Two Hundred Years
I do not own any of these characters or the concept of demons and immortality. This is a non profit piece so don't sue me. Any feedback would be great, it is very much appreciated. This fic is rated PG 13, no real reason, that just seems like a good rating.
This fic is a missing scene from the episode "Forest for the Trees". Goodwin says "If Rafe hadn't saved me then I'd be an Oak tree on the countryside." but we never got a flashback or any explanation explaining this statement fully. This fic does that, so here is the missing flashback from "Forest for the Trees", hope you enjoy.
Austrian Black Forest - 1782
"Rafe, how long do you think it's gonna take to get through this forest?" Goodwin asked in a slightly whining tone, his voice hinting exhaustion as he trudged along the forest path next to Rafe.
Raphael sighed, "I'm not sure, there's no way to know how large a forest is going to be until you're through it." He explained patiently to the younger immortal.
Goodwin continued to drag his feet slightly as he walked beside Rafe, disappointment evident in his features, "So we could end up sleeping on the ground for another few weeks?"
"Pretty much, but I wouldn't estimate any more than two. You sound disappointed." Rafe said, a slight smile crossing his face.
"Who me? No, I love sleeping out here, in the middle of nowhere on the cold hard ground with all kinds of creatures and bugs and who knows what else running around you." Goodwin replied sarcastically.
"Well deal with it. No one ever said this quest would be easy." Raphael pointed out.
"I know, I just never thought there'd be this much walking." Goodwin continued.
Rafe struggled to resist the urge to laugh, "It's getting late, we better set up camp."
"Oh boy, yet another night with Mother Nature and all her cohorts." Goodwin pouted sarcastically.
The next morning
Goodwin scratched at a sudden itch on his nose, without opening his eyes. The itch subsided and Goodwin rolled over, only to have it return once more. He rubbed his nose vigorously only to have the itch return every time. Finally Goodwin opened his eyes and found himself staring into the face of one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. The girl was dressed in a completely green outfit, most of it was cloth but some was made completely of leaves and other forest growth. Her flowing brown hair sparkled in the morning's first few rays of sunshine. She was holding a twig with a leaf on the end which she had been using to tickle Goodwin's nose.
Goodwin looked up at her, unable to think of anything to say. The mysterious girl giggled and stood up, Goodwin followed her with his eyes. He looked around and realized she wasn't the only unexpected visitor that night. There was another half a dozen girls, each one as beautiful as the last, all standing around the make shift camp he and Rafe had set up, focusing on them intently. Goodwin began to feel a bit intimidated and shook Rafe's shoulder to break him from his state of meditation. Rafe never slept but always meditated at night to remain centered and keep focus, he must have been very deep in thought because he hadn't noticed the girls' presence and it took several moments for Goodwin to get a response, which was little more than a brief acknowledgment of his presence.
"Uh, Rafe. We're kinda not alone." Goodwin stammered as he continued to shake Raphael's shoulder.
"What do you mean, not alone?" Rafe asked, never opening his eyes.
"I mean there's a bunch of girls standing around us and they're starting to freak me out." Goodwin answered swiftly under his breath. Raphael opened his eyes and saw a figure standing in front of him, he looked up into the face of one of the mysterious girls.
"So there is." Rafe got up and dusted himself off. "Hello, I am Raphael, this is Goodwin." Rafe indicated to Goodwin to stand up, he did so obediently.
"Uh, hi." Goodwin said, flashing a nervous smile.
The girls looked at one another, as if communicating by eye contact, after several moments one of the girls stepped forward. "It is an honor to meet you. I am Belava, I will allow my sisters to introduce themselves later on. May we ask what has brought you to our humble forest?" Belava asked kindly.
"We're just passing through." Goodwin replied, before Rafe had a chance to answer.
"We're on a journey and it has brought us to pass through these woods." Rafe added thoughtfully.
"You're journey is a noble one I hope." Belava said, she seemed as though she was mentally sizing them up.
"Yes, it is. We strive to rid the Earth of the evil that plagues it." Rafe explained as Goodwin continued to gawk at the girls.
"A noble quest indeed." Belava remarked.
"If you don't mind me asking, what exactly are you guys?" Goodwin asked, indicating the circle of beautiful strangers around them.
"We are Elementals, but you would probably refer to us as Mother Nature's cohorts." Belava answered, not unkindly.
Goodwin was momentarily confused until he remembered his comment earlier in the night, he blushed slightly and was thankful the sun was yet to come up, "You heard that?"
Belava nodded, "We have been watching you to try and determine if you are a threat to us."
"And what have you decided?" Rafe inquired.
"We believe you to be honorable and we come to offer you assistance in finding your way through our home, it is quite easy to become lost as many travelers before you have discovered." Belava replied. "We can also show you the quickest way to leave."
"You are very generous. We will gladly accept."
"Yes, accept, gladly." Goodwin repeated somewhat dreamily, not really thinking about what he was saying as he watched the girls giggle and wander about as they began to leave the area.
Belava smiled at Goodwin, "Then it is settled. We will return in an hour so you have time to gather your belongings and then will return to guide you." Belava left and managed to disappear into the woods as swiftly and suddenly as all her sisters, leaving Rafe and Goodwin alone to shake their heads in amazement.
Goodwin wiped the sleep from his eyes and looked around, "Rafe you saw them too right? I wasn't dreaming just now, was I? Cause if I was then I'm going back to sleep."
"No, I saw them too. We better pack up, they should be back soon enough."
