Curiosity and Magic
Alana Griffin sat upon a boulder just outside the Border. She had always been fascinated by the stories surrounding the haunted wall of silver pine. It supposedly surrounded the whole of the neighboring country. Her family's land lay only a mile or so from the mysterious forest. Making access to the foreboding forest quite easy for the curious girl.
She had heard the legends many times and she knew them by heart. So many stories were told of the neighboring land that it was hard not to be interested. Most people, though, preferred to ignore the land. The legend said that the haunted forest was once ruled by a mad king, and that a witch cursed the man and the land with darkness. Now it was a land of spirit folk people of the night and some claimed the king to be an evil dragon. No one dared to cross the border, as there were also stories of those who tried and returned mindless and broken.
Alana, though, only grew more entranced by the Border and beyond when she heard the legends.
Her siblings always told her she was the odd one. She was the youngest child of four. One older brother and two older sisters. Ralph, her brother of twenty-five, had moved to the city to work, and hardly returned to visit. Her sisters Isabel and Rosalind were nineteen and twenty, they were married and had their rooms built off the main house, separate but still part of the house.
Alana was a mere sixteen years, and was often left to her own entertainment. It was most likely what caused her to grow into such an oddity. Her imagination would ease her lonely childhood and caused her to grow interested in other oddities and enjoy what most people found strange. Like the legends of the forest, or how a cricket made a chirping noise.
She was never interested in the duties of a woman in the house. She would always find an excuse to escape whenever her duties were needed. In her opinion she had learned enough to survive, sewing and cooking, she even managed to sit still enough to learn to read. She was glad of the reading, because books often held fantastic tales of other places. Many times she would hide herself away and journey through pages to other magical places.
After she learned how to ride, escaping chores became painfully easy. She could go just about anywhere and not worry about being scolded for stitching this wrong or writing that improperly. The very first day she was allowed to ride alone, she went to the Border. She wanted to see for herself the beings that haunted the forest. Everyday she would ride and watch, hoping to catch a glimpse of the legends surrounding the forest.
Where most people thought the enormous silvery trees to be scary, she thought they were the most beautiful of all. Almost as if they were forever frosted with ice. And when the sun dipped low they would look to be on fire. She often wondered what really lay beyond such a majestic forest. What did they hide from the rest of the world?
She, of course, never told her family that she often visited the forest, for she knew her curiosity would be scolded all the more. Though, mostly because her father thought those who were interested in the forest were fools and that “curses should never be trifled with, no matter how old or how big.” Which he would repeat anytime a new story popped up about a poor soul who went missing while trying to explore the forest.
Alana shook herself from her pondering and, seeing that sky was soon to be darkening, decided to head home. She would probably be scolded this time for how late she was. She had a feeling that even though she kept her visits secret, her parents probably suspected where she often went to.
Sighing she jumped from her perch on the rock and mounted her horse, turning him in the direction of home. Just before she turned completely, a glimmer in the forest caught her eye. Stopping, she focused on a sparkle of light that appeared to be growing.
“A spirit! At last I get to see one!” She exclaimed keeping her eyes locked on the growing light. She dismounted, and a small spark of fear caused her to back away a step. Her greater curiosity doused the fearful spark and she stood her ground. The light grew until it seemed a few feet from her. As it crossed the last few feet, she saw that in the center of the light was a small being, no bigger than her hand. It looked like a tiny person with glittering wings and hair made of light. A crown of twigs rested on the bright hair and a dress of butterfly wings clothed the being.
She held her hand out, more curious than ever, and the small being landed. Only then did she notice the small creature was holding something. It placed the item in her hand and to her amazement bowed to her before flitting away. She watched as the being disappeared into the darkness once more before looking at the item in her hand. It was a perfect ivy leaf slightly shorter than her small finger. The veins and edges of the leaf were traced in silver, and it seemed to be covered in a hard clear coating which protected the fragile leaf.
Its beautiful, she thought. She almost thought it mistakenly given until she saw the small writing on the back. It read “For the Lady who Dreams by the Forest.” The writing was also in silver, and in the most beautiful script she had ever seen. Someone knew how often she came to the Border. She felt a shiver of excitement before carefully stowing the gift in her dress. No one must know about this, she thought before urging her horse toward home.
That night Alana lay awake admiring her small present. Everyone had gone to sleep hours ago, leaving Alana alone with her thoughts. She wondered about the person who had left her such a lovely gift.
Maybe the forest isn't as cursed as everyone thinks it is. Surely something so horrid couldn't produce something so lovely and delicate, She thought to herself. Maybe its only seems like a cursed place because of all the magical things that happen.
Alana continued her pondering until she fell asleep, even then, her dreams were of the Border and magical tiny beings.