Friday, August 28, 2015

Quests Episode Twenty: Intruders

I'm back! After starting edits on the next few episodes, I've decided to try to wrap up the Quests series in the next few months. I'm still working on the ending, but I estimate there are about 3 episodes left. Please enjoy this month's episode and check back in the coming months for the conclusion.

Read the series prologue here.

Read episode nineteen here.

Episode Twenty: Intruders

Fedrick stopped outside the entrance to Felnar’s cave and watched as the troll approached a small bird cage containing a purple winged fairy. Felnar tapped lightly on the cage door with one claw.

“I brought you some food little fairy,” she said. “It’s fairy food, I made sure.”

She opened the cage door just enough to push a small bowl inside it.

“You have a nice cave,” the fairy said.

Fedrick rolled his eyes, hoping such flattery would not make Felnar consider releasing her pet.

“Why thank you!” said Felnar grinning.

“You’re not a bad troll either,” the fairy girl added. “Maybe we could be friends.”

“Okay,” said Felnar, grinning. “I’m really glad I get to keep you.”

“Since we’re friends you could let me out of this cage sometimes. If you let me come outside with you I could show you good places to hunt.” Felnar shook her head. “Fedrick said you might say something like that. He said I’m not to let you out for any reason. Sorry.”

Fedrick smirked as the fairy crossed her arms over her chest and pouted.

“Don’t be sad,” Felnar pleaded.

She opened her mouth to say something else but, unable to stand such nonsense any longer, Fedrick interrupted. “What are you doing you foolish fairy lover?”

Felnar turned to face him.

“I was getting my fairy some food.”

“We have more important things to worry about!” Fedrick snapped. “There are intruders in the city. There was an elf boy in the dungeons. He was trying to rescue the prisoners. The guards are taking care of him. There are probably more of them. We should join the search.”

“Trouble makers!” Felnar snarled turning to follow Fedrick.

“Hey!” the fairy yelled slamming her fist against the bars to get their attention. “I’ll never forgive you if you hurt them!”

Felnar hesitated but Fedrick just snorted.

“Don’t listen to her,” he said. “She’s just a stupid fairy. Come on, let’s go.”

In one of the smooth stone passageways leading to the goblin portion of the city, Fedrick and Felnar met a group of other goblins and trolls who were searching for the intruders.

“Did you hear? The prisoners escaped,” said one of the goblins. “They left the guards chained up in the dungeon.” Fedrick gave a small laugh then became serious.

“They can't have gotten far. Come on, we don’t have time to waste.”

They spread out to search every corner of the city, Fedrick in one group and Felnar in another. After several minutes of searching, Fedrick heard a faint sound in the distance. He signaled those behind him to be quiet as they crept down the passage. In a few minutes Fedrick saw the faint shadow of a moving figure. He turned the corner, drew his sword and stopped short in surprise.

A small orange haired hobgoblin was bouncing a rubber ball up and down the tunnel. It took the creature a minute to notice the newcomers. When he did he simply said, “Oh, hello,” and kept bouncing his ball. Fedrick watched in silence for a minute until the hobgoblin came near him. As the ball bounced past, Fedrick caught it.

“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

Just then the ball turned into a hornet and bit Fedrick’s hand.

“Ouch!” cried Fedrick letting it go.

The hornet flew to the hobgoblin’s shoulder and landed there.

“I’m playing with Bubble,” said the hobgoblin as though nothing had happened.

He pointed to the hornet. It flew off his shoulder, turned into a little man and stood grinning at them.

“Oh right, our boggart,” said Fedrick. Suddenly his temper flared. “If you idiots had any sense you’d be helping search for the fairies and elves who escaped from our prison!”

“I guess we can do that,” said Bubble, exchanging a look with Glibbin.

“What do you mean you guess?” cried Fedrick. “Start looking, NOW!”

In their surprise, Glibbin and Bubble turned and bumped into each other. They fell, got back up and ran down the passage away from Fedrick. The goblins and trolls resumed their search. Before long they came across Glibbin and Bubble again. They were sitting in the middle of the passage but it was unclear what they were doing there.

“Did you find anything?” asked Fedrick.

“Were we looking for something?” Glibbin asked Bubble. The boggart shrugged.

Fedrick reminded them of the search which was taking place.

“We can help look,” said Bubble. “Come on Glibbin, let’s go.”

They set off again, leaving Fedrick wondering how they could have forgotten their task in so short a time.

About five minutes later, Fedrick once more found them lounging in the center of a tunnel. He grabbed Glibbin and demanded, “Do you think this is funny? Keep searching and quit your nonsense!”

Just then Felnar’s group approached.

“The leaders are releasing the strellogroth to hunt down the prisoners,” Felnar told Fedrick. “They want everyone but her trainers to clear the passages until she passes.”

Fedrick smiled and let go of Glibbin, all thoughts of the two fools slipping from his mind.

“I want to see the beast in action,” he said. “Where’s she going to start?”

“The prison so she can catch their scent,” Felnar replied. “You can’t go close, she’s too dangerous.”

“We won’t get too close, we'll just follow her to see what happens,” Fedrick promised.


“Come on,” Fedrick retorted. “You helped us catch her. You must be curious to see what she can do.”

Felnar gulped as Fedrick grabbed her hand and pulled her down the passage behind him, leaving Glibbin and Bubble to their forgetful ways.

The strellogroth was already in the dungeons with one of her trainers when Fedrick and Felnar arrived in the company of a few other bold and curious goblins and trolls. Someone had freed the guards from the chains. The group watched from a safe distance as the trainer released the monster with a seeking command. The great bat took off, flying through twisting tunnels which had been cleared for her. Fedrick, Felnar, and the rest of the group followed at a distance. The strellogroth seemed sure of the scent; she never hesitated at an intersection of the tunnels. Near the entrance, she stopped briefly and clawed at a thin crevice which She could not fit inside. Seeming to catch a new scent she headed toward the troll caves.

