Fiona’s head was still ringing from the explosion that turned the impounded ship into kindling. One minute she was fighting Fire Wraiths who were attacking the strange tanks they found on the ship while her friends did their best to weigh anchor and get the ship out into the harbor… and the next… the next… she was hearing birds?
With a start Fiona opened her eyes to a blurry blue sky as her mind slowly came back into focus. Her hands stretched out and instead of the rough wooden planks of the dock, she felt soft and springy grasses tickle her palms. Okay… either the explosion knocked me farther than I thought, or…
“You’re not dead, my child,” a melodic female voice spoke that reminded Fiona of songs that she hadn’t heard since she was a child dancing with others around the Amberglenn tree. After a quick check to make sure nothing was broken, Fiona sat up and rubbed her eyes. She looked around in wonder to find that she was indeed no longer at the docks of Lakeside… she was home, lying at the base of the Amberglenn tree.
With a broken sob she reached out to touch its golden bark, fearful that this was all just a desperate illusion created by her mind. She felt its rough texture and gazed up at the blood red leaves with a teary-eyed smile. “If this is a dream, please don’t let me wake up,” she whispered.
“It’s not a dream…” the voice spoke again, and this time Fiona swore she could tell the direction it was coming from. She took off through the woods, determined to find its source.
As she broke through the foliage she came upon a clearing, the sun shining down through the trees with a beautiful blonde woman in forest green ranger garb accompanied by curious animals of various sizes standing in the middle of it.
With a start, Fiona realized who was before her and quickly moved to one knee. “Your humble servant is honored to be in your presence, my Goddess. Is it time for me to return?”
Mielikki smiled and walked forward to place a hand upon Fiona’s head. “Nay, my fierce ranger… for there is still much to do in the world of Men.” Her hand moved down under Fiona’s chin to gently guide her to her feet as she gazed sadly into her eyes. “You have suffered much, dear Fiona… physically and mentally… and for that I am sorry. You must allow your heart to heal and trust in your companions, for you all fight for what is right.”
“Even…” Fiona began questioningly.
“Yes,” Mielikki said with a small chuckle, “even him… in his own way.”
Her hands moved to Fiona’s shoulders and squeezed them reassuringly. “I need you to be whole for the battles ahead… for I will call on you. So search your heart… if there is one question you would have me answer, I would do it.”
The words fell from Fiona’s lips without hesitation. “Where is my mother?”
With a sad smile, as if she already knew what the question would be, Mielikki turned from Fiona and they walked back to the Amberglenn tree. She reached out and stroked the golden bark with a loving touch, the passing breeze making the leaves rustle almost like a sigh. “Your mother is here… “ she began, her hand dropping to her side as she turned to Fiona,”… 50 miles below us.”
A million questions sprung to Fiona’s mind after hearing the revelation. “But how…who…”
“Lock this knowledge away, Fiona Shaw… for while it plagues your mind, other forces spread across our world and plague us all.” Mielikki reached out with a knowing smile and cupped Fiona’s cheek gently. “Now rest, my stubborn warrior… for there are others who eagerly await your return.”
Fiona swallowed her questions and closed her mouth tightly as she nodded in understanding, her eyelids suddenly growing heavy. With a barely stifled yawn she took a step back and sat down at the base of the Amberglenn tree, the flickering sunlight and the gentle breeze soon lulling her into a deep sleep.