Fairies : Mystica and Merlin
Chapter 19 : Broken Wing
Mystica flew above the river. She flew slowly, carefully looking into the forest on either side of the river. She was looking for any sign of the wolves. She was also looking for any sign of the boy and the girl. She hoped very much that they were still alive. But the aching of her heart, and the tears that her soul cried told her they were not.
As she flew, she called forth the white magic, forming a pure white flame in front of her. “Show me where the children are,” she spoke quietly. Then she hovered in flight. Hanging in the sky. And the white magic painted a picture before her eyes. A picture of a pack of wolves. Six of them in all. They were trotting through the trees. Her heart ached so very much, for she knew that the children were dead. That the wolves had killed them. And that angered her. It caused her blood to burn. As if it were on fire.
She heard Whisper’s words again. “Don’t listen to your anger and your fear.” She wasn’t sure what Whisper meant. She was angry that the wolves had killed again. Angry that they had begun to attack villagers. And she was very much afraid. She’d never come face to face with a wolf before. But now, she was heading to find six of them. To stop them. To fight with them. To prevent them from killing more villagers.
She didn’t want to kill them. She knew that much. Like all living things, they were just trying to stay alive. To survive. But their actions upset the balance of how things were supposed to be. They were attacking people. In a forest filled with food. Rabbits. Birds. Squirrels. Mice. Deer. There were so many things that were natural food for the wolves. And humans weren’t. So Mystica would stop them. Or at least, she would try.
The white magic shifted in the sky, becoming a ball of fire. It started moving down the river. Mystica followed it, knowing it was showing her where the wolves were. She could feel the sweat on the backs of her legs. Where her knees were. She could feel the sweat on the palms of her hands. She could feel her pulse racing.
She knew she was afraid of what was to come.
It was nearly noon when Mystica found the wolves. The magic had lead her right to them. She didn’t fly right in on them. She flew above the trees. Trying to stay out of their sight. Watching them. While she tried to figure out what she should do. “How do you stop a wolf without a bow, and arrows? Without a cross bow?” she thought. “I’m not a warrior. A soldier. I don’t know how to fight wolves.”
As she watched the wolves, she remembered what had happened to the soldiers in the village that night. When she’d become so very disturbed, and even angry. When the anger became fire in her blood. And she’d uttered that single word, “Burn.”
How many of the soldiers had died that night? Killed by her own thoughts and words. Was that how she was to fight the wolves? Or was there another way that she had yet to learn?
As she flew, she became lost in thought. Trying to figure out what she should do. And never saw the tree limb that she flew into. The collision knocked her right out of the sky. And she landed, heavily, on the ground. Right behind the wolves.
The fall knocked the breath out of Mystica. She hit the ground, unable to move at first. The wolves heard her as she fell. They turned, to see what it was they heard. And they saw her bounce off of the ground when the struck it. They saw her as she didn’t move at first. It wasn’t until she drew in a painful breath of air, her entire body screaming for the air she needed, that the wolves realized she was still alive. And they started to approach her.
The wolves spread out, and rapidly formed a circle around Mystica. Mystica got to her feet, and flexed her wings. That’s when pain shot through her, starting with her left wing, and lancing through her back and shoulders. She screamed in pain, and staggered forward. She knew that her left wing was broken. Badly. The wolves growled, they smelled blood. Her blood. She knew her wing was bleeding from the broken bones in it.
The wolf behind her launched itself at her. It’s teeth and claws ready to tear into her wounded wing, and into her shoulders, neck and back. Mystica turned toward the wolf as it had leaped, and ran straight at the hole that was now formed in the circle of wolves. The attacking wolf’s teeth closing around the middle of her broken wing. It’s teeth sank into her wing, snapping still more bones.
White fire exploded from Mystica, throwing the wolf into the air, away from her. As it did, the wolf’s teeth tore her wing. Shredding part of it. Mystica no longer felt the pain of her wing. All she could think of was to run. And run she did.
As she ran, she knew the nightmare that she’d had time and time again was now coming true. She was being chased by wolves. She couldn’t fly. Her left wing was broken, and bleeding. Her lungs were on fire. She was terrified. Dodging wolves as they leaped at her. Zigging and zagging between trees. She had no idea where she was going. All she could think was to run. To somehow stay alive.
