The Shapeshifter Forest
The sounds of battle rang in the air, shouts of people, cries of children, and the ringing of swords echoed throughout the forest.
“Please... no... this should not be happening.” Lythia cried out, but her words were drowned out by the sounds of war.
“Lythia... please.” Anita appeared before her, a beautiful glowing light surrounding her. “You have to wake up.” Anita began to fade away.
“Wake up? But...” Lythia looked around and the forest was empty, the sounds of war now silent.
Lythia woke with a start. Anita opened her eyes from across the fire and looked at Lythia with a soft concern.
“Same nightmare?” Anita asked, snuffing out the fire and moving closer.
Lythia said nothing, she looked around the cave they had made camp in that night, it was damp and smelled of animal. The sunlight just barely reaching them through the caves mouth. Anita put her arm around Lythia and kissed the top of her head lightly, Lythia's green hair tickling her lips.
“Thank you...” Lythia said quietly, “for entering my dream to wake me up. I always feel so trapped.” Lythia sighed and leaned into Anita's warm embrace.
Anita just smiled and held on to Lythia as the nightmare faded from her mind. Lythia had been having nightmares for weeks, almost everyday since they left their tribes. Anita wanted so badly to apologize, to tell Lythia it was all her fault that they had to leave their friends and family. But whenever she tried, Lythia cut her off and changed the subject.
“Lythia, I-” Anita began.
“Where is the sun? Is it still morning?” Lythia got up and walked toward the mouth of the cave.
Anita closed her mouth and watched as Lythia stretched her small arms over her head. Lythia was small, though that was taking it lightly. Lythia came from a group of faerie folk called Naturists, very small people they have the ability to control nature, anything that grows and sustains life from the sun they can control. Her people also gain nutrients from sunlight, which explains why Lythia has such a hard time traveling at night. The sun was just rising over the mountains surrounding them in their cave. The soft morning light lit up Lythia's dark green hair, making it look like a forest just brushed with the morning dew. Her pale white skin seemed translucent in the light, but as she turned to look at Anita her black eyes blended in with darkness of the cave.
“Come, let us find some water. I hear a stream near by.” Lythia gave a dazzling smile, one that made Anita go weak in the knees.
Anita stood up and bumped her head on the cave's ceiling. As small as Lythia was, Anita was the exact opposite. Anita came from a tribe of giants, she towered over most people, and was usually only dwarfed by the tall trees in the shapeshifter forest. Anita walked toward the opening of the cave, the sunlight warmed her dirt red skin and her pale blonde hair lit up like the rays of the sun. She stretched and yawned. Her people had different customs than Lythia's, her people traveled and hunted at night and they worshiped the moon as a goddess. Lythia's people were day creatures, up and down with the sun they spent their days tending gardens and basking in the sun. The worshipped the sun god. Their two tribes have been feuding for centuries.
“Come on sleeping giant. The water will not find itself.” Lythia called from the bottom of the hill.
Anita laughed and followed Lythia down the hill, away from the cave, and toward the stream. Anita had no idea there was a stream near by, nor could she hear it like Lythia claimed. She thought it was probably Lythia's power as a Naturist, her ability to connect with nature. Anita did not have that connection with nature, but she did have her own power, as most people do in the land of Taivaan-alla, which translates to Under the Sky. Anita was a Mentalist, there are different types of Mentalists in Taivaan-alla, Anita was what they called a Strength Mentalist. Her ability gave her an amazing attribute of strength in both her body and her mind. She could lift great weights and carry anything without even breaking a sweat, she also had the ability to control the bodies of others. She was a prize within her tribe, perfect for war. She hated it more than anything.
“Look, it's perfect.” Lythia exclaimed, breaking Anita's train of thought.
Anita looked at where Lythia was pointing, the beautiful crystal blue stream seemed to demand attention. The water was calm as it went by, creatures off all shapes and sizes drank from and bathed in the welcoming water. Anita knelt down and examined it closely.
“Is it safe to drink?” She asked Lythia, cupping the water in her hands and running it through her short spiky blonde hair.
Lythia did not answer, instead she shed her brown tunic and dove into the water, looking as welcoming as the water. Anita laughed as Lythia poked her head out the water, her dark green hair now matching her black eyes.
“Well it's not safe to drink anymore.” Anita laughed and sat down at the edge of the bank.
“Oh hush.” Lythia splashed some water at Anita and proceeded to swim about. “Why do not you join me?” Lythia asks, turning to float on her back.
