The Winter Witch

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~Chapter Ten~ The Choice

The three walked the many halls of the Hollow Tree, in which Koranis explained that these halls were the roots of this mighty tree, branching out and expanding to the high concentration of magic that was here. It was why it shaped many of the rooms to look like actual rooms rather then what it truly was.

The Elven man didn’t even seem remotely bothered accompanying her or explaining just how things worked within this tree while the man folk of the Sidhe seemed to be watching from afar, peaking from small hiding places as they walked by and whispering amongst themselves.

“May I ask you something? Um, Your Majesty.”

The man seemed to chuckle while giving a hinting smile. “You have no need to be formal with me, call me Koranis.”

“Oh…” she murmured her face flaming red from embarrassment before shaking it off and asked her question. “Why are you called The Dawn King exactly? Are you really royalty, because if so I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was of royal blood before.”

“I’m nothing of the sort child, if anything I find that title rather ironic considering what my name means. So, to be given such a title by others is somewhat ironic to me.”

“What do you mean?”

“In the elven language, my name means “Black Dawn” I was given this name in connection to my hair and the fact that I was born right when dawn had broken. It was a coincidence when I discovered my powers of light magic. The name Dawn King eventually stuck with me because of it. Though I am by no means of royal blood. It is merely a name.”

“But it’s one that many seem to call you by, to them they must see you as a King in their eyes.” Enya said. “Even if you truly aren’t one, you are to them.”

“I suppose that is true, but let me ask you, what do you see me as?”

She didn’t even hesitate on her answer. “You’re the man who rescued me from the Garu. When you saved me, I had no clue who you were until William told me about you. But in that moment when you stopped the Garu, you were simply the man who rescued me. And who I hoped would be okay when you continued on.” The little girl looked up at him. “You’re vary brave to fight them, many would just run like I had.” She stopped when she felt a hand rest along her shoulder.

“You are still young,” Koranis spoke. “There is never any shame in running when you know you cannot fight. There was a time where I was unable to do what I can now. It isn’t something that comes instantly, many must learn through trials in their lives to become stronger, regardless of what it is or how small. It is what we do with our strength that truly matters.”

Enya merely stared up at the man who seemed to hold vast understanding. “You must have seen a lot.”

He gave what Enya could only think as a bitter smile. “I have indeed.” His expression then became lighter as he then stepped to the side and offered the way ahead. “Come now, I’m sure there is much that you and your companion wish to see.”

They continued onwards, walking through the many halls and rooms, feeling the strangeness of it all and it’s wonder. Enya couldn’t help but think if both Richard and William were here and how different but similar their reactions to such a place would be.

Though the more they explored the more Enya couldn’t help but notice that Tula hadn’t come around, was the Queen angry with her?

“Is something the matter Enya?” Roux asked when he noticed Enya had stopped walking.

She looked to her friend and shook her head. “No, it’s just I haven’t seen Tula since she took us to see the Fairy Queen. I’m just wondering where she went is all.”

“Many of the Sidhe have duties to preform, it isn’t something that they will change on a whim.” Koranis said as they continued on. “Even if they are of magical origin they will work when it is truly needed.”

Roux scoffed. “So, they actually work. Forgive me if this sounds rude but it didn’t look like they were working when we first entered The Grove.”

“I suppose to those with no magic would see it that way, but even though it may seem as loafing about they constantly maintain the Hollow Tree. It is where they originated from after all.”

“They don’t have parents?”

Koranis took another path which led to what looked to be a small garden full of glowing plants and small trees that gave off a faint blue glow, in the center was that of a deep blue pond. “In a sense the Tree is the parent. This tree has given life to many of the Sidhe you see around us. If it wasn’t for the Hollow Tree many of them wouldn’t be here today.”

“Then what about their Queen? What makes her so special that she can rule them?” Roux asked as Enya looked around the small garden.

