Chapter Three: The Story
The cave was huge and there was enough place to let our horses stand. I even thought that an elephant would have sat comfortably in here.
The one satyr walked over to the entrance of the cave and pulled a string that let a woven white grass-like mat fall over the entrance of the cave. One of the others placed some hay in the cracks of the cave wall for the horses to eat in the entry hall.
The cave looked like a comfortable little home. It was full of warm autumn colours that broke the pattern of endless winter outside. There was a fireplace, a round wooden table with four seats and a kitchen on the far side of the room. On the left side on a slightly raised platform with a railing and four beds that were made up neatly. Each had a name on top of the headboard but I couldn’t make out what it said.
In the centre of the room, there was a red carpet where there stood two dark brown sofas with a black tea table between them. The sofa was full of cushions with colours like red, brown, yellow, green and even dark blue.
Against the farthest wall of the cave, there was a portrait of the four satyrs. The detail was fantastic. I wondered how long it would have taken to paint it. On the painting, you could easily see that they were relatives. They all had the same curly brown hair and brown eyes. The only difference was the size of their horns and their body weight.
Everywhere in the room you looked, there were white candles and lanterns lit so you could see. It was the only thing that scared me about the place.
“It’s the fifth griffon patrol this month,” the satyr by the door said to the others. He was the skinniest of them all and as far as I could tell, the youngest.
“Bah! We warned the king that the enemy is drawing near but he didn’t listen!” one walked over and sat by the table.
“Who are you?” I asked anxiously.
One satyr went to sit on the sofa and asked if we wanted to join him. We went over and sat on the sofas. The other one still stood by the door, now and then looking nervously through the grass mat that blocked the cave entrance.
The one that was sitting said, “We are the satyrs of the forest. My brothers and I protect nature against anyone who tries to harm it in a way. We work for the Lord of the Forest.”
Not the type of explanation I was expecting.
“Are there only four of you?” Violet asked looking very interested in these creatures.
“No, of course not. There are hundreds of us that live in forests all around the world,” the one satyr said offended. He was sitting by the kitchen table and I could see he had the longest horns of them all.
“Now tell me...” he thought for a moment, “What you mortals are doing in the Winter Forest?” the satyr asked that sat on the sofa next to me.
I realized now that he was a little fatter than the other satyrs were and that his breath was terrible. I mean it smelled as if something died in his stomach. I thought that he should be more relative to a pig, instead of a goat.
“Mortals like humans?” Katherine asked.
The fat one laughed and the others joined in.
“All mortals are human,” he said.
“How do you know we’re mortals?” I asked.
“We can smell it. But that isn’t important now? The forest can be dangerous if you are alone. What are you doing here?” The one by the door exclaimed.
I realised that one satyr didn’t seem to say a word. He just stood quietly in the kitchen observing us. The others didn’t seem to pay him that much attention either.
“We are on this journey-” Violet started then Katherine suddenly interrupted her.
“Don’t tell them! We don’t even know what they are, how can we trust them?”
“We have no choice? Maybe they can help us,” I told her, not really certain if we can trust them myself.
But I knew we had no choice since if they knew something it could help us a lot. I also admitted to myself that if they really wanted to hurt us they would have just left us with the griffons. Then Violet told them the entire story.
“Wait. How can you be on a quest? Did you go into the Cave of Mystery?” the satyr by the table said looking quite angry.
I didn’t quite see all this as a quest. I was just planning on going to find a king.
“No, what’s the Cave of Mystery?” Violet asked.
“It is a cave that has a wall deep inside that determines your destiny and will tell if you may go on a quest or not.”
The old long-horned satyr stood up. “My brothers still don’t seem to grasp the importance of the cave. It contains the entire history of the world written within its walls and tunnels. Therefore, the understanding of what is to happen can be influence from past events and prophecies made. Even the destiny of the entire world can be found there for the cave’s bravest and most wise visitors.”
I decided that the older one was crazy as well. So all of them were just a bunch of loons.
“We are just looking for help or an explanation?”
“So it is a quest to find help then?” a satyr said.
My clenched jaw didn’t seem to like the satyrs.
“So we can just go to this Cave of Mystery and see for ourselves,” I noted, just to satisfy their belief.
