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  • Writer's pictureFiona Hamilton

Chapter 3 - Enchanted Forest

They had walked for almost half an hour before deciding that it would be safe to go through the Suppression. They had gathered enough apples for Rienna’s next three meals. She really hoped to find some edible food in the Alyene though, because just having apples to eat for an entire day sounded absolutely disgusting. Xio and Xia had eaten random grubs and bugs for their dinner, so she hadn’t complained.

They had created a somewhat comfortable sleeping area at the base of a couple trees out in the Alyene and had piled the apples together and covered them with many twigs and leaves, hoping that if any wild creatures came, they wouldn’t eat Rienna’s food. Rienna was more scared for herself than for the fruits if any animals did come though. So, also hidden in some twigs and leaves, they then had fallen asleep, Rienna clutching the crystal tightly, and the cats curled up together.

Rienna woke up earlier than her cats. She carefully climbed up one of the trees, trying not to hurt her hands any more than they already were, despite having decided not to climb any more trees the day before. She sat on a branch and faced away from the Suppression. She’d never seen an actual sunrise before and had fallen asleep before the sunset the night before. Sunrise in Vieryen was really just a brightening sky that had an orange hue for a minute or two. She waited patiently, quietly chewing on an apple. She didn’t know what to expect, maybe a bright ball of fire to go with the orange sky. She didn’t expect to be seen by the sun, it had just awakened from it’s night long sleep.

As she finished her apple, she started to see the sky turn orange. It was actually very disappointing. It was exactly like sunrise withing the Suppression just more colorful and with more blue. She sighed and looked down at her apple core, everything outside the Suppression was beautiful and although it was still astonishing, it wasn’t necessarily new and unexpected anymore. She tossed the core into the bushes below her and started to climb down the tree… and suddenly a pinprick of light burst out from the orange sky, right on the horizon. Rienna froze and watched as the dot of light became bigger and bigger lighting up the world. Slowly everything woke up as the sun rose higher and higher. The birds starting singing the wind rustled the leaves in the tree.

Xio and Xia also woke up and joined Rienna in the tree. “So, you thinks Sun evil?” Xio asked, still quite tired, “What exactly makes it evil?”

“He, actually,” replied Rienna, who was still staring at the rising sun in a trance of a sort. “He is the king of all fire fairies. He is as old as magic and wishes the death of all humans. Ever since Sovereign Jenni created the Suppression he has been watching from the sky, waiting for a weakness to appear. Each morning, he starts in his palace of fire, he flies into the air and slowly over the Suppression, until night, then he sleeps. The next day, the cycle begins yet again…”

“Hmmm.” Xio said skeptically, “How does he get back to his castle at the end of each day?”

“He… um…uh... I don’t remember, but he is evil and will kill me if he finds me.” She appeared to wake up from her trance and looked away from the Sun and towards Xio and Xia. “He’ll be completely awake soon, we should get out of sight.”

“Okay, whatever.” Xio said, rolling his eyes.

They three of them climbed down from the tree and sat besides it facing in towards the rest of the forest. A couple of birds flew down and flew around each other, chirping angrily. They were obviously fighting about something, and almost flew into Rienna as they argued. Soon enough, they flew away, leaving Rienna on the ground yet again astonished. Inside the Suppression there were hardly any birds that were considered wild. Most were kept in cages inside houses and the ones that were free outside were thoroughly wary and suspicious of humans. This was the closest Rienna had ever been to a bird, and even though she wasn’t sure that she liked it, it was exotic and strange.

“What do you want to do?” Xio asked. He was crawling up logs and broken branches trying to satisfy his boredom. “How about we explore the forest! Yes, that be fun. Lets to that.”

“Wait! No! I have to go home. I just agreed to staying the night, so let’s get out of here and go back home.” Rienna protested.

“Nope. We still not teached you that magic is not bad. We have to stay out here until at least noon.” Xio reasoned, “We won’t come back with you if you leave now.”

Rienna hesitated. She really didn’t want her parents to worry, but there was no way she was returning to Vieryen without Xio and Xia. “Fine.” She said, “But we won’t go too far from the Suppression.”

Xio mewed with glee and jumped onto Rienna’s head, with a little help from his mother’s powers. “ONWARD! Into the forest!” Rienna reached up and took him off her head. Then, carrying the kitten gently, she moved farther into the forest, making sure to count her steps and memorize her surroundings.

