Welcome to the Secrets of the Amulet, the mysterious fantasy Realm where Seer and Witches live right among us. If you have reached the magical age of 10 Summers or you know someone who has, come and step into the Enchanted Forest to find the village of Willowgrove.This is the fantasy-fiction world of the book series The Secrets of the Amulet by Willow Feathernet. This book series was written for any fantasy lover young and young at heart, it has no bad language or name calling. I do try hart to write a good grammar of the English language, but have said that please keep in mind that English is not my first language, in fact I am only writing for about 6 years.Please sit back and enjoy the story of Fredy Jonquil as I will publish one chapter each month.Please don't hold back with your comments, good and bad and any questions you might have. I am more then happy to answer asap. - Willow Feathernet
copyright The Secrets of the Amulet 1 by Willow Feathernet 2010

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chapter 3:   Welcome to Willowgrove


     A cold wind began to blow and Fredy sat hugging herself in what little shelter the big rock could give her. For a moment she thought she had heard some music but then the wind blew stronger, howling through the trees and moving the uppermost treetops above her head back and forth. 

    But there it was again, music, and this time it came closer and grew louder, a melodic tune played by a flute. The sound came closer and closer until it suddenly stopped and a voice called out Fredy's name. She jumped to her feet.  Her heart racing, she called out, “I am here, next to the big rock!”                

    A moment later, she saw three shadowy figures coalesce out of the darkness. One was very tall and skinny, one small and slim and the third not as tall as the first, but broader.    

    A light voice said, “Elder Felicia sent us to get you. I'm Miriam; you will be living with us. This is Fred and that is Paul. Paul, she needs a light to see the path.”      

    The pause that followed was only filled by the blowing wind and the eerie sounds of the dark woods around them. 

    “Oh, here it is,” a soft voice said and Fredy thought she had heard it somewhere before when a very strong hand grabbed her arm and pushed something cold and hard into her hand. Fredy tried to make out what she was holding, but it was too dark to see. She was just about to ask what this thing was and what she was supposed to do with it when it started to glow. At first, it glowed very little but then it grew brighter and brighter.                                  

    “This is a Glow Crystal. Just concentrate on the Crystal and you can make it shine. For now, it will glow long enough to get you home,” the boy named Paul said. The Crystal did not warm up in her hand as the light grew brighter, nor did it penetrating the darkness as much as Fredy had hoped for. She still could not see their faces, but she could see the path well enough. Paul took the lead and in single file, Miriam, Fredy and Fred followed. After a while, Paul started to play the flute again.                             
   “You must be very hungry,” Miriam said. “You missed the feast.”                                   
    “I'm sorry, but I wasn't really...” Fredy's voice drifted off, unsure of what to say. What possible

excuse could she have for not showing up to her own feast?

    After a very awkward moment, Fred, who walked behind her, spoke up. “Don't worry about the feast, the people here understand. We have many orphans living here and they don't feel like celebrating at times either.”             

    “ALFRED! I don't think she needs to be reminded!” Miriam burst out, stopping and turning around so suddenly that Fredy nearly ran into her. “My mother saved you some food in case you are hungry. Did you know our mothers are cousins?”              
    “Were … not are, Miriam,” Fred retorted.                   
    “Fred, stop being such a jerk or I’ll tell on you,” Miriam hissed at him.

    It wasn't too much further until they reached the first houses of the village. Paul and Fred said goodnight and walked off into the darkness. Miriam took Fredy's hand. 

    “Boys ... Please don't mind them. Usually they're alright, but sometimes...”                                            

    The girls had walked past several dark houses, only a few had still lights shining out of their tiny windows. One house had the front door wide open and the silhouette of a woman was standing in the doorway. 

    “Welcome home, Frederika. Have a good night.”                         

    “Thank you,” Fredy replied.                                        

    “That's Clara,” Miriam whispered, pulling Fredy along, “she's the Shoemaker's wife and always knows when someone is out after dark. Here is our house. Looks like dad and my brothers are already in bed, but I'm sure mom is still up. She was so excited when she heard you would come and live with us.”                             

    Fredy and Miriam walked up to a two-story house. It was too dark for Fredy to see the size of it, but it looked somehow larger than the houses they had passed. The upstairs windows were dark, only the two small windows on the ground floor had lights shining out onto the path. Miriam tramped up the front steps and opened the door. 

    Fredy followed and in the dim light she looked for the first time at her new friend. Miriam was smaller than her and very slim with long, strawberry blond braids hanging down her back. Fredy stepped into the kitchen and was at once encircled by the welcoming warmth and the wonderful       smell of food. In the very middle of the room stood a large table, bending under the weight of bowls and platters of roasts, chicken, salads, pies and puddings.                                   

    “My goodness! What took you so long, Miriam?” A woman called out and rushed towards them.                 

