The Winter Witch

By Tarynne Bourret All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

~Chapter Seven~ No Longer One Sided

“Your fox can talk…” William said, almost sounding both shocked and dumbfounded.

“Obviously,” Roux said to the shocked boy. “And in truth I’m just as surprised as you all are, originally I suspected that fungi to be of poisonous nature. It’s why I took it from Enya, though I didn’t suspect this to be the desired affect from the little fiend.”

“You don’t sound surprised!” William declared while pointing an accusing finger at Roux. “In fact you look calm.”

“I see no reason to be shocked by something that you humans and other creatures can do on a daily basis. We are all connected in one way or another, be it intellectual, or primitive. The fact that I can talk should be no more surprising as the fact that there is a small fairy flying in the room, or that many of different races can do magic.”

“He has a point,” Richard agreed before looking back to the mushrooms at hand. “But what would cause him to even start speaking from eating a mere mushroom.”

Roux on the other hand merely looked to Enya who was still strangely quite through all of this. “Enya?” the fox spoke softly, his expression turning to worry. “Are you alright?”

The others fell silent as they looked to Enya, while the girl remained on the floor staring at the fox before finally speaking.

“Can I hug you?” she asked.

The fox looked a little surprised but laughed softly and seemed to give a kind smile on his whiskered face. “Of course you can, you were always welcome too, even when I couldn’t speak.” he moved closer, his front paws resting on her legs as she wrapped her arms around him, his chin rested on her shoulder.

“My best friend can talk…” she said softly as a smile came to her face.

Roux seemed to breathe a sigh of relief, as if he had expected that Enya would reject him. “Yes, yes I can little firefly.”

After a moment or two Enya regained her composure and pulled away from Roux. “I’m just happy that it wasn’t something horrible. I don’t think I could bear losing someone else.”

“I understand your feelings, but on that note…” the fox moved and looked to Tula with a disapproving, yet also menacing look. “You little fiend, have some explaining to do.”

“F-fiend?!” Tula stammered in shock. “Why would you call me such a thing?”

“Because that is what I see you as. You may have good intentions however when you came with those strange mushrooms I had greatly suspected something foul, so I took action in the only way I could. I had no intention of allowing Enya to eat such a thing without knowing what the consequences could be. Even though you hold no anatomisty, I would not trust it. And if you were to truly harm Enya then…” he lowered his head to the fairy and snapped his jaws at the creature causing Tula squeak in fright then fly hide behind Enya for safety. “I would not hesitate to eat you on the spot.”

“He’s not wrong,” Richard said softly under his breath as if commenting to himself in which Tula promptly ignored.

“Why would I want to hurt someone who helped me?” Tula demanded. “Enya and the others helped, I’m not the kind to go against those who helped me in my time of need.”

“Be that as it may,” he said sternly, like an adult scolding a child. “It would be better to test such a thing on yourself before giving it to an unsuspecting child.”

Enya merely looked to Roux with a slight surprised expression. “I never thought you’d sound so mature Roux.”

“Is that really so surprising?” Roux asked.

“If anything you sound a bit condescending.” Will told the fox, and the creature scoffed at his comment. “Aren’t you supposed to be four years old or something around that?”

“In all consideration I am four years for you humans, but for a fox I am closer to being twenty three.” He told them as he stood up from where he sat. “Hence in a way, I am older then you.” Roux told them with an almost confident grin on his whiskered face.

“My point exactly…” William said with a deadpan tone and the fox merely scoffed once more at the boy’s remark.

“Back to the topic at hand,” Richard spoke drawing everyone’s attention. “These mushrooms, Tula you said that there was something special about them? Do you think this, might be it?” he said indicating to the now talking Roux.

“But that shouldn’t be the case,” Tula said as she folded her arms across her chest. “Unless he had some type of connection to somebody who could control magic, but even then it shouldn’t explain the sudden skill of talking as fast as he had done.”

Roux glanced to Enya who now looked worried as she grasped her chest where the necklace lay before looking back to the fairy and speaking. “So this is a documented event then. That others animals in the past have gone through.”

“Yes, but that’s only by choice of the magic user to gain a familiar. What’s more it takes several hours or even days to weeks depending on the creature. Unless the bond with the one who gave it had a strong connection with the creature, but even then this was extremely fast.”

“Familiar?” Richard repeated.

“A companion of sorts to someone who can control magic,” William said. “A guide or even that of a guardian to someone who is young and coming into magic, though in all the stories I’ve seen it is a creature, who will always be by the side of the magic user for his or her lifetime.”

“That still doesn’t explain why he can talk, since Enya can’t use magic.” Richard looked to Enya. “Right?”

