Forgive me, I have disobeyed. But, it was not done in vain. It was done for us! I would rather be happily buried beneath the soils of the Realm, then let you go. You don't belong in that pit Maya! No one does.
You have taught me kindness. You've raised me to understand all beings. But Maya, I have never met anyone as wretched as those Guards. In front of my very eyes, they cheered for your ruin, as though you were dirt beneath their soles!
I detest them.
One of them said that he would be honored to slice my throat with the nail of his thumb. Clever, isn't he?
Damn them all to where they came from: Misery.
They think I am you. I had my fave covered with the shawl you gifted me for my 10thyear, so the Guards could peer only at my eyes. Their compliments were the sweetest poison. I had to resist the strong urge to heave. Of course, I said nothing, which I think amused them.
They leered, calling me the “mute Nymph”. One day, their souls will roar in guilt, and on that day, I will have my pity to spare.
I know you must have realized this by now, but I will guilt for all my life if I do not confess.
The day I left, I had stunned you so that you would not wake, not until the moon had slept, and not until the sun had rose. Not until, I was gone.
Dutifully, I took your place as prisoner. I have no regrets to share. Wouldn’t I be a treacherous daughter, if I let you go?
Please forgive me, Maya.
Also, my bones have not broken; my flesh is not cut, so please stop weeping. I know this letter must be soaked with your awful moans, and the ink may drip.
Don’t cry Maya. I’m safe.
Are you wondering where I am? I am wondering as well, but even when I do find out, I cannot tell you. I never hide a thought from you, but this will be my secret till again, we meet.
Thankfully, I have escaped the ghastly Malum. I have Elgis to thank for that, but I don't want to boost his strange ego. Honestly, he is truly peculiar. I don't want to dwell on that.
I wish to tell you how I could have possibly escaped, but I cannot. I also wish to tell you where I am going, but Elgis has forbidden me from telling any soul regarding my future destination. I am forbidden from telling you many things, but one thing I can always confess, is this: I love you.
I know the villagers will not give the Warlocks your identity. But, if I must add, the Warlocks had no need for you; they only desired you as a prisoner for their cruel amusement. You would have rotted in vain.
I wish to write to you every rising sun, so that my words will fill your heart with assurance, that I will again, return. I will try all that I can, but please, do not wait for another letter. Elgis says it is not worth the risk, and he is right. Father’s capture is a nightmare for us both, but I promise you Maya, I will find him. I will not return until I do.
I am not as brave, and I am not as strong, but I will be as courageous as I can, for you and for Father. You have a long life to live, and many moons to dream. Please live, for me. I will return to you as soon as the Winds allow.
For now, forget that I am gone.
For you, I am eternal.
Your beloved daughter
Naya licked the tear that lingered on the side of her lips, feeling the liquid dissolve on her moist tongue. Perched on the stump of a once giant oak, its rough bark rubbing against her bare calves, she re-read her letter. Her stomach clenched tightly. With an Elf’s twig, she had scripted the parchment as delicately as she could. The scroll of the Elves was so light, that Naya was not sure if it was made from trees or constructed from rose petals.
Carefully, she rolled the parchment, sliding it into a glass vial. Smiling softly, she rested the vial on her lap.
Sitting in the stump, she felt the breeze of the passing winds. The clouds drifted above the isolated forest, as trees surrounded the area. As though calculatingly placed, there stood a bush in front of each tree, as far as Naya could see. She could not decipher what was outside the area of the trees, for after each tree, there stood another. It irritated Naya that a forest could be so compressed, as though it were a maze. Any attempt to search for a town would be futile.
Naya sat, her legs aching. Wiggling her toes, she stretched her thin arms over head, until resting her hands on the fabric of her skirt. The shade came from the giant trees which shadowed her pink skirt, to a dim blush. Yawning, she stared at the tall oak resting gallantly ahead of her. Her skirt brushed against her ankles with each wisp of the gentle wind.
I am afraid, she thought. Can't everything be as it was before?
Leaves dropped from the extensive arms of the trees, floating through the forest, as though enchanted.
I need courage Maya, thought Naya, Tell me what to do. I am lost, I am completely, lost. I need you. I miss you.
Leaves spiraled Naya's sitting form, as she thought of her mother's warm embrace. Her body began to relax as she remembered her Maya's arms, that she was certain would always protect her. Slipping down the stump, Naya rested her temple against the edge of the trunk, feeling her body drift.