    She looked just like her daughter; slim build, but tall with her strawberry blond hair tied up in a bun. Her young and friendly face already had fine lines that showed in the sparse light. She inspected Fredy from head to toe and said smiling, “You must be Frederika. Yes, I see your mother and father in that beautiful face. Welcome, my dear.  Welcome.” She embraced Fredy into a long hug.                  

    Miriam took the Glow Crystal out of Fredy's hand and placed it on the mantle above the fireplace. The glow of the Crystal was already starting to fade.                                        

    “Did those boys make you walk without a light again?”              

    “I know the way as well as they do, Mother.”

    But the woman shook her head. “It is dark and you went into the forest. Miriam, I was worried. You took so long. You always forget the time, especially with those lads.” She turned back to Fredy and said, “Anyhow, you must be starving. Come. I'll light a couple more lamps and you can sit and eat as much as you like.”                                         

    How wonderful the smell of the food was. Fredy sat down and began to fill the plate in front of her with roasted chicken, pasta salad, baked potatoes and bread, along with dishes that she had never seen before.    

    Miriam and her mother sat down around the table too and while both were sipping on large cups of hot tea, the mother began to talk. “Old Myra predicted a storm tonight. Well, you know she is getting older and if she gets one out of four predictions correct it's a wonder. But this time she seems to be right. Your father is still out helping to get the animals under shelter.”                 

    “Are Jacob and Tommy with him?” asked Miriam.                

    “Jacob and Tommy are Miriam's younger brothers,” the mother explained turning to Fredy. “By the way, I am Emily and my husband is Carl.” and answering her daughter. “No, dear, they are surely not with your father. In the dark they would be under foot anyway. All the day's excitement tired them out. By the time we brought the last of the dishes over, Tommy had fallen asleep in front of the fire and Jacob could barely keep his eyes open. They have both been tucked in already.” She had just finished speaking when the wind picked up and rain drummed against the windows. 

    “Yes, there it is. Good old Myra got this one right. We should bring her some fresh eggs tomorrow, don't you think, Miriam?”                                                             

    Miriam rested her head in her arms and did not answer. Emily looked over at Fredy who had just pushed her half eaten cherry pie aside. The good food and the warmth of the fire made her whole body feel very heavy and tired. It was hard to keep her eyes open.

    “Oh dear! You two need to go to bed too. Come Frederika, Miriam will show you to your room. Have a good night.”                                                                 

    Fredy nodded slowly and pulled herself up. Miriam took a lamp from the kitchen table and both walked up a narrow set of stairs and along to the very end of a hallway.                         

    “This is our room,” Miriam said, yawning. “You can sleep under the window. Good night.” She changed into her nightgown and collapsed on the second bed.                  

    Fredy was ready to fall asleep in an instant. She changed into the white nightgown that lay out for her and laid her own clothes on the foot end of her bed. All the comfort inside her, the rain drumming, and the wind blowing outside made her fall into a deep and dreamless sleep.                     


    “It's mine! I saw it first!”                                                               

    “No, it's mine! I want it! Give it back, now!”                               

    “I want to keep it! It's mine now!”                                                

    Fredy opened her eyes. For a moment she did not know where she was. The bright sunshine fell through the window on her face. She turned her head and looked, blinking around the small room. It was not much bigger than the two beds, each with a trunk at the foot end. The second bed was empty and neatly covered with a quilt. 

    Fredy stretched, sat up and looked out of the window. “I thought it was a dream, somehow,” she said to herself, rubbing her eyes. “What is the place called? Willowgrove?”  She looked down onto the two dozen houses, built in a very foreign way with rocks and wooden boards intersecting and the roofs low-hanging so that people had to stoop down to enter through the small doors. Fredy was not sure what the roofs were made of. It looked like a mixture of straw, shingles and boards. Vines of all kinds grew up the outside walls of all the buildings. Most of them had small gardens and barns in the back. In front, the earthen paths were framed with beautiful flowers of all sizes and colors.

    “Miriam, Jacob you have to run. You're late again.” A woman's voice drifted up from the kitchen underneath Fredy's bedroom and she wondered where Miriam had to be so early in the morning. But then she saw her and a smaller blond boy carrying books under their arms.              

    “Oh, right. They must be off to school,” she said quietly.  “I wonder why no one woke me up.”      

    At that very moment, the door opened and in came an even smaller boy with freckles covering his nose. He looked at Fredy with big, bright eyes and a broad smile and jumped on the bed next to her.

    “Hi! You're up! You want to come down? I can show you around.”                                            

    “Tommy! I hope you didn't wake her up. Please bring the Crystal you found back to Paul and thank him for lending it to us.” His mother gave him a loving pat on the back and he left the room. 

    “Frederika, my dear.” Emily turned to her.                        

