Chapter 16 – Beyond the Bounds

Nivea awoke to the sounds of a door rattling. Small flecks of moonlight passed through the cracks of the wooden planks of the shed. She sat up, trying to recall what had occurred before she fell asleep. She had followed the man with the children. She reached out with her mind and felt the presence of the boy and of the girl. It shocked and tired her senses to hear their words inside her head again.

"Papa! Where are you, Papa?"

"Do not leave us to die here. We are frightened."

The rickety hinges on the door continued to jangle, until Nivea forced herself to ask, "Who is there?"

The noise stopped, and a strange voice whispered, "It is I, my dear."

For only a moment her Oma came to the girl's mind. Could the man with the ax have told her a lie? Was it possible her Oma was not dead?"

"Oma?" she whispered, hopefully.

"Yessss. Open the door to me," replied the voice. Though Nivea still wished to believe it, she knew it was not her grandmother who spoke.

"You are not my Oma," Nivea responded simply.

"But I am, my dear. Let me in, and you will sssee that I am Oma, child," returned the voice.

"No," Nivea replied; for she realized the familiar feeling surrounding her was not the presence of the boy and girl. Fear gripped her suddenly.

"You must not hear me well. It is this door. If you will only open it..." When Nivea did not respond, the voice spoke again. "If you will not open the door, I must find another who will."

The threat made Nivea retreat as far from the voice as she could manage. Terrified, she looked to find the boy of glowing eyes sitting up. He was standing. He was walking toward the door. He was pushing on the door. Nivea buried her head in her hands stricken with dread, unable to conceive of what might happen next. The door did not give way, and the boy shook it. Still it did not budge and Nivea opened her eyes to view him. He seemed to be in a trance, unaware of his actions. Nivea tried to call to the boy with her mind.

"Help me!" came the plea of the boy to her senses. "I must open the door. He says I must open the door, but I am afraid," were his words. Nivea tried to speak to the boy, to tell him not to listen; but he could not hear her. She closed her eyes again, and, in desperation, tried to remember the feelings at the spring when the boulders had moved. She willed him to return to his former place, to come away from the door. He hesitated and ceased to shake the barrier. From the place near the floor next to her, the girl emerged. She crossed through the shafts of light created by the slits in the walls until she too reached the door. She began the shaking, and the hinges rattled ominously. Nivea found she could not still both the boy and the girl from their task. Again she huddled in the corner, waiting for the wood to give way at last.

It did give way. Nivea stared at the open portal, stunned as the wolf's eyes fixed upon her. He did not enter the shed. His bared his teeth, which shown in the glow of the moonlight. Something dark was dripping from them.

The creature growled and started toward her. Nivea cowered upon the dirt floor. "What a waste that I am filled and sated this night, but I will return for you," he told her.

She watched as the wolf turned away, and the boy and girl followed. Nivea heard the pleas of the children forcefully upon her mind. They did not want to go, yet they had no will to resist the wolf. She waited until she could no longer see the four-legged creature and his captives before she ran out. She could still glimpse them in the distance, and it was the sight of their figures helplessly following where the wolf would lead that decided the child. She would follow the children into the forest. As she ran forward, she tripped over a dark mass on the ground. She gasped as she recognized the hairy countenance of Willifus, the woodward. Without looking back, she fled into the forest.

Her mind was a tangle of thoughts. Where could she run? What could she do? What if the wolf espied her behind them? He had said he would come back; would she end up like the father of the children? A shudder ran through her; for now she had known death twice in a day. She glimpsed the silhouette of the boy ahead. She had always been capable of seeing well in the darkness, and this night it greatly aided her. She was able to stay some distance from the trio of forest wanderers advancing deeper into the wood.

The wolf began to increase his pace. The children seemed to fly, so swift were their legs in keeping up with him; it was Nivea who was left struggling to keep them in view. Where was the wolf taking them? Would they travel all the night? She felt wearied; but it was not by physical weakness, though she had had no bread for two days. Her mind felt stretched. She felt that the touch of the children's thoughts was like a jab to a tender bruise. The children were too far ahead. She could not keep the pace any longer. She dropped to her knees and tried to breathe. The air could not be inhaled quickly enough. Her lungs seemed to burst each time she took in breath. Yet, with each inhalation, her thoughts seemed to ease. Her head seemed to swim in grateful relief. She was drawing from the life around her, though she did not comprehend it. Just as she had done on the journey from the spring with the woodward, each breath was nourishment to her.

