NaNoWriMo 2011, Day 16

Fairies : Mystica And Merlin

Chapter 16 : Wolves

Mystica woke up. She had no idea how long she’d been asleep. She knew she was hungry, so she got up, and walked across the tiny room that was her tree house. She walked out on the tree limb that she’d left her clothes on, so that they would dry. And then she got dressed.

That’s when she noticed something was different. Although she wasn’t sure what. So she thought for a while about what was different. Was there something about the lake? About the trees? Was Merlin across the lake? Where were all the birds? And the other animals. Like the rabbits. And the mice. Were were they? What was wrong was that it was too quiet. Much quieter than it normally was around the lake.

Whisper saw her standing there on that tree limb. So he flew over, and landed on her shoulder. Then he whispered in her ear, “Merlin’s left. He has decided that you are now able to take care of yourself. That you no longer need his protection.”

Mystica reached up, and scratched Whisper’s neck. Whisper closed his eyes, and let out a quiet “whoooooo”. Because it had been a long time indeed since he’d had his neck scratched. So he intended to enjoy it.  After a little while, Mystica stopped.

“I’m hungry,” she announced. “How long was I asleep?”

“Two days.”

“That long?”

“Yes. We should find you something to eat. And to drink.” Whisper took to the air, his wings as quiet as a whisper. Mystica followed him. Whisper lead her to a spot nearby that he knew of. One that had blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry bushes, all filled with berries. Whisper found a spot on a low hanging tree limb that reached into a few of the berry bushes. He figured it wouldn’t hurt him any to enjoy some berries with Mystica. Mystica landed on the ground, and began eating berries. Picking them off of the bushes.

She enjoyed the blackberries most of all. So many of them were perfectly ripe. The kind of ripe where they came off of the bushes in your hand if you just touched them. But they weren’t too ripe. None of them were mushy, or too soft. They did not leave blackberry stains on her hands, or her fingers. She enjoyed the raspberries, and the blueberries too. But the blackberries were just about perfect. She and Whisper ate berries together for a while. They ate until Mystica was no longer hungry.

Then the two of them flew back to the lake. Where they landed on a tree limb in a tree that was right on the edge of the lake. The limb reached out over the water. Mystica could sit down on that limb, and run her toes through the water of the lake. And it felt so good to her to do just that. The way the water felt, flowing past her toes.

It was a chance for her to be a 19 year old. A chance for her to be the little girl that she’d never really been when she was in the kingdom. There was no one watching her. No one telling her how a princess was supposed to behave. No one to scold her if she did something wrong. No one to enforce any rules at all. If she wanted to, she could just take off all her clothes, and dive into the lake, and swim for as long as she wanted to.

“Thank you, Whisper,” she scratched his neck, “for being my friend.”

They sat on that tree limb for a couple of hours. Until the sun had set. Mystica sighed. Then she scratched Whisper’s neck one more time, and stood up. “It’s time for me to go home and sleep. And for you to be the owl you are, and go explore the night.”

Whisper took flight. Heading into the trees. Using his big owl eyes to see like it was broad daylight. Flying silently among the branches, and the leaves. Never hitting anything. In a few heartbeats, he was out of sight.

Mystica took flight herself. Her wings pushing against the air. She started across the lake. That’s when she heard something she’d never heard before. At first, she wasn’t sure she’d heard anything. But as she crossed the lake, the sound became more clear. And just a little louder. Until she was certain she was hearing it.

The distant howling of a wolf. She had never heard a wolf before. Not while she was at the lake. This was something new. The wolves had always stayed away. But, Whisper had said that was because Merlin was protecting her. And today, Whisper had said Merlin was no longer protecting her. That she could protect herself.

Mystica flew to her tree house. She was tired. She had not realized how much her wild flight to the two villages had taken out of her. And she hadn’t realized how much her six day journey home had worn her out. She realized, as she got ready to sleep that night, that she was absolutely exhausted.

But, as she went to bed, she heard the howling of the wolves.

In the night, as she closed her eyes, and fell asleep, she had nightmares. Of the wolves. Of them hunting down the animals that had kept her company around the lake. That would be hard for her to deal with if it really happened. But she knew that was how nature worked.

Unfortunately, that’s not where the nightmares stopped. Soon, the wolves started hunting other things. Soon, the wolves started hunting the villagers. Attacking the children first. She dreamed of parents crying tears over the loss of a child. Of wolves attacking in the night. And becoming more and more bold. Until they started attacking in daylight. The nightmares continued through the night. With the wolves forming packs. And those packs starting to hunt down everything. Openly raiding villages in daylight.