    “Oh, please call me Fredy. My parents always did...” Fredy stopped, suddenly remembering everything that had happened the day before. “Well, the people I lived with, you know?”                                    
  “Of course. Fredy, if you would get dressed and come downstairs for breakfast, Elder Felicia has already asked to talk to you.” 

    Fredy jumped out of her bed at once looking around for the clothes she had worn the day before.

    “Oh, yes,” Emily said, “I took your clothes to the wash.  Here is one of Miriam's dresses. These are the kind of clothes we make ourselves. It looks very different from yours. I will teach you to make your own, but for now you should be fine.” Emily pulled a handful of clothes out of Miriam's trunk and laid them on Fredy's bed. They were the same kind the Elder Felicia, Emily, and any other woman or girl that she had seen so far wore; white, long undergarments and a wide, dark grey, long dress, held together by a simple rope belt.                                      

    Fredy tucked the heavy Amulet carefully into her dress.  The chain was so long that it hung around her middle. She felt a bit awkward wearing Miriam's dress. It was too small and short for her.                                                

    A few minutes later, she sat by herself at the kitchen table, eating breakfast. No one else seemed to be around the house. Fredy was used to listening to music or watching TV before school, but there were no electric appliances at all in this kitchen. Neither had she seen any evidence of electricity anywhere in the whole village. This was definitely something she had to get used to. 

    A sudden knock at the front door echoed through the small kitchen and Fredy looked around and waited for Emily to answer the door, but a second knock came and Emily was still nowhere in sight. Finally Fredy stood up and answered the door.                             

    A tall, skinny boy of maybe fifteen or sixteen years with shoulder-length curly, black hair and a very sincere look on his face stood in front of her. When he saw her however, he grinned. “Ah … if this is not our little late-comer from yesterday,” he said, grinning he stepped past Fredy into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

    Fredy closed the door and moved back to her breakfast. She had never seen a more handsome boy and he was actually talking to her and did not take his eyes off her. She was speechless and felt the heat rising up in her face. Embarrassed she turned away in the hope he would not see her blush while searching for something to say to him. Fredy looked around the room, finally caught a glimpse of the empty mantle and remembered. “If you've come for that Crystal, Tommy was sent to bring it back to you,” She said, hoping he did not hear the slight quiver in her voice.           

    “Crystal? Oh! You must mistake me with Paul. I'm Fred.”  All of the sudden he jumped up reached out his hand towards her and bowed his head. “Alfred, son of Elder Aldrich of Elmbrook. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Frederika of Willowgrove, Heir of the Amulet.” He shook her hand and returned to his seat. “But most call me Fred,” he added. 

    “My name is Frederika Jonquil,” Fredy said confused, but he shook his head.                            

    Here you are ‘Frederika, the Heir of the Amulet’ or ‘Frederika of Willowgrove.’”                    

    “Doesn't anyone have a last name around here?” she asked.                                                        

    “Well, if we did, it would be the same, since we all more or less come from the same family. So what good would it do?” Fred laughed.                                                            

    “And what is Elmbrook?” Fredy continued.       

    “Elmbrook was a village, just like Willowgrove before it was destroyed. Oh Emily, there you are.” He jumped up again but this time the chair fell over and his face turned a dark shade of pink. Still, without the slightest hesitation, he continued, “Mother sent me. She asked if you could come over this afternoon to finish the preparations for the betrothal.”                                                                        

    Fredy turned back to her breakfast, but could not stop giggling. How easily this good-looking boy with this irritating grin could embarrass himself.

    Even Emily looked amused and said, “Thank you, Alfred. Please let Leah know, I will come over right after lunch.”                                                 

    Without another word Fred picked the chair up and left the house.                                 

    “He is surely a good lad, but can be made to blush rather easily. Fredy, I need you to finish. The Elder Felicia has asked for you a second time, so please hurry and go to meet her. You will find her in the Meetinghouse, the largest building in the middle of the village.”                                   

Fredy finished her breakfast and left the house. She went by a number of small houses. Some had their front doors wide open and Fredy could catch a glimpse of the people working within. One woman came out of her house, sweeping the porch and turning she saw Fredy.                  

    “Oh, good morning dear. Did you have a good night?” 

    “Yes, thank you. Good morning,” Fredy replied. “I am looking for the Meetinghouse. Am I on the right path?”                

    The woman stopped sweeping and straightened up. “Yes, you are. It's just over there. Elder Felicia is summoning you very early. She must have a lot to tell you. I am Ruth, my husband and I are the Weaver of the village.”                 

    “I'm Frederika Jon...” she stopped short, she remembered what Fred had said about her name was and ended quietly, “pleasure to meet you.”                                                  

    When Fredy arrived at the Meetinghouse, the big wooden doors stood wide open, making her feel welcome. She lifted her hand to knock, just then the Elder Felicia appeared so suddenly in the doorway, Fredy took a step back in surprise. 