“What’s she doing?” asked Felnar in alarm. “She just went inside my cave!”

“Maybe she wants to eat your fairy as a snack,” Fedrick teased.

“Oh no!” cried Felnar throwing up her hands in alarm.

“I was joking. Let’s see if she found one of the escaped prisoners in there.”

When they reached Felnar’s cave, the strellogroth had flown out the entrance which led to the mountainside. The gate of the bird cage was a smashed wreck and the fairy gone.

“She did eat my fairy!” Felnar wailed.

“Felnar, I don’t think it was the strellogroth who broke the cage,” said Fedrick.

“You think the intruders took my fairy?”

Fedrick nodded.

“Then I hope the strellogroth gets them!” Felnar snarled.

“I don’t think you have to worry about that,” Fedrick reassured her.

As if to confirm his words, a scream rang through the night.

Continue to episode twenty-one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Quests Episode Nineteen: Into the Depths

Just a quick note before I continue to May's episode: I will most likely be taking a short break after this as my baby is due next month and the rest of the story is going to need some work. Please enjoy this episode and watch for an announcement letting you know when I will resume the story. Sorry that I'm going to leave you with a bit of cliff-hanger!

Read the series prologue here.

Read episode eighteen here.

Episode Nineteen: Into the Depths

The wings of Oakley's mount beat against the air with a loud whooshing sound. Oakley strained his eyes in search of the path he had walked with Beritta not long ago. Wind whipped his face causing his eyes to water, but still he forced himself to concentrate on the dark landscape below him. Oakley urged the winged horse to fly even lower over the looming mountains, lower than was truly safe. He was grateful that he had trained the animal to trust him so completely. The clouds moved even faster now than they had earlier in the night. The shadows they cast made it harder to see the landscape below.

A gap appeared in the cloud cover for a moment, allowing the moon to briefly illuminate the mountains. In that instant, Oakley caught a glimpse of the trail for which he was looking. He signaled his horse who circled before descending to land lightly on a rocky patch near the place Oakley indicated. Once the animal tucked in his wings, Oakley dismounted and took in his surroundings. He was above the tree line in the area covered by short grass and large rocks. He spotted the worn pathway cutting through the rocks on his right. The winged horse snorted softly in irritation.

“I’ve got to go, but I’ll be back soon,” said Oakley softly. “Stay in the area and don’t follow me.”

The horse bobbed his head and trotted off to graze. After watching for a minute, Oakley turned with a resolute step and started up the path. Driven by anxiety, Oakley moved from one switchback to the next at a hurried pace. A huge nearly vertical rock face loomed over the lower parts of the mountain. The higher Oakley went, the more menacing these cliffs seemed. The path took one last sharp turn and ended at the dark entrance of the underground city.

Oakley stopped short behind the last bend, staring out from behind it at the gaping hole. He scanned the darkness, trying in vain to locate the guards patrolling there. A sudden wave of fear swept over him and he felt as though he were frozen in place. What are you thinking? asked a small voice in his head, You can’t go in there alone! Wait for the rest of the warriors from Wilderlah. Do you want to be killed in the darkness of an evil city? That’s what will happen if you go in there by yourself.

Oakley took a deep breath and closed his eyes. It didn’t help. He thought of his friends trapped somewhere inside the mountain. An image of Faralasa saluting as she rose into the air came to mind. He thought of Beritta’s reckless leadership and was convinced all over again that this was a trap.

I have to try and save them, he argued with himself. I can’t leave them in the dark. If I die I will return to the Kingdom of Light, but I have to do what I can for my friends first.

He opened his eyes and stared again at the front gate. He repeated to himself that he was here to save his friends. Still, his fear was so great that he couldn’t force himself to move. He shut his eyes again and prayed for the Lord of Light to give him strength. A cold breeze swept over the mountain. Oakley shivered, pressed his eyelids tighter and made his prayer more pleading. A sudden unexpected peace came over him and he felt the presence of the Lord of Light. The wind brushed against his cheek.

Oakley slowly opened his eyes, this time keeping them open. A shaft of moonlight pierced the cloud cover, landing on a small cave high on the rock face to the right of the main gate. He realized that the Lord of Light was showing him a safer way into the underground city. He sighed and muttered a grateful prayer. Crouching to avoid drawing the attention of goblin and troll guards, Oakley moved off the path and over the rocks in the direction of the cave. He realized as he got closer that it was higher on the cliff then he had first thought. He scanned the rocks for a minute until he found several small cracks and ledges which he used to climb. There was barely any ledge in front of the cave but Oakley managed to pull himself up and inside the crack.

The passage was narrow and the roof low. Oakley ducked and trailed his right hand against the rough stone wall. Cold air blew up from somewhere below, chilling him as he made his way down the sloping cavern into the city in the mountain. Before long, Oakley’s passage joined a wider tunnel which was dimly lit by an unknown source. Oakley stopped for a minute to take in the high smooth walls. The roof of the tunnel was lost in darkness. Doubt crept into Oakley’s mind again. He had no idea where to look for his friends, and a wrong turn could be disastrous. He heard a soft tapping noise in front of him. At the sound Oakley realized The Lord of Light had sent a Tommy-knocker to help him. Tommy-knockers were a kind of spirit who lived in caves and mines. They knocked on the walls, usually to warn of coming danger such as cave-ins but in this case the Tommy-knocker was tapping to guide him through the city.

