Chapter 10 – The Trial and Confrontation
“Hey, wait!” Tristan protested, but suddenly felt his hands and feet bound by vines as he fell to the ground.
“Tristan!” Michelle cried out. He turned to see his sister bound tightly and hanging upside down from a limb of a tall tree.
“Hey! What are you doing?” Tylo barked and snarled as he too was tied to a tree as the vines snaked around him. For a final touch, a vine muzzled his mouth preventing him from doing anything except growl at his captors.
“Why are you doing this?” Michelle asked.
“Our family members have been hacked, cut, sawn, and chopped by your father for his cruel purpose.”
“It’s what we do! We’re woodcutters! And how are we supposed to know that they were your family?” Tristan defended.
“Murderers are what you are!” The great oak turned to his court, “What shall we do to those who cut down our wives, husbands, children, grandchildren, grandparents, and many others?”
“Chop them!” one of the trees shouted.
“Hang them!” another shouted.
“Please listen!” Michelle begged tearfully, “We only came for the blue bird. The king’s daughter –”
“We do not wish to hear anymore from you, you witch!” the ancient oak replied, “Your crocodile tears will be of no use here.”
While he lay on the ground, Tristan reached for his knife that fell out of his pocket when the vines attacked him.
As the trees and woodland animals rallied, putting Tristan and Michelle to trial and preparing them for execution, Tylette slipped away with a smile on her lips.
Pleased that she was able to rid of the humans Tylette cackled, “Now that those humans are out of the way, I am free from their bonds.”
“Is that so?” said a voice as a pair of ash grey shoes appeared in her view. The cat froze and looked up to see Lucien looking stern.
“Master Light!” she gulped.
“Where are Tristan and Michelle?”
“I don’t know!” she lied.
Upon those words, Lucien’s form brightened blindly that the cat covered her face and cowered before him.
“Listen! Those two have taken an important task to help a stranger without any selfish means, yet, you!”
Tylette flinched at his booming voice.
“You who are to serve under human authority turned against your masters. Because of this you shall be cast out of your place in this world.”
When she heard this she shivered. “You’re telling me I will lose my place near the hearth? The food that they give me, all that cream they pour out for me will be gone?”
“So you realize your position and what happens when you lose your privileges?”
The cat crawled before the bright figure still shaking in fear.
“If you want to mend your ways, defend your owners. Right now a trial is in progress that you have set in motion. Stop it!”
Tristan struggled with his binds as he reached for his knife. Michelle suspended in the air occasionally swinging (thanks to the tree whose limb she was hanging from) quietly wept in fear. Tylo growled angrily glaring at the trees for making him immobile.
“Bring the humans,” the great oak commanded. Tristan felt himself dragged away from his knife as he, Michelle and Tylo were brought to the centre of the gathering.
“It is agreed that you are all sentenced to be crushed to death by the victims’ family members.”
The moment the sentence was made shouts and animal noises of the forest rose in agreement as trees and animals closed in upon the two humans and dog.
Everyone turned and saw Tylette covered in scratches and leaves after running through the bushes to meet the executioners.
“Please wait!” she begged.
“How now, Daughter of Night? You have come at a good time. These criminals will be executed and we will have our vengeance, thanks to you.”
“I…I – I don’t want this!” the cat shouted.
“You brought these murderers for us to deal with. Why the change of mind?” the oak asked.
Shaking like a leaf in the wind, the cat fell silent.
“Tylette? What’s going on?” Michelle asked.
Upon hearing the question, the trees began to laugh.
“You humans are fools! Did you not realize that she had brought you to us?” one of the trees said.
“Humans are so dumb!” said another tree.
“Tylette?” Michelle asked in disbelief. “That’s not true, right? I adopted you when I found you abandoned in the rain. I fed you. You curled up with me when the nights were lonely. You were my friend!”
Tylette looked away in shame.
“Crush them!” the oak gave the order.
“No!” boomed a loud voice. Light burst through the woods blinding all that were there.
“Day has come!” the oak shouted, “Hide!”
“Back to your places! Return to your dens!” All the trees and animals scrambled away from the hostages, bumping into and trampling on each other as they returned to their places.
As the woods stampeded around them, Michelle watched as a giant tree tripped over its roots and fell towards them. Brightness surrounded them. The tree screamed as it rolled away harmlessly and ran the opposite direction.
“Are you all right?” Michelle heard a gentle voice.
A few minutes later, the woods became quiet. Lucien’s light diminished back to his usual glow as he stood up after shielding Tristan and Michelle from the trees. The vine that bound them fell away.
“Lucien!” Michelle threw her arms around him, the moment she discovered she was freed from her bonds.
“You are safe now,” he comforted.
Tristan turned to Tylette who shrank lower the moment he glared daggers at her.
“You!” he approached her as he raised his hand.