"I can't wait." Goodwin replied, a devilish smile crossing his face. "Jeez, did they have to wake us up so early?"
"We should have been up already anyway. We can't afford to become lazy." Rafe explained as he began packing up their things.
"Right, not laaaaazzyyyy." Goodwin yawned loudly in the middle of his sentence.
An hour later the Elementals returned, after a few brief introductions they began to lead the way through the forest. Little was said during the long trek other than Goodwin's constant ramblings as he tried unsuccessfully to engage the girls in conversation. Belava always led the way alongside Raphael, she began explaining mysteries of the forest and showing him the true magic the forest possessed and eventually teaching him how to detect the magic himself. Raphael listened intently while keeping a constant eye on Goodwin. Belava and Rafe soon became good friends, it was almost as though they had known they could trust each other the moment they met. When it became late the girls vanished quickly with a promise to return the next morning.
As Goodwin layed back to fall asleep he ventured to ask Rafe a rather daring question, "So what's the deal with Belava? You like her don't you?" Goodwin had noticed that Rafe had practically never left her side the entire day.
Raphael glared at Goodwin but refused to reply in any way that might lead the younger man along, "She's just a friend Goodie, she's been very kind to offer us help through the woods. What about you? I saw you conversing with the other Elementals."
"Yeah right," Goodwin replied unamused, "Having an intelligent conversation with them is practically impossible. They either giggle at me and don't say anything or ignore me completely. I tell you, I didn't like the woods before we came here, these girls aren't making me feel any better."
"What do you mean?" Rafe asked to get Goodwin to elaborate.
"I don't know, it's something about them, just gives me the creeps." Goodwin replied as he settled in uncomfortably to attempt sleep.
"Give them a chance. They are going to get us out of this forest a lot quicker." Rafe noted.
"Well, there's that too. I almost feel like they're trying to get rid of us."
"Who says they aren't? They probably just don't appreciate strangers in their home and are doing their best to politely get us to leave." Raphael explained, "Now go to sleep."
"Yeah, those girls may not want to talk to me but it doesn't mean I can't dream about them." Goodwin said smugly as he closed his eyes then suddenly sat up with a startling revelation. "Rafe, you don't think they're still watching us? Do you?"
"It's a possibility. I'd wager they're listening too. Sleep tight buddy." Rafe smiled to himself, knowing that Goodwin was greatly regretting that last remark.
The next morning Goodwin's fears were almost instantly justified when the girls broke into immense fits of laughter just upon seeing him. He smiled sweetly and tried to hide the flush of his cheeks. The day turned out much like the last except this time the girls paid much more attention to Goodwin, finally being good company. They actually seemed interested in him now as they asked questions of the places he'd been and the things he'd seen. He answered all their inquiries but received few replies to his own questions about Elementals and their purpose and past.
Rafe also had no luck in finding out about the actual story behind the Elementals from Belava.
"Our own purpose is of no importance. We must get you through the dangers of these woods so you may continue your quest. Now, let us continue." Was all Belava would say about the subject.
"We only mean to learn what we can about your kind." Rafe explained.
"That is precisely the point. We are very secretive creatures, and are relatively unknown to the outside world and we wish to keep it that way. The more you know about us the greater the danger." Belava spoke sincerely and passionately about their secrecy.
"I understand. I will ask you no more of yourselves." Rafe promised. Belava smiled and nodded in understanding before leading the way once more. The rest of the day brought mostly silence between the two.
"How many different countries have you visited? Tell us of some of the things you've seen." A blond Elemental requested from Goodwin excitedly as they trudged through the woods behind Belava and Rafe. The other girls seemed just as eager to hear Goodwin's stories and urged him to tell them, they had only found out last night of his and Rafe's true age and journey and now they wished to know all they could about the outside world they'd never seen.
Goodwin, a bit overwhelmed by the sudden attention, found himself unable to remember any interesting things he'd seen. "Well, I've been to, oh jeez, must be at least 50 countries. They're all interesting in their own way, I don't know where to start." He admitted.
"Well that's okay. How did your quest come to be? What is it that set it in motion?" Another girl inquired who Goodwin thought was named Elites but couldn't be sure.
Goodwin lowered his gaze as he recalled the events leading to his quest and paused to think of his response. "That's a long, depressing tale and not for right now." He said finally.
The girls silenced as they were forced to imagine what could have possibly began such a quest. It was Goodwin who brought them back into reality.
"I'm starving. Is it time for lunch yet?"
The Elementals smiled and some laughed lightly, they had noticed that Goodwin had a tendency to ask if it was time to eat every fifteen minutes or so. He was always disappointed to find out it wasn't, but they wouldn't let him down now, it was finally time for lunch.
"Yes, we should rest." The blond Elemental said before calling ahead, "Belava, it is time to rest is it not!"
Belava looked up at the sun and smiled, "I believe you're right."
With that they all settled in for lunch.
"Yes." Belava looked up at Rafe. They were a good distance from Goodwin and the other Elementals who were sitting in the valley below.
"You said earlier you had to guide us through the dangers of these woods. Of what dangers did you mean?" Rafe asked quite seriously.
Belava thought a moment before answering, "There are things in this forest which you would be best not knowing of. Let me say this though, there are things in this forest that would do you harm. We guide you to protect you."
"Belava, we need no protection. Goodwin and I are quite capable of taking care of ourselves." Rafe explained, knowing these girls could know nothing of the things he had already faced in his lifetime that they could not protect even themselves from.
"That is not in question, but here there are dangers of which you know nothing."