With a cautious glance to either side, Oakley stepped into the tunnel. The soft sounds of the knocker led him a short distance down the passage before the tapping switched to another tunnel on his left. He turned in that direction. The tapping noises continued in this way, leading him through the maze-like corridors of the subterranean city.

Once, as Oakley came to a branch in the passages, the knocker made a series of loud quick taps on the wall beside him. Oakley stopped for a minute in confusion. Then he heard footsteps coming in his direction. He flattened himself against the wall and waited with a pounding heart as a troll passed a few feet from him. Thankfully, the troll seemed absorbed in thought and paid little attention to the tunnel around him. When he could no longer hear footsteps, Oakley relaxed. He started breathing again, realizing with surprise that he had been holding his breath. A soft tapping came from a nearby passage ahead and to the right. He turned down that corridor and continued on his way. This routine continued until Oakley was deep in the heart of the mountain city. He had a few more close calls with goblins and trolls, but each time managed to get safely past them. At last Oakley came to a part of the city which seemed darker and more menacing. The knocker led him down a tunnel lined with caves covered in thick metal bars. Three slow taps drew Oakley’s eyes to a larger cave covered by a gate which spanned the entrance like a giant metal spider web.

This must be where the goblins and trolls had brought their prisoners. Still, Oakley wanted to be sure. He grabbed the bars of the gate and stared into the darkness within.

“Lasa,” he called in a loud whisper. “Faralasa, can you hear me?”

“Oakley!” Faralasa’s voice was high pitched with relief. “Is that you? We’re here!”

“Not so loud!” Oakley warned glancing over his shoulder. “Let’s try not to alert the guards. Where’s the key to this gate?”

“One of the guards has it,” Faralasa replied this time also speaking in a loud whisper.

Before Oakley could say anything else, he heard footsteps behind him. He turned to see a large goblin approaching. A ring of keys jingled as the goblin moved.

“What’s all this noise?” the goblin demanded. “Quiet in there!”

The guard moved so that the gate was in plain sight and noticed Oakley. Oakley tackled him before he had time to react. He slammed the goblin’s head against the wall until the creature crumpled and slumped to the floor, unconscious. Quickly, Oakley slipped the keys off the goblin’s belt, unlocked the gate and slipped inside the prison.

For a moment Oakley stood still, taking in a million details. The cavern where he now stood was large but dimly lit and had a strange rancid odor. Chains hung from all the walls. Faralasa was kneeling near the far wall and Oakley realized that her legs were chained to it. Dark objects hung from the ceiling. Oakley glanced up to see what looked like tiny wire bird cages hung throughout the room. Rueben and Wispen were in two of these cages. Rueben pulled himself up, clutching the bars of his cage. He was about to say something when the group heard more footsteps and voices in the tunnel.

“It’s the guards,” Faralasa whispered.

Oakley turned back to the gate just as three armed goblins came into view.

“What’s going on, Felix?” asked one of the goblins.

Then he saw the unconscious guard, the open gate and Oakley standing in the middle of the prison holding the keys.

“Sound the alarm,” said the goblin. “Tell them to search the city for intruders. Terrance and I will handle this.”

One of his companions nodded and ran down the passage. In a moment of panic Oakley wondered if Beritta and the warriors had reached the city yet. If so, he realized he had just alerted the goblins to their presence. He moved toward the guards as though to stop them. Just then the goblin called Terrance moved inside the gate, pushed Oakley roughly backward and drew his sword. The first goblin also drew his weapon and followed his companion into the prison, pulling the gate shut behind him with an ominous clang.

“This should be fun,” said Terrance with a nasty grin. “I’ve been wanting to spill some elf blood. It was disappointing when the leaders told us not to kill the prisoners.”

“Yeah,” agreed the first goblin. “Thankfully we don’t have any orders about the new one.”

They shared an evil laugh then closed in on the elf. Oakley retreated to the far wall with a pounding heart. Snarling, the goblins ran at him, one from the right while the other blocked him from the left. In desperation, Oakley glanced between them trying to find an escape. Faralasa crawled in front of Oakley, chain rattling as it dragged behind her.

“Stay away from him!” she cried.

The goblins just laughed and the one on the right lunged at Oakley. Faralasa jumped in front of him pulling the chain tight across his path. The goblin tripped, fell flat on his face and dropped his sword. Lasa gritted her teeth as the chain yanked at her legs. The goblin got to his feet and hit Faralasa, making her head ring. Oakley picked up the goblin’s sword and ran to aid her.

“Look out!” Wispen yelled just as the other goblin slammed Oakley against the wall, knocking the wind out of him. The goblin wrapped a hand around the elf boy’s throat, choking him.

“Drop the sword!” the goblin ordered.

When Oakley hesitated the goblin squeezed harder against his neck, nearly strangling him. Oakley let the weapon clatter to the floor. The goblin’s companion moved away from Lasa and stood watching.

“Hand over the keys!” said the first goblin.

Oakley’s eyes darted to the side. He took in the terrified expressions on Faralasa and the fairies’ faces. Oakley gasped as the goblin continued to press his hand against his throat.

“Lasa,” he managed to choke out.

He flung the keys in her direction. She caught them as they skidded across the floor. The goblin holding Oakley cursed, gave the elf’s throat one last squeeze and threw him to the floor. Oakley lay there gasping and coughing until the goblin grabbed him again, this time pinning his arms behind his back.

The goblin turned Oakley so he was facing Faralasa. Keeping the elf’s arms pinned with one hand the goblin sheathed his weapon and grasped a fistful of Oakley’s hair, pulling his head back. The other goblin picked up his sword and held it level with Oakley’s exposed neck.

“Give us the keys,” said the goblin with the sword, addressing Lasa, “or we’ll kill him.”