“Tristan, no!” Michelle ran from Lucien and grabbed her brother’s fist before it landed on the cat.
“This cat deserved to be punished!” her brother told her.
“But she tried to intervene for us!” she pointed out.
“She didn’t try hard enough, though,” the dog muttered.
The young woman turned to the cat now curled up into a ball and shivering in shame.
“Tylette,” Michelle reached out and brought the cat to her chest.
The cat wriggled. “Let go of me! I don’t want your pity!” She scratched and bit on her owner’s arms, but Michelle refused to release her.
“I brought you to your deaths! I deserved what I got! Let go of me, you stinking pile of filth!” the cat spat and screeched, but the young woman still held on.
Tired from exerting all her anger and self-loathing on her owner, Tylette stopped. She tearfully continued, “I don’t want your comfort! I don’t want your warmth or your cream! I don’t even want your company!” The cat curled into Michelles arms and buried her face into her chest as she wept.
“I’m so sorry, mistress!”
Michelle stroked the sad cat and whispered, “I forgive you, Tylette. I love you, my kitty.”
Chapter 11 – At the Graveyard
With Lucien again in the lead, the companions continued their journey through the woods.
“I wonder what happened to the blue bird we saw,” Michelle thought aloud.
“It probably flew away in all that mess we went through,” Tristan said, “Cheer up! We’ll probably see it on our way out of the woods.”
Now long after he said those words, they saw a flash of blue fly before them. A blue bird flew ahead and landed on a tree branch. They all stopped and stared as the bird sang a sweet melody and took flight.
Immediately, they ran after the bird weaving through the woods, past the trees around the bushes, until they came to the edge of the woods. The moment they stepped out of the woods the bird was nowhere in sight.
“Where did it go?” Tristan wondered.
Just then, a familiar sweet song was heard and a blue bird flew over a bunch of white stones. The moment they saw the stones, they stopped.
“Is this –?” Tristan was not able to finish his question, for what they saw was a large field with rows of white stones carved in various shapes. Most of them rounded, some in the form of crosses while others were just four-sided slabs marked on the ground.
“This is a graveyard.” Michelle’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Why would a blue bird be here?”
Lucien said nothing as he led them past the white headstones and grave markers.
“Lucien? Are we supposed to find a blue bird here?” she asked quietly.
“It would depend,” he replied.
“Depend on what?” Tristan asked.
“It would depend on whether you bring the blue bird here.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Turn the diamond, Tristan,” Lucien told him.
The diamond turned and they saw the graveyard unchanged, except being covered with beautiful white flowers brought to the graves.
“Are we supposed to see something?” Tristan asked as they all stopped.
“Watch,” Lucien told them.
Semi-transparent people appeared and approached the graves. Some of them were in groups, either in pairs or families. Others came alone.
“Who are these people?” Michelle asked.
“They are those who visit those who are gone.” Lucien explained.
They continued to watch scanning amongst the visitors. Some had angry expressions during their visits, while others were lonely. However, many of them were sad. Many people came and left. Some of those who were sad came bearing small gifts like trinkets or drink offerings, while others (both sad and angry) had nothing with them. They followed the movement of people as the visits were done, then made their way out of the graveyard.
“I guess there aren’t any blue birds here,” Tristan said. Suddenly, he stopped. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a glimpse of blue. His head snapped towards that catch of blue.
At the entrance to the graveyard was a family – a father, a mother and a little girl. Just above their head flew the blue bird. It landed on the little girl’s head briefly. Then it flew off and landed at a gravestone where the family had arrived. The bird did not stay for it immediately took flight and left the graveyard all together.
“Let’s followed that bird,” Lucien told them.
They all ran after the bird which disappeared into a line of trees at the other end of the graveyard.
“Where did it go?” Tristan asked.
They saw a signpost that said, “The Land of Memories”.
“The Land of Memories,” Michelle read the signpost aloud.
“What is this place?” Tristan asked.
“It is part of the graveyard we have passed.” Lucien explained.
“Do you think we’ll find the blue bird here?” Michelle asked.
“I would say it is worth a try,” Tristan said.
“I will be out of sight though,” Lucien told them.
Michelle turned to him. “Why?”
“Don’t worry, I will be with you through this land, you just will not be able to see me because it is where your memories come to life.” Lucien looked at Tristan, “The moment you turn the diamond here you will see them.”
“See who?” he inquired.
“You’ll find out soon enough.” When Tristan hesitated, Lucien assured him, “It will be something good, do not worry.”
Tristan slowly turned the diamond. The light flashed and a pale mist swirled around them.
“Lucien? Where did you go?” Michelle asked searching for their guide who appeared to have disappeared.
“Michelle, our dog and cat are gone too!” Tristan said.
“I am still with you both. Tylo and Tylette are with me, they are all right. Go visit your memories. You have until sunset,” said Lucien’s voice.
With those words, the companions walked into the mist.