INTO THE FOREST
It was late in the day when we entered the portal to the true forest. We wanted to cross Kachoome Creek before dusk and make camp at the edge of the forest, hidden beneath the trees, because on this night, there was more than floating heads to worry about. It is said that on Halloween Eve, the dead walk as the living and I sure wasn't going to have some walking Wraith take one of my little ones.
We watched the sunset as we ate and talked quietly, making a plan of how we would proceed if there was real trouble. Hedge had got across to us in his wordless way two other facts about the floating head. It glowed in the dark and it seemed to be heading in the southwesterly direction. By our calculation, it should be passing by our campsite at just about moonset. Snail volunteered to keep the first watch, brave lad! It meant being out from under the protection of the trees, exposed to the full sky.
Harkin pulled out his harp and we whispered through a few of our favorite songs, not taking our eyes off Snail for one minute. I was hoping the wait would not be too long for the dark was deepening and eerie tendrils of a strange yellow fog were seeping into the shadows of the night.
The fog didn't seem natural to me and I jumped up suddenly afraid for Snail. Just as I was about to yell for him, he yelled to me. “Grandmother Phee, I see it! It has glowing eyes and I think it-it sees me!” The last part came out in a yelp and then Snail was crashing through the bramble full speed. Harkin and Emily ran out and scooped him up and brought him safely to me.
The poor lad was distraught, “It-it’s huge Grandma Phee! It’s eyes are glowing and I think I saw stuff moving around inside it, like guts or brains and it has long shining fangs, and big whiskers, and a gigantic mouth that could swallow us all at once, and big swirling eyes!” I finally, very gently, put my hand over the lad’s mouth as he was scaring everyone very badly. If he continued, Purdy was certainly going to have hysterics and Wart was already circling about making some of his more ominous sounds.
Harkin had gone down to where Snail had stood watch and came back at a run. “It is a huge floating, er, glowing thing, and coming straight at us, Phee,” he said in a quivering voice, the lad did lack a certain poetic skill when he was nervous. “I could hardly see it for the fog though, so it won't see us.” he added with relief and plopped down on the ground next to Emily.
Seeing us was one thing, but if the creature was supernatural, could it not sense our presence just as easily? This possibility made me shudder. No, I could not take the chance. “I will have to confront it.” I said, in a matter of fact way. After all, it was my duty to protect these dear ones, was I not the Fairy Godmother? I sniffed and straightened my shoulders. Everyone was silently staring at me as I picked up my staff and pulled my wand from my hair. I looked at them and said, “Wait here. If I do not return you must go straight away through the forest to the portal.”
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