“You said you were going to kill him anyway!” cried Faralasa trying hard to be brave.

“If you give us the keys we’ll leave him here with you alive,” the goblin replied.

“Why should I believe you?” Lasa cried clutching the keys tighter. “You’re rotten liars! If I give you the keys you’ll probably kill him anyway!”

“If you don’t hand them over his death will be your fault,” said the goblin moving the sword even closer to Oakley.

“Don't listen to them!” Oakley called struggling fruitlessly against his captors. “You have the keys. Free yourself.”

“Shut up!” yelled the goblins.

The second goblin placed the tip of his sword against Oakley’s jaw, making it impossible for him to talk. He turned pleading eyes to Faralasa. She was sure she was the only one who noticed his anger. He wasn’t giving up yet. She felt as though she had to fight with him, defying Darkness, even if it meant the death of them both.

“Light help us,” she whispered.

The goblins looked angry. A spark of hope appeared in Oakley’s eyes and he silently repeated the prayer. Both elves felt a surge of strength. With shaking hands Lasa lowered a key to the chains on her legs.

“Stop!” shouted the goblin with the sword.

His weapon slipped a little lower. Knowing this was the best opportunity he would get, Oakley thrust his foot into the leg of the goblin behind him. The goblin’s hand on his hair slipped. With an unexpected quick movement Oakley flipped the goblin over his head and into the armed guard in front of him. The tip of the blade barley nicked Oakley’s throat as the goblins fell in a tangled heap. Oakley grabbed the sword as the goblin dropped it. He smacked the guards over their heads with it, knocking them out. By this time Faralasa had freed herself from the chains. She stumbled to Oakley’s side. He held out a hand to support her.

“You’ll have to finish them off you know,” said Lasa glancing at the goblins at her feet.

“I have a better plan,” Oakley replied. “Why don’t we give them a taste of their own medicine?”

He gestured to the room around them.

Faralasa smiled. “I like that idea.”

They dragged the two goblins to one of the walls and clapped chains on their wrists.

Oakley relieved the second goblin of his sword then said, “Now let’s free the fairies and get out of here.”

As Lasa unlocked Wispen’s cage, Reuben pressed his face against the bars and called, “Oakley, a troll took Lilac to her cave to be a pet. We have to get her back!”

Oakley turned a questioning gaze on Faralasa. She nodded grimly.

“I still don’t understand,” said Oakley. “Where is Lilac exactly?”

“Somewhere in the troll caves,” Lasa replied as Wispen jumped onto her shoulder. “I think they’re near the entrance to the city.”

“Then we’ll look for her on our way out,” said Oakley.

A frenzied tapping from the walls caught his attention.

“More enemies are coming,” said Oakley. “We need to go.”

Faralasa unlocked Reuben’s cage and he flew out of it. As they opened the gate and made their way out, Oakley held one of the goblin swords out to Lasa.

“Here,” he said. “You might need this.”

They made their way back toward the surface following the guidance of the Tommy-knocker. Groups of goblins and trolls passed in their search for intruders, forcing the group to hide in side caverns. Faralasa dropped the keys in a small cave which seemed to be a supply room. Near the front gate the knocker again warned of danger. Oakley ushered the group into the thin passageway through which he had entered as more goblins passed.

Once they were gone he turned to Faralasa and whispered, “Lasa, I think you should get the fairies out now. This way leads onto the mountainside. It’s easier than trying to slip out the main gate. There’s a bit of a drop, though, so be prepared.” “What about Lilac?” Lasa whispered back. “We can’t just leave her.”

“I’ll go to the troll caves and find her then meet you lower on the slopes.”

“I don’t think we should split up,” said Faralasa. “Isn’t that what got us into this mess?”

“Yes, I know,” Oakley snapped, “but I want us to make it out of here alive. It’s easier for the soldiers to spot a group of us than one or two. Please go with Reuben and Wispen. I promise I’ll meet you somewhere farther down the mountain once I find Lilac.”

Lasa was silent for a minute, thinking it through. At last she nodded and turned to explain the new plan to Reuben and Wispen. Oakley heard a soft tapping across from the gate and knew it was time to move. He turned to look at Faralasa one last time.

“Light go with you,” she whispered not even trying to hide her fear. Oakley took a deep breath to control his own dread.

“Light be with you too,” he said and headed toward the troll caves.

Continue to episode twenty.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quests Episode Eighteen: Disastrous News

Sorry for the lack of post in March, I got busy planning an Easter trip which was awesome in case you were wondering. I will be posting this episode for April as well as the next in May. In June I will be having a baby and plan to see how I'm feeling and how much editing I can really get done with a newborn before deciding whether to proceed with the story or take a little time off. At any rate I may not post a new episode in June. In the meantime please enjoy the next two episodes.

Read the series prologue here.

Read episode seventeen here.

Episode Eighteen: Disastrous News

Beritta, Oakley and Mist reached the elvin capital by sunset, just before the midsummer festival began. They entered the city from the south, skirting the edge of the Sapphire Lake, where the colors of the west were reflected in dark blue water. A small bat flew over their heads, moving across the lake to begin hunting for the night. Lights winked at the trio from among the trees and soft voices drifted on the cool breeze.

Beritta and Oakley changed into party clothes. Beritta wore a dress of silver and white while Oakley wore a shirt of purple silk, embroidered with gold. Once they were thus attired, they joined the celebrations taking place in the meadows between the Sapphire Lake and the Emerald Lake. Pale lanterns were strung from tree to tree, and here and there tables had been laden with the finest delicacies. Musicians played haunting melodies and everywhere elves wandered, laughing, talking and dancing.

