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Wonderlost

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CHAPTER ELEVEN

Camp

 

 

They have been traveling for more than two weeks now and so far no clues or information of any type was found of the human hunting party or Tirin.

“This is ridiculous!” Daynel whined. “Why am I here?”

The small parade of elves made their way through unfamiliar territory, cloaked to hide their race and relatively quiet so they wouldn’t attract too much attention when on main roads.

“You can always return home, brat.” Alce snapped no longer amused by her discomfort. The red- head glowered at the blonde sourly.

“Stop calling me that.”

“Stop acting like one.”

“Both of you shut up.” Tyrus growled while walking between them.

Baelor smiled slightly as the boy sprinted ahead of the group. This was a new and improved Tyrus; something had made the boy more confident about himself. Baelor could only think that somehow, Tyrus had gotten control over his curse. He raised an eyebrow, or maybe it wasn’t a curse after all? The older elf nodded to himself while watching Tyrus disappear ahead. Tyrus’ whole demeanor had changed since returning from where ever he had escaped to, he was more vocal and aggressive. The older elf eyed Alce, for a brief moment seeing the younger version, the shy boy that would come by to see about Tirin when she had a bad day. The years definitely gave him some backbone. His father, Master Nicholae Deland, wouldn’t recognize his own son. Nevertheless, Baelor was sure that Alce had something to do with the sudden change in Tyrus. The boy was done with hiding his feelings and Baelor couldn’t help but to feel a little proud.

He watched the path ahead sadly his mind coming back to the venture at hand. They had already searched four towns and come up with nothing. No one knew of, had seen, nor heard anything. And Darec wasn’t helping the situation. He was arrogant to the point of getting them chased out of one town with his condescending attitude toward Humans.

Tyrus observed Sire Baelor, the older elf deep in thought or worry as his face now showed his true age. Their search had so far revealed nothing. Whatever scent there may have been it had gone cold days ago, they were just wandering from town to town. An idea suddenly hit him and he made his way back toward the leader of this depressed group.

“Sire.”

Baelor looked at him blankly. “Hm?”

“I tire of following Darec. I think I have a better way…something I should have done when we left Ao'lean.”

“Really?” Darec snapped annoyed. “And exactly what makes you think you know best about this? You weren’t there, remember?”

The glare in those violet eyes actually caused Darec to recoil a bit. “Your sarcasm is not necessary…Young Lord.” Tyrus snapped back.

“Okay. We’re resting here. This is camp.” Baelor sighed feeling like he was babysitting all of a sudden. “It’s evident we’re all tired.”

The party stopped in what seemed to be the center of a thin forest. Several minutes later a warm fire was going and food was simmering.

“Camp would’ve been set up a lot faster if Tyrus had helped!” Darec complained loudly as he rolled out his bedroll. He frowned a little as Daynel slid her own closer to his.

“That’s true, where did he run off to?” Baelor searched the camp and spied Alce’s cloaked companion making her way back to the center of camp with a bundle of clothing in her hand.

“Ah, he’s off doing his doggie duties.” Daynel quipped and couldn’t help the smile as Darec burst into laughter.

A single howl far off in the distance silenced the young Prince’s mirth. They all looked toward the direction of the howl.

“Is that ---?” Zeph started only to pause when the lone howl was joined by dozens of others.

“I want to go home!” Daynel whined.

Alce couldn’t help the smile on his face. Apparently this wasn’t normal Tyrus behavior. This adventure may turn out to be more exciting than he thought. “So what is he up to, Evergreen?” He asked suddenly.

Baelor looked from the blonde to the cloaked female. She sat next to Alce not bothering to remove her cloak or lower her cowl. Baelor didn‘t think she did it to hide herself from them but for their comfort. He didn’t care about her heritage, but he couldn’t speak for the accompanying guards or that of Daynel or Darec.

“E’s gooin to try an find hur scent. It seems the red head’s purfuum is ovahpowahring.” The tall elf curled up on the sleeping mat that Alce had laid out for her and seemed to promptly fall asleep.

Daynel looked humiliated only for a second before regaining her snobbish attitude.

“That can’t be helped. I’m a Lady.” She fluffed her curls.

Darec frowned secretly, “What makes him think that the ‘scent’ was lost.”

