After saying goodbye to Conner, Jacob and Milika, I took a walk down by the waterside where I usually found some peace. But it didn't help this time. I felt very alone. I thought about Krien and his songs. This made me feel a little better and I sent him a hello from my heart. Such a lovely fae, I thought. I heard a slight rustling behind me but when I turned around and looked, nothing was there. Chills ran up my spine. I realized it had started to get dark so I began to hurry home. Suddenly I saw a dark hooded figure in front of me.
"Where do you think you are going?" a man's voice asked. My heart was beating very hard as I continued walking, purposely ignoring him. "I think you ought to answer the man," said another male voice, this one higher, coming from my right.
Now I was truly terrified. I started running while yelling "I don't know you, why are your heads hooded?" Suddenly an arm grabbed me and put something over my nose and I passed out.
"We've got her! Let's take her to the cave," As they were carrying me to the cave I came to. I didn't open my eyes, letting them think I was still unconscious. They laid me on the floor and began circling me thinking I was still passed out. One of them heard a sound outside "I'll be right back" he said to the others. When he didn't return after what seemed like an hour they both left to find him.
The second they left the cave I jumped up. Clearing my head, I knew I had to go deeply into the cavern in order to be safe. It was damp and cold but my adrenaline energized me. I began to climb down, hearing the men in the distance. They sounded very angry and I knew they would soon come looking for me when they discovered I had escaped.
It was very dark deep within the cave. Suddenly the bats heard my silent prayer for help and swooped in front of me beckoning me to follow. Understanding, I followed them blindly, trying not to notice that the voices were getting closer. I bumped into something warm and saw a grizzly bear napping. I tapped his shoulder as the bats chattered in his ear. The big bear smiled and motioned for me to crouch behind him. He pretended to be asleep as the men approached. "What the…?" The bear roared and stood on all fours. The three men fell all over themselves as they scrambled back to the entrance.
The bear and the bats gathered round me checking to see if I was okay. I assured them that I was but the experience had shaken me and had made clear how dangerous our mission was and reinforced how much was at stake.
I realized I couldn't go back. That I had to go away again. "Will you help me get a message to Gammy and the others?" I asked the bear and bats.. My head swirled with questions. Where should I go? I looked at the bats and asked "can you go get me my father's stone, my mother's lock, my baby ring and one of Dakah's scales?"
I asked if they minded if I stayed in the cave until I could come up with a plan. I didn't want Gammy to find me because it might endanger the old elf, who was essential to the success of our plan. I also couldn't bear the thought of anything harming her.
I slept, darkness swirling around me. My heart felt heavy and I felt feverish.The bear stood vigil with the bats. They guarded me with relentless attention. I would wake up and then fall back into a troubled sleep not caring whether it was day or night. When I thought of the Darkness I felt overpowered and so small. I felt defeated. It was a dreadful time, a time of great aloneness and doubt. I knew I was allowing the Darkness to creep inside of me but I didn't have the strength to fight it.
Days and nights blurred. In one of my dreams I was in the middle of a huge storm, blackness, thunder and lightning were swirling all around me. It was like I was being shaken by a giant. As I began one more descent into unconsciousness, I heard something. It was a whoosh of sounds…a bell? No, it was a cry. Everything came to a halt and suddenly I was awake, sitting up. I looked around, the bear smiled at me, as did the bats. Someone was calling my name. My head suddenly cleared. What had I been thinking? As I shook the fog off I knew I had to get out of here and reconvene.
In the dark, they led me to the entrance to the cave. We walked carefully making our way through the thick foliage until I found the car they had hidden for me. Gammy had left a note in a language only the fae knew, along with some of my clothes and my precious objects. There were directions the High King had sent about my next destination. These were carefully hidden under a box of doughnuts. I laughed in a way I hadn't laughed for forever it seemed. I hugged the bear and asked him to migrate to a different part of the country for his safety. I kissed the sweet bats one by one. Turning Krien's CD on loud, I took off for the next part of my adventure.
The bear and bats waited as I drove away. I knew they were my tribe. "I wonder what she heard that woke her from her despair?" asked a tiny bat. "A baby cry" said the bear. "Ahhhhh, they said in unison. "She always responds to innocence." Again the sky grew brighter because there was more love and light.