"Your compassion speaks well of you, but I can not do as you ask." He heard Alaric say.
"I am unharmed, surely you can show leniency." He heard his mother pleading.
"You don't quite understand," Alaric sighed
"That's right, and I won't until you tell me," He heard his mother become more agitated, " You all are keeping things from me. I'm just expected to follow along and do as I am told."
"Mom, it will be ok, I promise," he said as he walked up. His mother gave him a dirty look but relented. She picked up her hiking backpack and put it on.
Xan looked to Hector who still refused to look anyone in the eye. Hector's head hung low. He didn't hate Hector, he was just mostly frustrated that someone could get this close. He was angry that it involved his mother.
"Everyone ready to go?" Faris said as he walked up. Kenna was behind Faris and Xander smiled at her. The Dragon, Aulder, brought up the rear.
He saw his mother shoot Aulder a dirty look. She still had not forgiven the dragon for their lie. He saw Faris open the port with his ring. He was pleased that it was still holding up. Alaric stepped through holding onto to Hector. And Xander saw two guards take Hector away. He saw a man step up to the edge of the port who looked like carved onyx. With silver hair and bright silver eyes. This must be Dragonis. Finally, someone he could talk to about Dragon magic. He was fascinated. He held his mother's hand because he saw her become nervous about entering the port. Aulder and Faris were beside them.
"You forgot this," Kenna said as she handed a black crystal to Faris.
Xan and everyone else paused just on the threshold of the port as Faris took the crystal in his hand that was wearing the port ring Xander had made. Suddenly there was an explosion, and Xander fell and was wet, and he heard others nearby struggling. He stood up and looked around. He was in a swamp and the trees had vine-like appendages that were reaching for him and he knocked them aside. He heard his mother yelling about the trees and water. Then he looked up and saw Faris caught in the vines and he wasn't moving.
"Letsoa Angaar Lekuso Katha... " Xander was chanting to slowly burn the vines when suddenly flame came from everywhere and broke his focus and singed his beard.
"Are you crazy or stupid? I was going to slow burn the vines so we wouldn't hurt Faris! Heal him!" Xander yelled at Aulder.
Xander could see the badly singed clothing Faris was wearing. He could also tell from here that he wasn't breathing. His mother bent over him. She moved his head to face the side then put her finger in his mouth to clear any debris.
"I can't heal the dead," Aulder looked sadly at Faris,"He has no heartbeat."
"You killed him with your impatience!" Xander yelled again.
"Where is his heart?" His mother yelled.
"It's about where ours is," Xander said after realizing what she intended,"just be gentle."
His mother nodded then started compressions on his chest and then moved his head into position for breathing into his mouth. She was counting thrusts and breaths while Xander was counting seconds. Then Faris took a deep breath on his own.
"Heal Him!" Xander yelled again and Aulder rushed To Faris' side and began healing.
His mother helped Faris into a sitting position, and he looked mostly awake. Xander allowed a breath of momentary relief but was still extremely angry with Aulder. He had almost lost his best friend.
"We should port to the estate now," Aulder said impatiently.
"No, Faris needs to rest and you've already killed the tree vines," Xander's mother said as she pulled a small package from her pack and unfolded a foil blanket and then put her pack under Faris' head.
"No, I'm fine, what happened?" Faris looked around and tried to take the blanket off.
"Shh lay down, questions can be answered after," Hin said as Xan watched her push Faris back down and cover him again, "I need rest too."
"We are going to stay," Xander said and gave a very stern angry look to Aulder, "I will go get wood for a fire."
Xander huffed off into the woods. He patted down his pockets looking for the small mirror he usually carried. He wanted to check on Kenna. He realized it must still be in the water where he fell. Even more frustrated than before he moved on. He came to a spot and asked the dryads their permission to collect the wood he would need. The trees bowed their permission and their leaves sang in the wind. He was clenching his jaw. He bent over and began picking up sticks while thinking about everything that had happened.
Xander then noticed a blur from the corner of his eye before he was hit hard and knocked down. He could hear the dryads laughing and it made him angry. He got up and brushed off his shirt and pants. The blur came to him again then stopped and held a sword to his neck. It was a man in brown robes with brown hair and deer antlers and ears. His skin looked like brown velvet. The deer man's sword was white polished wood and the edges looked amazingly sharp. Then he blurred away again. Xander became extremely annoyed and angrier than before. He pulled his sword.
Xander looked closely and caught site of the blur again. Before it could get close to him he made the earth reach up and grab the brown man's feet and root him into the ground. He then lifted his sword and ran toward the brown man intending to kill him when he began to speak.
"You are impressive, Havadar," The brown man bowed graciously to him.
Xander stopped, sheathed his sword, and walked the other way and began picking up sticks again.
"I have offended you," The man said while following him.
Xander grunted and kept walking and gathering fallen wood from the ground. He watched a crow land on the deer man's antler and it cawed. The two stood still and ceased following him. Xander turned back around and continued walking.
"I am Jelen, my friend when you are ready," and Jelen walked off.
When Xander calmed down enough he returned to his mother and the rest of the group. Standing with the others was Jelen. 'Of course.' He thought and took a deep breath and walked to his mother and put down the wood in front of her.
"I would like for you to come to my city," Jelen said to Xander, "There are important things to discuss."
"We can discuss them here," he said a bit annoyed.
"Please Havadar," Jelen pleaded, "This needs to be handled in the most secure way."
"Go, Xander. It sounds important and they said they can't discuss it with me present. I have been compromised somehow," Xander's mother said in an equally annoyed tone.
"Faris may come too, but the dragon and your mother stay here," Jelen said.
"I will be ok," His mother smiled.
Xander helped Faris to his feet and they both followed Jelen for a short walk. Then Jelen seemed to visibly split the air and open a hole into another forest with dancing lights and tall trees. They stepped through cautiously. The rift closed behind them smoothly.
"We have the Hatyri," Jelen said,"I apologize for earlier Havadar, but you are charged with protecting a scion of my house. I had to test you."
"The child is with you then?" Faris asked.
"Yes," Jelen said as he motioned for them to continue walking.
Xander was in awe of the beauty around him and was fascinated by the magic he could feel surrounding him. He had so many questions. And they all would have to wait.