The forest was old, revered and not one to suffer fools. Thankfully Sophia had been properly introduced before starting on its paths and it was cautiously approving. She made sure not to blunder through the overgrowth or trample fragile new flowers and the paths stayed clear of thorns, if rather narrow.
She got the rather strong impression she was being led in a very specific direction but, since there didn’t seem to be any malicious intent involved and she really didn’t have a particular destination in mind, she was happy to place her fate in the whim of the forest. For now at least.
She certainly wasn’t given the most direct route to where ever she was going. There was a distinctive face in a tree trunk, with a crinkled sly grin that she was sure she’d passed at least twice but, as with her destination, she had no deadline she was being forced to meet, so she accepted the forest’s caution, and possible mischievousness and continued on her way, calmly and steadily (a queen should never show agitation or vexation).
Eventually she passed some test, or the forest got bored with playing and the path ended in a clearing beside a waterfall, splashing into a clear, deep pool, before feeding into a lively stream heading out on the far side of the space.
Next to the pool, shimmering in the mist of the waterfall was a structure that couldn’t make up its mind whether it was a small cottage or a shrine. She guessed she’d been delivered to the deity of the Lost Island and shivered in combined excitement and nerves, aware that that was not a queenly reaction and quietly glad of it.
As she approached the pillared porch, something or someone moved into the shadows of the doorway, then emerged into the afternoon sunlight.
A figure, built like a slender human of average height, the deity was otherwise nondescript, probably on purpose. The voice, when the figure called a greeting, was rich and multi-toned. Sophia felt like she was being addressed by an orchestra.
“Who has the mage and the forest sent to me today? A maid in search of her lost love? Or am I free of cliches today?”
That drew a smile, “My supposed love was never truly that, which I may need to come to terms with. But I think it’s more important I find myself, my purpose and then I may be able to properly love another.”
There was an approving nod from the porch, “A seeker with their head screwed on properly, how novel. We shall take tea, come in.”
With that, the deity disappeared indoors and, adjusting her pack for comfort, Sophia followed.Inside was light, airy and surprisingly free of mist.