Anita shakes her head, “Swimming is not my thing, besides, I'm too big for this little stream. The water would not go up to my knees.” As if to prove a point Anita removed her boots, rolled up her bear skin pants and sticks her feet in the water. It couldn't reach her ankles and barely covered her toes.
Lythia laughed and dove into the water. Anita watched in amusement, enjoying the cold water on her feet. She liked seeing Lythia like this, care-free and happy. It was better than the day they ran off together.
It was a cold day, the Winter months were just turning to Spring. All the snow had finally melted, but the frost was still in the air. The ground was red with blood. Anita was in her small tent gathering any supplies she could, her hunting bow and a few bags of dried meat. She was supposed to meet Lythia at the oak by the river. She could hear her parents planning the attack. Anita was able to warn Lythia of the last attack her parents made on Lythia's tribe, but this time it was too late, because Anita and Lythia were already caught together, their love already banned. Anita had avoided her camp for days, considering her crime of loving someone outside of their tribe was punishable by death. She had only come back to get a few items of importance to her. Lythia was doing the same, her tribe punished her by exiling her from their grounds. For days whenever Lythia was seen, her people would turn their backs right in front of her. She only went back to gather her things and say goodbye to her family, they threw her stuff outside their hut and refused to open the door. Lythia had spent the last few days sleeping in the great oak tree by the river. It was her and Anita's favorite spot to meet, until one of the local boys from Lythia's tribe followed her their one day and saw them together. He told the elders and her family immediately. She was tried and punished for her crime, but only because she refused to withdraw her love for Anita. When they met at the great oak tree the battle begun. As they ran off into the forest they swear they could hear both tribes cursing their names over the sounds of swords and screams.
A piercing scream broke Anita from her memories and had Lythia leaping out of the water gathering her tunic from the ground.
“What was that?” Lythia asked, turning her head toward the forest.
“I do not know. Stay here.” Anita ran off quickly, back toward the cave.
Lythia put on her tunic and heard the scream again, this time more urgent. She looked back toward the cave and before she could even think about calling for Anita she was sprinting into the forest toward the screams. The tress passed by her in a blur of green, her hair was whipping behind her as she ran faster than she believed possible. She heard the scream one more time as she entered into a clearing, trees surrounding it in a circle. In the middle of the clearing was a shapeshifter, creatures of this forest, they had dark grey skin, no hair, and only whites in their eyes. They usually hunch down on all fours, though their limbs were that of a human. When able to take the DNA of something, hair, teeth, most often blood, they can transform into that creature. This shapeshifter was attacking a girl, she looked no more than sixteen full seasons old. She was on the ground, her white hair being grabbed by the shapeshifter.
“Hey!” Lythia called out.
The creature turned toward her and let out a sickening screech, releasing the girls hair. The shapeshifter charged toward Lythia quickly, the whites of its eyes focused right on her. Lythia took in a breath and lifted her hands, the roots in the ground shot up and wrapped around the creatures legs causing it to fall to the ground. Lythia released her breath and twisted her hand and fingers as the roots twisted themselves around the shapeshifter's body. The shapeshifter struggles under the roots as Lythia goes over to the girl.
“Are you okay?” she asks, helping the girl to her feet.
“I am now, thank you.” the girl answers in a shaky breath.
The shapeshifter is still struggling under the roots, making squealing sounds and biting at the air.
“Wha- what is that thing?” the girl asks.
“A shapeshifter. What else?” Lythia answers, looking at the creature.
“A.. A... shapeshifter?” the girl replies, shuddering and taking a step back.
“Yes. Of course. We are in The Shapeshifter Forest. Have you never seen a shapeshifter before?” Lythia asks surprised, everyone has seen at least one shapeshifter in their life, this forest is crawling with them, hence the name.
“N-no. I have never been in this forest.” the girl replies, still shaking.
“Oh. Well, this is The Shapeshifter Forest, home of the shapeshifter's. You'd do best to be on your guard in here.” Lythia looks back at the creature who has now gone silent. “Oh no.” Lythia exclaims.
“What? Oh!” the girl turns to see that the creature is no longer tangled in the roots. “Wh-where is it?” she asked quietly.
Lythia shakes her head and puts the girl behind her, reading her hands, breathing in the nature surrounding her.
The forest is silent, the only sound is the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees. Lythia glances around her, her eyes scanning the forest line surrounding them.
“Perhaps its gone-” the girl starts and then screams as the creature lunges at her.
Lythia turns to attack but it smacked away by the creatures long arm. The girl screams again as the shapeshifter grabs her legs and pulls her into the forest. Lythia springs to her feet and watches the creature disappear with the girl.
