Chapter 28Where A Queen Presents

I woke up with a shock, sitting up in surprise and looking around. It was already dawn, the night had passed so quickly as hardly noticeable. It felt like I hardly had gotten any sleep at all until I felt the stiffness in my body. Apparently my sleep had been very deep. But there was no time, a woman was sitting right next to me, almost touching me, looking at me with a curious expression on her face. She was...

I didn't know where to start.

She was naked, abundantly so, but as she was obviously a forest spirit that wasn't really surprising. Her hair was a very deep brown, like the bark of trees, and flowed quite beautifully even though there was no wind. Her eyes, her mesmerising eyes, were green as the young flowers in the spring sun. The first word in my head was dryad, but her skin was much lighter, almost human like. Perhaps a nymph? Her skin was so soft and sweet looking. I just wanted to touch it, to feel it close to...

"No!"

The nymph laughed. "My my, you really are a strong one. Few mortals have been able to resist me." Her voice again sweet as honey, it took so much concentration not to let myself fall in the depth.

Her face moved closer to mine, as if she was going to kiss me. I blinked. "Please don't do this."

She smiled kindly and, somehow, became darker. Her skin was still quite lovely but less irresistibly so now. Her eyes no longer appeared to emit light and her hair was less reflective. I immediately realized that she'd been using natural Light to intensify her beauty. If it hadn't been so difficult to resist, I would have admired it quite a bit more. Her face changed as well, instead of the incredible beauty I saw before, it mostly became soft and gentle. The contrast was so staggering, in fact, that I had trouble believing it was the same person.

Her voice, however, was still soft and sweet. "Impressive, Taran. Your perception is truly flowing through the rocks."

I blinked. Was that a compliment? "Thank you."

She moved a little back, giving me some space to recompose myself. "Excuse me, who are you?"

She giggled a little, a pleasant noise. "Weren't you told to expect me?"

Something clicked. "The Queen?"

She nodded.

I noticed Deirdre was still in deep sleep. It made me wonder if she was being kept there somehow. I mean, wouldn't she have woken by now by everything happening here?

The queen noticed my gaze and smiled. "I'm sorry, I'll allow her to wake as well."

With nothing more but a sensation of something passing, Deirdre immediately appeared to wake up by herself. I bend over to her and shook her to wake her a little faster. She opened her eyes and looked at me, still a little dazed by the deep sleep just now.

"She's here." I spoke softly, almost whispered.

She whispered back. "Who?"

"The Queen."

She looked around until she saw the beautiful forest Nymph and sat up. There was nothing but curiosity in Deirdre's eyes. "She is the Queen?"

The nymph nodded, her voice still so amazingly like honey. "I am."

I decided to speak my mind. "How should we address you, you majesty?"

She giggled, a girlish one. It only occurred to me now that she was at least as old as the forest itself. Something in her eyes her emanated a deep wisdom and patience. But, like all those who truly acquired wisdom, she didn't let it stop her from having fun. It was quite amazing to be in her presence.

"Please, call me Maeve."

Deirdre yawned before she answered. "Queen Maeve or just Maeve?"

The nymph, Maeve, shrugged. "Whichever, the title Queen is not really used amongst ourselves."

I smiled. "Well, apparently you already know my name, this is..."

She interrupted me. "Deirdre, yes, we know her well."

Deirdre asked this as calmly as she could. "Did you protect me?"

Maeve nodded. "I asked for it, yes."

Though she answered our questions honestly, I didn't get the feeling she was here for smalltalk. Besides, the strange way of her waking me up was kind of worrying me. It had felt very much like a test and I wasn't quite sure if I passed it. And, if I was completely honest with myself, I had the distinct feeling she had been keeping an eye on us through the other forest spirits. In fact, it made me realize that it was fairly easy for her to keep aware of all the human movements. If the spirits told her all they saw... But first I had to know a few things.

I took a deep breath. "Maeve, I'm not sure what you want to ask of us, at all. You're nothing what I expected, though I'm not sure what I did expect, yet I believe you are the mother or the queen of the forest. I hope you do not find me improper, but I really wish to know why you are here and why you put me through that strange awakening just now."

The expression on the Nymph's face changed, but not towards the anger I'd been slightly expecting. In fact, it was a sort of proud amusement that crossed her face before she replied.

"Ah yes, that honesty is part of what I wish to talk about."