Chapter 1: Goblins

"I still don't believe you, Melli." The dark haired Shenidra called out to her twin, voice filled with doubt.
"Oh, don't be such a spoil-sport, Shen!" Mellinnea replied exasperatingly "Just wait we're almost there. Then you'll see."
The sisters were walking along a faint path winding through the forest near their town. Golden afternoon sunlight was streaming through the breaks of the leafy canopy, everywhere else the light was soft and green. The only sounds apart from the ones made by the two girls were of the local wildlife going about their daily business.
Shen sighed as she followed her excitable sister. Why does she always drag me into these things? The girl wondered.
~I heard that. ~ A familiar voice chimed in her mind.
~You were supposed to. ~ Shen replied in like manner.
The two girls were quite unusual, even for twins. Melli was a golden haired, green-eyed girl. She moved with a natural grace but she had a fiery temper that often made enemies, especially with those who thought they deserved special treatment. Her twin on the other hand was brown haired and had stormy grey eyes. Being much calmer of disposition then her sister, she often soothed the prides' of those Melli had verbally lashed. She was taller then Melli by half a head and agile rather then graceful. The two also had a telepathic connection to one another; at least that's what Mel called it.
"Remind me again, why we're trekking through this forest." Shen asked.

"There's a hill here I swear is magic or something. I found it while I was exploring, yesterday." Mel answered.
"You're always exploring." Shen interrupted, grinning.
Melli ignored her twin and continued. "There's an odd feeling about the clearing. It's strongest at the hill in the center. I felt almost as if I shouldn't have been there. It was kinda creepy."
"So we're going to a haunted glade. How fun. Hope we don't get possessed" Shen said teasingly, knowing her twin's obsession with the paranormal.
Melli stuck her tongue out at Shen, who laughed, the sound silencing the birds and animals surrounding the area. "I can see it up ahead." Mel said as she raced forward. Shen had to sprint to keep up with her sister. Though small, when she wanted to Melli could move like lightning incarnate. Shen stopped dead in her tracks when she finally saw the clearing.
The glade looked like a scene out of someone's twisted nightmare. The grass was brown, spiky and quite dead looking, there were huge gaps of dirt and rock between the few blades of grass actually growing, and in the exact center of the clearing there was a small hill.
The whole glade seemed to call to her, telling her to run and hide. Shen resisted the urge, before spotting Melli examining the hill. Shenidra shivered slightly before joining her. The two walked all around the clearing, always with the nagging sensation that they should leave.
They sat down and looked up through the skeletal branches of the trees overhead, watching the fluffy clouds lazily chase one another across the sky, a light breeze blowing their hair everywhere. "Well I have to admit Mel, this is a creepy place. But I thought you said it was magic? Shouldn't we be cursed by now?" Shen said smiling at her sister. She then began to act like she'd been turned into a zombie or some other such creature. Suddenly, in the midst of the performance, Melli clapped her hand to her neck. "What wrong?" her twin asked. "Bug." Mel replied shortly. Shen began to laugh, the sound echoing through the strangely silent clearing, until she too was bitten. "Not so funny now, is it." Mellinnea said to her sister, sticking out her tongue.
Shen and Melli yawned in unison. "We should head back. We're both tired and it's getting late." Shenidra said to her sister between yawns, glancing at her watch. It was too late, Mel was already asleep and Shen wasn't long in following her into peaceful oblivion.
"Are they both asleep?" asked the short, squat brown creature, that was crouched at the edge of the clearing, hard to distinguish from the tree trunks behind him. "As asleep as we'll get them." replied one of the others, glancing around nervously. "I still say we've got the wrong pair. They look like humans. If they're faeries where the hell are their wings?" muttered a disgruntled goblin, before quailing under his leader's glare.
"These two are the last free faeries. They've been raised by humans, so they obviously have absolutely no idea what they are. So let's grab them and leave, before they wake up. I hate this forest. There's an elven village nearby and I don't want to see those stupid, ugly tree-freaks." The leader spat out the word elven as if it left a bad taste in his mouth.
