“The old timer may have been right,” Inés observed. “This is definitely a steep climb for a horse.”
“It’s not surprising that he knows the terrain,” Sylvie stated. “He does live here. What I question, Mermaid, is whether or not he’s right about the Aurai. I’d rather not fight against beings such as they.”
“Don’t be so negative,” Inés chided. “It’ll be fine.” Serena slipped on the slope and nearly fell backwards, but Inés managed to whirl around and grab her. “Careful. Don’t want you knocking that lovely head against a rock.”
“Thanks,” Serena said. “Inés, it will be all right, won’t it?”
“Absolutely,” Inés said. “We’ll meet with the Aurai, get permission to catch some pegasi. Then I’ll get my new staff and we can get back on the road to Drahaven.”
“I don’t know how you can be so relaxed about it,” Sylvie muttered. “You’re taking an awful lot at face value.”
Inés shrugged. “I think that I can read people pretty well and I’m confident that the old man didn’t lie to us. Not about being the best, and not about us being welcome.”
“And if he did?” Sylvie asked.
“Then I’ll hold them off while you two run,” Inés answered. “You might have to drag Serena with you, though.”
“I don’t want to leave you!” Serena declared.
“See?” Inés laughed.
“Don’t worry, I’ll safeguard her,” Sylvie said. “But you’d better run after us when you can.”
“Definitely,” Inés agreed.
“Wait!” Sylvie cried, looking around.
“What?” Inés asked.
“Thought I saw something fly past,” Sylvie said. “But I don’t see anything now. I wonder, did I imagine it?”
The three continued on their way. Going higher and higher up the mountain. The sense of foreboding they’d had earlier was gone and, in spite of the ongoing debate over whether or not meeting with the Aurai was a good idea, they were starting to have a good time.
Finally, the ground levelled out and they found themselves in front of a great, golden gate. There were a few towering buildings visible behind it.
“Hold, Travellers!” The three looked up, a half a dozen women, each with bright, colourful wings reminiscent of a butterfly’s, descended to them. Looking at them closely, they had a third eye on their foreheads and thin antennae jutting from their hair.
One of them descended all the way to the ground while her entourage hovered overhead. She had light blue hair and piercing silver coloured eyes. She stood at slightly over 138 centimetres tall.
She walked up to Inés and curtsied. “Lady Inés, well met. We welcome you and your companions to our humble home.” Inés noticed that she spoke it was in a melodious tone and her companions echoed her words, making it sound like a chorus.
“Well met,” Inés said. “We came here seeking pegasi.”
“We are aware,” she said. “I am Lilis. Taming a pegasus isn’t easy. You and your companions must each capture one for yourself. Such is your trial.”
“You’re really going to just let us try?” Sylvie asked.
Lilis signalled and two of her companions opened the gate.
“We have prepared a feast for you, Lady Inés,” she stated in her, her companions echoing her. “We will allow you and your comrades to stay with us as long as you need.”
“Are you seriously ignoring me?” Sylvie asked.
“Don’t antagonise them,” Serena pleaded.
“Lead the way,” Inés said. “And we are truly grateful for your hospitality.”
“No, no,” Lilis said. “The pleasure is ours. Come, it’s this way.” She flew ahead, her comrades following behind.
“Why are they so nice to you?” Sylvie wondered.
“Don’t know,” Inés answered. She thought about it for a moment. “Maybe they heard that I’m the world’s greatest lover and you know what that means!”
“Don’t even,” Sylvie warned.
“Why not?” Inés asked. “That Lilis is super cute and that voice… She’s gotta sound awesome when she’s caught up in…”
“Enough!” Sylvie shouted.
“Yes Ma’am. Whatever you say,” Inés stated.
The three went through the gate, moving towards where the Aurai had gone.
The three found themselves in a great hall with ornate furnishings. A table had been laid out with golden trim . A pair of Aurai hovered above the table strumming harps.
Lilis pulled out the chair at the head of the table “Lady Inés, your seat.”
“Thank you,” Inés said, allowing herself to be seated. Serena and Sylvie seated themselves at her right and left.
A purple-haired Aurai flew down with golden chalices, filled with a creamy golden liquid.
“What is it?” Serena asked.
The three waited a moment. No answer to the query was offered.
Inés picked up her chalice and looked over it. “So, what is this?”
“Divine nectar,” Lilis answered.
Inés whistled. “I’m not sure if we deserve it, but thank you.” She took a sip. “It’s sweet.”
“The drink of the Gods,” Serena whispered. She stared at the drink in her hands before taking a deep drink. “Amazing.”
Sylvie waited, observing Inés and Serena while they ate and drank. There didn’t seem to be any ill effects so, after a while, she began eating and drinking.
They ate while Inés spoke with Lilis. After their meal, Lilis showed them to their rooms and excused herself.
“I wonder why you’re the only one they talk to,” Sylvie said.
“Maybe that’s their way,” Serena suggested. She yawned and rubbed her eyes. “After all, the only time any of them, besides Lilis speaks is to echo her words.”
“I had noticed that,” Inés said. “It’s still odd that they’d choose me for our leader. Or that they know my name.”
“They probably heard your name when we were climbing up here,” Sylvie said.
“Well, I’m glad they aren’t just being rude,” Inés said.
“I’m exhausted,” Serena said. “Good night.”
“We’ll get up bright and early to go after the pegasi,” Sylvie said. “Inés, try not to stay up too late trying to seduce our hosts.”
“No promises,” Inés said.
The three went off to their rooms. A short time later, Inés headed out. She rn into Lilis in the corridor.
“Lady Inés,” Lilis greeted. “Are you well? Were the furnishings unsatisfactory?”
“No, they’re really comfortable,” Inés answered. “I just couldn’t stop thinking about you?”
“Me?” Lilis asked. She reached up and nervously stroked one of her antennae. “Do… do you find me comely?”
“Very much so,” Inés responded. “I don’t suppose you feel the same way about me.”
“You are most gorgeous,” Lilis said. “But I could not come with you. Anything between us would only be temporary. Knowing that, would you still have me for tonight?”
“Absolutely,” Inés answered. “To tell the truth, I’ve never been the monogamous type.”
Lilis hovered up to kiss her. “That makes two of us.” Hand in hand, the two hurried back to Inés’ room.