“I’m going to find the elders,” Beritta told Oakley over the noise. “The sooner I talk to them the sooner we can get back to Fairy Wood and start our attack.”

“What do you want me to do?” Oakley asked.

“Just enjoy yourself while you have the chance!”

Beritta moved off and Oakley joined the party. He tried to enjoy the festival as Beritta had directed, but he had always liked the quiet peace of the woodlands and the company of animals over that of people. Before long, he was overwhelmed by the celebration and moved onto the nearby hillside for a few minutes of quiet.

On the hills sound seemed strangely muted after the noise of the party. There were only the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees and small animals moving in the undergrowth. A slight cloud cover moved in, partially obscuring the moon and making even its pale glow seem faint. Oakley sat on a rock, drinking it in. He felt a strange anticipation, as though the world were waiting for something to happen. He couldn’t shake the thought that he too was waiting, though he couldn’t say whether what he was waiting for was good or bad.

Oakley stood, trying to shake this strange feeling. He was about to head back to the meadows when out of the corner of his eye he saw something fly toward him from his right. It landed on the rock where he had been sitting. He turned to see a scaly-skinned sprite girl panting as though she had flown very far very fast.

“Lilly?” Oakley called as he recognizing her. “What are you doing here? Did something happen?”

Lilly let out a cold laugh.

“Yes something happened,” she replied once she caught her breath. “Several members of our group were captured by goblin and troll soldiers. Wispen found the army, but then a troll caught him. Lilac, Reuben and I tried to free him but…” she sobbed. Oakley waited until she calmed down enough to continue. “Lasa tried to help, but they got her too. They said something about taking us to an underground city. I managed to escape and flew here as fast as I could to find help.”

“Did they say what would happen to you once you were inside the city?” asked Oakley kneeling so that he could look into Lilly’s eyes.

“No,” Lilly replied meeting his eyes with a helpless expression. “The only thing I heard was that a troll wanted to keep Lilac as a pet.”

Oakley wrinkled his brow in confusion. “That’s weird. They didn’t say anything about the others?”

Lilly shook her head.

Oakley stood and ran a hand over his face. He didn’t want to say so, but it didn’t seem likely that the goblins and trolls would keep their prisoners alive very long. He paced, thinking about this. If the goblins and trolls wanted to kill the fairies and Lasa they surely could have done it, so why hadn’t they? What point was there in taking them to the city? Unless they had learned that the princess of Wilderlah was leading the group and had discovered the location of that city. Maybe they took the fairies and Lasa so that Beritta would come to rescue them. She would too, it was her responsibility. The thought filled him with dread. He stopped pacing, thinking fast. He turned back to Lilly who was watching him in silence.

“Fly through the meadows and find the elders,” Oakley told her. “Beritta should be with them. They’ll know what to do.”

Lilly took a deep breath to calm herself and flew off again. Oakley watched her for a minute before turning and running down the hill in a different direction. He knew what he had to do but that didn’t make it easy. The elders must learn about this new development. Still, they would most likely send Beritta to the rescue and if she entered the underground city she would fall into the trap. In order to save his friends, Oakley would have to be fast. He had to get the prisoners out of the enemy city before Beritta reached it. That didn’t give him much time. Beritta would set out for the city as soon as she learned what had happened. There was only one way Oakley could get to the mountains in time to stop this disaster from getting worse. He flung open the door to the stables where the winged horses were housed and walked to the stall of an animal he had recently trained.

“Come on, boy,” he coaxed. “We’ve got a job to do.”

The brown and white paint snorted, but obediently followed the elf out of the barn. Oakley mounted and took off, flying over the festivities in the capital, toward the mountains and almost certain doom.


It was hard for Beritta not to let her anger show. Not only had the elders denied her request to send warriors to attack the underground city, but they had also accused her of recklessness in splitting up the group and then journeying to the capital.

“You must return to Fairy Wood with all haste and rendezvous with your scouting party,” one of the elders lectured. “The sole job of your advance team is to find the location of that Dark army. It is not your place, nor would it benefit our mission to protect the forest to mount an offensive against the Dark city now.”

Beritta opened her mouth to protest but the elder waved his hand dismissively.

“I will not hear another word on this matter. Rest in the city tonight and calm yourself. At dawn you must begin your return journey to Fairy Wood.”

Beritta balled her hands into fists.

A strong gust of wind pushed against her back, setting the dangling lanterns dancing and whipping locks of her hair around her face. The wind carried a mournful, pleading cry to her ears.

“Princess Beritta, are you here?”

Beritta turned along with the elders to see Lilly the sprite hovering in the dim lantern light.

“Lilly!” Beritta cried. “What are you doing here?”

The sprite flew toward the princess and poured out her terrible news while the elders moved closer to hear over the breeze.

When Lilly finished, one of the elders said, “There is only one thing to be done. Princess Beritta must mount a rescue at once.”

“She cannot go alone and she is still in party clothes,” said another elder trying to sound calm. “Beritta, change quickly. We will gather a few warriors to accompany you.”

“Yes, of course,” said Beritta attempting to clear her racing thoughts. “Find Oakley!” she added as she spend toward the royal hut.

It took her only a few minutes to change and grab her weapons. As she dashed back to the meadows she mentally called, “Mist, our friends are in trouble. I have to rescue them. Will you come with me?”

In her mind she heard the unicorn reply, “Of course I’m coming with you!”

“Then I’ll meet you in the meadows,” Beritta concluded.

Mist reached the elders before Beritta did. As the princess skidded to a stop, the group turned to her, concern on their faces.

“Have you gathered the warriors?” asked Beritta.

“They are on their on their way,” the elders assured her. “Princess Beritta, no one can find Oakley. The sprite says she spoke to him before she came to us. No one seems to have seen him since.”