    'Good morning, Frederika. I am glad you came so soon.  We have a lot to talk about.' Felicia walked a few steps past her and took a deep breath in the sunshine. 'What a wonderful day to start a new life. I think we should go up to the Big Rock where we can talk in peace.' 

    The Elder did not carry the cloak or the beautiful Silverbelt she had worn the day before, but the same long, grey dress Fredy now wore.                                                      

    Together they walked along the small path and up the steep hill without saying a word. When they arrived at the Big Rock, Felicia sat down in front of it, leaned her back against it and signaled for Fredy to do the same. For some time, both looked quietly down into the valley. The sunshine bathed the village in such a magical glow that Fredy thought this must be a truly special place … the place where she and her mother were born.                                   

    'I will talk to you about your dear mother a little later,' Fredy heard Felicia say.

    Fredy turned to her. “How did you know what I was thinking? And why can I hear you but you never move your lips? And why is everything so very different here than in town? And...”

    Felicia's long, skinny hand touched her arm. 'We will talk about that in good time.' She smiled at Fredy and turned towards the valley again. Finally, she opened her mouth and said, “We are all very happy to have you back. But there are a few rules I expect you to obey:                                  

    You may not be outdoors at night unless you are with an older student or an adult.                    

    You may not leave the village to venture into the forest and beyond without the permission of an Elder. Since I am the only Elder, you have to ask me. This is not to keep you bound to this place. This place is safe by day, but you have not learned to deal with the danger that could come in at night and which roams through the dark forest.             

    We are blessed that many rare creatures, Mystics of old, have found their homes in those woods. We do not want to harm or even scare them off by not paying them the proper respect that they deserve.” Felicia paused.       

    Fredy thought how awkward this place was and how strange all these people behaved and talked.             

    'You must excuse me, my dear. I am not used to communicating out loud so much.'                                         

    This was at least the second time Felicia had known what Fredy thought.                      

    'You do not know how truly special you are.' Felicia smiled. 'Each one of us has a very special gift, a unique power; but you are extraordinary … even in the Realm.  For your safety and ours as well, we cannot let Outsiders into our valley. Nor should we move too frequently into the next town and beyond.' 

    “Outsiders?” Fredy asked.

    'Yes, like the people who took care of you.'

    “You mean my parents? They can't visit me here?”

    'No, your parents were Heir Danielle and her husband Frederick, not Mr. and Mrs. Jonquil.'

    “Why?” Fredy asked. “Why the secrecy? Why can't we be together with the Outsiders? Why are we so special?”                 

    Felicia looked Fredy straight in the face. 'We are Seer, my dear. Silent Healer. We are different from the people we call Outsiders and it is our duty to preserve the powers we have inherited from our parents. It is my experience if people are confronted with what they do not understand, they will feel frightened. It would be foolish to lose our uniqueness or risk the exposure of our world due to a confrontation.'

    'You, Frederika, just reached what we call the Magic Age. Starting Monday morning in school, Teacher Elias will instruct you how to use these very special powers of yours. 

    We should now talk about your beloved mother.' Her smile faded away and she looked back out into the valley.  'I saw your mother growing up. She was a very brave woman. She lived all these years away from us to protect you and our kind. You know, if one part leaves, the village is not whole anymore. That part will always be missed. Your mother was a very big part of this community. She summoned me just before she died. I am sorry to say by the time I reached her she was already gone … gone to your father. We buried her next to him over at a place we call the Sighing Willow.' She pointed at a place close to the village where a big Willow tree stood, overshadowing a small stream. 'That will be enough knowledge for today. I would like you to go back to the village. You may visit your parents’ graves or do as you please. Please remember not to leave the valley, my dear.'

    “Yes, Felicia,” Fredy said quietly. Slowly, she stood up and walked down the hill towards the big Willow. Fredy was surprised how easily she could find this peaceful place. In the bright sunshine she saw a handful of graves spread out in the shade of the long, drooping branches, swaying in the light breeze. A tiny creek ran next to it murmuring among the rocks.                         

    She sat down between her parents’ graves and heard the Willow sigh. Somehow, this did not surprise her. It was the perfect place to sit and sigh. Fredy sat with her head in her hands, so heavy with a million new questions. Would she ever know all the answers?                      

    The time went by. It was nearly lunch time when she left Felicia at the Big Rock. That seemed ages ago. Surely the afternoon would soon be over. Fredy sighed. The Willow sighed.         

More time passed and she was still sitting underneath the tree. Fredy dried her wet eyes and looked around at the other graves. The headstone next to her mother’s read: Elder Aldrich of Elmbrook with a date four years earlier.

    'This must be that boy's father,' she thought. All the graves had an abandoned feel to them, as if no one ever came to visit them and brought fresh flowers. Fredy remembered that Danielle always liked sunflowers and she thought back where in the village she had seen some. Maybe she could go and pick some for the graves. Fredy stood slowly up and dried her face with her sleeve.                                                                                                                                   

    “And here I'm thinking ‘she either likes to be late or she doesn't care for our food.’ You know, lunch is long over?” 