All four satyrs started to laugh, even the one that wasn’t talking to us. After a while, they saw that we were serious.
“You’re not from the city are you?” the long-horned/crazy/old one asked?
“What city?” Violet asked.
The satyrs looked at one another perhaps just as confused as we were.
“You’re oblivious mortals?”
From the looks on their faces, I could see that they knew we had no idea what they were talking about in any way.
“It’s just a name the four of us have for people who don’t know or believe in the wonder of the world,” the fat satyr said.
I had no idea what these things were talking about and I really wanted to leave. There were some mysterious things we saw during the last two days but I was sure I wasn’t an ‘oblivious mortal’.
“Can you please show us to the Cave of Mystery so we can get on with our ‘quest’?” I played along.
“NO! The travel is dangerous at night, plus you never know where the cave is. It travels and reappears in places all around the world. You never know where it is,” the satyr by the entrance said. “If that isn’t bad enough, the cave has a guardian that no one knows for sure what it is?”
“Well there is one person,” the satyr that sat next to me said with a yawn.
“Who?” I finally asked after a silent moment had passed.
“We don’t know who? But we know somebody who knows who knows where it is.”
I just sat there for a moment to figure out the sentence.
“So take us to him,” Katherine said looking as if she already figured out the sentence. She always was smarter then I was but I never let her know that. She would have much too large an ego.
“All in due time. But first, let’s help you with a piece of the puzzle from your so-called ‘quest’?” the one sitting next to me scratched his belly and then stood up and walked over to the bookshelf.
He slipped his fingers over the books as he was reading their names in his mind. He stopped at one and took it off the shelf. I could see that there was no dust on the books except for that single one, so I guessed they didn’t read it that often. He walked back towards us, I could see the cover of the book divided into four sections, and each section had an animal symbol on it, in a circle. Although the book was a little torn and old, I could still make out the animals clearly. On the right, there was an elephant and a horse on the bottom, on the left there was an eagle and a tiger on the bottom. The elephant and the tiger were looking forward and the horse and the eagle had side profiles. The fat satyr opened the book on the tea table. One of them that was sitting by the table walked over and through some shining dust into the fireplace like he knew what was coming.
The fat satyr started talking and I didn’t know if this was good or bad.
“Well there is a legend that goes something like this,” he said.
All the candles blew out in one single wind erupting from the fireplace. The horses whinnied but the one satyr calmed them down. The fire started sparking and forming shapes, filling the room with warmth and light.
“Once upon a time there was a beautiful kingdom spread throughout the land,” he said throwing some more of the golden dust over the coffee table.
I could clearly see that this golden dust formed a great landscaped valley with mountains and grasslands on the table. All made out of golden dust.
“King Xander, who ruled at that time, had four wonderful sons. Each adopted from one King but a different Queen.”
My eyes fixed on the coffee table as the golden dust was telling the story along with the satyr but only in shapes and I felt mesmerized by it.
“The first son was named Adam Cornelius II, after his great-grandfather Adam Cornelius I. His mother was queen Ravenna, who passed away after giving birth to him.”
Each time he mentioned a son or a wife, the golden dust would form a woman walking up to a castle in different types of clothes so you could clearly see her face as well, holding a baby.
He continued, “The second son was named William. His mother’s name was queen Primrose who died after taking a carriage ride through the forest to a nearby kingdom. But the people who know the land say she was eaten by a troll, like the ones you would find in children’s nightmares.”
The queen came and went in the dust after disappearing in a carriage.
“The third child was named Hendry whose mother was Queen Aurora. The queen, however, went missing for reasons to this day still unknown.”
The queen vanished in a puff of the golden mist and it fell to the ground.
“The fourth son was named Aqualon after his great uncle. His mother was Queen Annabeth who w behead after the King found out she had a secret affair with a commoner. He found love letters that send to her in her room and after that, the king swore never to marry again. It has caused him too much heartbreak.”
The landforms changed through the golden dust like a wave that would wash onto the beach.
“Years past and King Xander died a great and powerful ruler. The land divided between the four sons, who then became kings over their different parts of the land. Prince Adam Cornelius II became king over the south side of the kingdom and he built his castle between The Grand Mountains of Reindeers.”
