The Seekers (continued)
On the fourth day of their journey, the seekers visited Shewbridge. Upon hearing the villagers’ stories about missing family and friends, they shared similar stories from their own village.
Lisette informed the good people of Shewbridge that she and the other seekers would solve the mystery behind the vanishings. Amidst cheers of approval, a child’s voice was heard.
“Seekers, is it true that the wrunwick are back from the dead?” For, as rumors often do, the rumor about the wrunwick’s return had spread far and wide. And, as was also often the case, the rumor’s merit was of no importance.
“What is your name, little one?” It was Lisette, the accepted leader, who addressed the child.
“My name is Katherine, daughter of Reginald and Margaret.” Although she was barely twelve, Katherine spoke with a confidence belying her youth.
“We, too, have heard chatter surrounding the wrunwick’s supposed return, Katherine, daughter of Reginald and Margaret. However, we have not found any evidence of this. As we journey forward, we will continue to search for the truth. At present, it would be unwise for me to answer your question in a definitive manner. Like the good people of Shewbridge, I wonder if the chatter is true. But for now, let us not jump to any conclusions.” Lisette hoped her words would help slow the growing fear in people’s hearts.
After spending a restful night at the Shewbridge Inn, the seekers set out once again. They journeyed for six days, stopping each night to rest beneath a blanket of stars. On the seventh day, it was Henry, the oldest among them, who paused to listen first.
A Surprise Encounter
“Did anyone hear that?” He was certain someone had spoken to them.
The others paused to listen. They scanned the forest, but there was no one, except a rabbit munching on some wildflowers.
“Who travels through these woods to disrupt my sleep ?” The question, louder this time, seemed to have come from a magnificent oak tree to their right.
“Who speaks?” Lisette called out to the forest. She had heard stories about talking trees as a little girl, but she had always thought they were fairy tales, told to children as they fell asleep.
“It is I, Grand Oak of Evergreen Forest.” The Grand Oak’s voice seemed to rise from the earth itself.
“We are the six truth seekers of Stonebridge. We travel in search of the people who have vanished from this forest.” Lisette dismounted from her horse to bow before the Grand Oak.
Recovering from their initial shock, the other seekers also bowed before the Grand Oak. Like Lisette, they had heard stories about talking trees as children, but never expected to meet such a noble being.
With all six bowed before her, the Grand Oak opened her eyes for the first time. “There is no need to bow, truth seekers of Stonebridge. Rise so that I may see your faces.”
Quick to obey, the seekers straightened to face the Grand Oak, who chuckled at their amazement – a low, rumbling sound that shook through her branches, from which the residents flew out in a cloud of emerald greens.
Suddenly, the seekers found themselves surrounded by tiny creatures with slightly pointed heads, human bodies, and bright wings in different shades of green that resembled leaves on a tree.
“Meet the fairies of Evergreen. There is no need to be afraid. They mean you no harm.” The Grand Oak assured the seekers who were standing very still.
These fairies are nothing like the ones described in books. What else did the books get wrong? Lisette thought as a fairy grabbed her finger and giggled. “Pleased to meet you,” the fairy trilled.
Lisette smiled as the fairy shook her finger and giggled once more. “Pleased to meet you as well,” she responded with a delighted chuckle.
“You say that people are disappearing from my forest? I have been asleep too long, for I am unaware of these vanishings. But I will ask the other trees.” The Grand Oak closed her eyes and sent word throughout the forest.
“If what you say is true, then I will receive news of it. We must be patient and wait.” She knew how impatient people could be, especially the young ones.
Their curiosity satisfied, many of the fairies had gone to shake the sleep from their wings. They slept when the Grand Oak slept, but now that she was awake, it was time to prepare for the long period of wakefulness. A few stayed in case they were needed, as was their custom.
“I have received news that there is an encampment of what might be wrunwick near Metterling Mountain. The trees near the campsite are young, so they have never seen a wrunwick before.”
“The wrunwick disappeared from our land hundreds of years ago. How is this possible?” Aspen, the only other woman in the group, petitioned the Grand Oak.
“When the wrunwick disappeared without a trace, no one could say what happened. The reason was never uncovered, and over time, the wrunwick became legend – never to be seen again. I was a young oak then, and although I had not laid eyes on a wrunwick, I heard stories of the wrunwick killings. We all did.”
“We must go to this encampment and see for ourselves if the wrunwick have returned.” Lisette’s voice implied more confidence than she felt. But this was not the time for cold feet. And the others counted on her to lead them. After all, this journey was her idea.
“You are very brave, young one. The wrunwick were known to be fierce. If it is indeed the wrunwick who have returned, then you will need to be cautious and use your head. Do you know how to find Metterling Mountain?”
“We have a map to show us the way, Grand Oak. Each of us promised the good people of Stonebridge to bring home the truth. It will be an honor to fulfill that promise.” Lisette glanced at the others to confirm the soundness of her words.
“Hear, hear!” Roy, the youngest of the group and always up for adventure, cried out.
“Hear, hear!” The others chimed behind Roy. It was settled. They would journey to Metterling Mountain in search of the truth…
In case you missed part 1 of this story, I’m including the link below. Until next time, be kind to yourself. You’re worth it!