    Fredy looked up in surprise. Next to the stream stood Fred with a bunch of flowers in his  hand … sunflowers.             

    “I hope you are not mad at me for channeling you, but I needed to find you.” He nodded at the flowers. “You were looking for these?”

    “Oh, yes. I thought they would look great on the graves.  Thanks,” Fredy said. Hesitating, she walked over to Fred, who made no attempt to cross the creek, but stretched his arm out with the flowers. Fredy took the bunch and separated them to arrange several little bouquets for her parents’ graves and the one next to them.

    “Thanks. I'm not allowed too close to my dad's grave anymore.”                                    

    “Why?” Fredy asked, lovingly placing the flowers on Fred's fathers' headstone.            

    “Well, we believe we should have a good grieving time for our loved ones. But the thing is if it takes too long, the Willow will stop sighing and start slapping or even beating you up. When that happens, you can't come too close anymore and you are forced to move on with your life.”

    Fredy looked up into the peacefully swinging branches and heard another great sigh. “Isn't that a bit tough?”    

    “Well, isn't it tougher not to move on?” Fred asked back.

    “I don't know. I'm new to this grieving thing. I only just found out that Danielle was … you know … my mom.” 

    “My mother actually sent me to invite you for dinner if you would like. Miriam will be there too.”

    “Yes. I think I would like that.” Fredy took one last look at her parents’ graves. Then she turned and followed the tall, slim boy.                                                                          

    Fred was over a head taller than her. Walking next to him felt more like walking next to an adult, or at least a much older brother. They walked along the stream when Fredy asked, “What did you mean when you said you channeled me?”                                              

    Fred took a while to answer. Only when Fredy stopped walking and looked expectantly at him did he start to mutter. “Well, I'm sorry. really sorry. Please don't tell anyone. I know I shouldn't have, but I needed to find you.”

    “No. I mean what is channeling?” Fredy asked again.                  

    “Channeling is the way we Seer communicate. Without speaking aloud, we have the gift to listen to other peoples thoughts. But other than in direct contact, it's kind of forbidden. And without an emergency, you can get in really big trouble. You know, just because you can doesn't mean you should.”                                                                       

    Fredy thought for a moment. “Is this like hearing voices in your head?”                         

    “That's what channeling sounds like, yes. I can hear your thoughts and send you mine.”                  “I always heard these voices just before I went to sleep until last night and I never liked it. I don't think I can channel. I have never read anyone's mind.”                          

    “Oh, yes. That was Paul. He wasn't supposed to channel you. No one under-age was, but he did it for a dare and he got in huge trouble for it.” Fred looked straight ahead, but Fredy could see a slight grin on his face.                       

    “Why did they channel me if I didn't know how to answer?”                                                                         

    “The adults always channeled the Heir … your mother. When she was gone, they started to channel you. Just to have some sort of contact, I guess. But they were not allowed to tell you about us. That's why under-age Seer weren't allowed to channel … in case they said too much and put you and us at risk.”                                                       

    Fredy thought for a moment, not looking up into his handsome face. Then she said gloomily, “I don't have any gifts.”

    Fred looked back at her in surprise. “You do. You are the Heir of the Amulet and with that you are one or possibly even the most gifted Seer in our time. Don't worry. Old Elias will teach you how to use your powers. Elias is the Schoolteacher here. Miriam can't channel yet either. She is so easy to tease.” Fred's face turned into a big grin. “Come on. We are nearly there.”                   

    They walked on a little further until they reached a very small house next to a large fenced garden.           

    “Here we are. Welcome to our home.”

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Chapter 2: The Unknown Visitor

 Loud voices came from the living room. Fredy knew her parents never had guests over during the week nor so late at night. So she slipped out of her bed and across the room to the door. Slowly, very slowly she opened it and held her ear in the crack to hear the husky voice of an old woman say, “It is time. I have to take her now.”            

    “No.” Fredy heard her mother say. “We promised Danielle to keep her until she was fifteen. We promised!”  

    “I am sorry. Yes, it was planned for her to stay in hiding until she was old and strong enough to fulfill her destiny, but the situation has changed. I cannot ignore the signs any longer. Our friends from the Realm are sending us warnings, the Lampuss’ are gathering more intelligence and it will not be long until they find out about her. I believe Danielle would have understood.”                           

    'What are they talking about?' Fredy wondered. She remembered Danielle's picture in its silver frame in the living room.                                                                                     

    “Well,” her father said, pulling her out of her thoughts, “we promised to help. I thought I saw more of our friends around town lately and wondered if something was going on. I made sure she was never out of my sight but if something happened, I wouldn't have been able to protect her, so I guess she will be better off with her own kind. But we never told her anything about the Realm or the Silent Healer. We thought we had so much more time. Does it have to be tonight?”                       