Again she rose, refreshed, and knew the presence of the children. She sensed them and found she could run very quickly. There was exhilaration in the motion and breath, as she hurried to follow. Each deep lung-full gave her refreshment. Each inhalation increased the power of a life-force newly awakened.

Hours passed away as chaff upon the wind and on she ran. A haze of gray film began to cloud the sky as she reached the place where she sensed the trail of the wolf and children ended. She found nothing but a crumbling wall with a thin gap. She hesitated; the place was brimming with the ancient presence. The fear which had flooded through her before gripped her again. She could not go in there. She began to back away, when she heard the children's cries.

"No, not to her! She has done this!" The girl's plea echoed in Nivea's mind. Such pity did Nivea feel, such horror for the fate of the girl. She returned to the gap in the wall, peering into the graying light in the moments before dawn.

"You are lying to me, Iehdua," threatened a voice that was unfamiliar to Nivea. "Do you think you can destroy me? Do you think you can overthrow me? Never! What you have brought here does not equal me. You wish to know the extent of my power?"

"Wait! I vow to you, Malafiegr, I brought no one – but! She may have followed."


"There is a small girl unlike any Kynd. I know not what she is; she calls to the wood and the wood obeys." Nivea backed away, perceiving that the wolf's words might be of her.

From the gap, Nivea saw a dark silhouette moving toward her from the other side of the wall. "Who are you, child?" it whispered pleasantly. Nivea felt rather than saw the enchantment which surrounded the figure. Yet, she did not wish to run. Who was this woman who ruled the wolf and knew of her presence? The stranger drew toward her, reaching the gap of collapsed stone. The stranger was beautiful, her midnight skin sparkling with thousands of colors.

"I am Nivea," the girl whispered and watched as the woman drew back in surprise.

"Nivea!" Malafiegr repeated. Nivea watched as the wolf approached beside the Queen of Naut.

"Has she the Faere essence, Malafiegr?"

"Look to her skin; she is not of the Faere," she told Iehdua. The Queen of Naut spoke to Nivea. "Come to me, child."

Nivea did not step toward the wall.

Again Malafiegr held her arms out to the child. "Come to me, Nivea. Do you not trust me?"

"No. I do not," Nivea looked confused but determined.

Incredulity was on Malafiegr's countenance. "Tell me: what do you see before you?" Nivea did not know how to respond, and Malafiegr commanded, "Look upon me and tell me what you see."

"A lady with skin of colors, and," Nivea hesitated, "eyes like green waters."

"Iehdua, she resists my enchantment! She is An; a Yar with essence still! Is it possible?" Malafiegr smiled. "You have done well this night, wolf."

The first beams of the dawn shot across the wood. "It is time," said Malafiegr. She told Iehdua, "You will guard the An child while I am away. Do not let her go from you, and you will be well rewarded for this!"

The wolf ventured from the gap in the wall toward Nivea. He opened his fierce jaw and chomped at the air, grinding his glistening black teeth in a menacing grin. "I will guard you well, Nivea," he threatened.

Nivea shuddered, but remained transfixed. The woman, what was she? She had not looked upon her with revulsion as the woodsman had done. She seemed to think she was special. "Where has she gone?" Nivea asked.

"Come, you will see," replied the wolf, leading her toward the opening in the wall again.

"I don't want to go there," Nivea replied, halting.

"Oh, yes." The wolf displayed an evil fleer. "You are right; it is much safer with me."

Prince Yarinthar of the tribe, Yarinburk, of the Far Northern ranges could hardly contain his animosity as he watched the hooded figures of the Faere princesses. Why did they not show their faces in the palace of the Kyndciant king? In his land it was discourteous to hide the face and eyes from nobility.

Yarinthar caught the eye of the elder Yar beside him. He could tell by the way Yaringamle gripped his side that he was struggling to keep from voicing his disdain for the guests of Exlir, as well.

"I will wait until the child is presented," the Yar prince informed his guardian, "Then, if these ill-mannered Faere do not show themselves, I will-," The bells of the tower of Kraeftholo sounded the hour, and the procession of King Exlir entered. In the midst of his guard, the monarch was followed by his wife, whose golden-threaded head shimmered more brightly than the crown of gold upon it in the glow of the many candles and lanterns. In her arms she carried the child. Yarinthar had seen the Queen during the day-ceremony, but still he took in her countenance and her air. He prided himself in knowing that this Faere had no hold over him. No Faere did. He admitted that she was not ugly, but he was repulsed all the same. There was no good thing between the Nayar and the Faere. To him the Faere were nothing. They used their tricks to get their pleasures, but he would not be deceived.

