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2008-05-01 18:27:44
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Elftown Prose Contest - Fairy Tales

Willoweed






This prose is copyrighted to me, [Dark Side of the Moon], and is based on a dream that I had.



Once upon a time, there was a beautiful, gorgeous land, still in the age of castles and princesses. There, the days went by like in any other: The sun rising and setting, and meanwhile, many things happened, many adventurous things. But none was so exceptional as that one day, on which the sun was rising into a rather misty morning. It seemed quite plain as any other, but for one thing. A bird sat on the edge of a cliff, watching over the valley. On the other side, lay a castle, quite hidden in the damp air of mist. But a light shone over it, and the bird too might have noticed, that something was about to happen.

In an old farm house, far away from the misty land, lived a little boy and girl. As brother and sister, they of course had times to argue, but also to play. They lived there together with their aunt and uncle, for their parents had died when they were still far younger. Every day passed as another. Until that one fateful day when the old bell on the door rang. The boy hurried to open it, but there was a sight which he had never seen before. In front of him, on the doorstep under the pouring rain, stood a little, pointy-hatted dwarf.



***


The little boy stared in disbelief, for it is not often that an old man is the same height as a child.

“Don’t stand there looking daft, boy!” snapped the dwarf. “Let me in! The rain will drown me.”

Indeed, the dwarf stood in a pool that gathered only around his feet and ankles, the water climbing up his legs and over his striped socks as though a clear glass was surrounding them and holding the water in. Behind him, leading away from the stoop was a trail of dry footprints. Despite the rainfall, they would not wet. The little boy shook his head as he kept a nervous eye on the dwarf.

“Out of the way then!” the dwarf said rudely. He stepped out of the water, pushing his way past the boy to enter the house. Once inside the threshold he turned again to the doorway. “Shoo! Shoo!” the dwarf yelled waving his arms at the pool of water as it sat on the doorstep. The water reluctantly flowed into the yard with the other raindrops.

The boy turned to him. Once again he was met with surprise for the dwarf was now completely dry.

“Uh…” began the boy, unsure of what to say.

“You’ll catch flies if you leave that mouth open for long,” said the dwarf in response. The boy could only continue to gape.

“Where is your sister?” asked the dwarf. He looked under the hearth rug and in the cookie jar on the table. Not finding her in either place, the dwarf picked up a broom and combed the straw with his fingers. “Come out of there you!” he said grasping the stick, proceeding to beat the straw upon the floor.

“Why would my sister be in a broom?” the boy said a little indignantly.

“So you can speak,” said the dwarf as he cast the broom aside.

“Aye.”

“Hrmph,” grunted the dwarf as he eyed the lad. “You and Gylle must come with me.”

The boy blinked at him. “She’s sick in bed. How’d you know her name?”

“I know yours also…Eldrin.”

Eldrin took a step back in surprise at hearing his name. “Auntie says we’re not to go anywhere with strangers,” he said cautiously.

“Strangers, eh?” The dwarf’s bushy eyebrows knitted together. “Perhaps if I tell you my name then we won’t be strangers anymore, will we? I am Willoweed. Now you’ll be wondering how I know you?”

Eldrin nodded.

“Well,” began Willoweed, “I am the keeper of the Castle Over-yonder.”

“Aw, that’s a fairy tale,” protested Eldrin with a wave of his hand.

“Oh no, indeed it is not a fairy tale,” said Willoweed, “for if it was then I would not be real.”

Eldrin frowned. That dwarf was right.

“Would you like to know what is in Over-yonder?”

“I already know,” Eldrin beamed proudly. “It’s full of wraiths and trolls.” He knew the story.

Willoweed shook his head disapprovingly and beckoned Eldrin to come near. “It is full of toys that children cannot find,” he whispered mysteriously. “Aren’t you missing your tin soldier?”

“Is he in Over-yonder?”

“He is. And he’s asked about you. You took him outside and lost him didn’t you? He came to Over-yonder so that you could find him again.”