As she ran through the forest, scratches, scrapes and cuts formed on her legs, her feet, her arms, and her face. New ones formed when she ran through the trees. Running into small tree limbs and branches. Her feet bleeding on the rocks and the roots of trees. She nearly fell, nearly twisting her ankles. She ran. Blindly. With no time to look ahead. Ducking a wolf as it leaped at her. Putting another tree between herself and another wolf. Changing direction every few steps.
But she was growing tired. She knew she couldn’t keep running forever. That she had to find a way to escape the wolves. And soon. Or they would capture her. And they would kill her, like they’d killed the children. She had to keep running, and hope something changed. And that it changed fast.
As she ran, she caught a glimpse of a tree branch that was just within her reach, if she jumped for it. So she changed direction once again, and ran the three steps to that branch, jumping as high as she could on the last step. Her hands grasped that branch, and she swung under it. She keep swinging, until her feet had come up, and she caught the branch with them. She pulled herself up, as quickly as she could. But she wasn’t fast enough. One of the wolves leaped at her again. It’s teeth sinking in to her broken wing. And there they hung for a moment. Mystica hanging on to that branch for dear life. And the wolf hanging from her broken wing.
Until the white magic struck again. Flowing through her broken, bleeding wing, into the wolf. The wolf was thrown straight down, into the ground. When it struck the ground, it howled in pain. Mystica had her chance, and moved. Climbing up onto the branch. And then continuing to climb higher into the tree.
At least she was safe. For now. But she was trapped in a tree. Surrounded by wolves. She couldn’t climb down, or they would get her. She couldn’t fly away, her broken wing would not let her. She was trapped.
She sat on a branch. Trying to catch her breath. Trying to calm herself down, and think of a way to get out of the mess she was in. As she sat there, the panic she had felt, the fear, subsided. And as it did, the pain from her left wing grew. Until it felt like someone was sticking a branding iron to her wing. The pain lancing through her wing, into her back and shoulders. It hurt just to breathe. And it was hard for her to stay balanced on the tree limb.
Merlin’s words echoed in her mind once more. “Listen to your heart. It will guide you.” She heard those words at least a dozen times. And then something inside of her snapped into place. And despite the pain that she was in, she stood up, and closed her eyes. Focusing her strength. Calling for the white magic once again.
White fire encased the tree limb she was standing on. The limb spread out. Becoming flat, and wide. The sides of that flat area on the branch then turned upward. Forming edges that would keep things from rolling off the branch. Leaves from the branch formed a soft green bundle at one end of the flat spot. Mystica smiled. She’d made a place where she could lie down. Where she could rest for a while. Where she would be safe enough to even take a nap. And try to gather up some of her strength.
That’s exactly what she did. She stretched out on the flat spot of the branch. Lying on her stomach. Her head turned to the side, resting on the soft pillow made of leaves. Her wings above her back. And then she closed her eyes. And slept.
She slept for several hours. When she woke up, she was still in pain. Lots of pain. But she felt better than she’d felt a few hours before. She took a look around. The wolves were still there. Surrounding the tree. Pacing around it. The bark was scratched in places where the wolves had tried to climb the tree to get at her. She was glad they had not succeeded.
She was hungry. It was getting dark. And she hadn’t had a thing to eat since the sunrise. So she pulled out the pack that the people of the village had given her. And she ate some of the fruit. She wished she could fly to the river, and get some water to drink. But she knew she couldn’t fly. Not with her broken wing. She wondered if there were some way she could heal her wing. Even if there wasn’t, she knew she had to try.
Whisper’s words echoed in her mind once more. “Listen to your heart. It will guide you.” She called on the white magic. As she did, she closed her eyes. And pictured her wing, the way it was supposed to be. She opened her eyes, and spread her wings as far as she could, moving her broken left wing to the side, so she could see as much of it as possible. Then she took her hands, and gently placed them on the torn, broken and bloody part of her poor wing.
As the white fire flowed from her hands into her wing, she closed her eyes, and pictured her wing as she remembered it looking. The broken bones of her wing came back together. The shredded parts of her wing came back together. The bleeding stopped. Her wing was healed. But it was not perfect. She flexed it. There had been so much damage to her wing that part of it was just plain gone. Part of it could not be healed.
As she looked at her wing, she saw the scars that were there on it. Dark lines cutting through the translucence of her wing. The misshapen bones within. Mystica knew, as she looked at her wing, that she would never be able to fly as she once had. That she may be able to fly, but only for short distances. And it would be hard for her to fly at all.
