“I’m sorry to disappoint you, my beauty, but you are absolutely not dreaming. I refuse to be just a dream.”
I turned around to face the magnificent specimen before me. If I was in a dream, I wouldn’t want to wake up anytime soon.

“Why did you bring me here?” The confidence that exuded from Orein earlier seemed to fade a little upon hearing my question. Gesturing for me to proceed before him, he says:

“Come. Walk with me as I try to explain myself.”

We’ve taken quite a few steps before he continued speaking.

“When I encountered you in the forest walking along that path with your head bent, shoulders slumped and seemingly deep in thought, a sudden urge to protect you came over me. At first I thought it was just my warrior instincts kicking in. However, once your eyes met mine, a sense of peace I haven’t felt in a long time overcame me. I tried to walk away from you, but something held me frozen in place. It was only when I decided to take you with me that I was able to transport back to my home.”

“But all I remember is seeing the stag there, and all of a sudden I found myself here. How long did it take for all of these to take place?”

“Time is not something the fey need to worry about. It is irrelevant to us for it does not exist in our world.”

“How can time not exist? How would you know when things need to get done?”

“In the land of the fey, one need not worry about being late or when to do things. We take life as it comes and accept what it brings in its own time. There is no sense stressing one’s self with such useless worries.”

“But…but…you took me here, and everyone back home will be worried and will be looking for me. How long have I been here already?”

“It doesn’t matter, my beauty. Come, the Lady Mara awaits”

Orein took my hand and in a blink of an eye I found myself in a beautiful garden where a small feast has been laid on an intricately carved table. A few flying bugs as big as matchbox cars hovered over the food. One of them flew towards me and I was amazed to see that it wasn’t a bug at all. It was a fairy!

Her blue, almond-shaped eyes were filled with curiosity as she looked at me with a smile. Her red hair was pulled up in a messy bun, and she was wearing a yellow, sleeveless frock with a brown belt cinched at the waist.

“Hello there!”

The fairy waved her hand in response. I smiled with a frown on my forehead, wondering at her non-response.

“Fairies do not speak, my beauty. They respond through gestures and actions.”

Orein tugged me forward.

A huge bouquet of flowers adorned the center of the table, adding to the elegantly prepared table settings of huge leaves that appeared to be used as plates, wooden wine cups and embroidered linen napkins. Different kinds of fruits, vegetables, crackers, cheese, flatbreads, pastries and wine lay on beautifully carved platters.

Mara stood at one end of the table, a crown of white flowers adorned her hair. She offered me a smile and gestured towards the food on the table.

“Come, let us partake in the bounty prepared specially for your arrival.”

Orein pulled my chair for me and pushed it back as I sat down. He served me a small portion from each of the platters and poured me some wine. Mara watched him with an indulgent smile on her face.

“I’ve waited hundreds of years to see my son this way. I am so happy that he finally found someone who has sparked his interest enough to take her home.

I turned towards Orein who was sitting beside me. His cheeks were flushed as he looked me in the eye.  A shiver ran down my spine. I tried to smile but something in Mara’s statement bothered me and my heart started to beat faster. Something was not right.

“Orein is my only son. Heir to the throne in all of Feyland. Maybe now that you are here, I can look forward to having grandchildren.”
I gasped.

“Don’t worry, my beauty, I will do my best to make you happy.”

“But I can’t stay here. I have a life in my world, a family and a job to go back to.”

“We are your family now,” Mara insisted.

My breathing started to become faster and I could feel the panic starting to rise within me.

“But I have to go back.”

“I’m sorry, my beauty, but once you cross through the magical walls, there is no going back.”

“How do you cross back and forth?”

“I am Fey. Humans can only cross through them once. There is no going back.”

“No. No. No, this can’t be happening. Please take me back. I can’t stay here!”

Suddenly, the beautifully set table disappeared with Mara and I was left standing with Orein.

Tears streamed down my face as I looked pleadingly at him.

“Please, Orein, please take me back.”

Orein was looking at me with sadness in his eyes.

“Come.”

He takes my hand and suddenly I found myself looking through a misty wall. On the other side, I recognized the green rain jacket and khaki pants I put on before I went for a walk.  A body lay on the forest floor.

“Who…who is that?”

Orein did not respond. I blinked in an attempt to make the image clearer. I could not stifle the gasp that escaped my lips. Tears blurred my vision as a sob rose from my throat.

“No! That can’t be me! I’m alive! I know I am!”

Orein took me in his arms and hugged me tight.

“I am sorry, my beauty, but you were not in great shape when I found you. If I did not take you with me through the walls, you would already be gone.”

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