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Storytelling Competition - (click for the map) | (printer friendly version)

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Week 938
You are on Week 939
Week 940

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Nine Hundred Thirty Nine Ends Friday, May 12

Perched on a branch up above the forest floor, in the forests near Meridell, Koya the Korbat Huntress watched the Blue Krawk that was walking along the path.

Koya didn't know why he was here. Maybe he was just foraging for food. Maybe he was looking for resources. Maybe he was just lost. But whatever the reason, Koya couldn't let him disturb the territory of the Forest Clan.

Standing up, she expertly jumped from tree to tree, getting ahead of him.

---

Micah the Krawk was just hiking through the forest, simply enjoying the warm day. After a long winter that extended into the Month of Eating, it was nice to finally get out and enjoy the outdoors.

His thoughts was interrupted by someone dropping in front of him and a sword pointed at his face.

"Not another step," Koya warned. "You're trespassing in the territory of the Forest Clan."

"Forest Clan?" Micah asked, as he regarded the Korbat in front of him.

"Yes, and we don't take kindly to trespassers. Now leave, before..." Koya started, before a noise behind her made her turn. "On second thought, stay behind me."

Micah looked towards the area that the noise came from, as Koya moved to stand between him and whatever it was, sword at the ready. As it pushed aside the brush that was hiding it, Micah could see it was...

Author: jdb1984
Date: May 1st
A dark faerie crouching among the weeds. Her face twisted into a smirk at the sight of the two pets - one clutching at a crudely fashioned sword, the other trembling behind her. Purple flames emanated from her hands, which she held out in front of her, poised to attack.

“This is the territory of the Forest Clan, Faerie!” Koya cried as she tightened her grip on the hilt of her sword. “You should not have come here!”

“Oh, I know exactly where I came, little pet,” the dark faerie taunted as she leapt to her feet. She launched herself at Koya, sending a burst of purple flames hurtling towards the Korbat.

Koya leapt to her left, but not quickly enough - the flames grazed at her arm, leaving a glowing, purple cut along its length. Her sword was knocked out of her hand as she tumbled onto the ground with a yelp.

“No!” Micah shouted.

“You call yourself a warrior, Korbat?” The dark faerie let out a low, menacing laugh. “But you’ll do just fine for what I have planned…”

Before Koya could get up, the dark faerie had swooped over her and grabbed her by the arms. With one powerful flap of her wings, she took off into the air, carrying the Korbat with her.

“Run, Krawk!” Koya cried helplessly as she was lifted higher and higher by the faerie. “Tell the others!”

Micah stood alone in the woods, feeling lost and alone. All he could hear was his own ragged breathing. Overhead, the rays of sun that shone through the forest canopy were growing dimmer now.

Who were the others that the Korbat had spoken of? How was he supposed to reach them? He had never heard of the Forest Clan before this strange day...

He peered around the woods but there were only shrubs and trees for as far as his eyes could see. Still, he resolved to do something. He took a deep breath and began to walk…

Author: vanillastar12
Date: May 2nd
"Oh man" Micah thought as he picked up Koya's sword and started walking along the path again. Others. Need to find the others!

He ventured about 50 feet before realizing he should be actively looking for others and not just meandering farther along the path. He made a conscious effort to cast his gaze up to the top of the backlit canopy, through the network of branches, over the draped greenery, and through the weeds towards the floor. He couldn't see anything! He was just supposed to be on a walk! How was it that he always found himself in situations?

Little sticks stuck his foot while he made this visual sweep. He picked up his pace and his tail brushed against a spider web, sending a shudder up his spine. He quickly found himself thinking about how far away the Faerie and Koya must be right now. It panicked him. Poor Koya! His shoulder bumped the rough wooden bark of a tree and he continued looking frantically.

