A true Friendship

She walked to the right and then began to walk straight through. She was surrounded by trees with gnarled trunks and long branches that moved about like arms of monsters. The trees grew so close that their branches blocked most of the moon's light making the forest look even darker, and there were many eyes that seemed to be watching her. She heard night sounds like owls hooting, and crickets chirping.

I hope I get through this alive," she thought.

The trees began to attack her with their branches trying to grab her and crush her with them, but the angels prevented them from doing that by holding the branches back.

Holly soon came upon a group of flowers that were almost as beautiful as the sun, and she decided to touch one of the flowers. Then she remembered the warning that the owl gave, and walked away from them. It was a good thing she did because one of the flowers tried to snap at her but missed.

She soon came upon a muddy ground.

I hate mud, it makes my clothes dirty, but I see that there is no way around it. I guess I'll have to walk through it. I'll just lift up my skirt so that the mud won't touch it.

She lifted up the bottom of her dress to keep it from getting dirty, but when she stepped into the mud it, already, went up to her calves. Then she realized with horror that there was no ground, and that she was beginning to sink.

Oh no, I'm in quick sand. How am I going to get out of there?

The thought of dying frightened her. She knew that she would have gone to heaven if she did die then, but she didn't want to die here. She was young and had many years left; plus, she wanted to save her friend's life and knew she couldn't do it if she died.

The quick sand went up to her thighs. She was worried and thought about how she could escape from the quick san

Soon the quick sand went past her waist and was heading for her chest. She had to hurry and find a way out of there she didn't have much time. It was no use in calling for help for there was noone around who can help her.

A thought came to her. Maybe I'll use one of the gifts one of the animals gave me. Maybe I'll play the flute and the birds can pull me out. No, I don't think they're strong enough. What about the lion he looks like he would be strong enough to pull me out.

She was about to throw the reed when she noticed the vine on the mud.

"If only I can reach the vine, I can use it to pull myself out."

She stretched her arms towards the vine until she was able to touch it with her fingers. She pulled the vine closer hoping that it was strong enough and when it got close enough she used the vine to help her get to the surface by moving her hands over the vines and kicking her legs in the mud until she got back on the dry ground again.

She wiped as much mud off of her as she could.

She was happy that she was on solid ground again, but soon her happiness turned to fear. For the vine that she used to pull her out wrapped themselves around her legs. She swung her knife at the vine, and made it let go of her, but soon more vines were coming toward, her trying to grab her. She swung her knife at them to stop them, but there were too many and they were too fast for her. Plus she wasn't strong enough to cut the largest vines. They were winding themselves around her. Just in time she picked up the flute and played a few tunes on it before the vine grabbed her hand and made her drop it. The vines wound themselves around her very tightly making it hard for her to breath.

Then the last vine wrapped itself around her neck and began to squeeze She felt a great need to take a breath, but was unable to do that and it felt uncomfortable. Soon the uncomfortable feeling began to feel a little painful like she bumped into furniture and stubbed her toes. She hoped that the birds would come soon before it was too late.

Just at that moment the lark and many other birds of different species like eagles, crows, robins, etc flew down and began to peck at the vines. They pecked and pecked till the vines were forced to loosen their hold on her.

She took a cleansing breath before she nodded her head in thanks to the birds.

She continued walking toward the castle, hoping that she encounter no other dangers. She soon came upon a skunk that was walking slowly; it had sad looking eyes. She bent down and petted it in sympathy before it walked away.

She also encountered a few birds chirping sorrowfully.

I feel sorry for the birds their music is so sad.

"Is there anything I can do to help you?" she asked them.

The birds shook their heads and flew away.

She walked a few more feet and looked at herself. Mud was all over her clothes and skin.

I need to clean myself up, she thought.

She saw a small pond of water about ten feet away and thought about jumping in it to clean the mud off but realized that it could be another trap so she walked passed it.

Soon she came to the end of the forest. The trees tried to grab her while she was walking through them but they missed her.

She came out of the forest and saw the ugly castle about 40 or so feet from her. It was the ugliest castle she had ever seen. It was old and pealing. The windows looked like eyes of monsters, and the roof of the castle was surrounded by many spikes. If the castle looked that horrible outside, she wondered what it would look inside.

I can't imagine living in such a dreadful place she thought.

She dropped to her knees and began to crawl through the tall grass, and weeds towards the castle. She wasn't willing to walk upright where she can be seen by the evil wizard.

Poor Cindy; I'll get you out of there, she thought.

