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By Christine King All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Chapter 1

The Witch

Long ago, in a place where there was no sin, there was what you call magic. A Forest that was once known, now had been forbidden; forgotten and all together lost forever from humanity; disappeared off the face of the earth. There had been a vow made between four supernatural beings, whose origin, if documented at all, would only have been done so as myths, or fictional creatures in fairy tale stories. These beings were known as the Four Protectors. Their vow, was, that the forest would be kept secret from the world, from what they called dwellers of lesser privilege, but greater purpose; humankind. No one of the human world would ever know of it. Implausible that anyone should discover their secret; but… if an outsider had witnessed the Forest’s existence, it’d be a matter which would have to be dealt with, without hesitance. Surely no human would ever be able to leave the Forest...

On a day rendered like no other in the year of 1200 A.D. a prime-aged witch, fair and mysterious, journeyed alone to a place feared. A place that would give, to anyone, the feeling of being engulfed, swallowed whole; a mountain overshadowing a village stricken with disease and death. This mountain was well known as the Forbidden Mountain by the village dwellers. It was a giant mountain covered as far as the eye could see with dense unruly forest; and the top of this mountain was never revealed. Hidden even on days of the best weather; and always, it was covered in an atmospheric fog giving the impression of being a distant planet with an ozone all its own.

This fair witch stopped at the base of the mountain; face and body concealed under a draping black cloak. Her manner, completely calm and collected as if she meant to pause before entering the vast woods, to ponder an outstanding answer for an evoking question. Yes, to feed the ever hungering, longing for comfort, security and reassurance, for all doubts at hand. But this was mostly fear she was pacifying with patience… taking a moment… taking a breath.

Long ago there was a story told of two of the village’s children who had wandered into the woods and never returned. No such thing has happened again until now; her mother had gone missing.

Dexterity raptured her feet. She moved swiftly between the trees and continued on forward. Her mother had told her stories when she was young, of the woods covering the mountain. There was a Forest filled with beauty, magic, charm and enchantment somewhere up on the great mountain. A forest within a forest, and no one could find it, though they had searched; them who had, were never heard from again. She loved these stories, and only seen in a light of it, being a good thing; in her and her mother’s eyes; this place was paradise. It was not evil and cursed, as it was believed, but people of the town were of fragile minds. They didn’t like her mother’s wild perceptions and imaginings. They thought her to be a raving lunatic. She wasn’t, she was the second best thing… a witch. Once, her mother had stirred up a ruckus to seize the attention, of the crowd, at the gathering for the town announcements; after the children went missing. She failed to foresee, that she would be shouting in a crowd of closed ears and simple minds. Simple villagers that stuck to what they knew. Weak, weary, starving, and sick villagers; she should have known better that it’d do no good; just let the parents mourn and damn in despair the cursed woods. It’s what they knew, and it was all they had left.

How frustrating; persecuted for having a burning fascination, instead of a fearful obsession; the townsfolk superstitious ranting, of that which was, they thought, to be an evil and dastard place. She never heard the end of it. If they only knew that she was a witch, yes, they would do what superstitious morons would; have her killed.

Moving through the woods, as if her feet weren’t touching the ground, she found herself coming into the development of a stench, corresponding mildew; and there also, a rapid growing mist. With every step the mist thickened and thickened. The lower half of her face grinned under the black cloak, revealing a sense of character that was so much at home in this environment; as if driven by a sure or deranged cause. Strength and courage were at her side. She was well practiced in her magic, confident in her skills. She recognized these as telltale signs that she was headed in the right direction; by what her mother had told her as a child. It is said; to find this magical forest you must first become lost. The ground was under a blanket, it was evident that she could not see the footing for her next step. She spoke out loud to herself in reveling pride, “Let’s play hide and seek mamma.” she stopped, and put her hand straight out in front of her in a fist; and whispering a spell in an unidentifiable phrase, she opened her hand, unveiling an intense white light. Then she uttered in a still strange tongue a command, and the light moved on ahead. She gave a faint snicker of ease, then, continued to walk straight on, after the light, which presented the way.

Through the dense, black and cruelly darkening woods, she approached a fallen tree. The wet rot of it smelled ages of decay. It was a great giant of a tree, unlike anything she had ever seen, and there was no physical way for her to have climbed over this monstrous thing.