"Then tell me of them." Rafe requested.
Belava sighed, "We are not the only ones who reside in these woods. There are others, like us, who are not what they seem. They are our sisters but long ago they decided that they would not tolerate strangers into the forest, despite their intentions. They vowed to keep them out at all costs. They remain and do just that, using their powers in ways they were never intended. They also are completely against even the most trustworthy of souls knowing about our existence, they believe we should live unknown to all in the outside world. We worry our sisters may try something at any time, that is why we stay in the area at night. We hope we can get you through the forest without confrontation."
"Powers? What sort of powers?"
"Few of our sisters have the ability, but there are a select few such as myself that have been gifted. We are able to detect unbalances in the forest and communicate with the creatures who live here, almost all Elementals are capable of doing this. Then there are some like myself and Mestari who are capable of more. We can control certain elements, plants, animals even weather. A few of my other sisters are even capable of transforming into different animals. For those who are blessed with the greater power, the abilities vary. I am capable of many things," Suddenly an immense wind blew past the two and then subsided just as quickly, "Such as that and more. Mestari has been given great healing abilities as well as control over certain elements."
"And your other sisters also have these powers?" Rafe asked, somewhat in a state of shock.
"Yes, a few. We believe four of them possess the gifts, but we think that their powers are not as great as ours since they do not use them for good."
"But there are four of them and only two of you with the gift. That hardly seems fair." Rafe pointed out.
"Life is rarely fair Raphael. You know that as well as anyone who has ever lived. But it does even out, I am by far the strongest of my sisters. I believe given the opportunity I could strip them of their greater powers."
Raphael was silent for a moment, "What would happen if your sisters did attempt to stop us?"
"I am unsure. But I guarantee you would not leave these woods alive." Belava said, her voice conveying her sadness at the acts of her sisters.
Rafe understood and felt they should leave the forest as soon as possible, "Then it would be best if we continued."
Belava and Raphael gathered their few items they had with them and went to fetch the others. Suddenly the blonde Elemental ran up from the valley, she was panting and obviously panicked.
"Mestari, what's wrong?" Belava asked in concern.
"It's Goodwin. He's gone."
Goodwin sat in the valley with four of the Elementals. They chatted idly as Goodwin wondered what Rafe and Belava were doing above them all alone. Goodwin knew it was most likely nothing, they were just friends and Rafe would keep it that way. Undoubtedly only friendly conversation was occurring, but Goodwin could always imagine.
"Huh? Sorry, I zoned out for a minute. What did you say?" Goodwin asked as he broke free from his own thoughts.
"I wanted to know how old you are." Mestari said as she smiled at Goodwin.
"Eternally 18. How 'bout you?" Goodwin answered smugly.
Mestari sighed good heartedly, "I meant how long have you been alive?"
"Oh." Goodwin smirked, "Try and guess."
"I'd say you couldn't be any older than 200 or you might just be a bit more mature." Elites joked kindly.
"Ouch, hit me where it hurts babe." Goodwin clutched his heart jokingly, "But you're right, I'm younger than 200."
Mestari stroked her chin thoughtfully, "Hmmm, I'm thinking..." She was interrupted by a crashing noise from behind them which was followed by a clear movement of trees where someone was. They were no longer alone.
"What was that?" Goodwin asked as he jumped to his feet along with the girls.
"It's not good. I fear our sisters have arrived." Elites announced just as another crash and rustle of leaves occurred behind them, causing them all to back away slightly.
"Okay, someone wanna explain, please?" Goodwin pleaded, desperate to know what was happening. Before any could answer him their attention was drawn to the woods once more.
A chant rose from the bushes surrounding the valley. "Strangers are not welcome. Strangers are a threat. They must go. He must go. Should never have entered our forest. Should never have invaded our homes." The voices were all feminine and spoke softly, but with a hint of hatred.
Goodwin gulped hard and his eyes began to shift as they always did when he was nervous, "They mean me don't they?" Goodwin realized, "You know I was just leaving!" He called out to the unknown Elementals and began to back away to an area he didn't believe emitted any voices.
"Goodwin, no! Stay with us, you'll be safe." Mestari assured him as she approached the immortal. Goodwin stopped but still feared his safety. Just as he was about to rejoin the girls a pack of wolves emerged from either side of the valley and converged on the five of them. Goodwin took off towards the trees at full speed, he looked back only once and saw a very unfriendly wolf in hot pursuit.
The Elementals were unable to stop him as the wolves circled them, making pursuit of Goodwin impossible. The wolves growled and forced them into a small circle. The girls had a connection to all things living in the forest but hadn't sensed these wolves and were unable to communicate, it was obvious the wolves were about to attack. The nymphs clenched their eyes shut when it seemed like the wolves would attack, but no attack came. They opened their eyes to find the wolves had disappeared as swiftly as they had appeared.
Mestari let out a relieved sigh, "We must find Goodwin, he's in danger."
"Our sisters most likely have him by now." Elites pointed out.
"I know, but they may not. You go search for him, I'll get Raphael and Belava." Mestari ordered the other nymphs. They agreed and were on their way.
Mestari found Rafe and Belava and told them of the situation.
Goodwin's heart pounded as he ran through the woods as fast as his legs would take him. He never dared looked back in case the wolf decided to overtake him just at that moment. His lungs ached and branches scraped his face drawing blood, but he didn't care. He had to keep running so he took no notice when his hat was snagged on a branch. Where's Rafe when I really need him?
