Chapter Fourteen - Darkness and Lies

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AROUND THE TIME GEORGE AND THE ELVES were leaving Carenden Bridge, Danielle awoke to birdsong and the smell of wood smoke. The early morning sun filtered through the trees dappling the forest floor with patches of light. 

She sat up and looked around. Jessica still slept, curled up on the ground beside her. Holt was hunched over a small fire; Eldon was nowhere to be seen. 

'Good morning,' the Gnome said without turning. He held up a chunk of smoking meat. 'Would you like something to eat?'

Danielle wrinkled her nose. 'Just some fruit please.' 

Holt grunted, pointing. 'Try Eldon's bag. He usually carries things like that.'

'Where is he?' she asked searching through the Giant's bag and finding an apple.

'Who?' Holt mumbled through a mouthful of meat. Hot juices ran from the corner of his mouth and dripped into his beard.

'Eldon,' Danielle said trying to work out if the Gnome was just being awkward.

'Scouting. Trying to find out exactly where we ended up,' he said a thin smile playing across his face.

Jessica stretched and groaned sleepily.

'Did I hear someone mention eating?' She questioned.

'You did,' the Gnome replied. 'Do you want some.' 

He offered her a piece of the meat skewered on a stick. Jessica took it and studied it for a moment. Then much to Danielle's disgusted she bit into it.

'Mmm, that's good,' she said savouring the mouthful. 'What is it?' 

'Best you do not know.' Holt laughed. 'Just enjoy it while you can. If we are to catch up to your brother we will not be eating any time soon.' 

They finished eating and walked over to a small stream that trickled between the trees. The water was clear and cool. They drank a little and washed their hands and faces, drying them on their cloaks.

Eldon appeared shortly afterwards.

'We are not far from Llandy Vale,' he announced. 'The City of Evergreen lies to the north. We should make our way there. Seek out any information they may have on the whereabouts of your brother.'

'We will use the Amulet,' Holt called out.

Danielle looked at him sharply. 'Is that wise?'

'Of course. Unless you would rather walk all the way,' Holt replied.

They gathered their things and stood ready.

Holt held out the Amulet and whispered the words to activate it. Before them, a rip appeared in the air and the howl of the wind grew in intensity.

'So you are sure this will work okay now?' Jessica shouted.

'Yes child, do not worry,' the Gnome shouted back.

They stepped into the light.


The light winked out and darkness folded around them. Danielle had expected to see the long tunnel stretching ahead but there was only nothingness. She reached out for Jessica but could not find her. Spinning around she groped in the murk for any sign of Holt or Eldon. But felt nothing. Fear gripped her. Danielle recalled the spirit creatures that haunted them the last time they used the Amulet. She cried out, hoping for a reply. Some sign she was not alone. But there was only silence. 

Suddenly the world winked back into existence around her.

She hit the ground hard.

She lay there gasping, trying to replenish the air that had been knocked from her lungs by the fall. She shifted slightly checking herself for any injuries. But nothing seemed broken. Whatever had happened she still appeared to be in the forest. 

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