Opening her eyes, she noticed that she was no longer at the desolate forest.
How did I get here? She thought. Standing in the ground, she noticed her feet were bare. The moist ground was patched with a golden grass, shimmering against the humid sun.
“Impossible!” She whispered, crouching down to touch the sparkling grass. “Golden Grass belongs only in fables. But, it's strange...it feels just like the normal green grass, like the one's at home! Perhaps the color is the only special part of this grass? What a disappointment.”
She stood, feeling slightly confused.
“Why am I here? When did I leave the forest? Where are my shoes?”
She stood, her lips pursed as she stared at the strange wall ahead of her.
Walking closer to wall, she saw that it was made of roses. Every part of the wall was covered in the reddest roses she had ever seen. Strangely, there were no stems or leaves coming from the roses, for it was a long, and rather tall wall of plump ruby roses.
Smiling, she leaned towards the roses, hoping to smell a beautiful fragrance.
Scrunching her nose, she felt slightly confused.
“Strange...they are lovely, but why do they smell like...nothing? Has my nose stopped working?” wondered Naya.
Shaking her head, she preferred not to dwell on the scentless flowers.
She walked past the wall of roses, turning the corner, only to stand in front of the exact same wall. Or, she thought it was the exact same wall. Walking past that wall, she turned its corner, walking down a wide hallway of roses.
Her walk soon turned into a sprint, as she dashed past wall after wall, searching for escape. Ignoring the painful ache in the back of her knees, she turned, dashing around the nearest wall of the maze. Each corner of every wall she turned appeared to be exactly as the one she had passed. Panting, she collapsed against a wall, utterly exhausted.
“I'm...running...in circles. In pointless circles! I need to get out of here!” she panted.
She ran again, passing each corner of every rose wall she saw, screaming: “HELP! HELP HELP HELP HELP! Please help me! Is anyone out there? Anyone?”
Her voice began to break, as she let out a small gasp. Stopping in front of a wall, she breathed heavily.
Her legs ached, as she stood on the Golden grass. Tears dripped down her cheeks, to her sweated throat. She wiped the tears with the sleeve of her bark brown tunic. Tilting her head towards the cool sky, she stared at the dark blue horizon, layered with purple clouds. The winds swayed the ends of her pink skirt, as she wrapped her arms around her chest.
“Why am I here?” she wailed quietly. “Why am I trapped here? Someone, please, answer me!”
“You are free if you wish...trapped if you desire,” said a deep voice. To Naya, the voice most definitely belonged to a man.
Naya stood still, her heart beating fast as she realized she was no longer alone.
“Is someone there? Who's there?” she asked, her hands beginning to shake.
“If you open your eyes, you'll see I am right here” the male voice replied.
“Stop riddling me! My eyes are wide open, and I don't see anyone” she said, feeling rather annoyed.
“You are so sweet, aren't you?” He said softly. “Touch the pretty rose. And I shall appear.”
Naya's heart began to speed. The voice did not sound friendly, despite his sugary tone.
“Forgive me for my rudeness, but...I don't want to see you. Can you...please tell me how to leave this place?”
The voice laughed, the waves of his voice trailing around the rose hall, like a faint echo.
“Don't laugh” said Naya shortly. “I will be greatful to you! Who ever you are”
“You seek my aid, yet you fear to see me. I assure you, I will not bruise your pretty self,” he said, chuckling.
Naya's cheeks burned at the compliment.
“You blush as well! What an interesting thing you are” he said, sounding thoroughly amused.
She scowled, regretting saying she felt grateful to him. He was possibly the most pompous man in the Realm.
If he even IS a man, she thought bitterly. She stared angrily at the ground, annoyed that her cheeks were getting hotter.
“I am not a thing, and I do NOT fear you!” She snapped. “Tell me how to escape!”
“Don't get feisty my lovely little Nymph” he said, almost singing his words. “Say please, and I will help you”
He's playing with me, Naya thought. Fine! It does not bother me. I just need to escape.
“Please!” she yelled.
“No need to yell. How silly. Do you know, you are silly?” he asked.
Naya no longer felt afraid. Instead, she had a thronging desire to scream with all her might. The voice was not very nice.
Rotten man! She thought angrily. Horrible, no good, EVIL man!
“Your insults are sweet as well,” said the voice.