He broke out into a trot, snapping twigs underfoot and tucking the sword under his arm. The lush greenery that had felt restorative only 20 minutes ago now felt almost suffocating. He still couldn't see or hear anyone. If he couldn't find the others maybe they would come to him. He yelled out "Hello? Forest Clan?" in his best attempt to draw attention to himself. He knew he should have chosen a trip to the beach instead, but Koya needed him to be here, causing a scene. He huffed and puffed as he was almost sprinting by this point. "FOREST CLAN! HELP! KOYA NEEDS YOUR HELP!"

His unfamiliar feet almost tripped on the path below him as a small figure dropped in front of him, for the second time that day, and Micah heard a high voice ask "What exactly are you doing with my daughter's sword?"

Author: affinityforsocks
Date: May 3rd
The Kyrii in front of him was dusted silver with age, but her eyes were sharp and narrow as she watched Micah, one hand on the hilt of her own dagger.

Under other circumstances, Micah would have felt intimidated by the stranger, despite her small size, but all he could feel was relief. “Oh thank goodness!” he blurted. “Your daughter was kidnapped by a dark faerie! She sent me to find the Forest Clan for help, and I assume that’s you, so--”

“Slow down,” the Kyrii said.

“You don’t understand,” Micah said. “There’s no time! The faerie took her and she’s had nearly half an hour to take her wherever it is she was going. And it didn’t sound like her plans were anything good.”

“How do I know this is the truth, and you haven’t waylaid my daughter and are planning a set a trap for the rest of the Clan?” the Kyrii demanded.

Micah looked at the sword in his hand, and then down at himself. He gestured to his general lack of muscles. “Do I look like I could beat your daughter in a fight?”

“...No,” the Kyrii said. “Then tell me. What did the dark faerie say exactly? I need the precise words, if you please.”

Micah relayed the brief exchange, which seemed seared into his memory. The Kyrii nodded once, abruptly.

“Follow me,” she said. “We must seek my daughter, but first, we must rally Forest Clan. We have no hope of her rescue on our own.”

***

On the swift walk—nearly a jog, really—through the forest, Micah learned that the Kyrii was named Deshal, and that the sword that he still awkwardly carried has belonged to her husband, Koya’s father. He had bequeathed it to Koya when he’d passed. He tried to give it to Deshal, but she shook her head, saying cryptically that since he had claimed it, he must be the one to return it to Koya. “Or fulfill its duties yourself,” she added ominously.

Their trek led them on a dizzying path through the woods that finally stopped at what appeared to be a thick, impassible tangle of menacing thornbushes. But Deshal reached out a hand and pressed it to the trunk of a tree in a place that looked no different from any other. Runes glowed beneath her palm, and then the thorns parted with a rustle.

Through the break in the thornbushes, Micah could see...

Author: barnowl42
Date: May 4th
...a village.

But it was no ordinary village. It was composed of houses and huts built on varying heights up in the trees. Rope ladders and bridges linked each unit together, and Neopians of all walks of life walked, climbed, and even ran through this network, shrouded by more thorn bushes and the natural cover of the forest canopy.

The sight of Micah was enough to send all activity screeching to a halt, however. One Vandagyre had to extend a wing to keep a stunned Baby Aisha from walking off the edge of a balcony. Several members of the Forest Clan were already placing their hands on their weapons.

"Deshal, what have you done?" A burly Lupe strode toward Deshal and Micah, twin swords strapped to her back. Micah noticed vines wound around the Lupe's wrists and upper arms, adorned with beads and stones. A badge with a green leaf against a field of brown stripes was pinned to her vest. "You know our rules! And is that...Koya's..."

"Leader Swiftblade, everyone, listen to me," Deshal called out, stepping in front of Micah. "This Krawk is the only witness to Koya's disappearance. He managed to find her sword, and says a dark faerie captured her." The Kyrii frowned deeply. "Leader. She mentioned having a plan for Koya. This must mean..."

The Lupe held up her hand for silence. "I know. The Shades have begun to make their move. They have come to take our territory for themselves."

"The Shades?" Micah piped up, remaining hidden behind Deshal. "Um...are they...like you? Like the Forest Clan?"