But that would make no difference to her. She had not acknowledged this fallen tree to be an obstacle. The young witch extended her left hand and directed her palm to craft a small greenish cloud under her feet, and skillfully floated over the great tree in perfect constructed trickery. The bright hovering light maintained its distance in front of her the whole time, until she landed on the ground on the other side. Hesitation was her nemesis, haste was her quest.

Wails and calls of the night rang through the forest, yet to her, they went unnoticed. She had a mission and proceeded on frenetically; cared not for rest, cared not of physical pain, cared not for the sure signs of there to be more than just a possibility of an attack by rabid creatures, or of the shadowy forms swooping out of the dark.

In a circumstance like this, there was no time to be wasted, not even a moment. She moved quickly without falter; nothing would disrupt this preoccupied mindset of hers. She must find the Forest everyone thought hadn’t existed!

Daybreak arrived, but whether it had or hadn’t, it had made no difference. The mist was so heavy that human eyes would be useless. The trees and the ground to the fore, were smothered in an increased fog now, and things were definitely not of normality in this place. Conditions were taking a turn for the worse. Though more of a challenge for her, she struggled on nonetheless.

Then suddenly out of nowhere, the thick mist instantaneously disappeared; and a beam of sunlight poured in smilingly, chasing away the darkness, warming the day. She removed the hood of her cloak. The sun made her flaxen hair glow and shine with intensity and radiance. Her fierce blue eyes turned up into the sky, then peered on into the Forest ahead. She whispered something under her gathering breath, and the idle, hovering, white light, which paled to that of the bright sun, disappeared.

Nature before her, looked like the very gates of heaven. It was the most beautiful place she had ever seen. Light poured out from between the trees in glistening streams, beckoning, inviting her in. Looking behind herself at the dark woods, and then, turning again to the place of light, she said to herself. “At last...” she steady paced towards what was said to not exist.

Something caught her ear. In amazement, she heard singing; singing… intonation and tone so perfectly a-flight to such a height, it was not natural. But it was so beautiful. She moseyed between the trees while shielding her eyes from the brilliant light, they were still adjusting to. She stopped and put her arm down slowly. Behold, the beautiful voice was coming from a little fairy; and she was singing and dancing upon a glittering object, that had the immaculate appearance of a flat diamond. The flat glittery diamond rested in the center of a small pond; water so unreal and at peace, it was as see-through as the air itself; and the witch would have thought it to be just so a thing, if it weren’t for the few and delicate ripples, giving it away; smoothing out to the edges from the fairy’s movement. Quite an elegant little thing, how she twirled and spun around like a ballerina.

The fairy didn’t notice she was being observed by this witch, and she continued to sing and dance in this ever so graceful manner. Her delicate, transparent wings had a dark green lining, with two lighter-green ovals on each. Her wavy hair was a burnt orange color, and she wore bright green leaves for covering. Out of everything, the most fascinating thing, was, that her eyes were so much bigger than her tiny nose. And her ears were pointy and uniquely bigger than her hands. Snap! Went a twig beneath the witch’s boot, startling the fairy! Her little face taken with terror, shot-on-at the witch and the fairy froze with fear, then quickly gathered her bearings and flew away!

“Poor thing.” the young witch said sympathetically, and neared the small pond with curiosity. She bent low at intimate closeness to take a more detailed look. “How peculiar.” she said. She stretched out her hand to touch the object, when all of a sudden, the fairy had come back, mad-dashing out from behind a tree where she had hid and watched. The little fairy bellowed at her not to touch the glittery diamond! Could this prove to be a threat the witch thought to herself… She stretched out her hand and petrified the fairy, stopping her in mid-air! The fairy wasn’t hurt, but fixed in a floating paralysis; and the witch put a magic cage around the little creature, and unfroze her. The fairy shook the cage violently, trying to escape, but her efforts were of no use.

Is a creature like this capable of magic like mine? The witch thought. What an odd thing the water and diamond lily-pad were… and were to be, in such a placing.

The witch lowered the captured fairy with a simple motion of her hand. Then, she sat down beside her and asked gently.

“What is this diamond, of which you sang and danced upon?”

The fairy answered in a defeated tone. “It’s my Life Stone.”

“What is a Life Stone?”

The fairy did not seem to be the least bit thrilled with this whole ordeal. She was in a cage being tested with questions with no chance of getting free. What did this strange, giant imposter, who had her dangling at the mercy of her feet, want… to toy with her… then have away with her? The fairy answered in dire straints, and compassionately, the witch recognized this; how fearful this fairy was of her.