“The Queen of the Fairies is a rather special case. She, and those like her come their own line, they are one of the few that can actually have children, and from there it can be based on the strengths of those who can possess the capabilities of becoming the next ruler of the Hollow Tree. And yet a successor hasn’t emerged…”

“You make it sound like something is wrong.” Roux said.

“Well it is, I know that the Queen has had a multitude of children and yet… none of them produce the abilities to rule. So, it’s a great concern, on top of the attacks from the Garu and the fallen barrier of this village. It almost seems… calculated in a way.”

The fox tilted his head. “You aren’t suggesting that the Winter Witch has something to do with these recent events?”

The Elven man shook his head. “No, I know the Witch is not behind the incidents involving the village or here, besides the continuing snowfall. It’s what I’ve been investigating since my arrival here.”

“So, what were you doing before you arrived here?” Enya spoke up as she knelt down to stare into the pond that looked like that of a mirror instead of a body of water. “Have you been fighting more of the Garu?”

“Yes, though that it is only partly as to why I am here. There has been an issue in regards to your village, and a few others that I have been tasked to fix.”

“So, you were able to help the other villages?”

He nodded. “I was, thankfully it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it’s still worrying… I have yet to figure out why it happened.”

She looked at her fox before asking. “Dose it have something to do with something called the seals and a barrier?”

Koranis’s expression turned to surprise as he looked at the child. “How do you know what they are?”

“I don’t know what they are,” she said as she walked back round to stand near him. “Only from what Tula talked about. When I mentioned to her about the Garu she began to panic and asked about some kind of barrier, and when you said the seals I just assumed it had something to do with it too. Am I wrong?”

He looked at her for a moment before sighing. “No, you’re not. It is indeed what I have come to look into.” He said as he then led the girl and fox out of the strange room and continued. “The King of this country had asked of me to see what could be wrong. Since many of his men can not use magic, and I have vast amount of knowledge in regards to fighting these monsters it only made sense for me. Only I did not expect that the barriers that protect these villages would be down.”

“Perhaps it has something to do with the sudden case of snow falling?” Roux offered. “Did this King tell you that it happened before or after the snow began to fall?”

“After…” he said as if realizing it himself before shaking his head. “But regardless, it is a job I shall do but until then we should probably get something for you to eat.” He said looking to Enya. “By now you must be hungry.”

The mention of food made Enya’s stomach rumble in the hopes to eat. “Very much so…” she admitted softly, feeling slightly embarrassed.

Koranis merely smiled as a Sidhe flew over to them and said. “We’ve prepared something for all of you to eat. If you could please follow me, I’ll lead you to not only where the human will be staying.”

Enya followed the Elven man as they walked back to where they had entered the tree and climbed the spiral staircase once again, only this time going up further then before, the faint glow moss was now stronger with that of the sun setting, making the whole interior of the large tree much brighter then before.

The male Sidhe then led them into an area that looked as though the whole room had been carved out from the tree, including a table, two chairs and a small bed big enough for a child of Enya’s size.

“We made the human soup, hopefully it’s to her liking.”

“Thank you,” Koranis said as the Sidhe then took it’s leave before he inspected the soup, inhaling deeply and looking at it’s contents while Enya placed her belongings on the bed then sat in one of the chairs as he sat across her. “Before, you wanted to ask me some questions about the Winter Witch. You can ask them now if you wish.”

Enya looked at the man that sat across from her, unsure if she would even be able to say what she wanted before. But it was something of great importance to her, and it was something she needed to know. “You spoke as though you know the Winter Witch. Do you?”

“I do,” he said. “I have known the Witch for many years, some fear the powers she holds but in truth she would never harm another soul unless they try to take her life.”

“Then if that’s the case, why cause this snow? Did someone try to hurt her?”

His gaze became hardened, as though he was thinking of something that he didn’t wish too. “In a sense, though it was not physical. What she is going through is more in the ways of mental shock. She had suffered a great loss you see, one I am sure that you can relate too.”

“She lost someone,” she said as she placed her spoon down and looked back to the man. “Is that why she took my mother?”

“Is that what you believe?” he asked.

