Elkah takes a moment to frown at Boro’s retreating form. When her gaze once again lands on WooFZee and MeaZea, there’s a hint of a smile in it. “Just what does he want you to get feathers from?”
“A silver stork,” responds WooFZee, with a shake of his head. “He says that you need something from the amethyst grove, to the West. Will we really be passing a stork nest on the way there?”
“That depends on whether or not you’re able to help me,” answers Elkah. The deer centaur shoulders her bow once more before kneeling down on her forelegs so that she can roll up the blanket. “my sister works as a healer. I need three different plants from the grove. If you can help me find and collect all three, than I’ll work for you as a guide.”
MeaZea nods. When WooFZee kneels down beside the river, she hoists herself out of the stream and onto his back. The water beads on her scales, gleaming in the sunlight. “That sounds more than fair to me. Is the grove very far from here?”
“Two days walk, if you’re quick.” Elkah straightens up and offers the blanket to MeaZea. “While we travel, you can keep an eye on this. It’s important to me, so don’t lose it.”
MeaZea tucks the blanket close to her chest. “Of course not!”
Just like that, they’re off. Elkah is quick on her feet, as all deer are. In no time at all, the sapphire stream is left behind them and WooFZee finds himself once more racing through the forest. Their guide moves in complete silence, expertly picking out a safe path through the forest. Flowers of topaz dot the ground and leaves of jade and emerald hang from the tree branches. Everything glitters and glows, like something from a dream.
“It’s so beautiful here,” breaths MeaZea, reaching out to pluck a leaf from a low hanging branch. Even though it’s clearly made from a gemstone, the leaf still bends beneath her fingers.
WooFZee makes a low noise of agreement. “Just wait until night falls. That’s a sight to see.”
“So you’ve been here before?” questions Elkah, slender legs rising up high as she steps over a fallen log.
“No,” answers WooFZee, shaking his head. He jumps over the leg easily, legs tucking tight against his chest. “But I have a friend that lives here. He’s told me many stories of this island.”
“Tell me his name,” insists Elkah. She pauses and looks from side to side, brows furrowing. One hand rests against the trunk of a tree. Then her lips twist up into the hint of a smile and she sprints off again, faster and faster, forcing WooFZee to run at full speed lest he lose sight of her.
Tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth, WooFZee barks out an answer. “Len! He lives in the far North!”
For a very long time, Elkah doesn’t respond. She doesn’t stop either, not until the sun begins to set, casting a pink hue over the entire forest. When she does, it’s to paw at the ground with her front hoof and snort. “You won’t be able to find safe passage to the North for some time yet.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author