|A Timely Enchantment
Author: nvpetite PM
In order to find her runaway sister, Louise Soumont needs to hire the help of a wizard. But as fate would have it, on the way to the wizard's house, a terrible spell is placed upon her.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Words: 2,963 - Reviews: 2 - Published: 03-26-12 - id: 3008344
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
*Dedicated to Dianna Wynne Jones - the creator of my favorite wizard.
'•.¸¸.•´ A TIMELY ENCHANTMENT '•.¸¸.•´
Louise Soumont wasn't really sure what she was doing, only that it would keep her from facing a humiliating banishment. She had been walking for hours now, going west through an old forest. A bead of sweat rolled down her face. She wiped it away, and brushed the strand of hair that fallen across her face behind her ear.
She wished for a breeze to come cool her but there were no winds, not even slight ones to rustle the leaves. The forest had become thick with vines that snaked and hanged overhead from branches. The path she had been walking had become less and less visible with overgrown shrubs and thorns. The further she made her way into the forest, the darker it became as the enormous tree tops blocked the sun's light.
The woods had become all too quiet. Only the sounds of her thumping heart and the breathless huff of her exertion through the thickets droned in her ears.
She tried not to think of anything horrible, tried not to scare herself but the eerie silence of the woods gave way to the rise of her wild imagination. What sort of monsters lurked in the forest? Did they tolerate humans? Was she being followed? Louise inhaled a deep breath.
Just think positive. Positive! She repeated.
She paced herself, now, trying every bit not to stumble or fall. A slip could mean instant death. After all, she was traveling through an infamous enchanted forest by herself. Only a fool would make such a choice. And Louise was desperate enough to become a fool - she only had five days to complete the task that was charged to her.
It was the quickest way to the wizard's house. And she desperately needed the help of a wizard. Normally, she would have opt to go around the enchanted forest but it would have taken up three days and she didn't have three days to waste. Going through the enchanted forest took less than half a day and to her that was a much better option considering her time constraints, no matter how more foolish or dangerous. As long as she kept west, following the sun, she would be able to reach the end of the forest by nightfall.
Louise pushed her way through a sudden thick overhang of spyder vines. And as she did so, their green mossy strings of leaves began to get caught in her hair and she swiped and pulled at the vines, suddenly getting tangled. She panicked then and used all her might to rushed forward to escape.
She continued to run, even after she was long free of the spyder vines, only slowing down when she stumbled into a vast clutter of miniature home-like structures. Tiny stairs and bridges made from vines and foliage, twisted in and out from trees trunks and stumps. Louise lifted her foot and beneath her laid a few dozen of the same structures, crushed so horribly, only twigs and dried leaves were discernible. She turned and looked behind her.
Louise cringed. Oh no.
She had just trampled through what seemed to be fairy kingdom.
Fairies were tiny winged human-like creatures of immense powers and mischief. They lived in colonies called kingdoms and had one ruling queen. Oftentimes, colonies with no queens fell into ruins and only empty shells of a city remained.
From the deepest part of her soul, Louise prayed it was an empty fairy kingdom. She really did not want to be caught amidst new trouble.
But as she took a step back, her body became numb. She wanted to slump down but something held her in a standing grip, squeezing the air out of her. She commanded her body to wiggled and squirmed but to no avail, her body was bound together by an unseen rope.
Nooooo... she cried but no voice came out.
She was stuck.
Before long, Louise saw a fiery glow flying towards her. The sound of fluttering wings and anguish cries filled her ears and she knew there was no escaping.
What am I going to do?
She blinked, and found herself nose to nose with a furious Fairy Queen. All around her, hovered thousands of angry fairy folk.
Earlier in the day...
"It's all your fault!" Mrs. Soumont cried. "You made your sister runaway!"
Louise stood in confusion. What was her stepmother talking about? It was still too early in the morning to be fighting. Louise dreaded her stepmother's temper, not dread as in fear but as in irritated to the bones. Her stepmother could throw a good fit and Louise did not enjoy being the audience during one of her episodes. It was truly ridiculous behavior from a grown woman.
"Why are you standing there like a twit! Come over here." Mrs. Soumont viciously threw down a crumpled letter. "Look! Look!"
Louise stalked over and sat in the crimson-gold silk settee. The soft pillows cushioned her body. She reached for the letter, instantly recognizing the penmanship. It was Scarlet, her younger sister. Louise frowned as she read the words written.
Dearest Mother and Father,
I am going on a journey. All my life I have been trying to please you. Lulu was right, I need to do things for myself. Please tell the Duke of Westfielding that I am sorry. I will write later to let you know how I am doing.
Louise set the letter down. She could feel the heat radiating from her stepmother.
