The Lake and the Mountain
They continued to reconstruct and refurnish the throne room and the surrounding halls, and the work lasted all winter. They tore down the vines from the walls along with the battered tapestries. The windows were boarded up with wood, and when they tore those out from their frames, a view of the world was opened to them as rich as an oil painting. The forest was blanketed in snow, and in the center rested a giant frozen lake in which was the reflection of a mountain towering over the silent world. Whilo helped replace wooden beams that had rotted, and the four of them brought in paint canisters and brushes and began brightening up the colors of the throne room. When the place was all set and polished, they finished off by bringing in new, clean chairs and tables that Whilo had built. By the time the trees were budding with flowers, and the lake rippled with an electric blue, the old, grimy castle was now a palace.
Alder wandered through the halls, bewildered at what they had accomplished. His eyes grew misty as he went on. Whilo took Lilly’s hand in his as they watched him. “We did well.” Said Lilly. Whilo glanced up and around them and took it all in. “Do you think it’s strange that whenever we are all together, the world gets a little better each time?”
She shook her head. “It’s just the way it’s supposed to be. We’re a family. We share the same Spirit, and it continually guides us.
“And Whilo, someday the world will be perfect.” She looked into his eyes and smiled warmly, reassuringly. He brushed her hair gently back, and let his hand rest against her cheek for a moment, then put it down as Alder and the old man came along. Alder hugged them both. “It would seem, that this was a very good plan indeed.” Said the old man.
Alder married Bree in the middle of spring. The air smelled of flowers blooming once again, and the world was green, and the halls were filled with music and laughter. The villagers all came to see the wedding of the hero who helped defeat the Goblin King and made the wood safe to venture through once again. Alder, shifted the attention to Whilo and Lilly, and they all gathered around the two of them demanding to hear the tale of how they escaped from the Goblins’ dungeon. They laughed awkwardly as they took turns trying to explain what happened, but the crowd kept asking questions over top of them and the effort eventually proved useless. The sage had slipped away earlier on in the ceremony.
Thankfully, the music grew faster, and people began coupling up to dance. Lilly took Whilo by the arm and led him off to the side, away from the crowd. As they danced together, caught up in the reverie, Whilo looked deeply into her eyes, and then he saw it: The sun setting over Alder’s boathouse. Alder and Bree sitting next to each other on the porch, their two children running circles around them. They stop, because Lilly who is sitting alongside them abruptly jumps out of her seat. I felt a kick! Whilo comes running out onto the porch and hugs her, and everyone is laughing and in tears. Even the mean old hermit is there.
“I saw it, too.” Said Lilly, and she kissed him while they were still out of site from the others. The sun was setting over the lake, and a handful of stars appeared from within the orange and royal blue horizon. They appeared to be within reach of the mountain which stood like a gentle guardian over the land. Whilo, Alder, and Lilly came out to stand on the shore and look out upon the sight. “You and Bree look beautiful together,” said Lilly. Alder smiled. “Things are looking better, now that the forest is at peace. I feel like I’m ready now.” Patch ran up to Lilly, and she scooped him up and placed him on her shoulder.
“I like this place.” Said Whilo. Lilly and Alder nodded in affirmation. “I think I will build a house in these woods.”
“I’ll help,” said Lilly.
“Same here,” said Alder.
Then the three looked on, and contemplated their future.
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