The Winter Witch

By Tarynne Bourret All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

~Chapter Eight~ The Grove

The very next morning Enya came awake to see a face full of fox looking at her. Although it hadn’t startled her in the least, what did slightly was when he spoke.

“Oh good your awake,” he said before she quickly moved to sit up. “William is in the living area talking to that fairy, while Richard is still asleep, though I told William to let you and the other boy rest since you seemed more exhausted than usual.” When Enya didn’t speak he asked. “Are you alright? Last night, when you heard Tula and I…”

“No it’s not that,” she said with a shake of her head. “I just… didn’t know what to think, hearing you speak was a little jarring but also really wonderful, I’m really happy that you can talk, still a little confused but happy.”

The fox gave a slight smile. “I’m glad, now get dressed and I’ll go speak to William to go and wake Richard.” The fox then stopped at her bedroom door to then add. “Good morning to you Enya.”

She smiled. “Morning Roux.”

As the fox went back into the main area of the house he paused when he saw Will and Tula speaking.

“…I’ve heard that there are many different kinds of Sidhe, this is true right?” the boy asked the fairy.

Tula nodded. “Yes, though it can mainly depend on the region but there are different kinds, though for example you might not be able to tell right away what one can do in comparison to the other but you could at least assume by the colour of one’s hair.”

William frowned. “Hair?”

She nodded. “Yes, my magic is that of plant life, flowers to be exact. Because of that I’m connected to that of the season of Spring as you know, and because of that my hair is a rather pale pink, like that of a rose.”

The boy squinted his eyes as if trying to adjust his vision. “Pink?”

It was then that Roux chose to intervene. “William, I apologize for interrupting this conversation but could you go and wake Richard up? I feel he would be much more comfortable with that of someone he knows rather than a Sidhe or a talking fox.”

“Oh, sure, where is Enya?”

“Getting dressed currently, also thank you for starting the fire, I think Enya will be very happy when she comes out.”

The boy smiled. “I thought it’d be one of the things I could do since she let us stay. I’ll be back in a moment.”

Tula began to fly after the boy only to be stopped by that of Roux swatting her to the floor with his tail. “Leave the boys be besides there is something else I would like to speak to you.”

As the two spoke William went back to the room and opened the door. “Richard, you awake yet?” but the boy stopped short when he saw Richard, dressing himself in the early dawn, but he paused when he thought he saw something off about his skin.

Richard looked to William over his shoulder as he threw on another layer of clothing. “Morning William,” he said as he finished. “Is Enya awake already?”

“Ah, yes she is,” he paused and asked. “Are you… alright?”

Richard looked at him with a puzzled expression. “Yes, I’m fine why do you ask? Did you not sleep well?”

“No I slept fine, um did you?”

He still looked rather baffled but smiled at him. “I did, in fact I find I slept better since I’ve been at my uncle’s.”

“Oh that’s good.” Oh what am I doing? He thought. Why can’t I just ask him about what I thought I saw?

“William?”

“Yes?” he said quickly.

“You’re blocking the door; I can’t leave with you in the way.”

William flushed slightly as he moved out of the way. “S-sorry!” It was probably just me imagining things anyway. William thought as Richard walked past. My eyes are bad to begin with so that’s probably it.

Richard looked to William with slight unease, had he seen it? Though judging by William’s reaction he could not be certain, he only hoped it wasn’t the case.

“Oh Richard,” Enya’s voice drew his attention to see the young girl smile at him, her hair was left undone showing waves as she headed over to the kitchen. “Good morning, did you sleep well last night?”

He could feel his face getting hot as he stammered a response. “Y-yes, I slept well thank you for your generous hospitality for allowing William and I to spend the night.”

Enya merely looked at him before closing the distance and resting the back of her hand on his forehead. “Your face is red again, was the room too cold then?”

“N-no it wasn’t cold the room was fine actually.” Richard said as he took a step back and cleared his throat. “Will you be working on breakfast? I can’t do much but I’d like to assist if you’d let me.”

“I don’t think that’d be a good idea,” Roux said as he joined Enya’s side. “It’s a lot more than just turning on the stove and using a frying pan.”

“I still want to help,” Richard said before looking back to Enya. “I insist on it.”

She and Roux looked to each other as the fairy came to rest on Enya’s shoulder before the fox spoke once more.

Roux spoke then. “Alright then but if that’s the case, William?”

The boy came out of the other room with his bag as he readjusted his glasses. “Yes?”

“How good are you in assisting in the morning?”

William thought about it for a moment. “I’m good to a point I suppose, though it depends on what needs to be done.”

“Well since they both seem so willing to assist why do you tell them what it is you do in the mornings Enya?”

It didn’t take long for Enya to explain what it was that she did in the mornings, how she would warm up the house and test if the front door could open, and if it could not, which had been the constant case recently, she would take the bucket and fill it with boiling water, as well as collecting eggs from the chickens and herbs that her mother grew a ways away from the house.

Shortly after they ventured outside, the sun wasn’t at the highest point in the sky yet the snow was still falling in large fluffy flakes.