“Gylle lost her poppet,” Eldrin whispered.

“Aye she did,” Willoweed responded. “Mimsy is waiting for her mistress. Wouldn’t the two of you like to have your toys again?”

“We would very much,” said Eldrin. “How can I get to them?”

Willoweed’s eyes sparkled. “Through your attic. Come!”

“I better not. Uncle and Auntie will be back soon and they’ll worry if I’m not here.”

“It won’t take long m’lad. You’ll be back before you can say whizbangcrackleboom!” Here the dwarf gave a short laugh and slapped one knee. “To the attic then!”

Willoweed, as though he already knew where the entry was, opened a door on the far side of the hearth. Just beyond was a dark flight of wooden steps leading upward. Eldrin was hard-pressed to keep up with Willoweed. It seemed the dwarf never lacked in impatience and he scurried along up the steps despite his short legs.

“Slow down,” Eldrin puffed behind him. 

At the top of the stairs stood a door. Willoweed turned to Eldrin, placing a crooked finger to his moustached lips. He opened the door slowly. Just beyond was a short flight of stairs leading down to a landing with another door.

“Our attic doesn’t look like this,” Eldrin said aloud.

“Hush boy,” whispered the dwarf. “Follow me, but be silent.”

They crept softly down the steps. At the door, Willoweed turned to the child again and gestured once more for silence. He turned the knob gently and pulled the door open. Eldrin gasped at what lay within. A dense evergreen forest, standing just outside the door, was basking in a humid vapour. The warm fragrance of pine drifted all about. The two trod through the door onto a large, wooden deck. From this vantage point Eldrin could see the spires of Over-yonder through the hazy mist.

“Why must I be quiet?” Eldrin asked, his voice crashing through the silence.

“Whist child,” Willoweed said in a hushed tone. “There is a reason they are called ‘whispering pines’. Listen. Can you hear them?”

Eldrin strained his ears for sound. “I hear nothing.”

“That’s the way they like it.” 

Willoweed scurried down a few steps onto the green of the meadow that the deck sat upon. Eldrin followed then turned to look at door.

“It looks like my house,” he mused quietly, “and yet it isn’t.”

“Some things will look strange to you,” Willoweed explained. “Come, we must away.”

The old dwarf entered the first line of pines and turned sharply left. He zigzagged about for some time, with Eldrin in tow, before finally landing on a pathway that led deep into the dark of the trees. All was deathly still. High above, Eldrin espied something leaping from branch to branch.

“A squirrel!” he said aloud.

“Whist!” Willoweed whispered fiercely. “It’s a sock-monkey.”

“A toy?!” asked Eldrin in amazement.

“Yes boy. Come along now.”

It wasn’t but a moment later that Over-yonder appeared, so suddenly that Eldrin stopped dead in his tracks.

“We’ve not been walking that long,” he said softly. “How did we arrive so soon?”

“You were too busy dawdling. Over-yonder had to come to you.”

A light from the heavens shone upon the massive castle, creating a milky aura all round it. A row of small wooden soldiers marched past Eldrin and Willoweed, saluting as they went by. Eldrin’s eyes sparkled with delight.

“They all move here!” he said in awe.

“Aye, they move. ‘Tis what happens when a toy is lost. They grow bored if not played with, so must move on their own.”

“Where is my tin soldier…and Mimsy? Gylle will feel much better if she can hold her poppet again.”

“Patience m’lad,” answered Willoweed. “They are inside.”

Willoweed took Eldrin gently by the arm. The entry to the castle was guarded by a velveteen rabbit that wore a metal breastplate. Around his middle was a belt with a holster that encased a cap-gun. When the rabbit saw Willoweed and Eldrin approach, he quickly drew the cap-gun and pointed it at them.

“Who goes there?” he squeaked loudly while squinting his eye.

“Step aside you buck-toothed donkey!” Willoweed grumbled at the rabbit. “Tis the keeper of the castle and well you know it.”

