AN: Sorry guys there is a part in here where I used a different language so I thought that I would give a translation, it's not exact because I wrote it a while ago.

Kaunis Elemmíre, mimun kaunis Elemmíre. Miten kaivannut sinua - My Elemmire, my beautiful Elemmire. How I have missed you.

Chapter 4

They trudged along a bit farther. The dull gloom turned to darkness. Neither of them was making much conversation, and Nathaniel kept looking around anxiously while he walked.

"We should try and find a place to stay for the night. I'm not so sure where, though. I'm not so certain about this part of the forest, and who knows all the creatures it could hold."

They walked between the shrubs and trees. They were just about to set foot into another clearing when Nathaniel abruptly pulled Mai back behind some shrubbery with little white flowers.

"What?" Mai asked annoyingly. She didn't care if she sounded whiny; she was just so tired from all the walking.

Nathaniel's finger was pressed against his lips, signalling her to be quiet. He then gave her a glance of warning, as he slowly pushed down on one of the branches so that Mai could see through to the other side of the shrubbery. Mai gasped, and immediately found Nathaniel's hand covering her mouth. What Mai saw stunned her; she would have never thought a beast like this would exist. It was a giant firefly, which was five metres long, three metres tall, and almost as wide. Its head and thorax were of a bronze colour. Yet, it was its abdomen which was the most impressive part of the bug, as it looked like it was made completely of fire, the yellow and orange flames flickering in different directions. Its legs were of a stocky built and looked like they would have little trouble squashing either of them.

"Follow me," Nathan whispered in her ear, quietly getting up from his crouching position and careful placing his feet so that he would not make a sound. Mai got up as well and started to follow, but she had barely taken three steps before, as her luck would have it, the sound of a twig snapping underneath her foot echoed out into the still night.

Instantly, the giant firefly turned its head in their direction and made a blood-curdling screech. The sound matched that of the wyvern dragon. The sound waves knocked Mai and Nathaniel from their feet, and they both moved their hands to their ears, trying to block out the painful noise.

"These creatures are blind!" Nathaniel shouted out to Mai. "But their hearing is impeccable!" he added.

Mai gave him a worried look, but Nathaniel had already gotten shakily to feet. He started to draw an arrow, which was aimed at the middle of the firefly's head. The firefly heard Nathaniel, though, despite him barely making a sound, and within seconds had swung around so that Nathaniel was winded from the impact of the firefly's body, as he was sent flying into the branches of a nearby tree. There was a loud crunch as his body tumbled down, and Mai winced at every sickening noise.

When his body had finally touched down, Mai scrambled over on all fours to reach him. Mai stared at Nathaniel's crumpled body, scorch marks still seared on his puffy shirt. Yet again, she felt goose-bumps along her skin and a sting of pain in her eyes. Mai saw the dark purple smoke fill the air around her. The firefly stopped screeching and faced her.

Somehow, Mai felt a sensation of confidence and power, making her rise to her feet. "Go find prey elsewhere," Mai told the creature, a deep scowl set on her face. After a moment, as if it was thinking her command over, the firefly turned and headed off in the other direction, leaving Mai unharmed. Immediately, she collapsed to her knees on the ground next to where Nathaniel lay, somehow, now conscious.

"What happened?" Nathaniel mumbled, still groggy from his fall.

"You didn't see the smoke?"

"What smoke?" he asked as he looked around, as if he had forgotten where he was.

"The dark purple smoke…it surrounded me…it made me feel as though I was in control," Mai explained. She didn't expect Nathaniel to believe her, when she barely understood what had just happened herself.

But there was no surprise in his stormy blue eyes when she glanced up at his grime-smudged face.

"It's happening sooner than I hoped it would," his words were almost as shaky as his legs as he quickly stumbled to his feet. "We'll have to continue going to our destination, we won't be able to stop anymore," Mai reached for Nathaniel as he began to sway where he stood. "Here," Nathaniel gave her a small vile with liquid in it, it reminded Mai of something from her science class.

"It's a concoction. It will give you energy, and it's pretty filling as well so we won't have to stop to eat," Nathaniel explained as Mai stared intently at the bright blue liquid, which she now realised that he expected her to drink. Deciding that it didn't look too lethal to drink, she uncorked it, and with a flick of her wrist, swallowed the concoction in one hit. With Nathaniel once again leading the way, they continued walking through the forest, Mai now satisfied with having a full stomach.