The landscape shifted into different areas of the land and displayed the different castles the kings built.
“Prince William was crowned over the western side of the kingdom and built his castle on top of The Flying Mountains. Prince Hendry who was bound to become king over the north side of the kingdom, built his palace deep inside the Winter Forest, next to a great waterfall that he simple named The Mist.”
That is our king, I thought. The one we simply had to find.
“Prince Aqualon became king of the eastern side of the kingdom and he built his castle on an open piece of land that was called the Grasslands because there was green grass as far as the eye could see. He dug three trenches all around the castle, mining for oil and coal. There was a large river running straight down the middle of the land that started a few miles upstream from the waterfall, The Mist, and went all the way through the land till between the Grand Mountains of Reindeers and on.”
The golden mist quickly showcased the entire valley as the satyr explained along the river line.
“The four kings ruled over their separate lands and one day the Lord of the Forest wanted to thank each of the kings with a special gift. A gift in return for an alliance. He invited them to his palace inside the Enchanted Forest. A palace so spectacular it is said to be made out of pure gold.”
From the structure I could see in the golden dust, it looked amazing. The spirals going up to the palace towers, creating a cone at the top, and the forest surrounding it.
“The kings each brought a gift to him. King Adam brought an entire collection of fruits that only grew on the Grand Mountain of Reindeers. King William brought wind charms made completely out of rare elements. King Hendry brought ice sculptures of various things and king Aqualon brought oils from the earth.
“In the middle of the castle, the moonlight shined, through an opening in the roof, on to a table were the lord accepted the gifts of the kings and had them all seated. Today that is the room where the High Council meets because all elements and all forces of life are represented there.”
The room seemed beautiful but it was hard to make everything out because it was only in gold.
“He then presented each of the kings with a special gift. He said ‘To king Adam Cornelius II, I grant you and your family the ability to control the element earth. But beware because with this element comes great strength and power put also great destruction. You and your people will be stronger than the rest and you will always be remembered for your might.’ The king kindly bowed and accepted this gift. When he accepted, his eyes and the eyes of his people became green and he, any children that he will have, and their children would now have the ability to control the element earth.
’To king William, I grant you and your family the ability to control wind. Wind and air, considered one of the weakest elements, but when one learns to control it right, it can be one of your most powerful. You and your family will be very wise because wind is a difficult element to master. Wisdom will be spread through your land and knowledge will be key in your living.’ After that, it was so. King William and his family could control wind. They and their people were smarter than the others were.
‘To king Hendry, I grant you and your family the ability to control the element water. Water is a wonderful element but requires patience to control. Like water that washes over a pebble to make it smooth, you and your people will be beautiful because, like water that washes away rough edges, you and your people will have no rough edges.’ He accepted this amazing gift.
Next, it was king Aqualon’s turn. ’To king Aqualon, I grant you and your family the ability to control the element fire. Fire is an incredibly strong element but can very easily get out of control, if you miss guide it. One must master control and guidance in order for the fury not to spread. Just like fire, your people will be passionate.’ He accepted the gift.
The Kings thanked the lord for everything and the lord said since they were so grateful he would give them one last gift, the gift of immortality along with the option of joining the High Council, to protect these wonderful elements. The gift was only for the four of them and their children. The kings thanked the lord once more and headed off to their kingdoms to celebrate. Since that day the kings and any children and the children’s children that they might have can have these abilities and will be immortal”
The golden dust fell off the table in a flash and the fireplace died out. Everything was quiet. I could see the little particles of smoke still coming from the candles and could see everyone’s silhouettes in the darkness perfectly. I could only here shallow breathing like nobody was ready to speak after what they’ve just saw. I wasn’t going to blame them. It was out of this world spectacular to hear something like this. Something so different yet so real. The lights in the room flickered to life again.
“So king Aqualon was the one who attacked the village,” I said looking over at Katherine and Violet.
“Yes, but at least we know now that there is a king in the forest that might be able to help us,” Katherine said satisfied with the story.
“Do you guys know how to get there?” Violet asked the four satyrs quickly.
I realised that we didn’t even know their names but it didn’t seem to worry them at all.
