Lily and Gux stood just outside the protective magic of the commune, the rain bearing down on them through the forest leaves. For any other couple, there might have been a moment here where they looked at each other, asking if they were ready to do this and questioning whether or not this was really what they wanted before they held hands and took the plunge.
Not here. Gux hugged Lily as she did her incantations, kneeling down so they were the same height, his head pressed against the back of hers, his heart beating in time. They both knew what they were doing, the risks, the rewards… and they were going to do it together. The second the blue wisps of magic left her fingertips, the spell taking hold, she turned, hugging him back as she slowly turned into a cloud of mist, hovering in the air.
Gux watched her go, then tried to focus to do the same, but… he had no idea how to transform. He’d never been able to, not a ‘proper’ druid, and so he ended up working himself up imagining it, slowly getting annoyed when he wasn’t getting all misty. After nearly a minute of him focusing and failing, he growled to himself, moving from kneeling to sitting.
Lily’s mist landed in front of him, turning back into herself. As she did, Gux just growled. “Not good enough at magic… Only slowing us down, and we not even go.” Lily’s face formed in a frown and she tapped him aggressively on the nose.
“None of that! You’re not allowed to put yourself down. You’re incredible and you’ve never learned how to do anything like this, so it’s new to you. We should’ve practiced, that’s on me. Now, close your eyes.” Gux looked at her with a bit of surprise, but nodded, closing his eyes. “Picture the wind around you. Feel it moving, the raindrops falling through it… Listen to the leaves rustling in the trees.”
Gux’s ears swiveled on his head, listening to all the sounds, feeling the wind tickle his wet fur. “Now… slip into it. Picture yourself rising off of the ground and sliding into the wind, carried off wherever it may lead.” He tried his best to hold that picture in his mind, but he couldn’t quite get there, snorting angrily.
Lily held his cheeks. “Breathe in.” He breathed in calmly, smelling her scent so close… the one that made his heart flutter in his chest. “Breathe out.” He let out a long breath, imagining it swirling into the wind flowing past him… and he felt himself slipping into it. He nearly feared it, pulling back, when he felt Lily slipping with him, their touch getting insubstantial. He opened his eyes just in time to see his vision go misty and her form break once more into mist.
Lily and Gux’s mist forms swirled around each other, exploring each other intimately in the safety of their forest. It was at once distancing, unable to feel those familiar touches, see the sights, smell each other’s scent… but every last particle of them mingled with the other’s, combining until they could almost lose themselves in the mist, before they separated out once again. Lily floated upward, ready to fly, while Gux spread apart for a moment, then drifted the wrong direction, before swirling and centering itself. A moment later it was floating the same direction as Lily, and the two balls of mist sped up, one twirling around the other as they shot towards the sky.
The biggest downside to being a mist was that neither of them could talk. However, the way they moved together, starting to weave in and out of each other below the clouds told them all they needed to know. They were still committed, but they missed each other’s touch, going for the mist’s touch whenever they could. When the clouds ahead turned to thunderstorms, Gux paused, worried for his form, while Lily’s mist embraced him. In this magical form, she was the one infinitely sure of herself. Sometimes she felt awkward in the forest next to Gux, who could blend into the trees and bushes despite his huge size. She had thought she was home out there until she saw him become one with the woods… and knew she had his back whenever he went into town, his nervous awkwardness showing even after all this time.
The magic was another form of that, and she wrapped around his cloud body, helping to ease him up into the blanket of storms that bathed the land. Inside the wind buffeted them this way and that, the solid mists all around threatening to scatter their bodies to the winds… but they held firm with each other, avoiding the flashes of light deep in the fog around them as they rose ever higher, eventually bursting free into dazzling sunshine, the storm now beneath them.
The two mists separated, and they could see in each other rainbows reflected through their very souls, the light hitting the water that made their bodies and separating. Her rainbow had every color evenly, with a slight focus on the lighter shades of red that made it pop, while Gux’s bands were heavily green and gold, with a thin red line and most of the other colors pushed to the edges of the spectrum. They were a sight to behold, almost as though their soul was being scried through the sunlight, and both saw each other in this new light, not surprised, but dazzled all the same by the person they knew so well.
