Where The Paths Lead by Yoon Jeong: Part 5

Chapter Seventeen: Escape From the Swamp

 

SwampI woke up. The sun was high, and I was still in the meadow. I rubbed dried-up tears from my cheeks. I sat on the ground and closed my eyes remembering how my mom and dad had saved me from the swamp.

As my thoughts began to organize themselves, the goblins and the wolf king came into my mind. The wolf king is an enemy of the goblins. Now that I was helping the wolf king, I must also be the goblins’ enemy, too. Somehow we had to get rid of the goblins if we wanted to get the city back. But how?

 

I was stuck. The goblins wouldn’t listen to us. If we fought with them, it wouldn’t be good for us. New goblins would appear from their spilled blood. Just then, a sudden jolt hit me like lightning. If goblins were born from other goblins’ blood, it meant all goblins came from other goblins. That left only one conclusion. No matter how many goblins there were, they were all replicas of one goblin! My heart pounded with excitement.

“I have to tell this to the wolf!” I shouted, jumping to my feet. But I didn’t know where the wolf was. Maybe he thought I was dead. Or he might have been captured by the goblins and might have been….killed. The thought turned my blood to ice. I didn’t know how much time had passed. Only a day? Or maybe more? Bad thoughts started to creep into my mind. I could so easily imagine the wolf king and the woman he loved being tortured until death, their eyes huge with pain and fear, and their bodies trembling while they cried out agonizing screams.

I squeezed my eyes shut and covered my ears with my hand, but the terrible scene still remained in my mind. And now, a strange sound had joined the screams. Like the buzzing of…bees?

I opened my eyes and turned my face in the direction of the sound. A few hundred yards away, hundreds of bees were swarming toward me. Even though they were far away, the buzzing was so loud it was as if they were right in front of me. Terrified, I ran. But my stiffened legs didn’t obey my brain. After a few steps, I fell to the ground. The buzzing grew as loud as thunder. In a matter of moments those sharp stings would pierce my skin. I curled up, trying to hide my bare flesh.

Suddenly, amid the thundering of bees, I heard a voice. “Hurry! Get up and climb on my back!” I looked up, and my eyes caught a pair of eyes and white fur right in front of me. It was the wolf king.

I suddenly broke into tears but I had no time to wipe them. As fast as I could, I climbed onto the wolf’s back and clung to his fur. And he ran.

He was so fast that all I could hear was wind rushing by my ear. I could no longer hear the buzzing. My vision was blurred—probably because of the speed---but I could still make out the colorful dots of flowers. When he stopped, we were near the edge of the meadow. I jumped off the wolf’s back and ran to the edge where there were woods with tall trees.

“So. Can you tell me what happened?”

I turned around, startled by the voice. The wolf was staring at me with unreadable eyes. I told him everything that had happened to me since being sucked into the strange black box at the mountain. He didn’t interrupt, nor did he ask any questions. All he did was listen. But when I told him about the woman, he looked very surprised and asked, “You mean…you met Silvia?”

I nodded, and thought to myself “so her name is Silvia.” I finished the rest of the story and told the wolf my idea about the goblins. It seemed like he was deep in thought, so I didn’t disturb him.

Finally, the wolf spoke. “So you think all goblins are replicas of the goblin king? Well, here’s my idea.” His eyes twinkled. “If we kill the goblin king, what do you think will happen to the others?” My brain was spinning like a computer. I exclaimed, “The other goblins would disappear, too!”

The wolf laughed gently, as if he was reading my mind. “Well, that’s what I’m thinking, too,” he said. “There are a few problems, though. How are we going to find the king and kill it without blood?”

My excitement disappeared. I thought we’d solved the problem, but now there were new problems. The wolf nudged me gently. “Come on, we can think about that later. But first, we need something. Ride on my back.”

Feeling better, I climbed on his back.

