"What does it involve?" Alex asked.

"It is very simple. In exchange for shelter and admittance into our greatest and most secret city, you will give me a secret." Alta said casually, as if she only asked for a blade of grass or fallen leaf.

However, Alex understood what it was she wanted. Not just a secret, but something deep inside that you would not dare breathe a word of to anyone. The thought sent a slight chill up her spine and she wondered what a woman like Alta could do with secrets like that. Alex hugged her arms to her chest and waited for Alta to explain further.

Someone, she was not sure who, asked how she would know if they were lying and Alta responded that they would not be able to. Alta pulled out four small vials, filled with a light green liquid. Alex listened intently as she explained what to do with them. When handed her vial she hesitated. She already knew what her secret was.

She never admitted it aloud to herself and was not sure if it was something that was worth knowing to someone else. For her, she had held on to it for as long as she could remember and she was afraid that people might look at her differently if they knew. Drinking the bitter liquid down was not the only bad part. There was barely a mouth full and the taste disappeared quickly.

It was the nauseating feeling afterward that was hard to bear. Dropping to her knees, she held her stomach tightly, feeling as though she were going to vomit up everything she had ever eaten in her whole life. Taking that as her cue, she held the vial up to her lips and waited. Silvery liquid began to seep back into the vial.

When finished, she felt perfectly fine, lighter even, as if that secret had been a huge weight on her shoulders. Feeling freer than she ever had, she handed the vial over with a smile. Alta winked at her and lifted the vial up to get a better look. She nodded at it slightly and tucked it away into her robe somewhere. Alex had thought it had taken a while for her to work her secret up, but the others seemed to be struggling with theirs.

"Are they okay?" She asked.

Alta responded, "Not everyone is as lucky as you Alexandra. Some secrets are unknown even to the person who harbors them for so long. They will come out of hiding. It will just take some time."

Alex was not sure what she meant by lucky.

"Your secret won't trouble you much longer. Soon you will find what you are looking for Alexandra. Even if you don't know what it is yet." Alta gave her a knowing smile.

She wanted to ask her to clarify, but Evangeline was the next to bring her vial forth. It looked much different, instead of a silvery liquid hers was a pale violet sand of some sort. Alta examined it and nodded her head slightly. Ryhan screamed out as if in pain and leaned over as if she were about to retch.

Alex watched as a dark gray liquid filled the vial and Ryhan heaved her chest several times before getting up to give it to Alta. Getting a closer look, the contents of Ryhan's vial seemed to move and roll the way that storm clouds travel across the sky. Upon Alta's examination, Alex was surprised when she pursed her lips and hesitantly put the vial away.

They waited for Thad; he had refused to drink his potion and was sitting glaring at them all.

"Your powers won't work here kelpie, drink and be done with it." Alta demanded.

Thad growled aloud and one of the elves poured the liquid in his mouth. Seconds later, he was spitting some black tar like substance back into the vial.

Alta looked at them all, breathed heavily, and said, "Great, now you can all sleep."

The darkness overtook her immediately, Alex felt nothing, no pain, no joy, just complete emptiness, and the world went black. Alex woke peacefully, feeling refreshed and better than she had in days. She supposed she should have been angry about the sleeping spell, but she was in a room, sleeping in a bed and no harm had come to her.

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