Jeremiah felt very ashamed at himself for running away from his new friend.
He was twelve years old and, just at that moment, feeling very ashamed at his own cowardice.
Especially now that there was a big war coming. His dad was a soldier now. He had said that they all must be very brave. They all lived above the little bakers shop. Jeremiah loved the smell of the freshly baked bread that filled their home. His big sister, Jane helped his dad to run the shop, and his mum just generally ran around fussing after everyone. Every evening after the shop was closed his dad would put on his uniform and set off to the town hall. He looked really smart in his uniform, and Jeremiah had decided that he would be a soldier when he finished school.
He had almost not made it to the woodland, to search for Kiara. He had gone home drenched with sweat the previous evening and had hardly touched his tea. This had brought on an embarrassing attack of fussing, and he was packed off to bed with a mustard poultice. Luckily, his mum had deemed him well enough to be allowed out,- although he had to tolerate being wrapped up like a mummy. The heavy woollen scarf chafed his neck and made him feel half strangled. He pulled it away and wore it dangling around his shoulders.
“Kiara!”, He shouted as he wandered through the places where they played. “ Kiara!”, If only she had not kissed him. It had felt strange and had made him feel dizzy. Everything around him had seemed to begin to fade away and it frightened him. He wondered, if perhaps he did not like girls that way. One of his uncles had been like that, and was forced to leave the village and live in the city. Jeremiah wanted to live in the city too, one day. When uncle Jim visited, he made it sound very exciting. But first, he would be a soldier and serve his country. All the older boys were talking of joining the army when they left school. He wandered on, shouting for Kiara. The woods seemed different today, dark and dreary. Winter was coming, and he began to feel quite chilled. As it got darker, her decided to go home and try again next day. He had only been allowed out on the condition that he returned home early. Feeling disappointed, he turned and headed for home.
Back in Matron’s office, Kiara looked at the strange doctor.
“Hi !, said the little man, “I am Doctor Boglin. Matron and I will soon have you speaking, and back with your new family!”. Doctor Boglin gave Kiara’s hand a big friendly shake. He led her into his office. It had big green leather armchairs and a gleaming mahogany coffee table on one side of the room. The opposite side of the room was dominated by a huge desk. Facing the door was a ceiling high bay window, that looked over the grounds. He noticed her looking at the window. “Go have a look and I will be with you in a few minutes”, he said.
As she stood beside the tall windows, Kiara could see the grounds as far as the woods that they had driven through the previous day. The woods drew her eyes. They seemed larger than they had when she had arrived. She could not see any sign of a road,- just miles and miles of trees. Some of the trees looked very large and old. She hoped that they might be guardian trees, and then she might be able to contact her clan with their help. Perhaps there were faeries in the forest and they could help her. If it had a large enough clan of faeries, then there might be an elder who could remove the spell and free her.
There was a fenced area with swings and a slide, but it held little interest for her, compared to the possibilities hinted at by the presence of a large forest so near to her.
Doctor Boglin seemed to read her mind. “ The forest is beautiful,- Isn’t it!”. Kiara stiffened in surprise. Yet again, he had come right up beside her without her even noticing. “It is pretty”, she said, trying not to sound too interested. “It must be very strange for you in your new home” he said.
She looked at him, puzzled. How much had Mr Welton told him??? “You will soon settle and be able to attend our classes”, he said with a smile, but Kiara did not feel very reassured. Was he playing with her?.
“Come sit down and let me check you over”, he said. “Can you make any sounds?. Try to say ‘Aaaah’ for me…” Kiara took a deep breath ad found that nothing would come out. “no no no”,he said. He smiled to soften the harshness of his words. “ Relax! .. take a tiny breath and blow”.
She did as he said. “And again…”
After a few minutes she felt relaxed and dreamy. He spoke softly, “Imagine you are in the forest and the bees are buzzing. Listen to the sound… Bzzzz…Bzzzz…. Now listen to how it ends…. Zzzzzz….Zzzzzzz…. As she listened, she seemed to drift away and she was back with the other faeries and safe at home. She could smell the flowers in the warm breeze. Birds were chirping in the trees and hedgehogs were snuffling through the leaves as they looked for worms. Kiara leaned against an old tree, and felt its energy flow through her as she touched its rough bark. She felt peaceful and safe. A faint echo of her former joy was trickling back into her heart.
Mr Fox walked by. He stopped and looked at her. He seemed uncertain for a moment. “Be very careful”, he said, “you are almost under his spell!”.
She came back with a start!. Doctor Boglin was right in front of her. His coal black eyes were only inches away from hers. All she could see was his face filling her view. She was faintly aware of a sound coming from her throat. He seemed almost wild and dangerous, and again, she caught that strange smell. Had she been human, she might have recognised it as the faded smell of rotting meat, covered up by a salad of wild mint. She pulled away in fright.
He did not seem to notice her reaction. “Well Done!”, he said.”we will soon have you in class!”.
