As the carriage jostled them towards Hallow Hill, Peter was engulfed by guilt. Across from him, Elizabeth bounced with her own energy and with the motion of the horses. Enthusiastically she gestured to sheep, cows, trees, occasionally naming them in elvish as well as English. Peter loved her indescribably. Her blue eyes were widened with an innocent wonder, her hair was radiant. They'd struggled through brushing it that morning, Peter had won.
Peter signaled to the driver as the approached a huge hill. "Let's take a quick look around before we arrive." Cramped after a night and day inside, Elizabeth eagerly hopped out.
"Daddy, I bet we can see everything from up there!"
"I think so too." He led her up the hill on a path of winding switchbacks. "Your mother would be able to tell you why locals call this place Hollow Hill. I can't."
The moon was rising as the crested the hill. Stars peppered the sky in the gaps of the canopy. They lit his way. The wind was gentle, touching his face. Peter thought it was Kala's forgiveness. "Daddy look!"
Elizabeth had discovered a circle of twin oaks guarding the hilltop. Peter passed through the trunks reverently, these giants had stood longer than any human building had. Kala had whispered stories about the tree circle being a revered place, somewhere peaceful and safe. "Well what do you think of it?" He asked.
"I feel so free!" She was skipping through the grasses, touching flowers and rocks. "Look, a dancing ring." A circle of button mushrooms surrounded her, she spun until she fell over. "This place is so magical, I never want to leave."
Peter never wanted to leave her but he wasn't meant to be a single parent. "Elizabeth, how would you like to stay here when I meet the master?"
He memorized every line on her upturned face. "Okay, I need you to wait here until I come back. Don't wander off." She was nodding in assent. Peter's heart was breaking as he pointed at the ground. "Look Elizabeth, there's a beetle."