    “Yes. I am afraid so. We still have the advantage but this can change within the hour. I delayed as long as I could, but it is time to bring her home,” the old woman urged.                      

    The living room was filled with a strange silence that was followed by Mrs. Jonquil's deep sigh before she spoke up. “I will go and wake her.”

    Fredy heard her mother’s footsteps coming down the hallway, she climbed back underneath her blanket and waited.                                   

    The door opened and Fredy felt her mother's hand on her shoulder. “Fredy, Fredy, please wake up. We have a very important guest who needs to talk to you.”                               

    Fredy sat up and asked, “What is going on, Mom?”

    “Just come into the living room, please.” Mrs. Jonquil urged and pulled the blanket off her daughter.

    Fredy followed her mother quietly and rubbed her eyes when she entered the bright light of the living room. Her father stood next to the dark window, staring out into the deserted street. Her mother sat down on the sofa, wiping tears from her cheeks with a tissue in her shaking hand. And in the armchair sat an old woman looking up at Fredy with her peaceful face that had deep wrinkles, a long skinny nose, a very slim mouth and gentle eyes. She stood up when she saw Fredy and bowed her head slightly. “You must be Frederika. I am pleased to see you are doing so well. Please take a seat, I came to talk to you.”                                             

    Fredy hesitated at first, this old woman just looked too strange to her, so she sat down next to her mother.                              

    “My name is Elder Felicia of Willowgrove,” the old woman began gracefully as she sat back in the armchair, but then she closed her eyes and fell silent. Fredy looked surprised at her parents, but neither her father nor her mother looked back at her.

    It must have been a minute or two before the eyes in the aged face opened and the soft voice spoke up again. “Dear Frederika, please forgive me, but I cannot find an easy way to tell you what you need to know without hurting you in one way or another and surely not in a way that your mother would have wanted you to learn about your true identity.”                 

    Fredy looked at her mother, but the woman next to her shook her head and did not meet her eyes.        

    “Your mother, my dear Frederika … your birth mother was Heir Danielle of Willowgrove, was the Heir of Medklad,” Felicia said. “She hoped to live until you were grown, but something unexpected happened and these wonderful people were gracious enough to take you in and raise you as their own.”

    Fredy could not believe what she was hearing. This must be a strange dream. It could not be real. She could only stare from the old woman with the very odd and old fashioned grey dress, to her mother, and then to her father.                   

    “These wonderful people provided a very special service to our kind, one for which we will be forever very thankful.” The woman bowed her head slightly towards     

both of the parents before she turned back to Fredy. “You, your kind tonight.” 

    “What? What do you mean with my kind?” Fredy asked, confused.                                               
    “We are a community of very gifted people and you will come home to the place where you and your mother were born, to Willowgrove.”                                                                      

    This could not be real. No. Surely Fredy would wake up any moment and laugh about such a silly dream, but she did not wake up and a sudden flood of panic swept over her. This was real. This woman Felicia expected her to follow her in the middle of the night to who knows where? But why did her parents go along with this? Then it hit Fredy. These people were not her parents, Danielle and her husband Frederick were her parents, but they had died long ago. Her parents were dead and she was an orphan. She was an orphan who was to be taken away in the middle of the dark night by a stranger. Fredy was so paralyzed with shock that she could barely hear Felicia's voice.                     

  “Please go to your room and pack only your most valuable possessions. Take no more than what you can fit into a small bag. Do not bother with any clothes. You will not need them.”                      

    Fredy stood up, but then an unexpected thought rushed through her head, surprising her most of all. “But what ... what if I don't want to come ...what if I want to stay here? I don't have any gifts and I want to stay with my parents.”   

    “No,” said Mr. Jonquil. He turned around to face her and tried to look sternly but Fredy saw his eyes full of tears and his voice was shaking. “Elder Felicia is right. We knew this day would come, but we hoped for a few more years with you.” His voice cracked and he cleared his throat. “I am sorry. I should have said something … somehow, but we loved you too much, like our own daughter. Fredy, it's time for you to go. We can't protect you any longer and you will be where you belong.”                                                                                  

    Fredy did not know who packed the small bag for her or if she ever got to say goodbye to her baby sister Susie. Her head was in a thick fog, trying so desperately to comprehend what was going on. The next thing Fredy could recognize was the cold, fall wind in her face as she walked behind the dark shadow she knew as Felicia. She took a last look back at the house, the only home she had ever known. But the front door was already closed and the windows dark at  No. 5 Bellfield Way.                                                         

    Fredy and the old woman walked for quite a while. The Elder walked in front and Fredy close behind, wondering how they would travel to this place called Willowgrove, wherever it was, when the Elder suddenly stopped and looked around.              

