The Enchanter's Orchard

Submitted for Contest #63 in response to: Write about two characters going apple picking.... view prompt

35 comments

Oct 15, 2020

Fantasy

Ryder pulled his cloak tighter over his shoulders. He crunched through the frosted grass and stared straight ahead, avoiding the dark forest around him.


“Are we there yet?” his sister whispered, hurrying along beside him.


“Hush, Skye. Not yet.”


Their breath came out in small white puffs in the chilly night. A biting wind whistled through the trees, and Ryder listened to Skye’s teeth chatter.


After another ten minutes of walking, they came upon a small sign sticking out of the ground, in front of a particularly thick patch of trees. 


The Enchanter’s Orchard,” read Skye.


Ryder couldn’t help but smile at the look of wonder on his sister’s face. He remembered his first mission, and the way his heart seemed to bounce around in his chest when he entered the orchard. “Ready?” he asked.


“I’ve been ready for years.”


“Let’s go,” said Ryder in a hushed voice. He glanced around before stepping through the trees behind the sign, Skye right behind him.


The forest opened to a clearing, lined with rows and rows of trees as far as the eye could see. Small signs, like the one at the entrance of the orchard, labeled each row. Under the glow of the moon, Ryder watched a few shadowed forms walking throughout the orchard. 


“Looks like there's a few of us out tonight,” said Ryder.


“I was hoping it’d be just us,” Skye whispered nervously. “You know, for my first mission.”


“They’ll probably keep to themselves. No need to panic.” Ryder gave his sister an encouraging nod.


“Evening, Ryder,” said a voice to his right. 


Ryder whirled around to a very tall man with white hair hanging down to his waist. “Good evening, Merlin,” said Ryder, smiling. “The night finds you well?”


Merlin’s eyes twinkled. “Well indeed. What business brings you to the orchard?”


Ryder nodded toward Skye, who shifted at his side.


“Ah!” Merlin laughed and took a step toward her. “An enchantress, come of age?” he asked Skye kindly.


She nodded.


“Well, then, I won’t hold you up.” Merlin winked before walking off into the trees.


“See?” said Ryder. “Nice folk out here.”


“Fine.” Skye rocked on her heels. “Let’s go!”


Ryder chuckled as his sister pulled him toward the row closest to them. The sign sticking out of the ground said FOR SHIFTING.


“For shifting what?” asked Skye.


Ryder grinned. “You’ll see. Come on.”


As they walked down the row, Ryder glanced at his sister and watched her eyes widen.


The trees swayed in the breeze, and several leaves fluttered to the ground. They looked no different than ordinary apple trees, except for the misshapen fruits hanging from the branches.


“Is-is that a bat?” asked Skye, pointing to the tree closest to them.


Ryder had to squint to make out the fruit in the darkness. He pulled the bat-shaped apple off the tree and, throwing a wink at his sister, took a bite out of the wing.


With a poof of smoke and a BANG that made Skye yelp, Ryder disappeared. In his place flapped a small bat. 


“Ryder!” yelped Skye.


The bat twirled in the air before it squeaked, “It’s finishing!” With another BANG and more smoke, Ryder stood before his sister. He cracked his neck and rolled his shoulders. “I always forget how small bats are.”


“You-you turned into an animal!”


“I shifted into a bat. And only for a moment, sadly--the magic from the apples only lasts a moment for enchanters.”


“Wow,” breathed Skye. She grabbed the bitten apple off the ground--Ryder had dropped it with the shapeshifting--and stared at it in awe.


“They’ve got every animal in this row. Just not any unicorns yet. Haven’t been able to harness that kind of magic,” said Ryder.


“I think a bat is magic enough.” She dropped the apple to the ground.


Ryder laughed and grabbed Skye’s hand. He dragged her under the trees on the left, so they entered the next row.


“What’s this one?” asked Skye.


The new trees all sported red leaves and orange apples, exceedingly vibrant even in the darkness.


Skye moved forward to grab an apple and Ryder yanked her back. “Don’t touch them!” he warned.


“What? Why?” 


“Fire apples. One of the most popular ones here,” said Ryder. He bent down and felt around until he clutched a small stick, which he threw at one of the orange apples. The rock hit the skin of the fruits with a sizzle and immediately caught fire before falling to the ground. It burned brightly for a moment before a cold wind quieted the flames.


“Wow,” said Skye, for the second time that night. “Amazing. Those’ll be perfect for cold nights like this. Wish we could grab some.”


“You can, you just have to eat an ice apple first. Those are a few rows over, and they wear off after a couple hours.”


Skye sighed. “I wish we could see every row!”


