The land of Tree
Linda was clinging around Magnus neck very, very tight. As they were standing there, she was too afraid to open her eyes. Magnus kept a cautious watch over the deep and very dense forest. -We are here, he whispered gently.
Linda opens her eyes and was feeling a little bit embarrassed as she let Magnus go. Where are we? she asks quietly, as if someone were standing there, luring on them and could hear every word she said. Mr Hatman suddenly appeared in front of them. And as Magnus mother once said, Mr Hatman bowed and swang his hat. -Welcome to the land of Tree, he proudly said.
Magnus couldn’t help it but, he were amazed by the number of trees that he saw were standing absolutely everywhere. Not that normal amount of trees in a forest but trees growing so tight, that they were almost growing on eachother.
-Why are there so many trees, he asks mr Hatman. Before the hatman answers, he gestures to them with his hat to follow him into the dense forest with sticks and branches constantly poking their bodies everywhere.
-Before Scream became so full of hate and evil he said, all trees and plants were spread evenly throughout the Kingdom of Tree, the gardens that once were growing so beautifully and that gave this land its name are now, all gone. When Scream’s powers began to grow, all living things that hadn’t become corrupted by her evil got pushed in to the only part of the land of Tree, she couldn’t rule. -My kingdom, mr Hatman said! -Now be careful and watch where you put your feet. At any point, new trees may be pushed in to share whatever little space that is left and you wouldn’t want to get caught in the middle of two…
Mr Hatman made a pomperous gesture and led the journey deeper into the forest.
After what felt like hours the forest thinned out, and soon they walked up the hillside that they could have understood was a mountain if they only were able to see where they were going.
-It’s getting very dark, Linda says while focusing on all sticks and branches everywhere. Magnus also began to feel a little bit worried about the dark, what if they encounter something evil now that he was so tired from walking this long road through the forest and up the mountain?
-Look over here! They could both hear mr Hatman call, who despite his short legs and small size was were very fast. Mr Hatman had stopped on the top of the mountain and was admiring what was on the other side. It had become more sparse between the trees again and the farther down you looked, more amazing the landscape appeared. A lake shone in the distance, in the moonlight and it could have been a silver Island in the middle of a mountain cradle! There in a distance a magnificent castle rose and impressed us all! Mr Hatman looked mighty proud -Kids, there you have it…my little cabin!
Linda and Magnus were speechless, and in the night sky, Karon fought vigorously with his own tail and held a careful watch over the sleeping. -Karon… yes, we do not want to disturb him, mr Hatman said, with his hands in his pockets, looking at the dragon star formation. “Power” says Linda, -really powerful! Magnus looked at Linda and couldn’t but agree.
-What is it my mother see? Magnus turn to mr Hatman, -her drawings doesn’t look anything like this! Mr Hatman thought about it for a while, -Magnus, this is my kingdom! Your mother’s door is open to the dungeons, that’s a completely different place within the land of Tree, but enough history for today. -Now we want to go home and sleep a little. We have a lot of work to do in the coming days.
It was much easier to climb down from the mountain than up and after a while, they entered a steep stairs carved in the mountain, leading to the castle. High up in the sky they could see Karon whipping his tail, and when he did it sparkled all over the sky. Two red stars in the snake’s head made the legend seem real. Linda gazed with big eyes and asked mr Hatman how the stars could move? Mr Hatman clenched his belt harder around the waist and wrinkled his eyebrows.
Mr Hatman tell the story, the legend of Karon. “It is said that it started with the two red twin stars. In one star, the giant Casper lived and on the other, Giant Argon. They had been fighting for several millennium when the goddess over all our world, Botvid The Great finally had enough. She who was big and strong herself bound the two stars in the middle and gave the giants each a rein to the other, so that they would learn to work together. If Casper pulled his rein, both stars would steer to the right, and if Argon pulled his rein the stars would steer to the left. Botvid’s plan did not work, and the two pulled the reins so hard that the two stars finally collided and crashed into a nearby planet. All living in that world then became divided between the two giants.