The two forms danced in the clear air, the magic keeping them together despite the wind, and together they rushed, spiraling like a drill across the skies. Eventually the clouds opened up, drifting behind them as they looked down over the savannah. They were further out than Gux’s tribe had ever gone, and while he knew much of the place as a destroyed, muddy waste, these were rolling golden fields of grass. Huge creatures prowled around, elephants and huge lizards that had to only be sustained by magic and time.
At one point Lily darted down into the limbs of an acacia tree, landing and reforming into herself, watching with wonder as a giraffe came up, eating leaves beside her. Gux landed a little above her on another branch, looking down with a smile, while Lily petted the giraffe’s head. “I’ve heard about these wonderful giraffes, but I’d never seen one before! They’re so majestic.”
Gux smiled, watching the huge tongue from the giraffe wrap around Lily’s hand, almost like a handshake, though it was looking for food. “Yes… They used to be favorite animal hunt for tribe. Fun to watch run, but… I like more now. And they strong… One of big lizard things came to tribe, twelve dead before it killed. But giraffes still around.” The giraffe came over to him and he patted it on the little horns on top of its head. He then cast goodberry, giving one to the giraffe and letting it lick a couple more off of his paw. He popped one in his mouth, then tossed another to Lily, a snack to keep them going.
They watched the clouds rolling over the savannah for a while, and once the giraffe wandered off, they sat on the same branch, Gux looking over the land with a twinge of sadness. “I… miss homelands sometimes. Forest nice… Love forest, but… miss wind in grass. Miss heat of summer sun, sound of cooling rains… Too… safe in commune.”
Lily leaned against him, nodding. “You know… The commune is the only place I really know. I’ve lived there my whole adult life barring two years, in which I lived in another one. Those trees shimmered gold in the summer, shifting to copper in autumn and silver in winter. I grew up in a magical forest… it’s the only home I’ve really known.” She hugged him tightly. “I’m glad I have such a wonderful guide to come with me on this journey.”
As much as they knew each other, Gux hadn’t known about her first home. He kissed her on the top of her head. “I… like see golden leaves… Maybe have pup where you first born?” He smiled warmly, thoughts of their own little one making him feel at peace. “Keep one tradition strong…”
She just looked at him, seeing the conflict in his eyes as he tried to figure out what to do for their child’s future. Her face stayed in a calm smile, and she leaned up, kissing him and pulling him from his thoughts. “We’ll have time to figure it out when we get there. And Zaax will still need a little guidance when we get back.” They sat in silence a little longer, watching the creatures of the savannah moving, before they both wordlessly formed back into mist, taking to the sky again.
They moved as quickly as they could with the light, following the land as the savannah melted away into rolling plains, which in turn formed into forests. They were coming up on a large redwood forest, the trees towering up to the lower heights they were flying at. Sunset started to descend, and with it the magic started to fade, both of the cloudy shapes taking on the appearance of the people they were, separating them from the blob they’d traveled in for the last hour into two distinct people. They held hands as they slowly became solid, and while they started to descend, they weren’t moving fast enough when the magic sputtered out, leaving them flesh and blood a few hundred feet in the air. Lily, despite being the one who cast the spell, was worried, as it was her first time having it end like this, but Gux held her hand calmly as they slowed down from their lightning fast flying, the two drifting down to land at the base of one of the redwoods.
Gux looked around the area, looking content with where they’d ended up. He walked with Lily for a little longer, soon getting weary, the flight having taken more energy than they thought. They searched around a little longer for a good place to rest, but when none were apparent, Lily awakened the tree next to her, asking permission to rest a little bit up its side. In a slow voice, ancient as the land itself, the tree answered. “Leave me as you found me, and you can do so. But should you disobey that oath… the forest will not forget.” Lily and Gux were both surprised at the hostility, but the tree was firm on that front. “We have lost many to the incursions of man… I dare not lose myself. But… thank you for asking. Most don’t.”
Lily thanked the tree, removing the magic as she cast another spell, crafting wooden steps up it to a safe height, Gux following along, happy to watch his wife at work doing the magic he’d first encountered her with. Once they were safely off the ground, leaves and branches grew from the tree, forming into a safe little house for them, complete with a bed for two made out of leaves carefully woven together. With that done, the two sat there, experiencing night in a new location in each other’s arms… Who knew what difficulties the next day might bring, but as they made love together in their tree house, falling asleep satisfied in each other’s embrace, his body curled protectively around hers… they knew they were on the right path.