The blue flickered a few times, flashed with green, and then an image appeared. It was the image of another place, something that had not been there before. Instead of the trail into the forest, there was now another village. The shaman’s chanting changed, becoming more steady, and he nodded to Lythii. She smiled to him, nodded back, and then looked to the group.
“It is ready for you,” she told them. “Go through quickly and don’t look back.”
Then she gave her son a warm embrace. “I wish you did not have to leave so soon, my son.”
Nashtra nodded in agreement. “I would stay longer if so much were not at stake.”
“Safe travels, then,” she told him.
Lythii wished the others well, and then Nashtra thanked the shaman and led his group through the glowing lights. Just as quickly as they had left, they arrived again, now in a new place. The road swept upwards, and Himeko had to catch Nashtra’s arm in order to keep herself from stumbling. Even so, he urged them to keep moving, and within a few more steps, they were in another village.
Only a few of the elves there give them notice, and they did not seem bothered by their arrival. Cerys wondered if they had even noticed that they had come through a sort of portal. She glanced behind herself, but saw nothing of the glow that had been there before; there was nothing to show that they had come from somewhere quite a lot further away than just the forest road.
They did not spend any time in the village. Some of the elves greeted Nashtra0l as though they knew him well, but he kept walking. Himeko noticed that he did not bother to use a compass, so she took one out of her own pocket to check. He was indeed taking them north. She smiled, knowing that he had a particular talent for direction, and that he really was the right man– or, as the case was, elf– for the job.
Once they were pas the village, Nashtra explained that there was another mile or two more of pathway to get out of the forest. It reminded Cerys of the way they had come in, blue and green, sparking here and other with electric energy. She heard the babbling of the river, too, as they walked on.
“Does the river run all the way through the forest?” Cerys asked, hurrying up to catch up with Nashtra.
He look down at her, the look on it face betraying his astonishment at realizing that she did not already know. “Without the river, there would be no forest. It runs the entire length, north to south, and branches out here and there, and with it the forest. Where the river goes back underground, the forest ends.”