Mystica tossed, and turned throughout the night. Waking up several times. Each time she woke up, she found she was sweating. Her heart pounding in her chest. Until she had one last nightmare that night. The nightmare where the wolves were chasing her. And she was running for her life. But everywhere she ran, another wolf was there, blocking her path. She tried to fly. She tried to fly again, and again. But she never succeeded. It was as if her wings had stopped working, and she couldn’t fly.

She woke up, terrified. Her heart pounding once again. And this time, she could not get back to sleep. She got up, and walked to the little window she had made in one wall of her tree house. There was no real window there. No glass. Just a curtain, over a hole in the wall. It was as much a door for Whisper as it was a window.

She could tell by the light shining in through the curtain that it was daylight outside. She pulled aside the curtain, and looked outside. It was then that her heart stopped. For there, in the clearing, next to the lake, were five wolves. Eating the remains of a few rabbits. There were not other animals there. No birds. No mice. Even the fish were staying away from the shore, so the wolves couldn’t reach them.

Mystica stayed in her home. Looking out the window. Watching the wolves. She watched them as they spent the day by the lake. She studied the way that they behaved. That they had a structure. A leader. And subordinates. And the leader was a male. She watched them eat. She watched them sleep. She watched them through the day. Staying hidden in her tree house. Even though she got hungry. She remained quiet. Looking out her window. Watching the wolves.

As the sun set, the wolves began to stir. After a few minutes, the wolves were all up, and moving. They moved north, along the lake, Until they reached the place where water flowed out of the lake, as a small river that continued flowing into the trees, and soon disappeared from sight.

Once the wolves were gone, Mystica ventured out. She was hungry, and needed something to eat. And she knew where several trees were that had fruit in them. She also knew that there were other plants that she could eat. Specific kinds of mushrooms. Specific kinds of tree leaves. Even pieces of the bark of some kinds of trees. There were weeds of various kinds that were also good to eat. She didn’t have a market place where she could just go and buy food. She didn’t have a garden. She had no seeds to start one.

She quietly flew through the forest, to the places she knew of that were to the south of the lake. She gathered up the things she wanted to eat. And then she took them back to her tree house. She sat outside on a tree limb, and she ate. She made it a point to avoid walking on the ground. She knew the wolves would be able to smell her scent if she did that. And that would make it easier for the wolves to find her, if they returned.

Mystica did not sleep well again that night. She stayed awake for several hours. Listening to the howls of the wolves. Until she was convinced that those howls were getting more and more distant. She wound up taking little naps all night long. Watching the lake, and the clearing, to see if the wolves returned.

Every time she closed her eyes, she had nightmares of the wolves. Hunting everything. It was as if the wolves were like the soldiers that she’d seen. That she’d dealt with. That the wolves and soldiers were alike. Both predators. Both hunters. Both ruthless. Except that the wolves may be better, in that they had to hunt to survive. Where the soldiers didn’t.

Working up her courage, she flew out to the lake, landing in the clearing, right at the lake’s edge. And the walked up to the water, and looked at it. As she did, she thought, “Show me the wolves, please.”

And there they were. Painted on the lake. In the same white light that the soldiers had been painted with. She watched the wolves as they hunted. Sticking to small animals for now. But the images then changed. And she saw the wolves outside of a village. These were not the same wolves as those she’d seen that day. These were different wolves. There were more of them. And they were surrounding a village. She watched the images for a little while. She could tell it was not daylight in those images. She saw that the wolves were hidden, at the edges of the village. Waiting. She saw the adults coming out of their houses, as they woke up. She saw that it was daylight., and as the day went on, she saw the children of the village come outside to play.

As the children played, they moved throughout the village. There were a couple of boys playing. As they played, they got close to the edge of the village. Edging a little closer every few minutes. Until suddenly, a wolf leaped from its hiding place, there at the edge of the village. And it grabbed one of the boys, sinking it’s teeth into that boy’s leg, and hauling that boy into the woods.

The other boy had screamed, and ran. “A wolf! A wolf! It’s got Tommy!” Several adults came running when they heard him scream. The boy jumped up and down, frantically pointing to the place where the wolf had grabbed his friend.

The adults formed a small group. There were 6 of them. And those 6 adults grabbed what they had. Hoes, rakes, shovels. Then they took off into the woods to try to rescue the boy named Tommy.

Mystica’s heart sank. For she knew they never would. She knew that Tommy was just gone. A victim of the wolves. As she watched the images unfold on that surface of the lake, she knew that someday soon, there would come a time when she would have to deal with the wolves. When she would have to make the stand that a white mage could. And protect the people of the villages from the wolves.

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