When he didn't think he heard anyone in pursuit Goodwin decided to slow his pace. Just as he slowed he heard the growl of the vicious canine that had been pursuing him. Goodwin's legs pumped harder as he got another adrenaline rush. I don't believe this. I finally get a bunch of beautiful girls to go for me, and we get attacked by wolves! Wolves! This is ridiculous. The whole world's against me, even Mother Nature.
The chase continued for a minute more, before Goodwin took a chance and glanced behind him without slowing down a fraction. He turned around just in time to see the wolf leap over a fallen log and gain a few more inches on Goodwin. Goodwin felt his heart leap and tried to run harder but didn't turn around in time to see the tree in front of him. He ran into the tree at full speed and stumbled back a few feet before falling on the ground unconscious. Before the darkness of unconsciousness overtook him, Goodwin looked up to see the wolf lunging for him, he was close enough to see the wolf's eyes, which were two different colors. One eye was the bluest he had ever seen, while the other was greener than grass.
Damn that hurt.
"He's gone? Where is he?" Rafe asked in shock, after just hearing the story of their sisters he seriously feared for Goodwin's safety.
"We were attacked. Huh huh, by wolves. Huh uh, Goodwin, huh ran into huh the woods." Mestari explained as she tried to catch her breath.
"Are the others alright? Where are they?" Belava's concern for her sisters was clear.
"They're all fine. I huh sent them to search for Goodwin." Mestari said, finally breathing regularly.
"Good. We must hurry, our sisters will undoubtedly find him shortly." Belava and Rafe headed towards the valley with Mestari close behind.
"Belava, what will your sisters do if they find Goodwin before us?" Rafe asked, his voice serious and reflecting his concern.
"As I said, he would not leave these woods alive. He may even become a part of the forest itself." Belava told him kindly, knowing the pain he would feel if that occurred.
Rafe lowered his gaze and was obviously deep in thought as they approached the valley. Elites was waiting for them when they arrived.
"I am sorry we did not protect your squire," Elites said sincerely, "He went north when he fled." She pointed to where Goodwin had ran away and lead the way through the trees. They walked in silence and soon came upon the other two elementals who had been with Goodwin.
"Have you found anything?" Belava asked as they approached the two.
The nymphs hung their heads in apparent sorrow but said nothing. The blonde elemental stepped forward and handed Raphael, Goodwin's hat. It was torn and had small traces of blood on it. "I'm sorry." She whispered solemnly under her breath.
"No." Rafe said sternly, "That only means he went through this area. We have to find him."
Belava sighed deeply, "Raphael, you must realize that our sisters have him now. We have never fought against them, it is a law of the forest never to turn on one's family."
"But outsiders who mean you no harm are fair game?" Rafe retorted in anger.
"I know you worry for your friend so I understand your anger is not directed towards us. I am only telling you the way it is."
"Will you help me, or do I have to find him myself? I'll take care of your sisters just help me find him," Raphael assured them.
Belava was silent for a moment, "You must promise that no harm will come to our sisters."
"I can't promise that," Rafe replied, "I will leave them be if Goodwin is unharmed, but I will fight and even kill to save his life. I assure you I wish no ill will against your sisters."
"Very well. We will help you."
Goodwin opened his eyes and surveyed the surrounding area. At first all he could see was a piercing bright light blinding his eyes. Oh God, I'm dead! He thought in horror, but his eyes soon adjusted and he realized he'd been staring directly into the sun.
"I'm glad you've awoken. You had us worried for awhile." Goodwin jerked around and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the stranger was a wood nymph.
"Oh, good you're an Elemental. But I haven't seen you before." Goodwin told the beautiful young girl that sat with him. They were in a small clearing in the middle of a large growth of trees. They appeared to be alone, but anyone could have been hiding in the woods to elude detection.
"I am Saleska, one of the shyer sisters of the forests. I know a great deal about healing techniques the forest can provide, so you were brought here so I may treat you. Although you appear to have already recovered from most of your wounds." Saleska noticed as she came closer to sit by Goodwin.
"Yeah, I'm a fast healer. So, not that I'm complaining, but what happened to the wolf? And where are the others?" Goodwin asked as he looked around and realized they would be very hard to find if anyone was looking for them.
"The others will be back shortly. As for the wolf, well it won't be back." She kept her head lowered and her hair covered most of her face, so Goodwin could never really see her full face.
"What about Rafe? He wouldn't just leave me here unconscious." Goodwin pointed out, his voice becoming agitated.
"He wished to help the others in stopping the wolves. They are an evil that has plagued our forest for some time, and we have tried many times to stop them for they are not normal wolves." Saleska explained.
"Oh." Goodwin thought about that, it made sense.
"Here, drink this. It will help to clear your head." Saleska said as she handed Goodwin a goblet filled with an overwhelmingly sweet smelling drink.
"Thank you." Goodwin smiled to her as he took the cup, he was about to take a sip when Saleska suddenly flipped her hair back to reveal her entire face. Goodwin froze as he looked into her eyes, the goblet only inches from his lips. Her eyes were two different colors. Bright blue, and dark green. The wolf? Goodwin lost his composure and his hands began to shake violently, causing him to partially spill his drink. "You .. you're ... the ... the ..waaaaa...the woooo."
"What's wrong Goodwin?" Saleska asked kindly, but with a smile on her face that Goodwin had seen too many times. The smile of someone trying to trick him.
"N..nothing. Nothing at all. I should really be going, I gotta find Rafe and tell him I'm okay. And..." Goodwin stopped when Saleska violently shoved him into a tree, causing the wind to be knocked out of him.
