The sensation of the wind whooshing past her face made Raven's heart race as her beautiful mount's powerful legs drove them forward toward a line of trees. Sunlight danced on the tree canopy leaves, making the forest glisten like emeralds in the distance. Raven loosened her grip on the reins, allowing herself to relax and fully embrace the exhilaration coursing through her. "Oh my," she gasped in astonishment as Ghea leaped from a hillside, carrying them through the line of trees.
Upon landing, Raven felt a surge of electricity coursing through her body. It was as if she and Ghea were completely connected. She grinned with excitement as Ghea took off again, weaving effortlessly through the forest. Despite the low-hanging branches and boughs, Ghea navigated them with grace, and Raven trusted her implicitly as she absorbed the ethereal beauty of the forest. It was unlike anything she had ever seen, with the green leaves shining even more brightly than they had from a distance, and the birds singing an enchanting song that teased her ears as the wind swirled around her. Ghea's speed began to slow, and they eventually arrived at a small clearing within the forest. Without hesitation, Raven dismounted and gazed in awe at the beauty before her. "Amazing," she whispered, her breath fast as her heart raced. She admired the picturesque pond, its allure drawing her closer. Ghea bent to sip from the pond, and Raven began to pluck some of the purple and pink pila flowers growing near the shoreline.
Spotting a sparkling blue one hidden among the purple and pink flowers, she reached for it. Careful not to fall in as it was at the water’s edge. With a little step forward, she happily plucked it, placing it into her hair, hoping not to disturb her intricate style that was now a bit disheveled from the fast horse ride. She looked around for Ghea, who was now calmly eating some of the pila flowers growing near the pond. She took a deep breath and let the soft afternoon sunlight warm her skin. Curious about her appearance, she gazed into the pond, hoping to see her reflection in the water. She gasped as she looked into the water; her reflection was not her own but of a face so beautiful she couldn't tear her eyes away.
tiolùt mi adu.
Ina galar uisciu aoròriu.
tiolùt ad looma.”
The reflection began to sing, and Raven felt more certain than she ever had in her entire life as she looked into the deep blue eyes calling to her from the water. She wanted to step inside.
Follow me now.
Into a water-filled sleep.
Come and sleep for eternity.”
The water's song reached out to her, growing louder the longer she looked into her eyes. Instinctively, Raven reached out for her hand, entranced and longing to join the water. She smiled and relaxed. Her eyes remained locked on the enchanting eyes of the water goddess, and she waited to be embraced by the water, feeling her body falling forward toward the reflection.
“Arnuinse lunàri, tiolùt m–”
The sweet song was suddenly interrupted by a deeper, more enchanting sound that cut through the enchanting water music. The water goddess's beautiful face began to disappear, and her eyes widened into pools of darkness. “Oh no,” Raven thought, unable to stop herself from falling in. She wanted to scream as the darkness spread, but before she touched the water's surface, she felt a firm, gentle hand around her, pulling her away from the water. The singing was gone, and she noticed that a white horse with a strikingly blue mane had arrived, which she noticed earlier. She turned to see a man with long white hair, striking light blue eyes and elaborate white furs looking at her with concern. Their eyes locked, and he brushed a stray curl away from her face before taking the blue pila flower from her hair. Before she could speak, the pounding of galloping hooves rushed through the clearing. Like darkness, Dante and his dark mare appeared, their presence overpowering the soft sunlight.
“Dante,” Raven said breathlessly, entranced by his sudden appearance. He dismounted with such speed that Raven blinked, and he had her roughly over his shoulder and back to his mount. In a flash, he mounted his horse and signaled it to take off out of the forest. Raven, still held firmly over his shoulder, felt her face burn with embarrassment as she realized that he intended to ride with her in this unorthodox manner the entire way. She groaned in embarrassment, tucking her face into Dante’s extravagant black furs.
As they continued their swift exit, the blue-eyed horseman, the same man who had prevented her from falling into the water, appeared beside them with Ghea in tow. Raven was too embarrassed to say a thing and she frowned internally, feeling a pang of anger toward Ghea, whose face seemed as sheepish as ever, obediently following as if she hadn't been the one to take off into the forest ahead of the party. She peeked over Dante's shoulder, and she knew Ghea could sense her energy, but when their eyes met, the horse flicked her mane, as if to say, "Who cares?"
Frowning, Raven huffed and buried her face back into Dante’s furs. She did not look forward to returning to Marcellus and the rest of the Elites. She could only imagine the gossip that would circulate after this spectacle.