“You'll know someday, and maybe someday you won't. But let's back on track shall we? You need my help--”
“Have you been reading my thoughts? How long have you been watching me?” She shouted, feeling terribly confused. She stroked the sides of her temple with both hands, wanting the headache to leave.
“Yes I have been watching you...and reading you...I must say, you are quite the entertainment. Oh...does that offend you? Have I imposed your precious privacy? How rude of me. I have atrocious manners, you see,” he said, his voice mocking.
“Just answer--”, Naya began.
“I will answer your question. I've been here, when you came here.” he said cheerfully.
“That answers nothing!...I want to leave.”
She heard no reply. Not even a chuckle.
“Please,” she added.
“Ahh! You have unlocked the key, with a simple: 'Please'...you have such good manners, don't you?” he mocked. “Ahh, I am only teasing. Don't make such a sour face. It breaks my spirit. It truly does!”
“Again, for the last time. Will you PLEASE help me escape this horrible place or not? Stop playing with me!”
“Oh, but it's amusing.” he teased. “Alright. I will help”
“Ok good.” she said, too tired to yell at him. “What must I do?”
Naya was beginning to think that he would never help her. She felt like a spinning top, being turned until the player lost interest, and left.
Raising her eyes to the heavens, she noticed the evening light had left. The stars were patched into the night sky, gleaming down at her.
“Take my offering” he said. His voice was no longer mocking, for he sounded chillingly serious.
“What offering?...I can't see you,” said Naya.
“Close your eyes,” he ordered. “Close them now. Yes, now!...Good...now that they are closed, do not open them until I say so.”
Naya did as told, feeling hopeful that the voice might actually help her.
“turn around, and remember to keep your eyes closed as you smell the petals of the rose. After you smell the rose, any rose...turn back around, and open your eyes.”
The wind brushed Naya's hair, as she turned, leaning towards the rose.
“The roses have no smell,” she said, cupping a rose in her hands.
“They do. You must remember their special aroma.”
“I'll try” she assured him.
Keeping her eyes closed, Naya remembered her mother's garden. She saw her Maya hunched in the flowered patch, scooping a small red rose into her palms. Her mother's eyes lit as she carefully placed the flower into a bright yellow pot.
It has not yet blossomed, but its fragrance is alive. Smell it, Naya, her mother urged smiling beautifully.
Naya recalled holding the pot in her hands, feeling its warm wood against her flat palms.
She remembered leaning into the petals of the unblossomed rose, inhaling its sweet perfume.
“I smell something” Naya mumbled.
“Do you?” the voice asked.
An intense sugary fragrance rushed into her senses, causing her to stumble back.
“Yes! I can smell them now!” she exclaimed, smiling widely. “Its so....I can't explain it! It smells so much stronger than the other roses! I am feeling intoxicated...almost. It's a bit scary that it smells so...perfect?”
“Hmm...unfortunately you have no time to dwell on your possible intoxication. Please turn, but do keep your eyes closed. Open only on my say,” he ordered.
Naya furrowed her brows at his stern voice, feeling confused by his mood switches. Shaking her head, she turned, tightly keeping her eyes closed.
“Can I open them now?” she asked.
Her closed lids felt the brush of the passing winds, gentle against her face. Breathing slowly, she opened her eyes.
Kneeling on the grass, was a figure dressed in a knee length black robe. Matching the dark fabric of his robe, were solid black trouser pants. Dressed in such dark clothing, made him appear almost invisible against the darkness of the night. On both knees, he sat on the ground, his head tilted towards her curious gaze.
Naya clenched her arms to the side, trying to prevent them from shaking.
What does this mean? Naya wondered.
She wanted to see his face, yet would not dare ask him to take off his steel black mask.
The mask looked smoother than the clearest mirror she had ever seen. The menacing mask had two openings; one small opening for the nose, and a rectangle opening around the eyes. All that she could decipher from this stranger was his bright green eyes, glowing against the dark mask.
Naya stood, not sure whether to approach him, or to scream.
“Are you here to kill me?” she asked, her heart racing.
She stood in the cool grass, possessing no desire to move towards him.
“Not every Warlock is the same” he replied.
She smiled, feeling calm, although she did not know why. Her body relaxed, as a warm breeze whipped her long locks.
“You are different?” she asked.
“In every way,” he replied. His voice was disturbingly soft.
The Warlock knelt still, his image mirroring that of a statue. He had a tall build. Even through his loose robe, Naya could tell he was not frail.