Alce laughed, “Maybe being that he’s the only one that can smell it?” He raised an eyebrow at the Prince. “He would know.”

“I don’t understand what he is trying to prove.” Darec growled. “This was the way they came.”

Alce sighed in annoyance. “You were unconscious, how would you know which way they went?”

Darec remained silent as all eyes turned to him. While Baelor removed his boots and rubbed his feet, Darec opened his mouth to retort but was cut off.

“Shut up.”

They all looked at the old Imperial. “Since the start of this trek you have done nothing but make finding clues harder.”

The expression on Baelor’s face did not convey the emotion in his voice he was so drained.

“I have not!” Darec blustered out.

Baelor continued ignoring the Young Prince. “It’s almost as if you’re trying to drag this out with all the trouble you’ve caused.”

Baelor’s eyes finally locked onto the young Lord. “I’ve been wondering why you were so adamant about us coming east when the nearest Human town was northwest. And with my concerns for what torture my daughter could be going through clouding my better judgment I allowed you to lead this rescue.” He glared at Darec. “But Alce is right, you wouldn’t have a clue as to where the hunters went. The Guards that chased after them when you were found would probably know best and of course Tyrus would be a better guide than you.”

Darec’s mouth worked soundlessly but nothing came out as he simply stood there. Honestly he didn’t care that they were now going to turn around. This trek had given more than enough time for the weather and the fauna to erase whatever trail there may have been.

“I---.” Darec started only to be cut off by a haunting howl.

The guards were up and armed with Darec following their lead, he groaned as Daynel found it necessary to cower behind him.

Alce and Evergreen didn’t even bother to stand up so Baelor didn’t either. He figured that the young mage would know best if there was trouble and besides, Evergreen remained fast asleep.

The eerie howl faded off leaving the woods silent.

“There.” Alce observed the small gathering with playful green eyes. “Nothing to be afraid of.”

 “It’s nothing.” Baelor informed them before stretching out on his mat. “Zeph.”

“Yes, Sire.”

“You have first watch, I’ll take second, Rane, you take third.” The two Guards nodded at Baelor. The older Guard disappeared into the woods while the younger readied the others sleeping pad.

“That’s it?” Daynel squeaked. “Shouldn’t both of them be out? I mean we’re in the middle of the woods in some strange--.”

“Daynel. Tere’s nahthing ‘ere ta--.”

“Silence Ferine.” Darec snapped. He started to say something rude but found himself suddenly upside down. “Hey!”

Daynel scrambled back quickly looking from Darec to Alce whose eyes were now a deep red.

“I.” Alce said smoothly yet rather threateningly while he remained seated on his pad. “Have no qualms about showing you the respect you so deserve.”

“Put me down!” Darec hissed. He looked to his Guard who just stood there watching. “Why aren’t you doing anything?”

“Like what?” the young Guard asked.

“Alce.” Baelor said simply. The young mage smirked then dropped the young Lord onto his pad.

Baelor sighed; he was going to be so happy when this whole ordeal is done.

Darec gave Alce a glare and then gave one to Rane before making himself comfortable on his mat. Darec searched the trees about them. Tyrus was different. Alce had done something to him; he was now too comfortable as a wolf. He no longer had sway over Tyrus as he did when he was younger. Neither did he have a plan for what to do if they found Tirin alive. She would definitely tell now. He could try and rely on the fact that she was just as prideful as her father and that the secret would remain kept. Too humiliating or damning to bring up. But she was aware that he had thrown her from his horse … her eyes had said as much before being knocked unconscious. She would make him pay and with Tyrus behind her she would have no reservations.

Daynel watched her prince secretly from her mat, pretending to do her hair. His eyes were deep in thought. Worry filled them, but not for Tirin. This was a selfish concern. Daynel knew all of Darec’s little quirks and tics, and she knew this look well. She suddenly found herself wondering what Tirin was going through. To be ‘rescued’ by her kidnappers… and what will they do to her when they find out that she’s not even full human? Daynel recalled what Baelor said back in the throne room about them treating her badly. She felt a twinge of guilt.

“You okay, Lady Daynel?” Rane asked rather coyly seeing her fret. She looked at him wide eyes.

“Yuh-yes.” She pulled her blankets over her head.

