The tale of the Golden root

The first rays of light cast away shadows within a small hollow of a willow tree’s trunk. A moss covering carefully placed to keep the old woodpeckers home sheltered, twinkled brightly from the crystallised dew drops. A small shape stretched upon waking; a small smile wistfully spread exposing small pointed teeth. She answered to the name of Cilwyn, and was firmly of the opinion that fairy folk should be more proactive with the dealings of the world and Cilwyn’s world was a vast expanse of woodland, fields and a lake that to her delight was frosted over. Looked into its depths you could see the golden fish swimming below its crust. Travelling as quickly as her dragonfly like wings could take her, it took almost the same time as the warm sky globe did from rise to fall. The world was kept protected from danger by a massive wooden cliff face, which from time to time would crumble but within a few passes of the globe, would have grown back. Today however was not a day for travel, it was a day for action …

For as long as Cilwyn could remember, something had caused the crisp white blanket covering the ground during the cold times, to roll up into tight balls. In 3 or 4 places in the fields, these balls had formed, one large ball rising on top another, so that the balls stood 3 high, each one becoming smaller the one below. These formations had created deeply cut tracks from the white blanket, allowing the ground to become cold. Stranger still small trees tried to grow from each side of the centre ball, and stones would be patterned on the top ball. Soft hair like moss then grew from atop the structure and wrapped around the join of the top flapping in a soft wind. But strangest of all, in each would grow a single plant. The rare golden root. 

This root would earn Cilwyn much favour with the brownies that shared the woodland as their home. So, she had decided to make a point to harvest as much root as she could. As the globe rose, the light it brought warmed the wings of the now day-dreaming fairy. Hot steaming chunks of hazelnut coated in the rich sauce that could be made from the root, and washed down with a bitter golden wine from its fermented juices drifted through her mind. Cilwyn was brought back to the task of her day as the twitching of her wings announced the light had brought back the life they needed to raise her small frame to the wind.

Pulling back the moss that protected her home, she glanced out. The grey beasts where nowhere to be seen, although no real danger to her – their chattering chastisement and occasional thrown nut gave her cause to check. It was better not to startle the fluffy tailed creatures, although as a sprite she had teased them on occasion. Hopping onto the fungal growth that doubled as a porch, she made ready for the journey, with luck she could make good time to the root harvest site that had started to form as the light ball had been falling. It was too dangerous to travel to it as the globe fell; Cilwyn had seen the silent silver creature that was told to the fairy sprites first hand. At the time she thought it was as silly a story as the large creatures that moved slowly – the one’s that the older folk claim you can just catch in the corner of your eye. An old aunt had told her the creatures looked much like them, but with no wings. The aunt had guessed no wing would be strong enough to hold such a giant, as they could stand almost 50 times our height. Cilwyn had dismissed both claims as ways to stop her doing things. Until the time a silver shadow had swooped down and taken a grey fluff tail, its cut short cry sometimes still came to share her dreams. But the giant wingless fairies, that you could only see when you’re not looking at them – she was not ever going to fall for that story!

A strong breeze blew and Cilwyn stretched her wings and with a flutter lifted into the air current. Skilfully she turned her body and darted from current to current, so as to save her strength and glide toward the prized root. Leaving the cover of the trees, she blinked to adjust the glare, quickly spotting her target across the frozen lake; she skimmed her way through the reed beds. Half way she stopped to rest on a deadened log sticking out from the lake bed, and held firmly in place by the glass formed water. Sunning her wings from the cool air, she licked her lips; the root had grown and was hers for the taking. Spurred on by the sight of this rare prize, it was not long till she was able to land on the young sapling growing from the structure. I always surprised her that these saplings died so quickly, but her attention quickly moved to the red gold root above. 

Thankfully the root did not appear to have grown from too deep, so with luck by the time the warm ball was above her, the root would be hers. Quickly Cilwyn moved to sit astride the root, and taking her sharpened bark knife she started to dig at the ball formed blanket. The warmth given as the globe rose made the task easy work and Cilwyn delighted in the fact that the root would soon be free.

A shadow fell over her; cursing to herself she glanced up toward the globe to see how large a cloud had hidden its warmth. The root was almost free, and this interruption was most unwelcomed. Cilwyn gasped. There was no cloud blocking the globe, but a giant creature, its face mirroring her own astonishment. It must have easily stood 80 times her height, it was wrapped in the same moss that grew atop the balled blanket structure, its own hair the colour of a rainbow sticking out from the moss. Cilwyn came to her senses and was just about to rise in flight when the moss-covered hand grasped both her and the root in its grasp. I bellowing sound echoed from the creature, which sounded high-pitched, drawn out, and excited. Before Cilwyn knew it, she had been pushed into a fold of the moss covering, along with her now less appealing root. She felt the creature turn and begin to move away in great bounding movements that caused both her and the prize to be thrown around within the moss confinement. 

In desperation Cilwyn thrust her hands into the moss, and was surprised to find that the moss was held firm by a vine that had grown between and was holding the moss together. She became aware that her bark knife was still to hand. The vine was a strong dense plant, which resisted the blade. But fear and bewilderment made up for the strength of vines resistance. Soon the vine had parted, and Cilwyn had a way out, she popped her head through the hole, to find that the giant creature was making its way past the lake and was moving close to a small pathway close to her home. Sure of her ability to escape, Cilwyn drew her attention back to the golden root. Swiftly she began to pull at the vine, with 4 swift tugs the moss prison now had parted. Pushing in time of each bouncing movement, the root fell through the hole, quickly followed by Cilwyn. 

Exhausted Cilwyn fell, only just in time opening her wings to stop her just dropping to the ground. Landing on the root, she glanced around. The creature she spotted in the corner of her eye, but as she turned to look directly at it; it vanished from view. Shocked, Cilwyn gathered herself and with all the strength left in her took to the sky with the rare golden root.

Ignoring the grey beast’s calls, she half fell into her home. Tomorrow she would seek out the brownies and at the feast she would share her story, but only after her fill of golden wine. At least then she may be able to half believe it herself!

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