The nymph gave us a moment to sit more comfortably. She herself squatted, but looking quite comfortable, while me and Deirdre sat next to each other, our legs crossed and the blankets folded up before us. Now that I was more awake, I realized that it was the light before dawn that we were in. It would still be an hour or such before I'd usually get up and get ready to continue with my journey. Of course, this was much more interesting than sleeping. I kind of knew I'd feel it at the end of the day though, same with Deirdre. We'd both slept too deep, the night had felt so short. Not that it mattered now, all our attention was on Maeve. We listened.
"From what I heard, you already know about the spirits that are being taken and used to test upon. It's very hard to see beyond the boundaries of a city but I suppose it has something to do with Crystals. I've also heard you two talking about a letter in Bleakfield, it wasn't mine or of our kind." She smirked a little. "Words are not meant to be captured on paper."
"We don't want a war, we don't want anything to do with the humans. If they continue like this, we have to retaliate. There's a good reason we mostly keep away from humanity. They've always been volatile, killing what they don't know. But, they leave us no choice anymore, we have to do something without causing another war. So I ask you two, non-Fey, to help us. Partly because you are sun and moon."
I blinked. "How can we help?"
Then a strange thing happened. She seemed to almost glow and a sort of vision appeared between us. It was a city as seen from above, one I didn't recognize. It didn't look that big, so it wasn't Dawnbridge, but it did have two castles. It also appeared to be in the mountain area, it could only be one place.
"Rockwall." Deirdre whispered softly, confirming my thoughts.
"Yes, Rockwall. They've got several Fey hostage, satyrs mostly. I'd like for you to release them." She pointed to the lower level of what I expected to be the Castle of Light. "There are no Fey in the other castle, but magic doesn't feel right around that place." She turned back to us. "There is a valuable gift as reward that you might find useful, a gift for both of you."
Deirdre looked at me and nodded. I smiled at Maeve. "We'll do what we can."
She smiled brightly, the vision in front of fading. "Splendid, I'm sure you'll bring fresh water to our ground. Oh, there is one other small gift that would make your things slightly easier."
She quickly leaned forward and gave Deirdre a kiss on her lips before she could pull away. It was a very light kiss bit it appeared to do things to her. For a moment I felt that sweet, warm sensation of charm that was there when I woke up, but in a much more focused way. Deirdre closed her eyes and didn't object to the kiss, somehow.
Her face appeared to change subtly, making it harder to recognize her. It wasn't exactly prettier or uglier, just different. Her lips became a softer color, her skin somewhat paler. When she opened her eyes I noticed they had changed from their grey-blue to a bright green, almost exactly as the Nymph. Her hair almost became even darker, a deep black that sucked all the pre-dawn light towards it. Her eyes and ears had changed shape as well, slightly more fey in nature, almost as if she was a half-breed.
The nymph pulled back, Deirdre looked at her. "Wait? What?" Then she looked at her hands and looked at me. Even I had heard it, her voice had changed as well. It was such a complete change that no one should be able to recognize her.
Maeve looked happy with the result. "This should last long enough, it's only a charm but humans will have a tough time seeing through it as the changes are quite subtle. It will allow you to walk through the Castle of Dark."
First it looked like Deirdre was going to complain, but she blinked, smiled and bowed a little with her head. "Thank you, Queen Maeve."
The nymph smiled brightly. "You are a clever one."
She stood up, such an impressive and alluring figure that my eyes were inadvertently drawn to her beautiful body. On the one hand she looked so frail and beautiful, like a grown up girl that had not yet become a woman. But she was one with the forest, if the forest would ever die, so would she. She was old, wise and surprisingly strong. In this moment she looked like her most regal, a Queen and a mother. A protector but not removed from her people. She was every bit as one of the forest as any of her 'children' were.
"Come here again on your way back, I'm sure you'll find me." She winked and walked back through the trees, slowly to give us, or me, a good view of her perfect behind.
I realized it was very hard to keep my eyes of her, however impolite. But I supposed she did it on purpose, teasing is the nature of many of the spirits in the forest. But she did care for her own, quite admirably so. It would have taken her quite some restraint not to barge into a Castle after she found out that Fey had been taken. I wonder what would happen if she did, was her charm all of her strength?
Deirdre giggles, breaking my gaze. "She's quite the tease, isn't she?"
I blushed. "Yes... She tried to seduce me before you woke up."
Deirdre smiled and gave me a little kiss on my cheek. "Glad you refused it. You do know she's trying to test you right? If you can withstand her, you should be able to withstand most charms."
I blinked as an idea popped into my head. "She used Light to charm, can Dark be used for it?"
Deirdre looked thoughtful. "I'm not sure, you could use it to weaken someones resolve, but it would take an enormous amount of focus."
"Something we have to watch out for then."
Deirdre nodded. "And this disguise is even better than what I could do."
I smiled. "Yes, although you do look more feminine again."
Deirdre moved to swat me with her hand, but I ducked sideways and got up. She laughed and threw her blanket towards me, which I caught and folded. It was time to leave anyway. I picked up my own blanket as well and folded it neatly before I put both the blankets away in the saddlebags. Deirdre spend a moment looking in a small mirror she brought along, looking with amusement and admiration at her change. I was impressed too, there was hardly a trace of Magic on her if I looked at her. If I didn't know any better, I wouldn't even realize she'd been charmed. Anyway, we cleared up our mess, made sure the fire was out and got back on the horses.
Travelling once more.