“ANITA!” Lythia screams in the other direction, hoping that she'll her hear as she runs towards where the creature took the girl.
Lythia runs through the forest again, following the tracks of the creature and the screams of the girl. She comes upon another clearing, this time in the middle is a cave.
“Pl-please. do not do this!” the girl screams again from inside of the cave.
Lythia starts to move toward the cave when something grabs her arm. She turns to attack and looks up to see the piercing light blue eyes of Anita glaring down at her.
“Did I not say do not move?” Anita asked through gritted teeth.
“We haven't the time! That girl needs her help! It's a shapeshifter!” Lythia struggles against Anita's grasp.
Anita lets go and pulls her bow and an arrow out from the quiver on her back, she walks toward the cave carefully and knocks her arrow. Lythia watches as Anita disappears into the cave. The girl screams again and a scuffle is heard, Lythia starts walking toward the cave when she hears Anita's battle cry. Then nothing.
“Anita?” Lythia calls out hesitantly.
Lythia jumps back and cries out as the head of the shapeshifter comes tumbling out of the cave toward her, an arrow shot perfectly into its forehead. Lythia shudders as the creatures white eyes stare up at her blankly. Anita exits the cave with the girl in her arms. She lies her down on the ground and pulls her arrow out of the creatures head before kicking it away from them.
“Is she...?” Lythia begins to ask, kneeling down toward the girl.
“She's alive. She just fainted when I shot the beast.” Anita replies, cleaning the tip of her arrow before putting it back into her quiver.
Lythia cups her hands and places them on the ground. Using her power she grows a flower right before their eyes. The flower starts off as a sprout and grows into a full formed flower in a matter of seconds. The beautiful white petals unfold into her hands and she un-cups them around the bottom of the petals.
“What is that?” Anita asks, kneeling down beside her.
“It is white peony, I can make it into a paste to help her wake up calmly so she doesn't have a fit.” Lythia answers as she take the flower and crushes it in her hands.
“No, I mean that, in her hand.” Anita stands up and points to the girls body.
Lythia opens the girls hand with her own, in it is a lock of white hair.
“It's her hair...” Lythia says, looking at it closely.
Before Anita can ask anything else Lythia went back to making her paste. In her tribe she was a healer, she knows every plant and all their healing properties, though she refuses to make Anita a poison to dip her arrows in. Lythia mixes the crushed flower petals with some mud and rubs it on the girls forehead.
“We should not move her but she'll need some water when she wakes.” Lythia claims, watching the girl intently.
“I'm not leaving you.” Anita states, planting her feet and crossing her arms.
“Then I shall go. She needs water, and so do we. We also have to get our things from the cave and continue our journey. So either one of us goes and gets everything or we wait until she wakes and take her with us.” Lythia crosses her arms as well.
Anita and Lythia stare at each other defiantly. The wind rustles the leaves and birds sing nearby, but neither of them budges.
“Fine.” Anita says at last. “I will go and get her water and grab our things from the cave. But swear to me that if a shapeshifter comes around you will run. Do not fight them, do not protect the girl, but run. You are all I have in this world.” Anita gets down on her knees in front of Lythia.
“I swear on the sun that warms the land and gives us life that I will run if danger presents itself.” Lythia smiles and leans forward to kiss Anita. The kiss is soft and warm, Lythia opens her eyes to see Anita's light blue eyes staring back. She immediately thinks about how those eyes could rival the beauty of the stream they were by earlier.
Anita nods and walks away into the forest. Lythia looks after her and smiles and she departs, then turns her attention to the girl. Now that she isn't being attacked Lythia can really look at her. The girl has black skin, like the color of a nightshade berry and her hair is as white as snow. Lythia watches the girl as her breath rises and falls in her chest. What was she doing out here? Why was she alone? And why doesn't she know about shapeshifter's in The Shapeshifter Forest? It was all very confusing to Lythia.
“Wh-what... happened?” the girl asks quietly, her eyes fluttering open. Her grey eyes find Lythia's green ones and soften slightly. “Oh. It's you.”
“Yes. It's me, I am Lythia. And you are?” Lythia asks, wiping the light brown paste from the girls forehead with her thumb.
“I am... Ohia. Princess Ohia, of the forest.” Princess Ohia sits up and rubs her head. “Where am I? Where's the creature?” she looks around franticly.
“The shapeshifter is gone. My partner took care of it. We are still in the forest but we will be leaving soon. Perhaps you'd like to stay with us for awhile, I'd like to make sure you aren't seriously injured.” Lythia looks at the Princess with concern.
