He would not explain anything more about how his mother would be able to help Cerys’s parents deal with the fact that she and Peter would soon be discovered as missing. Himeko was even more worried, knowing how strict and protective her parents were. She wrinkled her nose and Bayani’s seeming indifference. His father worked out of town most of the time, and with all of the time that he spent at Peter’s house, it would take longer for his mother to start to wonder where he was.
They did not have terribly long to discuss matters concerning Earth, for they soon came upon the forested stretch of the road. Himeko paused before it, looking over the trees that made it up. There were pines, cedars, and even a few hemlocks; nothing too different from a forest back home.
“Is this an enchanted wood? She asked after taking it all in.
“This old forest?” James replied, giving her a smile. “Nothing special in here. It’s a small stand of trees compared to the one by the wizard’s cottage. That was where the elves live. This one is just where the woodcutters come when they have work to do.”
“So there aren’t any unicorns in here?” Cerys added. She ignored her brother’s sarcastic look.
James laughed. “If you want unicorn, you’ll have to go a lot further north. They live in the king’s forest. Let’s keep moving; the sun will be setting by the time we get to the manor, and I do not want to be out after dark.”
In complete agreement, they followed him into the woods. Only Himeko took one last look at the sun before passing into the shade; noon had come and gone ages ago, lost somewhere among James’s explanations and answers. The air was cool, even crisp, and lush with the smell of green life. She breathed deeply of it, and took her time along the path, lagging a little bit behind the others. There were bushes in among the trees, and flowers growing up here and there, which she decided it would be wise to leave alone, since they were alike anything that she had seen back home.
The forest road wound around an occasional hill, but otherwise it was a gentle and even path. Himeko and the others followed James through it until they glimpsed the sunshine beaming in through an opening further down the path. They rushed ahead, eager to see what laid beyond the forest. Under the arching branches the formed the exit of the forest, they gazed out at the magnificent sight before them.
The landscape sloped downwards once the forest came to and end, so they they had a good view of the land and everything on it. There were many farm fields, and Cerys and her friends were able to see the last of the workers leaving them for the day, bushels and baskets burdening them and slowing their walk. Beyond that there was a village, hardly more than a blur.
“It’s hard to see right now,” James began pointing beyond the village, “but our manor is over there. It should not take us too long to get there.”
“Amazing…” Cerys, frozen in place.
“It’s just farms, Cerys,” Peter told her, nudging her arm a little. He was clearly unimpressed by the sight of it all.
“You don’t get anything do you, Peter?” she scoffed. “There is a pristine world in front of us, a society like what Earth had centuries ago, and it is beautiful how much they were able to put together without even polluting the land! I should have known; you’re only ever interested in your boyfriend.”
“You should get one, too,” Bayani chimed in with his playful tone. “They really are fun to have. You’d probably be very happy.”
Cerys gave him a wry smile and shook her head. “Can you get him to appreciate this beauty?” She swung her arm out to gesture to it all.
“I always thought beauty was better appreciated if not everybody appreciated it,” Bayani told her. “If you can glimpse something that nobody else understand or resonates with, isn’t that what makes it more meaningful?”
It took her several moments of staring at Bayani before she could convince her mouth to form any words. “You… That is the deepest thing that I have ever heard you say. I didn’t know you had that in you, Bayani.”
He gave a bashful smile. “Always glad to offer you a surprise, my lady.”
“Just wait until you are walking along the fields,” James said. “There is something about the sunset that makes them seem so much more… magical.”