 

 

Chapter Eighteen: The Forest and the Voices

 

Tree rootsAfter a few minutes, we were in the woods. I was trying not to trip over tree roots, and the wolf king walked slowly behind me. The forest was beautiful. Sunshine shone through layers of leaves in the tall trees. Parts of the brown tree trunks were covered with damp, green moss. Tree roots tangled together and formed odd shapes. Amazed by the beauty and fresh cool air, I almost forgot where I was and what I was doing.

“You look like a person who’s never seen a forest.”

“Well, I just think it’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

The wolf smiled, his amber eyes shining. “It’s good that you’re enjoying…” Suddenly, he stopped in front of a tree. It was bigger than others, with its roots twisted and jutting out of the ground. Carefully, he started to dig between the roots. I silently watched him. A few moments later, he stepped back and showed me the hole. Something twinkled. It was the diamond! All along, the diamond had been hidden in this forest! I held it gingerly in my hands, admiring its beauty.

“After you got sucked into the box,” the wolf king said, “I decided to hide it here, for safekeeping…” Just then, the wolf’s face hardened. His two pointy ears pricked up, and he was hardly breathing. Then he whispered, “Silvia.” He started to run, racing past me.

I shouted, “Wait! Where are you going?” Clutching the diamond in my hand, I started to race after him. I could see his flickering white tail, but it was disappearing into the distance. I forced my aching legs to move faster. I knew if I lost the wolf now, I would have a hard time finding him again. Just when I was about to give up a woman’s voice sang out.

“Help! Is anyone there? Please help!” It sounded like Silvia’s voice.

All of a sudden, I heard another voice that made me freeze. It was Jason, my brother. His voice, too, was crying for help. “I’m caught in here! Someone, please help!”

Both voices echoed through the trees, making me dizzy. When I recovered my senses, I could no longer see the wolf, but the voices still echoed. I guessed both voices were coming from the same place. I ran as fast as I could, leaping over tree roots. I was becoming breathless, but couldn’t stop because the voices were clearer than ever. But still, I couldn’t see Silvia or Jason anywhere.

All of a sudden, I tripped over something. Just before my knees slammed onto the ground, I saw a notebook. It was medium-sized, and open. There were a few handwritten paragraphs on a background of colorful pictures with green and brown patches of color.

I landed on soft green grass, not the brown of the forest floor. The grass didn’t seem real. It looked like a painting.

Slowly, I stood up. Nothing hurt. Good. But when I looked around, my heart sank. There were trees, but not the same trees I had seen a few moments ago. And the sun was unnaturally bright. Tree trunks were perfectly smooth. A light bulb went off inside my head. I remembered this place.

It was the picture I had seen as I tumbled into the notebook.

 

 

Chapter Nineteen: Reuniting

 

Strangely, I didn’t panic. Maybe it was because I had experienced so many odd things already, and there didn’t seem to be any immediate threat. As I got used to the strange environment, I started to explore. The sun was bright, though it didn’t hurt my eyes. As I walked through the jungle-like place, I heard constant cawing, squeaking, slithering, crackling, and the crying of birds.

But I couldn’t hear Silvia or Jason. Slowly, worry about them crawled into my brain. Did they get lost? Or hurt? Or even worse, caught by goblins? Right after that thought, I heard something that was definitely not an animal. It was so small that I could barely hear it, but soon it became clear that it was footsteps. Although it seemed too loud to be goblins’ feet, that didn’t mean it wasn’t a threat. There was only one set of footsteps. Maybe I could do something…

I looked around and found a perfect bush. I slipped into it and stayed perfectly still. The footsteps were getting closer, and it wasn’t long before I became pretty sure that it had almost reached my hiding place.

When it seemed as though those footsteps were only three or four yards away, I counted: one, two, three in my mind, took a deep breath, and jumped out of the bush. Whatever it was, I needed to get it under my control.

I landed on top of the intruder, knocking him off his feet. He gave a muffled cry, and the voice was so familiar I let go. Jason. It was my brother Jason, who I hadn’t seen for years, not since our parents’ deaths. I couldn’t resist hugging him.

When we finished hugging, Jason looked straight into my eyes, his brown eyes full of amusement.