“We do know the way but it might not be safe. The griffons work for King Aqualon and we have seen a lot of them in the skies over the last couple of weeks. They aren’t allowed in the Winter Forest since it is king Hendry’s land, which is why the tigers attacked them, they are soldiers of king Hendry.”
Having a tiger as a soldier would be pretty remarkable I thought to myself.
“Alright, so how do we get there?” I said biting my lip.
“We can take you to a centaur’s house where you could stay the night and he will show you the way in the morning. He also knows the person who knows the way into the Cave of Mystery,” one satyr said.
“We should get moving if we want to get there before sundown,” the nervous satyr said looking through the woven mat at the entrance of the cave.
I walked over to the entrance and saw that it was already sunset. If we were going to go, we would have to hurry. I didn’t want to know what things were out here in the night. Especially after hearing this story about wonder, there must be some darkness too.
We let the horses outside in the coldness of winter again. The four satyrs said that we should follow them and they started running in a direction. We rushed to get onto our horses and rode after them. I didn’t know where they were running off to as I gave a glance at Katherine. I just hoped that they knew what they were doing.
As we followed them through the forest after almost a mile, they all just stopped. I had to stop Abrus so fast I almost flew off forward.
“This is as far as we go,” they said.
I didn’t understand why because there was nothing ahead but I was too tired to argue.
“Once you go in you will see his house. Just say that the four satyrs send you and that it is important. Also, tell him the story and your quest.”
“Thank you for your help and friendliness,” I told them still on Abrus.
All four of them nodded as they started to greet all of us kindly.
“Thank you for everything. I feel so bad that we don’t even know your names,” Katherine said looking guilty.
“Names aren’t important,” the one satyr yelled to her and they started running back in the directions we came from.
“Wait! Go in? Where should we go in?” I yelled confused.
It was too late. They were already deep into the forest.
The temperature started to drop as the sun started to sink deeper into the sky. It made me miss the warm little satyr cave. We were all a little in a daze because there was nothing ahead or even in any directions. It was just another part of the icy Winter Forest.
We all climbed off the horses to look around.
“They wouldn’t just strand us?” it was hard to figure out if Katherine was trying to convince herself or us.
I didn’t know what they were thinking, leaving us alone like this. They could at least tell us where to go.
We started walking forward and fell through something that we couldn’t see. I landed face first on green grass that I found weird because we were just standing on snow. I looked around and noticed a big house on top of a flowing green hill. The house was two storeys and the roof made out of grey grass. Around the house there where wildflowers with the colours of the rainbow that headed down the hill towards us. A small red stone walkway headed up to the house making snaky curves.
“Is everyone alright?” I asked as I stood up.
“Yes, we’re fine,” Violet said assuring.
I walked over and helped them stand up. I turned back and saw the snow on the other side. After a few moments, I noticed that we were in this sort of invisible dome.
The horses made their way through after some confusion but seemed pleased at the sight of green grass. I turned towards the dome and reached for it.
“It keeps out monsters during the night,” a manly voice said from behind me as I touched it.
I didn’t look around immediately. My mind just needed a moment before something else was about to happen. I just felt the smooth surface against my palm. When I pushed harder, my hand just slipped through and I felt the cold weather on the other side.
I turned and found a man with long brown hair, brown eyes, and a long beard. Something normal for a change, I was thinking to myself until I took into consideration how tall he was. From the waist down, he was a dark brown horse. I tried not to stare but I couldn’t help myself. Unlike the satyrs who were hairy and strange, this creature seemed majestic. Confidence, intelligence and pure strength radiated off him.
“What are you doing here?” he asked with a steep expression.
We told him the entire story and that the four satyrs send us. His eyes widened when we told him and he nodded occasionally. I locked eyes with Katherine now and then as I talked because I was a little nervous. He seemed to understand in a way.
“You are welcome to stay the night and I will show you where the palace is first thing tomorrow,” he said happily, “Oh and by the way, my name is Lynx, the centaur of the forest.”
I thought to myself what a peculiar name and I couldn’t help but think that I saw it before. He said that we could leave the horses outside to eat and that they would be safe inside the dome. Abrus seemed calm and happy so I decided that it would be fine to leave him here. It was a little chilly inside but much warmer than the forest that surrounded the dome.
