Summer 2016

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Chapter 4

The Green Boy and the Witch

 

Following the course and direction set by the compass necklace the ghost had given her, Khsta traveled for days and I could tell you much of the horror she saw, of the fairy rings destroyed, lost native people wandering the woods, and pixies fleeing to the hidden kingdom. Much suffering and sadness did she see and the world was gray, cold and all seemed lost. And often did she see the ghostly form of pirate ships sailing in the sky, trailing dark vapors in their wake as they hunted for pixies.

Eventually she came to a section of forest known as the Gray Wood, and here I will tell you a little of how Khsta became lost there and was eventually trapped by and evil fairy witch.

This evil old hag, and I feel not guilt or shame in calling her that, was working for the pirates and had been warned in advance to be on the lookout for a small pixie who might be able to change her form and become human size. The witch had caught Khsta in a net, stunning our little pixie and before Khsta could regain her full sense, put her in a glass jar.

When Khsta came fully awake she was very upset by this, as you can guess, and in her small form flew around like an angry hornet inside the jar, trying to bang the lid up, and even used her dagger a few times to try and cut holes in the lid. All of that made the ugly old hag cackle with delighted laughter as she carried the jar with her to a very gloomy looking, gray water lake.

Here there was a large canoe with the very large, wooden carving of a swan as the figurehead at the front of it. Once inside the canoe the witch had commanded, “go swan, go to my home!” Instantly and to Khsta’s amazement, the wooden swan began to move, flapping its wings and moving back and forth and as it did so, the canoe began sailing across the murky water of the lake, gliding smoothly across its surface and cutting through the dense fog.

The witch’s house was on the far shore of this gloomy lake, a stone structure with a thatched roof that sat in a weedy clearing just before the forest. Inside the witch had set the jar with our little pixie in it on a table and then began using her magic and casting spells at Khsta, who realized that the hag was trying to change her into a girl, and did her best to resist, but the witch’s magic was too strong and eventually Khsta suddenly turned into her girl size. Just as this happened, for some reason, and thankfully so, the glass jar shattered apart and Khsta fell off of the table onto the dirt floor with a grunt.

“Ha!” cried the witch in victory, and then put a chain on Khsta’s right ankle before the she could change into her small pixie form. This chain was enchanted with a spell that kept Khsta from changing her size. That done the witch then turned to her pet flying spider monkey—yes we do have some of them in our world—and said to it, “go, tell the Scarlet King I found his pixie!”

“Oh no,” Khsta cried.

“Oh yes,” said the hag as she looked down at our little pixie girl. “He’s been looking high and low and all over the Neverwoods for you. Found you I did, and he promised me a half dozen little human girls in exchange for you.”

“Fiend,” Khsta cursed at the witch.

“Indeed I am,” the witch howled and burst out laughing for a long moment. The flying spider monkey joined her, making a sound more as if it was gasping for air than laughing. “Go,” the witch shouted at it again. “Tell the pirates of have the granddaughter of the Bell. Go!”

This could have very well been the end of Khsta Dawn Bell, and probably the end of our world altogether, but then . . .

Just as the monkey had turned to the window and leaped through it into the air, it exploded into a bright ball of orange smoke. Shocked by this the witch shrieked. A moment later Khsta saw the entire side of the witch’s cabin explode outwards as if an invisible giant’s hand had reached through the window, grasped hold of the inner wall and pulled it outwards. The violence was so sudden and frightening, that Khsta threw herself flat on the ground and a good thing she did too, for in the next instant there was a bright blinding flash of light and a huge rush of air and noise caused by what had to be a magic blast of some sort. Just before Khsta was knocked totally out by this, she saw, just for a moment, the glowing figure, very much like a pixie, only this one was as large as a small human, glowing bright golden-green. And its wings were not like a pixie, but more like a birds.

Then she knew nothing else for a while.

Khsta came awake again; she was back in the witch’s canoe, and still in her girl sized. With a yelp she twisted around and saw what at first looked like a boy, but she quickly realized he wasn’t a boy, he was more like a pixie, only a bit larger than she was in girl form, and he had very green skin like that of a maple tree leaf had just after blooming, and long wild dark green hair—two red bird feathers adorned the back of it—and very long pointed ears. And he was wearing nothing at all save for red shorts.