“Well I'm missin’ one o' me button eyes,” the rabbit said apologetically as he returned the cap-gun to its holster. He turned his head to one side to better look at Willoweed’s companion through his only button-eye. “Lor’ bless me a child!” he exclaimed.

“I’ve come to get my tin soldier and my sister’s poppet.”

“They are within m’boy and waiting for ye,” said the toy rabbit.

The velveteen rabbit pulled the door of Over-yonder open. Eldrin’s mouth dropped open in awe at what lay inside. All around were toys of many different shapes, sizes, and material. Each of them was engaged in small groups in conversation or guarded various doorways. Up on a balcony a small band of teddy bears piped on toy flutes. All of them wore a purple sash. Upon seeing Willoweed the toys broke into cheers and applause.

“Alright then, alright,” Willoweed smiled at them. “I’ve brought a human child with me. He is looking for two of you. I want the tin soldiers and the poppets to line up here.”

There was a scurry of toys as they lined up for Eldrin’s inspections. There were not many of either species. The inside of the castle became very still as Eldrin studied each toy carefully.

“Our toys are not among these,” he said sadly.

A collective sigh of sympathy went through all present. Willoweed pulled his beard thoughtfully.

“I’ve an idea,” he said. He led Eldrin up a winding flight of stairs and down a narrow hall with doors lining both sides. He chose one, randomly it seemed, and entered it. Once again Eldrin was awestruck. The inside of this room looked like the inside of his uncle’s house, complete with the bedrooms.

“Come Eldrin, I think I know where your toys are,” Willoweed invited.

Eldrin stepped in slowly, still in awe. Willoweed took him to the room that resembled that of his and his sister’s, for they shared a bedroom at home.

“Check under the beds,” said the dwarf.

Eldrin knelt down to peek beneath the mattress. The window admitted a little light from the outside and it shone under the bed. A bit of shine flashed before Eldrin’s eyes as something moved. A tiny voice spoke.

“Master Eldrin?” it asked timidly.

“My soldier!” Eldrin exclaimed. He reached forth and grasped it into his little fist. The tin soldier smiled at him. A moment later the boy felt a soft touch on his ankle. He looked down to see Mimsy the poppet looking expectantly up at him with her bright blue button-eyes.

“May I go home also?” she asked shyly, her bright red mouth trembling a little.

Eldrin picked her up gently and hugged the toys to his heart. “Now Gylle will be happy again,” he whispered.

Willoweed smiled ear to ear. “Ah! Well then!” he said. “Always good when a toy is returned to his master.”

“I must get home to Gylle. She’ll be so pleased that I’ve found her poppet.”

“Aye you must get home now. And here is how you do it.” Willoweed led him to the attic door and opened it. “Just follow the stairs and take the doors. It was good to meet you laddie, very good indeed,” the dwarf said as he put out a hand.

Eldrin took it and shook it gratefully. “Thank you very much Willoweed. I’m glad to know you. Will I see you again?”

“If you ever lose another toy the gateway to me will open. And then you shall see me again. Farewell.”

“Farewell.”

Eldrin climbed the stairs of the attic and passed through a door. Beyond it he climbed more stairs and passed through another door. Beyond that he descended a flight of steps and opened the door at the bottom. 

“Well there you are!” came a lightly scolding voice.

“Auntie Hylda! You’ll never guess where I’ve been. I’ve been to Over-yonder!”

“Eldrin, you oughtn’t to tell tales,” said Uncle Winsly.

“But I’m not,” Eldrin said in disappointment.

“I see you found your toys up in the attic,” said Auntie Hylda.

“They were in Over-yonder,” protested the child.

Winsly and Hylda smiled at each other. “Well,” said Uncle Winsly, “perhaps you should take Mimsy in to your sister. She will be glad that you’ve found it.”

Eldrin went in to his sister and told her of his adventure. With wide eyes she listened to his tale, for a child’s heart is willing to believe such things. He presented Mimsy to her.

“Thank you,” she said softly.



prose contains 1,999 words





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