“Light help us! I hope he’s not doing something stupid,” said Beritta in alarm.

Just then the warriors arrived and Beritta’s attention was taken by organizing them. She had just finished giving her orders and was mounting Mist when a stable hand approached her.

“Excuse me, Princess Beritta, but I heard you were looking for Oakley,” he said.

“Yes, have you seen him?” Beritta asked.

“He came to the stables not long ago. I saw him take off on a winged horse. I thought it was strange that he was riding at this time of night. What was even stranger was that he was still in his party clothes. Then I heard you were looking for him so I thought I should tell you.”

Beritta felt her heart speed up a few paces. Oh Oakley, what are you doing? She thought. Out loud she thanked the stable hand and called to the warriors, “Come on, we don’t have time to waste!”

She urged Mist forward at a run, not even checking to be sure the others followed.

Continue to episode nineteen.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Quests Episode Seventeen: The Capture

Read the series prologue here.

Read episode sixteen here.

Episode Seventeen: The Capture

As night fell over the forest, Fedrick the goblin boy and Felnar the troll girl took up positions as guards at the edge of a series of deep of ravines completely overhung with trees and vines. Within these crevasses was camped the army of the underground city. The camp was well hidden; fairies and elves had passed many times without noticing it. Fedrick kicked a tree restlessly.

“I hate this place,” he said. “It makes me uncomfortable. We better have a real fight with those hateful meddling fairies soon. I don’t think I can stand this waiting much longer. We came here to kill fairies. I say we should get to it!”

Felnar sniffed the air. She wasn’t really paying attention to what Fedrick was saying; he had made the same complaints many times. “I smell fairies,” she said.

“Of course you do. They’re all over this place,” Fedrick snapped. “Why do you think it’s called Fairy Wood?”

“I mean they smell closer tonight,” said Felnar.

“There may be a few nearby,” Fedrick agreed. “Let’s keep our eyes open.”

He turned and walked along the edge of camp. He hadn’t gone far when Felnar gave an angry cry and dove at something in the undergrowth. Fedrick turned in surprise.

“Felnar, What is it?”

“It’s that stupid gnome!” Felnar snarled. “The one who helped turn some of my people to stone. Quick, help me catch him.”

Fedrick moved closer in an attempt to understand what was happening. Felnar scuffled on the ground for several minutes as her small enemy avoided her grasp. The gnome kicked pebbles into the troll’s face. With an outraged roar Felnar swiped the ground, knocking the tiny man off his feet. By the time Fedrick saw the gnome, Felnar was scooping him up to hold him tightly in her claws. With a mean grin, the troll raised the gnome to the level of her eyes.

“I hoped I would be the one to catch you,” she whispered, showing her fangs.

Just then a small voice yelled, “Let him go!” and Felnar was dive-bombed by streak of red light which materialized into a red-haired pixie boy. The pixie was followed by a scaly-skinned water sprite and a purple winged flower fairy.

“Fairy scouts!” Fedrick shouted, sounding the alarm.

He drew his sword, though he was unsure how much good it would do against such small enemies. A stream of goblin and troll soldiers poured out of the ravines behind him to join the fight. It took them only a second to notice the fairies. The soldiers spread out in a wide circle, blocking the tiny creatures, keeping them in the center of the circle so that escape was impossible. Felnar swatted at the pixie with her free hand as he pulled her hair. He dodged her, but was immediately grabbed by another troll. Goblins also caught the sprite and flower fairy out of the air. The soldiers and held the fairies with their wings pinned against their bodies, causing them to cry out in pain.

“Good work,” said the captain. “Looks like we caught ourselves some fairy spies. We know just what to do with them.”

The soldiers laughed. Fedrick grinned. This moment made his stay in the horrible forest seem worthwhile. Something moved in the branches of a tree overhead. Curious, Fedrick glanced up and tried to make out what was hidden among the leaves. Suddenly, a tall elvin figure dropped from the tree, smashing into the ring of soldiers. Fedrick saw the blade of a rapier flash in the moonlight and held up his own sword in defense.

“It’s an Airwalker,” shouted the captain. “Get her!”

Fedrick and a few other goblins moved to obey, but the Airwalker dodged between them, slashing with her thin sword. The soldiers snarled when her blade hit them, leaving small gashes on their skin. They attempted to surround her, but the elf jumped back into the air, kicking several of them out of her way. Fedrick sheathed his sword and grabbed at her legs as she rose. The Airwalker twisted, smacking him hard in the face so that he fell back, releasing her. Fedrick jumped again. This time he used all his force to yank on her ankle hard enough that the girl fell forward onto the ground, dropping her sword. Before she could escape, Fedrick grabbed her shoulders and slammed her head into the earth.

The sprite screamed, “Lasa!”

The Airwalker tried to stand but fell, dizzy and stunned. As she lay at his feet trying to recover, Fedrick picked up her rapier and pointed it at her chest. The elf glared at him then winced and turned her aching head to one side. Fedrick guessed she was probably seeing stars and was pleased by this sign of his strength. Two other goblins moved to stand on either side of the Airwalker. Fedrick lifted the rapier as they each grabbed one of her arms, pulled her roughly to her feet, and held her between them, facing the goblin captain.

“Search the area. Make sure there aren’t any more of them,” ordered the captain. Then pointing to the soldiers holding the fairies he said, “You there, take the prisoners to the city.”

Just then Felnar broke in, “May I have one of the fairies? I’ve always wanted to have a pet fairy.”

Fedrick rolled his eyes. He had known about this secret wish of Felnar’s for a long time.

The captain hesitated for a minute, considering the odd request.