“What,” was all she could say to the sight of the boy.

“No time for that,” the strange green boy said as he looked at her. He had very large almond shaped eyes that were of a brilliant jade green color.

“Who,” Khsta asked aloud.

“No time for that either,” the boy replied. “Get your dagger out, she comes now.”

Just then the sill surface of the lake a few feet off the side of the canoe exploded with a flash of light and a boom. A geyser of water showered down on them. In the next instant something thumped into the side of the canoe hard, and the witch leaped out of the water with a shrill cry as she latched onto the side of the boat and glared at our pixie girl.

“You foul little fairies,” screamed the witch as she both tried to pull herself into the boat and at the same time reach for Khsta.

Khsta screamed at that and kicked out with her right foot, the one with the shackle still on it, and planted the heel of it right into the witch’s hooked nose. One, two, three times she kicked the witch right in the face. On the forth kick the witch latched onto her ankle and screamed, “stop doing that!”

“No!”

“Little Imp,” shouted the witch as she hung on the side of the boat, glaring at Khsta. “I’m not going to give you to the pirates. I’m going to keep you for myself and turn you small and eat you whole.”

“Never,” Khsta shouted back and finally, remembering her dagger that was still on her hip, drew it out and managed to jab it into the hag’s face.

This was when the strange green boy had shouted, “wait!”

Both the hag and pixie turned around and looked at him as he stood at the rear of the boat.

“Have I told you about my friend, Fred,” the green boy asked.

Khsta frowned at that, taken aback by the question as it was totally random and made no sense considering the circumstance.

The witch was also confused by it. “What,” she just about screamed at the green boy.

“Excellent swimmer, Fred is,” the green boy went on. “Wonderfully deep voice, and did I mention he’s always hungry?”

At that same moment, as soon as the boy had finished his speech, the water on the far side of the canoe—opposite the witch—exploded upwards and the single largest crocodile Khsta had ever seen—they grow larger here in our world—leaped straight up into the air, flew over the canoe and came right down like a speeding torpedo, landing right on top of the screaming witch as she tried to swim away. Both the crocodile and witch went right down into the lake with a loud and brilliant splash and were gone.

After a long moment, shocked by what had happened, Khsta said the only thing that came into her head and that was, “what!?” She was both confused by everything that had just happened and amazed at the same time. She actually got up on her knees and looked over the side of the boat and into the water. “What?”

“That was Fred,” the boy said in a very mater-of-fact tone. “Bet that nasty old witch wished right now that she had stayed in bed. Day probably would have gone better for her if she had.”

Khsta frowned at that as she looked at the boy, wondering who he was and why he had helped her. “Who are you,” she asked in a cautious tone.

“I am me,” the boy said with a handsome smile. “’Least I think I am. I was last time I looked. Don’t worry, I know who you are Khsta Dawn Bell. I know you’re on your way to seek the answer to what can be done to save the pixies, and all our world.”

Khsta set her dagger on her lap and glared at the boy for a long moment, thinking to herself. “And do you too, work for the pirates?”

Instead of answering her, the boy leaned down and touched the shackle on her ankle and it instantly broke apart, freeing her to change her form if she wanted to. Smiling the boy stood up and simply looked toward the front of the canoe. “Swan, get us to the far shore, and do it fast and I’ll turn you real and set you free,” he then shouted.

The wooden carving of the swan looked back at the boy and made a woody, groaning sound, before springing into action, sailing the canoe across the lake to the shore far away from the witch’s house.

Once they climbed out, the boy touched the wooden carving of the swan on its head and with a flash of blue light and a gust of a breeze, the wooden swan became a real living one. Honking happily it waddled out into the lake and paddled around in the water, delighted.

Khsta was amazed and stood there a moment, looking from the now real living swan to the green boy and back again. She not only wasn’t sure just who this green boy was, but wasn’t sure what he was. He looked like a pixie but wasn’t, and whatever he was, he had strong magic that was for sure.

“Who are you,” she asked again.

