“The White Forest?” Benedict said. They had met back at the house and had told Benedict what the Arcanists had told them.
“Yes,” Abigail said.
“Well I suppose you should go, then. Be careful. You should get going immediately, I’ll make you some food.”
“Perhaps we could request some help from the Inquisition?” Abigail said.
“Yeah, they don’t like me, but I doubt thye could justify not helping me,” ROland said.
“NO!” Benedict shouted. “No... I told you the Inquisition can’t be trusted. My investigations are making me more suspicious of them than ever. DO NOT TELL THEM ANYTHING.”
“Well...” Roland said nervously. “Into the White Forest alone.”
“Well, not alone,” Abigail said.
“Right, sorry. What I mean was defenseless.”
By this point Benedict had left the room.
Roland looked around quickly. “Abigail,” he said, “Benedict is... making me a little nervous. His behaviour oesn’t seem like a good idea.”
“He’s just... he’s just emotionally invested. That’s all it is. Emotionally invested.”
“...If you say so, but I-”
Benedict burst back into the room carrying two backpacks. “Good news!” he said jovially, “I found some spare packs to carry your stuff!”
“Yay...” Roland said wanly.
He handed the packs to Roland and Abigail and then effectively pushed them out the door.
“Well,” Abigail said, “Putting on her pack. The White Forest.”
“The White Forest,” Roland said. “Funny that it’s coming back to the White Forest again. I’m getting the feeling we’ll discover something important in there.”
They walked out of the city, in the opposite direction of the docks. There was no gate around the city, the Red River on one side and the White Forest on the other provided enough protection. The buildings simply became smaller and smaller and t hen... stopped. It was about mid day.
They stepped onto the grass where the cobblestone path out of the city stopped. Ahead of them only a shrot distance was the forest.
“I don’t, uh, suppose you’ve ever been inside?” Roland said.
“Of course not,” Abigail said, “No one is allowed free pass in the White Forest.”
“Because it’s dangerous.”
“Yes, so they say.”
“You don’t believe them?”
“Well, it is a forest, but why would it be more dangerous than any other?”
“Strange creatures? Fae?”
“Perhaps, =but then why have we never seen themm. It’s right nect to the city. No, I think the Council knows the there are valuable things in the White Forest, abd they want to keep us from them.”
“How optimisti. Are you just saying that so you’re not nervous about being eaten by monsters?”
“Possibly. Let’s go.”
They stepped up to the forest. The trees were, of course, white. Thin and towering, with white, and orange, and green leaves. It looked dark inside.
Roland pulled up another ball of light, and they stepped in.
It was hard going. There was no path, simply lots of undergrowth and bramble.
“How could they get a caravan though tthis?” Roland said.
“It’s enchanted, presumably,” Abigail said, “Perhaps it floats.”
Roland looked over at Abigail and noticed that today she was wearing simple pants and shirts, as opposed to her usual regal dressed. Good choice.
Finally, they started to beat their way throug the brambles, Roland hacking with his sword, and seemed to see a place ahead with less in the way. They tried to make their way towards it.
As they stepped into the clearing, the whole clearing suddenly lit up with a bright blue light, and Roland’s light went out. The light appeared to be coming from the large mushrooms surrounding the clearing.
“Wow,” Roland said, examining one of the mushrooms. He poked it and it wobbled friendlyly. The mushroom continued to wobble back and forth and spin.
“Roland,” Abigail said, “Are the lights over there... spinning?”
Roland stood up. “Yeah, are they-” But he stopped as he saw they indeed were. The lights were spinning rapidly, faster and faster, around and around and around and around and around and around and around adna around.
Roland closed his eyes.
When Roland opened his eyes, it was dark. He couldn’t see anything. He tried to summon up a light, but nothing happened. He stood up. But he was already standing up. He looked around.
Black. Black. BlACK.
Roland heard something, a scrabbling, up down left right. He looked around up down left right.
He heard the scrabbling again
up down left right
Roland saw something moving
for some reason, Roland could only see the
f e e t
The ankles disappeare dinto dark ness
darkness the ankles disappeared into.
He heard a GENTLE
He could see the clothes
there was something
Roland looked at his mother and the world around him seemed to resolve. He was standing in a fine house he did not recognize. It looked middle high class. Certainly better than how they had actually lived. His mother was wearing a beautiful dress of white, red, and green.