Chapter 37Exposed

The nymph walked in seductively. She looked so out of place here in a village, but I supposed that since it had been abandoned, she could walk here without fear. And she did, like this place was hers to walk, she got both our attention. I suddenly wondered if Deirdre had ever seen the Nymph in full charm and, when I looked sideways, I saw her eyes large, a blush on her cheeks. Suddenly I realized that she actually adored the female form and, considering the look in her eyes, loved looking at the nymph quite a bit.

"Hmm, she put a light charm on you, didn't she?" The nymph that wasn't Maeve

Deirdre nodded, still gazing at the beautiful nymph.

The nymph giggled. "Oh my, I usually don't have this effect on girls." She winked playfully, with a teasing smile on her lips.

They really did know how to charm. "You're not Maeve, so, who are you then?"

"I'm her sister, Eavan." Her charm faded a little as she looked at me. "I'm surprised by how resistant you are."

Deirdre, somehow, snapped back to reality. "I was actually enjoying the feeling. It's quite extraordinary."

Eavan looked at Deirdre with a hint of surprise, then she giggled playfully. "Oh really? Well thank you!"

The nymph sat down on the ground and motioned to us to do the same. As we had yet to eat, Deirdre and I both got some minor food from our bags. After a quick look we decided to just go for some of the fattened bread. We could make a fire tomorrow, this place wasn't completely safe. In fact, it was probably better to stay as hidden as possible as we could here. The nymph just looked at us with an amused smile when Deirdre and I exchanged glances. Part of me was very surprised to see another Nymph so soon.

She patiently waited until we sat, speaking as we started to eat. "The stories have been travelling the leaves and the wind, of how a new sun and moon move through the forest and should be respected." Her voice chanced from the serious to the silly. "Of course I knew it was just Maeve being traditional, most creatures already know of you two and will leave you alone."

She giggled to herself. "Oh, and I heard cute Missy here can wield a sword quite well."

Deirdre blinked. "You heard that already? But that was this afternoon!"

Eavan shrugged. "Well, you know how it is, in the forest, nothing to do but gossip. You pick things up on the grapevine." She winked. "I just don't know your names."

I was surprised, I had assumed it would be part of the message. "I'm Taran, she's Deirdre. Isn't it part of the message going around?"

She shook her head. "No, because if any of us get caught, they can't tell what they don't know. Taran and Deirdre... Yes, that works." She giggled a little bit. "Did you know that most creatures in the forest have no names?"

That surprised me a little. "Why?"

Eavan looked serious and playful at the same time, as if she was explaining something to children. "We know who we are, we know who the others are. We have no need for names in the same way that even humans rarely speak their own name to refer to themselves."

I had to ask. "Then why do you and Maeve have a name?"

She smiled. "Well, Maeve is by far the oldest, and the queen should always have a name. I'm much younger than her, but still more than old enough to have obtained a name through time. Humans usually give us names and we use them. I know who you mean by 'Maeve' but to me her name is just a weak way to describe the nymph I know."

She had a point. "Makes sense. So, eh, what happened here?"

Eavan looked seriously at the both of us. "This will sound weird, you won't believe me."

Deirdre smiled kindly. "Try us."

Eavan nodded. "Well, half a moon ago, eleven people of this village disappeared. Vanished in the night. It was worse, as it had rained the evening before, so the ground was muddy and should have shown any tracks of creatures or people taking them. Even if they had left by their own will there would have been tracks. But there was nothing, no smell, no tracks, no sounds. Even the owls and the wolves nearby had seen nothing, and I talked to all of them."

She took a deep breath. "Of course the humans assumed we did it. It was magic, they said, forest magic. The ground must have swallowed them." Her voice was almost sad. "They took some of us to Rockwall, I have no idea what they're doing to them there but it doesn't sound good. The magi that laid traps for us didn't look like they believed the inhabitants, but 'worked' with them to capture some of us anyway. After that everyone left, the seven moving to Rockwall, no longer feeling safe in the village."

She looked around. "Some more people came later, taking that which could be carried, but never staying long, for fear of being taken as well." She looked at us again. "The strange thing is that no one apparently knows what happened exactly and it hasn't happened anywhere else, yet."

I frowned. "Yet?"

She looked a bit uncomfortable. "This is hard to explain to humans, but it's like feeling a storm coming."

Deirdre spoke softly. "You feel it's going to happen again."

Eavan nodded. "Yes."