By daylight, they had finally reached a moss covered gate, hidden underneath a canopy of tree branches. Beyond the gate was a vast plain. There were two horses tied to the gate by a rope loose enough so that they could reach the grass around them and a trough full of crystal clear water, which sparkled with the early morning sun's reflection. Both of the horses were tall and had strong legs that would be able to start galloping from a standstill. One horse was a chestnut with two white socks on her back legs and long white stripe across her face.

"Elemmíre!" Nathaniel called out to the horse. The horse looked up with pricked ears and whinnied back to him. Nathaniel crossed the space that separated them swiftly to reunite with what clearly was an old friend.

"Kaunis Elemmíre, mimun kaunis Elemmíre. Miten kaivannut sinua," he said as he wrapped his arms around the horse's neck.

Mai looked to the other horse. It was a bluish dapple colour with one white sock on his front right leg. He had a star and a snip that almost touched in the middle of his long face. This horse looked at her with great interest. Mai approached him, nervously holding out her hand to pat his nose.

"That is Lérië. It means 'Freedom'," Nathaniel told her nodding his head towards the big dapple horse. The horses were already saddled for them and their bridles hung on the gate. Nathaniel bridled them and tightened their girths. He then boosted Mai up onto Lérië's back and tied the rope holding him to the gate around the horse's neck. Then with such grace and coordination he mounted Elemmíre's back.

"If we hurry, we'll be able to go through the shortcut," Nathaniel told her, the reins already in his hands. "Just follow me and hold on to the saddle if you feel yourself slipping. Don't worry about anything, Lérië already knows where to go."

Mai looked uneasily down Lérië, but there was no time to be for the butterflies to start fluttering because suddenly Nathaniel nudged Elemmíre with his muscular legs, sending him off in a fast canter. Mai looked uneasily at Lérië, not knowing what to do, but he started to walk and then went into a trot, then falling into a canter, quickly catching up to Nathaniel and Elemmíre.

After the gate was just a clear green paddock. On the other they could see another forest and what appeared to be a big ditch in front of it. They came up to the ditch and immediately stopped. Mai jerked forward from the sudden stop, almost losing her seat. Mai soon saw why they had come to a halt; in the ditch there was water a metre deep and flowing rapidly. Lérië backed away slowly as if he was scared of the liquid. Nathaniel said a word in his language, and Mai was positive that he was swearing.

"It's 10 o'clock!" he exclaimed. Nathaniel didn't need to see the confusion on Mai's face to know she had no idea what he was talking about. "The river spirits make the river run higher and more rapidly, and the only time that you can cross it is at nine to ten at both morning and night. It's one of the kingdom's many safety barriers," he explained, almost sounding annoyed.

Just as they started to turn back something caught Mai's eye. It was woman staring at her with eye's blue as the river she lay in. Her skin was as if it had been grey scaled like a dream in black and white. Her lips were pink like the petals that rushed past her. Blue hair curled into a bun on top of her head and purple flower tucked into the side. A beautiful purple dress floated around her slim figured body.

'Hey, what's that?' Mai asked curiously, dismounting Lérië and turning toward the edge of the river. She wasn't quite sure if she was imagining things or not, but after the day's events she knew that this wasn't just another trick of the mind. As she came closer she heard a faint flute playing. Dazed, she leaned forward over the river; her eyes gleamed with child-like amusement. The song was beautiful, and it was growing her want to touch the fast flowing stream.

"Mai!"

A scream pierced through her trance as she felt her body being knocked back against the grass. Mai blinked her eyes in confusion, trying to make sense of what happened. She turned over and glazed at the frightened and trembling body of Nathaniel lying next to her.

"I thought … you were … right behind me," he managed to gasp. "I had got to that tree over there by the time I realised you back here."

Mai, heart nearly at rest, gazed followed Nathaniel's gesture to a tree that laid across the river fifty metres away. Behind the crossing grew the trees forming the edge of the forest that they would still have to venture through. Mai gazed up and behind the tops of the towering trees where there stood a grand brick wall.

"Is that where the kingdom is?" Mai inquired, quickly scrambling to her feet, then rushing to remount her steed.

"It is indeed," Nathaniel said, as he followed her. Settling into his saddle again, he smiled at Mai showing his gleaming white teeth. He noticed Mai was sitting crookedly in her saddle, so he trotted over to her.

Mai leaned down watching him pull up her girth. After he finished, he looked up and met Mai's gaze. The light violet eyes that he had seen earlier had changed to her glinting green eyes. Her pale pink lips slightly parted and her ginger hair tangled behind her ears. It was in that moment that he realised what a beauty that he had been protecting.