It sounded as though the leaves had crunched just a heartbeat after his final footfall, but Razzmorten shook his head and went on.
“Good wizard…!” said a man with green hair, alabaster skin and pointed ears as he stepped directly into his path with a knapsack covered with leaves.
“Hoy!” cried Razzmorten, freezing in his tracks at once. “Meri Greenwood?” He steadied himself against a tree.
“By your aura I have you finally caught,” said Greenwood with a flicker of fury in his emerald eyes. “You know that you can not hide that from me. Now tell me at last, wizard, where have you my lover Celeste done hid? Where did you put the Guardians of the Woods?”
“You’ve given me a terrible start, but aren’t you indeed Meri Greenwood, Dyn Gwyrdd, as we once knew you?”
“As if you did not know…”
“Well I should of course, but I’d expect you to know me every bit as well…”
“And what deceit would you be now a-trying?”
“Well if you once knew me, I doubt that you’d think I had put the Guardians any place at all. I daresay that like most mortals, I’ve never so much as had the chance to meet them. Would this have something to do with my twin, Razzorbauch?”
Meri took a step forward in the leaves and looked closely at Razzmorten’s eyes. He took a step back and chewed for a moment. “Now, you are Razzmorten, ain’t ye?” he said, turning aside for a spit.
“And you can certainly mark ye my word to be Meri Greenwood. And so you are here for to covet your brother’s handiwork?”
“Do you actually mean this woods? This was the Forest Primeval? Razzorbauch didn’t have nearly enough power to make such a change, the last I knew.”
“Then as hit thinks me, sitting over here you will need to be before to you the rest of hit I can for to tell,” said Meri as he sat on a nearby fallen tree and gave the trunk beside him a pat.
“Well these blue and yellow creatures,” said Razzmorten, taking his seat, “they shot me with a dart and brought me in here unconscious, or I wouldn’t be here at all…”
“Dorchadas, my good man, one of your dear brother’s enchantments they be, along with smallies and other such things.”
“Dorchadas? Are they indeed what they look like? Could they possibly be the giant lyoths from the Dark Continent?
“All but the great daggers for fangs they did have as cats.”
“Razzorbauch never had this kind of power. Are you sure Demonica had nothing to do with this?”
“Oh, but the power he now does have,” said Meri, “particularly since he not only to get his hands on the First Wizard’s Great Staff was able, but indeed on the very crystal Heart of the Great Stone Tree, which the First Wizard with the Staff did use.”
“So that’s where the Heart came from,” said Razzmorten as he stroked his beard. “And in the process, he’s kidnapped the Guardians?”
“Nacea, Alvita and Celeste, who was my very lover,” said Meri, looking very haunted.
“So you think he’s brought them here into the part of the woods which he’s changed?”
“I am sorry, but you do not quite see. Hit not just be this part of the woods. He has the whole Forest a-changed. And I must my lover for to find.”
“Oh my!” said Razzmorten. A breeze chased through the leaves up in the canopy, though not a breath stirred down where they were sitting. A great grey owl wailed, far, far away through the trees, though this time, he was not entirely convinced that it was an owl at all. “I swear I’d help you if I could,” but I’m in a desperate struggle to come up with a cure for the plague which is loose in Niarg and Far.”
“Alack!” said Meri.
“I was cutting Elven hyssop by the southernmost part of the Gulf of Orrin when I was taken by the Dorchadas. Do you know where that would be from here?”
“I do,” said Meri, springing to his feet, “and I would delighted to see ye there be, if you do not mind me for to have along.”
“Why, I’d be honored,” said Razzmorten as he rose and followed him at a brisk pace through the musty leaves. “Now, you’ve mentioned Celeste, Alvita and Nacea. Wasn’t there also supposed to be a Rodon amongst the Guardians?”
“Wasn’t he one of the Guardians?”
“Yep, save there be a good chance the smallies got him…”
“Oh yea. Of them I did mention. More of your brother’s work. Bright red nightmares that in the woods in swarms do run…”
Ch 4, Good Sister, Bad Sister
Carol Marrs Phipps and Tom Phipps