I follow my guides with high expectations; and look around me in eagerness. I had heard the stories of this magical forest that contained trees that whispered and moved with unseen forces. The leaves were dense and the pathway overgrown with foliage. Yes, the trees whispered, and eyes seem to follow our progress. I notice that before us the path seems to clear magically: fronds move out of the way, and ground cover seems to slither aside. No obstacle can be seen in our way. And behind me? The forest floor is covered again and no trace is left of our footsteps.
We rest awhile and I ease my tired limbs onto the trunk of a fallen tree. My companions are silent; and they do not encourage any communication.
“What is the Queen like? Are we far from her residence?” I ask.
No response. I slide down onto the forest floor and rest my head against the fallen tree. I close my eyes. I feel exhausted; and yet I am unable to completely trust the men I am following. I cannot slide into the sleep I so desperately crave.
After twenty minutes, we are on the move again. I am keen to meet the Queen; but my steps are slower as exhaustion drags on me. I concentrate on one step at a time, placing one foot in front of the other. I feel myself falling into an hypnotic trance: left, right, left, right…
The forest ends and I look back with no regret. I see a dense thicket of green and know that there will be a time when I shall enter it again. For now, I look at the expanse of blue water in front of me: blue and calm, with a boat afloat on it. My guides indicate that I enter. Aboard I meet two young women who show me to a room containing a basin of water.
“You may prepare yourself here for your meeting with the Queen,” the fairer one tells me. “Here is water, soap and fresh garments for you to wear.”
They leave, closing the door softly behind them. I wash, enjoying the cool water against my skin. It has been days since I last bathed in the stream with Roan. I think sadly on my companion: how I wish he were right here with me. His exuberance would have made me forget the slight trepidation I felt at meeting the Queen. Would she accept me, and my desire to learn under her tutelage? I am ready and sink to the floor. Just five minutes. I lay my head on the ground, and close my eyes. Surely I am safe? The Queen would not have brought me thus far if she did not want to meet me.
Consciousness returns and I feel the movement of the boat has slowed. I get up and make sure I am ready to leave. The two young women return and guide me to the shore. Once there, I am met by a man and a woman: both of whom are dressed as guards carrying swords.
“Good evening traveller. Welcome to our Kingdom. The Queen awaits you.” I bow in response.
“Take our hands,” the woman instructs. “We will transport you.”
Taking their hands, I feel a tingle in my body. I see blurred movement, and then I am in another place. In a building with windows placed high.
“Follow me,” the woman indicates with her hand. She walks silently on slippered feet, the man falling in behind me. I sense that they are both ready to react should I do anything to endanger them or their Queen. We arrive at a ornate set of doors: heavy ones that have been designed to protect the one who resides inside. Two guards open the door, and I enter with my heart beating.
“Come in child, let me see you. Let me see the one who was strong enough to withstand the mind control on our bridge.”
I look for the speaker, and then realise the words had resonated in my head.
“Yes. No need to speak when our minds are able to communicate quite adequately. When our world is not filled with the ceaseless chatter of human voices, we are better able to hear what the natural say. Come forward, there is no need to be afraid.”
I step forward with hesitation, looking around to see where I should go. I see a group to the side of the room where there are no windows. A man beckons me, indicating the direction in which I should go. I approach the group and see, in the centre, the Queen.
The body of the Queen is small, covered in white and gold robes. She lies, unmoving, on a bed-like piece of furniture that is also covered in white and gold. Her head is too large in proportion to her body, her cranium over-sized. I look on in astonishment. This is the Queen? I had expected someone of grand stature who instilled fear into those who followed her.
“Quite a surprise, aren’t I? My body is the result of someone who no longer has the need to move. I cannot remember the last time I walked, or even fed myself. The great power of the mind has its sacrifices. I may not look attractive, but I am able to control the minds of many from a great distance. I can manipulate the natural earth to benefit myself and my followers. My power is far reaching; and my subjects bow before me in fear as well as in gratitude. They know that without me they would be like others: starving, and without the knowledge and command of our natural earth.”
“I, too, wish to bow before you and call you my Queen.”
“And what would you wish in return, weary traveller?”
What do you think the traveller wishes for?
(This post is the forth in a series describing the experiences of this traveller; the beginning of which was inspired by Kellie Elmore’s prompt . The first, second and third post all centre on the bridge that the traveller has crossed.)
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2012