Kiara sat up quickly in bed coming out of a strange dream Saturday morning. The same sort of dreams had been happening the last few nights. They were a little scary…going through dark caves, flashes of fire, smell of smoke and booming voices. Strange people—appeared and quickly disappeared. Were they actually… people? She couldn’t be sure.
Kiara stood in front of her bathroom mirror brushing her long jet-black hair. She was looking forward to her eighteenth birthday tomorrow and high school graduation next week. She thought it would be cool to go with her friends Mia and Sean to see the ancient ruins at the top of the hill in Raven Forest, a short distance from their tiny town. The best time would be around midnight with a full moon. She had heard tales of elves once living there. Maybe we might see one. She reached for her phone and called Mia who quickly agreed and Sean told her he would pick both of them up around 11:15.
Finished with her hair, she stared at herself in the mirror. Something is different…“My eyes! They are always a light green, now they are dark green like the peppers on the kitchen counter. Why?” Having no answer, she shrugged her shoulders and left the bathroom.
* * *
The drive to Raven Forest with Sean and Mia took only 10 minutes. Their headlights picked up the narrow dirt road to a small parking area below the ruins. Sean shifted into a lower gear. He had to take the sharp turns carefully with his headlights making strange sudden shadows. After about 15 minutes, they came to the clearing below the trail leading to the ruins. He stopped and turned off the headlights. Streaks of moonlight shimmered in the dense forest. They clicked on their flashlights pointing to the dirt trail and started the sharp climb. The trail was not hard, but in the dark, they had to keep alert. Little noises from the night creatures greeted them.
“How’s our time?” asked Kiara.
Sean looked at the glowing hands on his watch. “It’s about twenty to twelve. Watch your step, the last bit is a little tricky.”
The two girls nodded in agreement.
Kiara noticed a few odd changes that were going on in her body. She couldn't explain the strange feelings…They were so different from anything she had ever experienced. She didn't want to worry her friends and decided to keep it to herself.
As the moon became brighter, her eyes began to hurt. She stopped again to close her eyes. When she rubbed them, Kiara felt something very peculiar. Besides the burning sensation, a thin outer layer of skin covered her eyes, just like another thin eyelid. Something strange was happening to her. She thought it best not to tell Sean and Mia because she didn't really understand it herself.
“Are you okay Kiara? Anything the matter?” asked Sean.
“I'm not sure. My eyes kind of hurt, but I wouldn't miss this for the world.
“Let us know if you want to leave,” said Mia.
After a few more minutes, she became aware she couldn’t continue. “I think I’ll go back to the car and get some aspirin. I know a short cut to where the car is. I won’t be long.”
“Be careful,” said Mia.
“Hurry back,” said Sean.
“Don't worry. I know these old ruins like the back of my hand. I've been up here many times since I was a little girl.”
As Kiara hurried away on the path, she could still hear Sean and Mia talking, which was odd since they were some distance behind her. Kiara cut through the shortcut headed toward the other side of the hill. She found the climb wasn't difficult at all. It used to be hard. Her finger accidently clicked off the flashlight. To her surprise, it didn’t make any difference! She could see through the darkness perfectly—although everything had a soft green tint to it. Putting the flashlight in her jacket and moving quickly, there was another surprise. She could move much faster. It seemed as if there was some kind of internal guidance system in her avoiding all obstacles. What is happening to me? Was something helping her? No time to think about that she thought. She had to hurry.
Towards the top, there were a lot more bushes and large old trees to hold onto. They made the climb a little easier, yet Kiara was still a little nervous around them. She had heard of many old folktales about these same old oak trees—how they were gateways to the Fae world. Kiara noticed the strange happenings within her body again. A burning sensation throughout her body made it difficult to climb. Her eyes felt like they were full of eyelashes. Kiara heard a woman’s soft whisper. She couldn’t make it out. It seemed to be coming from a long distance away. She wondered where it was coming from as she finally made it to the top of the hill.
The wind picked up, as it usually did at the top of the hill. Kiara could hear the whisper more clearly in old Celtic language—a strange dialect so different to Kiara. For some bizarre reason she could understand the meaning, although the words did not make much sense. She felt very uneasy. It was still before midnight. A stronger wind swept through the top of the hill where Kiara was standing alone in the dark. She heard the whisper again, more clearly this time...
“My name is Faelwen, a distant kin from long ago. Meet me at the fountain in the center of the old ruins. There isn't much time.”
By the tone of Faelwen’s voice, Kiara felt a sense of urgency to get there quickly, even though she had no idea who she was. It didn't take long to make her way to the fountain. When she arrived, no one was there. Where was Faelwen?
While Kiara was waiting, she looked around the old fountain. It was made of solid white marble mixed with silver streaks. The top portion of the fountain was broken off. She thought it sad to see these old ruins laid waste by vandalism and decay.
© Wendy Yukihiro
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