Enya looked up to the sky to stare at the snow before looking to the two boys who joined her outside, Will had said to take charge of dealing with the door when they discovered that it wouldn’t open, iced over just like before.

While Richard insisted in helping with the eggs and herbs, as adamant as he was in doing this, Enya could tell that he had done some manual work but not much. But he still managed to assist with it. Then when that was finished the two boys, fox and flower fairy followed the girl past the house, trudging through the snow to the place that was hidden by a small wooded area where the herbs were growing strongly.

“This is wonderful,” Tula said as she flew around. “Reminds me of the Grove a little.”

Enya had crouched to pick them only to then pause in picking the herbs to look to the fairy. “You’ve mentioned it before, this Grove, was it because of those mushrooms that you took so long to return?”

The fairy hesitated slightly, her hands clasping together out of slight nervousness.

This caused Enya and Roux to look at each other, while the boys did the same before all looked back to the fairy.

“Tula?”

She looked to Enya almost warily. “There is another reason that it took me so long to come back like I said, it’s… it regards the queen.”

“Queen?” Enya repeated.

Tula nodded quickly. “Yes, the Queen of the Fairies, she… she requests and audience with you Enya.”

“With… me?” Enya said with slight confusion as she pointed at herself.

The fairy nodded again. “Yes, I told her how you helped me along with the two boys’ and… she said she wished to meet with you.”

Roux frowned. “Not with Richard or William?”

“She only wished to speak with you.”

Enya shook her head unable to understand why. “But why? Why me?”

“I am not sure myself, but I could not deny this request, but I told her if you said no, then that is all I could do.” She looked concerned to Enya. “What will you do?”

Enya became quiet, her storm grey eyes darting about trying to think of what she could do, there seemed no reason for another Sidhe, let alone a Queen.

“A meeting with a Queen is no small thing,” Richard said braking the silence.

“Yeah but,” William added. “The Queen of the Sidhe? Doesn’t that seem a little strange to you Richard? Our village has always been told to never interact with them we never bother them and they never bother us,” he paused slightly to look at Tula. “Mostly.”

“Hey!” Tula snapped at him with her hands on her hips. “What is that supposed to mean William?”

Richard shook his head. “Besides that, my Uncle always thought it was a rather foolish thing to avoid the interaction of those who could use and control magic. My father too finds it rather outdated even though many kingdoms fear it as well as the one I am from. But even with all that said, Enya. What will you do?”

Again, Enya was silent but only for a moment. “She only wishes to meet with me, I see no harm in that. Besides she only wishes to offer me thanks for helping Tula right? What could be so wrong in doing that?”

“I can think a multitude of things that is wrong with it.” Roux said almost under his breath but loud enough for all to hear before he walked to Enya’s side. “Well, if you intend to go then I will come with you. I have no intention of allowing you to go alone to this Grove and what’s more if I feel if anything is wrong then I will bite someone’s wings off.” He spoke the last bit with biting sarcasm as Tula then hid behind Enya.

“Don’t bite my wings off, I need them to fly.” She said as she peaked from behind Enya.

“I say it only as a warning, you know very well that her safety comes before anyone else’s.” He tilted his head to the two boys. “Even them.”

William gave the fox a blank look and spoke in a monotone voice. “Oh, thanks for the love fox.” the fox on the other hand merely kept his sly grin.

“You’ll come with me Roux?” Enya asked.

The fox gave a modest nod before joining her side. “Of course, we are family after all.”

Enya smiled at him before looking to Tula. “When would you want to leave to meet this… um, your Queen?”

Tula flew out from behind Enya to face her properly. “Sooner then later, that would be best. My Queen, isn’t the patient type.”

“Would now be okay then?”

“It would, but is that alright?”

She nodded. “It’ll be fine.” She then looked to the boys. “Besides, I think it’s time you both should go home. I’m sure your family is worried about you both.”

Oddly both boys were silent as they seemed to avoid eye contact so Roux spoke up.

“I think that’s a no, Enya.”

Shortly after saying their goodbyes the both boys headed back to the village while also wishing for her safety as she did in turn.

“It’s this way, please follow me.” Tula said as she led them to the forest. Enya paused to look up at the large tall trees feeling slightly wary. “It’s alright,” Tula said drawing the girl’s attention. “The forest is safe, the Grau-Böse don’t come the Grove, the tend to avoid it due to the light. So, we’ll be safe I promise.”

“If you say so,” Enya said as one hand grasped her the necklace that lay under her coat and blouse as Roux remained close to her side.

As Tula guided the girl and fox Enya couldn’t help but feel as though something was slowly changing, the deeper that they went into the forest, the lesser the snow became until, finally, she saw something that she didn’t expect to see.

Greenery, grass and plant life no longer dormant from winter. And what surprised her even more, was the warmth that came shortly after. It felt like winter was no longer plaguing the village, even though with just a backward glance told otherwise.

“Enya, are you alright?” Roux asked as Enya began to remove her coat, muff, hat and gloves.

“I think I now know what it’s like to shed like you.” she said as she then removed the white blouse from her dress. Her necklace now dangling around her neck as she folded up her things and placed them in her shoulder bag, thankful that she had brought the bag along with her.

