The stag then seemed to blur for a moment then in his place was a slender athletic man wearing brown robes. He had dark brown shoulder length hair and ears that looked like a deer's. His antlers still stretched above his head with talismans and various feathers dangling from them. The crow still sat in them too. His skin was covered in soft brown velvet fur. The stag turned man took her hand and smiled. She slowly smiled back and was not afraid just curious. She felt calm and safe.
They walked further into the glen and she heard water from a fall. Lights danced throughout the trees in a random swirling pattern. She looked closer at the trees and they looked as though they had grown specifically to become houses for the many strange and curious people she saw coming out to see her and her companion walk by.
"You must be very important for them to come out and look," Elda said quite in awe of her rescuer.
"I am my queen's consort," He shrugged, "However, it is you they come out to see."
"Me?" Elda was stunned.
"Yes, you, Little Hatyri," The man smiled down at her.
"My name is Elda," she corrected him with a slight tug at his hand.
"I know Little One. Hatyri is your title, your duty, and your destiny," He didn't smile this time at her. Instead, he looked a little sad.
"I don't have a destiny," she said perturbed.
"Men wish and dream for divine destiny, and the only one born to it denies it," his face lit up with his amusement,"You mortals are strange indeed."
"But she is more than mere mortal, Jelen," A woman with black long hair wearing black robes with piercing blue eyes said as they reached a large tree and it's open door.
Elda looked at the woman closer. On the sides of her face, she realized what she thought was hair were feathers. Fine black feathers and her arms had the same feathers. The feathers climbed her throat and framed her chin and jaw. She was so in awe of this woman's beauty she did not notice that she had let her hold on her own skin ripple slip and she looked at herself in horror and feared being sent away. She could not stop the pink from taking over her soft brown skin.
"Oh, look how beautiful you are Hatyri!" The woman looked at her with a smiling face that had a warm glow to it. The feathers on her head seemed to stand up just a bit.
"You ...think I'm beautiful?" Elda hesitated.
"Oh, child. What you will become will make the Gods themselves jealous." The woman said and then laughed.
"Come, my Queen Ravena, it has been a long journey for us," Jelen said as he moved through the threshold of the door.
"Of course, my dear. And The Emissary must be tired as well," Ravena said as the crow flew to the floor inside.
He became the same man Elda saw in the city who made the portal for her to leave. He laughed joyfully and lit his pipe. He bowed graciously to the Queen. Elda ran up to Jelen, and lightly tugged his hand. He leaned over and put his face closer to hers.
"Thank you," she whispered into his ear. He smiled widely and looked pleased.
"Come, we will eat and then rest. There will be much to do later." Jelen said taking her hand and leading her to a great room.
The room had a long table with large pillows strewn around it. On the table was fresh fruit and vegetables. Elda was again in awe. She was so hungry and never thought she would see so much food again. She let go of Jelen's hand and ran toward the table trying to decide what to pick first. She picked a succulent fruit letting the juices run down her face and arm, as she bit into it, savoring the sweetness.
"What magics does the child know? Does she know her family's history?" Elda heard the Queen Ravena ask.
"I do not think she knows much, they were in hiding from 'them' for a very long time." Elda heard the man with the pipe answer.
The way he said Them made her shiver. She remembered them and the stench they brought with them of Death. Her brown skin once again rippled pink.
"We should discuss this elsewhere, we have upset her," Jelen said and she saw him frown, "Anything she does not know can be taught starting tomorrow."
Jelen then ushered the others to another room from her and for the moment she was happy to once again give her attention to the fruit in her hand.