The other goblins were quick to grab the two girls and hurry down the secret tunnel under the hill in the center of the barren clearing. None of them had noticed the robin that had been perched on a branch above them and was now speeding of into the opposite direction.

"They caught who?!?! You're positive?" the young elf asked the robin, her voice worried and strained. The bird cheeped an affirmative, before flying off again. Rhila ran a hand nervously through her long black hair. This is going to complicate things she thought regretfully, as she ran to tell the elders.

Mellinnea slowly woke up from her enforced sleep and opened her eyes. Seeing a ceiling of rock and dirt above her, she thought she was still dreaming.
Mel sat up slowly, still woozy under the after affects of the darts used by the goblins. As she glanced around, she saw her twin lying down on the ground beside her, still asleep. "Shen! Shen! You've got to wake up!" Melli called frantically as she shook her sister awake.
"Mel, don't tell me you watched another horror movie. You know you always get nightmares." Shenidra said drowsily before opening her eyes. Seeing rock and not sky or her room's ceiling above her, she jerked herself awake. "Where are we?"
"I don't know, but I want to go home." Mellinnea said choking back tears, the emptiness of their prison scaring her. Before Shen could reply, one of the walls of their cell moved away, with a grating noise, revealing four, heavily armed goblins, that formed a circle around another goblin, who, with an odd insignia on his vest, appeared to be in charge.
"Now I know I'm dreaming." Melli murmured, disbelief written across her features. "No, not dreaming." The goblin leader said in an oily manner that made the twins distrust him. "I'm glad to see you both awake." He smiled in a way that made both girls repress shudders.
Shen instinctively moved in front of her sister shielding her, just as she did when facing down bullies. "Who or what are you? Why are you keeping us here? We've done nothing to you. You have no right to keep us here!" She said vehemently, glaring at the shorter creature.
"Now where are my manners." The leader said his grin widening and taking on a faintly demonic aspect. "My name is Kubol and I'm the in charge of this particular goblin outpost, we call Nanok. You, my dears, are very important guests. We're happy to have finally found you."
"Found us?" Shen asked "Why the hell would you be looking for us?" The leader's smile faded. "Everything will be explained at dinner. You two will be escorted to the dining hall in an hour." He said before turning sharply, followed by the guards. The wall rolled back into place, seemingly of its own accord, and the girls were trapped inside their jail once again.
"Goblins? I thought they were just in stories," Mel said glancing around their rocky prison, nervously. "Well apparently not." Shen replied, "What would a goblin want with us. We're just two normal girls."
~Not really, Shen.~ Melli's voice chimed in Shen's head.
~Well as normal as twins can be.~ Shen temporized.
~I doubt they even know we can speak like this, Mel. It's not like anyone besides us two knows about it. There must be another reason. It's probably a good idea if we only speak this way. That way they can't overhear anything.~ She continued. ~Wait a second! Maybe if we listen we'll be able to hear what they're saying! That could tell us why we're here!~ Melli exclaimed excitedly.
"Good idea!" Shen said out loud as both girls ran to the front of their cell.
The twins sank to the floor and pressed their ears to the rock. After a few minutes Shen pulled away and sighed. She was about to say that this was a waste of time, when she saw her sister's face. Mel seemed to be miles away; her eyes were blank and her expression deadpan.
Frightened, Shen grabbed her twin's shoulder and began to shake her.
"Huh? Oh! Shen there's two guards right outside our cell. I couldn't hear what they were saying though." Mel said as her eyes cleared.
"Melli how do you know that? I couldn't hear a thing." Shen asked, puzzled.
"I don't know." Mellinnea said surprising herself "I just sorta felt it. I felt like they were standing on, below and beside me all at once. It's hard to describe."
Shen shrugged helplessly. She really didn't understand.
