The riverbank was cold and hard as the stranger let Laeriel drop from his shoulders. In an instant Janey’s arms and another blanket were around her. Janey held her tight, crying softly and muttering soft prayers of gratitude to the gods. Laeriel took a moment to hug her sister back and cough up the last swallows of water. When she could breathe semi-easily again she looked up to their rescuer. “Thank you…” she croaked.
The broad man standing before her was truly a bear of a man. He must at least be two heads bigger than she was and his legs and arms were as broad as her own waist. He would have been an intimidating presence were it not for his friendly eyes and his grinning face staring down on them. “Not the best pick for a recreational swim” he said, and laughed at his own joke, his whole body shaking with him. His voice was deep but had a kind tone. Laeriel figured he was probably harmless. But then his face turned more serious as he said, “You might want to come with me before the sniffers find us…”
“How did you know they were after us?” Laeriel asked, a bit more cautiously now. “I didn’t”, he said, the look on his face turned incredulous as he continued, “But I could guess… a little glamour like yours might not be detectible, but the magical power leaking out of that one surely will do it.” He shrugged casually like what he just said had been the most common thing ever. Laeriel couldn’t believe what she’d just heard. She looked at him wearily. “glamour..?” she asked, trying to keep her tone ignorant. He rolled his eyes.
He actually rolled his eyes at her! “Don’t play dumb with me… You and I both know what I’m talking about. I’m talking about this”. And then she felt it, before she could see anything, she felt a warmth emanating from him, filling her… basically with the feeling of happiness. And right before her eyes, he started to change. His skin turned lighter, his short blond hair grew longer, his eyes grew bigger, pointier, and overall he just looked more… beautiful. His skin was so pale it almost seemed to glow.
Laeriel and her sister incredulously stared up to the Fae male standing in front of them and for the first time since her mother had taken her to that dreadful woman, for the first time in over twenty years Laeriel let go of her glamour, her power flowed out of her as the warmth spread through her and the feeling of happiness overwhelmed her, now that it was her own magic she felt coursing through her. This was the first time in so long she had actively used her power and it felt amazing. But as she started to feel the change in her appearance set in she suddenly realised what she was doing and clicked her glamour back in place. She didn’t know this man… and Janey had never even seen her in her Fae form. She knew, of course, but she had never actually seen it. This was neither the time nor the place.
When she looked back up at the man he was back to looking human. “Like I said, you know damn well what I’m talking about”. He gave her an obnoxiously self-fulfilled glare which made her narrow her eyes at him. Cocky bastard. “So you are Fae?” Janey asked quietly. The stranger gave her a nod. “Just like your friend here” he said. “She’s my sister” Janey mumbled while looking at the ground. The man looked a bit confused into Laeriel’s direction.
“Our mother was human”, she said, “we don’t share the same father”.
“That clears it up.” He countered.
“We should leave” Janey whispered.
“I agree” the stranger said, “follow me”.
They started walking. The man in front and the two sisters next to each other, following his trail. Laeriel had wrapped her blanket tightly around herself to keep warm. Luckily she had been able to keep a hold on her pack and her bow. Unfortunately she had lost all of her arrows and her whole pack was as soaked as she was.
“I’m Kelris” the man said to them while walking on.
“Laeriel. And my baby sister is called Janey. Kelris… can you tell me how you did that..? The way you saved us from the water?”
“For a half Fae you know considerably little of Fae magic…” he answered.
“We were raised human…” she said, feeling not entirely comfortable telling all these personal facts about them. She had never before told anybody anything personal, ever, except for all kinds of amazing stories she had made up about their past lives whenever they had reached a new town.
“Well, in that case…” Kelris started, “Fae magic is based on the elements. I myself am a Hydra Fae, meaning my magic evolves around everything that has to do with water. I can conjure it, freeze it, thaw it and manipulate it. No all Hydra Fae’s are that skilled. Your bloodline, your heritage often influences the amount of control you have over an element.”
He ducked under a low hanging branch and held it aside for them to pass.
“You must have an impressive bloodline if you are so skilled” Laeriel said.
Kelris threw a cocky grin over his shoulder. “You could say that…”
“Then how does it work with the glamour?” She continued, ignoring his arrogance.
“Well that is a little trickier. You see, the elements are the base of the Fae power, but there is also magic that is more neutral. We call it the fifth element or Empathy. As far as I know there are no full blood Empaths anymore, but Empathy is present in almost every Fae. In some extent. Just a little anyway. This is the organic, pure power we use to glamour ourselves.”
Laeriel had to admit, it was a lot to take in. Her mother had never explained these things to her, even though she had a Fae father. She couldn’t understand why… What kind of Fae would she be? Maybe she could guess.
“What are the other kinds called?” She asked Kelris.
“I’ll tell you some more about this later”, he said, “we’re here”. Kelris pointed towards the direction in which they were walking, but she couldn’t see anything other than more forest.
“Where?” she asked. Raising an eyebrow at him as to ask: Are you sure? Or: Are you messing with us?
Kelris threw her that annoying cocky grin again. “Trust me” he said, and winked at them. “Now, Janey, are you holding on to your sister? Because you will have to touch someone with Fae blood for this to work.”
Janey grabbed hold of Laeriel tightly as they stepped towards Kelris. Laeriel suddenly felt like she was stepping through a wall of water, except for the ‘getting wet’ part, and then they were standing in front of a huge city, larger than any city they had ever seen. Gawking at what had just enfolded before them they looked at Kelris, who was smiling towards the city. “Welcome home!” he laughed.