"You're not going anywhere." She said sternly. Her eyes began to glow brighter as she bared her teeth to show she had the fangs of a wolf. "Now drink." She ordered. She took the goblet from the still stunned Goodwin and brought it to his lips, forcing him to drink. Goodwin tried to back away as it was brought to his mouth but found he had nowhere to go since he was backed against the tree trunk. He was still trying to breathe normally so had no choice but to swallow the drink unwillingly. Despite it's sweet smell the drink caused a searing pain to ignite within him. His head felt that like it might explode, and he seriously thought his throat may have been on fire. His vision became fuzzy and he found it hard to concentrate but he was still aware when several people emerged from the woods and began conversing around him.
"How much did you give him?" An unfamiliar Elemental asked as she waved her hand in front of the non responsive Goodwin.
"He drank almost the entire goblet. Transformation should take little more than an hour." Saleska told the newcomers.
"Good. Now we just have to wait for his friend to come get him."
Rafe. Goodwin thought as he somehow put all the pieces together despite the fog forming in his mind.
"How will he find him, Nareel? We left no trail." Another pointed out.
"Belava will show him the way. I'm sure of it." Nareel said confidently.
Goodwin suddenly felt an immense surge of pain shoot through his head. He gasped and clenched his eyes shut but found himself incapable of moving to do anything to help the pain subside. It scared Goodwin that he couldn't move, but he also couldn't think clearly so he never fully absorbed the seriousness of his situation.
"Don't worry, the pain will subside shortly. You really should have found another way to get to your destination. But what's done is done. Pity, you seem quite innocent but you do know about us, and that can't be allowed." Saleska said softly, but Goodwin recognized that her sympathy was false.
"We'll take him to the clearing near the waterfall. It will be a perfect spot to trap the Immortal."
But that was the last thing Goodwin heard before the world faded around him and he descended into the darkness of unconsciousness.
Rafe followed Belava and Mestari through the woods. They had claimed they could sense if their sisters had been through the area recently, so Rafe was forced to trust their judgment.
"We are about to reach our sisters' territory." Belava told Rafe as they reached an immense valley.
"Their territory?" Rafe asked confused.
"This forest is vast so we can normally function without running into our sisters, but there are certain areas that have been claimed as favorite spots by us and by our sisters. We stay away from each others' territories, it helps keep peace in the forest." Mestari explained.
"I see. And this is one of their territories?"
"Yes, this valley and the area surrounding a nearby waterfall. I believe that would be our best chance to find Goodwin." Belava added.
"Alright then. I suggest we go around the valley so we are not seen and then see about this waterfall." Rafe said as he looked over the valley, it had no covering whatsoever so it was obvious the other Elementals weren't in the area. Belava and Mestari nodded in agreement and they soon made their way around the valley as silently as possible.
They approached under the cover of the trees and soon came upon the waterfall. The area at first appeared to be void of life which greatly discouraged Raphael, until he saw the figure near the water's edge. There, laying on the ground lifelessly, was Goodwin.
It took all of Rafe's willpower not to rush from their hiding spot then and there, that and Belava's restricting hold on his arm. Rafe looked at her with eyes full of anguish. She nodded and they both walked out of their hiding place, boldly heading closer to Goodwin's still figure.
Mestari remained hidden silently within the trees as they made their way across the valley. Rafe and Belava looked around the valley intently, being wary for any signs of something out of the ordinary. As they got closer Rafe was relieved to see that Goodwin was breathing steadily and appeared to be only unconscious. He didn't think he liked the looks of the odd circle that was drawn around Goodwin. It was imprinted with different symbols Rafe had never seen, but judging by the look on Belava's face they weren't good.
They were no more than twenty feet from Goodwin when Belava grasped Rafe's arm, forcing him to stop.
"What is it?" Rafe asked as he visually scoured the area. There was no need for Belava to respond as a pack of wolves appeared from practically nowhere and stood between them and Goodwin, blocking off their rescue attempt. Raphael pulled out his sword as the duo backed a few feet away from the savage canines. The wolves didn't attack but growled menacingly and bared their teeth. Six girls appeared behind the four ferocious furballs, clearly Elementals.
"Hello dear sister." A blond Elemental, with glowing brown eyes greeted with a hint of wickedness in her voice, "Thank you for bringing the Immortal to us. It makes it so much easier this way."
"Release the boy, Nareel. He's done nothing to us." Belava demanded with an odd confidence in her voice.
"He knows of us, that's enough. As does this one, they both must be dealt with." Nareel said, indicating Raphael.
"Yes, we know of you, but we have no reason to divulge the truth about your existence. We are, in a way, myths ourselves so quite good at keeping secrets." Raphael explained in an attempt to stop this without confrontation.
"You tell us what we want to hear to save your friend. We are not prepared to take the risk of letting you go free." Saleska retorted
"I suggest you leave Belava, there's no reason for you to be involved." Nareel said, but her voice gave away no compassion.
"I beg to differ." Belava replied without hesitation.
"So be it." There was an uneasy finality in Nareel's voice. Then her face contorted as if in deep concentration. Suddenly the wolves attacked without warning. Raphael immediately pulled his sword but it proved unnecessary as the wolves never completed their attack and turned around, snarling at the six Elementals who stood in front of Goodwin. Confused, Raphael looked to Belava for an explanation but saw the look of concentration on her face which he assumed was strain from controlling the wood creatures. Rafe didn't understand how any of this was possible but decided to accept it if it meant saving Goodwin.