“Oh. Oh thank you. Yes. I suppose it would be much safer to stay with you and your partner.” Princess Ohia replies.
“So, your highness, why are you so far from the castle? And in The Shapeshifter Forest alone?” Lythia asks.
“I...” Princess Ohia trails off, obviously perturbed.
“If you do not wish to talk about it that is fine. But do not worry, we will not take you back to The Kingdom of the Forest if that is what you wish to escape. Anita and I are escaping our own problems as well.” Lythia lays a reassuring hand on Ohia's shoulder.
The Princess nods and sighs, relaxes a little under Lythia's touch.
“My partner, Anita, is fetching you some water at the moment and retrieving our things from our camp. Is there anything I can get you right now?” Lythia asks.
“I am rather hungry. I left the castle before the sun crested the hills and didn't have a chance to eat breakfast.” Princess Ohia rubs her stomach. Lythia then becomes aware that the girl has nothing with her. No food pack or sleeping cot, no water skin or even a pack with clothing. The girl just left without anything or anyone.
“I can help you with that.” Lythia says, standing and heading to the tree closest to them.
She takes a deep breath and reaches up toward the lowest hanging branch, still a head higher than her, and exhales as a bright red apple grows from one of the lone leaves on the branch. Lythia drops her hand and jumps up toward the brach, reaching out and snatching the apple from its spot. Lythia lands back on the ground with a soft thud and walks over to Princess Ohia, handing her the apple.
“For you, princess.” Lythia sits down next to her as the princess bites into the apple.
“This is amazing!” she exclaims, “You must be a Naturist. My mother speaks very highly of your people.” Princess Ohia explains.
“And my people feel very highly for your Queen mother. I had seen her once or twice when I was younger, so beautiful Queen Fleur is. She was always so interested in what we did with our powers.” Lythia recalls.
“Yes. She still speaks about her time with the Naturists. She wishes she could get to see them more, but my father...” Ohia stops and looks away, preoccupying herself with her apple.
“Yes, the King doesn't get out to see us much. I do not think I have ever seen him.” Lythia says, trying to get her to continue.
“Look, you have been significantly helpful and I cannot lie to you. I saw you noticing that I have nothing on me, no food or water, no clothes or sleeping cots. Nothing.” Princess Ohia takes a deep breath and continues.
“King Forét is not my father. My mother told me that he kidnapped her years ago when she was pregnant with me and has kept her as a prisoner ever since. She told me to leave and find my real father, the King of the Sea, King Mer.”
Lythia looks at Ohia, mouth agape. Just then Anita comes walking into the clearing from the forest. She looks at Ohia and then Lythia who has not regained her composure.
“So, what did I miss?” Anita asks, handing Princess Ohia the water and setting down the rest of their things.
Lythia explained everything to Anita as they walked on into the forest to find shelter for the night. Princess Ohia was quiet, but stayed close to Lythia, sometimes clutching her arm like a scared child even though the Princess was at least a head taller than her. Anita remained quiet as Lythia explained the Princesses story, pausing only to help Anita find her way through the twists and turns of the forest. Only once they made it to the edge of the forest did Anita speak.
“So your father, your real father, is King Mer?” Anita asks and the Princess nods. “And you left your home, with nothing on you, to travel across the land to go to The Kingdom of the Sea to find him?” once again the Princess nods. “And then you just so happen to stumble upon us, the two people who just so happen to also be going to The Kingdom of the Sea to see King Mer.” Anita turns to Lythia, “And you do not find that suspicious at all?” she asks.
“Technically she didn't stumble upon us, she was walking through the forest and was attacked, we heard her scream, so really we stumbled upon her.” Lythia takes Anita's hands into hers. “I know it's a lot to take in but look my love, we helped her and can continue helping her, and for our services we now have a reason to speak to the King about what we desire.” Lythia looks up at Anita pleadingly.
Anita looks from Lythia to Ohia and sighs heavily. “Fine.”
“Thank you my love.” Lythia kisses her hands and bounces back to Ohia. “We shall help you get to The Kingdom of the Sea, our only request is that when you meet your father you seek audience for me and Anita and tell him of our valiant efforts to get you there and keep you safe.” Lythia held out her hand. “Swear that you will do so.”
Princess Ohia holds out her hand and touches it with Lythia's, “I swear.”
