Darniss had been in better moods. He stormed out of the library to meet his brother gazing up at it out side.
"You seem disturbed," Deones said calmly.
"Me? Nooo, I just wasn't counting on your presence to scare the life out of the poor fools in there. As you know, unless you want them to run like crazed ants, you shouldn't have come." He followed his brother's gaze all the way to the east wing.
"Did you find anything?"
"Yes, until you dropped by, and now everyone is leaving the library in a real big hurry." Darniss glared at him. "You should learn to control that aura you radiate off."
"If their escape is what you are worried about, then know it's taken care of." Saying that, he waved his hand carelessly in a circle. Darniss saw as a bubble like sphere fire covered them and the library.
No way out, he thought.
"Now, tell me what did you find."
"Come and see for yourself," Dairniss answered. Both dark figures disappeared into the library.
Run, run, run, run. That was all Helen could think of. She was keeping the library behind her, heading east toward the forest. In her rush, she had left the book, now all she knew was that once in the ruins, she had to head east. For how far and how long, she had no idea. A cracking noise interrupted her thoughts. 'Don't look back,' Daniel had told her, but what was that? A reddish yellow glow illuminated her surroundings.
She looked up only to see a curtain of fire coming down in front of her. Her mind raced as she wondered what she was going to do if that thing came down before she could get away. Trusting her life to fate, she fastened her run for safety. Another noise came into hearing range. A kinder more promising one.
A tributary of the river should be running in her direction. Without giving it a second thought she ran in the direction of that sound, stumbled and was welcomed by the shock of cold water around her. The current dragged her faster than she could ever run. Looking back, she saw as the wall of fire touched the ground and surrounded the perimeter of the library, locking up everyone else inside.
She felt safe in the river. She knew this particular branch contained no rocks nor other navigational hazards. The waters speed remained constant for a few minutes, then it began to slow down as the tributaries' life began to run out. Knowing it was now safe to swim against the current, she made her way to, at her best judgement, was the east shore. She collapsed on shore, breathing hard and looked up to the sky. The stars, yes, they could lead the way. Yuro, their north star, shown bright. All she had to do now was go to the ruins and then head east, easy enough. She wasn't going to get anywhere if she sat there and rested so she stood and walked on.
A good three hours later, she stood and watched the dark silhouette of the ruins contrast the starry night. It was too late to walked on so she camped there for that night.
Helen woke up to the sound of childish laughter. Looking up she saw a young girl, about 6 years of age looking down at her. She was dressed in a colorful outfit and wore a flower tiara on top of a sea of blond, curly hair. Her blue eyes twinkled and dimples appeared on her face when she smiled.
"Hello...It's ok, I won't hurt you. My name is Helen," Helen told her. The girl took a few steps back and stared at her. "Where do you come from?"
The girl smiled and pointed toward the forest. "So your parent live in the forest." The girl paused to think her answer over then nodded.
"Could I speak with them, you see, I was wondering if they could help me."
At this the little girl laughed in a sweet way and turned around. "See, I told you she was lost, Azzic. You didn't have to form that big show last night," she said unexpectedly.
"Azzic? Who's he?" Helen asked her, surprised at her sudden words.
"I'm Azzic, and it's always better to be cautious than to jump to conclusions to early, Saria." A young boy that looked the same age as the girl said stepping out from behind a pilar. He was dressed completely in green and had reddish hair and freckles.
"So your parents live in the forest too?" Helen asked him. At this he laughed.
"Of course not, we live here." he said pointing at the ruins around them.
"We? You and Saria?" Helen asked skeptically.
"No. Us." he said. As if on a cue children began to appear from all around. They all dressed more or less the same, the boys in green and the girls in a sea of rainbow colors.
"What? How can you children live here all by yourselves?" Helen asked perplexed.
"Children!" Azzic exclaimed. "We're not children."
"Oh really," Helen said amused "Then what are you?"
"Where what you humans call fairies," he told her.
"That we are!" Saria said happily.
"Fairies! But aren't fairies supposed to be small and winged?"
All around her, the little people bursted into childish laughter and began to glow. Glow and shrink. Shrink to the point that they looked like overgrown fireflies. Helen could see two pairs of wings coming out of the glowing spots. They swirled all around her.
"You were saying?" Azzic, who hadn't shrunk, asked her.
"Amazing." She was rather speechless.
"You said you needed help." Saria said, landing on Helen's opened palm.
"Ah...yes, I'm seeking for the earth witch...do you know her?" Helen asked.
"You seek for Gaia?" Azzic asked amazed. "How do you know of her, human?"
"I need her help. My village is ruled by a tyrannic wizard and I fear that she is the only one who can help us," Helen told him. She looked at Saria who had now returned to her 'normal' size. "Your name is Saria? That is my mothers name!"
"Saria, huh? But it is a fairy name. The only way your mother could have it is if she was named after me!" She walked in circles and thought out loud. "That must mean that your grandmother must have met me in her childhood, and then, when she grew up, named her daughter after me! What an honor!"
"You said your village was in trouble," Azzic interrupted. "How could Gaia help?"
"I'm not sure, all I know is that she is mentioned in a book that tells a story similar to our own."
"Gaia lives east of here, deep in the forest. You would get lost without a guide. Saria?"
"Could you please lead...the human to Gaias palace?" Azzic asked. Saria glowed in happiness.
"You mean I can leave the ruins!? Of course! I agree! When can we leave?"
