Fairies : Mystica and Merlin
Chapter 8 : A Staff In The Woods
Mystica flew in the direction of the grey hills. North from the castle. She flew during the day. At night she found a safe place, usually high in a tree somewhere, to spend the night. She ate berries, and other fruits that she found along the way.
And every night when she tried to sleep, she had dreams of her mother. Of how much she had loved her mother. And how she had failed to save her. She always woke up after just a few hours of sleep. Usually no more than three. And then she took to the air again, before the dawn. Always heading north.
She flew beyond the edge of the kingdom. Into the grey hills. And then through them, into the black mountains. Where the dragons lived. Where the dragons ruled. And still, she did not stop. Flying through the mountains, into the the unknown forest that was beyond them.
She wanted to fly far enough away from the kingdom that no one would find her. That she would be alone. That no one would follow her. She wanted to get lost. To be alone. In the kingdom, she was princess Mystica. The great healer. And she would have always been that healer. Living with her mother. Taking care of her mother. Living in the castle, with Eyela. Having a good life. Helping people that needed help.
And then her mother was mortally wounded. A crossbow bolt piercing her body. Embedding itself in her organs. And damaging her heart. Mystica had tried. Oh, how she had tried. To heal her motherâ€™s broke body. To heal her dying heart. Sheâ€™d reached further into the white magic than sheâ€™d ever dared. Sheâ€™d reached into her own heart and soul. Sheâ€™d tried until she literally had been unable to stand. Unable to focus. Until the magic had abandoned her.
In the end, Mystica had failed. Her mother had died. Before her very eyes. Sheâ€™d felt her motherâ€™s heart stop beating. Sheâ€™d felt her blood stop flowing, her lungs become motionless. And sheâ€™d heard her motherâ€™s voice. Sheâ€™d stood there, next to the body of her dead mother, and watched as her motherâ€™s spirit stood before her, and told her not to cry. Her motherâ€™s last words were just for Mystica. â€œMy dear child. Do not feel lost. Do not worry for me. I am OK. I will see you again, one day. For now, dear Mystica, it is time for you to find your own way. Time for you to learn who you really are. And what youâ€™re meant to be. Find your own way in the life you lead, dear daughter. And know that I am always here. Watching over you. I will always love you, my child. Always.â€
With those words, Ivy was gone. And for the first time in her life, Mystica felt totally alone. Sheâ€™d slept for days, while her body rebuilt its strength. While sheâ€™d let Eyelaâ€™s fairy magic do its work to help her recover from the battle against death that sheâ€™d fought. While sheâ€™d slept, sheâ€™d dreamed of living alone. For years. In a large, northern forest. Of learning about snow, and cold. Of learning to care for herself. Of learning who she really was.
And so it was that sheâ€™d had to leave the kingdom. Sheâ€™d had to fly away. All she knew was that she should go north. Beyond the lands of the dragons. That somewhere in the north she would begin to find herself.
For several days, she flew around the forest. It was a very majestic thing. Tall trees. Almost all of them hardwood. The forest was ancient. The forest was quiet. The forest was beautiful. The white magic in Mystica could feel the strength in the forest.
As she explored the forest in those first few days, Mystica learned that it was very much alive. There were birds of all kinds. Many kinds that sheâ€™d never seen before. There were many animals. Mice, rats, rabbits, foxes. There were deer. Bucks, and does. And fawns. There were insects. Many kinds of insects that Mystica had never seen. There were toads, and frogs. And lizards to. And snakes.
As she explored the forest in those first few days, she learned that the forest was also a very dangerous place. With predators of many kinds. Wolves. And bears.
Mystica spent the nights in the trees. High above the ground. Her first few nights in the forest had been wonderful. Sheâ€™d listened to the sounds of the forest. The wind, blowing through the leaves. Sometimes it seemed to her that it was as if a giant was racing through the forest, moving in a zigzag line through the trees. Except that you couldnâ€™t not hear the giant. You could only hear the leaves of the trees move as he raced past them.
