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The Power of Want
In a deep forest away from the rulers and nobles, castles and fortresses, wars and cavalry, lay a small hamlet. Of the tiny population of villagers there was one girl named Iulia. Today she was walking through the forest collecting berries for her family and enjoying the autumn freshness surrounding her. Colourful leaves crunched beneath her boots on the forest floor and birds chirped melodies in the trees soaring with the wind speeding their flight. Iulia's woven basket was almost full of a variety of berries and other edible plants so she decided to head back home. After all, the sun was setting and the days were getting shorter. Nevertheless, the forest was always such a charming sight- alive and undiscovered.
Then, Iulia stopped immediately. She saw a young girl from her village sitting beside a bush seeming very troubled. Her name was Stella, and was a reasonable bit younger than Iulia.
'Stella?' Iulia started, crouching down next to the fair-haired girl, 'What are you doing here alone?'
Stella looked up at Iulia, a far-off look in her blue eyes like she had barely heard her name spoken, 'They are pulling my hair and teasing me,' the little girl said, not annoyed or sad, but strangely horrified.
'Who?' asked Iulia, as no one was in sight.
Stella gulped and pointed at the bushes and the leaves being blown around in spirals of the wind, 'It's the pixies,' she muttered, swatting at the air.
Iulia frowned, wondering why Stella was acting so strange, 'I'm sorry, but there are no pixies. It is just the wind and leaves-'
'How do you know?' an incessant voice protested from behind the girls. Iulia flinched and turned around to see an old lady just adjacent to her.
'If you cannot see something does that mean it is not there?' the woman challenged smiling a perceptive grin. She wore a light cloak over her dress and had white wispy hair on her head.
'Well, no one has ever seen a pixie,' said Iulia standing up to face the woman. They were relatively the same height, but the lady had a defining gaze that made Iulia feel like a pixie herself.
'Young Stella sees then,' the lady continued, 'And so do I.'
Iulia looked back to Stella, who was now burying her head in her dress in despair. All Iulia could see were the leaves dancing about the girl and the wind blowing her long hair off her shoulders.
'The wind does strange things, I suppose,' Iulia murmured placing her heavy basket on the grass.
The lady started to make a tutting noise over in Stella's direction and proceeded to swat the air around the youth.
'Naughty pixies! Leave this poor youngster alone!' she scolded to some invisible entities.
She's mad... thought Iulia shaking her head in disbelief. Though for a second- and only a second- Iulia could see a tiny twinkle in the wind as it advanced with its tantalizing patterns. After the presumed pixies had fluttered away, the lady went back to stand with Iulia.
'This little girl has been taught to focus and to open her eyes as well as her mind. Try to see the pixies, or the dragon's tail whipping behind the trees. Perhaps you'll even spot a woodland elf collecting food for the winter,' she said.
However preposterous this sounded to Iulia, she looked back to where Stella was and beyond to the huge trees and miniature hills in the near distance. Yes, the wind and leaves were beautiful and almost mystical.
'It would be wonderful if it was true,' contemplated Iulia. She saw a flick behind a tree. Was it red? No, it was brown, Iulia told herself, and it is a twig. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the elder smiling as if reading Iulia's mind. Iulia decided that she was wasting her time, so picked up her basket and walked away from Stella and the lady into the orange sun-lit woods without another word.
'Look closer!' Iulia heard the lady call in the expanse before she was out of earshot.
How ridiculous! Iulia thought to herself with a forced grin. She had to force herself because she kept seeing tiny flutters throughout the trees that she was certain was not insects or birds. On the ground at the foot of a tree was a pile of nuts and berries, too small for a human to be satisfied and too tidy for any animal.
Collecting food for the winter... thought Iulia, remembering the lady's words. The girl kept walking, now quicker than usual. She knew the forest was anything but fully understandable, but failed to believe there were other peculiar creatures inhabiting the lands. Again, from behind the trees there was a whisking branch. It nearly looked scaly and gleaming.
'Don't be ridiculous!'snapped Iulia to herself. There was only one problem. No matter how practical she knew things were, she knew what she wanted to see. Even though the old lady and Stella sounded so silly and fanciful, Iulia longed to see what they could.
When she reached back to the village the spell already began to set in. There were pixies nipping her berries and tugging at her dress, dragons around the dark trees, and elves at the corner of her vision. The enchantment of autumn seized one more human again with their power of want.