The imp in front of me quickly regains his composure, and addresses me again.
“The mortal is direct, bold and fierce!
But should watch his voice or his tongue I will pierce!”
Okay, so it’s not just his entrance. He’s going to speak in rhyme this whole time. That won’t get annoying or anything.
“Robin Goodfellow…” Why does that name sound familiar? “I’m trying to get through this door. Would you happen to have a key?”
He gives a smile and responds.
“No need, Mr. Rodriguez, to be so meek.
I know of your plight, and have what you seek.
I had heard you were different.
That your mind is quick.
So let us compete.
Off I go, to my path must you stick.”
He lets out a chuckle, and bends down on all fours. He wants to race? To where?
“Um, what are the rules?”
“The endeavor is simple. Stay within sight.
None have done so. Not beggar, lord or knight.
The trees are our road. The air, our muse!
And dire consequences if you should lose…”
I’m getting annoyed with all this rhyming. Just got to remember what Luna told me.
“Fine. I keep up with you until the end, and I get the key. Let’s get this over with.”
“The mortal accepts. Very hasty, quick thought
A challenging ordeal for himself he has bought”
“Yeah, yeah I get the picture.” At least, I hope I do.
I don’t know where we’re running to, or what nasty tricks he’ll throw at me along the way. He’s right though, I did just kind of agree to this without thinking. Barely two minutes in, and I already got myself into a bit of a mess. This sideways forest, and the man who challenged me are complete mysteries. How do I know if I can keep up?
I focus. Concentrate on my beliefs, turning an mere thought into absolute certainty. My body separates from the tree trunk, hovering a few feet above it. Robin Goodfellow gives a chuckle before speaking.
“What wise Luna teaches, you masterfully learn
But now is the time, for this key you must earn
Are you prepared to start? Can we begin the test?
Can we see if you’ll truly best the best?”
I couldn’t help myself.
“Take off for wherever, I swear to keep up.
And when we reach the end, you’ll have to pay up.”
The spirit laughed.
“You cannot rhyme a word with itself, silly man.
Though it’s funny you tried.
Enough with these words. Let’s begin
And see the power I eyed.”
With that, he leaps into the air, landing on a tree trunk next to us. He’s so fast. I float after him, trying to concentrate on moving myself faster. Before I’m halfway there, he jumps to the next adjacent trunk.
Have to keep moving, but I feel so slow in comparison to my opponent. Luna showed me there were limits to belief here. Is it a limit on my belief specifically or is there a universal limit? I push onward, trying to keep Robin in sight. He was fast and could easily outrun me, but I think he wants to play games with me. Or maybe teach me something like Luna.
We keep up this game for several more trees. He would land and wait, while I do my best to fly over faster. If he keeps up the show, I’d make it to the end with my eye on him, but I somehow doubt he’d be so simple. He jumps to another tree, and I decide to land on his previous one.
“This can’t be all. There has to be a catch. What’s going on here? Are you really just going to take it so easy on me?”
The faerie gives a smile. I immediately regret my words.
“If the hazard is too low, then I suppose it should increase!
Prepare to lose mortal! With your deity, make your peace!”
“No!” I cry out.
It was too late. The spirit takes off jumping from tree to tree, with no pause between. I must act fast. Have to think! How do I keep up? He runs and leaps on all fours faster than I can on two. He jumps like an insect, and he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
I try to push my floating ability to keep up, but it feels like flying through jello. I’d almost think I could do better running and jumping myself.
That’s not a bad idea. Maybe.
If he can go that fast moving like he does, then maybe I can too? It’s stupidly simple logic, but I don’t have anything else to go on. I crouch down, readying my legs for what was sure to be a huge mistake.
I look over the edge of the tree. No, that was the huge mistake. C’mon, I can do this. I concentrate. I believe.
My legs push off as hard as possible, my will focused on moving like Robin. I’m sent sailing through the air for my efforts, moving quickly like the faerie. I’m moving so much faster! The wind seems to carry me, and it feels as if the trees are moving.
The trees are moving?
I look down and notice the trunk I was aiming for shifted to just out of my reach. I try to reach my hand out, still miss and go sailing down.
Another tree below it has moved into position to intercept me, and I thank whatever gods may exist for the save.
Then I land on my belly, sending pain through my entire body. It’s not fair. I don’t breathe, and can barely be said to exist, but somehow I can still be hurt? If I had a stomach, its contents would be coming up about now.
But I did it. I can move like him. Now I just need to catch up.