild animals and rehabilitating but she could imagine that it was easier said than done.

  The bear scampered closer to Loki and lowered himself on the ground, belly up.

  “Okay, okay, one more belly rub and you need to go, okay?”

  The bear whimpered, staring at him adoringly. Adeila stepped another few feet closer, watching Loki, gently, kneel down and run his hand over the bears face and fuzzy stomach. The bear, Yaido, pushed his snout into Loki's arm, relishing the attention. After a short lived moment, Loki straightened, and threw his hands out.

  “Now go, Yaido!”

  The bear gave him one last look, twisted his honey colored eyes upon her. They seemed so kind, and gentle. She guaranteed the little guy lived off slugs and berries his entire life, never killing anything bigger than that. She smiled reassuringly at him, knowing that animals probably had no idea what that meant, but it made her feel better. Loki waved his hand again toward the forest, and the bear lumbered away, crashing through the limbs. She heard a very audible sigh from Loki, she turned to him. He looked at her from the corner of his eyes, and his strange golden eyes seemed to say, you say a word of this, you die.

  Her eyes traveled his length, to his hip, where the sword was sheathed, then back up at his face. His eye brows were raised, and she smirked at him. She couldn't help it.

  He rolled his eyes and moved on. She followed at his feet, silently. Soon she noticed that they were gradually gaining elevation and she began to feel the slight burning in her calves. Just as she was about to ask how much further, a small clearing broke in front of them. Loki stopped when he reached it; she came up beside him and when she looked out, her breath caught in her throat. A beautiful lush green valley opened up through the trees below them, thousands of multicolored wildflowers weaved with the slight breeze, the kaleidoscope of colors mesmerizing. Beyond that was a slow moving, winding river that led to a drop off of the land, she assumed a waterfall lay beyond her eye sight and crashed somewhere below. Then her eyes went to the large stone pillars, which appeared to have towers of some kind within them, they overlooked the dotting of cottages and homes beyond. Trees popped up everywhere, the homes set almost into the trees themselves. Her eyes finally reached beyond that, and instantly her heart sped out of rhythm. A castle, or palace or whatever the hell the Fae called the enchanting stone and wood structure. It looked kind of like some of the castles she'd seen on television or movies of Ireland or Scotland, but it was different. For one, there was a giant oak tree directly in the middle of it. The castle appeared to have been built around the tree. Its leaves and smaller branches swayed in the breeze, a bit of a blur from this distance but she could make it out easily enough. Only a few of the towers in the castle were as tall as the top of the tree. It was quite a spectacle, and went completely in respect to Loki's speech of how the Fae live in tune with nature and cannot be without it for long periods of time. They had built their fortress right around this grand old oak paying tribute to an ancient being.

  She realized she was holding her breath when her vision started to dot black, and she let it out in a whoosh. She allowed her eyes to travel over the stone and wood, and then beyond. She could see more villages, trees and gardens, then a land bridge to the right across the river waterfall to a willow-like tree just as large as the oak, it's long cascading branches touching the lush green grasses below. Beyond that, she could see fields, woods and mountains. It was literally a small castle community thrown into the wilderness. A kingdom, as Loki had told her. Oakend. Her kingdom. A kingdom she was Princess too. It was completely like a fairy tale place. Something out of a dream. Out of a book. A fairy tale.

  The path they were following led them through the fields of flowers, along stone walls, over a bridge crossing the river, below those huge stone pillar towers and to the village, then towards the walls that separated the castle beyond.

  “Really something, isn't it?” Loki spoke softly from beside her. She blinked and focused on him. She'd practically forgotten he was even there for a moment. Her mouth still hung open and she closed it with an audible pop. She really must be dreaming. She bit the inside of her cheek until the metallic taste of blood laced her tongue. Nope, not sleeping. Damn.

  She swallowed and could do nothing but nod her head. He smiled, knowingly, and moved to the trees again, but before entering them, he pulled something out of his back pocket. She looked to the castle, then back at him, watching him pull the silver thing from his back pocket and in moments it grew into the hand mirror that she had seen in the back of his truck the day that he had picked her up in the pouring rain.

  She stared at the thing in fascination as Loki touched the mirror's surface and spoke to it. She jumped when she heard a voice answer.

  “We are not far now. Please tell the others.” She heard a deep but somewhat airy masculine voice answer. “Yes, sir.”

  “What the-?”

  He turned to her,
grinning. “Remember I spoke of other means of communication?” He waved the mirror in his hand. “This is one.”

