Part XXV | A Light In The Forest | Valley of 1,000 Perfumes
"It is said that even the moonlight
will not deign to shine on the sleeve of an unfeeling person."
Levi finished his last cup of coffee in the castle's kitchen before he put on his boots, grabbed his Travel Pack and headed up the hill toward the small group huddled around the last burning embers of their campfire. Everyone looked like they were getting their belongings together and Finn dumped a bucket of sand and dirt on the coals until the fire was completely out.
Behind them lay the valley below, cloaked in the morning's mist. Ahead of them, a narrow path wound its way into the forest and disappeared. They were going to retrace Astraea's path through the enchanted forest and along the Narrow Winding River until they reached the Silver Tree at the end of the Valley of 1,000 Perfumes. Zoe needed more flower samples to bring back to the castle, both for elixirs and perfumes. Levi passed out small collection bottles to Finn, Hazel and Ruby. They were going to find out the secret of the forest's enchantment, as they had heard that anyone who entered the forest was rarely seen or heard from ever again.
Aurora carried a light-bearing, green apple seed that she had plucked from a different tree someplace else. The apple seed started out a silvery blue, but gradually changed colors in the sunlight until it was bright green in color. Aurora carried the seed carefully in one hand and followed a large, yellow, 18-pointed sun into the dark forest. The apple seed, surrounded by glowing moths and fireflies, glittered and dripped flecks of starlight dew on Aurora's arm.
The small group followed Aurora's path through the trees and into the enchanted forest. They stopped in a clearing for a light snack and continued deeper into the forest. Gradually, the light dimmed and the forest grew dark. Zoe looked up and saw blue butterflies fluttering along the path ahead. They were surrounded by blue, white and lavender flowers and a turquoise cascade of water spilled over the rocks that lay ahead. Hazel bent down to pick more Wolfsbane and Ruby saw Aurora Moon with sparkling fairy wings resting on a large tree branch high above the forest floor.
Aurora Moon was sitting next to a group of large mushrooms, near a large hollow in the tree. The forest ferns and overhanging trees blocked out all light from the sky above. On the forest path below, Finn carefully picked his way along the slippery rocks until he reached the water cascading down in sparkling sheets of whitish-blue spray. He grabbed a bottle and held it under the waterfall until the bottle was almost full, corked the bottle, and then clambered over the rocks until he reached another group of giant iridescent blue mushrooms. Zoe had Ruby by the hand, followed by Hazel and then Levi.
Illustration by Dani Owergoor