"It's still a real tangle of trees on this side," Felicie said as she pointed upwards. "On the other side, several of the trees have fallen, or died. The cold north wind is hard on that side in the winter" She turned to Addi. "Your cousin's village is only a short walk northwest from here."
Addi and Sig had already decided that Sig would make the first clandestine trip up to the old castle. Felicie was completely absorbed in her work, and Addi laughed at Felicie's surprise upon looking up and seeing Sig gone.
It took Sig longer to complete his investigation than Addi. Sig relied on his visual tracking skills, and his ability to blend into the trees and tall grasses. Addi's talents were her speed, and her enhanced sense of smell. Although her eyesight was also keen, Sig's years of training had made him almost as good as picking out the smallest details as Addi herself.
On Addi's return, she and Sig quietly made sure that they were ready to leave, and after a little more work with Felicie, they headed back to her cottage.
Out of courtesy, and a lack of any important information, Sig gestured to Addi that she should speak first, once they were seated again at Felicie's table. Used to Addi's crisp, practical nature, Addi's first words to Felicie still hit him like a clap of thunder.
"Were you planning on telling us that you're a fairy?"
If Sig was startled, Felicie was completely calm. She even smiled. "You are as intelligent and observant as your cousin Louise said you were."
"But how did you figure that out?" Sig said.
"So you could tell right away that she was magical, and you never told me," Sig said. "Did you not trust me?"
"One thing I have noticed, on the evilest witches I've met -- do you remember Beru, Sig? -- was a hint of sulfur. And there was a stronger odor of sulfur at the ruins today, especially strong along the path of those human, or seemingly human, footprints we saw."
Sig was pleased that Addi took it for granted that he too had noticed the signs that any creatures but animals had been there recently. "So whoever walked through there was someone else who has embraced evil. And you could tell it was someone magical."
"Yes. And the underlying scent was very similar to Felicie's. After that, it was a guess, but an informed one." Addi turned to Felicie. "That last fairy that lived on here, that helped rescue Princess Constance. That was..."
"My mother," Felicie said. "She told me her story, and brought me up to work with the other Marchen in this area, like your cousins, to be on watch for any new evil that might arise. I didn't want to tell you I was a fairy, Addi, because I wanted to see what evidence you could discover on your own. Your cousins got close enough that night to sense the presence of evil, but they didn't want to draw attention to their whole village by doing a deeper investigation. A magical being might even recognize them as Ulfer in their wolf forms. You and Sig knew enough about our world to investigate, without drawing attention to anyone here as a Marchen."
"Well yes, an evil fairy could probably tell right away that I'm another fairy," said Felicie with a sad smile. "But we couldn't trust a non-Marchen with the story either. Better to put me alone at risk than an entire village of Ulfer."
"You said another fairy could *probably* tell," said Sig. "Do you not know for sure?"
But before Felicie could answer, there was a knock at her front door.