The High Priestess

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Elliot 125
Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

Well, he might have just killed me. Elliot caught and released a deep, calming breath. “Thank you for asking,” he said. “My name is Elliot, and my guide left me outside with instructions to go inside.”

“For what purpose?”

“I have no idea.”

“Who was your guide?”

“I don’t know her name.”

“You didn’t ask?”

“No.” This wasn’t going well.

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Detected

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Elliot 124
Photo credit: Igor Siwanowicz

Picking out a path past rocky outcrops and over mossy stones, Elliot worked his way around the base of the tower until he found a passage that disappeared into darkness beneath an overhang that almost hid its opening.

This can’t possibly be the main entrance, he assured himself. It must be a vent or a back way nobody uses. But because it was the only way in that he’d found, he approached with caution.

“Hello?” His timid call couldn’t have carried beyond the bend in the tunnel.

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Delivered

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Photo credit: Chronophontes

Elliot had followed her willingly, enchanted by her flowing stride and silent confidence. Her feathers shimmered with iridescent sparkles that bound him to her just as surely as ropes and chains. The little warning voice he’d learned to heed whispered — nothing.

Without reason, without thought, without common sense, he’d trusted her, and now, facing a massive structure of stone and wood built against a hillside of the oldest trees he’d ever seen, he had no idea where he was.

“I thought you were taking me back to the bower. Where are we? And don’t say, ‘here’!”

Her answer was to throw back her head and release a trilling note that filled the woods like wind. From the treetops all around, a whistled melody replied.

She cocked her head. “We’re in the heart of the Ancient Forest,” she said as if that explained everything.

“But what is this place? Why did you bring me here?”

Her warm laugh rippled through him. “So many questions. I’m sorry, Elliot, but I’m not the one to answer them. In fact, I have to leave you now.” He started to object, and she placed the tip of a single feather on his lips. “Go inside. You’ll be in good hands, my friend, and we may yet meet again.”

It was only as she flew beyond the tangled canopy that he realized he hadn’t even asked her name.

Shaking regret out of his head, he began his search for the entrance.

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Uncertain Night

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Elliot 122
Photo credit: Harry Finder

“Leave us,“ Queen Lilian instructed her entourage as she entered the bower. Clifton followed her, laying the semi-conscious Vernon on the moss mat Cassandra had prepared. The mushrooms were just beginning to glow.

“He’s worse?” Cassandra sponged cool water onto his forehead.

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Entranced

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Photo credit: Steve Dimock

The sweep of her wings, the arch of her neck, the delicate bend of her leg — every curve, line, and motion painted her with grace. She hadn’t seemed to notice Elliot, so he snapped his hanging jaw shut and waited in a shadow wishing his heart would stop pounding so fast.

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Not Alone

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Photo credit: Li Feng

The pent up worries he’d been nursing since diving into the tensions of Bog and Fen rinsed off with the scent of motion sickness. Elliot’s solitude absorbed the peace of the Lilian Pond while the muffled music of the larger public bath beyond the bushes infused his thoughts with joy.

As unpredictable as it had become, his life was full. Life isn’t scary, he thought, it’s an adventure. I’m not weak unless I give up.

Counting the obstacles he’d overcome, even when he’d needed help, he smiled. He had strength. He had friends. He had love.

He had company.

To be continued. . .

Previously, on Elliot’s Adventures ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Next time . . .

Pierce Steps Up

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Photo credit: wildscenes.com

A subdued splash announced Pierce’s arrival.

“The Queen’s buzzy little nephew said you needed help.” A bath had washed away the sour odor of Elliot’s indiscretion, but not the disappointment of the missed mission to Bog.

“Pierce! Yes, we’ve found Vernon, but he’s wounded and sick and he can’t make it back to the Hive on his own. Would you please take him back with you?”

He eyed Elliot. “How sick?”

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