Swiftblade glared at Micah. "How dare you insult our clan by comparing us to the Shades!"

"The Shades are disciples of the dark magic arts," Deshal explained patiently. "Not all dark faeries are bad, of course, but there are dark faeries who continue to mean us harm. They have gathered their own clan - "

"Don't call them a clan!" someone objected.

"...and taught them their terrible secrets," Deshal continued. "For years, they have searched for our territory, believing it to be an abundant store of magic. We shut ourselves away to protect this place and to ensure that the Shades never gain power."

"To ensure that the Shades do not use any of our kind to find us." Swiftblade closed her eyes briefly. "If it is true that they have Koya, we have no choice, but to go to war against them before they do."

Micah nodded dumbly. He was still reeling from this deluge of new information. Who knew that not one, but two secret orders existed in the forests of Meridell? "Um..." He cleared his throat, still clutching Koya's sword. "If the Forest Clan is here, then...where are the Shades?"

Swiftblade bared her fangs. "There is only one way to find the Shades..."

Author: precious_katuch14
Date: May 5th
"... and the day has finally come when I must use it." The whole village watched as she drew her twin swords and raised them above her head. As soon as their tips met, the air crackled so loudly that many onlookers stumbled back from shock, including Deshal and Micah.

"Woah, how are you able to do that?" the Krawk asked, gaping at the concentrated sphere of what looked like dark magic growing larger by the second as it slowly ascended into the air. Swiftblade initially ignored him but answered the question when Deshal wondered the same thing too.

"I was once a student of Eva. She was one of the few righteous Dark Faeries who lent a helping hand to Neopets and was willing to pass their knowledge down to us but," the Lupe let out a long sigh, "she became corrupted in the end and joined the Shades."

As she explained this, the magical sphere had risen past the canopy and taken the shape of a huge eyeball which blinked and rotated all around. After a few seconds, it locked its position and emitted a purple laser that cut across the sky, leading to the west.

"The Shades' territory has been found!" Swiftblade announced loudly to the whole village. "Those who are able to fight, pick up your weapons and prepare to depart. We must make haste!"

The villagers sprung into action immediately, many strapping weapons onto their bodies while others bid goodbye and good luck to their family members and friends. In a matter of minutes, a large group of warriors had gathered by the thornbushes that were the entrance to the village, awaiting Swiftblade's instructions.

"Listen up! The laser pinpoints the location of the Shades' base. However, the giant eye that floats above our village reveals our position as well, which means that the Shades will also be aware of where we are. Therefore, we must get to them before they get to us. Do you understand?"

Deshal and Micah joined in the rallying cry that filled the air.

Swiftblade nodded sternly, turned around and pointed her sword upwards. "Go!"

The warriors marched past the thornbushes into the forest and switched to sprinting or flying once they had more space between them. Micah followed them, weaving this way and that around the trees, his paw grasping tightly to the hilt of Koya's sword as he ran.

For the first fifteen minutes, everything went smoothly until...

Author: rurirawr
Date: May 8th
Micah felt a strange tingling sensation in his brain, starting from the back of his head and moving to the front. He reached his paw up to rub his head when--

"Shh, don't say a word. Only you can hear me. Keep moving for now, but I need to warn you."

It took everything in Micah to not stop where he was. The voice was feminine and strangely soothing, not at all like the voice of the dark faerie he met earlier. Still, the sensation... a spell? Were they getting into his head?

"You cannot respond to me, and you can trust all I'm doing is talking. Just hear me out. You have been misled. The story they told you about us is false."

About us. So it is a dark faerie talking to him! His body tensed.

"They likely told you that we do terrible harm, and that we want their territory for the magic within. It's true, the Forest Clan has a secret magical source. But I bet they didn’t tell you the details. That power was ours to begin. We’ve spent generations living around it, practising our craft. And it kept us healthy, for we are beings of magic and we weaken greatly without our magic source. The Forest Clan forced us out, thinking our intents as evil, when we only wish to live well in our home. And now they keep us from that which makes us well."