“Each of the fairies have a Life Stone and we live as long as our Life Stone stays uncontaminated by impurity.”

The witch was disturbed with this. “By impurity... you mean you think me impure? Evil?”

“You are evil.”

“Sorry, about that I would disappoint you. Of the many things I am, evil is not one of them! My name is Astrid… you may wonder why I’ve traveled through such contemptible and unnerving woods, to come here. Well… I am here because my mother went missing and most likely has died trying to find this place. She kept telling me, ‘The secret to our existence lies in what we’re told doesn’t exist.’ and that, she would discover that secret, even if it brought her certain death. I had to find this place for my mother. You… being a creature of the magical, I know that in confidence I can tell you that my mother was also a creature of the magical, my mother was a witch. A good witch at that, and I am as well. If I was evil… don’t you think I wouldn’t have hesitated to kill you?”

“If you’re not evil, then why did you put me in this cage?” the fairy crossed her arms and leaned back on the prison bars sliding down to sit.

“I had not known what you would be capable of...”

“Capable of?”

“Do you have extraordinary abilities? Magical power?”

“No... other than flying… nothing; no.”

Passing, and entertaining a pleasant thought she might make a friend of this fairy, Astrid requested lightheartedly. “What is your name?”

“My name is Elvia, I’m one of the youngest of what are called Forest Fairies. If you’re not evil, then I am sorry for charging you, but you see… I never came across an outsider before, to know how to handle it… and you would have contaminated my Life Stone, so what choice did I have?” Elvia cried out in a plea, frustrated for the witches understanding.

Astrid looked at Elvia with regret and empathy. She then felt miserable and terrible that she might have killed Elvia! And that just as simple of a thing as touching her Life Stone, would have sent her into a limp and pulseless form. She could not bear it. Something so fragile and innocent, doomed any sort of an irrational end. There had been quiet for a long time between them. Elvia, in all truth, felt relieved now; and had an all too eager heart to trust her. She hadn’t known exactly what it was, but for certain, this witch was not of any evil. Astrid rose to her feet. “Alright Elvia, I will release you now.” immediately after Astrid had said this, the fairy had been freed. Elvia remained seated with her back leaning against the cage bars; and when the cage disappeared, Elvia tumbled and rolled. “What did you do—” Elvia giggled in a childish laugh. She was in disbelief of what she just said. Afterall, had she wanted to remain in that cage; no. While taking note of Astrid’s curious eye, for all that this place was, and for all that was of it and in it; Elvia, still on the ground, had brushed herself off. She asked the witch. “So... do you want to meet the other Forest Fairies?”

Elvia didn’t receive an answer. Astrid became very quiet and aloof. Something had changed in Astrid! Something had come over her as if she grew delirious and overtaken. Pulling her hood over the top of her head, and peering about in wonder, Astrid walked off, deeper and deeper into the Forest. She paid no reply to the fairy’s attempts to gain her attention. This was all too strange. Elvia shouted. “Where’re you roaming off to?” But Astrid had no recollection of Elvia, and just continued to walk, moving farther and farther away.

Then, as if things weren’t already strange enough, Elvia came to witness a mysterious sight. Astrid walked; but her feet weren’t touching the ground. What was this? Elvia silently followed Astrid into the Forest; and other than what had been done so far, no further peculiar actions came from her. Just a moment ago, Astrid was completely responsive and coherent, but now she was not quite all there. Elvia felt an absence. Something was missing from her. It was like her conscious mind had been shut off, and she’d gone sleepwalking.

Astrid came and stopped in front of a giant tree. With a gasp, Elvia opened her mouth in awe, and said. “The Tree of Beginning! I’ve never seen this Tree. The Elder Forest Fairies have told me of it and described this very place. Something about the balance of good and evil…how did you know where to find it, how did you know where this Tree would be?” Astrid stood still, and hadn’t the slightest notice of Elvia, nor that she spoke. Extremely annoyed, Elvia flew up right in front of Astrid’s face, her wings beating furiously in the air. And then, she could not believe what she had seen! She would have screamed, if she wasn’t so terrified of the morbid sight beheld. Astrid had been so very hard to look at, that it had been just as difficult to react. Her eyes alone were an appalling and shocking soulless vision, almost unbearable, but just under her limit of what she could tolerate, without freaking out. Astrid’s blue eyes had turned into two big black shiny marbles, and her fair, gentle, smooth skin, was covered in sharp gray scales, protruding, emphasizing the many overlapping intricate layers of them. Elvia dashed behind a tree and hid! What she had just seen had to have come out of a nightmare.

