“This is good.” The smile from the female brought brightness to the sun, that struggled to reach fingers of light through the dense foliage. “Please come forward. Welcome awaits.”
They walked along a path that twisted through the woods into a denser growth of trees. Barely wide enough for the three of them, Colli pulled the other two closer to her. On the edges, prickly bushes occasionally reached a vine to grab loose clothing. When they made contact, they left tracks of fresh blood on exposed skin. Mist swirled to gather among a thick carpet of leaves and twigs. It added to the surreal feeling of the surroundings. The phantom atmosphere grew in the already weird array of things. In upper limbs and branches, the warmth of the sun fought to chase morning fog away. With their advance, the points of the castle spires Colli had noticed took form and pushed thick green trees and brush aside. A balmy fairytale atmosphere settled comfortably around them.
Soon a gigantic door opened to offer entry to a waiting warm interior. Colli’s gasp of incredulity joined Mary’s. Great vistas of mountain and desert paintings spread before them on walls that seemed to stretch to the heavens. Beauty overwhelmed Colli with its magnitude.
“What is this?” Mary’s whisper joined the wonder of Colli’s feelings.
“This is our home,” the male responded. His head, now supported by a fully fleshed out body, smiled down on them.
Wow, Colli thought. Half again as tall as she, he leaned against the only wall with no pictures etched on it. His muscles rippled with strength. “Here, our corporal bodies have the strength to form.” Worry passed over his features. “We must ask for your help.”
Mary backed to the door.
“Please,” the female pleaded. “Hear what we have to say before you leave.” Long blond hair flowed down her slender form. As tall as the male, she moved to the fireplace that occupied the full front of the room. “First you need names. I am Illianna. This,” she pointed to the male, “is my mate Jonan. And our son, Trevan, she smiled at the child. My brother will remain outside and leave when we do. He means no harm. His name is unimportant.”
Jonan nodded. “Sit.” He motioned to soft cushions that took form on the shores of a soft flowing stream that weaved, breaking the immenseness of the space. “Make yourself comfortable.” He moved to sit on a large boulder where the stream gurgled as it exited from the room.
Colli pulled Mary to the far shore and down onto the pillows.
Trevan sat down near his father.
Illianna moved along the gurgling flow, occasionally dipping her bare foot in the water. She sighed and turned to face Colli. “We must cross back to our planet.” Her soft green eyes grew moist. “Trevan is too young to go with us.”
“It’s part of growing up.” Jonan stood. He made his way to Illiana and wrapped his arms around her.
“I know.” She leaned her head against his chest.
Trevan waded through the stream, splashing and playing. He climbed out on the bank and sat next to Colli. His eyes sparkled with fear.
“Nianna helped me when I incubated on her homeworld.”
“My grandmother?” Colli’s mouth gaped open.
“Yes,” Illiana continued. “That’s why we responded to your inquiry.”
Colli sensed something more. Something Illiana wasn’t telling her.