Suddenly, besides having the unbreakable bond between the two stars, each one now had his own people to rule and a new third star which hung behind them like a tail. When Casper and Argon now fought, the tail would recoil back and whip both of them. They thought about it a long time and then they came to the conclusion that the only way to solve their problem, was to make the tail even longer. So, together they now went off to crash with all stars they found until the Snake Dragon was born. Even though the tail was so far away now, it still managed to whip them when they fought, and sparkles flew across the sky.
Everytime it did, Casper and Argon lost a little of their strength.Then Argon, who wasn’t the smartest in history, concluded that if they took the already dead from all the different worlds they could reach, they could place them on the stars to control them. Worst off, is said to be the dead furthest out on the tail, for every spark that lit the night sky is a soul that dies instead of Argon and Casper’s strength.
When Casper and Argon died, Karon is said to have been manifested and born, and he continues the legacy to retrieve the dead and put them on the stars in his tail, but those who was cruel as living, he put furthest out and every time Karon now whips his tail and the sparkles fly, it’s evil that disappears. “
Linda liked that story a lot, but thought it was a little scary too since she really saw how Karon’s tail cascaded sparkles as he flew across the sky and the tail whipped. -But this is just a type of legend, isn’t it? she asks mr Hatman. “I’m not know so sure”, Linda heard him answer from a distance. -Scream certainly thinks he is very much real and want to catch him to enter your world with all that is in hers, like Casper and Argon did. -Scream learned from the Jackass Berries that he always drink water by the lake over here, just before the night gets so dark so that we can see him.
-Jackass Berries? Linda repeat and laughs. She’d never heard the stories from Magnus Mother. -Oh yes! Mr Hatman answers. The Jackass Berries or “Jackleberries” was initially little school children that annoyed Scream to the point that she transformed them into Jackleberries. She decided that children was to never enter her Kingdom of Tree and those who already was here, she would forever turn into annoying and stupid Humenottes! Linda looked at Magnus, who shrugged his shoulders and shook his head.
-Humenottes? Magnus asked surprised. Mr Hatman stopped walking when he stood in front of a very steep staircase. -Certainly so! -A Humenotte! A creature that drives people into madness.
Mr Hatman jump up the stairs and call to the children -be careful where you put your feet, it’s steep and slippery and we’re going very high up! -Then, he continues -the Humanottes have different origins. -Some are children and those are called Jackleberries, but the most common Humenotte is an adult and they are really unpleasant.They are pale, look lifeless and translucent and they have a tendency to just appear in front of you when you least expect it. -That’s how they drive the living to madness.
Magnus and Linda fought hard to stay on the stairs. Suddenly Linda slipped and Magnus quickly caught her hand. When they looked down, the trees began to look very small and to fall here would be fatal. Linda looks at Magnus and laughs. If she had not dared give him a kiss a few hours ago, everything would still have been normal. Normal is good of course but it is also very boring. She must admit to herself that she thinks of him as very handsome and it was indeed to her favor, that Magnus just liked her from the beginning. Whatever this could have been, she are sure she would have fallen in love anyway. Now it was just pure luck that he fell for her. After the last step on the steep staircase the castle rises in front of them and a magnificent courtyard opens onto the castle and the big gate. -Welcome my friends to the castle Braghevind, mr Hatman says and points with his arms to the castle. -What are even the use for someone in your size, with such a big Castle? Linda exclaims all of a sudden. The eyes of mr Hatman darkens… -I haven’t always been this small, I also have have some unsettled business with Scream!
In front of the castle mr Hatman pulls a small key out from his coat and Linda is wondering if the keyhole on the door isn’t far too big for that little key! Mr Hatman grins to Linda and fetches a brush from the other pocket and paints the key to an apple, and the door lock to a lion head in copper. -I don’t want anyone to know how to open the door, so you better keep my secret good. This is a check-in castle, no one ever leaves the same way it came in and it could become a matter of life or death if the key to the key would be stolen, he said! Magnus enters the magnificent hall first and stopped in front of a mirror -this is huge, he says!
Magnus follow the ornaments around the mirror with his finger and see that they depict the story about Karon, the snake dragon. -Why don’t you test it! Mr Hatman asks! Magnus feel like curious child and can’t hide his enthusiasm! -what do you mean? Mr Hatman walks up to the mirror and swing a brush again -Are you hungry? He asks them and start to splash paint on the mirror and the colors moved like a swirl inside -friends, what would you like to eat? Linda answers first because she has been hungry since they ran out of school earlier that day -chicken, I’d love chicken!