Baelor watched as Rane went back to check the horses once more before bedding down himself. The young Guard passed Alce and Evergreen and Baelor found himself wondering where the young mage had been all this time. Why did he run away in the first place without a word to anyone since? Then he wondered what exactly brought him back to the world of Ao'lean?

“Sire?” Alce said smiling. “You were staring.”

Baelor returned his smile. “Just wondering---.”

“What brings me back to Ao'lean?” Alce finished. He grinned when Baelor nodded.

“That and what did you do to Tyrus?” He concluded.

Alce’s eyes turn true blue. “Tirin, that’s the answer to the first inquiry and to the latter…well you may have to ask Tyrus that. I don’t really think he wants me to explain it.”

Baelor nodded. “What about Tirin?”

Alce’s eyes went black for a second before turning yellow.

“Tyrus told me about her ability to do magyk and that she received a gift from the Grand Ao'lean.” He knew his chameleon eyes had given him away, having no control over what color they displayed. But he hoped his words would distract him from the obvious.

The smirk on the older elf’s face told him that he wasn’t fooled, but he understood.

“Did he now?” The retired Imperial paused over the answer. “So you knew already?”

“That she’s half elf? Well, I was never totally sure, just knew it was possible. Either she was a sign of things to come or you were truly her father and somehow didn’t know it.”

Baelor sighed.

“It’s not your fault.” Alce assured him.

Baelor shook his head. “But it is. There is no way for it not to be.” He sighed again. “I pushed her mother away, gave her no other choice but to leave me. I--.”

“You’re gonna blame yourself for her death now, aren’t you?” Alce frowned.

Baelor almost smiled.

“Why am I even telling you this?”

Alce shrugged then started again, “Because. Who better to understand than someone in somewhat the same situation?” Alce looked at the sleeping Ferine behind him. “She may not be Human but the reaction would have been the same. The difference is we were isolated you were watched all the time.”

“Alce.”

“I am unable to lie, Sire, you know this already.” He informed the older elf quietly. “I can withhold information though.” Alce’s eyes became a warm brown. “The Alce you remember went through a lot of changes to become the one you see now, changes that wouldn’t have occurred had I not left. I’d still be the same fearful boy you remember.”

Baelor frowned, “What has that ---?”

“Tirin’s mother loved you and her death was not in vain. Tirin is proof of that.”

Unable to find his voice, Baelor remained quiet.

“If you had the chance to go back and fix everything, the result would end the same just through different circumstances.” Alce paused a second as the look on Baelor’s face became lost for a moment. He slowly stood up.

“I---.” Baelor started but his voice cracked despite his ability to keep his face void of emotion.

Lowering his eyes, Alce nodded. “No need.” He watched the elder elf’s feet walk away from him and toward the edge of camp.

“E’s gonna ahsk you ‘bout---.” Evergreen mumbled from her mat.

“I know.”

 

The night passed without interruption and Rane found himself watching Daynel sleep more than the surrounding area. An exhausted shadow slid into camp and curled up quietly near the horses so as not to alarm anyone with his odor.

An hour later the sky brightened with soft hues of rose and amber. Daynel yawned and then quickly covered her mouth seeing Rane watching her. “Morning.”

Rane blushed and nodded at her before getting up to make one last circuit of the perimeter.

Baelor knows if circumstances were different he would find himself meddling, but now he could care less. He looked at the mat besides his, it was as neat as when he first laid it and he wondered if Tyrus was okay.

Her shrill scream woke everyone up.

Rane bounded over Darec to get to Daynel quickly and was thrown back as she crashed into him.

“It moved! It Moved!” she blindly pointed behind her toward the horses. She’s draped blankets over them to shield her changing into fresher clothing.

“What?” Darec yawned mildly amused. “What has freaked you out now?”

A large mound of black fur sat less than four feet away from where she was dressing. Zeph and Rane stared at it. Darec raised an eyebrow.

“Poke it.”

The mound moved revealing a tail and a glowing armlet. “’Poke’ me and lose that arm.”

The guards backed off while Tyrus uncurled and stood on wobbly feet. “Cannot sleep with you hovering above me!” he snapped.

Alce snickered as the party backed away.

“Well?” Darec started. “Find anything?”

Baelor finished repacking and then cleared his throat. “Tyrus, please. Do you have any news?”

The wolf shook vigorously dislodging sticks and leaves. “We’re heading the wrong way.”

An Epic Fantasy