The first night, they reached the Gray Hills. They stopped in a little clearing that Mystica spotted from the air. It was next to a little stream. With trees all around. They spent the night there, sleeping on the ground. They drank fresh water from the stream. And they ate berries, and cheese that Mystica had carried with her. It wasn’t anything special. But it meant so much to Sunshine. To do something so simple. So normal. So quiet. To just be able to spend time with her mother.
They told stories that night. Sunshine told stories of playing with Musica in the castle. And Mystica told stories of the birds, and rabbits by the lake. How they played games with each other.
Sunshine fell asleep that night, with a smile on her face, and her head in Mystica’s lap.
The second day of the trip, they crossed the Gray Hills, to the foothills of the Black Mountains. Sunshine saw so many things she’d never seen before. She saw wild animals roaming through the hills, in groups. Like deer, wild turkeys, rabbits, and even wolves. But what she liked most of all were the birds, and the butterflies. She’d seen birds in the kingdom. But she’d never seen such flocks of birds before. And never knew that butterflies flew in such large groups.
Sunshine also saw lakes, between the hills. Where streams, and creeks, and rivers came together. And next to some of them there were villages. The way the surface of the lakes reflected sunlight was so amazing to her. How the lake sometimes looked like liquid silver in the sunlight.
That second night, in the foothills of the mountains, They had another simple meal. And they settled in a small clearing that overlooked the Gray Hills. Sunshine had stood there for a couple of hours, just looking at the hills. “They’re beautiful, Mommy! They’re so beautiful!” She watched as fog began to form around the lakes, the rivers, and the creeks. And then slowly spread. Covering the Gray Hills as far as she could see. “I know why they call them the Gray Hills, Mommy! I know! The fog at night turns everything gray!”
The third day of the journey home was through the Black Mountains. The heights of the mountains were so high that nothing grew on them. they were bare rock. Many of them were covered in ice and snow. On that day, Sunshine saw her first waterfalls. She’d never seen anything like them. Water flowing over a big cliff, and falling to the ground below, where it returned to being water in a river once again.
She saw her first snow. She’d never seen snow. It never snowed in the Southern Plains. Sunshine had no idea what it was at first. Mystica had stopped, and let her explore the snow for a time. Sunshine learned it was cold. And if you picked up a handful of it, that it would met in your hand, and turn to water. “It’s frozen water!” She looked at the snow some more, and realized the water froze in little flakes. As they were on the ground, it actually started to snow. And Sunshine learned that snow was a lot like frozen rain.
Sunshine also saw her first iceberg. A river made of ice. Flowing between two mountains. As icebergs go, it was a small one. The big icebergs were all in the land of ice and snow to the north. But at the tops of the Black Mountains, it was cold enough for a few icebergs to form. Sunshine.
The two of them had spent the night in the northern foothills of the Black Mountains. They had their usual berries and cheese. And they drank water from a mountain stream. They slept beneath the stars that night. And listened to the animals sing. The sounds of crickets chirping. The sound of frogs croaking. The sound of birds singing their songs. It was a veritable orchestra of wildlife. And Sunshine spent hours listening to the music of the animals before she fell asleep.