“Why are you here? What happened to you? Are you Okay? Who’s with you?” Jason’s questions were endless.

“Stop! I’m just fine. I’m not hurt, nor scared. I’m not a baby. And those questions are what I want to ask you! For starts, where are we? This place doesn’t look quite real.”

Jason laughed. “It’s a book,” he said, “we’re inside a book.”

I looked at him, confused. “How do you know?”
“It’s mine. I drew it!” At just that moment, we heard a woman screaming. Silvia. Without a word, we ran in the same direction.

A moment later, we reached her side. Silvia was trembling with fear. A few steps away from her stood the wolf king, his eyes full of worry. “She doesn’t recognize me,” he said.

Jason was already calming her down. It seemed that he knew all about Silvia. I walked to the wolf. He was digging the earth with his sharp claws, expressing frustration. Carefully, I talked to him.

“Look. She just doesn’t know who you really are. Give her a minute. She’ll understand.”

Though he stopped clawing, his feelings still worried me. Just then, Silvia’s trembling voice broke in.

“Darling? Is that really you?”

Now, the wolf king’s eyes were full of sorrow. He sighed then said, “Yes. It’s me. I’m sorry I’m not a human now, but…”

Before he could finish, Silvia threw her arms around his furry neck. She sobbed, “Oh, how could I not recognize your eyes? Do you know how much I missed you?”

The wolf king rubbed his snout against Silvia’s shoulder, closing his eyes. “Oh, Silvia…”he murmured.

I stepped back to where Jason was standing, watching the couple reuniting. A big smile appeared on my face. A few minutes later, we were sitting in a small circle, puzzling out the situation. The wolf king was the first to speak.

“Well, let me start with the goblins, since everyone knows about the city. These are the things I know about them. First, they are small, but they are very effective in groups. Second, if they bleed, the drops of blood turn into new goblins, so cutting them just makes more of them. And third…well, actually, this is Kat’s idea. Kat?”

I cleared my throat and spoke. “Yes, well…If they come from each other’s blood, wouldn’t there be a goblin who is ‘original’? Probably the goblin king. And all the others are replicas. So…”

“If you kill the goblin king, the others will just die! You’re a genius!” Jason’s eyes sparkled with excitement.

Even Silvia looked interested. She said, “So, we just have to find a way to kill the goblin king without it bleeding. Like….suffocation!”

Suddenly, the words ‘Aunt Madeline’ hit me.

Why?

I searched my mind for the reason.

I remembered Aunt Madeline being hysterical about bees, because even one bee sting could make her throat swell. It could suffocate her.

“Hey!” I blurted. “What about bee stings? Some people have allergies to stings.”

All three of them looked at me with surprise.

Jason was the first to speak. “Well, it might work, but we don’t know if the goblin king is allergic to bee stings.”

Just as Jason finished the last word, we heard loud booming sounds. For a moment they sounded like bombs…but wait. They were footsteps. Enormous footsteps coming from the sky. I looked at the wolf king, but even he looked terrified. Suddenly the sounds stopped.

I waited nervously, expecting something to happen, but nothing did. I turned around anxiously and I screamed. Right in front of my foot, a small goblin was crouched, rubbing its forehead. When it looked up, its eyes were so wide with fear that I thought they might pop right out of its head. Just then, I realized Jason was quickly drawing something in the ground with a stick. Before I could ask him what he was doing, he finished the drawing.

bee in welsh poppyIt was a bee.

Just a bee.

A bee that suddenly buzzed, and lifted off the ground. A real bee.

The goblin waved its arms frantically, screamed, and ran from the bee. The bee must have been drawn to the noise, because it followed.

The goblin yelped. At its feet was a dead bee, though only a moment ago it had been very much alive. The goblin wrapped its hands around its neck, gasping.

A few seconds later, it fell over, dead.

Jason’s whisper filled the shocked silence. “Goblins are allergic to bee stings.”

 

 

Chapter Twenty: Figuring Out the Plan

 

The wolf king, Silvia, Jason and I all stared at the goblin. It lay still on the ground, eyes wide open. Everybody was in shock. I never thought anyone could die because of a small bee. I stared at Jason.

