Secrets Of The Forest
By Bria Barnes
Date: August 27, 2016
Ch. 22

The time came, a few hours later, for Phaedra to set the glimmer magic to transform her appearance. Slowly her ears seemed to recede to the more rounded shape of the humans, her eyes became less almond shaped and her wings disappeared. In all honesty Phaedra felt naked and incomplete without her wings, but she pushed the feeling down inside her.
“Alright Phaedra of the fairy folk, may your journey be without strife, may your path never waver, and may the gods of the forest watch over you always, even when you leave the protection of this land. Go now and be successful in your mission.” The chief of the fairy village bestowed onto Phaedra a final blessing before sending her on her way. The true difficulty of her mission was only being realized as she made her first steps away from the people she had always lived with and seen. She was going to be alone, utterly alone, with only her enemies as company. This mission was going to be harder than Phaedra had initially thought.
“I am strong, I am a fairy, I can overcome anything as long as I believe in myself and the forest gods.” Pulling the satchel straps tighter Phaedra wandered out of the forest, to where the human travelers were more frequent and she would have an easier time getting noticed and picked up by one of their groups.
It didn’t take long for Phaedra to hear the sounds of horses and men, breathing and huffing as they made their way down the road. They were loud and smelly, disgusting Phaedra but she willed her nausea to settle and she took her place on the road just ahead of them. Just before they came into view she braced herself and used a bit of magic to strike her own ankle, causing it to sprain badly. A small howl of pain that wasn’t faked in the least alerted the travelling band of man to her existence.
“Hey someone is there ahead of us on the road, I think they are hurt.” The young man leading the hoard of men kicked his horse into a trot and pushed ahead of his comrades. Galloping only a short distance down the hard packed road he came across Phaedra, holding her ankle and grimacing in pain.
“My lady, are you alright?” The young knight dismounted his horse and knelt beside her. Phaedra, though in pain, looked up at the dazzling man next to her. His perfectly sculpted face, his flexing muscle, he was a man in his prime. Short cropped blond hair and piercing blue eyes coupled with his impressive silver armor made him quite the sight to behold. And Phaedra found herself caught by his beauty. But his question snapped her out of the trance she was in.
“I think that I have twisted my ankle somehow. It hurts quite a lot and I don’t think I can walk. If you hadn’t found me I don’t know what I would have done.” Phaedra could plat the damsel in distress very well and it didn’t take more than a few seconds for the tall strapping knight to hoist her into his arms and take her to his horse.
“Well you have nothing to fear now my lady, we are on our way to the next town. You can ride with us.” With seemingly little effort the knight lifted Phaedra up and onto his horse before he himself jumped up to sit behind her.
“My lord and rescuer, what is your name?” Kicking the horse into motion once more the knight rode his way back to his forces.
“Pardon my rudeness my lady, I am known as Sir Robert Halloway, lord of High Tower and servant of our great King Lyrell. And what is your name, fair maiden?” Phaedra couldn’t believe her luck. She had been picked up by none other than one of the king’s guard. Perhaps her mission wasn’t going to be as difficult as she had thought.
“I am called Phaedra, my lord.” The name was unusual by human standards but Phaedra hadn’t thought of an alternative and honestly hadn’t wanted to be called by any other name than her own.
“That is a fine name for a fine woman. Tell me, where do you hail from?” Phaedra relaxed into her story that she had worked on for weeks. The details were there she needed only to be prompted and she would answer.
“I come from a small village on the outskirts of the King’s land called Hyla. I was travelling to the great city of the King when I tripped and sprained my ankle.” Phaedra purposefully left the reasons for her supposed travels from Robert, hoping to prompt him to ask. And he took the bait.
“And why were you travelling to the city of Cyril Phaedra?” A small smile was hidden by her bountiful hair.
“I search an audience with the King to plead with him for better reinforcements against the fairy folk that raid our lands. Though we may be far from the City of the King we are still supposed to be under his protection and yet there is never any aid to our village. I know we are a small village and we don’t grow anything besides corn, but still we are part of his realm and by right we should be protected.” Phaedra displayed the passion she felt for the attacks on her people and channeled it into her little speech to Robert. He seemed to consider her words carefully but with understanding.
“It is true that you are under the protection of the King no matter the distance. Well that is settled then; I shall escort you to the King myself and ensure that your words are heard.” Things were just getting better and better for Phaedra, not only was she going to be spending an extended period of time with one of the king’s guard, she was going to see the King himself. Surely along the way she would uncover plenty of information to use against the humans.
“You are too kind Sir Knight. I am in your debt.” Phaedra bowed her head to the man and he nodded his head back.

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