"W-where are we?" Rhia cried, panicking.
Arri stared around a minute at their surroundings.
They were in a large clearing covered with moss and grass. Surrounding the clearing
were large oak trees. They were just too big, as if magically enlarged.
"The Enchanted Forest," she muttered. "We're
in the book!"
"We're what?!" shrieked Rhia hysterically. "No,
no, we can't be! It's impossible… it's a dream, a bad, bad dream! No, no!"
"It seems," Arri continued, "as though we must
play our way through the book; make the right choices…"
"And what if we don't?!" Rhia asked frantically,
knowing the answer. Arri didn't reply. They stood in silence for a minute, then
Rhia finally said, "I'm hungry," and pulled off her knapsack. Arri did the same.
Inside Arri's were two sandwiches, a bottle
of water, a bag of chips, and an apple. It also contained a piece of blank parchment.
Rhia's had the same minus the parchment. "Some picnic," she muttered moodily.
"This isn't going to last us forever," Arri
realized, looking forlornly at the meager rations. "We've got to get moving."
Rhia was reluctant, but in the end, Arri convinced
her that they must go. They walked for about an hour until they reached a fork
in the road. Suddenly they heard a loud *pop!* Then, before their eyes, appeared
an elfin looking creature. She was dark skinned with green hair, and an annoying
grin on her mud streaked face. She had pointed ears and a skirt made of leaves.
"H'lo!" she said in an annoyingly chipper voice.
It didn't seem fair that someone could be so happy while they were so miserable.
She cleared her throat. "I'm Sienna the Earth Faerie! I live in this forest!"
she giggled, "I was sent here to give you your choices. I guess you could call
me the choice Faerie!" she chuckled appreciatively at her own joke. Then, noticing
that the two girls were just staring at her, she sniffed, "Fine. Let's get to
business then. I see you two rocks have no appreciation for humor." She cleared
her throat again.
"Two roads ahead of you do lie.
Though both lead the same way by and by,
Both lead to danger, though one be
quite favorable, do you see?
One route will take you west,
Not I shall tell if it is best.
And one will take you east.
Nay, tell I if help you it will least,
Choose wisely now, for this you know,
One path a gift it will bestow!
Thus choose not wrong, for this I know,
As the conclusion is this, young sprites.
You may spend here all too many nights.
"Oh, that's comforting!" snarled Rhia, "By
the way that was a terrible rhyme!"
Sienna stuck out her tongue and said bitterly,
"You have two choices, best to make them now. Left or right, decide only as
long as time will allow. These forests are not empty, you know, and meet you
may an evil foe." She grinned menacingly, as if she didn't believe it would
be too much of a loss if this "foe" did meet them. Then, she disappeared and
they were alone in the forest -- again.
"Shall we?" Rhia asked cautiously, sticking
out a wavering fist.
Trembling, Arri stuck out her fist, and they
went through the usual ritual, "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" Though, for some
reason, this childish procedure, often used for deciding stuff such as "Who
got the bigger piece of pie" or "Who was 'it' first" seemed unreliable for such
an important decision.
"Rock beats paper, I win!" cried Rhia. "Alright
then, right it is!" They traveled down the right path for a little while, wishing
they had a compass so they could know whether they were going east or west.
Then, all of a sudden, they heard a high-pitched, bloodcurdling scream. Both
Aishas stopped in their tracks and looked down the road, searching for the owner
of that horrifying scream.
The Captive Faeries
Not long after, they heard the scream again.
They ran blindly towards it, no knowing what they would do, if they met the
thing that had made it scream so. They heard it once more, louder than ever,
as they drew nearer.
"Someone is in trouble!" cried Arri desperately,
"What do we do?!"
"This way!" Rhia shouted, frantically racing
towards the voice. A few times she tripped over thorn bushes and fell flat on
her face, but as the volume of the voice increased, so did her determination.
