That morning had been awful for the men in the forest. The wind was howling through the trees. The rain was pouring down. Most of he men had not slept at all that night. Those few that had managed to get to sleep in the wind, and rain, woke up screaming from the nightmares that they had.
But on that next morning, they got up, and got organized, and continued their journey into the forest, toward the lake, where Mystica lived.
Mystica watched everything play out on the surface of the water of the lake. She knew the nightmares the men had were caused by Dream. She knew the wind and rain were caused by Sunshine. She was so amazed that her adopted little girls were doing what they could to help her. And she was so happy that Merlin and Whisper were there, with them, to take care of them. She knew, of course, that Merlin, on his own, could completely destroy the men. Leaving no one alive. She knew the power of his black magic. She knew of his speed, and grace. She knew that swords and arrows were harmless to him. She knew that the men could not hurt him in any way.
She knew Whisper had wild magic of his own. Although she didn’t know what the wild magic had given to him. She’s spoken with Merlin during the night. “I’m watching, you know. You take good care of our girls,” she’d said to him.
“I will. And I will let you know if he time arrives when you are needed.”
And now, she watched the images as they played out on the lake. Wondering what those little girls would do next.
As the men started to move that day, Musica began to play her flute. But she didn’t play a song. At least not one that you would recognize. Instead, she played a tune that blended in with the forest. This was her wild magic. The magic of the flute. The magic of music. Her tune was like the howling of the wind. And slowly it became the howling of the wolves. And the screeching of the eagles and the hawks. The men in the group became even more nervous. Moving more slowly. Always looking for wolves or other predators all around them. It was exhausting. The men could not rest. It was as if the forest itself was fighting them.
While Musica played her flute, Rose flew ahead of the men. As she went, she spoke with the trees, and all the vines. The trees flexed their branches. Closing off pathways between themselves. Making walls to block the path the men were on. The vines draped themselves between the trees. Making more walls. Further blocking the path the men were on. Making it more and more difficult for the men to continue their journey to the lake.
It was an exhausting journey for the men that day. At times it seemed to them that the forest itself was trying to stop them from reaching the White Witch, and doing what had to be done. They were on this journey to kill that witch. To protect themselves. To protect everyone. From those little girls. Each of those girls had hurt people in the villages. Some had even killed. Those girls were demons. They could not be trusted. You couldn’t let them around people. Those girls were supposed to be abandoned in the wilderness. Left to die. So that the villages could be safe from the. So that they would not be able to hurt anyone.
It was a sad thing. No one liked abandoning a child. And those girls had been loved very much. They’d brought happy times to families and friends. But then, the problems had began. That one girl that her village had called Rain. Any time she got angry, or sad, the wind blowed, and the rain came. The rain and wind had cost her village much. Destroying crops. People working in the fields had been injured while working in the wind and rain. Two people had died from their injuries. That’s why she’d been abandoned. To keep people safe.
There were similar stories for the others. For the one named Dream, where her entire village had nightmares every night. They couldn’t sleep. And then there was the day that Dream’s parents had never woke up. They’d gone to sleep, and had nightmares that night. And the nightmares had apparently scared them to death.
There was the one girl that the animals obeyed. And so did the people. Doing what she wanted. People stopped working, and played with her. All day long. The only way to get order back into the village had been to drug her food, so that she slept for hours, and while she was sleeping, haul her off, and abandon her. And to be sure that she couldn’t fly back to the village, they’d had to tie her up.
Then there was the musician. Her music could make you angry, or sad, or happy. She’d played a tune one day, out of curiosity, and people in her village had fought with each other. Half the village had injuries that day. And three of the children had died from them.
And of course, there was the little one. The one that protected the animals. You try killing the cow for meat around her. Swing the axe to kill the cow, and you experienced all it’s pain. Slay the wolf to protect your livestock, and end up writhing on the ground, wishing you could die.
Those girls were dangerous. They had to be abandoned. Left to die. For the safety of everyone.
So it went throughout the day. The forest itself seemed to be blocking their way. The men had to use axes to hack through the trees and vines so that they could keep heading toward the lake. And they were all cold, and soaked to the bone from the howling wind, and torrential rain. And they were all exhausted from having been unable to sleep the night before.
And so it was that the men finally settled in for another night in the forest. Making camp once more. It was so windy and wet that they couldn’t even get a fire to burn so that they could cook. They had to eat everything cold. Eating dried meat, nuts, and berries. But they had all the water they could ever drink. Just hold out your mug, and let the rain collect in it.
And that night, not only did the rain and wind grow even worse. Not only did they all have nightmares once again, so that they couldn’t sleep. That night, all the men were on edge, and nervous. For through the night they couldn’t help but hear the howling of the wolves.
And each man could not help but think that the forest itself was trying to protect that evil white witch.