Brownies. That’s meant to be bad, isn’t it? Lotye honestly didn’t really know what to think. Sure, she had heard of the mischievous faeries before, had heard them being called a danger for all travellers. But she had never seen them herself or had seen what they had done to people. She had met people who had claimed to have been cursed by them, but those stories weren’t usually all that bad or she had felt that the people telling them were exaggerating greatly.
So, most of what Lotye knew about the Brownies, she knew out of stories and songs. Funny little stories, about careless, arrogant travellers being taught a lesson or about children or dwarfs wandering into the forests and having adventures with the Brownies. And then there were the songs, wild drinking songs and crude mocking songs on foreigners, the rich and the nobility. Lotye could almost hear those songs in her head. I think I’ll miss those time when I was free to sing whenever I wanted, travelling alone, she realised.
In any case, Lotye didn’t really perceive the Brownies as a threat, not a real one anyway, as their little rescue expedition walked along the mountainside. Bandits, the weather, wild animals, the downed dragon and even the mountain itself all ranked higher on her personal list of dangers. Though Lotye wasn’t exactly careless either, and especially after she had seen something small scurrying away from Captain Lafitte’s boots, she made sure to look twice where she stepped. But on the deceivingly narrow path, spotted with roots, rocks and other tripping hazards, that was the wise thing to do, anyway. Around them, the trees of the forest grew higher, their green ever darker, and the shadows between them were deep.
Lotye pulled the the heavy sailor jacket closer around her. Walking for what seemed to be miles, but was probably less in this treacherous terrain, the rain had gradually lessened the further away they came from the grounded airship. But the sky was still as grey as the rocky sides of the mountains and it was cold and windy. In her still somewhat wet clothes, Lotye froze. She whispered a few words, trying to let a small magical flame dance around her fingers without burning herself, but after a few failed attempts, she stopped.
Her thoughts wandered to Prince Peino. Thimble had told them that he had found the spot where the Prince had fallen from the sky, and that the Prince had left this place. So he seemed to be able to move and his head still seemed to work, too, leaving behind a sign for them. But Lotye was almost certain that the Prince was hurt. He simply had to be, falling from a great height like this. Together with a dragon on the ground, brownies and quite possibly bandits in this forest, she couldn’t help but worry about him. Without consciously noticing, Lotye sped up her steps.