“You may go now and explore!. I will see you again tomorrow”. Shaking with relief, Kiara left his office as quickly as she could.
Kiara went back to her room and found some warm clothes. She put on a warm woollen coat, long boots, and wrapped a big scarf tightly around her neck. A big fluffy hat which almost hid her eyes finished her attire. She smiled when she saw herself in the mirror. She looked a sight! She would be warm, though, and that was all that mattered. She considered waiting for Annabelle to finish her lessons and ask her to keep her company, but if there were faeries around, it was best that she went alone. She went down to the kitchen and quietly slipped out b the servants entrance. When she was clear of the house, she realised that she had been holding her breath. She relaxed with a big sigh then headed for the forest. She tried to avoid walking into view of Doctor Boglin’s windows, but she could not be sure if she had.
The air felt cool and clean after the stuffiness of the big house. The grass was wet and the ground was soft beneath her boots, nevertheless, Kiara began to feel quite warm as she walked. She would turn and look nervously at the big old house then hurry on. She kept up a good pace until she was well into the forest.
Once she felt safe, Kiara had once last look behind and then she stood perfectly still.
Despite the cold she had started to perspire, and the wind seemed to freeze the dampness on the small patch of her face which was exposed. Her breath came in huge clouds of mist. Slowly, she began to relax. As her breathing slowed down she began to feel calm. Her awareness of the forest around her opened up like the petals of a flower. She could smell the first fall of leaves on the damp ground. Then she caught the sharp tang of the burnt fields after the harvest. Tiny creatures rustled among the leaves around her feet.
Deep in the forest a fox was furiously trying to dig out a mouse who had evaded him by a split second. She felt his tiny heart pounding as he pressed deeper into his hole.
Nearby, underneath a hollowed log stuffed with wind-blown leaves a hedgehog dreamed. He was not fully into hibernation. There were still some mild nights to come, when he would wander out and hunt for food before the deep winter was upon him. She stood there for a while longer, letting her mind spread and grow. She could not sense the guardian tree that she thought she had seen from the window. She set off in what she thought was the right direction, and hoped for the best.
Deeper into the woods, the trees were larger and more ancient. She felt their energies healing and balancing her human body as she went past them. They were still too young to be Guardian trees, but she was sure that she had seen one. It was odd that she could not sense it. For the faeries and pixies and other woodland sentients, the guardian trees were like beacons. They gave them a focal point and a pathway into the inner worlds, should they ever get lost. At the very least, she might be able to send a message for help, and get some advice. But first she must find the tree whilst hampered by this slow, insensitive, and clumsy body.
She almost gave up! Then she had a fleeting glimpse of the faery who had visited the first day.
She walked onwards in the direction of the sighting. Finally, after what seemed like hours of weary trudging, she found the tree.
She stood and stared at the tree for ages. She was baffled. She could feel nothing,- not even the adolescent energy field of a younger tree. Cautiously, she walked over to the tree and touched it. No tingling, no feeling of warmth and love,- nothing. It felt cold and rough to her touch. She hugged the tree,- willing it to reach out to her and guide her to her home. Nothing. She removed her gloves and spread her arms as far as she could around the tree. She strained to open her senses further.
Still she felt nothing but the cold, and a deep sense of isolation. Her fingers touched something smooth and hard, embedded into the tree. She stood back and looked carefully. When the realisation came,- she felt sick. Studded around the dead tree were rows and rows of copper nails. Someone had murdered the guardian tree. She found her voice and she began to wail. She fell to her knees as the awful sound of her sorrow spread through the forest. She knelt beside the tree for hours as the sound of her keening echoed through the forest. Desolate and heart-broken,- she set off for the big house as night was beginning to fall.
Kiara went straight to her room and spoke to no one. When tea came, she sat picking at it, but she had no appetite. A little later, after her tray had been collected, Matron came up and checked her temperature. She came back with a funny tasting drink for her, and stood over her while she finished it. Matron put her to bed and within minutes, she was fast asleep.
The faery from the hallway was shaking her. She felt drowsy and unable to wake up properly.
“Kiara! Kiara!”. She could hear her calling as she struggled to awaken. Finally her eyes were open.
There stood the fae girl she had seen on arrival. Behind her, Kiara could see a forest of giant trees spreading into the distance. “ My name is Moira”, she said,” and we need to help each other”. “Hi Moira”. Kiara was startled by the sound of her own voice. “ I can speak!”, she cried!
Moira looked sad for a moment. “I am sorry”, she said, You are dreaming. That is why you have a voice again. But Listen!!!. I do not know how long I can stay. The Goblin will return your voice with his magic machine, but there is a terrible cost,- unless you let me help you! “The Goblin?, Kiara started to ask… “Ssssh! There is no time! Take this flower and hide it somewhere very safe!
Kiara took the tiny daisy and as Moira faded away, she sank back into her deep, drug-induced sleep.