At last he said, “Very well. It should be all right so long as you never let it escape. Which one do you want, troll?”

Fedrick took the gnome from her hands as Felnar looked at the other fairies.

“They’re not for sale!” the Airwalker snapped.

“Shut up, you!” the captain yelled.

One of the goblins holding the elf smacked her hard in the jaw. She fell silent, resigning herself to dagger glares.

After a minute Felnar pointed to the purple winged fairy and said, “I want this one.”

The goblin holding the flower fairy handed her to Felnar.

“Get your slimy hands off her!” screamed the pixie, but Felnar ignored him.

The soldier holding the pixie shook him roughly, until he too fell silent. Yet as he looked at the fairy in the troll’s grasp, tears streamed down the pixie’s cheeks.

Just then the sprite wriggled free of her captor's claws. The goblin swatted and snatched at her, but she zipped over his head and into the nearby trees.

“After her!” yelled the captain.

Several goblin and troll soldiers rushed into the forest after the sprite, crashing loudly.

“Go, Lilly, go!” shouted the flower fairy. The pixie, gnome and Airwalker joined in the cry. The angry soldiers tried to silence them once more.

“Great job, beetle-brain!” Fedrick snarled at the goblin who had been holding the sprite. The other goblin bared his fangs. Fedrick ignored him and moved to join the group taking the remaining fairies and elf to the city. He was glad for the opportunity to return to a familiar environment, but more than that, he was proud that he had been an important part of capturing the enemies.

Continue to episode eighteen.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Quests Episode Sixteen: Hidden Threat

Quests Part Two

Read the series prologue here.

Read episode fifteen here.

Episode Sixteen: Hidden Threat

“Lilac, are you absolutely sure this is where you and Reuben saw the goblin and troll army?” Beritta asked.

“Yes, I’ve told you a thousand times, this is where we were when we saw them,” said Lilac, flapping her purple butterfly wings to keep her small body hovering at the eye level of the tall elf.

“I believe you, it’s just that the scouts have been searching for days and haven’t found any sign of an army,” Beritta explained. She brushed a lock of long blond hair behind her pointed ear with an irritated gesture. “Where did they go after you saw them? Where are they now?”

“I wish I knew. I might have found out if they hadn’t come after Reuben and me.”

“I understand,” said Beritta. “I’m just surprised we haven’t found any sign of them yet. It’s like they vanished.”

“More like they’re waiting for an opportunity to strike,” said Oakley. He and Faralasa, were standing nearby. Beritta turned to him.

“That’s what worries me. I want to find them quickly. I feel like time is running short.” she glanced up at a winged horse circling overhead.“There’s one of our forward scouts. Let’s hope he has something to report.”

The group followed Beritta as she made her way through the trees to the place where the scout landed his mount on the soft grass of a small meadow.

“What did you find?” Beritta asked.

“Not much,” the elf boy replied replied. “The goblins are hiding all trace of their presence pretty well. I can’t spot any sign of an army from the air.”

Beritta kicked a rock at her feet. It flew a short distance before hitting a tree and falling to the ground.

“I hate this!” she cried. “It feels like we’re just waiting for them to attack us.”

“There’s not much else we can do unless we find their army,” Faralasa pointed out. “They can’t hide forever. It’s just a matter of time before we find them.”

“Well I think we should try to speed things up,” said Beritta. “We’re going to spit up so we can search more of the forest at a time. Lilac will fly between everyone with news.”

“I don’t think spreading out is a good idea,” Oakley commented. “It will make us more vulnerable.”

“Keeping together we've found nothing,” Beritta retorted. “Maybe this way we’ll actually find the Dark army's location.”

“If we split up I’m staying with you,” said Oakley. “Since you’re our leader you should never be alone.”

“Fine, but you’ll have to keep up with me. I’ll be riding Mist.”

She nodded to one side as the grey unicorn approached.

“I’ll manage,” said Oakley.

“Okay,” said Beritta turning to give her orders. “Lasa, I want you, the other Airwalkers and winged horse riders to spread out and see what you can find in the air.”

“You got it,” said Faralasa. Using her new found airwalking skills, she floated over the treetops, saluting Beritta as she rose.

“Lilac, tell the other fairies to fly low under the trees and report what they see,” Beritta continued. “Oakley and I will search the ground.”

“Okay,” called Lilac as she flew to obey her orders.

Beritta beckoned to Mist and mounted her then turned to Oakley and snapped, “Come if you’re coming.”

By nightfall Beritta, Oakley and Mist found themselves near the foot hills of the Emerald Mountains. They were worn out and had made very little progress. They rested, taking turns standing watch. The night passed uneventfully.

In the morning Oakley suggested, “Why don't we scout the lower slopes of the mountains? It's possible the goblins and trolls camped there rather than staying inside Fairy Wood. After all, the elders say the forest makes goblins nervous.”

Beritta shrugged. “Sounds like as good a plan as any.”

They spent much of that day climbing the rocky peaks and exploring winding trails. As they moved onto the higher slopes a strange feeling tugged at Beritta and the wind seemed to whisper words of a half forgotten language. Something about this new sensation gave her the nagging feeling that she should tell her friends to regroup. She suppressed this thought. Oakley pointed out a thin path leading steeply uphill. Beritta nodded and focused her attention on climbing again before she could make sense of her strange feelings. They followed the trail as it wound its way over the peaks. Often the ground dropped vertically to one side or the other, revealing deep valleys and canyons between the mountains. They had almost crested a particularly steep hillside when Oakley stopped.

“What’s wrong?” asked Beritta.

“This path leads to the goblin city,” he said.

“How do you know?”

Oakley shrugged. “I just know.”

Beritta dismounted Mist and said, “Let's find out for sure.”

