Chapter 15:

Mushroom barrier

Vampire Lanterns

Petrona suddenly collapsed out of exhaustion. Demyan was mortified and tried to wake her up by shanking her body. As she barely came to her senses for a little, she pointed her finger southwest and instructed Yan to walk that way, until he reached the Fae border and to cross it to be safe. She would join him later, after she rested a little bit.
Shocked and angry, Demyan held her in his arms hugging her. How could she demand from him something like that? He would never leave her alone in danger. He would never walk away just to save himself.
Demyan was a bit tired, but still had enough energy to carry her in his arms. The night was slowly approaching and still dripping wet, he noticed how Petrona was trembling in his embrace. He needed to dry her clothes at a fire, but they couldn't stay here in the territory of the Rusalka's, or they would end them, for killing one of their queens.
His human form was much weaker, so he loosened on his vampire side, changing his appearance and grew his wings to swiftly get into safety. At first, he contemplated to fly straight into the Tree Town, but that would make him suspicious. He wouldn't be able to explain, how they got there so quickly. The Fae area shall be the better option.
He made sure, Petrona was still out cold and raised to the night sky full of stars. He noticed right away the border, about which Petrona was talking. It shined in iridescent colors. He landed right in front of the mushrooms with Petrona still in his arms.
He hesitated and first touched it with his finger. The barrier reacted and gave him a slight electric shock. A worrisome look in his eyes made him frown as well. He won't be able to cross it. But Petrona can't stay here and when she regains her consciousness she will figure him out. He had to think for a bit about this problem.
What if he tries it out in his human form? Demyan changed into Yan and tried it once again. The barrier didn't repel him... interesting! He stepped over the mushrooms and suddenly was on the other side. He smiled; he got away with it, this time.
Demyan searched for a place, where he could make some fire and dry their clothes. Between some trees, he placed Petrona, made a firepit and collected some wood. One swing with his hand over and the wood caught fire.
He was a vampire, but also could do some small magic, since he came from the fiery Waste Lands, that was no problem for him. Petrona's clothes still dripping wet, made her shiver. She couldn't keep wearing that, it would make her sick.
He sat down in front of her for a bit and was thinking, should he undress her or not? Would she forgive him? He won't do it out of lust, just out of concern... Petrona opened her eyes. Demyan immediately took her into his arms and brought her closer to the fire. "You should drop the wet clothes and let them dry..."
Petrona blushed, covered her chest. "Don't misunderstand me, I am worried you may get sick. Stay here at the fire and I will go a little into the distance so you wouldn't feel ashamed." Petrona sighed. "But your Highness, that is my job. You should dry your clothes first and I will wait in the distance."
Demyan, already tired of this Highness nonsense... "It's an order! No buts..." Without a word, she nodded and they proceeded in their agreement. But still, Petrona came up with an idea for a compromise. She dragged some branches with leaves to the firepit and hid behind. "Your Highness, you can come back, and dry yourself as well. I will just turn to the other side not looking, so you won't get sick."
Demyan hesitated, but it was a good enough idea for him. Both sitting opposite directions, they were warming themselves at the fire. A rustling noise in front of Petrona, got them in high alert. Petrona scrambled backwards, until her back hit Demyan's.
He wanted to look that way... "Please, don't turn!" He stopped himself mid-turn. Small fairies flew out of the bushes, like little fireflies flying around and little annoying them. Petrona was sitting with her back to Yan's holding her knees broke the awkward silence. "Please forgive me for this mess..." Yan chuckled. "Feeling your warm back is actually nice... but I can also feel your wounds and that makes me sad..." Petrona blushed and dipped her face towards her knees and kept quiet.

After some time Demyan glanced at their clothes. Their coats looked dry, so he reached out with his long arm and grabbed them both. He wrapped the first around himself and then with his closed eyes wrapped the other around sleeping Petrona. He sat down against a rock and brought Petrona to his side. With one arm around her shoulders and her leaning against his chest, he also fell asleep.
The next morning, they continued and reached the Tree Town. Petrona made the necessary purchase, they came for as first, to get it out of her mind and enjoyed a one-day stay in this town.
Demyan just watched her with a smile strolling around until some people's talk caught his attention. "Did you hear? The Rusalka queen Dana is dead! Someone killed her yesterday... Well, I don't mind that, she was getting annoyed with killing men left and right without a reason.
She was already getting out of control. I am glad, there will be a new queen. Hope she will be better, than Dana... Also, someone from the Waste Lands disturbed the barrier in the Fae part..."

Demyan flinched. Could he be detected? How? "The fairies said, it was an aura of a Vampire, but how can that be? That is nonsense! This far inland? Here? Why would he come to the Fairy Realm? Do you think those two incidents are linked? Did a Vampire kill the Rusalka queen?"
Droplets of sweat began to form on his forehead for a bit.
He left it at that, since he was standing next to them and they didn't notice him. Petrona ran into a store to buy some bread to eat and Demyan was just loitering around. A strange man approached Demyan's side covered head to toe. His face was obstructed by a big hood...

"So how are things going... Prince DEMYAN!" Demyan's eyes darted towards him, widen in disbelief.