“Well, we can try. Let’s go!” Ryder hurried to the next row over, catching a glimpse of Skye’s blazing smile.


The two continued to walk through the rows, Ryder pointing out the powers of all the apples. They grew twenty feet tall with one bite, and shrunk to the size of ants with the next. They ate an apple that allowed them to speak four hundred languages, and another that didn’t let them speak at all.


When the sky started to brighten, Ryder cleared his throat.


“Alright, enough playing around,” he said, laughing as Skye crunched into a blue apple. Her skin changed to a dark shade of indigo, and she chuckled before tossing the apple to the ground.


“Yes, we should probably get a move on,” she said as the tint began to fade back to her normal skin color.


Ryder cleared his throat, his heart pounding. He’d never wanted anything so bad as seeing his sister succeed in her first mission.


“Who’s the target?” he asked, in what he hoped was a casual voice.


Skye took a deep breath before waving her arms. A bright light flashed in the air and an image appeared before them--a faded apparition of a girl. Ryder raised his eyebrows in surprise at the stranger’s bright colored dress. She had the palest skin he’d ever seen and her hair was as dark as midnight.


“The princess?” asked Ryder. “Really? She’s about as dumb as a sack of rocks.”


Skye nodded. “Snow White. What a ridiculous name.”


Ryder smirked as he stared at the apparition. “Let’s go find her the perfect apple.”

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35 comments

Lina Ozz
16:15 Oct 18, 2020

I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH. And I also love how all your stories lately edge into the fantastical realm––you seriously have a knack for storytelling in this genre and I can absolutely see you writing a longer story off this one (like, this could seriously be the start of a novel/story book). TINY fixes: Ryder whirled around to a very tall man with white hair down to his waist. --Missing a couple verbs here. Not sure about an edit; maybe: Ryder whirled around to find a very tall man with long, flowing white hair down to his waist stand...

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Leilani Lane
16:46 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you so SO much for reading and for the edits!!! :) I will make those changes ASAP before the story can't be edited anymore! I love the fix you made for "brief version of the apples," was struggling so much with that. :) Also, I just looked it up and I think it's actually one word, no hyphens or spaces. Thank you for catching that!!

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Lina Ozz
16:51 Oct 18, 2020

Ah, I learn something new every day! Haha no problem, happy to help :)

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Molly Leasure
05:17 Oct 16, 2020

OH my gosh, I was so excited to see Merlin and then Snow White appeared? Haha. The twist was pretty great, albeit a bit abrupt. I think (you know, if you ever wanna come back to this story) you could describe a couple of apples that might cause ailments that Disney princesses have suffered: sleeping (in a more sleeping beauty-esque style), legs, etc. Then we get a taste of it without it being too blatantly obvious, haha. Also, I know you don't have time to edit, but I figured I'd point these out anyway (again, in case you decide to edit ...

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Leilani Lane
13:58 Oct 18, 2020

That is a FANTASTIC idea Molly!! I think this one will have a bit of time before it’s accepted (hopefully) so I’m going to try to fix some things ASAP with your suggestions!! Today’s the day to get my life together 😂😂😂 oh my gosh, I pushed these out maybe a bit tooooo quickly lol just wanted to get something submitted!!

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Molly Leasure
02:13 Oct 19, 2020

I now realize I described "legs" as an ailment and I'm not sure how to feel about that...LOL hey, you're doing great. You got this!!

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Leilani Lane
14:34 Oct 20, 2020

Hahaha I didn't even notice that! XD

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Maya W.
15:31 Oct 15, 2020

Hey Leilani! I saw your bio said you're getting married! Congratulations! As for this story, it was incredible. The ending was a nice twist, and I actually thought of doing a Snow White thing, as well, but didn't, lol. You packed a lot of world building into a short story, so props for that! I understand that you're probably very busy, but when you get the chance, could you check out my most recent story, Island Near the Sky? It's another myth retelling, this time Orpheus but with Celtic stuff mixed in. Thanks!

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Leilani Lane
13:59 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you so much, Maya, as always!! I’m catching up on stories today and yours is on my list!! :) I’m excited for Celtic stuff!!!

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A.g. Scott
03:17 Oct 15, 2020

I mean, what a crazy twist -- is their like a guild of assassins bent on the annihilation of Disney princesses? There's not much of a plot beyond that, so I wish it had been foreshadowed a little more. I know you say you're tight on time, but if you get a few spare minutes, I'd love it if you could give my most recent a look. -- edit: I wrote this before I read the announcement in your bio, never mind! Congrats. :)

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Leilani Lane
03:20 Oct 15, 2020

I agree with you--kind of tooooo much of a twist lol. Hoping I can edit it before it's approved!! I definitely want to read your new story--I'll be catching up on life and writing and such on Sunday, so I'll plan to get to it then!! And thank you :)

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Leilani Lane
03:02 Oct 15, 2020

No time to edit this one sadly. :( But, as always, I appreciate suggestions!

