Prince Abaddon of Loxmere-Goll sees someone in the distance as he rides into the great desert of the Wilderlands with Shot ‘n’ Stop the python on the back of Arwr the diatryma in Chapter 39 of The Burgeoning…
The sun still hadn’t come over the mountains by the time they had set out again, taking a diagonal path down the face of the long steep slope. By the time it was bearing down on them making the day hot, they had gone a good league beyond the shelf, and Abaddon began to make out great tree trunks strewn about everywhere, sticking out of the colored dirt and sand as far as the eye could see.
Shot ‘n’ Stop had noticed too. “If thosse bare trunksses are ssuppossed to be a forresst, I don’t think we’ll ssee any sshade,” he said as he slithered across Abaddon’s leg to rise up between his arms for a look. “I jusst don’t ssee any leavesses, kiddo.”
“I don’t either,” said Abaddon. “Maybe there was a big fire or something.”
“I believe it’s a stone forest,” said Arwr, “though I’d not heard that such a thing existed outside the Dark Continent.”
“Stone forest?” said Abbey.
“We’ll see soon enough. I do know that this is called the Red Desert…”
“Red? It looks tan and white and purple and black.”
“Indeed,” said Arwr, “but Súlacha said that just beyond the horizon it looks bright brick red, and redder still should we happen to get a rain.”
“Rain?” said Abaddon. “It doesn’t look as if it ever rains here.”
“Oh but it does. Look at all the deep gullies running down the slopes. I’d allow that it seldom rains.”
“Hey!” cried Abaddon, straining to see from under the flat of his hand. “See that, Arwr? I swear I saw someone dart between a couple of stone trees down yonder. I think he had a bright green hood on. I thought nobody lived in the Wilderlands.”
Arwr shared a look with Shot ‘n’ Stop. “If you’re certain, Abby, perhaps we should point him out to King Neron.”
“Oh, I saw him.”
“Then hang on,” said Arwr as he flew down the slope at a light, easy jog.
“Grown-ups never thought I had anything important to say back in Castle Goll.”
“Well this could be important,” said Arwr, “and try to keep your eye on the spot where you saw him.”
Abaddon just hugged Arwr’s big fluffy neck.
“Can ye point him out Prince Abaddon?” said Súlacha as he shaded his eyes to look about.
“‘Way out yonder, I think.”
Súlacha kept looking. “Ansin,” he said with a sharp nod as he stared. “I do indeed see prints in the sand which look to be human, but I see nothing astir down there now but a couple of lizards.”
“I don’t see any of that,” said Abaddon. “You’ve sure got good eyes.”
“But you’re not an Elf yet, Prince Abaddon,” said Súlacha with a serious face.
“No. Just the aons with eyes,” he said, studying the footprints. “Sire! Look yonder. There’s a man down there amongst the stone trees and he has green hair.”
“A Fairy!” cried Abaddon with an excited bounce on Arwr, as Neron strained to see just where.
“Well, Prince Abaddon,” said Súlacha. “Perhaps you’ve been a-seeing like an Elf all along, since you were the first to spot him.”
Carol Marrs Phipps & Tom Phipps