Chapter 90Negotiations Come Together

The forest was fairly quiet. Birds had not yet started to sing and those that would be asleep during the day had already gone. We quietly, but quickly, made our way over to the gate where there was... No one. We were the first. Few people had even gotten up yet. Which was good. I'd heard a rooster crowing on the other side of the city, denoting we were nicely on time.

No one to be seen so far.

I yawned a little, the nervousness not yet present in my mind. It would come as soon as the city council would show up. I think. Deirdre smiled at my yawn. She probably thought it was cute of me to show some indifference. Even though I was so confused and worried deep inside, it wasn't bubbling to the surface.

Yet.

The sun was slowly starting to rise as well, the sky lighten, the birds waking up. And, in the city, there were soft sounds of people waking up and doing things. From the muted sound of hammers on anvils to screams of children.

But we were in the shadow still. The forest behind us and the city walls would shade this place in the rising and setting of the sun. I wondered how long it would take fort his place to receive the first rays of light. Not that it was dark here, ambient reflection of light from trees the walls and even the castles made everything quite visible.

We saw a small group heading for the gate. Four men. Two of them the city council, the other two looked like guard types. That was understandable. If they would keep back just a little, that should not give any problems. I was thinking though, if I knew Maeve a little, she'd be watching us already.

And I think she'd prefer to be a little more secluded. I guess we could walk a little way towards the path going to Bleakfield. I waited patiently while the group neared us. The guards, as I presumed they were, were soberly dressed. Some light chain-mail but mostly leather. It didn't look all that comfortable and the guards didn't look comfortable wearing it either.

The men were somewhat nicer dressed. They saw this as an official occasion, which I suppose it was, and were literally dressed to impress. The wrong species. Their expensive rings, necklaces (not that many, but still) would not be looked at except for their light-reflective properties. They wore no furs, very good, just a lot of velvet on their outer clothing. The red cloaks were nice, but would just be frowned upon as 'too obvious in a forest'. It was kind of ironic that they were so dressed up as opposed to who they were about to meet.

Of course the man spoke impatiently as soon as he closed in, not even greeting us or waiting for one. "Well, where is she."

I bowed. "Good morning, Sirs. Let's walk a little more into the forest, just the path there."

He didn't sound too happy to be awake here. "Where does that lead?"

One of the guards leaned forward. "Bleakfield, sir."

"I didn't ask you." He snapped back. It made me smile.

"Please, this way, Sirs."

We walked the short distance to the path and headed along it. The city was barely out of view when Maeve stepped out from the foliage.

I didn't even have to look around.

The men stopped in their tracks, gasps betraying their surprise. There was some contained snickering from the guards but it wasn't them that proved the most amusement. If I read Maeve's smile correctly, both the council members had turned bright red with blush to match their cloaks. A reaction they were very unaccustomed with and caused the resulting haphazard greeting.

"W-who are you?"

I had to concentrate quite a bit to keep my face normal and polite as I turned around to the men. "May I present Maeve, Queen of the Forest Spirits."

Maeve bowed slowly, her whole body looking incredibly pretty, even in the shaded light of the rising sun beneath the trees. She looked completely at home, fully in control and surprisingly powerful. And, of course, desirable.

So very desirable.

Though I mentally knew she was using her charm and beauty to impress, it was very hard for my body to resist it. Deirdre touched me lightly on my arm, helping me to focus, which gave me clarity.

"Maeve, I present two from the city council."

She nodded politely, looking at the men.

One of the council members took a deep breath. "Valerius of Light, Council member of Dawnbridge, representing the Castle of Light."

The other looked at him, then at Maeve. "Francisco of Dark, Council member of Dawnbridge, representing the Castle of Dark."

She smiled. "Why are you here?"

The two looked at each other a little confused. They might have thought that she asked them here but they realized that she was here for the same reason they were.

Francisco answered. "To talk."

Maeve nodded politely. "Then let's talk."