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Lina Ozz
03:28 Oct 19, 2020

It's amazing for no edits, dang you can write fast! :)

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Leilani Lane
03:30 Oct 19, 2020

Aw thank you so much!!

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Lina Ozz
03:32 Oct 19, 2020

Of course!

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Kylie Rudolf
06:12 Oct 21, 2020

This story is so unique!

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Leilani Lane
11:34 Oct 21, 2020

Thank you, Kylie!!

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Ray Dyer
00:44 Oct 21, 2020

There's fun in this garden; it's great seeing your creativity roam as the different apples appear and take form. The twist at the end is equally fun. I love it! Thank you for sharing this one, too!

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Leilani Lane
02:34 Oct 21, 2020

I'm glad you like this one, too! Thank you!!

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Claire Lewis
20:15 Oct 20, 2020

This story is so fun to read and very creative! I love the playful tone and the unexpected dark twist on the fantasy/fairy tale vibe. Also, congrats on getting married! How exciting!!

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Leilani Lane
20:24 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much, Claire! :) I so appreciate your comments!!

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Aisa M
05:35 Oct 20, 2020

This is a very interesting take on this prompt. I love it. So creative. Do you hate Snow White though? HAHA

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Leilani Lane
14:53 Oct 20, 2020

Haha thank you so much!! :) She's just a bit naive... XD

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Regina Krieger
00:37 Oct 20, 2020

This is such a fun story. I think that it would make a great chapter to a novel. I could imagine so many ways to incorporate your theme. Even a series, called the Enchanted Orchard where each novel links to a historical event, either fantasy or real. Great job!!!

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Leilani Lane
14:50 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much, Regina, that made my day! :) And what a great idea, I would love to continue this story, even if it's just making a couple sequels on Reedsy!!

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Noel Pine
02:50 Oct 19, 2020

Well that was an amazing twist!!! First Merlin, then Snow White!! Well done!

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Leilani Lane
14:36 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much! :)

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Stephen Closson
01:54 Oct 19, 2020

This was such an awesome story!!! I love the idea of 'apple magic', that's just such a neat thing. The back and forth with Ryder and Skye was fun, and I really enjoyed the Merlin cameo. Also, that ending was fantastic! Very nice going! Also, congrats on getting married!!! :D

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Leilani Lane
14:29 Oct 20, 2020

Thank you so much, Stephen! I'm glad it all worked! And thank you for the congrats :) I need to catch up on your stories, I'm so behind!! Oh my gosh, I see one of yours has "banshee" in the title... I'M DOING ONE ABOUT BANSHEES TOO lol but for a different prompt XD

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Stephen Closson
05:07 Oct 24, 2020

Don't feel bad, I'm pretty behind myself, lol. Nice, that's cool! I can't wait to check it out! :D

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21:43 Oct 16, 2020

Leilani, CONGRATS!!! I was wondering about the change in name... Anyways, I know you said you can't edit this (and the deadline's in a few hours), but I noticed some errors. "'Alight.” Skye rocked on her heels. “Let’s go!'" ~ This should be "Alright" instead. "'Is--is that a bat?'" ~ I know the - looks like a hyphen, but I'm pretty sure it could work as a dash if you put a space before and after it. The same thing goes here: “'You--you turned into an animal!'” There are a few other places, but I'm sure you get the idea. "They at ...

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Leilani Lane
14:03 Oct 18, 2020

Thank you so much, Adrienne!!! I actually changed my name on here just to be a bit more anonymous 😂 but who knows if I’ll pick up my husband’s! It’s just so much work.... lol 😂 THANK YOU so much for catching those errors!! I never know if em dashes or hyphens are used for ‘stuttering’ or pausing or whatever you’d call it, so thank you! I am definitely going to at least mention the word ‘mission’ earlier on, will work it out today. I think I can still edit it before it’s officially accepted so you are a life saver. 😊 hope you’re doing well...

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20:48 Oct 18, 2020

Oh, haha! I get it! Not a problem! It drives me up the wall as well. So glad I could help! Hope you're staying safe! Thank you for checking out my latest!

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You explained enough to us to give us a sense of where we are, but left out the right parts to make it mysterious and exciting.

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B. W.
00:28 Oct 20, 2020

I'm gonna go ahead and give this story a 10/10 :)

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