… 30 minutes later …

They were lost. Somehow, they ended up going in circles, and Rienna had really made sure to make her path as straight as possible. Of course it didn’t help that Xio kept randomly running off and jumping into suspicious flowers and bushes. Rienna had even marked some of the trees with a chalk like rock to keep track of where they had gone. Yet somehow, they were lost and walking into the same set of trees over and over again as if they had never entered. Rienna would break branches and make markings and they would move forward and, boom, there they were again, except there were no markings or broken branches.

“I don’t think your proving to me that the Alyene isn’t evil.” said Rienna, annoyance coating her voice, “If even when we turn around we come to this spot, how are we supposed to get back home? Why did we even go into this forest!? There is obviously something in here messing with us.”

“Maybe we should take break and we can show you the cool … uh, plants, as long as we are in this area.” Xio meowed, “It’ll … be fun! Yeah! You will see how no evil this place is! But first let’s take a break from walking.“

“I started carrying you again five minutes ago, but I do want to take a break, so fine! We can stop walking and just sit here looking at plants.” Rienna said. She sat down on a large rock and stared at the ground angrily. She wished she had never listened to her cats and had just stayed at her house doing homework.

Xia jumped onto Rienna’s lap, subtly changing her weight to make it so that Rienna was less inclined to stand up and move around. “Meow.” said Xia sternly, “Mlrgggle glurggle.” She looked Rienna right in the eyes, “Mewooow.”

“She say, ‘Stop moping. We have five hours before we promised you we would get back. So get up, it’s probably not impossible to get out of here. Use your fat brain.’”

“MOW!” Xia said sharply.

“Well, the fat brain part wasn’t part of what she said, but it still totally valid.”

“I guess that makes sense. Sitting here definitely doesn’t do anything.” Rienna stood up, “Maybe there is something that makes us keep coming back to this place.”She looked carefully at her surroundings, trying to tell if any of the plants or rocks looked out of place. Unfortunately she didn’t know a thing about plants in the Alyene and couldn’t tell if the vines with pink flowers were out of place or if the plants that she recognized were the unusual ones.

She looked closer at each colorful plant and odd shaped rock, but she her knowledge of plants was worthless out in the Alyene. It wasn’t long before she sat down again, “I don’t know anything about magical plants, anything here could be causing us to be in this weird ‘loop.’”

“Gggrrrowwlllllllll…” Xia growled. Xio quickly said, “‘Use your fat brain’ and yes she did say that, ‘there is no animals around, the other places we were in we could hear birds.’”

“Uhhhhh…” Rienna mumbled, staring off into the distance looking deeply confused.

Xio rolled his eyes, “So, it’s probably another animal that is hiding and causing this.”

“Teeheee CHITTER heheheh CHITTER!” A sound of high pitched laughter came from above their heads, “heeheeHEEEE! CHITTER CHITTER!”

Rienna looked up, in the trees above her, a small squirrel like creature with unusually red fur was looking down on them, “Teeeteeeheee heehe! CHITTER!” It laughed and dashed towards the center of the tree it was on.

Xia, quick to action, jumped up to the branch and ran after the squirrel. Soon after disappearing into the leaves of the tree, the squirrel ran down the trunk with Xia in close pursuit. She ran after the red blur. She was obviously faster than it, but it knew the area better. Soon, Rienna and Xio were running after Xia and the squirrel, struggling to keep up. The trees started to open up and the squirrel started following the row of treeless space.

They all ran after the red squirrel and the trees started to shift and speed by them, almost as if they themselves were moving. The open space opened up to a dirt path and Xia and the squirrel started running even faster. Xia was practically flying and the squirrel was only to be seen as a small red blur moving up, around, and almost through, trees. Xio and Rienna were unable to keep up, but the ground they stood on started to move against the trees, causing them to always be able to see the pair of furry blurs.

The forest opened up suddenly ahead of them into a mysterious tree grove that formed a circle around a large open space. The path was no longer behind them and the trees were all twisting and shifting shape and form. In the center of grove was a simple yet sinister cottage. Dark spiky twigs poked up from the roof and rotten and dead plants mixed with bright purple flowers surrounded and climbed up the structure.

 The magical squirrel ran up to the house and right through the door. Xia was barely able to stop herself from hitting the door. She lightly tapped the door, confirming that it was solid, and stepped back. Rienna and Xio walked slowly to right behind her, panting from the lengthy run.

The door opened with a loud creak, the trees seemed to come closer and become darker, and out of the darkness of the cottage came a hag with a crooked smile on her face, “Hello there,” she said with the voice of an old crone, “why don’t you come inside? You must be starving.” She waved her hand and suddenly the trio were inside the cottage with the door shut behind them.

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