Chapter Seven – Willow’s Boat

A Fairy Tale by Dakota Earth Cloud Walker

Rowan awoke to Darach licking his cheek. “Darach, what are you doing!?” he leaped up from his sleeping spot and brushed the earth off his pants, patting Darach on the head. “Silly panther.”

Alwyn had already been awake since dawn and sat with her back against Willow as they talked about life and love.

“To love deeply, you must first love yourself,” Willow said, “The hardest love to embrace is the love for yourself. It’s also the most rewarding.” Willow swayed softly in the wind, her constant friend. She reminded Alwyn to never fear letting go of the pain and suffering in life because it will always be replaced with strength and peace. Alwyn knew that this was part of the magic she was to take back to the ordinary world, the knowledge that pain is always going to be with us, but we can overcome it with love and connection.

Alwyn began to feel a tremble in her belly. She pulled her hands to her sides and held herself for a moment, her seed was glowing more brightly than it had before. She pulled her grandpa’s compass from her pocket, it also glowed brightly, and the needle danced and spun once again.

“Rowan, come quickly.” She showed Rowan the compass, he pulled his map out and compared it to the direction of the compass.

“I think we are to go this way,” Rowan pointed to the creek just below Willow. “Where does this take us?” he asked Willow.

“Oh, dear ones, if that is your path you must be prepared. Your journey will lead you to the Luminary River and there you will meet your greatest challenges. The river runs deep and fast, it has carved out the mountains and left a hollow groove in its wake. It is to be respected.”

“How will we get there?” Alwyn and Rowan realized they had no boat and it was much too far to swim. Willow offered some of her branches and leaves to make a boat, the ants brought moss and mushrooms to add while the field mice gathered small pieces of straw and grass to line the inside. They spent the afternoon building a safe vessel to take their grand voyage. All the forest creatures came to assist. The deer offered an antler to use as an oar, the wild boar brought roots it had dug up so they could tie the branches together. The hawk gave feathers to add as a mast so Wind could help them on their travels. A raven dropped a shiny bell into their boat so they could summon help should they need it. And when it came time for Rowan and Alwyn to make their voyage, an entire community had gathered on the shore of Willow Creek to send them off with love, and encouragement. Deer felt a prick to his heart as he watched his new friends sail off. Boar let out a grunt and kicked the earth under him. Hawk flew circles above them for miles down the creek, making sure they were safe. And Willow waved her branches all the way into the evening hours, long after they had left, and silently, she wept into the night. “I do so love the small humans.” She quietly whispered into the dark night.

Rowan, Alwyn, Radha, and Darach floated silently down Willow Creek that night. All of them were unsure about what the next morning would bring as they entered the Luminary River. All they had to do though was close their eyes and remember the love and compassion of all their forest friends at Willow Creek.

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Chapter Eight – Luminary River

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