Astrid violently threw her arms out, reaching furthest to her left and to her right. A low warbling sound hummed, as darkness closed in and covered the sky. Then wind came and blew the hood of Astrid’s cloak back, and revealed that her blonde hair was no more that light flaxen color, her hair had turned to a brightly glowing white, and the wind had intensified viciously, blowing it all straight back! The warbling sound grew higher and higher in pitch and stopped, leveling out to a steady whistling hiss. Speaking in a dastardly roar, Astrid clasped her hands together, and all harshness surrounding, fell to dead silence. Whatever this morbid version of Astrid had to have done at that very moment, whatever it was… it was done… it was finished. Then suddenly there came cracking. The giant tree in front of her exploded into millions of fragments; pieces detonated in every direction. Elvia watched with much more fright than she had before! The tree had vanished, and left behind, was a giant ill-defined crater.

How would this affect the Forest now? Astrid continued to walk, but barely moved her feet; mostly, she hovered over the ground, and wherever she was off to, it was for certain, that she had been up to no good. And indeed, Elvia knew she wouldn’t make it back in time to warn the Elder Forest Fairies. She followed Astrid, keeping an eye on her, wondering what had run amuck in Astrid’s sense to make her behave how she was. What arbitrary ideas were twisting and revolving in her faulty head. Elvia’s attentive green eyes analyzed Astrid’s every motion, never parted with her for a second. Elvia paid so close attention to Astrid that she found herself, having no recollection of the distance they had gone; and she also had no idea of where they were now.

Elvia turned to glance back and tried to recognize something, anything. She looked forward again to conduct to her own self-loathing transgression, of that Astrid, now had vanished; was nowhere to be seen. “Oh no!” Frantically flying about, here and there, up and back down, she could find no trace of her. Panicky and entirely out of breath, it was a wonder how she recuperated almost instantly when she had finally spotted her, hovering into the entrance of a great temple. Designs and images were chiseled into two great pillars at the doorless entrance. What a marvelous and extraordinary place this was, and even though she herself was a creature of this Forest, she had never beheld such a construction. Elvia’s eyes scanned the temple in utter amazement, then fixed her eyes on a flat square rock, bearing an inscription. It was apparent that this inscription had been carved with definite care and skill. Unfortunately, Elvia couldn’t make it out; it was worn and faded. This structure had been here for a long time, no doubt. Elvia peered into the dark cavity of the pillars, then all without warning, or explanation, the words on the porous square started to glow in an unrelenting ruby red light. What was Astrid up to...?

Elvia flew on into the temple to see what had been done, to find Astrid had removed a red stone, from where it was socketed in the wall. This could not be good.

Astrid laughed in a vile tone. It didn’t take much to figure out something was wrong with this arcane action, considering the earlier incidence with the tree! This could not go on, Astrid must be stopped; Elvia had to do something! She dashed at her and knocked the stone out of her hand! It dropped and Elvia chased it to the ground, snatched it up, and like a bat out of hell, she flew out of there! She took to the open Forest, not looking back; she had to get this stone as far away from Astrid as she could!

What demented creature had become of Astrid, for any ounce of humanity in her, was nonexistent to the vengeful psychopath she now was. Overflowing with emphasized aggravation, her mannerisms twitched in deranged insanity; and what horror had shot through Elvia’s nerves, on hearing the crazed maniac pursue her. “Don’t look back.”

The marble eyed witch had been gaining on her inferiority. She recklessly dodged passed the trees, just barely missing them, never looking back, and ignoring her tired wings. Elvia knew if Astrid had caught her, she’d surely be killed!

Her mind, bothered with questions of these things that just didn’t add up. What had happened, how did Astrid end up at these places, how did she know where the sacred Tree was… and why does she want this stone? Elvia looked down at the stone. It started to glow in the same exact red as the words on the square rock. What had this meant?

