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         Copyright © Randy Bowers. All rights reserved.


Tale of the Faerie Realm of Twilight

    You be a daughter of nature, aye? One who's magic comes from the soil and the green plants that grow from it? I've known a handful of them in my day. Mostly an eccentric lot who keep to themselves, not that I'm saying nothing about you mind ya. Well, choice in clothing excepted maybe!
    Have you ever heard of the great stone tree? I imagine it has a proper name, but that's not for the likes of me to know. Carved from the earth itself it is, and scribed with magical runes. It grows tall in the soil around it, blocking out most vegetation in a wide path for some distance away. It grows in between the United Kingdoms and the Eastern Empire it does, in the lands unspoiled by cities and still touched with the mark of the fey.
    There deep inside lies a huge serpent, but not of the usual sort. Nay, this serpent has wings and feathers and a human servant, and spends her days in research. A druid she is; and if my memory serves Belshega is her name.
    She is a wondrous creature with a wealth of knowledge of magical and mundane matters alike. But beware, for she gives nothing without a price. She is no mean creature, and she lives in her own world of politics. Those who would ask of her may find themselves drawn in, serving her purposes for a time.
    Oh perhaps tales of creatures deep in the wilderness bore you. You seem more of the spirited type ya do. Well then perhaps I can be relating to ya in brief a tale of the fey lands and the workings there.
    Never mind why, to get into it would be an entire nother tale in itself and not very interesting for one such as you. Just know that several years ago the fey lands were reaching their peak in closeness to our own and there was trouble a brewing. A ranger friend o mine, Lathidus help his now gone sanity, by the name of Therod had tracked down a descendant of the fey who lived near a town I'm sorry to be saying, no longer exists. Well they could have rebuilt I suppose, but now I'm getting off track again!
    The point being that there's this druid named Dalithol who knows of a way into the lands of the fey. He's actually quite a nice fellow actually, pacifist by nature, and reclusive as all sin. Therod used to spend a bit of time with him smoking weed and watching the sky. This was of course back when his heart was in the right place and he didn't mind doing stuff. And I'm getting off track again!
    So this Dalithol man sends Therod and the rest of us off near the great rift between the lands of twilight and dawn, with no way to be knowing which side we'd end up on. Now this wouldn't be much of a story if we had popped out on the right side of the fence so I can imagine you're way ahead of me on what happened next.
    So there we are, sitting in our skinnies hundreds of miles away from where we wanted to be, with only wooden daggers to protect us. Did I mention that we couldn't take metal through with us? That's a druid thing I wager. So to protect us we were given these magical wooden daggers, made of a quite special wood I'm told. I still have mine. Keep it for emergencies in case I get swallowed whole as happens from time to time.
    So there we are, so we start walking. The land around us is dark, not quite as dark as a starless night, but dark. The landscape was barren and lifeless and even I didn't like the way the rock beneath our feet felt. In the distance we can see the rising sun, but it sheds little light on our travels. We figure that's the way to go so that's the way we walk.
    We were dodging beasties at every turn it seemed. Dark giants, and predatory creatures not of this world, and always the shadow creature hounded us. We traveled like that for some time, dodging from rocks and always watching our backs.
    Eventually we came to a weird little cottage of sorts as we walked. We knocked on the door and were taken inside. There we met two of the creepiest little fey you're ever to run across. They sat us down and fed us, but it all felt wrong. Now I'm no expert but I'd be wagering that they were cannibals. They fed us this drink that required that you hold the cup the other way around to keep the contents from flying away. I've been afraid to ask ever since, but I'd bet a crown that those contents were the remains of some fey creature!
    We held our cool though and did our best to be polite. We were being hunted and had no time to be getting into arguments about who was eating who. Eventually through a bit o persuasion they led us to what they claimed was a path that would save us weeks on our journey. It was a little, dark space, that we had to crawl through. And so we crawled, some on our bellies and some on all fours.
    After what seemed like hours we found our exit. We crawled carefully out of the tunnel, avoiding the slumbering creature that called that pit home, and out onto a wasteland. Off in the distance we could see a cliff rising up from the ground and what was sure to be a chasm between it and us. A bit too boldly we stepped forward.
    To be honest we did get the better part of the way across before trouble struck, but stike it did. From behind us we heard the earth shake and a terrible scream that I'm not likely to forget. We turned, and saw lumbering forth toward us a gigantic shadow creature, eyes all ablaze with hate. It walked on two legs it did, and looked for all like a man, but for its featureless form of shadow and its burning, burning eyes.
    And then we ran, like orcs from a bath we ran, forward toward the cliff ahead of us. The creature gave chase and for a moment it seemed that we were doomed. And then as all seemed lost we saw the bridge. The broken down, twisty, wind swept bridge of doom that offered us a passage that the creature could not follow on. We ran out onto that bridge, and thought that we were safe.
    And that is where our troubles really began. We crossed with care we did, for one misstep would be the end of any one of us. The wind battered us and the slippery boards beneath our feet creaked with use. Three hundred feet that bridge was in length, and yet crossing it was one of the hardest things I've ever done.
    The darkness closed about us and we could see soul stealing shadows mixing about in it. I called forth daylight in an attempt to keep them back, but the light was dim, and grew smaller with every second. Brome, Therod, and Henenon, may Adradeous give him peace in death, fought well with what they had, letting us inch forward.
    We walked that way for more than a minute, but by the time we had gotten half way my power was all but spent. In a last desperate attempt to reach the top Therod shot himself the better part of the way up the cliff face with his magic bow and began trying to fend off the army of darkness that surrounded us. The rest of us blindly ran forward, trusting in luck more than skill now. Lathidus was with me that day for I barely crossed safely but Brome was not so lucky. With only 50 feet to go his footing gave way and he nearly toppled over.
    Using the last of my power I held back the darkness one last time, and Henenon pulled him free. Together we began to climb the last bit of cliff to the top, and to the safety of the Lands of Dawn. The shadows swarmed all about us now and before my light went out the last time I saw Therod, who had been trying to cover us with a rain of arrows, fall. Brome too looked ready to expire and I was not feeling so pleasant myself.
    I don't quite be remembering how we made it up the last 20 feet of cliff face now, the events are so blurred. But somehow we pulled the strength and flopped out onto the top of that ridge where the sun gleamed down upon us in eternal glory. There we revived Therod with the help of the fey guarding the edge of their territory and finally found our way to the court of the fey king there.
    Well this story is starting to get a bit lengthy I wager so I'll have to finish some other time. Getting back was a bit tricky in of itself as you might be imagining. Strange creatures the fey. Quite beautiful and pleasant to be around when you've been shrunk to the size of a nut, but I don't think I'd want to live with 'em if ya know what I mean. Well then, pass the beer and we'll have at teaching ya another drinking song!