She continued to crawl through the tall grass and weeds until she came to the side of the castle. The ugly castle was overgrown with vines and leaves. She began to push the leaves aside to look for the door and was thankful to God that they did not attack her. While she was moving the vines she looked up and noticed that the crescent moon smiled at her. It reminded her that God was watching over her. She was comforted by that thought. She saw that the vines that she pushed apart covered nothing but the wall, so she walked a little farther to the right. She pushed the vines to the side and saw a wooden door that seemed to be decaying. She was slowly opening the door, careful not to get any splinter on her hands.

She walked into the pitch black room, and began to sneeze.

I need a light; I can't see anything in here, she thought. The only thing I know is that it is very dusty in here. I wonder if that wizard ever cleans this room.

She stepped on something a picked it up, and felt it in her hands.

Just what I need, matches. Now All I need is a torch.

She walked outside again and began to search for a large dry stick. She found one farther to the right. She also saw some trees there. She picked up the stick and wrapped a piece of cloth around the stick; then she lit a match and set the stick and cloth on fire.

"Now I have a light."

She walked back into the castle and saw that the room was dustier and dirtier than she thought. There was dust and dirt on the few sticks of furniture that were in the room, and on the floor, and the cobwebs covered everything. She began to sneeze from the dust that got in her nose. She turned her head away from the torch to make sure that she didn't sneeze on it and blow it out.

I don't think anybody has been here for years, *achoo* not even the wizard, she thought.

She noticed two bowls on the small square table and walked toward it. She saw two bowls of dust. One of them was silver dust, and the other was brown dust.

*Achoo! Achoo!"

"I hope the evil wizard didn't *achoo* turn her into a statue, but *achoo* I better bring some dust with me *achoo* just in case."

She emptied the rest of the cloths out of her pouch and put it in her pocket, and then she grabbed some of the brown dust put it inside her pouch, tied the pouch with a string and put it back in her pocket. She was sneezing all the while.

I better get out of this *achoo* room, before I end up putting the torch *achoo* out or the wizard hears me. The last thing I *achoo* need is for the wizard to know that *achoo* I'm in his castle. *achoo* If he knows, then I won't be able to *achoo* to rescue Cindy.

She walked out of the room fast and into the hallway. The hallway had a lot less dust, but it was drafty and cold. She also saw some statues there.

I need something to put on to warm me up a bit like a jacket. I have the blanket that the fox gave me that should keep me warm. The only problem is, is that it is a magic blanket, and I cannot use it except when I really need it, and I might need it before we leave his domain.

In the hallway she saw two sets of stairs. The first set was made out of precious gems, and the railings were made out of gold. It was the most beautiful staircase she had ever seen and she was seized with a sudden desire to climb those stairs. She walked toward it and was about to put her left foot on the first step when she remembered the warning that the owl gave her about the first set of stairs. She quickly put her foot down and walked towards the second set of stairs which was about ten feet away from the first set. She saw that the narrow stairs was made out of plain wood and that there was no railing. She climbed the first step and heard a creek.

I better climb slower and quieter, she thought

She climbed the stairs slowly and carefully making as little noise as possible because she did not want the wizard to know that she was there. She continued climbing until she got to top.

She opened the door and entered the hallway. The hallway was very long and there were many rooms in it. She would have to pass all these rooms until she got to the last room in the house. Her heart was filled with fear because she realized that the evil wizard could be in any one of the rooms and he could pop out of it. With that thought in mind. She gulped and began to walk through the hall. She said a prayer to the Lord to keep her safe, and the Lord gave her courage. She walked for about ten minutes until she got to the last door.

She opened the door and entered the room. It was a small room with only a bed, a small table and a chair. There was also some light from the moon coming through the window. She saw to her horror that the wizard had already turned Cindy into a statue. She put the torch on the floor. Then she quickly threw the dust at the statue and the stone seemed to melt away from Cindy's form until she came to life again. The two women hugged each other in happiness and relief. They were both happy that Cindy was no longer a statute.

"I'm glad you saved me from being a stone statue," Cindy said quietly not wanting the wizard to hear her. "I know that the wizard's domain is dangerous and that you must have risked your life to save me. Thank you."

"You are like a sister to me and I love you. I couldn't stand by and do nothing while the wizard keeps you locked up in this awful castle."

"Do you want me to tell you about what happened to me in the castle?"

"Not now, we better get out of the castle first before the evil wizard finds us."

Holly picked up the torch, and she and Cindy walked out of the room. They walked quietly through the hallway hoping that the wizard wouldn't pop out of any of the rooms and fearing that he might. When they were half way down the hall one of the doors swung open and the wizard saw them. The girls looked at him with wide eyes and the fear in their hearts increased because they knew they couldn't run fast enough to escape from him.

