“Umm…….Katie, I think you’ll have to give your mother some extra work with that chocolate all over your tee.” said Daffy. “Oh no! Why does this heat stop me from having my favorite chocolate popsicle.” whined Katie as they were returning from Summer Sweet Popsicles’ Store after school.
Katherine (Katie) was a twelve-year old tween who was overcome by curiosity and loved to explore things. She was a merry girl with blue eyes and wavy brown hair till her neck. She was constantly being told by her parents to not get into trouble but that’s exactly what she did having fun adventures with her best friend Daphne (Daffy), who unlike her was a shy and responsible person.
One weekend, Katie’s mother was going to buy groceries. Her mother asked her from the door, “Katie, I’m going for groceries, are you coming?” “Wait for meeee” yelled Katie as she ran down the stairs. “Oh, my goodness!” exclaimed her mother looking at her hair which had gotten messy after she’d played a good doze of hide and seek with Sammy (her pet dog). “Go and brush your hair quick.” said her mother sternly. “Why, why, why do I have to brush my hair every single minute?” grumbled Katie as she forced the hairbrush over her tangled hair. “I’m done. Now can we go please?” asked Katie with a not-so-pleased expression. “Well, that’s a good girl. C’mon.” said her mother pleased.
As they were walking, Katie saw something she had never before. “Mom, do you see that little cottage over there?” asked Katie pointing to a dense forest, across the lake near Mr. Phelps’ Grocery Store. “Yes dear.” said her mother looking frightened but Katie did not notice. Katie was already thinking of reasons to leave home next Saturday. “Ooh, that’s scary. I’m not gonna go there.” said Katie as she grinned to herself.
Next Saturday Katie found a common excuse to explore the woods across the lake. “Mom, I’m going for a picnic with Daffy today at eleven. We’re having it at Daffy’s place. And…..can I take Sammy with me please?” “Okay and only because you kept your grades high this term. But be back before five.” warned her mother. But little did she know that this picnic was gonna be a picnic in the woods. “Yeah mom.” replied Katie. At half past ten, Katie set off with Sammy to Daffy’s place which was near to the grocery store and the lake. She called Daffy for a picnic and Daffy came at once. She was wearing a blue frock with a brown hat and beneath it her long locks of black hair was hidden neatly in a low ponytail. “Where are we going Katie?” asked Daffy. “We’re going across the lake of course. I told you bout it last week, didn’t I?” asked carefree Katie. “Well, yes you did tell me bout it. But why’re we going there?” replied Daffy. Katie said, “We are just going to go there, peep into the cottage and come back.” Daffy, who knew her bestie very well replied, “How’re we gonna get there safely?”. “I found a boat somewhere near. We can use that.” said Katie.
They reached the lake and saw the boat. Katie put Sammy first and then got in with Daffy. They started rowing in silence. “What do you think is in there?” asked Daffy. “I don’t know.” Katie replied. They reached the other side with twenty minutes of rowing. Sammy was sniffing and went into the direction of the little cottage. Daffy and Katie ran after him. Sammy stopped at the doorstep. “Wonder what’s amused Sammy so much!” said Katie. “Do you think we should go inside Katie?” asked Daffy unsure. “Of course we should.” said Katie determined.
Katie approached the dusty wooden door and pushed hard. It opened with a creak and that meant, this place was abandoned for a long time. Sammy leaped inside and started sniffing again. The interior was expectable. Both of them entered to see a dusty room with things that you find in an attic. Suddenly, Sammy started tugging Katie’s frock and signaled her to follow him. Katie, finding her dog behaving unusually strange, followed him. He lead her to a small box which looked like cardboard. “Sammy, what’s up with you? There’s nothing here.” said Katie visually examining the box. She opened the box to see nothing but a folded paper. Her instincts told her to open the paper and look what’s written in it because she found fainted ink drops on it.
She carefully opened the paper and something was written on it. She couldn’t make it out because it looked like a different language. It seemed like: ‘^~^>—
//§``(_±§±±^>//±||\\ LOOK||\\( ^^>±±/±±§|BELOW\\’. “Daffy, Daffy, come fast and have a look at this, oh Daffy, where are you?” said Katie as she realized she couldn’t find Daffy anywhere. She went out of the cottage and began to look for her. “Daffy, Daffy, Daffy where are you?”.
Katie started panicking. She slid the piece of paper into her pocket and went off to search for Daffy into the woods. She kept Sammy close by. Walking through the greenery, Katie heard a familiar voice. “Katie, Katie, I’m alright but you’re not. Come over here. Quick Katie, and take Sammy with you.” she heard a whisper filled with anxiety coming from under a huge oak tree. Katie rushed towards the tree to find her best friend bleeding all over. With moisture filling her eyes, Katie asked, “Oh Daffy, what happened to you, where have you been?” “I’m fine. There’s a hollow space in the trunk of this tree. Let’s take cover. Sammy go in first.” said worried Daffy. Both of them entered after Sammy.
