The sacred owl throne, believed to have been lost three centuries ago, right here in front of her! It sat beneath a beautiful and ancient oak tree covered in vines, flowers, and bird nests. Lily couldn’t believe her luck. From what she had read during her research, the beautiful throne was made from bits of the sacred oak tree that had stood in the Whispering Grove and had gone missing after the queen of the wood elves had been killed 300 years before.. This grove is deep in the northern reaches of Cumbria County, England, and has been for thousands of years. The Children of Galrena, wood elves that have lived in the grove for eons, had made this throne in honor of their goddess Galrena — Goddess of Wisdom, Owls, and Trees.
Lily Kerleau, supposedly a descendant of these elves (descendant because no one had seen the elves in about 50 years), was in England doing research for her newest novel. Most writers will tell you the need to find out if mythical places really exist call to them more than most and Lily was no different. Being as her book was about elves, her mother Talia had suggested she take a trip to the area to see what information she could find on her descendants. When her mom first suggested it, Lily had just rolled her eyes but went anyway because she knew Talia would keep nagging her until she went. She’d been trying to get Lily to go since she had turned 18 — something to do with an elven rite of passage or some such nonsense — and finally, at age 22 she stood on the land her great-grandmother (on her father’s side) had lived on.
Lily called out to her assistant, her voice a bit shaky, “Dmi…Dmitri! Come here! You are NOT gonna believe…”
Her call was interrupted by the sound of breaking twigs and branches and a loud “HELP!”
Lily went running to where the sounds came from and found her assistant had fallen into a cave. She ran to the hole he had left and peered inside. With them being in a shadier part of the Whispering Grove it was hard for her to see him.
“Hang on, Dmitri. I need to grab our backpack and lantern. Don’t move!”
He responds, his voice echoing somewhat due to the cave and shaking from his fall, ” Where am I gonna go exactly? I can’t see a damn thing in here!”
Lily chuckles as she trots back to their jeep and retrieves their backpacks and lanterns, lighting one as she heads back to the cave. She glances at the throne once more and whispers, “I will be back to clean you up soon, I promise.” She shakes her head after saying that, not really sure where that came from or why she was talking to a throne.
Once she reaches the hole, she sticks the lantern just inside and sees Dmitri sprawled on the floor of the cave, covered in dirt and twigs.
“Now how in the world did you fall into a cave?”
As she says this, she carefully climbs up the brush a bit and steps inside. As soon as her feet touch the ground of the cave, the entire inside lights up in every hue of the rainbow, the cavern walls start shifting around, and soft music starts to play. She and Dmitri look at each other, both backing up, finding they are now up against what is now an actual wooden door. They grab and hold on to each other, both of their hearts racing, breathing hard, and looking at each other terrified.
“There is no reason to be afraid. We will not hurt you Princess Liliana.” Lily turns at the voice and sees the most beautiful creature she has ever laid eyes on. A tall slender elf glides towards her. His hair falls in soft leaf green waves down to his knees, his bright eyes, locked on to her face, swirling a mix of emerald and gold. He is dressed in a tunic and leggings, both a mix of deep brown and greens, with dark brown boots on his feet.
Dmitri steps back from Lily and stares at her indignantly. “P..PRINCESS!? GURRRLL why didn’t you tell me!?” Dmitri huffs at hearing his best friend for almost 16 years was a princess and hadn’t told him.
“How..what? Liliana who?” Lily stammers. “How could I tell you something I didn’t know? And this is ridiculous!” She is still watching the elf walk towards her, and her eyes widen as he gets closer.
“It is very much true, Princess. We are so glad you have finally come home to us,” the elf kneels down in front of her once he is right in front of her.
“This is …ridiculous. Please stand up. You…you…seriously stand up,” Lily sputters, not sure exactly what was going on or how to react to all of this.
As they are standing there, five more elves come from out of the darkness at the other end of cave. Four of them are dressed in silver ornate armor with various swords and daggers at their hips. The fifth one is a stunning female elf dressed in dark green robes with a thin, but glistening silver and gem-studded crown laying upon the elegantly piled hair that is the color of the richest cherry wood.
“Liliana! You have come!” The woman’s face lights up in a beautiful smile, reaching her hands out to Lily as she gets closer. Lily looks at the woman quizzically, her eyes widening, and she shakes her head looking at Dmitri, then the group of elves, then back at the woman standing in front of her.
“This…this can’t be. Great,” Lily swallows hard.”….Great-grandmother Talinia??” Lily’s trembling voice is barely a whisper and the disbelief can be heard in her tone.
“Yes child. It is truly me.” Talinia moves forward and pulls Lily into her arms, hugging her tightly, weeping gently in sheer happiness. “I cannot believe you have finally come home!”
Lily, at first, puts her arms around Talinia hesitantly , then tightens her embrace as she hears a familiar voice. “It is alright my Starflower, it is really her.” Lily starts crying as she looks over her great-grandmother’s shoulder and sees her father, Theren, coming towards her. It had been five years since she had last seen him and thought he was lost to them forever. She lets go of Talinia and runs into her father’s arms.
“Papa!! You are alive! What is,” she sniffles, “going on? ” Lily sobs into her father’s chest.
“I am. It is alright sweetheart,” her father holds her close. “All will be explained as soon as we get you both out of here and somewhere safe.”
Lily looks up at Theren and nods. She looks over at Dmitri, who was sitting on the floor staring up at everyone with a look of confused awe on his face, and smiles through her tears.
“Come Dmitri. Papa will explain everything, including this princess nonsense, right?” She looks back at her father.
“Yes, everything. And there is no nonsense my daughter,” Theren states matter-of-factly as he steers her towards the back of the cave, nodding at the others to collect Dmitri and their things.
As they reach the very back of the cave, Theren knocks on the wall three times. The cavern shutters and a portal comes to life before them, like a shimmering mirror, and he leads her through it.
The other side is more beautiful than Lily could have ever imagined. As they step through, she feels as if she’s stepped into a forest wonderland. The trees are so tall she can’t see their tops and their bark is a deeper brown than even the darkest dirt in her garden back home. Their leaves are such a vibrant green even leprechauns would be jealous. Every color of the rainbow was represented in the flowers that dotted the field just past the trees and the elven city at the end of the field was lit up like New York City on New Year’s Eve. Lily just stood there a moment trying to take it all in.
Theren stood patiently waiting for the shock to wear off of his daughter, although he had a feeling it wasn’t going to be any time soon. She had been gone too long and living in the human world for the past one hundred years was not going to be an easy thing for her to get over. That should be a fun thing to explain. His eyebrows furrowed together as these thoughts go through his head and he sighs softly.
Hearing her father sigh, Lily turns to him and sees the look on his face.
“What’s wrong Papa?” She looks at him worried.
He sighs again because he knows he cannot lie to her. “We have a lot to discuss, Starflower, and it is not going to be easy for you to hear or understand, that is all.” He puts his arm around her. “Come. Let us get you to the tower and we can discuss things more while you both are given appropriate clothing to wear before your return is announced.”
The small group moves quickly and quietly through the field, soft ‘oohs and ahhs’ coming from Dmitri and Lily at their new surroundings, and Theren and Talinia look at each other worriedly as they get closer to their home, Galna Alari.