Part 3 (reminder that these snippets are out of order):
That night, Dwyn sat awake on her bedroll, all but staring at Cadoc lying on his own bedroll to make sure he was okay. That he was still there.
She was trying valiantly to maintain her glamour, but she feared the effort of sustaining it on top of a day of hard travel would prove too much. Her eyes kept drifting shut, and she felt the tingling of the glamour completely fade several times.
“Dwyn.” Cadoc’s eyes were open, glowing faintly in the fading firelight. “Go to sleep. You’re nearly tipping over.”
Dwynwen shook her head drowsily. “Can’t. I have to … um … I’m keeping the fire stoked.” Her speech was slightly slurred.
Cadoc sat up and smiled. “Then why’s it dying?” He placed a few logs on top of the fire and sparks flew into the air. The wood crackled as it caught. The grass rustled softly as Cadoc walked over to Dwyn. He put his hand on her shoulder and gently pushed her onto her side.
Dwyn started to feel a little panicked. What if another Gwyll came for him? She didn’t think she could keep a glamour up while she slept. “No, I’m fine. You make sure the fire stays lit every night, it’s my turn now, I’ll – ”
Cadoc covered her with a blanket. “Last night you saved my life. I think that makes up for not keeping the fire stoked. Go to sleep.”
He walked back to his bedroll, which Dwyn barely registered, because almost immediately after Cadoc stopped speaking, her eyes drifted closed and she was off, asleep.
Her sleep was so deep that, though it had been a few hours since she fell asleep, it only felt like a few seconds before she bolted upright, awoken by her name being yelled.
Standing at the foot of her bedroll was a woman. Or something that took on the shape of one. Though her pointed features and ears indicated her relation to the Gwyllion, she had long, golden hair that flowed nearly to her knees, with looping braids adorned with tiny, delicate white flowers. She wore a long white gown, her fair skin seemed to glow, and her crystalline blue eyes emanated peace.
Dwyn looked over to where Cadoc tensely had his hand on his silver knife, unsure of what to do. She looked back to the woman before her.
“It’s okay,” she said to Cadoc, not looking away from the woman. “She’s an Ellyl. She won’t hurt us.”
The Ellyl smiled softly, only intensifying what could only be described as the kind aura that surrounded her. “I am. My name is Alaw; you have made your camp by my lake.” She fluidly gestured to the body of water that lay behind her, as peaceful as its guardian, reflecting the night sky in its calm surface.
“Our apologies,” Cadoc said, still looking tense. “We can go somewhere – ”
Alaw raised a hand to stop him speaking. “No, it is quite alright. You may rest here. I simply took note of you when you took some of the lake’s water – and I confess I was made curious by you, little one.”
Dwyn’s gulped. “Me?” She silently prayed the Ellyl wouldn’t say anything about –
“Your glamour is very powerful,” Alaw said. Dwyn didn’t look at Cadoc. She didn’t want to see the confusion, or worse, the fear that would be written on his face. “The power of it would suggest that you are a Gwyll, but … ” She leaned closer to Dwynwen. “You aren’t, are you?”
Dwyn stared at her hands. “No.”
“Then what?” Alaw straightened, towering over Dwyn’s hunched posture. The pointed tips of Dwyn’s ears burned as she underwent the Ellyl’s scrutiny. “Ah. A Halfling?”
Dwyn brought her gaze back up to meet Alaw’s defiantly. She paused before answering, but reasoned that if Cadoc was going to abandon her, he already had enough information to do so. “Yes.”
“Your mother, I assume? I believe it would have to be.”
“Yes. A Gwyll.”
“Raised by humans?”
“So what takes you away from them now?”
Dwynwen paused. “I need to find my mother.”
Alaw cocked one eyebrow, so slight a movement that Dwyn almost missed the expression of intrigue. “Why?”
Dwynwen sighed. “It’s … a long story. My father is in trouble, and I need my mother to get him out of it. I can’t do it alone.”
There was a moment of silence that seemed to stretch on forever.
“Well, you are in the right place. The Gwyllion frequent this mountain. It is where they have established their anchor to the mortal realm.”
Cadoc spoke for the first time since yelling Dwyn’s name upon Alaw’s first appearance. “Do you think you could help us? How will we be able to find Dwyn’s mother?”
Dwyn’s head snapped toward Cadoc, shocked. She saw no fear. No disgust. He looked like Cadoc. Smile and all. She looked back to Alaw as the glowing Ellyl replied,
“You will have to reach the peak of the mountain. There – it is sparsely wooded – you will find a faerie ring. You must be careful; to pass through it is dangerous. Many humans have been lured and led through it, and once you enter it, you may find it difficult or impossible to come back, and you will be at the complete mercy of the Twylyth Teg.” Here she turned to Dwyn. “I believe you, sweet, stand a good chance of resisting the thrall of my fellow Fae. Your chief concern should be your companion. I would suggest he stay behind, but – ”
“That won’t be happening,” Cadoc interjected.
“ – I assume he won’t like that plan,” she finished, smiling softly. “To pass through, wait until the moon is at its peak. The full moon is in two days. You will want to do it then – the crossing is the smoothest at the full moon. Some Fae may appear and dance, though it doesn’t matter whether they do or do not for the purpose of crossing; but you must hold yourself with extra caution if they do, for they will try to hold you in their thrall before you even enter our realm if they are out to dance. When the moon is at its highest in the sky, waste no time in crossing over. That is the easiest time to cross and typically the most peaceful time in our realm, as that is when most Twylyth Teg have come into the mortal realm. Simply step into the center of the circle. Now, Dwynwen.”
Dwyn met the Ellyl’s eyes.
“Your glamour will be very important. Use it to make yourself known. You may not know it, but it is extremely potent. It will make some of the weaker Twylyth Teg reluctant to try their mischief with you, and I suspect it will catch the attention of your mother. Don’t allow anyone to guess that you’re not full Fae, and if you are accused of being so, deny it. It will not put you in the good graces of my darker brethren.”
Dwynwen nodded. “Thank you, Alaw. How will we cross back?”
Alaw’s soft features hardened ever so slightly. “When you enter, you will go between two trees on the side of the Twylyth Teg. An iridescent doorway appears between the trees for passage. The doorway, once you are on the other side, will not appear for a human. Only a Faerie.”
“Will it open for me, as a Halfling?” Dwyn asked.
“I do not know,” Alaw said. “I hope that it will, but we must pray that you find your mother. She is your only sure chance of coming back.”
There was a heavy silence as Dwynwen and Cadoc processed the information. Finally, Cadoc broke it.
“Thank you very much, Alaw. You’ve shown great kindness. How can we repay you?”
The joyful glow emanating from Alaw seemed to brighten momentarily, and Dwyn found herself immensely grateful Cadoc had remembered to offer their Faerie host payment.
“Nothing, nothing. It is my pleasure to help. My job is to nourish life, and I can think of no better way to do that than to try to help save a family. Now, I bid you a good night, young travelers. My blessing goes with you. May you find all you look for.”
The Ellyl glided down to the shore of the lake and vanished into the water, hardly making a ripple. As a cloud floated across the moon, she seemed to take the light with her.
“Well,” Cadoc said, his voice shattering the still moment, “we have a lot to do. Best get some sleep.” He threw another two logs on the fire and rolled over on his bedroll.
Dwyn stared at his nonchalant back in disbelief for several seconds before shaking her head and doing the same.