June 7, 2015

2015-06-05 10.32.48

All was peaceful in the valley below Gallabon Hill. Just enough rain fell, and just enough sun shone to keep the farmers happy all year round. This was so because every year on summer solstice day a young maiden was chosen to go and disappear forever in the witch’s castle behind the thick twining hedge of blossoms at the top of Gallabon Hill. None but the chosen maidens had ever seen the castle or the witch, for she never appeared herself, but instead sent her messengers, a black cat and a raven.

And so when the new summer solstice day arrived, all the people of the valley were huddled in their cottages, hoping the cat and the raven would pass them by. The raven, riding on the back of the cat, sang, ‘Who will go? It’s time to know.’ Hearts beat faster as the song approached, and sighs of relief were breathed when the song moved on.

Alas, the messengers reached the windmill and stopped. The miller’s heart beat fast, and his sigh of relief was never heard. The raven cawed for his daughter, Fendlyn. Dutiful Fendlyn blinked her eyes, and though her hands shook, she kissed her father and went out to follow the cat and the raven.

Fendlyn couldn’t decide if she should speak to the messengers or remain silent. The raven instantly answered her thought by saying, ‘Remain silent.’ Did the raven read my thoughts? ‘Yes,’ said the raven. Fendlyn decided to try not to think at all. ‘That would be best,’ said the raven.

The climb to the top of Gallabon Hill took most of the afternoon. They reached the thick twining hedge of crimson blossoms as the sun and the moon were about to change places. The raven fluttered, and a tunnel through the hedge opened. In they went, and after some twists and a turn or two, out they came into the moonlit realm of the castle and its white and crimson turrets and spires.

‘Oh,’ gasped Fendlyn, some of the gasp for the beauty of castle and grounds, but most of the gasp for the cat.

Why for the cat? Oh, it changed. It grew, stretched, twisted and shaped into a tall and beautiful woman.

‘Your turn,’ said the beautiful woman. ‘I can now go live on the hedge as a crimson blossom with the others. Peace and prosperity are secure in the valley for one more year.’

The woman ran to the hedge and leaped, shrinking to a crimson blossom and joining one of the many clusters.

‘Come along. I’ll show you the castle and explain your duties,’ said the raven.

And it did.

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