Micah found himself staring at the others with a furrow on his brow. From what little he saw of the Forest Clan, he didn't see any of them using this magic, apart from Swiftblade's surprising display. Maybe the Forest Clan really was trying to protect magic from ill use. But if the dark faeries were weakened without it... It was true that Deshal was vague when she spoke of how they were harmed.

The voice continued. "Yes, we kidnapped Koya, but Koya is unharmed. We are just holding her to force negotiations, or a confrontation if we regretfully come to it. Besides, an eye for an eye, for they also kidnapped Eva."

Micah couldn't help but come to a halt. No, they couldn't have...

"Keep moving, friend. Yes, they kidnapped Eva, after she taught them and grew close to them. She ultimately wanted to negotiate an alliance and resolve our dispute peacefully. They thought she'd betrayed them, that she now knew too much. So they imprisoned her and used her own magic to bind her abilities. None of us could get close. If we cannot have our land back, then we at least want Eva back. We will trade Koya for Eva."

Micah had drawn stares from the others at his hesitation, but another warrior tugged his arm, and he kept running with them. Still, he got a look from Swiftblade.

"Micah, all, we are close enough to their territory for them to send messages to us," Swiftblade warned. "If you hear their voices, ignore them! They are misleading you."

"They never told you the full truth,” the voice insisted. ”If you doubt me, ask them. Don't you have a right to know?"

Heavy silence hung over Micah as her words felt weighed on his mind. After what felt like too long, the voice spoke once more. "You can help us resolve this peacefully. Ask them, get your answers. If you believe us after your questions, then help us open negotiations. Or at least persuade them to hold back, before our only refuge is threatened. If you help us, we will be in your debt, and when our power source is returned, you will be handsomely rewarded."

And with that, the tingling sensation left his brain. With the assurance that she was gone, he thought deeper. Could he really pick a side here? He knew nothing of the Forest Clan before today, nor anything of the dark faeries of this forest. He did know that Koya needed him, that she likely wasn’t responsible, and he wanted to help her. Whatever that would take. If only he knew what was the best route to take...

After a moment, he nodded to himself with resolve and looked to the Lupe. "Swiftblade, wait. Can I ask something...?"

Author: gentle_lil_queen
Date: May 9th
Swiftblade raised an eyebrow at the Krawk. "You do know we are on a time complexity here, right?"

"I know, I just wanna make sure I'm on the right side." Micah answered. "So be honest with me, is it true that the magic of the forest belonged to the Shades?"

The crowd burst into loud murmurs, some even shouted curses at Micah, but the Krawk had his eyes focused on Swiftblade, who raised an arm to silence the crowd, then inched closer. "I told you to not listen to them!"

"I need to know the whole truth if I am to aid you, ma'am!" Micah replied. "Did you force them out of their home and took the magic that was rightfully theirs to begin with?"

"Theirs?" Swiftblade asked. "The air you breathe, is it yours? The soil you walk on, the trees that provide you shade, the nature that gave birth to everything that you enjoy, would you call it yours?" She moved away. "The magic of the forest belonged to the Shades as much as Neopia belonged to Dr. Sloth before the faeries came. It is a natural resource, the Shades were the first to harness its power and use it for the good of everyone, faeries and Neopets alike. But the more they took from it, the more they became dependent and ultimately, they started to reserve it to themselves, refusing to share. The Neopets of the forest had no option but to stage a coup and that's how the Forest Clan came into existence."

"So, you did the exact same thing they did?" Micah asked. "How does that make you any better?"

The Lupe sighed. "It doesn't. The world isn't as black and white as you might think. We did what we did because there wasn't another option. The point is, there's never a right side in a war, we just chose the evil that we thought was more necessary for us. And I'll leave it upon you to decide for yourself."

"What about Eva?" Micah asked. "They said you've kept her captive, even when she taught you and grew closer to you. She wanted to negotiate an alliance, but you kidnapped her and now they took Koya because they wish to trade her for Eva."

