River Mist Tales: The Cauldron

Hurry, this way, before the river mist settles upon the dooryard. It may be a while before your path home is revealed.

The seat by the window is most comfortable and there’s tea in the pot, if you haven’t brought a wee dram of your own.

Ignore the cats, don’t open the windows when the crows come calling.

I’ll be working in the darkened alcove across the room if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door.

She doesn’t like to be kept waiting. Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales. Though she is a bit loose with the truth and a bit too revealing with magic, as your kind calls it.

Until your next visit, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

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The Cauldron

“This will never work,” said Dorcas shaking her head.

“Not with that attitude,” said Lynney, wondering why her cousin was giving up so soon.

“She’s right Lynney, we need the cauldron, we need Granny Briar’s cauldron,” said Tanith, “ she infused it with wind energy, and, well, we could use her help.”

“The dead Granny Briar, the woman none of our mom’s will talk about, the woman whose cottage disappeared in a dark fog, that woman’s cauldron,” said Lynney beginning to doubt her own abilities, her own attitude.

“Yeah, that woman, but I’ve been reading her books we found, all we do is ask, give thanks really for already receiving the cauldron, and, and it will reveal itself to us,” said Dorcas, confident that her studies were leading them in the right direction, “so let’s go.”

Without another word, the three girls packed away their jars of dried herbs, their collection of bird feathers, dried leaves, sky blue candles, braided ribbons the colors of summer sunsets and storm laden winter skies, placing everything with care into a leather and wood travelers trunk, locking it shut, shoving it against a shadowed wall, placing their alder handled brooms, broomcorn bristles upright, into a dark corner of the hay loft.

“My mom’s not happy about all this, about us, about me, she’s asking more and more questions” said Tanith as the three climbed down the ladder, left the barn.

“Don’t lie Tanith, you have a gift, don’t lie about it, none of us need lie if anyone asks anything,” said Dorcas, “speak with care though, for now focus on the cauldron, practice the incantation, remember our words have power.”

Anyone following the cousins might have wondered why three teenage girls were walking in deep silence, only the rising breeze, the crows, the bare-limbed trees, heard the growing song of enchantment, heard the strengthening desire, the overwhelming rise of gratitude, and willingly added their own energy to the call.

It was Lynney who stopped first, having raised her eyes from the familiar path through the field, around the out buildings, of her father’s farm.

“Look,” said Lynney grabbing Dorcas’ arm, “look, there by the old storage sheds, you are gifted, scary but gifted.”

Leaving Dorcas standing guard over the grounded cauldron, drawing the circle, invoking the wisdom and blessing of their Granny Briar, Tanith and Lynney retraced their steps back to the barn, collected the feathers, candles, ribbons and other items they considered supportive for the spell work, the enchantment they were calling, the flying spell the three were casting upon their brooms, upon themselves.

River Mist Tales: The Letter

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales. No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s apple spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

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 The Letter

She had found the first letter quite by accident, during a game of hide and seek in the wood, waiting silently for hours, believing in her cousins who told her to hide, unknowing they would not bother to seek her out, except when it pleased the pair to steal into the secret lives of others.

Maxi had never been alone in a wood before, there was so much to explore, to hear, to spy upon and in turn, learned she was spied upon by unknown others, she liked that best of all.

The letter was in the remains of an ancient tree trunk, resting upon the softest pile of vibrant green moss as if on a velvet pillow, as if it were being presented at a royal court.

During that day of discovery, Maxi sat and watched the weather smoothed trunk, the still letter, for hours, at a distance in case someone showed up, but finally acknowledging her cousins cruelty and surrendering to her own hunger she abandoned her vigil, taking the letter home, hidden inside her jacket.

The paper was roughly textured, embedded with violet petals, covered in an indigo colored ink, a flowing cursive hand, a short introduction, a request for a response, the asking for a pen pal.

Maxi had always wanted a pen pal, someone from Scotland or Ireland or Wales, someone who lived in a castle or near a castle or within sight of a castle, or a crumbling old keep, someone living with history and magic all around.

Here was an opportunity, so she began a correspondence with an unknown writer of the wood, someone who knew the wood, who spoke with trees and foxes and owls, someone who would not reveal their name.

Maxi spend many days composing her weekly letter which she left on the moss pillow inside the old tree trunk, sharing adventures and stories, hers seeming gray and shallow, lacking excitement, knowledge, lacking magic when compared with the missives she received.

She was certain her pen pal was full of magic, for the letters revealed gossip from crows, gossip about Maxi’s cousins, and revealed transgressions voiced be the trees, the river, the meadow flowers, transgressions committed by villagers, and there were questions too, such as why horses were imprisoned by fences, some dogs chained and some cats never allowed to roam outside even though all asked for their freedom.

Maxi began to wonder too, wonder about fences, about the possibility of trees having conversations, about crows chiding, about time expanding in directions not understood and how could she learn to hear and speak to the wood and all those who lived within it.

Keeping the correspondence secret had taught Maxi how to walk softer in the world, to know the differences between the sound of paw and human footfall, the song of bird, the rustle of short and long leaf, for it was the one condition from her unnamed pen pal, no one must ever see the letters but Maxi herself.

Finding the cousins at the trunk, Maxi hid from the raucous pair, she could hear their voices rising, daring each other towards the stump, daring to pluck the letter hiding there, laughing satisfied they had discovered Maxi’s secret, stealing something belonging to her, and as Maxi watched, her heart beating quickly, her stomach growing tight, the elder cousin reached for the letter, only to have it catch fire, cinders floating away into the the tangling branches overhead, then reaching into her pocket, fingers protecting the letter hidden there, Maxi touched not her own smooth stationery but a roughly textured, violet embedded envelope.

