Haizea hated going on the pilgrimage to the Fount of the Gods. It was something every elf in the capital did at least once every other year, but her family had to go when it was winter. Every time. She hated the snow. Why did they have to go when there was snow on the ground?
“Hey, sleepy head. Wake up. We’re leaving soon. Dad’s gonna be mad if you don’t get up.” Haizea’s little brother bounced on the end of her bed.
Pulling the cover off of her head Haizea stuck her tongue out at her brother. “Get out and I’ll get dressed.”
Her brother hopped off the bed. “Ok, but hurry.” He knocked over the oil lamp on her dresser on the way out. It shattered on the wooden floor. “Sorry.” He didn’t stop to clean it up.
“Your clumsiness is going to get someone hurt one of these days!”
– – –
“Ugh. How much longer will we be in the mountains? It’s cold enough before this leg of the journey.”
“Haizea, you know it’s going to be two more days of travel. Ertval won’t be so bad after the mountains.” Haizea’s mom focused back on the trail. “Keep an eye on your brother. Don’t let him fall.”
Haizea’s brother stuck his tongue out at her. She responded in kind.
“Get along, you two.”
“We didn’t say anything, dad.”
“I know the sound of sticking your tongue out. Act more respectful to each other.”
Haizea’s brother leaned over the edge of the path. “Woah, the trees look like splinters from up here!” He started to lean away from the edge again when a bird flew in his face. “Gah!” He slipped and started to fall.
“No, you don’t.” Haizea grabbed her brother by the back of his tunic. “Got you.” A stronger hand grabbed her brother’s shoulders and pulled him up from the edge.
“Be careful, you two.”
Haizea looked at the man and he disappeared before her eyes. She looked to her parents and they were staring with wide eyes.
“Who was that?”
“Haizea. That was The Pathfinder. He’s never late, so he must’ve known you would be able to catch your brother.” Haizea’s father picked up her brother. “You’re coming with me. No more accidents.”
– – –
Several days later Haizea saw the Fount of the Gods. The ruins surrounding the fount were centuries old, but they still looked like they had just crumbled yesterday. No snow was within a yard of the place.
“Ok. We’re going in through the side entrance, as usual. Hold your sister’s hand.” Haizea’s father put her brother’s hand in hers.
After entering the castle ruins they looked down the side of the stone staircase and saw the pool the fount had formed. They looked up and saw the floating source that seemed to flow from nowhere.
Usually, Haizea felt nothing magical in this place. Today, however, she felt the stirrings of the arcane within her. She paused for a moment, letting go of her brother’s hand. When she realized she had let go he was already leaning over the edge, looking down.
“Wow, it looks so cool! I mean it always does, but I’m in awe every time.”
Haizea moved forward to grab his hand and pull him back when he stood up suddenly, knocking them both off balance. In the moment before he fell Haizea pushed her brother back onto the stairs, causing herself to fall instead.
“Nooo! Haizea!” Haizea’s brother called out.
Haizea’s mother and father turned to look back and caught a glimpse of Haizea falling before she splashed into the pool. She did not rise back to the surface. Haizea’s father broke into a sprint and ran down the rest of the stairs.
“No, she’s fine.” The Pathfinder stood at the bottom of the stairs. “If you go in after her you will die.”
“You knew she would fall? Is that why you saved my son?”
“No. She would’ve fallen either way. I saved your son and you at her request. Do not go in after her.” The Pathfinder disappeared.
Haizea’s father knelt at the edge of the pool, weeping. He did not enter it.