The caravan of Elves trudged through the hot red sand in determined silence, following Ceidwad, Lladdwr and Arwr with Abaddon and Shot ‘n’ Stop as they accompanied Mentrus, Meinir and Gwawr. By afternoon, they had begun bearing to the north-west, away from the feet of the Great Barrier Mountains, and at once found themselves in rolling countryside, dotted with scrubby junipers. By late afternoon it had become quite hilly, and soon they came to a vast forest of great tall pines. “They’ve stopped yonder, sire,” said Owain with a nod ahead.
“So I see,” said James, staring under the flat of his hand.
“And I do believe that I recognize this Fairy,” said Neron.
“Halloo!” cried the Fairy with a grand wave from where he stood amongst the diatrymas.
“Would you be Meri Greenwood?” said Neron as he dismounted and held out his hand. “Dyn Gwyrdd was your name back when we first met, if I’m right.”
“Not mochel aboven a thousent yere a-go, Neron Ri.” said Meri with a grin as he took his hand and gave it a good shake.
“And just after that, you visited us when we hung the great front door at Oilean Gairdin, and I’ve not seen you since. And this handsome young man here is James, King of Loxmere-Goll.”
“And thou the Queene of Goll ymaried, whom yow al yfled?”
“You can’t imagine how I regret having to admit that, but yes.”
“And thy partye righte soor for water ybe, ey?”
James and Neron both nodded.
“Thanne alowe me for to wolcome hem to the village of Gerddi Teg, the Fayr Gardens of the Grete North Wodes. Weo konnen for to contynue oure introducciones as they hira thurst to slake.”
“Forgive me sire,” said James as he quickly looked about, “but for the life of me, I see no village at all.”
“Thanne by rightes thou the ffirst to seen schuldest bethe,” said Meri as he turned and pointed to a great circle of mushrooms, growing in the mat of pine needles behind him.
“I guess I’m lost…” said James, looking utterly confused.
“Thou nedith na buen,” said Meri with a hearty laugh. “Juste stepe wythinne the cercle. Llewyrch, Danneth and Súlacha awayten thee doun the steyres. Thou nedith carefull to bene to stapen over the musserounes. Mentrus? Plese to lede the way for hym.”
At once Mentrus stepped within the ring and jogged airily down through the dirt and pine needles to vanish altogether, followed by Meinir, Gwawr and then Ceidwad, Lladdwr and finally Arwr. Abaddon looked panicky as his ears sank into the needles of the forest floor, but he was still bravely astride Arwr when he vanished. James gave a wide-eyed look about at everyone and then stepped over the mushrooms to plunge his ankle out of sight as he felt for the top step. “Ah! There it is,” he said grandly as he too trotted down out of sight.
Ch. 41, The Burgeoning
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps