“So, Grandma, what was that thing in the forest?” Phineas now was able to collect his thoughts and pour them into words. They were already sitting at the table about to start eating.
“Do you really want me to tell?” Grandma seemed to be strange with this topic.
“Of course I wanna know! That thing tried to attack us. Whatever it is, it’s dangerous.”
“Hm. Then so be it. I will share with you what I know” and with that the old lady started to speak. “You have heard about the story of the monster who lives in the forest, haven’t you?” She looked at both of the youngsters. They did not say a word, only nodded. “And, have you ever heard about the Viridians?” The kids looked at her with a puzzled face, then shook their heads.
“The people who used to live in forest were called Viridians.”
“People? There was life in the forest long ago?” Phineas was shocked. He could not imagine how people could live in a place so horrible.
“Not that long time ago, Dear” Grandma interrupted. “They were strange people. Strange but yet amazing. Unique creatures with inspiring energy and extraordinary manners. They were the caretakers of our world.” The children looked at her eyes wide open, so she finally began telling the story.
“Many years ago, our world was completely different. At that time, that crossroads did not separate the people who lived in its four directions but connected them. That place served as a meeting point where people from different nations could maintain good relationships with one other. It was where merchants earned their livings and itinerants could find shelter. All the four nations lived in peace with each other. There was no mocking or fight as it is nowadays. They created an unbreakable unity. Or at least it seemed to be unbreakable. And that happened due to the courtesy of a special kind of people. They were the inhabitants of the forest, which at that time lived its blooming. These people were the ones who took care of it…
The forest itself used to be the extreme opposite of what it is now. Its people were the reason of it, the nation which lived there years ago. No one knew when and how they got there. The only thing that was certain was that each of them had light brown hair and extremely green eyes with a little shade of blue, which made them hard to notice if someone did not know what to look for”
At this point, the old lady glanced at Phineas meaningfully but she soon continued talking.
“That is how they got their name; The’ Viridians.’ They were perfect citizens to that forest. These people were famous for their peculiar culture. During their heyday, that place was something otherworldly beautiful, its people fulfilled it with light and life. They regularly held big feasts and festivals to which anyone was highly welcome. Their sweet voices spread through the area to all the other three directions of the huge crossroads. It was them and their nurturing brightness that unified people.
Only until something evil appeared among the Viridians. It belonged to them as a solid part of the society, so similar that the rest could not realise its threat until it was too late.
The wide-spread version of the legend says that it was a wolf that blended in with the Viridians and slowly destroyed them to gain their magical powers and to be the ultimate ruler of the magical forest. I do not have the right to decide whether if it was true or not. But it is a fact, that that creature had caused several problems to the society. It ruined their feasts, demolished their homes and made their whole life nothing but a mere struggle. It stormed severely from time to time even at the other sides of the crossroads.
As time went by, these people started to take up the attitude of the wolf. At least, they did not care about the forest as much as they used to. Nor about each other. Soon, the nation of the green ones, along with their marvellous traditions, started to fade away. The wolf, deep inside, did not want this. I believe it only wanted some drops of the light the Viridians possessed. But it was too late, the wheel of time could not be turned back.
The green ones after having the other nations turned their backs on them, lost the meaning of their lives and they got on the brink of dying out. They disappeared from the forest one after the other, leaving it to decline. Some of them became decayed trees, the others scattered into rocks or leaves. The light also disappeared with them, and stormy darkness replaced it. However, the essence of them was said to be remained in the forest. Along with the wolf. It has been waiting there sunk into depression and despair. All alone. Until only a tiny glade, hidden somewhere deep, preserved a little fragment of a once beautiful history.
It is still strongly believed that the wolf is able to imitate the sweet songs of the long gone green ones, luring innocent people to the now deserted forest, to devour their souls. But I believe, that the wolf only wants company. To gain back the richness of the forgotten past.
That is what you have seen there. What happened after you left, I do not know. Was that the monster from the tale whom you saw? I do not know. Who was the real monster? I do not know that either. I do not think anybody knows. My opinion is that it was not the monster itself that did the damage but something else. But what I am certain about is that not everything is what it looks like.”
Loud claps and pops from the outside prevented Grandma from finishing her thoughts. Sarah ran to the window and could see people streaming on the streets while they sang old, well-known songs with joy.
“What are they doing?” she kept watching them with amazement.
“They are going to the Royal City Port, to an annual masquerade that is held at this time of the year on the other side of the sea. It is something that replaced our old Crossroads Festival” Grandma now turned to Phineas:
“You should go there too.”
“Me? Why?” He was confused.
“Because if you went there you could find answers to the questions that are whirling in your head. That is why.”
“And!” she spoke up and raised her finger to gain attention. “You need some entertainment as well.”
“Okay” he sighed resignedly. “Tomorrow in the morning I’ll leave.”
“All right! Good night then, Dear.”
“Yeah!” And with that Phineas left the room.
“Grandma, do you believe in magic? That people can have magical powers?” Sarah asked while they were clearing the table.
“Well, dear. I firmly believe that every one of us has some powers. Each different, that affects differently others around us. One is more visible, the other is not. But I am certain that such unexplainable powers do exist and we only need to find them inside us” the old lady smiled and gently patted the young one’s head.
“Why did you send Phineas to the masquerade? You have reasons beside what you said, don’t you?
“Clever girl!” Grandma smiled. ”You know him well already. He is very stubborn and wayward. He already acts like an adult man. But there are things he has to know, and I cannot tell him everything. I have ideas and opinions but those are not facts. And he does need facts.”
“I see” she sank into her thoughts.
“And what about you, Dear?”
“About me? What do you mean?”
“You have some issues as well, I know. You can stay here until eternity if you desire, but problems never solve themselves.”
“I haven’t decided what to do yet” she looked sad by the question and now she remained silent.
“Keep calm, Dear, take your time. But until then, let me tell you another old story.”