She had set off on a quest for Fles, but finding her way out of Erusaelp was not easy. Every time she thought she had nearly reached the end of the empire, high, insurmountable, stone walls greeted her.
She heard that the broken-hearted prince had locked himself up in his palace. She was glad he had not tried to stop her; his love had set her free to pursue her dream.
Every day, she ached for the prince and for the pleasures of Erusaelp. More than once, she retraced her steps and found herself in the radius of the palace. However, each time her hand reached up to knock at the massive gates, her soul burned for Fels, and she turned her back to Erusaelp once again.
As she took one wrong turn after another, she realised that she was no longer the confident, sprightly girl, out on an adventure. Her time at Erusaelp had weakened her, in body, mind and spirit. Her legs failed to carry her any great distance without long rests, her mind was haunted with thoughts of the prince and the only thing that dragged her weary spirit was the memory of the glimpse she had got of the Magician’s eyes just before she had sunk into the quicksand.
She knew that the Magician had not left her side, but her confused thoughts could not comprehend how to reach out to him. She clung on to the bag of stardust, the only vestige of her beloved Magician. A few times, she had shaken the bag, hoping for a sign, but the stardust just lay at the very bottom, shimmering weakly, as if dead.
She knew that her distraction at Erusaelp had strayed her off the path towards Fels, but she also knew that it was not irrevocable. Her Magician would not fail her. On what could only be called a journey of faith, she kept her eyes open for a sign – any sign – that would help her find her way.
In Zevarstan, a merchant offered her prosperity beyond imagination. He assured her that she would never want for anything again. The she-dwarves of Yari offered to remain her life-long companions, always by her side through pain and pleasure. The city of Allures abounded with men as handsome as demi-gods, charming enough to steal the heart of any young girl. But, she turned her back to them all, walking on in single-minded pursuit of her quarry.
One day, however, sheer humanness took over. She was alone, in the middle of an abandoned, overgrown corn field. Her feet were scorched in the burning sun, her delicate complexion had turned brown, her legs could not take another step and her spirit was crushed. She collapsed in the middle of a dirt path, defeated. She cried out to the heavens, “I can do no more. Save me, oh, Magician!” And she broke down and sobbed.
Her humble tears fell on the little bag of stardust lying on her side. She thought she saw it tremble every so slightly. She took it in her hand and undid the string binding the bag. The bag shivered and shook in her hands. Suddenly, with a great whoosh, the stardust flew out and high in the sky, as if revelling in its freedom. In a few moments, its coolness was encircling her again, making her body glow in exactly the same way it had when the Magician had promised to always be by her side.
She smiled, welcoming the sparkling gift – an old, comforting friend. She held out her calloused hands and it floated over, soothing them. The aches melted into softness, the stardust acting as salve on her burns. Her heart felt lighter than it had in years, and a brilliant spark seemed to light up every corner of her mind. Her whole being was awash with the Magician’s presence. The healing had begun.