The six Elementals backed away from the wolves, most had looks of terror on their faces but Nareel showed only contempt as she retreated several steps, contempt for Belava. Belava relaxed noticeably and the wolves attacked head on; three of the sisters fled as fast as they could with the wolves in hot pursuit, leaving Rafe and Belava against the three remaining Elementals.
"How could you do that? The wolves were under our control!" Nareel exclaimed furiously.
"The wolf is a noble animal and one to be respected. They knew the right thing to do, it only had to be explained to them." Belava stated calmly.
"We are stronger than you think." Saleska declared, but her voice lacked total confidence.
Rafe felt something pull against his leg and looked down to see a vine had wrapped itself tightly around both his legs and was quickly working its way up his body. He immediately lashed out at the vine with his sword; easily severing it. He saw Belava struggling against the vines wrapping around her own body and cut her free just as quick and easily. But the vines kept coming, again and again the green plants would attempt to wrap themselves around Raphael and Belava; Rafe continued to chop away, but there seemed to be an endless amount of the treacherous rope.
"Self wrapping vines, useful in any other circumstance." Rafe quipped as he swung once more at the vines that were now coming from all directions.
The remaining three Elementals smiled smugly as they watched Rafe and Belava struggle against their weapon. Rafe thought he may be in trouble when one of the vines managed to wrap itself around his sword, he pulled with all his might but couldn't free it.
"That's not good." He said as he struggled. Then suddenly the vines fell lifelessly to the ground and didn't attack again. Rafe looked to Belava for an explanation, she glanced behind them then silently mouthed "Mestari" to the Immortal. Rafe nodded, Mestari was capable of things Belava was not and vice versa but it was best to let the girls think Belava was capable of all these things herself.
"You can't possibly be that strong." Nareel's voice gave away her disbelief and sudden fear.
Belava moved several steps closer to her sister but was still a few feet away, "I may surprise you."
Saleska and the other Elemental backed away from the approaching Belava but Nareel stood her ground. Belava lowered her gaze and an immense wind blew through the valley, strong enough to break branches off trees. Saleska and her sister were forced back against the incredible force and found themselves on the edge of the waterfall, another immense wind and they both splashed into the water. Rafe, Belava, Nareel and the still unconscious Goodwin were untouched by the powerful torrent of air as it swept through the area.
"Looks like it's just you and I." Belava pointed out. Nareel looked around the valley, desperate for a way of escape but saw she had nowhere to go. Belava and Rafe kept her from racing across the valley and the waterfall stood behind her.
"You can't harm me. It's a law of the forest, you know that as well as I." Nareel stated, her voice wavered but she spoke the truth and hoped it would save her.
"She doesn't have to." Rafe bellowed as he pulled out his sword; Nareel clenched her eyes shut.
"No!" Belava insisted, "Remember what was agreed." Rafe didn't look happy but lowered his sword nonetheless. "Nareel, you have plagued visitors of this forest for too long and it is true I cannot harm you, but I can stop you."
"What will you do? Banish me?" Nareel fought back in response.
"Worse." Belava replied as another wind erupted through the valley; not as strong as before though. The air whipped violently, sparing no one. Raphael covered his eyes from pieces of debris which blinded him momentarily, what he did see amazed him. The wind seemed to wrap itself around Nareel, engulfing her completely as Belava stood unwavering before her. A faint glow began to emit from Nareel which grew stronger as each moment passed, the cyclone that whirled around her seemed to be feeding off the light. When the intensity of the light was strongest it passed from Nareel into the whirlwind. The air around her glowed with the power as it encircled her, then it began to die down. As the wind stopped the power taken from Nareel dispersed itself throughout the entire forest.
Goodwin will be sorry he slept through this. Rafe thought to himself as he watched in awe, sparing Goodwin a glance to see if he was alright.
The air returned to normal and Nareel sank to her knees in defeat and exhaustion. Belava approached her with a unique tenderness. "You are powerless. You will leave all other travelers alone, and not bother us or them again." It was an order, not a request. Nareel nodded her head without looking up. "Good, you may leave." Nareel stood and walked away dejectedly.
Belava turned to face Raphael, "She won't be back." He nodded, "We must help your squire." She said as she stepped closer. Raphael went to Goodwin's side with Belava. Mestari was already kneeling next to him, she had come from the woods in the commotion of the fight and approached the younger immortal to make sure he was alright.
"How is he?" Raphael asked as he and Belava approached. He remembered that Belava had said that Mestari had great healing abilities if necessary; Rafe hoped Goodwin was simply knocked out though.
"I'm not sure. I can detect that they gave him something but I have no way of knowing what it was." Mestari admitted as she finished her examination. Rafe posed to speak but stopped when Goodwin showed signs of life as he rolled his head and then opened his eyes.
"Hey little buddy, how you feeling?" Rafe asked, he couldn't help but notice Goodwin's amazingly pale complexion and worry if he was entirely healthy. Goodwin's eyes showed momentary confusion but then clear recognition of Raphael, a slight smile caressed Goodwin's face but before he could speak his eyes distorted in pain. Goodwin simultaneously clutched his head and stomach as he bellowed from the pain ripping through his body.
"Goodie, what's wrong?"
"Rafe, it hurts. Make it stop, please." Goodwin pleaded. Rafe looked at Belava then Mestari who had a grim look on her face.
