Tall trees shaded golden lilies around a silvery pond, dappled shadows fell, softly across Mya’s brow. She took in the view from her small white bench and sighed, emerald green ferns grew in abundant verdancy amongst the sweet peas and perfumed roses, an addictive heavenly aroma wafted pleasantly from every corner of her secret garden.
Her haven was a contrast of benefit and beauty, medicinal comfrey sprouted between nutritious beans of variegated colors and heights, while the daffodils bloomed, sun-yellow in patches of bright delight.
Mya conjured sweet, sweet dreams and scattered them on the wind to alight where they may. The seed of her magic rested in the rich soil that invigorated the flowers, trees and herbs to grow greener and more luxuriously within her walls than anywhere else in the realm. She twisted vines together into spectacular plaits of vibrant color to cast healing spells that drifted with enchantment from her pond into the streams and rivers of her kingdom, bringing health and wealth to all.
But, beyond the cragged mountains that encircled her shiny realm Evilius spied on her, seeking knowledge from the reflective pool of mercury that swirled and bubbled within the dungeons of his vast gray castle. Everything in his realm was poisoned, mercury flowed instead of water, rain doused the barren fields with shards of steel, and sulfurous, yellow gas sprouted in eddies from the very ground. A gray-green cloud hung over his land like the remnants of a rotten chemical reaction gone wrong. A putrid stink emanated like a wafting disease from each sharp diagonal of his kingdom.
Evilius’ coffers were running dry, no taxes flowed into his castle’s walls. No exports of grain or gold reached the far flung markets east or west. Imports stalled on the lack of funds, while schools and churches lay derelict and forlorn, all his subjects gone; more than a few to their graves. Evilius pondered his fate, his stores were all but empty and he was alone except for his messenger bird. Illuminated in the liquid metal pool at his feet was the paradise of his ardent desire; brimful, bountiful. Beautiful!
Naturally, he needed a devious plan.
He wanted to capture Mya and enslave her kingdom, the thought of all the taxes he could enforce on her people encouraged him and made him smile for the first time in ages. Unfortunately only his castle and grounds lay in a bubble of unpolluted air, he dared not venture beyond the gates, only his hawk could come and go at will; able to fly though the dirty clouds to the clean air above.
But there was one thing he knew with certainty, good people were easily swayed when pulled by their heartstrings so he whistled for his bird and attached a note, he’d furiously penned, around its neck. A note for Mya…
Mya’s pity rose like a tide of goodwill. He was begging forgiveness, asking for a chance to prove his worth, beeching her to heal his land. And she thought it was a grand opportunity
She wove a small wicker basket and filled its base with rose petals, then she layered jasmine, lavender and needles of healing rosemary. To this bouquet she added garlic, ginger root and ginseng. She decorated the basket with twines of nasturtiums and topped it all with a beautiful translucent crystal. She bowed her head and cast a poetic cantation across the contents. Mya sent the hawk back swiftly, praying for the best, for a blossoming.
Evilius seized handfuls of useless petals and swore under his breath uproariously, stupid woman, he raged, how could she ignore his plea, to build a safe bridge so that he could escape his confines. He needed a path; a way out, not a silly collection of herbs. Then like a veil of consciousness, the mercury at his feet began to shift and change, a glow rose and lifted from its silvery surface to engulf him. He felt his eyes grow hooded and weary.
When he awoke his mind was clear, his focus certain and his plans quite fresh. He still needed a bridge to get to Mya and her enchanted garden, but he needed it as a way back in too, a way to start rebuilding all that had been lost, a way to forge an alliance, one that would not be interrupted by a few mountains and a heap of greed.
Of course, there was one thing that Mya knew for certain, evil men lie, but their greed can always be used as a path to their souls, and all she’d needed to do was get close to him and smack him sensible with as much plant power as she could muster.
Evilius would get his bridge after all, she mused smiling as her own messenger doves returned to the garden with the good news.