“We should go,” he told her. “The pirates don’t know the witch had you. But if they’re looking for you, they might show up here. We should put some distance between us and this place.” With that he turned and walked into the woods. “I’ve an urge to go to a magnificent garden party for some reason,” he muttered to himself as he walked away. “One with those little cucumber sandwiches and lemonade and no witches. Do witches make sandwiches I wonder? Which, witch is a sandwich?” He then burst out laughing. It was an innocent and almost musical sound, which put Khsta at ease and she followed him. Might as well see where he leads to, and if he’s dangerous, I’ll just turn small and fly off, she’d thought to herself as she walked into the woods. Besides, if you’re wondering, the seeking stone was still on the necklace around her neck, and it was showing her that her way led in the same direction as the green boy had walked.

When the sky began to pale with the light of dawn, true to what the green boy had said, the two spied a pirate ship, hanging motionless high up in the sky above the forest. They decided to hide in the thickets of the wood after that, and there, Khsta, exhausted from her ordeal with the witch and a long night’s trek through the dark woods, fell promptly to sleep.

She awoke at midday to find the green boy still there, only now he’d covered himself with grass, and put a headdress on his head, one made from leaves and blooming dandelions. He actually looked both comical and adorable, she embarrassingly admitted to herself.

When the green boy saw her looking at his new dress, he simply said, “camouflage.”

“Smart,” she said with a smirk, thinking it was unnecessary. He was, after all, green and probably blended in with the forest nicely. If anyone needed camouflage it was her. “Did you rest?”

“Some,” the boy agreed with a nod of his head.

“I should thank you,” Khsta said as she sat up.

“You just did,” the boy sighed.

She frowned at that, not understanding. “You know who I am, and my quest, but I don’t even know your name.”

“It’s Ashkii,” the green boy said as he sat down on the rock across from her. Then he put a cute frown on his face. “Wait, no it’s not. Wait. Is today Wednesday?”

Khsta blinked her eyes, confused. She suddenly realized she had no idea what day of the week it was. “I don’t honestly know.”

“Okay, yeah, it’s Ashkii,” the green boy said. “Yeah. No, Oh,” he then shouted as he held one finger up and smiled. “Apples.” With that he sprang up and ran off into the forest.

Khsta frowned at that, once again wondering about the strange boy. Who was he? And why had he run off like that saying, “apples?” Strange. She then went about taking stock of herself. Her necklace the ghost had given her was still there and working fine as she could still see the trail only she could see. The small pouch with the payment was still tied to her belt, thankfully, and the small bag with her meager supplies was still with her. And of course her dagger.

Ashkii returned in due course, and in his hands he held two ripe apples, as well as a handful of fresh blueberries and two small shells filled with honey. He gave Khsta one of the apples and a shell with honey in it, and the two split the berries between themselves.

“Where did you get the honey,” she finally asked the boy as she stuck her finger in it and tasted it. It was very good.

“Honeybee pixies,” Ashkii replied as he looked over his shoulder, back into the forest. “I chased off a badger that was bothering their hive and they gave me the honey as a thank you.”

“And I thank you for it,” she told the boy with a smile. “Can I ask, what tribe are you from?” She honestly wanted to know as she had never seen his kind before.

“The very first,” the boy answered at length.

Khsta tilted her head down and looked at him for a long moment with her glowing indigo eyes. Was he serous? “The. . . the first tribe?”

Ashkii nodded his head. “The First Children of the Forest.”

Was he joking or crazy? She’d no idea. “You’re a very unusual boy.”

Ashkii bit into the apple and chewed for a moment before saying, “well I only been awake for a few months.”

Again, Khsta was confused by that, cautious, but interested. “Awake? What do you mean?”

“Well I was asleep in the ground since we got kicked out of the First Garden,” he explained. “My adopted mother, Jessica Soranto dug me back up out of a cornfield by the light of a harvest moon. I have been awake ever since.”

Khsta was shocked by this for a number of reasons, and those that know the ancient history of our worlds might understand why. Mostly she was shocked to hear the woman’s name the boy had spoken. “Jessica. The Woman Jessica Soranto is your adopted mother?”

Ashkii nodded his head.

“Jessica the sorceress,” Khsta asked in a disbelieving tone. “Jessica the White Witch of the Misty Wood? The Keeper of the Seal and the First Book? That Jessica Soranto? She’s your adopted mother?”