Mestari leaned over Goodwin and cupped his face in her hands, forcing him to look at her, "Relax Goodwin, let the pain go. Just sleep, it will all go away if you sleep. Just close your eyes." Mestari's voice became hypnotic and a sigh of relief passed Raphael's lips as the pain seemed to subside as Goodwin listened. Mestari gently touched Goodwin's cheek as his eyes slipped shut.
"Sleep." Goodwin whispered under his breath as he was overtaken once more by unconsciousness.
"What happened?" Rafe demanded when he was sure Goodwin was fast asleep.
"I believe they gave him The Elixir of Transformation," Mestari explained, "They wished to ensure he didn't leave the forest by making him part of the forest."
"You mean ..." Rafe started.
"He would have been transformed into a tree or some other type of forest growth? Yes. He still will if we don't reverse the effects," Mestari said calmly. Rafe couldn't believe what he was hearing, it all sounded too ridiculous, but compared to everything else that had happened he had no choice but to trust Belava and Mestari.
"We have a gathering place nearby. You would probably call it a village. We must take him there," Belava told Rafe as she pointed to the north.
Rafe picked up Goodwin and wondered briefly how he ate so much and didn't gain any weight, but quickly dismissed the thought. "Will he be okay?" Rafe asked in concern.
"If we can get him there quickly he will be," Belava said compassionately. Rafe followed them through the forest as they led the way to their hidden hideaway. After several minutes of trudging through woods that looked to Raphael as though they had never been walked on, they came upon the Elemental village.
Belava explained to Raphael that the village was hidden by some sort of field that had been placed there centuries ago to hide it from the outside world, this field may the village appear to be nothing but a thicket of trees. The village was little more than several huts on ground level and a few homes built up in the trees. There were a few dozen Elementals there, they had been gathered by the other good Elementals to see the Immortals that visited their forest. Most seemed pleasant enough, but with some it was obvious they were not entirely happy that outsiders were amongst them, let alone in their most secret of places. But Rafe didn't have time to worry about that, he had to help Goodwin who appeared to be awakening from his induced sleep.
Rafe ignored the stares he received as they walked by and followed Belava directly to the largest of the houses in the village. The house consisted of only one room, there was a table covered in herbs and unknown liquids, the only other furniture in the room was a small bed where Rafe gently layed Goodwin, and a few small tables. Mestari picked up several different items from the table before joining Rafe at Goodwin's side.
"What can I do?" Rafe asked as he watched Mestari and Belava move around the room expertly. At that moment Goodwin awoke, almost before he opened his eyes an ear piercing scream emitted from his lips as he clutched his head in some hope of suppressing the pain. He began to thrash around the bed and kicked over a stand beside the bed, he had no idea of where he was or who was there.
"Hold him." Belava ordered Rafe as she prepared something quickly at the table. Rafe grasped Goodwin's shoulders firmly and tried to calm him.
"Goodie it's okay. It'll be over soon." Rafe said reassuringly as he struggled to keep Goodwin from hurting himself. His words didn't seem to have any effect but Goodwin's struggles decreased.
"What's happening to me? I feel weird." Goodwin declared through clenched teeth.
"I don't know Goodie, but you'll be okay. Belava and Mestari are here." Goodwin let out another exclamation of pain. Mestari left the nearby table and knelt beside Goodwin, she gently placed her palm on his forehead and closed her eyes. A light glow emitted from underneath her hand and Goodwin became noticeably more relaxed; he was still in pain but it became much more tolerable. Mestari smiled at Rafe sweetly, a look that said "everything will be alright". Rafe nodded in a silent "thank you" as she returned to the table and continued mixing the herbs and elixirs.
"What happened?" Goodwin asked as he tried to push the pain to the back of his mind and remember what had happened.
"You were kidnapped by some not-so-good Elementals who didn't want us in their forest and were willing to get rid of us at all costs. They won't be back though thanks to Belava and Mestari." Rafe indicated behind Goodwin to where the girls stood. Goodwin turned briefly, just enough to see them.
"My thanks ladies," He said as he sunk into the bed.
"Don't thank us yet." Mestari said under her breath so only Belava could hear.
"You know somehow I never quite pictured me being kidnapped by beautiful females as ending up like this. I have much more enjoyable ways that this situation could have worked out." Rafe and Goodwin smiled until suddenly Goodwin let out another gasp of pain and clutched at his temples as the feeling of his head erupting from the inside out returned with a vengeance. Rafe couldn't remember a time he had felt more helpless to help someone then at that moment. Thankfully Belava and Mestari seemed to have finished what they were concocting as they joined Rafe by Goodwin's side. Mestari forced Goodwin to sit upright, with a little help from Rafe, and brought a cup to his lips.
"Goodwin drink this. Trust me, it'll ease the pain greatly," Mestari assured him as she tilted the cup back. He obediently drank and coughed on the last few sips of the unknown substance. Goodwin seemed to be freed of almost all the pain now; Mestari passed the cup to Rafe who put it back on the table.
"That was disgusting!" Goodwin exclaimed, "If I have to drink more of that then I'll stick with the headache."
"You do not have to drink anything else," Belava smiled as he let out a sigh of relief, "But you do have to eat this," Belava passed Goodwin a bowl.
"You're kidding?" Goodwin asked hopefully as he sniffed suspiciously at the mashed up herbs and roots, then cringed in absolute disgust and gave the bowl to Rafe, "No way."
"Yes way. All of it," Rafe insisted while trying to force the bowl back into Goodwin's hands. Goodwin fought childishly, not wanting to eat the extremely gross concoction. He suddenly grimaced in pain and clenched his eyes shut, the pain was bearable but unpleasant. He opened his eyes to have Rafe shove the bowl back into his hands.
