November 9, 2015 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures

“Find the bird, find the riddle, find the bridge made of ice. There are bells to hear, spirits to chase, and treasures to find.”

Summers and winters, through snowy Decembers

Sat by the waters, minding the embers

Missing the lives that they held once before

Planting the seeds and dreaming once more

Of poppies in spring

And three bells that ring

And a forest that lets them go…

They leave in the middle of the night. WooFZee moves as if he’s a shadow, steps silent and quick, head down, ears forward. MeaZea drapes herself over his back, trusting him to find the right path. It’s her trust in him that has them leaving, while Cavards sleeps in the upstairs bedroom and the stars cast a pale glow over the land.

A ruined farm behind them; a wretched forest before them. I hope we’re making the right choice, thinks MeaZea. Out loud she says, “Do you know what we’re looking for?”

WooFZee shakes his head. The brush is thick. No one has walked through this forest for a very long time. Vines and thorned plants grow uncontrolled, winding among the roots of the aspen trees, wrapping over top of the broad amethyst striped leaves of an unknown plant.  “Not really. Do you remember what Althea said?”

“She said a lot of things.” MeaZea’s lips twist into the makings of a frown.

“Why?”

“She said that there were bells to hear. Right before we left the farm, I swear that I heard some. Just – three little chimes, that was it.” WooFZee steps over a particularly nasty looking clump of foliage. One of the small amber flowers snaps at his paw.

This forest, it isn’t like the others that they have been inside. It’s alive; pulsing, feeling, breathing. The plants writhe with energy. The trees overflow with life. Polished ametrine birds flutter from branch to branch. Every now and again, MeaZea catches sight of a pale ruby flower blooming straight out of the side of a tree.

MeaZea says, “so we’re looking for bells?”

Rather than answer, WooFZee asks a question of his own. “Do you hear that?”

“I don’t hea-”

“Shh! Just listen!” WooFZee closes his eyes and focuses. And there – hidden among the gentle scrape of branches and the rustle of leaves, muted by the fallen crystal snow and the howl of the frost bitten wind, there’s a voice.

Summers and winters, through snowy Decembers

Sat by the waters, minding the embers

“I hear it,” breaths MeaZea, captivated. There’s magic in the song, that much is clear. Magic, and despair, and longing.

Missing the lives that they held once before

Planting the seeds and dreaming once more

Slowly, WooFZee takes a step forward. Then a second, a third, a fourth. Each one is faster than the last, propelling him forward. But the music never seems to get any closer. The song is always just out of reach.

Of poppies in spring

Around them, the plants grow wild and violent. They lash out, petals trying to close around WooFZee’s paws and the tips of MeaZea’s tail fin. Vines grab at them and thorns scrape over against MeaZea’s pale flesh. It’s as if the entire forest is trying to stop them. Every last plant is screaming for the duo to turn back.

And three bells that ring

They don’t, of course. If anything, it only makes MeaZea more determined to find the source of the song. She curls her fingers into the thick fur of WooFZee’s neck and tells him, “Keep going!”

Always, he thinks, but the thought stays silent. WooFZee tucks his legs up high, leaping over a reaching mass of citrine ferns.

And a forest that lets them go…

And then, suddenly, the plants are gone. The trees are thinned and sparse. And, everywhere, there are poppies.

 

Katelynn E Koontz – Author