This is a writing prompt from Write on Edge, a piece of 500 words based on a picture.
"Are you really sure about this?" Elaine asked. "The last time I looked at a map this was a supermarket car park."
"I can't get a signal on my phone." Steve muttered, shaking it and looking desperately at the screen. "But I think we are in the right place, the compass says so."
"You 'bought' a compass from a faerie." Elaine said flatly. "What made you think that you could trust Lord Marius?"
"Because a lot of the lords like using me as a supplier and he was getting bored of taking me in." Steve said with honest realism. "And I paid him with a crate of his favourite coffee."
Elaine slipped over a tree root, skidded down the path and just steadied herself in time. She inspected her stinging, grazed hands. "This forest is creepy.
"It's faerieland." Steve said absently as he peered through the mist. It was an elfen mist, elusive and intangible and with echoes in the swirling air. In the distance he thought he could hear mocking laughter and the yelp of dogs. "We need to stay on the path."
"And if we don't?" Elaine hefted her bag back onto her shoulder. She was regretting coming. "What did Lord Grey want anyway?"
Steve looked a bit uncomfortable. "Wormwood. Artemisia Absinthium. It's the stuff they used to put in absinthe that sent people mad or blind. I was surprised that I managed to get so much so easily."
Elaine looked around the pine forest. The trees loomed over her and the mist was soaking through her clothes. She shivered and behind her she heard a brief burst of flute music. Both she and Steve ignored it. "What would happen if it is the wrong stuff."
"It is the right stuff." Steve could feel the chill as well. "We need to stick to the path and we need to push on." He hefted his own, heavier bags. "It will be alright."
"Steve, you told me about being chased by Yell Hounds in the domain of Lord Hadron." Elaine looked around as mocking laughter echoed again.
"Nothing is going to happen." Steve took a deep breath. " We are on the safe path. We have trade goods for Lord Grey which he really wants. Besides, too many lords use my services. He wouldn't offend them over nothing."
"Are we safe?" Elaine jumped as something small skittered in the bushes behind them.
"I would not take the woman I loved into anywhere that was not safe." Steve snapped. Then he paused. This wasn't how he had planned things. However he had to seize the moment. "Elaine Pettigrew, will you marry me?"
Elaine dropped her bag in exasperation and turned to face Steve. "What a time and place to pick!"
Lord Marius suddenly appeared out of the mist. "Congratulations, I am so glad that you have finally managed to find the courage. I trust I will be dancing at your wedding?"
Elaine whirled to face him. "I haven't said 'yes'!"
I had a lot of fun writing this, I can't wait to find out how this goes. As a note, you can buy dried Artemisia Absinthium on the internet very freely, as I checked. It's supposed to be good for the digestion. The hallucinogenic properties weren't mentioned. Artemisia or wormwood was one of the ingredients mentioned in medieval witches' brews and that has been used as an explanation for the witches visions of flying. I've learnt all sorts while trying to write.