Then they saw it. Between a bunch of tall oak
trees was a Lupe, a most terrifying Lupe with gray jagged fur, yellow, menacing
eyes, and teeth, oh the sharpest, most horrible teeth you've ever seen! And
fluttering fearfully around him were little sparkling, colored balls of light
that looked like --
"Faeries!" Rhia whispered in awe. The minuscule
little balls of light were dashing over the place and shrieking in fright. "That
must be Balthazar! We've got to help them!" But Arri only half heard her. She
was standing there -- petrified with fright -- staring at the wolf with utmost
terror on her face. Rhia let out a grunt of irritation and then, feeling she
had to do something she grabbed a knobby stick and thrust it at the wolf, and
it hit him squarely across the nose.
It worked to an extent; Balthazar's attention
was distracted, but instead he turned his shaggy head and, bearing his teeth,
charged after her. She gasped, and grabbed another stick and hurled it at him.
It slowed him down, just long enough for her to shout at Arri "C'mon! Help me!"
Arri numbly grabbed sticks and flung them hastily
(and not to mention missing him every time), but she was little help, for the
wolf just ignored her feeble weapon. Finally, when the two girls were beginning
to run out of sticks and feeling helpless, Rhia spotted something -- a large,
dead branch hanging lightly from a tree. It was covered with sharp prickly thorns.
She grabbed the branch deftly, without pricking herself, and hurled it at him.
She hit him… hard.
Balthazar had had enough. He loped off, muttering
to himself, and glowered back at her every so often. Finally, he was gone, and
Rhia made her way over to the faeries and let out the remaining ones.
They flew away chatting wildly to each other,
and every so often one would send a dubious glance back at them. One Faerie
stayed however. She was a lovely fire Faerie. Her wings were of bright red,
and her hair dark amber.
"Thank you," she breathed, holding her hand
against her heart, "You saved our lives! We hate that monster… every year we
lose a good thousand of our friends to him," she sniffed, and wiped away a tear.
"Of course, he will be back. He always is." She stuck up her nose in a contemptuous
way, "Just leave it up to a few dark faeries to mess it up for all of us. They're
menaces, they are!" She paused, glancing at them curiously, "You are very noble,"
she nodded at them approvingly. "Not many of your kind would have helped us
like that, and for that we thank you." She paused again, and glanced at them
once more sceptically. "We . . . we must ask," she shifted uncomfortably, "what
are you doing here?"
Arri was quick to answer, "We don't know! We
were in my backyard, then we found a book, and here we are!"
The Faerie looked as if someone had dumped a
bucket of ice water on her. She went very pale. "A... a book?" she asked breathlessly.
The two girls nodded curiously. "Well! Well, well..." She paused, lost for words.
Then the Faerie said, "As you have saved us, we must repay you. We forest folk
don't like to have much to do with your kind, but your gallant actions have
bewildered us and it would be wrong not to acknowledge them. Let me see that
"How do you know my name --" Arri asked inquisitively,
but the Faerie didn't answer and reached into her pack. She took out the paper,
muttered something to herself, and handed it back to the girls. Rhia gasped.
Little balls of fire were weaving themselves all over the parchment. Finally
they stopped, and Arri was holding in her hands --
"A map of the forest," said the Faerie sagely.
She took the map back and pointed. "Do you see this castle? You must get there.
That is the only way you can get out. It will be hard, but you have the Faerie's
gratitude, and it will help you along your way. I will notify the creatures
of the forest that you are good, and wish to cause them no harm. Now," she pointed
to a green figure on the map, "that is me. You are the white dots next to it.
If a figure is green, it is a friend, and if red, a foe. Never trust anything
that is red, the map shows the truth, and even if they claim to be good, if
they are red, they are not. I must go know. Goodbye."
Wait!" Both girls gasped reaching to grab at
her, but they were holding only air. Rhia sighed. "Darn, we could've used some
more help. To the castle I s'pose?"
"I reckon," Arri said absentmindedly clutching
the map. Then suddenly they heard a *POP!* and Rhia groaned.
"Your choices stand thus," said a familiar chipper
voice, "Head to the castle, or search for more help."
"Castle definitely," Arri said staring at the
Sienna giggled and *POPPED* again. "Where's
Balthazar when you need him?" muttered Rhia irritably.
To be continued...