“Now, tell me what’s going on here.” asked Katie firmly. “Look, you went inside the cottage while I hesitated a bit cause I wasn’t feeling very well about this place. Then, when I was about to set foot, the door slammed shut. I yelled at you to come back but it seems you didn’t hear me.” “Well I did not, but what happened to you?”asked Katie. “I couldn’t possibly leave you out there alone, so I went into the woods in the hope of finding someone who belonged to this place. Then I came across this huge figure who did not look human to me, but he placed me in the hollow space in this oak tree.
While he took me in. his palms, my feet and face got wound by tree branches, but I’m fine. And he also mentioned that, the cottage is dangerous. Then he disappeared into the depth of this enchanted forest, that’s what he told me this place is.” finished Daffy. “I’m happy I found you but have a look at this before planning next.” said Katie as she reached out to her pocket to take the crumbled paper. “Oh, no! I’ve lost it.” “Lost what?” asked Daffy. “There was this box in the cottage which Sammy showed me..” Katie was interrupted by Daffy’s words.
“Sammy, where is Sammy?” “Wait, Sammy, he was with us the whole time right? Now where did he go?” asked confused Katie. Katie noticed this place was invisibly enchanted. First Daffy, then the piece of paper and now Sammy. Katie decided to look for the paper and Sammy. “Daffy, let’s go before I become invisible. Let’s find Sammy and the paper.” said Katie. “Alright then.” replied Daffy. They both came out of the space in the tree to find Sammy lying on the ground. “Sammy, oh Sammy, what’s happened to you now?” asked Daffy. “I think this is a place where things and people get missing.” said Katie. “Well, that might be true.” said Daffy. And beside Sammy they found the piece of paper.
Katie grabbed Daffy’s hand and started running towards the cottage with the paper in her other hand. Sammy followed close. “Katie, I thought we weren’t going there.” panted Daffy. “Daffy, we gotta go, I’ll explain later.” Daffy trusted her bestie and went inside the cottage cautiously reminding herself what that creature had told her. Katie was going to show her the box when she realized that, it too had gone. Katie saw a tile bulging out where the box had been resting and with Daffy’s help, pulled it open.
She was dumbfounded when she saw her little brother who had passed away when he was two. Katie was nine then. When she asked about it to her parents, they replied he had been drowned in a lake, though she didn’t know which. Katie knew they were hiding it from her. She started crying and started telling Daffy. “Daffy, its Kay, he’s here, oh my dear brother.” “Katie, how, how can he be here?” asked Daffy. Katie did not wait any longer. She put the paper in her pocket. She held Kay in her left arm. She grabbed Daffy’s hand in her right.
Running straight into the heart of the enchanted forest, they met the huge creature that Daffy met. “Who are you and why have you held my brother captive?” asked Katie fiercely. The creature stared at Katie’s eyes and it’s lips curved into a heartwarming smile. “Halo. I’m Azden. I guard this forest from the Zerodins. I know, why you have come. And I see you have better sense of myst than your parents.” said the huge creature.
“What, what are you saying?” asked Katie confused. “Listen, I will explain everything to both of you. I was a very curious boy when I was fourteen, so I decided to explore this place just like you. That day, I saw a couple with their baby who came for a picnic. I thought they lived in that cottage, which was well furnished three years ago. Then, I went into the woods to take a look and returned after an hour or so to find the couple restlessly searching for their boy. After hours of searching I s’pose, they assumed their baby to be drowned in the lake and crossed the lake in tears. I searched the place so hard, yet I couldn’t find that baby. At last, I hesitated and went inside the cottage. It was then I realized that, they did not belong here. I found a glass of water and I drank it because I was extremely exhausted. That’s the last thing stored in my memory. Then I woke up to find myself as a troll.” This was the sad story of Azden.
“Oh, so you’re a troll, a good one” said Daffy astonished. “Then what?” asked Katie curiously. “Nothing then. I guarded the boy and the forest, that was the only thing I could. But I believed someone will come and seek for him.” replied Azden. “I don’t know why, I felt so but yeah. Then I kept the baby under the cottage and brought him up. I also left a clue incase the rightful person comes when I’m busy in the forest protecting it.”
“Protecting what exactly?” asked Daffy. “Oh, I told you from the Zerodins. They are my only enemies here. They are spirits of people who were drowned in the lake before. Their main entertainment is to make people go missing.” replied Azden. “I knew it.” said Katie with triumph.
“May I take my brother please, then?” asked Katie. “Think about it. How will your parents react? But you can visit us alright.” suggested Azden. “I think that’s better Katie.” said Daffy. “Okay then.” said Katie. “It was nice meeting you Azden. But we gotta go now. It’s gonna be four.” said Daffy. “Well, off you both go. Bye. Come often okay?” said Azden. “Sure we will Azden!” said Katie. She was confused but both of them had their sandwiches with Azden and returned home and kept it as their lifetime secret.
They visited Azden every week since then and it was worth it.