The Darkling Tide

The Darkling Tide by Travis Simmons Page B

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Authors: Travis Simmons
mountains,” Daniken said.
    “Could something be altering the trail?” Abagail wondered.
    “That’s the only thing I can think of,” Daniken told her, refusing to look back at her. Likely she sensed that Abagail wondered if what was changing the trail was Daniken.
    “Alright, so, if this keeps up, we are going to have to find wood for fire,” Rorick said.
    Daniken nodded.
    “Is it safe to go off the trail enough to gather wood?” Rorick asked her.
    “If you take someone with you,” Daniken said. “I would suggest I go along, Abagail’s plague would be more a hindrance than a help.”
    “How so?” Abagail asked, barely keeping her tone civil.
    “It would be more a beacon for the darklings than it would protection against them,” Daniken told her.
    Abagail calmed down. That seemed plausible.
    “But the mountains are far from where we need to be,” Daniken told them. “They are farther west than New Landanten and the harbingers.”
    “That’s a problem,” Rorick said.
    “Not the only problem,” Daniken said. “The mountains are home to the frost giants.”

Celeste alighted in a clearing. Behind her she felt the gathering light of Skye and Mari.
    A storm had blown in at some point when they were traveling and the clearing had just been covered with a new wash of snow. The squall was still raining down heavily in the clearing, pelting the gathered light elves with snow, frosting their hair.
    “All of the snow is fresh,” Mari said. “And you think the harbinger and her group came through here?”
    “I know they did,” Celeste said. “This would be the defining moment. If they went right, they are headed to New Landanten and the harbingers. If they went left...”
    “Frost giants,” Skye said.
    Celeste pursed her lips. She didn’t want to think that Daniken would be leading them to the frost giants.
    Mari stepped forward, her left hand stroking her sun scepter. The staff made a resonant hum, and wherever Mari pointed it, the fresh snowfall was blown back, as if by a gentle breeze. Underneath they could see signs of a camp: a campfire long cold, indentations where people had slept, discarded rabbit pelts.
    “She’s feeding them animals from the forest!” Mari half growled the statement.
    “Humans eat meat,” Celeste said. She didn’t like the idea of creatures from the Fay Forest being consumed either, but it wasn’t precisely incriminating. “And we’ve known for some time the dark elves consume flesh.”
    “It’s just horrible,” Mari mumbled.
    “Over here,” Skye said. He stood at the exit of the clearing into the right hand path. He slid his fingers against his sun scepter producing a haze of golden wyrd. Celeste went to him to watch his wyrded inspection. “See, right there, along the trees. What do you see?”
    Celeste drew her scepter from her back and neared the edge of the trail. She also slipped her fingers against her scepter and watched as the golden light ebbed out. There, clinging to the tree like spider silk, was the telltale signs of moonlight.
    “However, this is incriminating,” Celeste said.
    “What’s that?” Skye asked her.
    She shook her head. “She cast some kind of enchantment here.”
    “Right, likely she was hiding this leg of the path,” Skye said.
    Mari came up to them. “But you said they traveled with a pixie, wouldn’t she have noticed this?”
    Celeste frowned. It was a general misconception that all fay could feel wyrd simply because they were fay.
    “What would make the pixie sense the wyrd any more than the humans?” Celeste asked. “If she was looking for it, I’m sure she would. Daphne is young, she never lived in the Fay Forest, and she’s untrained in navigating the trail.”
    Mari nodded.
    “Didn’t you say they were being dogged by darklings?” Skye asked.
    “I did,” Celeste said. She studied the trees and the forest floor, but there was no signs of darklings. “Maybe they are still near them. How old do you think this

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