“You promised my escape. Or was that a lie?” She was more curious, then angry.
“You offend me,” he said. A peculiar seriousness escaped his tone.
“You don't sound offended” she replied calmly.
“No...I guess I don't,” he said, musing softly to himself.
Although she could not see his face, for the strangest reason, she felt his eyes boring into her. As though he desired, or perhaps, needed something. She broke his gaze, staring at the rose wall ahead of her.
“Help me” she said. Her voice came out as a whisper, and she was not sure if he heard her.
I am pleading to a Warlock... It is their fault my Father was taken. It is their fault Maya is hurt. Everything is their fault, she thought.
Naya shuddered, wrapping her arms around her as the wind became cooler.
“Look at me” he said.
She turned her eyes towards the kneeling Warlock, stepping back as he reached his long hands inside his robe.
“What are you...doing?” she asked, taking a tentative step back.
Bowing his masked skull, he presented a rose. He extended it towards her with both hands, gently holding the green stem.
“Please...accept this,” said the Man, his head lowered respectfully. “This is not a common rose.”
Ntaya took slow steps towards the Warlock, trying not to show her awe. She would not give the Warlock the satisfaction of dazzling her. Yet, her knees sent a jolting rush throughout her body, as her heart thumped. She stood a foot away from his kneeling presence, not believing the sight.
“The rose...it's...it's made of rubies” she gushed “I've only heard stories, and read poems, but never actually seen one. This is...unreal.”
“It's as real as you and I” said the warlock, his head tilted towards her awed face.
“Why are you showing it to me? What is the purpose of this?” she questioned, not trusting the Warlock.
“I am not showing it,” said the Warlock. “I am offering it”
Naya shook her head at the absurdity.
“I have no need for it. Thank you, though.” She refused to accept anything from him.
The cool wind billowed against the Warlocks dark robes, swaying it roughly against the night. Naya wondered if his knee was throbbing from the kneeling position he was in.
“Do you wish to escape?” his voice was surprisingly stern.
“Yes! I keep asking you to HELP me, but you keep playing games. I am not your toy” she snaps, feeling irritated by his continuous riddles.
He chuckles lightly, his laugh reverberating the space between them. Naya was not amused.
“If you desire to leave....accept my rose” His voice is smooth, unfaltering.
An uncomfortable heat rushed through Naya's arms, with his utterance of the word 'accept'. It sounded almost as though he were asking her to make a promise.
“You are saying that if I...accept this rose...I will go back to where I was? No other conditions? No tricks?”
“Yes,” he replied.
Naya stared at the brilliant rose that extended from the Warlock's hand, as he continued to kneel. His head was bowed, as though he were greeting a Queen.
She frowned. If I was a Queen...I would find Father, and make my Maya happy. I am a no body...stuck in a nowhere.
Walking towards the kneeling Warlock, she stopped just a few inches from his gloved hand.
Naya felt an unusual stirring as she extended her arm towards the jeweled rose.
Her heart rate accelerated as the tips of her fingers hovered over the stunning flower. The stirring turned into an intense burn as her hands lingered above the rose, unable to resist its glory.
Transfixed, Naya softly danced her fingers along the petals, watching as they swayed against her touch.
The Warlock tilted his head towards her, observing her mystified gaze.
Placing her palm over his gloved hands, she felt him slowly slip the stem into her delicate grasp.
She smiled, feeling the crisp glass of the stem against her fingers.
So beautiful...so so...perfect. Naya was utterly dazed, although she did not understand why.
Why do I feel so...wonderful? She wondered, gently closing her eyes.
Why is...everything so...perfect? Naya's heart drummed loudly as her body felt as though it were drifting slowly with the wind.
Guiding the rose under the tip of her nose, she inhaled deeply.
It had no scent.
How strange, she thought. Silly flower.
Naya giggled, not sure why she was feeling so delighted.
“Kiss the rose” she heard a voice order.
“Hmmm?...did you ask me to...kiss this rose?” she giggled softly.
“Yes...kiss it now.”
Naya smiled, lifting the rose to her blush pink lips. The petals felt euphoric as she softly brushed them against parted mouth.
“Kiss...the rose.” His voice was melodious.
The winds violently whipped her exposed neck, as her lips gently graced the center of the rose. Drifting clouds thundered from the heavens, as Naya collapsed, landing in his wicked embrace.
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