“We have been welcomed,” he said. Then he turned to the others. “There are low branches in the forest. It will be safer if you dismount and walk.”
Nobody had a reason to argue with him about that suggestion. Each of them climbed down from their horse, and led them by their reigns into the shade of the canopy. Nashtra walked at the front, and the others stayed close behind. Once in the shadows of the forest, it took a few minutes for their eyes to adjust, but when they did, they realized that there was much more to this forest than just the magical colors.
In the thick darkness created by the interwoven branches, there was still light. Not light from the Sun, however. It was a faint throbbing blue light, a glow, accentuated now and then by a delicate white crackling. It would appear, move across a leaf here or a branch there, and then disappear.
“Bioluminescence,” Himeko said, her voice faint. “These plants have a light all their own.”
“Yes, they do,” Nashtra replied.
As they went further into the forest, they began to hear the babbling sound of a stream of water. There was a narrow brook running along the path that they walked upon, bright blue, the plants near it glowing brighter than any others. The white crackling appeared more often closer to that stream of water. Cerys stopped to stare at it, watching for the sparks to appear again, wanting to see more closely what it did.
“Be careful,” Nashtra told her. “Those who are not born of this forest are not always safe touching those plants.”
Cerys looked over at him. “Those sparks,” she said, “they are like tiny lightning bolts. More than static electricity, but much smaller than lightning.”
“You have keen eyes,” he replied. “You are indeed a wise young lady.”
“You mean this forest really has electricity sparking through the plants?” Cerys asked, clearly stunned by the very notion of it.
“I am not familiar with that word,” he replied, “but it but it is true that there is a certain energy here. It is why this forest is called by outsiders as the Forest of Spark.”
“It sounds like you don’t exactly like that name,” Cerys noted.
“Not at all,” he replied. “There are many who try to come here to collect that very energy. They have come with crystals and strange contraptions, and inventions that are not welcome here. Some of my people spend a great deal of time trying to prevent the outsiders from entering the forest unattended. It is not just out of respect that we insist on this. I ask you again, approach cautiously, but do not get too close.”