  She looked at the mirror, then back to him. Okay, weird. Then she watched again in fascination as it shrunk back down to wallet size and he slipped it into his pocket once more. Freaking weird. Cool, sure, but weird.

  She was still awed as Loki picked their way back into the forest and she followed.

  “So you cannot use technology, like cell phones, at all here?”

  “Human science puts everything into a neat, logical, ethical little box and Faerie is magic, unrestricted, unexplained. Everything about science conflicts with that of the Fae world. So most technology also conflicts with the Fae world. We can use magical devices to contact each other, but phones, iPod’s, televisions and the like are much too technological to hold a place within the Fae community. We could use those things in moderation, but we choose not to. Iron affects us; if we are in contact with iron for too long it weakens our powers. It cannot kill us, but mixed with some other metals, the effects are crippling. Some of the Fae communities have governed the idea of some of the human amenities. Like electricity and modern refrigeration of foods and whatnot, in moderation, and probably not what you are used to in the modern times. Oakend uses nothing but raw magic for all of its needs. Each person infuses things with magic. Like the castle has a large ground cellar, and refrigeration center where water is magically frozen and perishable foods go there. Magic fulfills every need that arises, as it has done for a millennium or more. Science and technology have ruined the human realm; we do not wish to fall to the same fate. So in answer, yes those things may work, but you would need to magically charge them, and of course we have no Wi-Fi or anything of that nature. You may gain service here and there within Faerie if the boundaries run parallel with a satellite on the human realm, but I do not know where those area's might be. I suppose if you were high enough in elevation you might find a signal. But I cannot guarantee it.”

  She cocked her head and thought about what he said. It was really interesting, almost barbaric, that they lived like that, but she guessed she couldn't really speak against it if she knew not what it was even like. She guessed she'd find out soon enough.

  To her surprise he continued, “We are developing technology through our magic, but it is to gain for our realm, not destroy it. We will always look to nature first and foremost. We may not run around on pixie dust and toadstools like humans make us seem, but our natural magical abilities aren't all that far off from the human stories. The scary, dark tales they speak of are likely a large fraction of the truth as well. Some dark Fae have caused much havoc over the years. Especially a hundred years ago when there was absolutely no monitoring of the portals and the Fae could run amok among the humans without direction or governing. Many caused major problems for the humans that the King's and Queen's had to clean up. Now we are much more controlled and disciplined. And a large scaled war has not waged our lands in nearly three-hundred years.”

  Her brows furrowed and she took this information in. She wanted to know more, but wasn't sure of the right questions to ask. She did realize that they – at least his team – would need some kind of human assistance. There had to be some humans that knew of their existence, but kept it a secret somehow. “Are there some human's that know of your existence?”

  “Certainly there are, many assist us in some ways within the human realm. Most have sworn a blood oath for our secrecy, if it was to be broken, dire consequences would incur. Even those who haven't sworn something, however, would likely be laughed off if they mentioned our existence. As long as that number remains small. However, the advancement in technologies - security camera's at every street corner and buildings - do cause us to be much more careful. At any time, our magic may be caught on someone's phone, security or even game camera, and we do not wish that to happen. Of course, something could most likely be covered with some random story or a mind can be altered to believe something else, but it is still something we wish to avoid all together. The less people know of us, the better.”

  Adeila cocked her head. “Mind altered?”

  Loki nodded. “We can alter, manipulate or glamour – whichever you wish to believe - the human mind. Human's believe only a fraction of what they see; it is so easy to push their minds into believing something more coinciding with logic, then to believe that of magic or mystery.”

  Adeila smirked. “Then how do you explain the mythical Sasquatch sightings?”

  He let out that beautiful infrequent chuckle of his. “Who said that was myth, Princess?”

  She only shook her head, not willing to even go with that thought, as they wound their way through the forest, following no path as far as she could tell, not like the distinctive path from earlier that had led them to the valley, through the flowers and towards the pillars and villages and castle beyond.

  “Why couldn't we have taken the dirt path through the meadows?”

  He looked at her, like he'd often done during this journey, from the corner of his eye over his broad shoulder. “You look much like the King and Queen. Until I hear directly from them, I do not wish for any to discover your presence here. It may instill many feelings from both our villagers and our enemies. It is their decision when to make you public, not mine.”

  Her brows drew together, and she was about to make some sort of snide remark when her shoe caught on a root, she'd have stumbled like a flailing idiot if not for the steady hand at her arm. He only smirked before removing his hand and moving away. She grumbled, continuing onward. The sooner she got this over with, the sooner she could return home. To normalcy.

 
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