Chapter Eight - The Portal Is Sealed

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GEORGE PULLED THE KITCHEN DOOR shut and heard a gentle click as it locked behind him. 

He turned to Stryker. 'You ready then boy?'

The dog stood his tail wagging.

'Come on then, let's get this over with,' George whispered.

He pulled up the hood of the Elven cloak and they set off. It was still early and the air was crisp and clear. Hoar frost covered almost everything in the garden with a thin layer of sparkling ice crystals. Above the Warlock's Chair, the sky had just begun to lighten, driving away all but a few of the brightest stars that littered the firmament. 

Lower down on the valley floor he could just make out the tops of a few tall trees and the dark bulk of the Wiccanhyll, rising ghostlike from a sea of swirling mist. 

George and Stryker crossed the garden and entered the stand of trees and shrubs that grew alongside the wall. They made their way to the hidden doorway and out into the woods.

When he returned to his bed last night George found that he could not sleep. One of the monsters from his nightmares was real and it was now hunting Elves in Whytewytch Wood. And when it had finished with them he knew it would come looking for him. If the only way to stop it was to find the missing key, then that was what he needed to do. But he was sure Danielle would refuse to let them go on this quest. Oh, she would come with him to see the Elves, but that would be it. She would argue that they had done their bit in the war against Ravengaard and she did not want to push their luck any more. 

Not that he could blame her, it would probably be a long journey fraught with many dangers. They had been lucky last time. On several occasions, they could have been seriously injured, or worse.

But he had promised Rosewing that he would help her.

He realized that there was only one thing he could do... if his sisters did not wish to help then he would go on his own.

George took the torch from his rucksack, flicking it on he followed the pathway through the dark woodland. The path was almost invisible in places, covered with a fresh layer of fallen leaves. Stryker stayed close this time, remembering what had happened yesterday. 

He kept one hand on the hilt of Frostblade ready to draw it from his belt if he was attacked. Not that it had proved much use against the daemon. But somehow he felt a little safer knowing it was there.

Stryker stopped suddenly and let out a low growl. Up ahead something moved. George shone the torch in the direction its beam reflecting two pinpoints of light. He dropped into a crouch the sword held out in front of him. There was a flash of red and it was gone. 

'It's just a fox,' he mumbled, his heart hammering in his chest. 

They continued on and soon George soon saw the skeletal outline of the twin oak trees that marked the only place in the Veil where you could enter Ellyonia. He noticed a lot of activity around the trees. A detachment of heavily armed Elven warriors stood guard at the entrance.

As he drew closer he saw Captain Thrax talking to several warriors. Seeing George approaching he broke off and walked towards him.

'Greetings George,' Malin said looking around. 'Where are your sisters?'

'They will not be coming,' George told him. 'They... have other things to do today I'm afraid.'

He saw no reason to tell the Captain about Danielle's reluctance to join the quest; if he did so they would probably pack him off home.

Malin looked a little saddened by the news. 'That is a pity we could have used their help... Never mind I am sure we will manage.'

George looked passed the Elven Captain. 'What's happened?'

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