Concurrently, she kept her peace,
minding her own without surcease,
delighting in any caprice
that struck her to enjoy.
Though mundane souls forsook her realm,
many a Fair Folk claimed an elm,
and soon she grew fast overwhelmed
by troops of fay envoys.
From high and low, from near and far,
did come a host of the bizarre —
the Good Neighbors by Northern Star
convened and settled in
amongst the valleys, under hills —
and to the ponds went those with gills —
and more, and more, and more, until
she thought her head would spin.
“Oh, make for us a wingéd goat
that sings sweet hymns out from its throat
and sheds silk from its undercoat!”
one elf of rank adjured.
And others called for honeyed rain,
for fruit as gold as ripened grain,
and other whims hard to attain
they asked her to procure.
But empty-handed they did not
come a-calling as she thought.
All gauds and folderol were bought
with worthwhile wares in trade.
With winsome bounty she was plied
of such stark largess that belied
their inborn nature to misguide
poor fools in escapade.
“We know it well how mortals be,”
said one dryad sat in her tree.
“And only their inconstancy
is what all share in wont.
To you they come as they did us
for favors, and then pitch a fuss
when we show them their due distrust
and bid them to avaunt.”
And so her haunted woods became
a haven to any with aim
to do without the galling game
of fencing with Mankind.
An ease was donned as if a cloak.
In concord did those Gifted folk
strove to forfend the loathsome yoke:
being ever maligned.
“A novel treat it is,” quoth she,
well deep within her forestry,
“to live amongst ones much like me
who need not to be told
the whys and wherefores of the rules
of which I choose to cull out fools.
Oh, if but one of those daft mules
could fit a likened mold!”
The years passed on with small ado.
The thicket hedge – her wall – yet grew
with alt and snarl that most of who
sought entry were deterred.
The truth of why it came to be
that dark forest held infamy
was lost to human history,
ne’er more spoken nor heard.
For scores and scores she kept within
her wooded realm as much akin
to wrathful wolves who’ve ever been
possessive of their grounds.
All of the while, the wildwood trees
that bent to her authority
grew into great monstrosities
with whetted thorns abound.
Fay beasts that called her forest home
grew ghastly in the fall of gloam,
and any soul that dared to roam
therein met their demise.
“Beware her blighted woods!” professed
the scores that feared the sorceress.
“To seek out that grim pythoness
would be most ill-advised!”
In way that all lore came to be,
the tales of her spread like debris;
hearsay became as history,
casting her as the fiend.
The tales of her were told with thrill
as frightful fables to instill
the thought that wizardry caused ill,
and she the quarantined.
And so another stalwart soul
was painted black to suit the role
contemners thought well fit to dole
despite no fault of theirs.
And when, at length, the time did come
that her stout heart stilled in its thrum,
there were none left with the wisdom
to know how she was erred.
With orphic craft she was endowed,
to Man and Beast she went unbowed,
and till the end she was uncowed
despite all that went on.
Beyond a twisting river strand,
within that thorny thicket stands
yet still a humble cottage and
home to a witch now gone.
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