She never knew how many birds there were. As she rested in the trees at night, she got to hear birds singing. So many of them that she couldnâ€™t count how many. Every time she tried, the sounds blended together and confused her, so she always lost count. She found she loved to listen to the birds sing in the night.
She could hear the sounds of animals on the ground. Scurrying through the leaves and mosses. Sometimes talking to each other. She could hear the wolves howl. And the bears growl. Her favorite sound was that made by the owls. The quiet whisper of their wings as the flew between the trees. Almost silent. She had to try very hard indeed to hear them.
Those first few nights that sheâ€™d spent in the forest had been wonderful. The next few nights had been terrifying. Sheâ€™d heard the sounds of wolves. Hunting. She heard the sounds of rabbits as the fled the wolves. She heard the sounds of the wolves as they caught the rabbits. The sound of crunching, breaking bones. The thrashing of the rabbits as they died. And she heard the sounds of the wolves as they ate the rabbits.
It was as she slept in the trees of the forest in those first few nights that she began to realize that the world was a very different place than she had thought it was. That the strong in nature preyed on the weak. That nature was hard. That nature wasnâ€™t always fair. That bad things happened to every creature in nature. Both the good creatures and the bad creatures.
When sheâ€™d been in the forest for seven days, she decided it was time to decide where to live. To find a home. To build a life there. But sheâ€™d decided there was one last thing she had to do to free herself from the memories of the castle. From the her own failure to save her motherâ€™s life.
So on the dawn of the seventh day that Mystica was in the forest, she walked along the ground. Between the trees. Feeling the mosses, and the leaves with the soles of her feet. She walked for some time. Until she found a small clearing. Where vines grew between the trees. And formed a kind of dome. A natural dome. It was a beautiful place. It was do for what she had to do.
Mystica walked into the center of that clearing. Underneath that dome of vines and tree branches. It was there that she took her staff, and laid it on the ground. Then she closed her eyes, and made a silent promise. â€œI will not pick up my staff again. I am no longer a white mage. No longer a healer. I failed. I failed to save you, Mother. It is time I faced the truth that Iâ€™m not the healer that I hoped to be.â€
She knelt down on the ground. Resting on her knees. Then she cried. Tears fell from her eyes. Landing on the ground. Leaving damp marks on the ground. As her tears fell, Mysticaâ€™s shoulders sagged. Her back arched, and her head leaned forward. Until her elbows were on the ground. Her arms crossed. Her head resting on them.
She cried freely. Her heart aching in her chest. Her soul crying out in pain. A wail of loss, and grief coming from her voice. The first sound she had made since sheâ€™d taken flight on the night her motherâ€™s body had been returned to the universe that it had come from.
She cried this way for some time. And as she cried, birds, mice, and rabbits gathered in a circle around her. Among them was a grey owl. This owl landed right next to her. It simply stood there, next to her, and watched over her.
Eventually, Mysticaâ€™s tears dried. And she slowly got to her feet. She was so surprised to see the animals that had gathered around her. She was even more surprised when the grey owl had flicked itâ€™s wings, and landed on her shoulder. The owl then turned its head, and leaned forward, and whispered in Mysticaâ€™s ear. â€œIvy asked us to take care of you.â€
In that moment, Mystica and that owl became lifelong friends. Mystical actually smiled. And closed her eyes. Then she said to the owl, â€œThank you.â€ Then Mystica turned. And walked away. Leaving her staff there, in the center of that clearing.
Once she was gone, a shape stirred in the forest. A shadow that separated from the shadows. A figure in black. That crossed the clearing. Underneath the vines. To where Mysticaâ€™s staff rested on the ground. The dark figure reached out a dark hand, with silver claws on it. And carefully picked up the staff. â€œShe will need this again, someday,â€ a cold, hard voice that sounded like plates of metal being torn in half spoke.
Then the figure left the clearing. Blending back into the shadows from which it had appeared.