Hill of Sidh
Novelist : Judit Elias
The sunset filled the sky with orange and
pink. Ashes could see the sun setting over the distant hills from the
windowsill of the tower. Soft knocks on the door interrupted his thoughts.
Lapis poked his head through the door.
The blue dragon entered and stood by their
“I thought you ought to know, Seed and Rot
are not back yet.”
That got Ashes’ attention.
“They should have been here by midday.”
“That’s what Rot told Becky, but we
haven’t heard from them.”
Ashes thought they had probably just lost
track of time and were already on their way.
“I know where Seed’s meadow is,” he said.
“I’ll go and fetch them.”
“That’s the problem,” said Lapis, his
voice thick with anxiety. “I have just been there.”
Ashes could see the worry on his brother’s
“Ashes, they haven’t been there! I could
not sense a trace of their scent. Something must have happened while they were
on their way. What can we do?”
Ashes had not yet answered when a pinkish
ball of scales flew in at high speed, crashing into them. It was Rot. She was
panting, out of breath, her body shivering violently and her eyes full of
Lapis could feel his throat suddenly dry.
Somehow, inside him, he could feel his sister’s fear, her sorrow and worry.
“Rot, what happened?”
“Where’s Seed?” asked Ashes.
Rot was sobbing uncontrollably, unable to
speak. Lapis took her in his arms and pressed his cheek against her warm wet
“Take a deep breath,” he said, sensing her
heart rate steadily slowing down. “We’re here with you now, but you need to
tell us what’s wrong. Otherwise we won’t be able to help.”
Rot finally seemed to calm down. With a
trembling voice, she told her brother everything that had happened. She showed
them the vial she had taken from the cabin. Ashes took it, then opened the vial
and sniffed. He flew quickly out of the room through the arcades, then entered the
library through the window. When Lapis and Rot followed he was already
examining the liquid.
“Belladonna leaves and mandragora root.
And something I can’t work out… This is dangerous,” he sighed. “Potent enough
to paralyse and knock out any one of us.”
grabbed Seed and they disappeared.”
Ashes didn’t want to wait to hear any
us to that cabin, now.”
They left the tower immediately, leaving a
worried Becky behind.
“I don’t know how long this will take,” Ashes
told the bunny. “You will have to stay and protect the eggs.”
She nodded in agreement
“Please, be careful!”
And they took off, Ashes carried a small satchel
with a few provisions, in case the search took longer than expected.
As they approached the area it was becoming
more and more difficult to see the ground because of the dense treetops. They
flew in circles until Rot caught a glimpse of yellow and remembered the
daffodils in the meadow. She plunged down to the ground, followed by her
brothers. But when she landed, she was surprised to discover that the cabin was
not there any more.
“It was here,” muttered Rot, confused. “I
know it was…”
“Are you sure?” asked Ashes. “Maybe this
place is just similar.”
Rot shook her head. Not only was the meadow
exactly as she remembered, but she could also still see the stone well.
“I am sure of it,” she replied approaching
the well. “It was next to this well and now it is as if the hut has vanished
into thin air.”
Lapis looked over the edge of the well.
“Seed!” he shouted, surprised.
He was already jumping in, almost touching
the water when Ashes grabbed him.
“What are you doing?” Lapis cried. “Let me
Lapis seemed quite unlike himself as he
turned to his brother with a snarl.
“I saw Seed’s reflection, he is trapped
Rot joined Ashes, holding Lapis’ tail.
“Stop it, Lapis! There is only water
Lapis gazed down into the well again. His
brother and sister were right. Now he could see only water and their
reflections. But just a moment ago he had seen Seed, he was sure of it. He had
seen the green dragon, his eyes looking at him with a sad lonely gaze, his
mouth open in a soundless cry for help. Had he imagined it?
“We have to remain calm. I am worried too
but if we lose our nerve we won’t be able to help Seed,” Ashes said.
They searched the area with no success.
The woods surrounding the cabin seemed normal, unchanged. Eventually, they came
back together again.
“What can we do?” asked Rot.
Ashes could think of only one solution.
“We have to ask the forest’s soul,” he
The large forests of Sidh were lush and
full of life. In their depths, where outsiders ventured only very rarely, lived
the arbras. To an unsuspecting traveller, arbras looked like majestic trees of
different shapes and kinds, all clustered together. But, for those who knew,
they were much more, for it was said that the arbras were the true soul of the
forest. Ashes had never seen them but he knew where he could find them, and he now
led his brother and sister to the heart of the woods.
The dragons landed in an area surrounded
by enormous trees. There was a solemn silence, broken only by the tiny droplets
that fell from the moist leaves. Their wide trunks were covered with a light
grey rough bark. Spirals of large ivy leaves curled around them, extending to
the multiple branches that formed a huge dome of crowns. The trunks separated
into several roots that extended like long fingers through the damp ground of
the forest, creating a network of roots and low branches that touched one
another before disappearing into the ground. Several of the bigger arbras had
some marks around the base of their trunks, large cavities that made one think
of grimacing faces. Others merely had a few features, just the eyes, or half a
mouth. It was eerie, but that was not what surprised Rot the most.
“Ashes, Lapis, look,” she said, pointing
at the treetops.
Dozens of pinkish gourds hung from the branches.
They were filled with a transparent sap that allowed the dragons to see what
was inside them. Small creatures with pearly white and green fur and big ivy
leaves on their foreheads were curled, sleeping peacefully, one inside each
sack. They were clearly alive, as it was easy to see them moving their short
legs, one kick at a time, or stirring lazily, their eyes shut. The gourds gave
off a sweet smell that made the dragons think of wild berries.
“We need to ask the arbras about Seed,”
Lapis reminded them.