Swiftblade's eyes grew wide. "Is that– is that what they really believe?"

"That's what they said." Micah said. "They just want to negotiate, if you return Eva to them, they'll give Koya back."

"No, no!" Swiftblade said. "We cannot return Eva to the Shades!"

"And why is that?" Surprisingly, it was Deshal who spoke. "It's my daughter's life at stake, Swiftblade! Why is that faerie more important than one of us?"

Swiftblade's gaze dropped to the ground. In a low voice, she responded. "Eva is..."

Author: knightwolfalex
Date: May 10th
..."no longer with us," she said with a sigh.

"You mean... Eva was... did you...," Micah stammered, eyes widening in shock as he imagined the worst.

"No!" Swiftblade quickly interrupted. "Even I would not wield my blade with such intent against my former teacher. Our history is far more complicated than that. Deshal, this may not be the best time to recount the events of years ago, but it involves your late husband, Toka."

Deshal stared at Swiftblade in shock. "Do you mean to tell me his passing is related to Eva's alleged disappearance? Why am I only hearing about this now?"

“Frankly, it is unclear even to me what exactly transpired that day,” Swiftblade recounted with a tone of regret in her voice. “It still holds true that he fell to the Shades in battle, but specifically, it was a battle with Eva. She came to us one day with a proposition to negotiate an alliance, yes, but there was too much risk letting her go back. While she was held ‘captive’ in a sense, we provided her a place to stay and did not restrain her outside from using our magic to prevent her from leaving. It was only until we could figure out our next steps. Unfortunately, she soon made an attempt to absorb all the available magic from the forest which was something we could never even fathom. Eva had a great affinity with the forest magic as did Toka, hence he began to do the same to prevent Eva from succeeding as they dueled. At the conclusion of the battle, nothing remained from them aside from their weapons. Micah, you may have questioned why you have not seen us using any magic, and this is why. Since that day we could no longer freely access it. Most of the clan is under the assumption that it was the Shade's doing and that we continue to hold Eva captive in retaliation. I can only assume the forest magic was almost completely absorbed by the two in battle, and disappeared along with them.”

Micah remained further confused with all this new information. “The Shades mentioned that the clan likely has a hidden source of magic,” Micah said. “Do you know what they could be referring to?”

“The Shades have residual faerie magic, even without accessing the latent forest magic. They can rely on this and also sense things that we cannot. One of those blades you saw me wield earlier was the one that belonged to Eva and is imbued with magic. As is the sword bequeathed to Koya. In fact, following Eva and Toka’s fight, that sword you carry also appeared to exhibit strong magic, but most of the clan cannot even touch the sword let alone harness its power. My assumption is that the Shades can detect the stored magic in these weapons.” Swiftblade shrugged.

“If that’s the case, how can I hold the sword with no problems?” Micah questioned.

“It would appear that the sword has chosen you in Koya’s stead. Perhaps you are no ordinary Krawk,” Swiftblade replied.

"But, how can this all be?" Deshal said to herself, still in disbelief. The rest of the clan began to murmur amongst themselves, taking surprise to all the unveiled secrets.

As the group progressed further, the fog slowly became denser, emitting a dark purple glow. Micah felt uneasy as he sensed they were being watched.

"Well, well, we've been expecting you. Can't say we appreciate the sudden intrusion into our land though." The dark faerie Micah encountered earlier appeared from the shadows, followed by another dark faerie that seemed to exude an atmosphere of authority…

Author: azn__kiddo
Date: May 11th
"It has been a while," the other dark faerie said, and Micah gasped before he could stop himself.

For one thing, he recognized that voice instantly - soothing, yet also like the toll of a great brass bell ringing over a multitude. It was the voice that he had heard in his mind. But this dark faerie was shrouded in a ragged cloak, with lank hair that framed a gaunt, wrinkled face and weary purple eyes.

To add to the growing list of things Micah had never known until today was the realization that even faeries could grow, or at least, look old.