The Dry Lands
Anita, Lythia, and Princess Ohia sat around the camp fire as the sun set behind The Shapeshifter Forest. The setting sun caused the forest to look like the fire they sat by, Anita tended the flames while the Princess admired the colors of the sunset through the trees. Lythia sat a few paces away from the fire, Naturists tend to avoid flames as much as possible, they do not even eat anything they have to cook in order to do so. Lythia instead watched the river in front of them, eyes fixed on the ebb and flow of the water lapping across the bank. She wished to climb into the waters folds and be farther away from the heat of the flames, but the sun was setting and soon she would have no energy to even converse with nature, let alone swim in the waters depths.
“So, you've really never left the castle before?” Anita asked suddenly.
“No,” the Princess replied while shaking her head, “my father- King Forét, does not let anyone out of the castle unless necessary. Only a handful of servants to collect food, or his royal advisor to collect the lands taxes. Everyone that works for the crown lives on the ground inside the castles walls, some of the servants children have never seen the outside world.” Princess Ohia explained, leaning toward the fire.
“Children like you?” Anita asks.
The princess pauses and looks up from the fire, even sitting down Anita towers over her. Anita's light blue eyes soak up the light of the fire, turning them a luminous yellow. Intimidated by her stare the Princess shrinks back.
“I will have you know that I have celebrated seventeen full seasons, certainly you are not much older than I.” Princess Ohia answers with confidence, though her body still withdraws away from Anita.
Anita does not reply, she continues to stoke the fire as flames rise higher than her tall form she throws another log on the pile.
“Isn't it big enough?!” Lythia shouts suddenly, causing Anita to pause her hand.
Anita puts the other log down and gets up to walk over to Lythia. She places her large arm around the small woman. Ohia noticed that as small as Lythia was, she looked even small under the large woman's arm. Anita sat embracing Lythia for quite some time. Eventually the fire began to dull and Princess Ohia began to drift off to sleep.
“I'm going to scope out the forest, will you be okay?” Anita asks Lythia, arm still wrapped around her.
“I will be fine,” Lythia looks at the dying embers of the once large fire. “I will sleep with you in your sleeping cot and cover the Princess with mine.” Lythia stands up and opens her sack made of the strong leaves of the Tall Forest where she was born. She removes her sleeping cot, a soft but sturdy combination of moss and wood that rolls up and fits in her sack. She walks over and lays it over the Princess who sighs at the new found warmth.
Anita unrolls her sleeping cot, a tough long stretch of animal leather, covered by the fur of another creature. Lythia had trouble sleeping in something that once held life, but as she had no choice she climbed into the large cot comfortably and closed her eyes. Anita kissed Lythia on the forehead and proceeded to gather her bow and arrows to venture off back into The Shapeshifter Forest. Her goal was to hunt some nocturnal creatures to cook and pack with them for their long journey tomorrow. After they cross the river they would be entering The Dry Lands, where even Lythia would have a hard time growing food. Nothing lives in The Dry Lands, it is about a days journey through rough terrain and scorching heat. Anita knew she would have the hardest time tomorrow, her people usually slept well into the day, but she knew they would have to leave at sunrise in order to get to some shelter before the sun set. If there was one thing worse than traveling through The Dry Lands during the day, it was sleeping there without shelter at night. The cold settled across the land like a winter blanket, even in the depths of summer the chill is more than most people bare.
Once Anita found a couple of nightbirds and some rodents burrowed nearby camp she decided to head back to the river. Doing one more once over of the area surrounding them she was satisfied to get some sleep. She crawled into the sleeping cot with Lythia, who cuddled up closer to her to gain some warmth. Anita noticed that the moon was high above her head, it was waning, soon there would be no moon to guide her. Anita's people derive their power from the moon, she is at her weakest when the moon was gone, and as always she was not looking forward to those nights. Her people usually go into hiding for the few nights the moon is at its darkest, they hide in a nearby cave for as many days and nights needed until they regain full power. Considering the long journey ahead, Anita was worried she would not find such shelter. If for some reason they were out in the open when the moon went dark she would find herself completely drained of power and energy, left to the care of Lythia and this Princess they barely knew. More than anything she did not wish to show her weakness to this girl. Lythia has also never seen her during the dark moon before, she worried what she could do to help considering Lythia is also weakest at night. Anita decided not to worry about it quite yet, the moon was still glowing and there would be at least three or four nights until it went dark. Snuggled up to Lythia soon Anita too drifted off to sleep.