Ashes nodded… But how? On closer
inspection, it didn’t look like the bark faces could see or talk. He decided to
“Wise arbras,” he said, speaking loudly,
“we have come for your counsel. Please help us.”
They received no reply. Even the wind had
seemed to stop, allowing an unsettling silence to surround them. Ashes and
Lapis dared not to breathe, afraid anything they might say would disturb the
response. Rot, however, was growing impatient. She was ready to ask again when
a frenetic buzzing filled the air. From behind the big leaves they appeared,
flying and crawling, their wings iridescent in the light of the moon.
“Fairies,” muttered Ashes.
They were tiny, their skin pale yet
colourful, some of them pinkish, others green, some even with a blue tinge. On
the top of each of their heads a single flower or mushroom grew like a hat. The
pixies stood looking at the three dragons and hundreds of voices spoke in
“Who is it that wakes us from our slumber?”
Ashes swallowed before answering.
“My name is Ashes, the dragon, son of the
sorceress Nari. We need to speak with the arbras.”
Having so many pairs of eyes gazing at him
made him uneasy. Again, all the fairies spoke at the same time.
“We are the fairy folk and we are the
“I don’t understand,” whispered Rot. “How
can you be two things?”
A swarm of tiny bodies approached her,
buzzing and flitting around her.
“We are one and we are both.”
Rot shook her head. That had not clarified
“Then please, fairies and arbras,” Lapis
said, “will you help us?”
But instead of answering, all the pixies
suddenly turned their heads upwards.
“It is time,” they said, repeating the
same phrase excitedly. “It is time.”
And up they flew to the pinkish sacks.
Suddenly, the fairies were singing and it was the most beautiful song the
dragons had ever heard. Every fairy sang the same song at a different pitch and
speed but, instead of creating a chaotic racket, it was a perfect enchanting
Friendship entangling in
Arms holding the soul of
Bringing the song
together, singing like rain,
falling from the leaves
into the moist terrain.
The woodland is
Lights are dancing
between the trees.
Like dandelions left
alone in the wind,
coating the dark bark
with a silver gleam.
Be born, arbras!
Free in nature as ever,
this cycle echoing
Join the explosion of
sounds, the smell of flowers around.
All of its creatures
That is the essence of
The sacks were now glowing faintly. The
fairy folk with flowers on their heads surrounded them, dancing around them
with coordinated, precise movements. The dragons stared, amazed. With a sudden
high-pitched note, all the pixies placed their hands on the gourds. Dozens and
dozens of pairs of eyes opened inside the sacks and the little creatures started
to move, raising their big ears as if listening to the song. The gourds were
now swinging while the offspring inside stirred, and soon they began to detach
from the branches and fall, all the way down to the ground. They crashed into
the mossy roots with a muffed ‘ploff’. Most of them just rolled on the moss,
the membranes too thick to break on impact, while others opened with a splash.
The fairies with the mushroom hats had descended to them and busied themselves tearing
a small gash on each and every sack. Lapis approached the nearest gourd.
“What are you doing?” asked Rot, confused.
“I am going to help them,” he muttered,
not paying much attention to his sister, too fascinated by the creature that
now regarded him across the membrane. “You should too.”
With all the care he could muster he
extended one claw and pierced the elastic sack. A few droplets came from it,
and he made the hole bigger. A stream of crystalline liquid sploshed onto his
feet, but he didn’t care, for after it came a small wet furry head. The
newborn, whose body was still inside the now deflated sack, yelped a series of
short yips and shook its head. The ivy leaves on his forehead curled open as
they dried. Lapis helped the animal out. Trembling and with some uncertainty,
the little one stood up and took his first steps. A mushroom fairy came to
them, a handful of fresh moss in her hands, and instructed Lapis to give it to
the offspring, who didn’t hesitate in taking a bite. The dragon decided to move
to another sack, and the young animal followed him happily. It didn’t take long
for Lapis to bring more of them out, and those he helped followed him wherever
he went. Rot could not help but laugh when he saw his brother followed by a
line of yelping and demanding little creatures, all eager to be petted and
It soon became apparent that the fairies
wouldn’t pay any attention to the dragons until all the offspring had been born,
so Ashes and Rot decided to join in and, a razor claw scratch or a careful bite
at a time, help them open the gourds. It took them all night and day was
already breaking when all the small creatures roamed together over the long
roots, never moving too far away from the safety of the wide trunks. Exhausted,
Rot had sat down with her brothers. Most of the fairy folk had returned to the
domed treetops, although a few of them were still checking on the newborns who,
now with full stomachs, were lying down cuddling together in groups and dozing
off to sleep, their mouths still munching on their delicious meal. A group of
pixies surrounded the dragons. One of them took a step closer. She had a
mushroom on her head, red with white and yellow spots.
“We thank you, Ashes the dragon and
companions,” she said, her voice like the single tinkle of a bell, “for your
help in the birthing of the greeneries.”
Ashes approached her.
“We need your help. Our brother…” he
pleaded, but the fairy stopped him before he could continue.
“We know about the green dragon,” she
interrupted. “We see everything that happens in this forest.”
“Do you know where he is?” Rot asked.
The pixies all shook their heads.
“An evil has appeared in these woods. We
have sensed it. We heard and felt the cries and sorrows of many animals who
have fallen into its claws,” said the fairy.
“You are speaking of that big man,” added
Rot, a chill running down her spine at the mere memory of him.
“He is now away from the forest,” the
pixie continued, “in a place our roots cannot reach.”
Ashes thought for a moment.
“If he is not in this forest… where is he?”
He received no direct response, but the
fairies regarded him solemnly and, speaking again in unison, they said:
“The evil must be stopped. The arbras have
conferred and wish to help.”