High above a forest of ancient oaks, a dense canopy spread its limbs to the sky. Leaves swayed with a gentle breeze, creating patches of jade sunlight that mottled the spongy ground. Scents from the foliage danced through the air, mixed with dampness and decaying leaves. Birdsong mingled with the rustle of animals in the undergrowth, creating a melody that floated over the crunch of footsteps. A feminine figure wove between the trunks and stepped over gnarled roots, swathed in green that nearly matched the leaves above.
Days of travel in the dappled sunlight had turned Violet's fair skin from cream to honey, providing a lovely contrast between it and her unnaturally pale hair. The long locks had been woven into a thick braid that fell over one slender shoulder, keeping them from snagging on branches as she passed. Against the deep green of her dress, the silver strands could be mistaken for white. Some of the shorter pieces, wisps of shimmering thread that caught the light, had escaped their confines and were arrayed around her face as though framing a painting.
The sight would have been straight from a fairytale, were it not for the dark expression on the woman's lovely face and the muttering of curse words under her breath. Pale eyebrows were drawn together, the crease between them deeply furrowed. Her delicate lips were drawn down in a frown, and every so often she kicked at an errant bush with a muted cry.
The route through the Arcane East was proving to be trickier than Violet had hoped. A kind stranger had directed her through the forest, claiming it a shortcut to Mageside City and the wonders that lay there. Only the man's warning had given the fae pause.
“There be dark creatures that lurk hereabouts, missy. I'd be watching myself, if I was you.” The gruff drawl of the stranger’s voice was still present in Violet’s thoughts. Despite his warning, her excitement had prompted her to take the shorter route.
When first entering the expanse of trees, the silence had been suffocating. Every snap of a twig or rustle of the underbrush had made her jump, icy eyes scanning wildly for the monster come to make a meal of her. Once several days had passed without incident, she found herself relaxing into the calm of the forest. The shadows were not monsters, but welcome spots to rest when the heat became overbearing. The sounds of movement weren't hunters, but friendly creatures coming to greet her. Violet would have been happy to spend eternity under the protective reach of the oaks.
Would have been happy, were it not for the ever shrinking rations in her leather satchel. A few days worth of food had seemed enough at the beginning of her journey, but now she was cursing herself for not bringing more. Here beneath the trees, where little sunlight could filter through, it was hard to tell the time of day or which direction the fae was going. Though she was loathe to admit it, Violet was lost.