“Yes, though unlike me, you clean up easy.” He then looked to her hair that had become frizzled and static-like. “Well, mostly…”

“I guess I should have warned you,” Tula said with a slight laugh. “The Grove is always this type of temperature, in connection to the elements and the seasons of Spring and Summer. It won’t be affected by the conditions of the outside due to our own magical barrier that protects us.”

“You mean to protect the Sidhe,” Roux said in a somewhat sarcastic tone. “Not us, since you’ve claimed that our own barrier around the village seems to have fallen. Though none of us even knew that it remotely existed until you spoke of it.”

Tula’s wings drooped as she clasped her hands together. “Yes, you are right.” She then looked to Enya. “But I am sure the man I know can fix it, he has been fighting the Grau-Böse for many years, he must know the cause.”

Enya grasped her necklace. “If you say so,”

Tula nodded. “I’m sure of it,” she then continued to lead Enya and the fox through the green forest, where birds chirped and small animals ran about, fleeing when they saw Roux as if fearing he would eat them, which Enya could tell that he would, but chose not too since she was with him. Roux was still a wild animal after all.

“I promise I won’t eat them,” Roux said as if sensing what was on Enya’s mind. “As long as those little thieves keep to themselves then I will keep myself in check.”

“Thieves?” Enya repeated.

“Mice and small animals have a tendency to steal and hoard items that have a shine or sparkle to them. Can’t help it, many say, including birds, chattering away in the guise of a song. You’d be surprised what some are saying right now.”

Enya grasped her necklace once more. “I think I am fine not knowing, I don’t want to think of something rude in comparison to the songs they sing. Though I’m surprised you know what they are saying.”

Roux smiled. “All animals have a language to their own, even ones who cannot speak. Many think humans are the only ones capable of understanding one another, even more so with the multiple languages you have. Though you and I have proven that to be a falsehood, even before I was able to speak we could understand one another to a degree without the use of words. Same can be said for anyone who has an unbreakable bond with another creature that they love and care for.” He then stopped and circled around her, pressing himself against her legs. “And it is one of the many reasons why I will never leave your side.”

Enya stroked his fur and smiled.

“Sorry for interrupting this moment but we’ve reached it.” Tula said before flying into a flower bush. “This way hurry.”

Roux motioned for Enya to wait, and leapt in first before calling out to her. “It’s safe Enya, you can come through.”

Enya was about to climb through the bush only to see it part right before her eyes. “Of course, it’s safe,” Tula said to the fox with hands resting on her hips. “I keep tell you that I’m not going to do anything, how many times must I tell you until you believe me?”

“Until I see it for myself.” He said. “I will continue to hold me suspicions of you.”

Tula pouted but then smiled as Enya made her way through the opening of the bush, Enya on the other hand looked to what was lain before her. Through what seemed a simple bush hid a sprawling place of flowers and greenery and in the center of it all was a giant tree, one that seemed to overshadow the tall trees that were growing.

Enya could hear small voices whispering around, but didn’t see anyone, her only assumption was that the Sidhe were probably hiding but she could hear what they were saying clear as day.

“Who is that?” a tiny voice whispered.

“A human, it’s a human!” came another.

“And a fox, looks grumpy.”

“Tula brought the human girl. The queen wanted to see her.”

“The Queen! The Queen, wonder why, humans are mean.”

“And big! But this human looks tiny.”

“Itsy-bitsy.”

“The queen could eat her if she wanted.”

“Or step on her.”

“That’s enough!” Tula snapped. “Don’t you dare say that about her, not all humans are like that! She saved my life, if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be here!”

“Poor, poor Tula, blinded by that heart.”

“It’ll get you eaten one day…”

Tula looked up at the tree with an angry expression as Roux kept close to Enya’s side.

“My point taken exactly this is why I don’t trust you fairy-folk.”

“The fox spoke! The fox spoke!” one gasped.

“How can it talk?”

“Is it made of magic?”

Roux scoffed looking almost offended. “Hardly, I am flesh and blood like any other creature however since I now have the capabilities to speak I can say this with no regrets.” He took in a large breath and roared. “If any of you try to harm Enya there will be nothing on this earth that will stop me from eating you all!” his fur bristled as he looked around with narrow golden eyes with ears laid back as he paced in front of Enya. “Take heed Sidhe of the Grove, I show no mercy to those who attack this child.”

There was no talk back, all had become as silent as the grave, and with clearing of his throat Roux then looked politely at Tula.

“Now then, shall we continue?”

Tula just looked at the fox with a blank stare before speaking to Enya. “Your fox is scary, mind if I borrow him if they get out of line again?”

Enya merely looked to Roux. “The fox says no,” he said. “Unless you can convince me otherwise. Until then, let us move on, I am sure you’re Queen would not want us to keep her waiting any longer.”

With a nod, Tula led them to the large tree, where an opening presented itself to them as the tree opened itself up to them, it’s bark twisting and splitting apart to reveal a faint orange glow of light and a spiral set of stairs leading downwards.
Enya merely looked back to the trees where the voices had come from before entering the tree then closing behind her as she did so.

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