    “Yes. This will do,” she said more to herself and then turned to Fredy. “I know you do not understand, but you will soon. Do not be afraid, my dear.”                                    

   It was impossible for Fredy not to be afraid. The very thought of walking in the dark gave her cold chills up and down her back            .                                                                      

    “Now, if you will please hold your hand to my belt, I will cover us with this Travelcloak,” said the Elder.  Her long dark dress was held together with a belt that in the glow of the streetlights looked like spun silver with a small silver buckle. Over her shoulders she carried a very long black coat, big enough to cover two large men. Fredy touched the Silverbelt and the Elder swung the coat around her, covering both completely. Fredy felt a sudden warm sensation flooding her body. It was so wonderful and secure, even the slightest uneasiness and confusion went away. Somehow Fredy understood that she was meant to go with this old woman and she didn't need to be afraid. She hoped this feeling would never go away. But a moment later, Felicia opened the cloak and all the comfort was swept away.

    “Welcome to Oakwood,” Fredy heard the old woman say.  The streets and houses were gone and in there place stood a group of small, ghostly, buildings in mids of a deep dark forest.

   “I thought…” Fredy began, but the Elder gave her a hushed whisper.

  “It is not safe to talk just yet.” Felicia looked around and signaled for Fredy to follow her. Together they walked step by step, careful not to fall over roots and branches covering the dark forest floor. Then they reached the trunk of an old Oak tree. Felicia felt around the tree and disappeared into a big hole in the trunk. Hesitating, Fredy followed her and sat down on the soft ground inside the tree.

    Felicia's calm voice said, “We will stay here until light comes, Frederika dear. This is not a safe place in the dark, so please do not talk or make unnecessary noise.”                       

    It was very uncomfortable in the cramped space and Fredy started to tremble. Not because of the light chill in the early fall air, but because of the complete darkness surrounding her. Just when she was about to tell the Elder how much she hated the dark, a light started to glow. It looked like a long golden light right above her head. Not as bright as a lamp, more like the dim night light in her sister’s bedroom. At once, the warm secure feeling swept over Fredy again and she relaxed until she finally nodded off. 

    “Good morning, Frederika, it is time to wake up.”             

    Fredy opened her eyes and blinked. The sun had barely risen and the dark of the night was gone but it still was not light enough to see clearly.                                                        

    “Come, please follow me quietly,” Felicia said, standing in front of the hole. Fredy followed her without a sound. Both walked back towards the buildings and Fredy could see why Felicia had preferred to spend the night in a hollow tree. Most of the houses were burned to the ground. Some had parts of their walls still standing but others were only piles of stone and debris. Felicia stopped in front of a ruin of what once must have been a very big house.                            

    “This was the house of your grandfather. Your father was born here and became an Elder of this village when he was very young, just before it was destroyed,” the old woman explained in her quiet and calm voice. “Many years later, after you were born, your parents came here to hide something very valuable to us.” She paused and looked around. “It is very mystical and has many forgotten powers. Your mother told me personally that she had hidden it in these ruins, but the only person able to find it would be a close blood relative of hers. Since you are the only member of her great family line left you will be the only one who can find it.”       

    Fredy stepped carefully inside the ruin and looked around. “What am I looking for?” she whispered.             

    “It is an Amulet, a round silver plate with stones on the outside and a seeing eye in the middle, on a long silver chain.” Felicia said. “It is stored in a wooden box.” 

    Fredy walked around, it was now light enough for her to see as she stepped over stones and broken parts of furniture and started to move debris out of her way.                 

    “Please describe what you can see, Frederika, for I would not be able to see the hiding place myself.”   

    “I see a chair. Here is a broken table. There is a part of a window and there is a shelf…” Fredy continued to step over the debris for some time but without any success, there was nothing that looked even remotely like a wooden box. She looked back at Felicia who still stood in the old door frame smiling at her encouragingly. 

    So Fredy searched the debris again and again and she still could not find what the Elder had described. Fredy was sure she had every recognizable piece pointed out to the Elder but again she was asked to continue the search. If she would have been by herself she would have stepped out of the ruin and declare there was no Amulet hidden anywhere. But Fredy was not by herself and so she searched over the same pieces of furniture for a fifth time. And nothing seemed different this time then the times before, at least not to her. She continued with the description of the same furniture. “There is the shelf, a broken window with a whole glass, a table and a chair ...”

    “Wait!” interrupted Felicia, excited. “Where is the window?”                                                                       
  Fredy knelt down in front of it and tried to lift the frame, but she could not.                 

    “I believe we have just found the hiding place. It will have more enchantments to secure its treasure,” said Felicia, now standing behind her.

    “Hold your hand out over the middle of the glass and concentrate on the Amulet.”                   

    Fredy did so and the grimy, glass pane disappeared and revealed a wooden box.                       