Amidst all her inner fear and hopelessness, something, just then, had taken place that somehow made her feel, that everything was going to be just fine now. From ahead, as if emanating from heaven, a bright red light opened up and embraced the Forest. She had flown straight for it; eyes fixed upon it. There was something of a shape she could almost make out, a figure with two arms and two legs. As she neared the light, she then realized there was a faceless body there, that was the source of the radiant illumination, and this being stood firmly and did not fade, but grew brighter if it was at all possible.

Astrid gave out an unearthly screech of total evil. Elvia looked behind her. This demon Astrid coming after her, moved so fast that she blurred and was barely visible.

Elvia, not watching where she was going, flew into the figure, colliding with a being that made her feel both safe and hurt at the same time. She tumbled to the ground and the red stone went along with her.

Now Astrid was moving towards this glorious, graceful being, but strangely, she stopped dead in her tracks, with the being only ten yards from her. The being pointed out its index finger towards Astrid, sending a spark of its red light to her. The spark absorbed into her forehead, and as soon as it had done this, her white hair had turned back to blonde, her sharp gray scales, turned back to her flawless skin, and her black eyes, turned back to their gorgeous distracting blue.

Astrid shook, as if coming to her senses, and gaining consciousness for the first time in her life. She learned her surroundings, and was curious of the mystery to where she was, as she shot an extraneous look at Elvia, lying on the ground all muddled. She immediately dropped to her knees, taking her little friend in her hands. “Elvia I’m sorry… I couldn’t control myself!”

Bursting emotions began to run from Astrid’s eyes as dizzy, wobbling Elvia, affirmed to her equilibrium, and quickly flew out of her grasp, with such a tension and energy. Surely she had been reprehensible for what she had done; but in noticing Astrid’s appearance and manner, was no longer morbidly tenebrous, she hovered in the air keeping a comfortable distance, and engaged any sternness or urgency that felt totally necessary!

“What is going on? What are you? First you don’t want to kill me, then you turn into this...thing... and you try to kill me!”

Astrid responded patiently. “I’m sorry, but you see, I can’t control myself when—I should have told you earlier. I am not your normal kind of witch that is expected. I am something known as a Trance Witch.”

Elvia repeated with a wandering mind. “A Trance Witch?”

“A Trance Witch is said to be one of the most powerful of all witches and warlocks; they can do anything… no limits. But of course, to everything given such great power, there is a great price… which in my case, is the curse of the trance. A Trance Witch can be put under this partial state of consciousness, at any instant, without warning. When under the trance, we witches learn the complete history of our surrounding area, and since we have no control of what we do when we’re under the trance, we can be used to carry out the will of some other source, even one of minor influence. But the strongest presence picked up, dead or of a parallel universe, is the one accepted to take advantage of the trance. So you see… when I am under the trance, I can only fade in and out of what is taking place; watch brief clips of what is going on, while I’m manipulated by another force of spirit, ghost… or some other creature of the supernatural. Sometimes, I have completely gone out of consciousness, if the entity that has possessed me, wills that also to be so; for me to remember nothing… then I will remember nothing… some supernatural sources are very private ones... I blackout...”

Elvia looked at Astrid with a sense of pity, and asked with further interest. “Do you ever know the names of those who seize your abilities? Whose will it is that you are carrying out?”

“No, I do not know who or what is controlling me… or why. I barely gather much of what I’m made to do. Like I said, I fade in and out of consciousness; like how you fade in and out of dreams, when you sleep, and are abruptly awoken for a moment, then fall back to sleep. But though that happens, I can’t ever interfere with the conductor.”

Elvia was so engrossed with an odd sense fascination of Astrid’s curse, she hadn’t realized, that for a good amount of the time, the glowing figure had still stood beside her. What a start it gave her. It was astounding. She looked at the being’s facelessness, but this mystery didn’t frighten her; for all the oddity of this being, it was of that which is holy. And whether this being would keep the stone in its possession or not, it didn’t matter. Surely, the stone would have belonged to it, far more so than her or any other Forest Creature.

A radiant warmth surrounded both Elvia and Astrid. Astrid and Elvia stared at the mysterious being, as it slowly faded away. Elvia couldn’t take her eyes off it, and unknowingly, with an opened mouth, she had done so; until it had completely disappeared. She was more confronted by the unknown today, more than any other day in her entire life. Without changing her expression, Elvia looked at Astrid, and stuttered. “Did-da-da you see th-that?”

“What was it?”