"Not so fast, you must asked for the guardians permission to go into the forest. Do you know were to find them?"
"Yeah, yeah, 'bout five miles east of here. Two big trees that think they own the place right?"
"Yes, just don't talk to them like that or you'll never get through them." Azzic sighed. Maybe he had chosen the wrong guide? At least it would end Saria's hyperactive-ness for a few days.
"Kay...can we leave now?" she said looking up at Helen.
"I'll leave whenever you are ready," Helen said.
"Wait a sec, you'll never get passed the guardians unless you have this medallion." He searched in one of his pockets and brought out a medallion made out of gold with a huge leaf shaped emerald in the middle. He gave it to Helen.
"Why do we need this?" she asked taking it.
"With all that has happened around here lately, we have to be extra careful on who sees our mistress," Azzic told her.
"Thank you, Azzic. You have no idea how much you are helping us."
"Yeah, yeah skip the mushy stuff and get going already," he said in a joking tone. After a quick breakfast of fruits and honey, they were off.
"Come on, I'll lead the way!" Saria shrunk to her fairy size, circled Helen, and began to make her way into the forest.
Helen followed Saria, who, hyper with excitement, kept talking the whole way. She kept naming flowers and trees and saying good bye to everything around them. He bluish glow illuminated their path as they ventured deeper into the forest where the trees blocked the sunlight. Weird mushrooms grew here, and their eyrie glow marked their path. Saria stopped in front of two gigantic trees. Beyond nothing but more trees could be seen, so thick it seemed impossible for a human to walk or even squeeze through.
"Hey! Sleepy heads, wake up!" Saria told the trees. There was a small rumble and a sighing sound. Helen looked at the trees and saw, to her amazement, two giant figures step out from in them. One looked like a male and the other a female. They extremely tall and slim. They where dressed in a strange and thin silk that was decorated with leaves and small flowers. Their willowy hair seemed to be covered in moss and leaves grew on the ends of it. Their skin looked different also, darker and tougher, yet smooth.
"Who searcheth for passage into the forest?" the male asked.
"We do, Helen and Saria," Saria said.
"A fairy and a human? Know that humans aren't allowed in this part of the woods," the female said.
"I have this medallion..."Helen said showing it to them. "They told me I could pass with it."
The female took it from Helens hand and inspected it.
"Dryads," Saria said, "always suspicious of everything."
"A forest medallion," the male dryad said, "only clan leaders have them." He looked at Saria who had turned human sized. "Azzic gave it to you meaning that he trusts you. You may pass." He took the medallion and placed it in one of the highest branches of his tree where sunlight could reach it. A single ray reflected in the crystal causing a green ray to shine through it and mark a path in between the trees. Both dryads disappeared into their tree and to Helens utter amazement, their trees moved out showing them a path. Their roots lifted above the ground causing a mini earthquake, and their great trunks moved aside. Beyond them, all the smaller trees moved aside as well leaving a clear path where the green ray shone.
"Well," Saria said, "let's go."
As they walked down the path, Helen saw how all the trees behind them returned to their original position, closing the entrance for any unwanted follower. She also noticed tiny green and yellow lights shining from inside the trees.
"What are those?" she asked Saria, who flew ahead.
"Them? They're a pain. Those are tree fairies. They think they are such a big deal just because they live in tree...sheesh, and they can't even change sizes. They're always the same: small."
"I thought they were normal fairies like you."
"What! Never, you can tell us apart because of our glow. We glow in colors from white to blue, they have the boring greens and yellows."
"Oh, big difference then," Helen said sarcastically.
"Yeah," Saria said missing the point, "I know, and still dumb fools can't tell us apart. It's amazing!"
Helen smiled at the little fairy, who seemed consumed in her efforts to avoid the tree fairies around them.
"How much farther do you think?" Helen asked her.
"Not far. Tree fairies are always around her palace, not to mention and army of dryads."
"Dryads? You mean like what you called guardians?"
"Yes, dryads are tree nymphs. They are the tree, their life and the trees life is the same. That's why the forest around Gaia is a sacred forest. No tree chopping allowed because you'll kill the dryad also. They're great dancers, there are dancing lawns all over this forest and that's were all the festivals are made and were all the fun is at."
They walked for another hour before they came to a clearing in the forest. A clearing about a mile wide with a single occupant in the middle: a giant tree. Or at least, that was the first impression. As Helen looked closer at it she saw it was really a living palace. A group odd trees made it. Their branches twisted and turned forming it's walls. Everything on it was alive. They passed a small fence made out of vines that had twisted in a decorative fashion around small trees. The canopy of the palace was so thick, that it was impossible to see it from above because it looked like its surrounding trees. The few thin sun rays that could penetrate the canopy gave the place an enchanted appearance. Gardens with the rarest and most beautiful flowers surrounded the and a sweet aroma filled the air.
As they walked closer, Helen noticed carvings in the walls of the palace as well as gems that seemed to grow out of it. A beautiful girl a few years younger than Helen walked out of it. Her hair was as black as the night, long and silky. She was dressed very similar to the female guardian they had met, with a dress of many lairs of thin, white silk decorated with leaves. Her skin was darker than Helen's, more brown. Her eyes where the darkest green Helen had ever seen.
She walked up to them. "How can I help you?" she asked with a tone of voice that matched her appearance.
"We seek Gaia, the witch of earth," Helen told her.
"I am she," Gaia said.