The evil wizard pointed his wand at them and was about to turn them into stone when Holly threw a blanket on herself and Cindy. The evil wizard knew that his magic did not work on invisible people, and went back into his room. The women walked as fast as possible out of the hall, down the stairs and out of the house. By the time they got near the grass and weeds the invisibility wore off. Holly and Cindy began to crawl through them.

While they were crawling through the grass and weeds Holly decided that it was time for Cindy to tell her what happened to her in the castle.

"Ok Cindy, you can tell me about what happened to you in the castle now if you want."

"It was horrible. When the evil wizard flew with me towards the castle on his hideous bird I was never more scared in my life. I thought that any moment he would have his bird drop me on the ground. He didn't of course. He brought me to his castle because he had plans for me. When I saw the castle I thought it was the ugliest building that I have ever seen, but that is nothing compared to the inside. The inside of the castle was large, but very drafty and dusty and filled with cobwebs. There weren't a lot of furniture, but the furniture that were in there were bare. I was lead to the small room that you rescued me from. The bed was so hard that it made sleeping on it difficult. I also saw stuff that disturbed me. I saw the evil wizard turn people and animals into stone statues with the silver dust. I also saw him turn people into animals. He would bring them inside with the help of some of his trees and force them to climb the beautiful steps of stairs. As soon as they did, they were turned into an animal. He also used his magic to build the stairs to trap any trespassers that came in if they escaped his other traps. Every night he would lock me in my room so that I would not be able to escape, and everyday he would give me something to eat. The evil magician visited me every day and he asked me to marry him because he was in love with me, but I always said no because I couldn't bear to marry such a horrible man. When I said that to him, he got angry and threatened that if I didn't marry him within three days he would turn me into stone, and I told him that I'd rather be a stone statue then his wife. He lost his temper right then and there and threw some silver dust at me, and my limbs began to get hard. And that was the last I knew until you turned me back to life."

Holly wiped the tears from her eyes from listening to Cindy's story.

"That was so sad," she said.

When Cindy finished telling Holly her story they were almost at the end of the grass.

"How long will it be before we can get out of this grass and weeds? I'm getting weeds and grass all over my hair."

"Not long, I think. And it is obvious that your hair and clothes are not as messy as mine."

"I noticed you are covered with dirt and mud. What happened to you?"

"I'll tell you later."

"I hope I never have to see that wizard again," said Cindy.

"I hope not either."

They pushed through the final group of grass and weeds and they saw the woods about twenty feet away from them.

They got up and brushed the grass and weeds away from their clothes and were happy that they could stand again, but to their horror the evil wizard saw them with a wand in his hand.

"Now my pretty ladies, you think you can escape from me?" he laughed, evilly.

The girls were horrified; they had no way to escape from the evil wizard. The magic blanket was no longer useful, and they knew they would not get to the trees on time before the evil wizard used his wand on them. They closed their eyes and held on to each other knowing that this would be their end unless somebody rescued them. Then Holly got an idea. She remembered the stick that the lion gave her. She took it out of her pocket and quickly threw it.

The magician raised his wand and was about to turn them into statues when all of a sudden a lion broke through the trees and jumped on the evil wizard knocking the wand out of his hand. The evil wizard screamed while the lion tore him apart.

As soon, as the magician died the forest became bright again, the ugly castle disappeared, all the stone statues were turned back to people and animals and all the people that had been turned to animals turned back to people.

The two women saw a wonderful transformation in their eyes. The beard on the lion's mane disappeared, his head and body became smaller and tail disappeared. His large paws grew smaller while his claws disappeared, and the lion skin seemed to fall away from him. When the transformation was finished, he appeared in front of them as a handsome prince. He was wearing a brown tunic with black leggings and his robe was made out of the finest fabric with emeralds and sapphires stuck on it. The two women bowed to him.

"Rise fair ladies," said the prince.

"You are a very beautiful and brave woman," he said to Holly. "You have risked your life to save your friend's life and you have saved my life and the lives of the others as well. I would like to have you for wife. Will you marry me?"

"Yes, yes, I will," she said happily.

"And you, he said to Cindy can marry one of my knights. He is a very chivalrous and kind person and a close friend of mine."

"I'd like to meet him first," Cindy said.

"Come let us return to the castle and celebrate the freedom from the evil wizard's evil magic."

Epilogue: The king and queen were so happy that their son was back, and that he and the others were saves from the evil magician that they celebrated for a few days and all in the kingdom was invited. They were so grateful to Holly for saving him that they gave their consent to have her marry him. Holly and the Prince got married, and Cindy married his friend whom she fell in love with.

The End