Everything was grey. The trees, the ground, the snow covering it all. Everything was grey. Even the children huddled together, walking through the forest were grey. Their coats and skin were the color of weariness and their eyes lost the sparks of happiness long ago. It was as if they gave up on living long ago.
The two figures and the whole forest seemed to be filled with hopelessness. Perhaps their young spirits filled with despair oozed their grayness into the environment. Now everything was thoroughly colorless and joyless.
Everything. Except the red bird.
It was red. Burning and shining far and wide. A drop of life in this barren landscape. It appeared suddenly, almost out of nowhere. It sat on a branch and looked for the children. There they are!
It will sing and lead the poor little ones through thicket and woods to Mama, where they will play and eat to their hearts content. They will leave this grey lifeless land for brighter more joyous days.
It wanted to start singing but then it noticed something. On a tree nearby perched a large barn owl. It did nothing. It didn’t even hoot. It just turned its head around a bit, then stared at the small red bird. However the little bird felt uncomfortable so close to that big owl. There was something sinister about it. Perhaps it was its long claws or its sharp beak. The red bird hopped on the branch tweeting but it didn’t faze the barn owl one bit. Then the red bird flew off. Soon the birdie and the children will be far away from this nasty overgrown creature.
The owl waited a while and then it took off, too. It followed the red bird. It was close but not too close. The owl was lucky, the red bird didn’t notice anything. It flew into a garden singing as gently and seductively as ever. Behind it came two children. A boy and a girl. Both were dressed in grey worn out coats. They entered the garden slowly shocked by the brightness and the wide palette of colors there. There were some children already. Playing, napping, swimming in a river, climbing trees. All were dressed in bright shirts, tunics, skirts or shorts. The newcomers saw it and were amazed by the various shades of red, yellow and other beautiful colors. At once their coats changed into simple yet nicely fitting summer clothing. Anywhere else the colors would seem mismatched but it was simply stunning here.
The owl let out a quiet, yet pleased hoot. A garden. Full of children. Surely at least one of them has to have some magical abilities. The masters will be pleased.
Gusts of wind blew from all directions. Weapons clashed. You could hear battle cries and swear words in many different languages.
„Surrender or my blades will tear you apart,“ yelled a dark skinned man with a crown made of feathers on his head. „Over my dead body,“ hissed a man with skin a bit lighter but dark were rich ornaments covering his arms and face. This was just one fight among many fought at that time.