Ashkii nodded his head as he chewed the last bit of his apple, then he looked up at her and frowned. “She’s probably wondering where I’m off to. I should send her a message.” With that the boy sat upright and made a whistling sound. Instantly a sparrow flew down from a nearby tree and perched itself on the ground beside the boy’s foot. Ashkii then made a series of chirping and whistling sounds to the sparrow for a long moment—which sounded remarkably like the singing of a sparrow—and when he fell silent, the bird flew off.

“There,” he then said with a smile as he looked back at Khsta, “now she won’t get so mad at me because I have been out so long. Or maybe she will. O well. We should get going, there’s fresh water nearby, and that pirate ship has moved on. Best not stay still for too long or your luck will run out.”

Khast had to agree with that and soon after they set off in the direction the necklace showed her to go.

For the next few days the two traveled together, and over and over again, Ashkii showed himself to be true to her, helping her along the way to avoid pirates and other dangers, and often finding food.

She also came to realize that he had a habit of changing his outfits at random, one time covered himself with paint—and where he got that from she’d no idea—telling her it was his war paint. Other times he would adorn himself with leaves and wear a large mushroom like hat, and a few times covered himself with colorful rags.

One afternoon she asked him again where he came from, seeing that Jessica was his adopted mother, so she wanted to know who his real parents had been, to which he’d replied he had come from the earth. Another time he hadtold her he came from a tree.

“That why you’re green,” Khsta had asked him once when he’d told her he come from a tree, and the boy had looked at her as if she had grown a second nose.

“I’m green?”

“You are.”

“Must be something I ate,” he told her and said no more about it.

Along with his unusual and random dress, Ashkii often changed his name. One day on their trip she kept asking him questions to which he didn’t answer. This led her to believe he was mad at her and she asked him what she had done to anger him, to which he asked, “who’s this Ashkii person you keep talking about?”

“You.”

“My name is Larry,” he told her. At the time he was wearing a feathered cape that looked remarkably like bird wings, and even a hood on his head that looked a lot like the head of a crow. Not long after that, one morning he had told her that for the rest of the day she was to address him as Mormanto, Lord of Cross-eyed Chickens!

As mysterious, and she had to admit, as attractive as she found him to be, she was fairly certain after that morning that he was quite insane.

That aside Ashkii, or whatever he wanted to be called, proved to be both very powerful—he seemed to have the ability to control the crocodiles and talk to the animals of the forest—very skillful in hiding from pirates and even fighting when it came to that—and it did more than a few times—and a strong ally of hers.

Some of you may be wondering here, why Khsta didn’t ask Ashkii or his mother to help her and the pixies in their plight with the pirates, and rightly so. The woman Jessica was very powerful, and obviously so was Ashkii. After all he had transformed a wooden carving of a swan into a real one. Such a person would be a great ally and weapon against the pirates and their king. The reason is, for those that don’t know the full and ancient history of our world as I do, and apparently as Khsta did—is because the Woman Jessica belonged to ancient peoples who were forbidden to interfere in much of the on goings in our world. Especially where humans were concerned, and pirates are human, of course. But if you think on this, as I have here, you’ll also realize that Jessica sending her adopted son, Ashkii to help Khsta when she needed it the most—and I’ve no doubt Jessica had sent him—was in a way, helping us all. . .

When the compass led her to the outpost of Burnt Hill, here the boy, who she came to simply call, The Green Boy, vanished. To where? she had no idea, but I can tell you, he went off to have his own adventures—and the rest of his story is for another time.

I could here, tell you of the suffering of the pixies and other peoples at the outpost of Burnt Hill, and how they’d lingered under the siege of the pirates. I can tell you of the brave commander of the outpost and his sacrifice, and of the two heroes, Nathaniel and Aaron, who Khsta came to know fondly. And tell you of their story and how they were the last of their tribe but we don’t have that time here. I can tell you of how Khsta helped the people of the outpost, and was solely responsible for breaking the pirate siege there—and how she’d tricked the fire-breather into doing that was very clever—allowing the pixies and others to escape into the mountains to safety, but that is a much longer story for another time.

Yes Khsta our little pixie had had a quite the adventure, and she’d met heroes and their opposite to get here. She’d seen the light and faced the growing darkness and dodged and in some ways defeated pirates along the way, and now it was at the end. The seeking stone the ghost had given her showed her that this was it.

Yenni was up there in that cave and she would finally speak to him and get the answer she needed to what should be done to save this world from the pirates.

 

 

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