Darrick fumed silently. As soon as the Elven King had dismissed him, Erurainon had grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the elven halls. His elves had then flung the bag back over his head and with grips as tight as vices, started to haul him away.
“Wait - Please you have to help me.”
“Don’t you ever speak my name.” His voice was a low growl. “Now shut up, or I’ll shut you up.”
They’d been walking for a long time since, as silent as the grave. He could barely hear the sounds of the elves passing - they were as quiet as his mother. Mother, Darrick thought.
“Just listen to me, uncle.” He felt the grip on his arm tighten. “You search far and wide for my mother. You know the pain of a missing loved one. Don’t you think I feel the same for my daughter?”
He waited for a reply.
“Just lead me to the Old Fairy Kingdom. Lead me to where your… people last saw her. Your grand niece. I won’t come back here again, I promise.”
There was a whisper, nothing more.
“You won’t be disobeying anyone. Please, just this one favour.”
They stopped so suddenly that Darrick knocked into the elf in front of him. He blinked as they pulled the bag off his head. They were back in familiar forests and the sun had risen higher than he'd expected.
"You are at the edge of the three realms," Erurainon said. "Straight ahead you'll find a portal through to the Old Fairy Kingdom. It only opens for a span from even until midnight. We go no further than here in this light."
Darrick looked at the place Erurainon had pointed at, and when he turned his head, the elves had vanished into the forest.
"Thank you," he called anyway, sure that they could still hear him.
There was nothing in the clearing except for the rubble of an old house. To wait until sun down was a long time. Darrick contemplated returning home first - he'd been gone all night, after all. Ivy and Mary would be frantic. He was just about to turn when something small and heavy hit him from behind, sending him tumbling like a rock.
The imps surrounding him laughed.
"What was that for?"
"Get down, elf-man. A jaculus hunts you."
"Just follow us."
"Somewhere. Nowhere. Anywhere. Just follow us if you want to live."
Darrick hesitated, but the little people pushed and pulled him and he allowed himself to be led by them. After all, Ivy trusted them. Or used to, anyway. Once they reached the edge of the house, he saw it. The small dragon creature hissed at him, frustrated that his prey had gotten away. It seemed to glare malevolently at him before slinking away.
"Thank you," he said, wondering at this turn of events.
"Thank us? Thank the Witch. If it were not for the Witch, we would not care about you. Already we waste time with you, clumsy elf-man."
The imps huddled together, ignoring him. They seemed to be tracking something.
The silence of the forest made him uneasy again. Could it be the elves returning? Or could it - he caught a flash of dark gold from the corner of his eye. The jaculus had not left. The imps’ squabbling remained at the edge of his awareness. No, no, no. The dog-man would not take her in. Why not? He has a kind heart. We should look for the dryad instead.
This time, he was aware. When the dragon creature pounced, he ducked, grabbed a convenient rock (the same one the imps had thrown at him, he supposed) and threw it at the creature. It hissed and slunk away again.
The imps stopped squabbling to stare at him.
"Hm. The elf-man has his uses after all."
"What are you doing here?" he asked. "Who are you looking for?"
The imps shared uneasy glances and huddled again, this time whispering so quietly that Darrick couldn’t make out what they were saying. Finally, what seemed to be their spokesperson turned to him. “We have decided that you will indeed be of greatest help in our mission for the Witch, no matter how we do not like your kind. We search for the Witch’s daughter.”
Darrick stared at them in incomprehension. “I don’t see why -”
“Come, we have no time to waste. The portal here is closed. We must go the long way.”
“The long way to where?”
“To the Old Kingdom, of course.” The imps set off at a slow jog.
Back to the theme list.
The jaculus (or iaculus, pl. jaculi, meaning "thrown" in Latin) is a small mythical serpent or dragon. It can be shown with wings and sometimes has front legs. It is also sometimes known as the javelin snake.---
It was said that the jaculus hid in the trees and sprang out at its victims. The force of it launching itself at the victim led to the association with javelins. Pliny described it as follows: "The jaculus darts from the branches of trees; and it is not only to our feet that the serpent is formidable, for these fly through the air even, just as though they were hurled from an engine."
HELP, I'M MAKING THIS UP AS I GO ALONG!
I had a crazy busy week and now I've lost my lead. :(