“I can’t,” She said before looking to Tula. “But Tula you said that these mushrooms would be good for medical purposes, so why did this happen?”

“It is probably because Tula is already a magical being, thus these mushrooms would have no effect on her whatsoever.” Roux explained. “However with all that being said it is getting rather late, even with all this commotion the sun has set and is now almost gone, along with the storm starting once again.” His golden gaze then went to the boys. “It would be too late for you both to return home, what’s more it’s far too dangerous to even allow you to leave with this Garu monsters wandering around…”

“What?” Richard said looking horrified. “The Grau-Böse have been seen in the village?”

“Only the outskirts, around the valley where Enya met this supposed Dawn King, but we can save this for morning. It has been an exhausting day and you lot look exhausted.” He then looked to Enya. “They can sleep in your mother and father’s room for the time being right?”

“I wouldn’t mind sharing.” Eyna said.

“That’s not something a girl should say,” Richard said with a rather flustered expression.

Enya just looked confused. “Why? It’s just a bed, besides I’d sleep with my parents all the time when I was little.”

“Still…”

William spoke after clearing his throat. “I can kind of relate to Richard, besides I don’t think your mother would mind since she’s still away.”

“Alright with that out of the way I’ll lead you to her mother’s room.” Roux said before doing just that while leaving Enya and Tula, who was sitting on her shoulder, in the main room of the home.

“Boys are weird sometimes…” Enya said.

“Uh-huh.” Tula agreed with a nod.

It was late in the evening, both boys were now sharing the bed of Enya’s parents, while wearing only their underclothes, there actual clothing resting neatly along a chair and chest, the faint crackle of burning woof came from the now faintly glowing fireplace.

Richard lay in bed, fingers interlaced resting along his chest as he stared up at the ceiling, he couldn’t sleep, not after what happened with the fox. Though Enya seemed much more relieved that nothing truly bad happened to the creature, it wasn’t the first time he had seen such a friendship between and animal and a human. A bond with those who were connected could be strong, yet the fox talking still left many questions in the air.

He glanced over to William, who was facing away from Richard, curled up on his side and fast asleep. Richard found it so fascinating at how William seemed so accepting after a brief moment of hesitation in such a situation. Though that might have also been due to the many, many books that William kept in his room, both hidden and on display for all to see.

When Richard saw it, within mere moments before they left to head to Enya’s home he was rather shocked to see the many assortment of books. Books on first glance merely looked like children’s stories or history books but on closer expectation he saw that a number of books held detailed accounts of mythical creatures and beings, legends and stories of magic and those who could use it.

But the book that William had brought, an old, thick heavy leather bound book, was one that the boy had no intention to part with. Containing information that not even Richard knew, but then the world was vast and only so much could be discovered, and yet still many things that were completely left unknown.

Richard found himself smiling slightly at this, the discovery of a new place; it reminded him of what his mother told him.

“The World is vast Richard; you never know what is out there until you go yourself. Before I met and married your father I wanted to travel the world, but just because I didn’t get to see the unknown things in this world doesn’t mean you don’t have too. When you’re older I hope you get to see the beauty that this world has to offer.”

His smile slightly faded in recalling his mother, it was something that he could relate to both William and Enya, though on a slightly different scale than them. With a slight sigh Richard rolled over on his side and forced himself to go into a deep sleep, the questions could wait until tomorrow.

Tula sat huddled by the window in Enya’s room, watching the darkness of the snow storm her chin resting atop of her knees as she watched the blackness as the sound of the cold winds howled loudly. Even though the little girl had gone out of her way to make a place for Tula to sleep but she couldn’t rest, her mind too erratic to even bring herself to sleep.

A sound then came from the fireplace, she turned to look to see Roux watching her intently with his golden eyes before the fox turned and silently left the room, but not before casting one last look at the flower fairy, as if silently telling her to follow.

After a brief moment of hesitation Tula stood to follow but not before glancing down at Enya, seeing her fast asleep, buried underneath the covers of the blankets and furs, before flying off after the fox who was now sitting in the main area of the home staring into the faintly burning fire remaining silent until she reached him.

“Can I trust you?”

“Excuse me?” Tula said with a frown as she looked at the fox.

He looked at her with an almost passing glance. “It’s not that hard of a question, can I, or can I not trust you?”

“I understood your question, the reason I sounded was confused was because I don’t understand your reason behind asking it.” the fairy said as she went to stand on the floor to look up at the fox.

