Maedd was still sobbing when he got the feeling that someone was watching him. Instantly his head went up, looking for the person. He was shocked to see a beautiful woman right in front of him in a gown of pure white. Maedd stood up, and attempted to brush the dirt off of his ripped clothes. His cheeks turned bright red when he saw that he was a horrible mess. A gentle hand lifted his chin up and Maedd found himself staring into blue eyes as deep as the ocean, and he knew, that she understood. Suddenly he didn’t seem so concerned with his appearance. The Lady gave him a hug, her tears flowing onto the boy. Each one seemed to wash away a little bit of the guilt and sadness that had consumed Maedd.
“You know that you must continue.” Her voice was calm and soothing.
He shook his head. “I do not know the way. I’ve failed her.”
“You will remember the way. He can help you.”
He looked into her eyes once again, and simply nodded. The Lady smiled and whispered into his ears
“Be strong, little one.” Then she vanished- faded, rather, into the air, leaving Maedd alone once again.
A sweet fragrance filled the forest. Maedd felt refreshed and somehow different- but couldn’t explain what it was. He hadn’t more courage, and his head and hands still burned- it was his heart that was calmed. Much to his excitement, Maedd discovered his pack at his feet. All the food and supplies were there, as well as a small gem on a thin silver chain. It was the colour of the Lady’s eyes and when he grasped it in his hands Maedd felt the same sense of renewed hope he had experienced moments before. He put it around his neck, smiled once again and set off with the mountains to his right.
Maedd walked for hours. His feet ached and his stomach rumbled, but he kept going. Then he caught a horrible scent on the air. It grew stronger as he continued walking. When at last he discovered the source of the smell, he almost retched. For there, lying on the grass surrounded by flies, was Dunar. At least, that’s what Maedd thought from its glossy silver coat. Dunar’s side was a disgusting red mess of flesh and blood, and Maedd quickly looked away. He said a few words for his friend, then left the place. He regretted not having the time or energy to give Dunar a proper burial.
Maedd kept walking. The hours turned into days, and the pain in his hand continued to grow. The trees grew denser, and in some parts the golden leaves blocked out the sun entirely, leaving Maedd in eerie dim light. The faint light lessened with each step. Maedd’s head throbbed and he didn’t dare to take off the bandage on his hand for fear of more pain and the sight of blood. His water supply ran out and soon his throat was parched. Maedd couldn’t talk, but had no one to talk to anyway. The loneliness hurt him just as much as his physical injuries. So the days passed. At the time they seemed long and unbearable but looking back he could not remember much of them. A week after the incident with the wolves Maedd started to hear the howls echo in the wind. They rose so loud that Maedd could not hear anything else, and sometimes they were faint as a whisper- just a haunting memory. Then he began to see wolves crouching by the road, ready to pounce. Maedd jumped the first couple of times he saw them but when nothing happened he kept going. He wasn’t that surprised when three tall figures walked toward him- it was the last thing he remembered, though.