"Right. Must eat disgusting food," Goodwin ate small portions, immediately asking for a drink to wash it down with. When he finished the entire bowl he seemed to be utterly exhausted and practically passed out. Rafe showed concern when Goodwin fell asleep so swiftly and worried that it was not a good sign.
"Do not worry, Raphael the worst has passed and he will be fine. He is tired, that is all. It has been quite a day," Belava assured him as she reflected on the day's events. The early morning walk seemed so long ago. "You should rest as well." She added.
"I don't require sleep." Rafe answered simply. Belava nodded and left to find Mestari. Rafe presumed Goodwin would sleep for some time so took a seat on the floor and meditated, but he didn't withdraw too deeply so he would awaken if someone entered the room, but he was undisturbed all evening.
Rafe opened his eyes several hours later to find it was morning of the next day. He looked over to the bed and was shocked to find it empty. Rafe stood up and scoured the room quickly, "Goodwin." He called out, but received no reply. He almost frantically ran from the house in search of his squire. Rafe emerged on the street and couldn't help but smile at the sight that was unfolding in front of him.
"... so this mondo demon is about to you know cause total havoc and destruction on this village. And this guy was extremely ugly, I mean he had a face that not even a mother could love, if demons even have mothers. So he goes into this village thinking he's all hot stuff not knowing that Rafe and I are there..."
Goodwin was standing tall regailing quite an audience of Elementals with his exhilarating adventures in the demon hunting world. Rafe had no doubt that he would leave out the parts where he would hide and wait for Rafe to dispense with all demons before showing his face again. Goodwin was obviously healthy though and reveling in the further attention from the Elementals. He looked up and saw Rafe, flashed him a quick smile and continued his tale. Rafe stood in silent amusement listening intently to Goodwin's story until Belava joined his side.
"Your young friend is quite the entertainer." Belava commented, half listening to Goodwin.
"Yes, but I fear he indulges the tale slightly." Rafe said in good humor.
"I am sure it is for our entertainment only. I know many of my sisters will be saddened when you leave our company." Belava tried unsuccessfully to hide her own despair at the departure.
"Well we must be on our way, but we appreciate all your kindness. How long will it take to get through the rest of the forest?" Rafe asked then chuckled as Goodwin went into a story of how he had once saved an entire village.
"It is not far now, only a few more miles and you should be safely from our home."
Rafe nodded, "Well, if it's okay I think we should be on our way."
"Well, I would hate to miss the end of the story." Belava and Rafe both smiled and listened to the exaggerated tale. When it was finished Rafe dispersed the girls as he came over to Goodwin.
"And that is the end of story time ladies. I do apologize but we must be on our way." Rafe insisted.
"Rafe, I'm only up to 1700." Goodwin pouted as his audience looked on hopefully for another story.
"We don't have time for a retelling of the past two hundred years." Rafe pointed out as he began to head out of the village, Goodwin followed unwillingly.
"Just when I was getting to the good part." He mumbled to himself, he turned around halfway out of the village and smiled at the group of girls still gathered and blew them a kiss.
Several hours later Rafe and Goodwin, led by Belava came to the edge of the forest.
"These are the limits of my home. If you follow the stream several more miles you will find a village where you can stay. Good luck on your quest and I hope to see you again someday." Belava told them sincerely.
"Thanks Belava, it's been a ... memorable few days. A few days I promise I won't forget anytime soon," Goodwin said as he shook Belava's hand firmly, then walked away several feet to allow Rafe to say good bye in private.
"Thank you, for all you've done. We would not have made it through safely without your help." Rafe extended his own hand to Belava.
"That or your squire would have ended up a permanent addition to my forest."
"It may have been an improvement." Rafe casted an weary eye towards Goodwin, "Until we meet again Belava." Rafe said then began walking over to Goodwin.
"Until then." Belava whispered. Rafe turned around to say more but she was already gone, so he and Goodwin continued on their journey.
They walked in silence for several minutes, both deep in thought over the past few days. It almost didn't seem real.
"So Goodie, what did you think of our adventure with the Elementals?" Rafe finally asked as they trudged through the remaining few trees until they came to the road.
"Well it's certainly one I'll never forget, even if I try." Goodwin commented, "It started off strong, I loved waking up to a whole flock of beautiful faces, but the kidnapping thing kinda put a damper on things."
"I see. Well it wasn't all good, and it wasn't all bad. The question is do we come back or not."
"Well, we won't stay away permanently, but I've had enough of the forest to last me two hundred years," Goodwin said passionately.
"Then two hundred years it is. Wonder if the Elementals will still be here." Rafe pondered.
"I think they will be, it would take a lot to get rid of these girls. And I bet they'll still be up to their old tricks." Goodwin added.
"Definitely. We'll see in two hundred years won't we?" Rafe smirked.
"I can't wait." Goodwin grimaced. Just then they reached the village and soon found the inn.
Although they would remember the Elementals for many nights, it was another two hundred years before they encountered more of their kind. And then ... well you know the rest, and if you don't I suggest watching the episode "Forest for the Trees."
1. I realize I used a lot of words and phrases that wouldn't have been around back then, but Goodwin seems like a trend setter and I wouldn't be surprised if he made up a bunch of today's expressions.
2. I was forced to create all new information about Elementals and none of it is from the show, I just wanted to have a fully developed plot.
3. I know it was more than 200 years until they went back, but it was pretty close.