They exited the Hollow, which Andrea was very surprised to see was a giant tree. Well, it did explain the name, the floors, and the walls.
They were in one of the most beautiful places Andrea had ever seen. There were ten pavilions constructed out of wood and frosted glass standing in a clearing, shimmering when the orange rising sun caught them. The vivid green grass shone with dew. Darian and Verna paused, setting down her cot on the ground.
“Please, come out!” Verna yelled into the morning, sounding more commanding than Andrea had ever heard her.
Doors, which had been closed a moment before, swung open in the pavilions.
And Andrea saw who the Zahteva really were.
They stole her breath away. They were every bit as beautiful as Verna, with hair in all vibrant shades of the rainbow. There were fifty of them, some men, some women, but they were all dressed in the same white robes that Verna was, another bright detail Andrea had missed. They had an immortal quality about them, an ageless attribute she couldn’t quite place.
“Hello, brothers and sisters,” Verna greeted. “This is High Princess Andrea. She wanted to see you.”
Every one of them smiled, revealing perfect teeth.
“How did you know I was the High Princess?” Andrea asked.
“Word gets around,” a female Zahteva with cerulean hair grinned. “Don’t worry. We don’t worry about such social classes humans have.”
“That’s a relief,” Andrea sighed. She found her easy to talk to.
“I’m Polla,” the girl introduced. Andrea decided she was more girlish than womanlike, mostly because of the high amount of energy she possessed.
Andrea nodded. “So why did you care for us here? You must want something in return.”
“We don’t,” laughed a man with green hair. “Any humans who are able to find us deserve favor enough. I’m Pladen,” he added, nodding.
“Why are you here?” Andrea asked, changing her tactics.
“We simply were,” Verna explained. “We blinked into existence, understanding that humans and all creatures needed our help if they were to find us.”
“And we had to stay secluded because of what we can do,” Pladen explained, his tone turning grave. “If the wrong people were to find us, it would cause great harm.”