He watched as the Queen of Abbon Dwin settled the sleeping child in the cradle and stepped forward to embrace the cloaked figures. Each Faere princess removed her covering from her head and kissed the Queen. As he glanced at each of their countenances, his throat constricted. Each he thought to be more beautiful than the last. He had difficulty prying his eyes from one to the next. In the dim light, Yarinthar could see a great contrast between the skin of the mantled Faere princesses and the sister-queen. Arisdona's black countenance seemed to disperse more than once, sometimes giving the appearance of graying skin. Yarinthar pondered this as he watched the Queen move to the smallest Faere sister, placed closest to the cradle.

Each sister, in turn, was given the honor of drawing nigh to the child and viewing her minutely as she slept. Each princess took the opportunity, but one. The youngest, the Faere closest to the cradle, did not turn her head in the child's direction. There was the slightest hesitation before the Faere, known as Aaliristo, presided over the ceremony.

"No one of Nayar descent has ever beheld a Faere token ritual, but one," Yaringamle said to the Yar prince in a low voice. Yarinthar wished to ask who the one had been, but was deterred.

Aaliristo ended his words and lifted his eyes to Yaringamle. It was supposed by the two Yar that words were not to be spoken, and they had given offense in so doing. This realization pleased Yarinthar, though he did not openly display his emotion.

One of the Faere princesses stepped forward and began to sing. Yarinthar was again dismayed to find the song moved him greatly. This realization made him heated with anger. Surely this was a spellbinding descant meant to ensnare him. He felt Yaringamle's hand grip his upper arm, admonishing him to master his wrath. It was all he could do to remain in his place. The Yar thought he must either stop the song by violent means or succumb to its potency.

Yet, he opened his eyes to find the serenade had ended and he was still himself. He was not entrapped by the enchantment of the creature of music below him. He steadied himself, trying to prepare for what might occur thereafter. Verily the song of the Faere had been more difficult to fend off than an onslaught of fiercely bloodthirsty Yar warriors. He knew Yar combat well, and could only desire that he might meet a Faere who would refrain from any use of magic, and call him out in the true method of military engagement. In this Yarinthar would be victorious, he was certain.

The next portion of the proceedings involved a small, silver-looking ball. It fit snugly into the palm of the young Faere princess, who approached Queen Arisdona and, without words, presented it to her. What had this tiny, shining toy to do with the ceremony? He nudged Yaringamle, questioning the object without words. Yaringamle, being subject to his lord, was forced to speak. He whispered as succinctly as possible, "It is the token."

Now curiosity overtook Yarinthar. What? This little ball was the great Token? He was ready to laugh aloud. What a ridiculous ritual was this! "Hand the babe the ball; a little toy to amuse her," he thought, jestingly. Yet, the smile slid from his lips as he watched Arisdona place the object in the cradle; it began to float in mid-air from the hand of the heir of Exlir. Yarinthar could see the child's hand reach out from the folds of velvet, gold, and finest silken lace. The chubby golden fingers stretched toward the ball to retrieve it. The sphere caught the light and reflected it to distant corners of the hall. Even Yarinthar wished to touch it. It held the attention of every eye in the room. Those who viewed were hushed with anticipation, waiting for the babe to gain possession of the orb again. What would happen then?

Yarinthar would never know. At that precise moment a Yar plowed his way through the patrol guarding the entryway. "Make way for Yarymaopi," bellowed the Yar guard. Yarinthar watched as the Yar slung back the Kynciant soldiers who stood in his way with one simple swipe, as though he were a bear and simply enjoying the exercise of swinging his arms to and fro. The nobility backed away fearfully, and Yarinthar watched as a single Kynd followed behind the Yar guard. For a moment the sight confused the Yar prince watching overhead. Why would a paltry Kynd follow behind this white giant of the Nayar? He continued to wait for the one the guard had announced, but no one else appeared. The nobility stood back from the Kynd in awe. Yes, they were eyeing him and not the Yar who came before!

Pronunciation Guide:

Nivea – Ni-vay'-a

Iehdua - Ee-eh'-doo-ah

Malafiegr – Măl'- uh-fay'-air

Yarinthar – Vor'-en-thor

Yarinburk – Vor'-en-berk

Kyndciant – Kend'-shant

Yar – Vor

Yaringamle –Vor'-en-gah-mel

Exlir – Ex-ill'-yer

Kraeftholo - Krayft-hoh'-loh

Nayar – No-vor'

Arisdona – A(like the letter)-ris-doh'-na

Aaliristo - A'(like the letter)-al-eh-ris'-toh

Yarymaopi – Vorv'-may'-oh-pye