The Goblin Tree – Two

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Song Suggestion: Melody Of Twilight by Derek Fiechter &Brandon Fiechter

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Two

There was a young gypsy woman named Bethany driving down a wide road in the land of Aìreanshee. She was beautiful, with her long, black hair and bright green eyes, but she was also clever and that was far more valuable, she thought. Looks will fade, her grandmother had often advised her, but intelligence never does. Bethany was singing merrily as she went along, her strong, lovely voice rolling out over the long grass to her left and into the dark forest on her right. If there was any ear to hear her, it was not human and it did not come to see her on the road.

“Oh the day is long hours ahead of me

And the Road before me lies,

Who knows what adventures may meet me,

Before the eventide.

O’er the mountains I have wandered,

And further yet I must ride,

For it is Adventure I am seeking

And myself that I set out to find.

Down the unknown Road

In the shadows of the forest lie

Adventures untold and names not yet spoken,

And my heart has not yet been tried.”

Bethany looked over at the forest, which the road had run beside for many miles. “There are no villages to be seen,” she said, “yet this road does run true. Surely there are travelers which use it besides me.”

“There were, once,” her clever tomcat replied from beside her on the seat. “But that was before it grew so treacherous and became a home to wicked things. For there are those within the forest which would tear your beating heart out to feast upon it tenderly and those which might sing you down with enchanting voices to swim in sunlit pools so they might merrily drown you. Now all other travelers will walk for miles the long way ‘round, for they do not trust this way.”

“And so I feel lonlier still and wish I’d chosen another path,” Bethany said with a shiver, for her grandmother had told her many tales of such fey creatures when she was small and, sometimes, she still dreamed of wicked things.

“Many will say just so when they find themselves on such a road,” The cat replied and curled up with his tail across his nose. Bethany drove on, no longer singing, for thoughts of the dark forest and the fell things that haunted it had stolen her voice away.

Many hours later, the sun was westering and Bethany heard a new sound. First she thought it was the wind, which blew endlessly over the grass and forest, moaning to itself. Then she thought it might be an animal in the trees, perhaps looking for its kin. Then she knew it was a child crying and wondered if it was the same girl she’d tried to help the night before. She clicked her tongue to the mare and the horse quickened her pace until they came, at last, upon a village.

At first glance, it was only a smallish cluster of cottages and cobbled roads tucked back beneath the drooping, shadowed eaves of the forest. Closer inspection, though, revealed that the narrow streets were empty and grown up with weeds, the thatching on the roofs was gray and, in places, gone entirely, leaving great holes for the wind and rain to get in. Doors hung crooked, the un-shuttered windows were black, and no faces – friendly or otherwise – appeared to mark the arrival of the bright wagon.

There was a dry fountain in the center of the village and, upon the lichen spotted lip, sat the girl Bethany had seen the night before. “Hello again,” Bethany said without getting down; her grandmother had also told her tales of spirits with ill intent who could wear the faces of those you love and speak with their voices. “Why are you crying?”

The girl looked up, dark eyes shining with her grief. “All I love is gone, shadows gather on hearth and in home. I wander through the land, grieving and alone. Always I am seeking for any who may help, for those I knew have all been taken from me, down, down, down, beneath the Goblin Tree.”

And Bethany stepped down to comfort the girl, for she was certain, now, that she was only the same lonesome child she’d seen the night before. “Why not stay with me?” she asked. “I’ve plenty of food for both of us and room enough for you in my wagon.” But the girl would not say a single word more or acknowledge the offer. Bethany did not think she could have made such a choice, and so did not press the child.

She built a fire and gave the girl cheese and bread. Then Bethany tucked the girl into the bed in the wagon and sat beside the fire until it died. The cat was warm upon her lap and, despite the forest, she was comfortable enough. Soon, Bethany drifted off to sleep, though she had meant to stay awake and follow the girl if she tried to leave. The next morning, the girl was gone and though Bethany searched every cottage and called out to her, not a trace of the child was to be found.

 

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