Emarosa and her guest emerged on the other side of the waterfall, to the shimmering cavern that appeared to have no end. Crystals somewhere high in the roof above glittered like a family of fireflies celebrating every passing moment in ecstasy. The spring’s citrine essence coursed a cool freshness within Emarosa’s veins. The feeling of home.
Emarosa led Lenoa to her tent, where she was greeted by a clan of tiny wooden creatures running about and playing games on the table. Lenoa stared wide-eyed, watching the little lumber people inspect her with their eye-like resin beads. “Like I told you before, little Nephilim, there’s a lot more to the world than just your kingdom,” Emarosa spoke. Lenoa stood, breathless as the creature she carried in her palm seem to wake up. The creature looked around, saw its kinfolk, and leapt to the table with glee.
“What—is this witchcraft?” Lenoa turned to Emarosa, shouting. “We knew you for a witch!” Emarosa burst into laughter as she moved to the table, playing with the newest edition to the woody family. “These are the Bog. Prolly found life in the essence.” Emarosa giggled as the recently awakened bogling climbed along her arm, scaling it like the side of a mountain. It struggled as it made its way up her shoulder, and finally into her hair.
From atop its new perch, the spritely bogling watched Lenoa closely. She met its gaze, and stepped to the side trying to shake it. The more she moved, the more interested the little Bog seemed. It leaned toward Lenoa, peering into her. After a moment, she seemed to calm, holding her palms out to create a platform for the little bogling. It stood and rummaged in a circle until it finally took a chance. It leapt from Emarosa’s hair into Lenoa’s palms. Emarosa clapped for the little bogling.
“Ya’ heard it, didn’tcha?” Emarosa exclaimed. “The Bog can’t speak, but their thoughts are louder than most others. Anyone with a connection ta’ the essence should be able to hear ‘em.” Lenoa ignored Emarosa, focused instead on the little wooden creature now nuzzling her palm. “It’s soft, and…warm.” Lenoa spoke. “That’s life.” Emarosa smiled.
Several people forced their way into the tent, driving Emarosa and Lenoa to the back as the ring leader stepped forward. “This Nephilim is part of the scourge,” the ring leader pointed to Lenoa. “All traces of the apostate and his corruption must be purged.”
The little bogling in Lenoa’s palm clutched her wrist. Lenoa stepped forward, to the warrior woman, while sheltering the bogling. “Guard your tongue, knave. We are heir—” she paused, “We shall not allow you to harm these creatures.”
The warrior woman stood face-to-face with Lenoa, her fury palpable. Emarosa drew deep breaths to keep herself calm, the acrimony of the warrior woman resonating through her. The warrior spoke, “We’ve no qualm with innocent lives. We banished your progenitor for his heretical ways, and even now he continues to spread malediction.” The warrior clutched Lenoa’s face, bringing it a nose’s width from her own. “Nephilim, you harbor no rancor for life, but you are your father’s daughter. If you care for anything, absolve his sins—to include your own—and leave this world.”
Emarosa broke the warrior’s grasp, pushing Lenoa far enough back to take her place. She faced the warrior. “Enough. We all want ta’ end the corruption.” Emarosa glanced back to Lenoa, “her included. Go do your acolyte things, and I’ll do what I can ta’ make sure things don’t get any worse. Just like I always do.” The warrior leaned in close, snorting into Emarosa’s face hard enough to blow her bangs from it. Emarosa drew a deep breath, puffing her chest out and staring back. The Elohim entourage turned about and withdrew from the tent. Noisily.
Emarosa wiped off her face as she moved to a small shelf near her bed. She rummaged until she found a small pendant that held an opaline glow, and a small jewel with some cloth to match. She fingered the silver chain around her neck, pulling her own pendant out to compare. She turned to Lenoa and placed the rummaged items in her hands.
“Fun bunch, huh?” Emarosa sighed. “I hoped we’d have more time, but don’t we always? The purge… they’re destroying all dragonfire.” Lenoa countenance grew grim.
“Dragonfire was never meant ta’ exist. It’s unnatural. It’s like the essence, but it’s tainted. Prolly what hurts your caustic. We dunno know what caused it, but it’s killing the world. Even our own wellspring…” Emarosa glanced out the window, to the citrine fountain radiating wondrous light. “It used to be pure, but it’s been getting darker and darker, like your dragonfire.”
“Your ‘purge’ is going to kill everything!” Lenoa shouted.
“Eventually, though the dragonfire will do the same soon enough. It won’t end with just your caustic.” Emarosa closed Lenoa’s fists around the opaline jewels. “These hold the essence before it was corrupted. They’ll sustain ya’ even when there’s no dragonfire left. And they don’t have that nasty side-effect of making ya’ wanna kill for funsies, either.” Emarosa smirked.
“There are two.” Lenoa remarked, glancing at the jewels. “One for you, one for the bogling.” Emarosa remarked, placing her hand on Lenoa’s shoulder. “Honey, whatever happened to cause the corruption, it was right after your dad… If there’s no way to stop it, it’ll destroy us, your kingdom, and everything your father built. I know you never wanted it, but by birthright you’re a queen. Maybe it’s your time to live up to that.”
Lenoa scoffed, turning away. The bogling climbed her arm, trying to wrap itself in her sleeve. She sighed, gently petting the bogling with her finger. She plucked the small jewel from her palm, fitting it onto the bogling with some cloth, before donning the opaline pendant herself.
Lenoa looked to Emarosa, exasperated. “You expect us to save the world? Us? You must be kidding.”
Emarosa grinned. “’fraid not. Unless you wanna let us all die. Either way. Figure all those years of waving that fancy title around—looks like it’s time to live up to it. Wish I could come, but whether the world ends tomorrow, or generations from now, there’s still other work to be done. Good luck little Nephilim!”
Emarosa smiled as she saw the pair off. As she watched Lenoa go through the waterfall, she was reminded of the last time someone had asked her to come with. She’d refused then, too. Perhaps if she hadn’t the world would be a very different place. Though better or worse who could say? Emarosa turned back to the table, tending to the Bog once more.