“But how… but what?”

“I created this place by drawing it. Whatever I draw in there comes to life,” Jason whispered. As we watched, the goblin’s body started to turn brown and dry. Within a few seconds, it was nothing more than a small pile of dust.

I sent a worried glance at the wolf king, but even he didn’t look so sure about what was happening.

“You know how people write diaries when they travel? Well, I was writing a diary this, this… ‘adventure’.” Jason made a quotation mark with his hands. “This book we are in now is my diary.” He paused for a moment, watching our reactions.

Then Jason continued to speak. “I drew pictures of the places I went. This jungle was where I was when I lost the diary. I searched and searched for it, found it lying on the ground, opened to the last page. But when I touched it…” Jason bit his lip. “I got sucked into the book. I soon realized what had happened. Fortunately, this place is exactly the same as the jungle I had been in. I found Silvia here yesterday, and I met you two today.” Jason pointed at me and the wolf king. “And another. It was pretty easy to figure out that when you draw anything on the ground, it would simply come to life. You just have to think about its characteristics. When I drew the bee, I thought about it stinging goblins. It sure worked, because the goblin’s dead now.”

We remained in silence. Suddenly, Silvia started to draw something on the ground: buildings, a palace, and a huge wall surrounding the area.

“Hey!” I exclaimed. “It’s the city!”

Silvia smiled and continued drawing. The wolf king said, “She’s drawing our territories.”

Tree in a mistAs she drew, I could see some familiar places. A cave. The mountain. The forest. A canyon. The swamp. Mist.

I could remember most of the places, though some were not so familiar. Silvia pointed to a black hole beside the mountain at the back of the city. She said, “This cave is known to be very dangerous, but also contains secrets. Some myths say that it connects our world to another world.”

Jason and I looked into each other’s eyes. That must have been the cave we had each come through.

The wolf king and Silvia explained about other places. The north and west of the city were not safe because many things about those areas were not known. However, the south and east of the city were beautiful and safe. Explanations about the places I had been were interesting, but the Blessed Tree grabbed my attention.

“The Blessed Tree is between Mystic Mist and the Meadow of Greenery. According to the legend, the first king of our city, King Edgar, became a magical tree so he could protect his city forever. Visiting the Blessed Tree once a year is the king’s tradition,” the wolf king said.

The Blessed Tree sounded very special. The wolf king told us more. People live in the city—which was five times larger than New York—or the forest, which is called the Green Surrounding, or the Nourishing Field, where they farm. They sounded pretty much like the people of our world, except for one thing—their last names. They had the strangest last names I’d ever heard, names like Butterfly Wing, Buzzing Bee, Sparkling Eye, and Flying Eagle. Silvia’s last name was Jumping Rabbit. I couldn’t stop myself from laughing, and Jason, too.

All of a sudden, we heard thundering footsteps. I tensed, but this time, nothing fell. Instead, we heard a loud grumbling sound.

The ground began to shake like an earthquake. I screamed. I couldn’t even stand. But when I looked around, I saw the trees were all motionless. At first, I thought it was because my vision had become so blurred because of all the shaking, but that wasn’t it. Slowly, the shaking decreased. It was still bumpy, but much less so.

I looked around. Everybody seemed fine, though we were all covered with dust. I could still hear the footsteps, though they sounded much less loud. I looked at the wolf king for advice, but he looked as confused as I was. What was going on?

 

Additional Info

  • Author Bio:

    Yoon Jeong is an 8th grader who loves writing on computer, but not with pencils. While reading books, she imagines what happens next for days, even after she’s finished it. She can’t decide what to be when she grows up, but she sure doesn’t want to be a professional wrestler.

  • Illustrator Bio:

    Eleanor Leonne Bennett is a 16 year old internationally award winning artist. Her photography has  been published in the Telegraph , The Guardian, BBC News Website and on the cover of books and magazines in the United states and Canada. See more of her photography at www.eleanorleonnebennett.zenfolio.com

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