Lenoa returned to the Thickets, her new friend riding with glee upon her shoulder. She made her way back to her old camp, taking a moment to rest with her little bogling. “We’re to stem our father’s corruption, tiny one, before those wretches kill everything to save themselves. Any ideas?” she spoke to the bogling. It turned its resin eyes to her, doing its best to make a shrug as it slid down her shoulder and ran about in the sand.
She watched the bogling for a time, chuckling at its antics. At some point it tripped into the lake and managed to waddle-float its way out. It laid upon the shoreline, drying itself as if on a beach. She stroked its blocky lumber head with gentleness as she thought aloud. “This kingdom exists only because our father willed it so. It was but the Deadlands before. We must prepare if we’re to stop the Elohim’s purge.” Lenoa sighed as she rubbed her forehead. “Yet we alone cannot rout them. We must return to the Dominion.” Lenoa packed up her necessities, as well as her friend, and marched toward the Cliffs.
Arriving at the base of the Cliffs, bogling on her shoulder, she increased her pace. She kept her eyes seaside, trying to avoid recollections as she crossed the familiar precipice. Reaching the base of the bluff’s trail to the Dominion of Dragonfire, she came across a collapsed cliff-face emanating emberlight. The bogling slid down the side of her surcote, running to the rock face. Without warning, it threw itself at the rocks. Lenoa rushed to grab the bogling, but it slipped her grasp and continued to try to find a way inside.
As she knelt near the cliff-face, her veins began to bulge as they burned. Her breaths quickened in concert with her blurring eyesight. A stoic hatred coddled her very being, as if welcoming a lover who’d been stolen away long ago. It awoke in her something close to a vision, a memory. A fountain within a cave the color of dandelions. Raging, burning dandelions.
She felt her consciousness being tugged away, yet not fully removed. She clutched her pendant, it digging into her flesh as she took slow, deep breaths. An echo drifted through the back of her mind, Shh, it’s alright honey. Lenoa repeated the chant quietly, holding herself as she gritted her teeth. She snatched the bogling, clasping it close as she tried to slide herself away. Slowly, she gained enough distance to retake her feet. She stuffed the bogling within a pocket in her surcote as she staggered up the bluff’s trail.
By the time she’d reached the top of the trail, she’d regained her composure enough to free the bogling back onto her shoulder. The two approached the rubicund gate with the filigree of a small prince standing above. She’d never paid him much mind, but looking at him now, the prince almost appeared somber. She approached.
“Raise the portcullis!” she demanded. She was met by several guards, all seemingly recent recruits for she recognized none.
“We shall not!” the lead guard intercepted her. “The Dominion has been closed off by order of the Viceroy.”
Lenoa stood baffled, as if the word ‘no’ was forbidden from use in the context of her. Her fingers itched for her dagger, though she took no pleasure in the thought. She raised her voice, “Do you know us?”
“Be gone commoner, try your luck some other day,” the guard instructed her. “She can try my luck anytime,” one of the guards in the back murmured audibly, followed by snickers.
Lenoa’s mind raced back to just moments before, when her blood ached to leap from her veins. She grinned her wide, former guard captain’s grin, as her fists tightened and without warning laid out the guard in the rear. The bogling fell from her shoulder as she was seized, and taken to the Stockade.