"What did you do before you felt like that?" she asked. "I think I went into a trance. Kind of like Astral Projection." Mel replied.
"Astral what now? In English please."
"Oh really. It's where you leave your body and can see things while you've left your body. You start out by meditating. That's what I did."
Shen sighed "Well it looks like that stupid yoga course you made me take may come in handy after all."
"Let's try it together. Just start like you're meditating." Mel said as the twins grabbed each other's hands. They inhaled and exhaled in rhythm with their eyes shut.
~Relax your entire body and then concentrate on leaving it behind.~ Melli's mind voice said ~Just follow me.~
Almost of it's own accord, Shen found her mind freeing itself from her body and following Mel's essence.
~Here.~ her twin said, her voice coming from several directions ~This is where I was. There are the guards. I still can't hear what they're saying.~
Shen felt disoriented and stale, feeling almost thin and spread out. She soon found she could hear the goblins speaking, their voice echoing through her 'body'.
"I hate this post. Why do we have to stand here? It's not like those two think they're anything but humans. They'd never escape." The shorter of the guards complained unhappily.
"Shut up! You know if they figure out how to use their magic, they'll escape! Then we'll have two faeries to go chase around. Besides if Kubol hears you he'll put you on latrine duty for a month." The other guard replied.
Confused and unsure, Shen fled back to her body, closely followed by Melli. "I heard them. The guards." The taller twin said, eyes wide in her pale face "I know why we're here. But how can it be true?"
Melli looked confused. "How can what, be true? What did you hear Shen?"
Shen looked shocked and frightened, something that scared Melli. She'd never seen her sister look like that. Nothing ever seemed to faze Shen. She was like an impenetrable block of ice, only warming to Melli and her few close friends.
~Mel, what do you know about faeries?~ Even Shen's mind voice sounded shaky.
~Not much really. But they're only from stories.~ Melli replied.
~Just like goblins?~ her twin inquired.
~Yes, exactly like. . . Oh.~ Mel said, before realizing what she was saying.
~Looks like they think we're faeries. I have no idea whether that's true or not. We'll just have to wait and see.~ Shen said, her mind-voice clearly filled with a strong dislike of the idea.
Before Melli could add anything to her sister's words, the front wall of their cell rolled away and four heavily armed guards entered. Apparently time moved differently when they were in a trance. "Follow us. We're taking you to the dining hall." One of the guards said rather rudely. Mel would have balked, insulted at the tone of voice, but one look at the weapons and Shen's headshake were enough to stop her.
The two girls stepped out into a dimly lit hall. The walls, ceiling and floor were all rock, lit only by smoking torches. The flickering light cast shadows that moved, seemingly with a life of their own.
Two of the guards preceded the girls while the other pair remained behind them. The procession made their way slowly through the winding halls of the underground keep, until they came to a cavernous room.
The ceiling was near fifteen metres above the twins' heads. The only furniture was a long, low hewn-wood table, where ten goblins were seated on roughly carved stools. The moving torchlight reflected eerily in the fourteen pairs of beady yellow eyes, adding to the girls' discomfort.
"Ah, so glad you could make it." Kubol said to the obvious amusement of his companions. "Please sit." The goblin leader continued gesturing towards the only two empty stools.
The twins sat, nervously glancing around. "Now, now, no need to be shy. Just relax, we're all going to have a nice friendly discussion." Kubol started, before Melli snorted with derision, interrupting him.
"Friendly, my ass. You've kept us here as prisoners. You had better as hell give us an explanation and quick." Mel replied, eyes flashing with barely suppressed anger.
"We demand our rights." Shen added her voice icy.
Kubol's laugh was short and harsh. "Rights? What rights? We're in a war and you two either help us, or we do to you what we did to every other faerie. Sleeping Death. You two are the last two faeries, you've been missing for more than fifteen years now. It's really a simple choice. Join us or die. I'll give you till morning to decide."