     “Yes, I can see the box now,” the Elder said. “Please pick it up.”                                             “What do you want me to do now?” Fredy asked holding the wooden box in her shaking hands.    “Open it. Take the Amulet out and wear it. You are the rightful Heir of the Amulet, or the 'Heir of Medklad,' as we use to call it.”                                                           

    Fredy set the small box down on the part of a broken wall and opened the lid. There it was. The Amulet shone brightly and the stones glittered in the sunlight. She picked the chain up (how heavy it was!) and slowly slid it over her head. Fredy held the silver disc in her hands and saw how beautiful it was. In between the stones were tiny carvings. She could have looked at it for hours, but she felt the Elder's gaze on her and let the Amulet drop. There it was again … the warm secure feeling. She could get used to this. Fredy looked up at Felicia with a smile and saw the old face beaming with pride.                   

    “Frederika, please listen carefully. This Amulet is very powerful and is of the utmost importance to your people. You are not, under any circumstances, to take it off. Do not let anyone take it from you and do not give it to anyone else. This Amulet means everything to us. Some of our young men would even be so hardheaded as to kill anyone who as much as tries to touch it.”      

    Fredy gasped.                                                                

    “Do not worry. We are an extremely peace-loving people.” Felicia smiled. “Since our work is done now, how about some breakfast before we continue home to Willowgrove?”                             

    “Home to Willowgrove…” Another wave of warmth and security flooded Fredy. These words really meant home, the place where she truly belonged. They were the most wonderful words she had ever heard spoken. But then she realized the words were not spoken at all. She could not even remember when Felicia had ever moved her lips, yet Fredy could hear her loud and clear.                             

    Felicia smiled at her and pulled a piece of bread and a small bottle out of a hidden bag under the large folds of her cloak. Fredy took the bread and ate it greedily. In all the excitement, she had forgotten how hungry she was. Surely she would need more than just one small piece of this delicious bread but strangely enough she could not even finish this one piece.            

     When they had finished eating, the Elder stuck the leftover bread and empty bottle back into the bag, stood up and Fredy heard the calm clear voice again, yet without moving lips.

    'Should we continue our journey and bring our new Heir back home to Willowgrove?'                             
 “Yes. Yes, please.”                                                           

    The Elder swung the big cloak to cover both completely, while Fredy held on to the Silverbelt. A moment later, Felicia opened the cloak and said “Welcome to Willowgrove.”                                                                      

    In place of the ruins now stood a big rock. Fredy stood next to the Elder on top of a hill overlooking a lush, green valley framed by yet another thick forest, but this forest was somehow different from the one they had just left.     

    Fredy looked down into the valley and saw a big pond, fields with grains, and vegetable gardens. Paddocks with animals she could not make out in the distance and scattered around the valley were the houses of Willowgrove. She saw the people moving about and many children running and playing.          

    'They are getting ready for the feast in honor of your arrival.'                                                       

    Fredy looked surprised at the people. She had never felt special enough to have a family feast … let alone one with a whole village!

    But Felicia smiled looking into the valley. 'These people have waited a long time for you. You see that house over there, with the small garden and the barn in the back? That is the house of Carl and his wife Emily. They have a daughter called Miriam. She is your age. You will be living with them.' 

    Fredy looked at the small house and had the sudden feeling that the Elder was watching her.          

    'Frederika,' Felicia continued, 'I have to give you something from your dear mother. Please take your time. A bell will ring when the feast is about to start. It will be held in the Meetinghouse, the largest building in the middle of the village. I have to go. The people will be expecting me by now.' She pushed a piece of folded paper into Fredy's hand, turned, and set off down a small path into the valley.    

    Fredy watched the Elder disappear and then stared at the piece of paper in her hand. She sat down next to the big rock, unfolded it and read the last letter her mother had ever written:                                          

          My dear Fredy,                                                   

          My time has come.                                                 

           I have to say goodbye to you.                          

          Felicia will teach you all you will need to know.   

          You will be much more powerful than I ever was. Please be good. 

          I will always be with you.                             

                             Your beloved Mother.

    Fredy's eyes filled with tears. She covered her face and cried.


    The bell rang. Was this already the signal for the feast to start? But Fredy was not ready to face these people just yet.  What would they say if she did not show up? Fredy had a numb feeling in her middle, there would be no way she could eat anything anyhow. So many things had happened so fast. Fredy's head started to hurt. She closed her eyes and tried to remember the times she spent with Danielle, her mother, so long ago.

    When Fredy finally opened her eyes again and looked up she was surprised to see how dark it was. She jumped to her feet ready to run down to the village, but she could not see the path anymore!  Confused and alone in the dark, Fredy sat back down at the big rock, while the heavy silver Amulet started to warm up on her skin.                                 

    She thought to herself ‘If all these people were waiting for me for so long, then why isn't anybody missing me?  Someone ... anyone ...?' She dried her tears off and waited.