"I didn't know she was going to runaway!" exclaimed Louise. She sat up straight and glanced at her father who had been sitting very quietly in the armchair by the window overlooking the backyard. How long had he been sitting there? He seemed to be deep in thought.
"No?" said Mrs. Soumont. "Oh, I think you did."
Louise breathed, shifting into a more comfortable position on the couch.
"I swear, I only advise that if she did not feel comfortable marrying the Duke of Westfielding, then she should stand and speak for herself." said Louise, recalling late last night when her sister crept into Louise's bedroom and asked for advice. Scarlet had confessed fear of marriage to the Duke of Westfielding. "I didn't think she would take that as telling her to run away."
"Oh, you are so evil!" Mrs. Soumont said with anguished sob. Her light brown curls bounced as she marched to where Mr. Soumont sat. "I knew you were always jealous of my Scarlet."
"You are wrong, Stepmother." Louise retorted in a voice caught between bewilderment and ire. "I care for Scarlet as much as you do, maybe even more. At least, I am not trying to marry her off to a rich, sadistic sod."
"Oh..." Mrs. Soumont wailed, as she laid her head on Mr. Soumont's lap. "Look at what your daughter has done. She has made our beautiful girl, our lovely Scarlet, run away to who knows where. She maybe sitting in a dark, dank cave, crying and utterly lost."
Louise rolled her eyes. She knew her half-sister was more intelligent than that. Scarlet would have taken as much gold as she could from their father's not so secret desk compartment and live comfortably for the following weeks to come.
"What are we to do, my love?" cried Mrs. Soumont, "The Duke of Westfielding will be here in five days for the wedding and Scarlet is gone."
Louise, oddly enough, was not worried. She believed, she was strong enough to face whatever storm the Duke would brew.
"Tell the Duke, the wedding's off?" Louise muttered under her breath.
She always thought the Duke was a bad match for her sister, anyway. Yes, he was filthy rich, yes, he was politically powerful, and yes, he all the attributes her parents desired in a well-off husband for Scarlet, but even-so the Duke of Westfielding was ugly under all the glitter and gold.
He was a rough man. Whether in a friendly sparing match or a fun game of cards, he enjoyed hitting, spitting, and calling names. People excused it as manly but Louise knew that they were just too frighten to say that the Duke was a mean bully.
Louise was concerned for Scarlet. Her sister was too sweet and kind for her own good. Bullies like the Duke of Westfielding would only hurt her. And if she didn't speak for herself, Scarlet would be miserable for the rest of her life.
Mrs. Soumont gasped, and shook a finger at Louise.
"You really are an ungrateful child! No wonder your mother left –" said Mrs. Soumont.
"Enough!" shouted Mr. Soumont, as he pushed her away. "I don't want to hear anymore of this nonsense."
Shocked, Mrs. Soumont stumbled over with a thud. She hastily stood and went to sit by herself. Glowering, Mrs. Soumont folded her arms over chest. Louise tried to hide a grin at the sight. She hadn't seen her stepmother scrambled in such way in a very long time.
Mr. Soumont continued, "Because of your foolish counsel, Louise, your sister has run away when it is but five days before her wedding to the Duke of Westfielding." Mr. Soumont turned to look at Louise, his eye narrowed. "You must take responsibility of your actions."
Louise recognized the look on her father's face. It was calculating and cold, an expression that he saved for business or for people he disliked.
Whatever he planned to say next was absolutely horrible and Louise did not want to know.
It seemed like hours had past when Mr. Soumont opened his mouth again.
"Louise, you are to find your sister and bring her back in time for her wedding. Your sister's marriage to the Duke is important." Mr. Soumont lowered his voice in a warning. " And although, you are my eldest daughter and my heir, if you do not, or will not, or can not do this simple task, I will have nothing more to do with you. I will cut off your inheritance and banish you from home."
Louise blinked at her father's words. It was harsher than the occasional insults hurled by her stepmother. And he was serious. But before she could utter a word, her father stood up from the armchair he had been sitting in and promptly walked out.
The door shut with deafening boom.
Louise paced her room, it was nearly noon and her stomach growled ferociously. The aroma of herbed roast and fresh buttered bread from downstairs filled her nostrils, making her knees weak. Her mouth watered at the thought of stuffing the delicious food down her throat. She truly regretted her decision not to eat breakfast. She hadn't want to join her father and stepmother for morning meal so soon after their brief altercation about her sister.
She stomped her foot and continued to brood over the unfair state her father had placed her in. Oh, he was good. She applauded him. He hadn't even allowed her to make an excuse. She really hated that part of her father. He knew people's weaknesses and used them to his bidding.
