Eleana slowly opened her eyes and rubbed her head. “Ow,” she muttered. Her head felt like a after a night with too much wine and too little sleep. She looked around a bit, trying to move her head as little as possible to minimize the pain. She was lying on the slope of a hill in the forest, and Finn was watching over her. “What happened?” She asked him.
“You made a troll angry, lass,” Finn told her calmly.
The memories quickly returned to her. Trying to enchant the troll witch had proven quite disastrous indeed. She looked up at the cottage. “Is he still in there?”
Finn nodded. “Door is locked, too.”
“Not for long,” Eleana said and made an attempt to get up. She didn’t get further than a sitting position before the headache got too much. Under a loud moan, she rubbed her head with both hands.
“Lie down,” Finn commanded.
“He may need our help,” she protested. “Who knows what she’s doing to him?”
“If help was needed, Llaweyra would have come to us,” Finn told her.
“What if they have her too,”
Finn’s lips curled into a smile. “Very unlikely. And if they did, well, not even you would sleep through the goblin victory cries after they’ve finally got one.”
“That’s no guarantee he’s… they’re safe,” Eleana argued. She would not be satisfied until she saw him herself.
Finn let out a loud sigh and let his backpack slide on the ground. After some rummaging, he took a small flask out of it and handed it to Eleana. “Just one sip. Not more.” he told her.
As instructed, she took one small sip form the flask and handed it back to Finn. It had a strange, bitter and spicy taste. Over the course of a minute, her headache faded away. “That’s amazing,” she said impressed. What’s in it?”
“Ask Panos,” Finn replied with a shrug.
Eleana nodded understanding and quickly got up. She felt completely fine. “Now, this door,” she said to herself and walked over to it. She placed her finger on the lock and said in a commanding tone: “Unlock.”
Eleana looked at the lock in awe. She had learned the spell more or less by accident a few years ago, back when she was still an apprentice. Back then, it had been a tremendously difficult spell for her, but with time, she had fully mastered it. This was the first lock in over a year that seemed completely unaffected. “Warded against magic, perhaps?” she mused.
Opting for a different approach, she placed her hand on the door. Doors were much simpler mechanisms. “Open,” she commanded.
Again, nothing happened.
“I command you to open!” She yelled. It had no effect at all, which frustrated her. She was one of the most talented enchanters in Nevarus. She was supposed to succeed here. The door clearly resisted her spell, or else it would have at least creaked.
“Lass,” Finn called. “In the Witchwood, the simpler, the better.”
That made sense. The forest was full of raw, wild power. The still air was a storm in potential, simply waiting for a small push. It was child’s play to stir it into a breeze. As she did, she heard a series of taps coming from inside the cottage, which she recognized as the troll’s staff on the floor. She smiled, imagining to blow the door right into that ugly face. She sent the gathering storm in a gust of roaring wind at the door.
Right before it struck, the door opened and she heard the witch say: “Now, off you go.”
The wind crashed upon the open door like a wave on the rocks and scattered in all directions. But one small wave returned exactly in her direction. Before she was able to throw up a defence, it knocked her off her feet and sent her rolling down the hill.
The giantess looked very pleased with herself upon seeing Eleana tumble down the hill. Both Llaweyra and Connin laughed at the sorceress, but stopped abruptly when they became aware of each other.
Avarron wanted to run out and help her, but was held back by the giantess’ firm hand at his shoulder. “I won’t turn her into a toad now, but remember my warning.”
“I will,” Avarron said, not sure what to make of the warning in the first place.
The giantess let go of him and he rushed down the hill to aid his lady. She lay at the foot of the hill, dizzy and disoriented. He offered her a hand, which she gladly accepted and leane on his shoulder as he dusted the grass and leaves off her dress. The green smears on the light blue fabric was something he could do little about, though.
“You are such a gentleman,” she said softly and smiled.
“Anything for you, my lady,” Avarron replied immediately.
His own words made him pause as the giantess’ warning echoed in his mind. Was it possible that she had enchanted him? He quickly dismissed the thought.