Chapter 4:

FOUR – The Cursed Enchantress.

The Girl With A Secret

The girl asked the pumpkin guards where the Cursed Enchantress was and to take the girl to her. The pumpkin guards at first refused but then gave in to the girl’s request. They walked through a long, dark hallway. Torches on the walls were lighting their way. A huge, metal door laid in front of the girl. The pumpkin guards warned her not to get too close as a spell kept the doors shut and if touched, the person would be lit on fire. The girl gave both of them a warm smile.

“Thank you for your concern but I think I will be fine.”

The girl placed her hand on the cold door. Sparks discharged and scared the pumpkin guards. The heavy doors slowly opened up. A screeching sound filled the hollow silence around them. The pumpkin guards were too scared to follow the girl into the foggy room. The Cursed Enchantress was crouching over a crystal ball. Her blank expression told the girl that she was expecting her.

“Are you willing to give me the philosophers’ stone now?”

The girl placed her hand on her chest. She wanted to know more about the person who was standing in front of her and why they were desperately trying to find the gem.

“I honestly don’t know where it is. But why do you want it so badly?”

The Cursed Enchantress was displeased with the girl’s reply. She threw fireballs at her, but they got repelled. That made the Cursed Enchantress even more irritated. She seemed impatient. The girl kept her composure and walked closer to her.

“Stay away from me. Just give me what I want, and I will let you go. I don’t have much time. They will find me.”

None of the spells the Cursed Enchantress was casting on the girl were working. She was being protected. The girl saw the desperation in her eyes.

“It’s okay. You can tell me. I won’t judge you.”

The Cursed Enchantress felt the honesty of the girl’s words and teared up. She sat down on the floor, looking tired and worn out. Her long, dark green dress flared out. The girl kneeled down in front of her. Her hand touching the Cursed Enchantress’ cheek. The light casted a shadow on half of the Cursed Enchantress’ face. Her molten face. She had been cursing everyone who had called her ugly. Showing no mercy to anyone. Her heart felt lonely and was suffering. The girl could tell that the Cursed Enchantress was once a beautiful woman. She got to know her past, how the Cursed Enchantress used to work for the king and how the king’s wife had told another witch to curse her out of jealousy. She had spent the last years hiding in the darkness after taking revenge on the queen and the witch who had cursed her. Trying to find a way, a solution to break the curse. Her only hope was the magical gem that was told in tales.

“If you promise me to apologise to the people you hurt and break their curses, I will help you as best as I can.”

The Cursed Enchantress promised. The girl closed her eyes and wished for her to be beautiful again. She believed from the bottom of her heart that the Cursed Enchantress’ face would heal. They both were interrupted by screaming and shouting voices. The pumpkin guards were crying as they were forced to get on their knees. The men in uniforms had found the girl and the Cursed Enchantress. They had no choice but to listen to the soldiers as they were bigger in numbers. The girl thought about the boy. She told the men in uniforms to stop treating the pumpkin guards harshly. They ignored her. The pumpkin guards hid behind the girl. She looked over to the Enchantress to check on her. Tears were falling down her smooth, spotless skin. She was still sitting on the floor, completely in disbelief. The soldiers took them above to the city were a carriage was waiting for them. Two, beautiful horses were secured to it. A group of curious onlookers had gathered around them. The girl thought it was a shame that she was going back to where she came from after all the effort that it took to get to the city. The castle in the sky got smaller and smaller and after a while, was out of sight. The ship carried them all the way across the turbulent sea. The waves were crashing against the wooden walls as if they were angry. The king was waiting for them. The girl, the Enchantress and the two pumpkin guards were led into a big hall within the king’s castle. It was in a city close to the girl’s hometown. The pumpkin guards made a deflating noise and turned into small figurines. The man in uniform who was with them said that defensive mechanisms were in place. No use of magic was allowed within the castle’s premises. The hall was empty, and every sound echoed through it. It was already morning. The king walked in with an elderly woman. The girl knew from her clothes that she was a magic user, a witch or enchantress. He clapped his hands and two soldiers brought in an aquarium on wheels.

“You shall pay, Griselda, for what you have done to my wife, the queen and the witch, Ophelia. Break the curse you have lied upon them immediately.”

Two blob fishes were swimming around in the aquarium. The Enchantress confessed that she was unaware of how to break the curse, but she sincerely apologised for what she had done. The angry king demanded for a group of soldiers to come in and take the Enchantress away.

“Now, who might you be?”

The elderly woman who was wearing, big, round glasses whispered something into the king’s ear. He seemed delighted.

“Very well. The girl will from today on live in my castle. Bring her a change of clothes.”

