The wind blew up, carrying fall leaves, spring flower petals, and the scent of moist earth with an undertone of winter frost. It repelled the fog, pushing it back towards the Jormuna. It roared through the trees and threw up leaves in whirlwinds that stung the eyes and nose. Sound crashed over the forest in a chaotic tsunami of breaking branches, falling wildlife, damaged instruments, and cries of anguish.
Gwyion reached over and capped the jar. “Quickly, to your feet!”
The others were confused at first by his urgency then they saw the fog and heard the roar behind it. They ran back across the field. The wind would have none of that. It blew the fog around them, corralling them in the center of the meadow. They gathered and stood back-to-back. The woman reached for the shield.
The wind blew down from above and knocked the sphere from her hand as leaves and petals transformed into a dryad. Long twig fingers grabbed hold of Gwyion’s shirt front. Ze growled, “How dare you enter my domain!”
Gwyion looked up at seven feet of angry wind spirit. “Dree! Release me at once!” he spat.
Ze bent forward so ze was nose to nose with him. “You are in no position to give orders, Jormuna.”
The others reached for weapons. Dree glared at them and drew the fog closer.
“Everyone stay put,” Gwyion ordered. This drew Dree’s attention back to him. He continued, “Parlay?”
Dree stared at him as if weighing his soul then gave a very slight nod as ze released him. “Why are you here?”
“The lands you ceded to us so long ago are cursed. They’ve lost their vitality,” said Gwyion.
“And how is this my problem?”
Gwyion scowled, exasperated by zir. “Obviously your precious Dreezians cursed the land after you fled beyond the gate.”
“Nonsense. You merely lack the ability to properly care for it,” ze said dismissively. “Or is it the desire?”
“We lack desire?” Balyn bellowed, “We lack the skills? If that is true, then it is because you cursed us!”
Gwyion held up a hand, “Easy.”
Dree asked, “What is it you are hoping to accomplish?”
“We need new lands and fresh cattle.”
“So you just think you are going to take ours again? Why not pick on someone else? Surely the Sorians and Sethians have fertile lands.”
“None so rich as yours. You owe us.”
Dree snorted. “You forced your way through the gate; that was no small task. Why
not put that effort into the land instead?”
Gwyion glanced at the fog wall behind Dree. It was beginning to dissipate. “My people need…”
“Nothing of mine, I assure you. Leave. Go back through the gate and forget this place. If you are indeed cursed, then it was by your own ancestors. I can do nothing for you.” Dree sneered and added, “Does Jormun not heed your prayers?”
“Jormun’s wisdom is learned in silence,” Gwyion said as he bowed slightly. “Very well, we will leave.”
Dree raised an eyebrow, not trusting his sudden acquiescence. “Hmmm… go then.” Ze blew away the last of the fog, allowing the Jormuna to pass. When they were gone, ze transformed back into leaf and petal then flew back to the forest.
copyright 2014, Kimberley Long-Ewing, all rights reserved