Hello! It’s been long enough, hasn’t it? I’ve missed you all and wish I had time to post in the past month. It’s good to be chatting with y’all again!
I’m not really sure what’s going to happen to Once Upon a Yarn in the coming year. Things are going to get super busy for me in a couple weeks, because it’s my first year of college. (!!!) So I think Unraveled will be going on hiatus after I post the last few chapters I’ve already written. I miss blogging, though, so hopefully I can figure out a schedule that works with classes and homework. At least I can get some posts in before then – the truth is, I’ve just been too tired to blog!
But I hope you’ve been having a wonderful summer, and I now present the sixteenth episode…
Unraveled, Part 16
“Certainly,” said Neirin. “I’m going to take you to Elide’s castle. She’s been looking for you for a while, Emma. It’s a trek, all right, but we should get there in fair time. You’ll get a nice tour of Feylinn, I’m sure you’ll have a grand time.”
She fixed a glance on Catherine. “You’re the first human to ever set foot in Feylinn. Enjoy it while it lasts.”
I tried not to read too much into that comment. After all, she hadn’t outright said she would hurt Catherine. But it was hard not to worry. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, I figured. Even if I had no idea how I could defend my friend against a bunch of Fey. Especially if they had magic….
Neirin took a few steps away from us, walking toward the forest. Dead branches cracked under her feet. I wondered where she was going; she was heading directly toward a copse of trees. Then something stirred in the tree – the branches moved as if in the wind, but the air was still.
Right before my eyes, a figure melted out of the tree. If I hadn’t been paying close attention I would have missed it altogether. He was joined by four others stepping out of the neighboring trees. They formed a circle around Neirin. I got a good look at them. Their skin was light brown, the color of the tree bark, and their hair ranged in different colors of green.
The first tree-figure seemed to be the leader, as he was taking charge in their conversation with Neirin. He gestured emphatically around him, pointing to his tree and to me and Catherine. Neirin gestured back. I would hate to go up against either of them. I caught a few muffled words from Neirin: “It’s your duty, Hemlock.”
He seemed to accept defeat, shoulders slumping a bit. Then he signaled to his fellow Fey and followed Neirin over to us.
As they got closer, I saw they were wearing clothes that looked like they were made out of leaves. Their skin was ridged like bark, and they were taller than normal humans. Of course, they weren’t human, but they were all at least seven feet tall. Catherine was a couple inches taller than me, but she looked miniscule next to the leader, who was glowering down at us. His hair was a deep green like the color of moss. He looked, well, like a tree in human form.
“Introductions,” said Neirin, clapping her hands together. “This is Emma Perez. As we discussed earlier.” The leader nodded, and a few members of his group exchanged knowing glances. Great. So they had been talking about me before I arrived. “This is her human friend. She’s staying with us until we reach Aethelney.”
Catherine spoke up from my side. “I’m Catherine.”
Neirin ignored her, as did the tree Fey. “Emma, this is Hemlock. You won’t be speaking to each other much, I’m sure, as he doesn’t associate with humans.” She sniffed. “Of course you’re not human, but you came straight from Tarrin, so that doesn’t help.”
I catalogued the name: Hemlock. Of course. A poisonous name for an intimidating tree warrior. “What’s Tarrin?”
“Human world.” She made a face. “You’re in Northpass now. Nobody comes here if they can help it; we don’t much like interacting with your kind.” It was directed at Catherine, and I had never heard such hatred in someone’s voice. “Tarrinese, is what you’re called. Too pretty a word for humans.”
“We haven’t had humans here for centuries.” The voice came from a Fey behind Neirin, a female with long, light green, willow tree hair. Her voice was lilting and made me think of sunlight breaking through tree branches, like the dappled light we had seen in the forest. In Tarrin. “I’m sure many will be interested.”
“Sure enough,” said Neirin. “I didn’t mean to bring her along. She’s like a parasite, just latched onto Emma’s leg and…”
“Shut up!” I exclaimed. All eyes turned to me, and I followed my outburst with the rather lame comment: “Don’t call her that.”
“It doesn’t matter,” said Catherine quietly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you were so attached.” Neirin didn’t take kindly to being told to shut up. “You’ve only known the human for a week, though, haven’t you Emma?”
I had. A week ago, my life had been normal. I had a moment of burning regret that I ever picked up the Briars and Roses Shawl – that I ever worked at Yarn Emporium in the first place. “Who cares how long I’ve known her? That doesn’t mean I want you to call her names.”
“Of course, Your Highness,” mocked the Fey who had spoken.
Neirin shot her a look. It was much more furious than her comment had merited. “Ash, I should think you knew to be silent.”
Ash bowed her head, still a foot taller than Neirin. Aren’t faeries supposed to be short? I thought, then had to giggle at myself for basing my Fey knowledge on childhood fairy tales. The tree Fey probably weren’t faeries, anyway. Tree nymphs would be the proper word.
“Let’s start moving,” said Hemlock. “It’s a solid two weeks’ walk to Aethelney; I’m sure Elide wants the prisoners as soon as possible.”
Neirin nodded assent. “And Lunarin?”
“It’s not far out of the way,” said Hemlock. “Add half a day, no more. Not too far from Aethelney.”
“Perfect.” Neirin smiled.
Thanks for reading, and as always, I’d love to hear your feedback! Thanks for your patience while I’ve been away, and have a lovely day. ❤ 🙂