The king asked the girl to turn the two blob fishes into humans again. The girl agreed on one condition. The queen and the witch had to apologise to Griselda, the Enchantress. The girl insisted that it was important for both sides to admit what they had done was wrong. The king agreed. The girl stepped to the aquarium and placed her hand and closed her eyes. The elderly witch had doubts about the girl but was proven wrong. The blob fishes turned into two women again. The glass walls of the aquarium shattered, and the water flew out. The girl’s magic worked. The king did as he promised and made the queen and the witch apologise to the Enchantress. The queen refused at first but then gave in. The Enchantress was still kept in prison. In the king’s opinion, she was still a danger to him and his wife. The girl felt otherwise but was taken away to her room. The door was locked, and a spell was cast. No one could leave or enter the room. Not even from the windows. The girl was told to change clothes and to wait for her meal to arrive. The new dress felt expensive. Her mother used to sew the girl’s and her sister’s dresses at home. The girl pulled the wooden chair to the open window. The curtains were flowing in the light breeze that was coming in. The sun was at the highest point now. The girl could see people rushing around. They were as small as ants. The girl was holding something in her hand. She blew the black whistle that the boy had given her and patiently waited. A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. The door opened and a man in uniform entered the girl’s room. He was carrying a tray with food on it. The girl immediately recognized who the man was. The girl’s heart jumped with joy. It was the boy disguised as a soldier. He told her to eat up. The boy sat down next to her and was happy to see the girl again.

“It seems like the king knows about you. He wants to use you to intimidate other kingdoms. It is despicable and wrong. That is why it is so important to destroy the gem. People are selfish and their hearts are tainted.”

The boy and the girl escaped the room, hand in hand. The girl had a request, but the boy was unsure if it was the right thing to do. Panicked soldiers were running around through the castle, trying to find the missing girl. The witches were on the hunt as well. The girl and the boy went through walls and doors and safely got to the cellars. They were playing hide and seek with their chasers. The Enchantress was surprised to see the girl telling her to come with them. The boy distracted the guards and told the girl and the Enchantress to go up to the roof of the castle where he would meet them. They successfully made it to the roof but were surrounded by soldiers. A ladder made out of rope fell from the sky. The man with the monocle was looking down on them from a hot air balloon. He told them to quickly climb up the ladder before the soldiers came too close to them. The girl was worried about the boy. She could not see him anywhere. The hot air balloon was flying away. The girl looked around and spotted the boy inside a window. She held out her hand and the boy jumped, soaring through the air and tightly grabbing hold of her hand. Arrows were shot at them and one pierced the hot air balloon. The Enchantress took out a glass jar and opened it. Several blue moths came out of it and covered up the hole in the hot air balloon. The pumpkin guards had turned back to their normal appearances as well.

The old man called Amadeus was waiting for them at the entrance of the magical city. The girl was happy to see the fox and the toy again. Her exhausted body was telling her to go to sleep. The Enchantress, her minions and Theodore were allowed to stay the night as well. The boy insisted of staying in the girl’s room. He did not want the incident repeated. The girl’s eyes fell shut. She dreamed someone else’s dreams. They felt familiar. The girl’s heart told her that she knew whose dreams she was dreaming. The boy was changing his top, thinking that the girl was fast asleep. It had become dirty. The girl had opened her eyes after the dream had ended. She saw something that she knew she was not supposed to have seen. Something very noticeable and eye-catching. The girl pretended to be asleep. Her heart was telling her not to ask about it; to not even mention it.

The sun was peeking in through the blinds and the boy was gone. The fox was sleeping besides the girl’s head and the toy was already awake. It was standing next to the girl’s bed and staring down on her. It was indeed an odd morning. A group of strangers were having breakfast together. The girl was glad that she was back. The old man explained in detail how to get the girl to the abandon castle in the sky. He was unsure of what was awaiting there for them. Another problem had to be addressed. Rumours had spread around the city that a human girl possessed the philosophers’ stone. The old man said that they had to be very cautious. The mission would start in the evening. Until then, the group was allowed to spend their time as they wished. The girl was playing with the young girl in the garden and showing her how to draw flowers. She was introducing everyone to each other. After a while, the woman called everyone who was in the garden to come and have a snack. The girl stayed behind. The black whistle fell out of her dress as she hunched over to watch the koi fishes. The girl took a deep breath and blew into it again. The boy appeared in front of her. He was covered in white suds. His face turned red and the girl quickly turned around.

“Why did you blow the whistle? I was in the middle of taking a shower.”

The girl confessed that she wanted to see how it worked and what exactly happens when she blew into it. She promised the boy that she did not see anything but then remembered what she saw last night. The boy left in a hurry. The girl was standing alone in the garden again.