Elvia was silent for a moment; then said with a harsh exhale. “It saw right through me…”

Astrid didn’t think much of it, until she spotted the red stone on the ground, where the being of light had stood. She moved closer, and leaned forward, reaching for it. It was then when Elvia also noticed that the being had left the stone behind! How could this be done, after all that had happened!

Quickly, she charged in front of Astrid’s hand and stole away the object! Well, this was left behind, even after all the trouble it had caused; and whether this was a careless mistake, or purposely meant to be, she couldn’t take that chance.

She winged a sharp turn and flew back towards the temple, shouting at Astrid. “Stay back! Don’t follow me!”

Elvia knew she had to return the stone to its rightful place. It was unnatural for the stone to not be where it belongs, where it had been taken from!

She flew on and on, and the temple was in view. But now something was there that wasn’t before, and the closer she came, the more massive this something became. It was a great beast that she saw, and the beast examined the entrance of the temple, disgustedly. Even she was sickened by this whole thing, and she hadn’t even come into knowledge of it, up till now!

She quickly hid behind a boulder, hoping to conceal herself, stealthily peeking out from behind the rock to investigate the beast further.

The beast resembled a giant wolf. He had coarse silver hair, and extraordinary contrasting, yellow eyes.

He gave out a loud growl and stood up on his back legs, he was the same height of the very pillars themselves. He went down on all fours and had begun to sniff the air. Has he picked up Elvia’s scent, was he now aware of her presence! The wolf beast had crept towards the boulder. With each step he neared, and it was agonizing to hear. The sound of him coming closer and closer, caused her to rattle in her skin, and she panicked! Elvia flew out from behind the boulder and into the temple. Then something had occurred to her; was it the moisture of the air passing through her wings that caused her to shudder, or was it her terror that had brought this quivering to her frailty!

She stopped at the carved out hole in the wall that would hold the stone. Behind her, with a quiet low rumbling growl, the beast appeared, as she had placed it back, hoping that that would somehow make amends and all would be forgiven. But that was a wish that just wasn’t about to come true.

Elvia could feel the beast’s hot breath flush away the chill nipping at her wings! She turned, dreading the sight of what maybe the last thing she’d ever see! But surprisingly, instead of striking her down, the beast spoke. “What have you done with the stone?”

Elvia, in a desperate panic, exclaimed. “I didn’t take it, Astrid did!” she bit her tongue.

“Who is this Astrid?”

Elvia answered; further regretting it. “She’s a witch.”

The beast was enraged, and flared his nostrils, wailing out a loud roar! “A witch, in this forest!?” He roared like a thunder once more! “Tell me fairy… is she still meandering through the forest?” Impatient for an answer, the beast’s intense focus had Elvia shaking in a dither. If terror had a form, it would have had teeth and claws like this.

“She’s out in the Forest!” As soon as she had said this, the beast had taken off, picking up the scent, and following like an instinctual hunter after his prey!

Astrid sat down on a log with her chin rested upon her hands. She assumed Elvia would return, but she had not known why Elvia had left in the first place; where had she gone off to, with the stone... Had she meant to not come back, and just leave her there, to be rid of her...? Had she left her, meaning, that this was for good...? It had been awhile since she flew on off, and Astrid began to think this true… Well what was so special about that red stone, that someone would want it so? And what would someone have use of it for... Did the rock have any significant value? All the sudden a very provoking thought came to her, and had turned in her stomach; could it have been her mother’s will she was carrying out. She didn’t know everything about her mother. Maybe she knew things about the Forest that she never disclosed to her. Would she keep something secret from her own daughter? What would drive her to do such a thing, unless of course if it meant the safety of her child. Didn’t everyone have those kinds of secrets they should never reveal… some ugly truths always to be kept, and best to be forgotten? Could she have known something that was so painfully frightening, that she could never speak of it.

As Astrid pondered these questions, something broke her concentration; the sound of a twig snapped! She drew up her head and shot her eyes into the surrounding Forest! Something was out there watching her! She quickly got on her feet and frantically moved her head from side to side, and front to back. What was out there? Could it be Elvia had returned finally? She rotated, turning on her feet to the left and then to the right.