“It’s the only thing I can think of. When… when my father died, my mother cried. She cried a lot but I… couldn’t. I think, the Witch took her, because they both knew that feeling, at least, that’s what I feel here.” She placed her hand over where her heart beat. “But, she can’t keep my mother, no matter how sad she is, I… I still need my mother. I need her.” She paused and looked back to Kornais when he placed his hand along her shoulder before offering a smile that she could only feel as though he knew what it was like.

“I understand, then I suppose you have your answer.”

She nodded and looked back to the soup before eating it. The Elven man on the other hand merely watched then glanced to the fox who watched him in turn, remaining silent before trotting over to lay near Enya’s chair as she ate.

When she had finished, she looked to the Elven man, he had nothing to eat, even in-between bites she asked if he wished for anything but he simply declined saying he wasn’t hungry and merely encouraged her to eat.

“So,” she spoke breaking the silence. “How do you know my Mother?”

His gaze became somewhat wistful. “I met her when she was a young woman, several years older then yourself. Your mother was, is, a resourceful young woman, she had known the arts of herbology, and toxicology, applying what she knew to those whom she met. Your mother helped with an injury that I had sustained when fighting off the Garu-Bose from another village that had been under attack along with several others.”

“Did you meet her in the village?”

He shook his head. “No, you mother was… a wander, much like myself. Traveling from town to village giving assistance to those in need, when I heard that she had settled in this village and even received medical teachings from the local doctor I couldn’t be happier.”

Then why was it that he sounded so sad? It was as if he was omitting something in Enya’s mother and his interactions. Not that it was any of her business in what her mother was doing before Enya was born.

“My Mother helped a lot of people didn’t she,”

His smile returned. “More then I can count.”

Enya smiled in turn but felt something was off, she was suddenly hit with a wave of exhaustion but after all that had happened, such a reaction shouldn’t have surprised her, and yet she somehow felt off about it.

“You should rest Enya,” Kornais told her. “You must be exhausted after today.”

“But…” she looked to Roux.

“I will get my own food soon,” the fox said. “Do not worry about me, I can only guess that these creatures are afraid of me. I mean who wouldn’t of a talking fox. Although, I won’t mind cleaning off your bowl if you are at all finished.” He said with a swish of his tail.

With merely a smile Enya pushed herself from the table, then offered the wooden carved bowl to Roux who then cleaned the interior of the bowl as she climbed into the bed and right as her head hit the pillow she fell into a deep sleep, but not before hearing the elven man’s words.

“Good night Enya.”

Yet the moment she fell into the darkness of sleep she saw images of ice, snow and fire, and that of a creature with burning red eyes running towards her. With a gasp Enya sat up right, her heart pounding as she looked down to see Roux sleeping next to her on the bed, while the elven man Kornais was nowhere to be seen. Shaking her head Enya slowly moved out of the bed and peaked out of the room and into the hallway.

Her hand clutched to her chest before she pulled out the necklace and stared at the back, her fingers going over the engraving of the Schnee family crest before pressing it close to her chest, there really was only one thing she could do.

Heading back into the room she threw on her boots as Roux awoke shortly after, shaking his whole body as he jumped off the bed. “Seems someone has lit a fire under you.” he said as Enya tied her boots. “I take it you’ve come to your answer.”

“Uh-huh,” Enya said as she then tied her hair to rest on her shoulder before taking her bag and leaving the room with the fox following quickly behind the girl.

The two walked together, passing those of the Sidhe which tended to the Tree, and when they finally reached the throne room the Queen was there, as if waiting for them to arrive.

“So do I come to an understanding that you have made your decision?”

“Yes,” Enya said. “I have.”

The Queen’s eyes narrowed faintly. “And that is?”

“I will do what you ask, I will go and search form the Winter Witch and do what I can to convince her into releasing my mother and to stop this eternal snowfall.”

The Queen smiled. “That’s good to hear Enya, you have my, and those here offer their thanks and gratitude. I wish you a safe journey.”

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