The bush that attacked Rine only took a few minutes to fix. I made it so that it would not start to constrict until something several times heavier than a fairy touched it, and then I had no excuse but to keep Rine’s word and make an appearance at the banquet. I did not think it would do my public image any good to fail to show up when ‘I’ said I was coming.
Sad to say the banquet was a total fiasco, even worse than I thought it would be. Between the prince’s awkwardness and the elves’ over-respect, I had a headache within five minutes of arriving. I was not even sure that plants could get headaches before now. Istan was now much better than these elders. He was proof that elves can be trained.
I ended up with that maple leaf button again, too. I really could not understand why the prince was so insistent that I keep it. But he looked at me and told me it was “for luck,” and I felt like I had to take it. And at the same time, I got the feeling there was something else going on. Something wasn’t quite right in my woods, but with all the spiritual background noise of the banquet it was hard to tell what it was.
After I finally managed to break free of the elves and the prince I started a slow walk back to my pond. I actually mean slow this time too. Any mortal would have been able to keep up with me. Well, that would be the case if it was day time. But the sun had long set before I managed to get free and the moon was new.
In the complete darkness, there was not much use for my eyes right now. The elves tried using that as a reason to have me stay longer. The prince also thoroughly backed up this idea, but I was not going to listen to either of them. I have spent nearly half my long life in the woods at night. I was not about to start letting this stop me. I had no need of eyes to see where I was going. I spread out my senses to let the plants show me the way.
As I walked and left the disturbance of power caused by all those men, I was able to clearly tell now that something was very wrong. The balance of energy in my woods did not feel right. The plant energy was still there and I could feel Mist’s water energy. Probing the mix of energy it turned out that the fire energy was much stronger than normal. The fires burning on the west end of my forest would release a significant amount of fire energy, but this was substantially greater than what I would expect from them.
I sent my awareness out to find the source of the imbalance. One of the fires I had sensed several days ago had grown out of control. It was no longer a healthy fire that cleared the underbrush but was devouring everything in its path. If it was a small area I would not mind, since some plants only grow from the ashes, but I could tell this fire was a long way from stopping. Even more startling, the spiritual energy was organized. I was not sure why but now there was a strong presence of a spirit. Much more than could be accounted for by a newly formed sprite. This was a greater spirit and it felt very familiar. This fire spirit’s signature felt like one I should know, but it did not match any of the greater fire spirits I knew. Not Ember from the volcanoes… Who was it? I shook my head. It really did not matter right now. I would deal with figuring out who it was later. For now, there was no way I could let a greater fire spirit rampage in my home. I had to put a stop to it.
For the first time in a long time, I ran. It was not as fast as Faun could go by any means, but with the additional aid of the plants I propelled myself through the forest to my pond. If I wanted to stop this fire spirit, Mist would be a great help.The only way a plant spirit could overpower a fire spirit was just to be much stronger than it and suppress the spirit directly, overwhelming it. But this spirit was hundreds of times more powerful than a newborn sprite, it would not be scared so easily. However, water spirits had a natural advantage over fire spirits. And although Mist was just a sprite, I hoped she could help me to stop the fire spirit in a more peaceful fashion.
It was only a few hours for me to make it to the pond. But during that time it was heartbreaking to see acre after acre of my woods turned into nothing but ash. I had never seen a fire advance as quickly as this one did. Only the birds were able to escape. None of the land animals were able to keep up the pace that was needed to avoid the heat and fumes billowing off the fire. I knew Faun would be devastated to see this. To top things off, the extra fire energy that was being released by this greater spirit was feeding the other fires and they started to build up energy and grow out of control.
Rushing into the clearing around the pond I called out desperately, “Mist! I need your help, a fire spirit has come!”
“How could we have a fire sprite in the woods? You said the fires were small and not something you needed to worry about,” Mist responded while popping up above the water.
Ivy also popped up, untangling herself from some vines that formed while she rested. “What, there are fire spirits?” Ivy said with interest, clearly thinking of her newfound hobby of cooking. From what we talked about over the past few nights, it seemed like she was having trouble getting the temperature of fire correct and would either burn the food or fail to get it hot enough to cook. It was clear that she was thinking a fire spirit would be able to help her with these problems. While it was true that they would be able to do a very good job at that, I found it really hard to imagine any fire spirits stooping to the level of being a cooking fire. That would be like me forming into a log so that others could sit on me and rest.
“It’s not a sprite. And I do not know how the fire spirit got here. I do not see how the spiritual energy from the fires could have grown into a sprite, let alone a greater spirit, in just a few days. The only thing I can think of is that it wandered into my woods from somewhere.” I let out a frustrated sigh. I then caused a tree near the pond to form a large bowl from one of its branches. It was almost to the point that it would be awkward to carry, but any smaller would not do.
“Mist, hop in this bowl and bring as much water as you can carry with you,” I said walking over to the pond.
“I don’t like the sound of this,” Mist said while getting into the bowl. “You are not just going to throw me at the fire spirit are you? I don’t think that is going to work. If I was a greater spirit maybe, but not as a sprite.”
“Mist, I think you are scaring Ivy,” I said while seeing a worried face. “She thinks I might really do that. I will need you to bring out as much water as possible from the ground and the air when we get to the place. Rine, go make sure everyone is clear of the fire,” I said to the fairy who was once again sitting on the young dryad’s shoulder. Rine nodded, scanning the sky briefly before taking off.
“Ivy, can you come with me? I think you would be of help,” I said following the fairy who flew into the distance.
“Are you really going to need my help?” Ivy said looking a little uncertain. “You are so much stronger than me and know so much more.”
“You don’t need to be worried about that. I might be a lot stronger than you, but even then there is a limit to the number of things that I can do at once. For all we know, you could make all the difference,” I said turning to smile at her. “And you can’t expect to grow stronger if you do not face challenges.”