Lynx led us to the house and we followed him without any restraint. I saw the way Violet and Katherine stared at him in dumb expressions but I imagined I looked the same way. How did we look when we saw the satyrs then, not even to mention the griffons? The day was maybe just a little too bizarre for us all.
We walked into the main entrance and I could immediately tell that the house was extremely neat with everything in place. The floors were made of dark wood that seemed light and there was a wooden staircase that led upstairs. There was a big wooden door where Lynx walked in, that headed into a kitchen with a big table inside. Up ahead through an arch, you could see the dining table so I assumed it was the dining room. I didn’t see a living room but it was probably in a room next to the dining room. Everywhere in the house paintings hung against the walls with different ideas and types. Then I knew where I noticed his name before.
“You painted the painting of the four satyrs,” I said.
“Yes indeed young man, I did. Thank you for noticing,” he said proudly.
I remembered in the satyr’s house there was a painting of them with the name Lynx at the bottom.
“You’re a wonderful painter,” Katherine told Lynx while admiring one of his paintings. She always loved paintings and drawings. I knew she always carried a little book with her where she would draw. I have seen some of her sketches before but she doesn’t like people seeing them, not even when I tell her that it’s worth seeing.
Lynx walked up the stairs and we followed. Upstairs there was a long hallway with six doors. He showed each of us to a room where we could stay the night.
My room had a double bed with two wooden bedside tables against the right wall. A brown chair stood next to the door that I put my bags on as I walked in. Against the left wall stood a wooden drawer with a mirror above it that placed against the wall. On top of the drawer, there was a white bowl with water inside. Straight ahead, a window opened onto a balcony that overlooked the fields of wildflowers.
The sun was almost set and the moon was attempting to raise desperately. It was like they were in battle, fighting for control over the night sky.
There was a door that led into a bathing room just next to the drawer with the mirror and I had a feeling that I was going to need it sooner or later.
We were all invited to dinner, there was a lovely home cooked meal waiting downstairs, and I had to say that it smelled delicious. There were cooked potatoes, freshly baked bread, some vegetables that I didn’t eat a lot off and some sort of cow meat. We all ate in silence. I was confused about the fact that Lynx could eat meat considering he was half horse? He stayed clear of the meat the entire night though, and I wondered if he got it only for us?
The silence continued.
I think the day was just a little rough on us. I thought about the story of the four kings. Why would the one brother betray the other or proclaim war? It didn’t make sense. The Lord of the Forest seemed to be an interesting man. Who gave him the power to give immortality? I didn’t understand anything about it and I never heard anything like it before, did anyone else know about all of this?
“Why don’t we know about all of this?” I broke the silence.
“Humanity has a way of turning history into legend and legend into myth. Before you know it, no one thinks about history anymore. So the Lord of the Forest decided some time ago, not to mess with minds more than is necessary. To keep balance without making the world think some are gods that they aren’t. I sometimes believe even the king’s own people give it up to gossip,” Lynx offered.
“Who could blame them,” I said staring at Lynx’s horse half.
“That’s humanities biggest complication. Your ability to forget.”
Just like that, the conversation died out quickly. I didn’t think of anyone believing the stuff I saw or heard today. Not with a sane mind. So maybe in this big world, it was just easier to forget then trying to make sense of it all.
Katherine just stared at her plate and ate very slowly while Violet ate so fast that she didn’t have time to talk. Violet finished her dish first because of that.
“Thank you for a delicious meal,” she told Lynx and headed up to her room.
I might have gone with her if Lynx hadn’t told me about five times that we were safe in here.
Katherine and I stayed a while longer and helped Lynx wash the dishes outside in a barrel. He said he got the water from the river. Katherine and I were shocked and told him that the river froze solid when we were there. He didn’t look surprised at all and said that the king was probably practising. I didn’t understand it but it most likely had something to do with the fact that he could control water. The more I dawned on the story the four satyrs told me, the more my head spun. It all seemed unreal.
“Thank you for letting us stay the night,” I told him as Katherine and I headed to our rooms for some sleep.