“Speak up. Who are you? How have you found your way to a special place known only to elves?” the strange man asked.
The mystic figure was tall, white-haired, and he had a heavy, white beard. With flowing gray hair, his arms and legs were lean and long. Like the trim-figured woman (whose face was more serene and radiant than ten suns, ten moons, all bouquets of the forest floor), like her, the man wore a white robe. Ethereal beings stood barefoot in ankle-high water.
Redfern cocked his head and seemed to listen.
“We’re Corey Bean and Jasper Curdle, two earnest woodworkers who are stupefied by this mysterious forest.”
“I understand,” said the towering man. “The land is incomprehensible to many. The trees have their language, their secrets, and they tell a puzzling story.”
Lianora came forward. “You perplex me at this, time and place. You appear confounded,” she said easily and lifted genteel hands to her waist. “You are not elves who know the story of the trees. You are not music makers who…”
“Oh, but we are,” Jasper blurted. He jumped up. Corey rose with him. “More—no, we’re not elves. But we know where many are.”
Lianora and Abadon’s eyes grew the size of polished puffballs.
Jasper turned to Corey. Each nodded and then spun to Abadon and Lianora.
“We do, indeed, know something about the story of trees, here.” Jasper swung his arms. “You have rich stands of trees on the Binkawinks side of the Nure. Then there is havoc, desolation, spoils where blight and drought had catastrophically overtaken Bostauk land. Are you Abadon, watcher of the woods, and Lianora, Lady of the Nure?” he rattled words like a woodpecker might batter an infested hemlock with its beak.
“Ah, but we are,” said Abadon. He bowed. Then he took one step to the boys. “How is it that…”
“Then I believe you and certain elves are in jeopardy,” Jasper blew words. He and Corey took one step. “Bothar Bostauk is irreverent, calculating, tricky; and we are at odds to tell you the gloomy news. He is after your revered, magical lyre. He is in your sanctuary as we speak.”
“Ah,” Lianora gasped. Her hand went to her perfect mouth.
“What?” Abadon bellowed. Storm clouds rose in his eyes. “The castaway, the rabble-rouser Bothar Bostauk is on hallowed ground?” He swerved to precious Lianora. “Lianora, we must hurry. Bothar knows too many secrets and he knows his way in the woods.”
Abadon turned back to clammy Corey and jittering Jasper.
“Come with us,” the imposing figure commanded the boys.
Taller than Corey and Jasper, Abadon waved. Lianora and Abadon then seemed to sweep away on currents of air.
“Follow us,” he urged. “I will know your story and you are correct. The golden lyre, the trees, and the music are in peril.”
Away they went. Yet, it was not quick enough as underhanded Bothar ran with treasure. With his own bag of chicanery, he had unlocked the music. Now, with his archer-elves he beat a quick path on the high promontory.
“Make your marks archers,” he gave directions. “Let your arrows and golden thread take us to freedom.”
“Zip! Zip! Zip!”
Accurate marksmen struck hearty trees on the opposite side of the Nure. Golden threads crossed the water, three lifelines tied to trees at opposing points. A deep canyon spanned the distance.
“Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!”
Instantly, like web-slinging spiders drifting to new territory, bitty elves zipped to primeval forest. They were gone.
Short minutes later all Abadon could do was wring his hand and cry to the trees. “No stone will be unturned, friends. We shall not let the wicked prevail in troubling times.” Abadon’s lips quivered. His brow wrinkled; and he turned to his eyes of the forest sitting upon his shoulder. “Redfern—seek and find. Let the hawks, the eagles, and mighty owls know we’ve treasure to return to safe hands.”