A faint low growl then had told her, disappointingly, no, it wasn’t Elvia. She peered into the direction of where the sound had come. It was there, where she had seen it. A huge beast, crouched low to the earth, all but twelve yards from her! Astrid turned and ran as fast as she could, as the wolf creature lunged towards her! What horror was this…

The beast pursued her, tearing up the ground with a fast pace, and quick action. She hadn’t the stamina to get away from this thing; no matter what skilled maneuver she had hidden up her sleeve, this creature kept hot on her tail. She endured through a few more attempts to outwit this large canine, but it was no use, he was incredibly quick, and gaining on her. It wasn’t because he now moved faster… it was because she was losing speed! Astrid would soon tire, and then be caught, if this kept up. She had to do something, to even the odds. Astrid whispered in the magic tongue a spell, and her feet quickened; and then, she instantly acquired a great distance, and continued to move far on ahead of the beast.

He hadn’t tired or had given up; he began to jump from tree to tree. This beast was quite remarkable and determined! He surely wanted to catch her, and this had to be all the more reason for her to get away from him! Astrid didn’t feel that she was in any danger; not for much longer anyway… The beast would have to slow and run out of energy soon… it wasn’t possible he could beat magic. But she could not believe what was to happen next. This beast would just not give up! Another unexpected feat of this creature’s pursuit threatened her; he had gained on her once again, leaping through the trees above!

She grew fraught with desperation. She would have to take a risk with this next spell she was about to perform. This spell took her mother years to execute successfully, and she herself, had not had success with it yet. This was a portal spell. She would keep it simple, and set it to take her from where she was now, to the edge of the Forest, where Elvia had her Life Stone. Astrid put one hand over the other, while chanting the same thing twice briskly. The air split into a black and bluish whirling liquid, but the power and force of the magic was too great for her to handle. She failed, and had it only for a second, and then it was gone. The beast had jumped down and reached his claws for her, but luckily in his descent, he lost ground and wasn’t as close to having her as he had thought. Astrid had to think of something quick! This beast surely intended to kill her. She mumbled a short whisper, and bounced up high into the sky, with extreme force behind her. She had gotten away again, and landed far off in the distance, but it wouldn’t be long before the beast caught up to her once more! She was running out of time… “Time… that’s it!”

Astrid knew she couldn’t run from the beast for much longer. She was weakened by the usage of her powers previous. Her only option now was to put herself in a Time Sphere. She was unsure if the Time Sphere would work, but then, searching through her memory on this, she remembered that any witch at any power level, could complete the Time Sphere.

The Time Sphere was a deep sleep spell; it’d freeze you in your present time then unfreeze you in the future, transformed into something more powerful. This would be regarding spells, knowledgeable of magic, and physical strength.

Astrid was just going off her whim on this. No witch in her lifetime had ever discovered the mystery of how long one would be trapped inside the Time Sphere. It could be anywhere from a day to ten years, or even more, but... when you come out of the Time Sphere, your power evolves, and is increased ten times from what it was. It would make rational sense, for it to not be for more than a decade; there was nothing to lose. This was a good idea. Regardless, time proved to be a small exchange to make, when it comes to such a thing as obtaining power.

Yes, she would perform the Time Sphere. Without further thought, she put her palms up to the sky. She began to spin in a circle, and moved her arms down to her sides, then back up again; she had done this over and over, gradually becoming faster and faster with each time she did; speeding up like an engine. This motion continued and like how a caterpillar spins its cocoon, a crystal sphere began to form surrounding Astrid.

The Time Sphere was almost complete. Blue electric zaps jumped to the ground, like little prancing pixies, and the sparks from it, flew in the execution of a damaging dance! The electricity left large burns on the trees around her. The wind picked up, and began to swirl about in dust-devils, as rain poured from the sky.

The wolf beast finally drew near. He came slashing through the Forest, deranged by odd imaginings and extreme fury. He crossed the last obstacle, separating a distance between him and Astrid. He gave out a beastly roar and jumped across a violently flowing river; not resting, until he had the witch in his clutches!

There. She was in sight; with some sort of silvery liquid sphere harboring her. Her head hanging down, and her arms drooping to her sides. He jumped, and came flying through the air towards her. She closed her eyes, and the Time Sphere shut with a black icy film, sealing her safely inside. Then, lighting up with a white glowing halo, the frozen ball began to spin till it reached tremendous speed; however fast this sphere was spinning, it was enough to create an incredible windstorm. The Sphere vanished, barely allowing the beast to graze the icy surface with his ready claws!

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