Crouching low they moved a little farther up the path until they were past the tree line. Here there was only a little short grass and lots of large rocks. The path became a well worn walkway which cut a rut through the rocks and disappeared behind a boulder. Peaking out from behind the boulder, they could see that the trail turned into a series of switchbacks leading steeply uphill. Several feat above them the path took one last sharp turn and ended at a dark entrance like a yawning mouth in the rock face. Straining her eyes Beritta spotted shadowy figures standing inside the archway.

“You were right,” she whispered to Oakley. “I think I can see some goblin guards.”

“Let's get farther down the mountain before they spot us,” Oakley whispered back.

They moved hurriedly down the slope until they were once more within the tree line. Beritta beckoned them off the path. Once they had put several hills between them and the goblin city Beritta spoke.

“This changes everything! I'm going to personally report our finding to the elders and ask them to provide us with warriors to mount an assault on the goblin city.”

Oakley looked shocked as he replied, “That's a terrible idea! I admit, knowing where they came from gives us an advantage; now we can cut off their reinforcements, but why would you want to attack their city?”

“We have the chance to take them by surprise and strike a terrible blow which could crush the moral of the army in Fairy Wood thus crippling their whole campaign against the fairy kingdom,” Beritta replied. “I will not let this opportunity pass.”

“Our job is to find the goblin and troll army and defend Fairy Wood,” argued Oakley, “not to invade goblin territories. No matter how many warriors the elders send there is a high chance we will be outnumbered. What good will we be to the fairies if we are killed trying to conquer a goblin strong hold?”

“The advantage of surprise we have in my plan gives us a much better chance of defending Fairy Wood than we would have waiting for the Dark army in the forest to materialize,” snapped Beritta. “I would much rather be the one leading a surprise attack than the one who dies in one!”

“I have to agree with Oakley,” Mist broke in. “Your plan seems dangerous.”

Beritta crossed her arms and said, “Why don't we let the elders decide? Mist, if you and I start now we can make it to the lake city in time for the midsummer festival. All the elders from the capital should be gathered for it, it would be a perfect opportunity for me to talk to them.”

“Very well,” replied the unicorn. “I suppose if anyone can talk some sense into you it would be the elders.”

“What about me and the rest of the group?” asked Oakley.

“You will pass the news of our discovery on to the others and then all of you will stay on the look-out for both the Dark army and any help coming to it from the goblin city.”

“And let you travel to Wilderlah alone? No, I'm still staying with you. Besides you should have the scouts regroup. It's too dangerous to leave our forces spread thin.”

“I will do no such thing,” said Beritta.“And if you come with me how will I get news of our finding and my plan to the rest of the group?”

“Lilac should still be making her rounds. Let's head back to the edge of the forest and wait until she passes. She will be able to spread the news faster than I could anyway.”

“It will give us a later start, but very well!”

It seemed like hours to Beritta before they spotted Lilac, waved her over and passed their news on to her. Lilac sped into the depths of the forest to spread the word while Beritta's group made their way in the direction of the elvin capital with all possible speed.

As she journeyed over mountain crags and the pains of Wilderlah with Oakley and Mist, Beritta continued to feel the tug of the earth and hear the whispers in the wind. She tried to suppress the feeling that they were telling her she should have stayed in Fairy Wood.


Faralasa moved easily through the air above Fairy Wood. She loved being an Airwalker. At times it seemed as though an inner force lifted her, making her weightless. Before returning to Fairy Wood after the ability tests, Lasa had trained under one of the older Airwalkers until she knew the basic tricks of the trade. She no longer had to jump to get into the air as she once had. She knew how to “walk the air” which was more like floating in the direction you needed to go. Also, she knew the proper way to fight a battle in midair or attack enemies by coming at them from above. Faralasa was itching to fight using her new abilities. She touched the rapier at her side.

Lasa searched for about two days, covering a good portion of Fairy Wood before the sun set on the second day. As evening fell, she took a brief rest and ate. Lilac met up with her during this break.

“Did you find anything?” asked the fairy.

“Not yet,” said Faralasa. “I’m going to circle back toward the place you said you saw the army. I’m hoping to see a few goblins or trolls roaming the woods when it gets dark.”

“Good idea,” said Lilac.

She told Lasa about the discovery Beritta, Oakley and Mist had made, their trip to Wilderlah and Beritta's plan to launch a surprise attack against the goblin city.

“Beritta said to tell you to keep a look out for the Dark army and any supplies or reinforcements coming from the mountains. She’ll return as soon as she can.”

“Well that's quite the turn of events,” said Lasa. “Maybe we’ll also find the location of the Dark army here in the forest by the time Beritta returns.”

“I hope so,” Lilac agreed. “Wispen, Lilly and Reuben were investigating another part of the woods. I’ve got to pass the news on to them.”

“Okay. Let me know if they found anything.”

Lilac nodded and flew off to find her friends while Lasa got to her feet, stretching.

Calling upon her strange inner power, Lasa moved into the air once again. This time she floated closer to the treetops, straining her eyes to see anything unusual in the failing light. Before long, the moon rose, casting a silvery glow across the forest which mixed with the shadows in speckled patterns of black and white. Movement on the ground caught Faralasa’s attention. She saw a tiny point of red light and realized it was made by Reuben, the pixie boy. She was about to move on when she realized that something about the scene wasn’t right. Confused, she turned to look again. As she watched, Lasa realized what was wrong. Reuben was moving very fast. He look like he was dive bombing a…was that a troll? She decided to move lower to get a closer look. She was only a few feet above them, hidden by the branches of a tree, when she realized what she was seeing. The fairies had found the goblin and troll army and they were in trouble!

Continue to episode seventeen.