Once the sun began to light up the forest in a soft pink light, Lythia opened her eyes. Anita is sleeping peacefully next to her, Lythia knows it must have taken her awhile to fall asleep being that she is usually up throughout the night and sleeps throughout the day. Lythia wiggles her way out of their sleeping cot as carefully as possible. She knows they have to get moving soon, but doesn't have the heart to wake up her love quite yet. Lythia looks over to the Princess who is also still asleep, her white hair sprawled across her face. Lythia gazes at her a bit longer thinking of how young she looks, seventeen full seasons is not very long. Not that she can judge, Lythia's twenty-five full seasons is also quite young. Though unlike the Princess, Lythia has seen her people battle in five different wars, and she has helped nurse her people back to health in two of them. The Princess has never been outside the castle walls until now. Until yesterday she had never seen a shapeshifter, she has probably never seen The Forest of Lights, or the Ghoul Children of The Black Lake. She doesn't know about the suffering people living under her father's rule, her adoptive father. Lythia begins to wonder if Princess Ohia's mother, Queen Fleur, was a part of the sheltering of her daughter. The Queen was known to visit villages and different tribes to help with their problems or quarrels with the kingdoms laws. That was until the King locked her away inside the castle, then no one came to help and soon enough wars broke out between feuding tribes and nearby villages. Lythia considers waking the Princess to ask her all the things she wishes to know, but after looking at her sleeping peacefully she decides against it.
Lythia instead decides to grow and pack some food for them and their long journey. She knows The Dry Lands are incapable of being touched by her powers, there is just not enough pull to nature there. Taking a deep breath Lythia kneels and places her hands on the ground, palms down she focuses her energy and taps into the rising sun and the nature surrounding her. While she releases her breath and lifts her hands a patch of vines begin to grow in front of her. As the vines start sprouting different fruits and vegetables Lythia picks them and begins to pack them in her sack.
“Your powers are beautiful.” Princess Ohia says from behind.
Lythia turns to see the Princess still bundled in her cot, she smiles at the compliment.
“What can you do Princess?” Lythia asks, standing up.
Princess Ohia frown and looks away.
“Oh...” Lythia trails off and continues packing the food. It had not occurred to her that the Princess could be powerless.
“I do have some!” the Princess says vehemently, “The medicine men say I have the blood, the powers just haven't unfolded yet. But they will. I'm just supposed to give it time.” the Princess frowns again.
Lythia just nods. Most people in Taivaan-alla are born with powers, it is transferred by blood through the parents. The old story goes that the God Taivaan and the Goddess Alla gave birth to the first group of people, giving them all a bit of their godly powers. Over the centuries the powers have mixed through the blood of the parents, creating different types of powers throughout the land. It is extremely rare that someone is born powerless, most tribes consider it a curse, that the Gods and Goddess have deemed you unworthy of their power. A lot of people are shunned or banished by their tribes and villages, leaving them no choice but to live in the Forbidden Zone, the Wastelands.
“Morning...” Anita greets them from the cot, sitting up and stretching her long arms above her, “What did I miss?” she asks.
“Nothing.” the Princess answers, getting up and walking toward the forest.
“Where do you think you're going?” Anita asks, standing quickly.
“I have to do my morning business, is that okay with you?” the Princess answer without turning around.
Anita doesn't respond as she rolls up her cot and stuff it into her sack.
“What's her problem?” Anita asks as she collects some left over wood from the night before.
“I do not think she has any powers.” Lythia replies in a quiet voice, turning toward Anita.
Anita says nothing as she places starts a fire. The look on her face is a mixture of shock and disgust. In her culture if a child does not start showing signs of powers by five full seasons the parents are tasked to either leave the tribe with the child in the middle of the night, or take the child out into the forest and leave them there. If the child finds its way back, they decide that the child has powers but is just a late bloomer and is allowed to stay. No child ever returns. Lythia's culture is different, if a child does not show signs of powers by ten full seasons the elders put together a set of tests and tasks for the child to do that might trigger the power, most of the time it works. There has only been a few cases where a child is not triggered by the tests and no powers show, Lythia does not know what they do with the child. Every person she knows and every child she has seen grow up in her tribe has triggered their powers. But she has heard the elders speak of awful things that happen to children who do no show.
“But her parents...” Anita starts, stoking the fire and cooking the meat she acquired that night, “even if King Forét is not her father, King Mer has powers and Queen Fleur has powers. It just doesn't seem possible.” Anita sticks another piece of meat on a stick and pushing it into the flames.
Lythia cringes as the meat sizzles under the fire. Anita goes silent for awhile, looking toward the tree line. When she determines whether or not the Princess will return that moment she continues.