"Where's Koya?" Swiftblade asked, her swords at the ready. "What have you done with her?"

"Tsk, tsk, you never change, do you, Swiftie?" Koya's captor shook her head. "Then again, what do we expect...from the Lupe who sealed Eva away?"

"Bryanna, shush," the ancient-looking dark faerie whispered. Then she turned back to Swiftblade. "We only want to see Eva again. We have not harmed Koya; she is in our realm, alive and well. She just won't be able to escape by herself, is all."

Deshal looked at Swiftblade. For the first time since meeting the Lupe leader, Micah saw her look vulnerable. Unsure. Maybe even afraid.

"We'll ask one more time. Where is our sister?" Bryanna demanded. Violet flames burst from her fingertips - but Micah noticed that they did not burn as brightly as before. They flickered like a candle about to go out.

The Krawk glanced from the two dark faeries, to Swiftblade and Deshal and the rest of the Forest Clan, and back again. Without meaning to, he met the eyes of the old dark faerie.

"So, do you have the information you sought?" she asked gently. "Who will you believe?"

"What are you talking about?" Swiftblade demanded. But there was a note of uncertainty in her tone.

"Majesty, they haven't told us where Eva is," Bryanna pointed out. "Queen Yliel, just give the order, and I'll - "

The Lupe groaned. "She's not with us."

"What?" Bryanna thundered. "You liar!" With a screech, she hurled a ball of crackling fire at Swiftblade. She raised one sword - and it seemed to absorb the flames, which vanished without a trace. "What is..."

"I'm not lying! Eva tried to betray us by absorbing the magic from our realm..."

"And my husband tried to stop her!" Deshal interjected.

"They both disappeared," said Swiftblade sullenly. "We could no longer find or feel the power from our home since then."

"Is that true?" Yliel asked softly. "I see."

"Your Majesty, is that all you can say?" asked Bryanna. "Eva has been missing for years, and all the Forest Clan can say is that she has vanished! A likely story!"

Yliel inclined her head toward Micah. "What do you think? You've heard the Forest Clan's story. I have told you our side. Where do you think Eva is, now?"

The Krawk's head spun. Why was this ancient dark faerie asking him? He had never known about the Forest Clan, or the Shades, or the magic within this forest, until today. Surely she was more likely to have all the answers everyone wanted. Why did Eva try to take all the power for herself? Where did she - and Toka - go, after that incident?

Micah gritted his teeth in concentration and glared at his wavering reflection in Koya's sword. For a brief moment, his face changed, and became an older, stately, bearded Korbat. Something about the Korbat was familiar, the ferocity in his eyes, the fearlessness...

"Swiftblade, ma'am!" he cried. "Please, touch your sword with this one!"

"What?" The Lupe narrowed her eyes at him. "Why?"

"I saw...um, please, trust me! I think I know where Eva is, and this is how we'll find out!"

Swiftblade bared her fangs. But after a glance at Deshal and the rest of the Forest Clan members behind her, she sighed.

"Krawk, you know this is no time for jesting."

"Please!"

Micah begged so fervently that Swiftblade extended her own sword toward the one he held. The tips touched, and a flash of light bloomed so brightly that everyone in this little pocket of forest shut their eyes. The glow blazed amethyst, and then a blinding white, before ebbing away.

When everyone opened their eyes, Micah and Swiftblade were still clutching their swords, but now, there were two more within their number - an older Korbat and a third dark faerie with braided hair and a crown of black flowers.

Swiftblade dropped her blade in shock. Bryanna took a step back and blinked. But Yliel smiled, the wrinkles gone from her face and her eyes shining as she approached the dark faerie with the braids and embraced her tightly.

"Eva."

"Your Majesty," said Eva.

"Toka!" Deshal cried and, with tears in her eyes, threw her arms around the Korbat. "Toka, we thought you were...you were..."

"I...I guess not," Toka replied, rubbing the back of his head and chuckling. But he hugged Deshal back. "Wait, where's Koya?"