She sat down in the flat space of the tree, and cried.
After a time, she knew she couldn’t stay in the tree forever. She knew she had to leave. But there was the problem of the wolves. She hadn’t solved that problem yet. And she knew the wolves would kill again if she didn’t stop them.
Whisper’s words echoed in her mind again. “Listen to your heart. It will guide you.”
She closed her eyes. And as she sat there, she cleared her head. Calmed herself down. She took deep breaths. She felt herself breath in, and breath out. She felt her own pulse, mirroring the beating of her heart. Feeling the rhythm of her own blood as it flowed through all of her. And she pictured the wolves.
As she did, she saw herself climb down the tree. She was encased in a pure white fire. She saw the wolves attack her. She saw the white fire stop them. The wolves couldn’t get past the white fire. As they leaped at her again, and again, the white fire protected her. And then, she heard a single word. “Burn.”
Mystica called the white fire again. It encased her. As it did, she began to climb down the tree. The wolves saw her, and leaped at her. But they couldn’t get past the white fire. That fire protected her. Just as it had in the pictures that had played inside her head.
As she climbed down, her feet resting on the ground, the wolves attacked her once again. And she spoke a single word. “Burn.”
The white fire spread from her to the wolves. All six of them were encased in its white flames. They howled in pain. They fell to the ground, writhing. The white flames changed. Becoming those of real fire. And the wolves all burned.
Mystica was sad. She cried for the loss of the wolves. For she understood now what had happened. The wolves had become evil. Their hearts and souls had become filled with darkness. With a lust for killing everything. With a hunger to eat human flesh. With a relentless need to destroy any life they came upon. Something that was very different from what a predator truly is.
The white fire was a purifying fire. It burned the darkness out of the wolves. Out of anything it touched. And when it touched the wolves, it burned them. For there was nothing but darkness left in them. So the fire had burned away all that they had been. Everything they were.
And the wolves had been consumed by fire.
She stood there, silently. Her bruised, aching feet on solid ground again. The sun setting, and the darkness growing. She hurt all over. She had cuts and bruises everywhere. Scrapes and scratches too. She used the white magic as a light, so she could see where she was walking. And she listened to the sound of the river, letting that sound guide her back to the river itself.
When she got there, she walked out into the water. And she took a drink. A good, long drink. The river water felt so very good as it quenched her thirst. She walked out further. Then she swam a while. Letting the water wash away the dried blood, and the dirt that coated her.
It took her three days to reach the village. They saw her as she was approaching, walking down the edge of the river. They saw the cuts, and bruises. They saw her damaged wing. They came out to her. Two men carrying a door. They laid her on the door, and carried her into the village. The women cleaned her, and bandaged the wounds that needed to be bandaged. They fed her. They cared for her. They let her sleep that night in a nice, soft bed.
The next day she told them of the wolves. Of the battle she’d had with them. Of the way the battle had ended. Of how the wolves would never hurt another person again. She cried as she told them she had not been able to save the children. That she’d been too late in finding the wolves. And the children were dead.
She used her magic as a guide, and lead a small group of the village men to the remains of the children. Their mangled, broken bodies, half eaten by the wolves, left to rot in the forest. She used her magic to straighten the broken bodies out. To restore the missing parts. She couldn’t bring the children back to life. But she could restore them to the way they’d looked. So the people of the village could remember how beautiful they’d been. And that’s just what she did.
The villagers gathered up the bodies of their children. The son and daughter that were now forever lost to them. And all returned to the village. The villagers insisted that Mystica stay with them for several days. Until she was better. While the cuts and bruises healed.
She spent a week with them. The women had made new clothes for her. Several corsets. Several skirts. And they’d provided her with sever new sets of undergarments. Two of the men went with her, escorting her from their village to her home. Her simple tree house. In a tree. By the clearing. Next to the lake. They’d carried extra food and supplies for her. And provided her with a small axe so she could cut some wood. And with a knife, so she could carve that wood. They’d provided her with a set of dishes. Including silverware. So that she would have them to eat off of.
When the two men were certain that Mystica was OK. And that she would be safe in her own home. They left. Returning to their village. But the made sure that Mystica knew she would always be welcome in their village, if she should ever return.
That night, Mystica had sat by the edge of the lake. And watched the way its waters reflected the stars of the sky.
And so it was that the legend of the white witch of the Northern Forest grew. And slowly started to spread to all the villages of the north.