He knew her inheritance was everything to her. Louise enjoyed living comfortably. She couldn't deny that! She rather like having servants to help with mediocre things like house-keeping and farming, so she could spend time doing other things like researching, writing, traveling or learning to speak a new language. Her list went on and on. But if she was cut off, all those wonderful hobbies and the favorite things she loved would also disappeared.
It was selfishness, really. And maybe a little bit of greed, but Louise didn't want to spend the rest of her life working hard all day long. She must find her sister and bring her back for the wedding. If Scarlet truly did not want to marry the Duke of Westfielding, then she should say so to his face. Louise was not going to lose her inheritance or be banished from home because of her little mouse of a sister.
In less than half an hour, Louise was already on her way to the witch's house to ask for a locating spell. With a locating spell, finding her sister Scarlet would be a whole lot easier. It would save time and needless effort.
She had never been to the witch's house but luckily Cook had and gave her the directions. Only fifteen minutes away, the witch known as Mrs. Jones, lived just outside of her father's town, close to the enchanted forest.
As she passed the towns people, they called out to Louise. Many congratulated her sister's match to the Duke, although the merriment did not reach their eyes. Louise wasn't sure if it was from pity or dislike of the arrangement but at least, they were thinking about her sister. Which meant the news of her sister's foolish runaway had not reached them yet. Her parents had probably put the house under strict orders to keep the affair secret.
Louise finally reached the witch's house. It was a cute round, two-floored cottage. A lovely herb garden grew in the front yard. Louise waded around plants and followed the stone path to the front door. She knocked lightly and waited. No one answered. Maybe no one heard her? She knocked again with little more force.
"Hello? Is anyone home?" said Louise. She pressed her ear to the door, listening for any movement inside. "Hello? I am Louise Soumont, daughter of General James Soumont. Is anyone home?"
She walked over into the front window and peeked inside. Earthy and homely. She could see a small fire burning in the hearth and a well-used tea kettle hanged over it. Someone had to be home.
She went around to the back yard but there was only a small empty dog house, a dirty bird bath, a pile of chopped wood, and a small vegetable garden.
Mrs. Jones must have gone into town. Louise thought, as made her way back to the front yard.
When Louise reached the front, a brown haired girl of thirteen or fourteen year of age was unlocking the front door into the house.
"Oh, excuse me!" Louise called, running to the girl. "Do you know where I can find Mrs. Jones?"
The girl looked up. "Mrs. Jones? Oh, she and Fungus, that's her dog, went to Ashwoodton to visit her sister who had fallen ill. She'll be back in a week or two."
Louise's heart plummeted. She needed the locating spell to even began her search for Scarlet.
That's terrible." said Louise with a frown. "I hope her sister get's better."
"Yes, I hope so too." The girl replied. "I heard it was the crazies. My brother caught it once. He was delirious with fever and nonsense for a whole week. We had to tie him down to keep him from trouble."
"Oh." said Louise, trying to not roll her eyes. She didn't want to get caught into idle talk. "I'm sorry but by any chance do you know how to use magic?"
The girl laughed, her eyes crinkling. She shifted her weight. "Me? Not at all. I'm just house-sitting for Mrs. Jones. Did you need a spell?"
"Yes, I do." said Louise. "I'm actually in urgent need of one. Do you know anyone in town or another witch that can help mix one?"
"Umm..." For a moment, the girl's faced scrunched in deep thought. "Yes, there's a wizard who lives close-by. I think his name is Black... Black Bear? Black Beast? Oh, I can't really remember his name but he lives in Finnybury."
"Finnybury?" Louise exclaimed, "That's three days away. I need the spell by nightfall or at the latest by next morning. What about Summerton? They're only a day's ride away. Do they have a witch or wizard?"
"I'm sorry, ma'am. Finnybury's wizard is the only one that comes to mind." said the girl. The girl gave Louise a crooked smile and shrugged her shoulders. "And Summerton doesn't have a witch or wizard. They come to see Mrs. Jones."
Louise let out a strained sigh, nearly stomping her foot. Finding her sister was not going to be as easy as she thought it was. Louise was about to say goodbye when the girl's face suddenly brighten. She looked at Louise, then at the sky, then at the forest, and then back at Louise.
Thoughtfully, she said, "You don't have to waste three days going around the forest to reach Finnybury. If you are brave enough, my lady, you can cut through the enchanted forest and arrived in Finnybury by nightfall. It takes about five hours to cross the forest by foot and another hour until Finnybury."
"Oh." Louise, raised an eyebrow. "Is it safe? It's an enchanted forest by all means."
"I think so. As long as you keep to yourself and don't cause trouble." said the girl. "There's an old path that you could follow. Sometimes the towns men take it when they are low on supplies. They leave our town in the early morning and return by nightfall."
This time it was Louise's turn to scrunch her face in thought.
Was she brave enough to go through the enchanted forest?
... to be continued