"How..." Swiftblade bent down to pick up her fallen sword. "How did this happen? Eva, why did you..."

Eva reached out and touched Swiftblade's broad shoulder. "Perhaps I should have explained to you why I did what I did, on that day. I could no longer stand seeing my family, the Shades, and my friends, the Forest Clan, fighting among each other. I resolved to take all the power from the land so I could distribute it to both clans, but..."

"We...we thought...you were..." Toka stammered.

"How can I betray you? But I'm sorry, if that was what you thought." Eva bowed in front of Yliel. "Though, I think now that Toka and I are freed, so is the power."

Aside from Yliel looking younger and Bryanna creating brightly burning flames in her hands again, Micah noticed that the glowing fog around them had begun to dissipate. When it did, he saw their surroundings clearly.

It was like the Forest Clan's home. Huts and houses built on and around trees, all the way to the ground, ladders and ropes, Neopians and faeries alike, many of them wearing the same dark cloaks Yliel did. And among them, flying at top speed toward her parents, was...

"Koya!" Toka shouted his daughter's name with pure joy as she crashed into his arms. "Koya, you've grown! Grown into the warrior I knew you'd become!"

"Father! Oh, Father, we thought you..." Koya glanced at Deshal, who was also embracing her, and then at Swiftblade, the rest of the Forest Clan, the Shades, and...Micah, holding her sword. "Wait. What's going on? I was kidnapped by the Shades, and..."

"I had hoped Bryanna would convince you to come quietly, but I suppose I can't fault her for taking more...drastic measures." Queen Yliel shrugged and beamed. "Well, Eva, you're right. When you tried to take all the power to divide it among everyone, it was stored separately in those two swords. Now, it is free, and..."

"And," said Swiftblade steadily, "we are sorry we ever doubted you, Queen Yliel. Eva had never meant to betray us in the first place. And the magic of the forest..."

"Is restored to both the Shades, and the Forest Clan. Just as it should be." Yliel nodded to Micah approvingly. "I promised you a reward if you could stop a war from breaking out between us, and on my honour as the Queen of Shades, I shall keep my promise. Whatever it is you want that is within my power to grant, I will give it to you."

Micah thought for a while, as Koya stood with her parents, and Eva and Bryanna conversed with each other in whispers.

"Your Majesty, I started this day with a walk through the forest when I ran into Koya," he began, tilting his head toward her. "I'd like to be able to continue my walk peacefully...and I'd also like to be able to visit this place, and the Forest Clan's realm, freely. There's so much I still don't know about the forests of Meridell that I want to learn."

"What do you think?" Yliel asked of Koya. "You are the warrior of the Forest Clan, and you have dedicated your life to keeping them safe. Shall we grant him freedom to come and go as he wishes?"

Koya thought for a moment before nodding. "I think he has earned it."

"Agreed. As do I."

Swiftblade cleared her throat. "With all due respect, Queen Yliel, but I am still the leader of the Forest Clan. But I agree with Koya's decision. Micah, young Krawk, from now on, you shall be a friend of the Forest Clan...just like Eva."

"I promise I'll visit as often as I can," said Eva, extending a hand for Swiftblade to shake. "And to continue teaching my magic. If Queen Yliel permits it."

"I permit it," said Yliel, spreading her arms. "Now, Bryanna can stop abducting poor Forest Clan members."

"I only did it for our clan!" Bryanna exclaimed.

"I am Koya the Korbat Huntress, not a damsel in distress!" Koya complained at the same time.

As laughter echoed throughout the woods, as friends and loved ones lost themselves in talk and caught up on lost time, Micah sighed contentedly. Truly, this was a walk he would never forget.

"Micah."

He turned around. Koya was standing behind him, extending a hand.

"Thank you. For finding me, and for rallying the Forest Clan as I asked you to."

"Then...does this mean you won't make me leave the next time you find me?" Micah took her hand and shook it heartily.

"No, but on only one condition. That you give me my sword back."

The End.

Author: precious_katuch14
Date: May 12th



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