A/N- Wow, super long wait. You thought I'd abandoned this fic, hadn't you? Well, I'm pleased to say that I have not. College and other various works conspired to reduce my writing time to nil. I was sick--bedridden, to be honest--for two weeks, then had to catch up in my classes. I've been busy editing my fanfics and preparing for a spring break trip I'm taking with three of my best friends. And the chapter of the fic before this one made me realize that I had lost track of that particular fic's storyline. That fic--Pet Peeves--is now on hold. Well, on with the chapter!

Chapter 5

Coal mounted her large, black stallion and called Goblin up to sit behind the saddle. From the shadows beyond the open doors of the Great Tree, she could feel the eyes of Darkness and his minions upon her. She pulled her stallion around to face the doors, a dark, lifeless smile on her lips.

"I leave, Darkness. I will not fail," she said.

Darkness made no verbal reply, but she could feel his approval upon her. Turning back towards the dark Elderborn before her, she kicked her stallion into running and was off through the trees.

Once a decent distance from the Great Tree, she slowed her ride--Knightmare, the stallion's name--to a slow trot. Goblin then leapt from the horse and attached himself to the nearest tree. He followed, launching himself from tree to tree, laughing maniacally. Goblin's species of goblin were tree-hoppers. Naturally, they could be found in or around trees, for they were everything to them. They fed from the trees, lived in them, mated in them, and used them for transportation.

Darkness had stolen Goblin from his natural habitat for Coal's tenth birthday. Goblin had been hostile with her at first, but she had beaten that out of him. Now, she smiled as Goblin hopped ahead a few trees, and then cowered and waited until Coal had passed him. Knightmare gave a snort and shook his head.

So far, Coal was enjoying this mission. She liked the missions where Darkness's minions were not assigned to her. She loved to be alone with only Knightmare and Goblin to keep her company, which was no company at all really. Loneliness meant her in charge of only herself. She was in command, and there were none to challenge that, as was typical when one or more Dark minions gathered together.

The forest was dense. This was not terribly unnatural. The forest was always dense. However, it seemed even more so because of the Dark Cloud hanging over it. Coal smiled, almost dreamily, proud of her handiwork.

"Mistress! Mistress!" Goblin said, hopping on the trees beside of her.

"What?" she huffed. She detested it when Goblin spoke to her first.

"Where going?" he asked.

"Are you questioning me?" she menaced, hissing a little in his direction.

Goblin fell behind as he cowered. Coal laughed a little to herself.

"Forgive! Forgive!" he begged once he had caught up again.

"Forgiven," she said lazily. "If you must know, we are heading to The Center. It is the source of Elderborn Forest's power."

Goblin cowered again. Coal looked to him, an eyebrow raised above her left abyss.

"What's wrong?"

"Me legends heard. Mysterious place," Goblin muttered.

Coal smirked. She had never heard her pet use such a large word as "mysterious" before. She hadn't even known that he knew it.

Of course, he was right. No one did know what lay at the center of Elderborn. Well, perhaps those damnable elves knew…but she doubted that. However, Darkness had chosen her for this journey…his strongest. This both concerned her and eased her. She was sent on many errands and missions for Darkness, so that was not unusual. And this was apart of her larger mission of destroying the king and queen. But did her strength play a part in his choice for her in this mission? If so, perhaps there was more to this than what it seemed…

"Aw," she said in mocked sympathy. She was incapable of the real thing. "Is my little Goblin scared?"

He nodded. "No one know."

"No one knows what?" she asked.

"What there. No one know what there. Maybe monster. Maybe not. I afraid," he quivered.

"What have you to fear, Goblin? After all, you are with your mistress. Do you think that there is something mightier than me?"

"Never, no! Nothing stronger! Forgive! Goblin weak, foolish! Forgive doubt!"

Coal's smirk grew into a dark, dark smile. "Forgiven."

End Notes: Okay, how was that? I must confess to really liking Coal chapters. So, what does lie in the center of Elderborn? Find out later! Please review!

Additional Note made April 15, 2009: This story has not been abandoned. However, it is one of many in the works. If anyone out there has an interest in me making this story one of the older ones I finish up first, please go and vote on the poll on my profile. I have other stories there to choose from as well. Thanks!