Chapter the Eighth
Having crossed the stream and walked a ways among the trees, Jonathan eventually entered a pleasant section Auntie Woezzl told him he would find. This was encouraging, and it must be the Glen of Gwaer she had mentioned. Jonathan was, as we have noted, no mean navigator, but even the best of them keeps a sharp eye on their charts. So he looked once more at the map he had been given.
The strange thing—well, everything that day had been rather odd to tell the truth—was that when Jonathan thought about Auntie Woezzl while looking at the map he could see a faint golden line from the tree “castle” to Timnel Tower, threading its way among the various landmarks. But when he did not concentrate on his newfound “Auntie,” the line was gone. He quickly learned to focus on her when reading the map as this evanescent golden filigree seemed to be the way he should go. Oddly enough, or predictably enough, it seemed to mark what once must have been a well-traveled path through the great Wood. Now it was only a path where trees were fewer and bushes somewhat thinner, but Jonathan was grateful for even that much reassurance that he was on the right track. That the path was usually recognizable seemed a good thing inasmuch as Auntie Woezzl, in Jonathan’s humble opinion, would win no prizes as a cartographer.
Gwaeron Stream had been much closer to the old woman’s tree/home than the stained map would seem to indicate, whereas the Ulban Hills were not so close to the Stream. Ah well, if it got him there and back (especially back) and home again (most especially home again), that was all Jonathan could ask of any map. So, with one more look at it, he put it back in his pocked and resumed his journey.
Now that the rain had stopped everything seemed so much brighter. The sun was going all motley through the slender trees of the glen and Jonathan noticed an occasional autumn flower or two. he also heard a bid singing in the distance, but its song was a sad one with droopy, shadowy melody. This was later replaced by another bird with a strong cheery lyric and Jonathan’s heart was lifted. “I must not be so flighty in my moods,” the young adventurer remonstrated with himself. “Valor: that’s what’s called for now.” And with that he straightened his spine and continued his way westward.
“WHO GOES THERE? DECLARE YOURSELF!”
Jonathan’s heart promptly fell back into his shoes. The voice that boomed from nowhere and everywhere reminded him that the gnord’s spell was working its way into the wood and good creatures were falling under its sway. Was this a good creature or an evil one invisibly confronting him? Still, with no visible assault either this was not a time to forget one’s manners.
“Jonathan Grubbley, Sir.”
“PLEASED TO MEET YOU, JONATHAN. FETCHIT’S THE NAME, FULSOME FETCHIT.”
With that, there stepped into the pathway in front of Jonathan the tall, thin, grey body behind the booming voice. It was not one of your everyday woodland creatures, and it certainly wasn’t human. But it was impressive. Its homely grey features adorned a small round head atop a long thin neck which, in turn, crowned a body that would have towered a good two feet above Jonathan’s father. The arms hung to its knees and the fingers were frightfully long and flexible. All in all it looked like a human caricature executed in some grey rubbery substance. But it smiled.