“My reason?” he repeated before lowering his head to her and growled. “It is because I do not know where you’re loyalties lie, it is because you are that of fairy folk, part of the Sidhe and because of that I do not know whether I can trust you or not, many of your kind has done harm to humans in the past, it’s written in history. And it is because of that it makes me wary of you and your kind, for all I know it might be some trick to lure her away. That is why I ask, that is my reason as you put it.”

Tula had flinched at the harsh yet true words of the wary fox, it was something she could not blame him for, his determination to keep Enya safe was a commendable one, but that brought up a question. “Why are you so protective over a human child like her?”

His golden eyes narrowed as he raised his head and then merely looked back to the fire before finally speaking after a long note of silence.

“Four years ago… her father Arthur rescued me, my mother and brothers had been killed by some hunters, not for food but sport. Even now I can still recall the laughter the men had when they killed my family. I was the so-called “runt” since I was born small.”

Tula gave s sceptical look. “You don’t look small to me Roux, in fact you seem rather big for your breed.”

Roux scoffed yet held a smile. “I suppose that is meant to be a complement.” But then his smile disappeared as he scowled going back to his story. “I was hiding from the hunters too scared to come out. Then I heard shouting, a man outraged at doing such a thing, words like “illegal” and “protected creature” was said, followed by more gunfire and silence. That man, Arthur, found me. He looked relieved, relieved and yet so sad.” He paused to look down when he felt tiny hands rest on his front leg.

The fairy looked absolutely heartbroken. “I’m sorry, it must have been awful.”

The fox merely looked back to the fire. “It was, at first I thought I too would end then and there but seeing that man’s face it told me otherwise. Arthur then took me back to his home to his wife and daughter. And the first thing that struck me was her eyes, grey eyes of a coming storm and hair the colour of fox’s fur. Enya and her family took care of me, there had been many times where I would attempt to run away, but in one case, these boys, the same ones who had captured you, tried to harm me. Enya threw herself at them, fighting them with a strength a little girl shouldn’t have. She got hurt but she didn’t care, she said to them: “Don’t hurt my friend!” even though I was less than that, I had always assumed that she only saw me as a pet. But to her I was a friend, even after all that she carried me home and then began to cry from it, the pain that they had given her.”

Tula looked up to the fox and saw the pained expression that he had given as if he regretted it even now.

With a deep sigh he continued. “After that moment, after seeing her cry while hugging me with such relief I refused to leave. I refused to leave her side, she had gone so far out of her way to protect me and I did nothing but cause trouble while she tried to take care of me as a kit. It may sound too human to say this but I was merely a kit at the time. I felt indebted to her father and his family even more so to Enya. So I did all that I could, I would even go out with Arthur to practice hunting small animals and game for him to get myself stronger. Because of that I can now take on a dog or a wolf no problem.”

“I don’t doubt that,” she said under her breath before asking. “Was Enya’s father the one who named you?”

Roux shook his head. “It was Enya; she was the one who gave me the name Roux, the colour of red. She said it fit me perfectly and I have to agree.” He then looked to the fairy. “Dose that give you the answer you seek?”

“It does…” she said softly but the feeling a guilt for asking his reasons for what he did felt like she shouldn’t have. The bond the two shared was apparent from the very moment she had awoken, how protective the fox was like an older sibling or parent. No he wasn’t like that, not like that at all, Roux was more like her guardian, her protector.

And in the way the world was with the Grau-Böse roaming around that was more than needed for those who did not have a barrier to protect them.

“Do you regret it?” Tula asked. “Talking like that of humans and others?”

He glanced at her before speaking. “The only reason I took it from Enya was because I thought it was poison, a strange looking mushroom being offered by a magical creature any mature thinker would see something foul behind it.” Roux glanced at her again and saw that her wings had dropped, the comment he made depressed her but he knew that the fairy understood where it was coming from.

Roux glanced to the door to Enya’s room before saying. “But it is because of this, because of that magic I am now able to speak and now my conversations with Enya, and her conversations with me will no longer be one sided and that alone makes me so grateful…” then without another word he got up and headed back into Enya’s room as Tula remained sitting on the floor.

Hearing those words alone gave her a great relief, that she wasn’t hated over a mistake that shouldn’t have been done. “I’m glad,”

Roux entered the room and closed the door slightly before he stood at Enya’s side in the center of her room. “You heard us talking, was it that dream again? Or was it your father?”

“Sorry…” Enya said in a mumble. “I’m sorry…”

“You don’t have to apologize for something like that Enya, the Garu are terrifying and nothing can compare when seeing the real thing rather than books and your father, I’m sure he would be proud of...” He would have said more but Enya fell to her knees and wrapped her arms around his neck hugging him tight as she cried, he leaned into the child and placed a reassuring paw along her back. “It’s alright Enya, I will always be with you, I promise.”

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