When Colin woke, he expected to find himself
tangled within his blankets, but it was a
bundle of leaves that he clutched in his
hands. And instead of the familiar sounds of breakfast
being made and the smell of sizzling bacon, he woke to
the haunting call of a mourning dove, and the scent of
pine and oak and other earthly aromas.
He sat up with a start, and found himself not in his
bedroom, but somewhere in the woods, surrounded by
trees and bushes and a wide-open sky, rather than four
walls and a ceiling.
His first thought was that he had been sleepwalking,
but then he spied the smoldering remnants of the
bonfire and the wooden mask beside him, and
remembered his dream.
He realized that this time, it had not been a dream at
He had shown no fear in the night, but that emotion
suddenly tumbled forward. Now that this was real, he
was not entirely certain he wanted to be here. Not if the
creatures he had seen in the night truly did live in theforest. And he thought of his parents, who would be
extremely worried if they found him missing. He
couldn’t imagine what sort of punishment they might
hand him when he returned home.
Rising to his feet, he surmised that finding the way
home would be another large problem. But he was eager
to leave the woods, for he felt eyes upon him. The
creatures he had glimpsed last night in what he had
believed to be a dream could be anywhere, and while
they had shown open friendliness then, he was not so
certain that courtesy would be further extended today.
He started off in a random direction, and nearly
shrieked when a boy stepped from a large grouping of
bushes. “You’re awake!” the boy said, clapping his
hands and hurrying toward Colin, who abruptly took a
step back. “Don’t be afraid,” the boy said, continuing
closer. “I gave you that mask, remember?”
Colin looked down at his hand, surprised to find
himself holding onto the mask. “I don’t want it,” he
said, handing it out to the boy. He shivered when he
spotted the small sprouts of horns atop the boy’s head,
peeking through tufts of sandy hair.
“Don’t be silly, it’s a gift. Keep it. You’ll need it at
nightfall, to see in the dark.”
Colin certainly had no intention of spending another
night out here. And the mention of eyesight drew
Colin’s attention to the eyes of the boy standing before
him, and just like in his dream (which wasn’t a dream,
he had to keep reminding himself of that), they were
pure silver, with no pupils. They stared at Colin in a
way that made him feel especially uneasy.
“What?” the boy asked. “I
though we had fun last night.
Colin had to admit to
himself that it was fun. The
memory of the dance thrilled
him, and he felt some of his
fear slipping away. And the
boy wasn’t all that frightful.
Except for the horns and eyes,
he looked very much like an
He was dressed in a loose-fitting shirt of a very light
material, and green breeches that seemed woven of heavy
cloth. His feet were barefoot and dirty. He had an old
tattered satchel slung over his shoulder.
Colin was slightly ashamed to still be wearing his
pajamas. “We have a gathering like that every new moon.
You were lucky to come when you did. Otherwise you might
have been wandering about Tanglewood, and who knows
where you would have wound up?”
Colin looked around. “I’m not really sure how I got
here in the first place. I thought I was dreaming.”
“You found us because you passed through the
Gateway. It is a secret pathway, and the kynney deiney
can’t find it. Only the fey can show you the way.”
The boy smiled.
“What are the fey?” Colin asked.
“I am of the fey, as are all my sheehogue brothers and
sisters in Tanglewood. Fairykind has many forms, but
we are all creatures of the fey.”
“I see. I think.”
“The magic of the fey keeps Tanglewood safe.
Otherwise we’d likely have all sorts of kynney deiney
tramping through here, and that wouldn’t be good at
“Oh, I guess not. But you didn’t show me the way in.
I found it myself.”
The boy stared, his expression painted with
confusion and mild shock as he thought of something.
“You’re right, I didn’t show you the way. And you’re
certain you followed nothing else, not even a butterfly
or a bird?”
“Nothing,” Colin nodded. “I was walking in the
woods, and I found a path of glowing rocks that led to
a bunch of trees that formed an archway. I passed under
– what?” Colin paused when he saw the boy’s mouth
“You saw the rocks?” the ferrish boy asked,
“Yes, and something written on the trees.”
“You should not have been able to.”
“Well, I did,” Colin replied, started to get frustrated.
“But, but–you shouldn’t have. Unless…” The boy
trailed off, appearing lost in thought. Then he simply
stated, “Come with me.”
“Where are we going?” Colin dared to ask.
“To see Bairtlemead Muffingrow.”
“Who is that?”
“A friend. A druid. Most of the younger sheehogue call
him Doc Muffingrow.”
“What’s a druid?”
“You might say a druid is a friend to the forest. But
more importantly, Bairtlemead is wise, one of the wisest
humans any of the fey have ever known. He came to
Tanglewood long ago, and has been here ever since. He
has no use for the world of kynney deiney. By the way,
how are you called?”
“My name? Colin.”
“Colin,” the boy repeated. “I’m Ailfrid. Say, Colin is
a good name.”
“Why, what does it mean?”
“Never mind that now. We’ve got a lot of distance
to cover. We have to follow the Root Path almost all
the way to Fallen Tree, then at the bridge, we follow the
Copper Stream. Muffingrow lives along the bank.
When we get to Muffingrow’s, we’ll see what he has to
say. It could all just be nothing.”
For more information regarding the fantasy series, The Tales of Tanglewood, please visit the website to learn more about Colin and the other characters in the 'wood, and to download a sample of the first few chapters of each book for free.