River Mist Tales: The Book

Welcome traveler, no need for names here. River folk have a way of knowing what needs to be known.

There’s tea in the pot, slices of spice cake, fresh apples and cheddar.

Don’t open the window when the crow taps, nor let the cats out, no matter what they tell you.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door with her basket of tales.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with her truths.

Please come again. You’ll always find comfort, refreshment and a bit of magic.

Until next time, may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

theHbook

The Book

“It’s not here,” whispered Isabella to herself climbing back down the anchored wooden ladder, repeating the words softly into Orla’s ears.

“It is here, I know it is here, all the clues, everything brings us here,” said Orla, shuffling pages of notes, pushing back into the deep shadow of the black windowed spaces between the towering bookcases.

“We’ve been here hours, we can try again tomorrow,” said Isabella glancing out into the unlit library, sighing, continuing, “fine, but tell my why this book, why here,” becoming more unsettled, spiraling her fingers around the embossed edges of her backpack.

“You know I can’t, so if you want to go, go, but I’m not leaving here without that book,” said Orla, grateful the dark hid her face, her fear, her worry and her growing despair.

Isabella shook her head, stepped onto the fading carpet, ran her hand upwards along the intricately carved decorations climbing up the sides of the bookcase, and slipped back beside her sister-in-law.

“This is about Brian, isn’t it, you think he left his notes don’t you,” asked Isabella, focusing her full attention upon Orla’s face, straining to see whatever the moonlight would reveal.

“Yeah I do, but not just notes, the book, a book once belonging to his uncle, and before you say anything, I know he followed the instructions, found the map, I believed both brothers followed him.”

“Seriously, that old fool who worked with, with, I can’t believe this, I could lose my job if we’re caught, and all so you can read about fairies and magic and other realms, because you think your husband…”

“And yours, don’t kid yourself, you want answers too, and we won’t be discovered if we’re calm, quiet and think before we begin searching again, I know what you are risking, I know, but I also know that book will lead me to Brian, he’s not dead, I know that too,” said Orla slumping back against the cold glass.

Orla slid to the floor, turned into the corner, switching on a pen light she reexamined the last page of her notes, the page with her husband’s map, a floor plan of this very library with notations about secrets, about hiding places, about an archaic form of cataloging employed to organize a hidden, but vast collection of books.

Breathe, she told herself, see what’s on the page, see what you missed before, and between the breaths she saw it, a symbol drawn as an afterthought on the outside margin of the page, but no mistaking it, although on the page it was upside down from the original she had felt, carved onto the side of the bookcase.

Turning the page, showing it to Isabella in silence, pointing, Orla smiled as Isabella took one step up the polished ladder, running her fingers along the back of the shelved books, feeling, for what, she wasn’t sure, then pushing on a carving, a carving matching the drawing, pushing as the outside of the bookcase opened revealing a book nestled inside a very secret hiding place.

River Mist Tales: The Notebook

Come in, come in. The mist has settled, you may as well sit, sip a cup of tea, read a few tales.

No introductions are needed, river folk know what needs to be known.

There’s apple spice cake and cheddar if you’re hungry. Milk and sugar for the tea, unless you brought a flask of your own.

Don’t open the window if the crows tap and call, nor heed those gossiping tabbies.

I’ll be working in the far alcove if you have any needs or she knocks upon the door. Don’t want to keep her waiting.

Enjoy her photographs and her 12-line tales, though she’s a bit loose with the truth, too revealing with the magic.

Until you visit again may your wonderings be bold and your imaginings be wise.

notebookleaf_cwm

The Notebook

It was 2 am when Bronwyn sneaked out of the long closed library, walking home to the studio apartment she shared with fellow student, Deidre, a quiet and slow walk, hoping she might meet one of the woods folks as they were called by the locals.

Not wanting to wake her roommate, Bronwyn slowly opened the door, stepping inside without turning on the light before remembering Deidre was away for the weekend.

Flicking the light switch, Bronwyn took a step forward and stumbled, books, clothes and dishes were strewn about the floor.

She dropped her knapsack, every muscle tightening as she looked around the room, moving backwards, bumping into the front door, slamming it shut, rushing back against it.

Cupboard doors lay open, drawers were hanging empty, the beds were piles of sheets, blankets and pillows, from the closet, jeans, skirts, shirts and shoes spilled out like the insides of one of the road killed foxes she mourned earlier in the day as she returned from the forest trails.

Instinctively Bronwyn reached for her cell, began punching in the emergency numbers, stopped when she saw her desk, the chair in place, her notepads piled neatly, her pens arranged in a row side by side, reference books stacked by size, it was an oasis of tidiness, calmness among the chaos of the rest of the apartment.

Instead of calling the police, she called Ryan, waking him up, demanding he come immediately, there was something he needed to see.

While waiting for Ryan, Bronwyn checked the windows, all were closed, all were locked and she looked for any sign of who might have tossed the place, most thoroughly she examined her desk, the organization, what remained upon it, what might be missing.

Three of her favorite writing notebooks, hard covered, heavy smooth pages, had been placed in precise positions, side by side, on the short end of the desk, a pen placed upon each one, dead center, with a space on the desk for a fourth notebook left empty.

Bronwyn glanced towards her backpack where she had dropped it by the door, wondering if this invasion had anything to do with what she had found, what she had taken from the wood that very morning.

She had found it on a moss covered rock, tucked under a leaf, hand tooled designs filling the four quadrants of the front, back and even running along the spine of the leather cover, a filigreed fountain pen lay uncapped beside the notebook, its pages unwritten to her eyes.

As Ryan opened the door, pushing against the backpack, Bronwyn smiled, she had made the right decision, for Ryan believed the tales, and he would help return the notebook before any other mischief invaded her life, before something would be demanded in return, something not as easily returned as a blank notebook.