The colors inside turn to a thick greyish swirling smoke. First the vortex seem to become a deep hole in the mirror, then it turns the other way and point outwards. All of a sudden, the center of the vortex squeezes out a freshly grilled chicken into Lindas hands. -I want apple pie! Magnus shout -with vanilla sauce! -And I want steak, mr Hatman calls even higher and they start laugh. Mr Hatman stop eating and look serious, just to get up and run in to another room. Magnus and Linda can hear him move things around in there. Then he returns with big heavy blankets -why not make it comfortable right here on the floor, now that were having fast food for dinner and such a pleasant time? he says, and they start laughing again!
They settled for the night on the floor with their backs against the mirror and with the blankets warming them. Mr Hatman took one of his old brushes, pretended to dip it in paint and splashed some out on the cold stone wall. Linda was equally amazed every time he used his brushes. It was really nothing on them but he really painted with all colors he wanted! Suddenly the bricks turn into a crackling log fire and the heat spread around the castle. Linda lean against Magnus who takes a last piece of apple pie, then they both fall asleep, still sitting in the main entrance of the castle! Mr Hatman smile and look secretive. It’s just before midnight and the little old man takes a step into the mirror, a few seconds a tall man walks out instead. He kneels in front of the sleeping two and smiles “goodnight my son!” he whispers and leave the grand hall.
The morning light radiated from the windows high up in the castle walls and down on the sleeping children. The fire had gone out and the comforting heat had become lukewarm. Linda wakes up and feel she’s a little cold. She cuddles up to Magnus who awakes from her presence. -Where did the Hatman go? he asks Linda. Linda shrugs her shoulders and look around. She realizes that they actually didn’t see more of the castle than the entrance hall!
-Should we take a look around, she asks Magnus curiously! Magnus feel the same intriguing curiosity. When they arrived at the castle, it was dark outside and it didn’t seem to be much to the world on the inside. Now that the sun was filling the castle and light beams sprinkled in everywhere, he discovered that the hall was huge and the walls was filled with tapestries and paintings. -Why on earth did we sleep in the main hall, he asks and laughs! Linda see all the nicely carved dark red wood that make the pillars up and the wooden railings along the stairs. In front of them a lovely couch looked inviting. -Why didn’t we sleep in that instead, she said pointing at the couch and laughed!
On each wall portraits hung of people Magnus never saw before and wondered why there were no enchanted images there as in Harry Potter. Suddenly they hear the Castle gates open and the door to the main hall. Mr Hatman entered whistling a melody -Good morning good friends, have you slept well? Magnus and Linda hurry back to the hall “the castle is so big, he says to mr Hatman! Mr Hatman spin cheerfully around, -still friends you’ve only seen a fraction of it! Linda start to object, thinking about the Hatman’s size again, but she could see in his eyes that this is not the right time to ask about his size. -Choose which room you want for yourself, you can take anyone at all!
There are girls rooms and boys rooms! -How do I know which is which? Linda wondered! -All furniture look much alike, very stylish and very matching! The Hatman lower his eyebrows and stare at Linda again, -because when you’re in a room you choose for yourself, dear friend, it will be a girls room! Mr Hatman continued whistling on his song and left them alone again. -Make yourself at home, make yourself at home! They heard from somewhere in the castle!
A storm is coming
Linda chose a room that had a wallpaper with big pale pinkish flowers, a enormous closet and a huge bed with a carved wooden frame. The pattern looked like a new story, like the one with Karon in the frame on the hall mirror -My bed also have a carved story in it, Magnus holler all exited across the hall! Magnus entire room was mostly made of wood, except for a lion head in copper above the bed. When Magnus turned around Linda stood in the doorway already, pale enough to match the flowers on her bedroom wall. -What is it? Magnus asks worried!
Linda just stare in front of her, then turns around like a zombie, walk through the hall and down the stairs… -Stop! What are you doing? -Linda, stop! Magnus try to run after her and catches her sleeve -What is wrong? Linda looks at Magnus and he can see a tear rolling down her cheek -can you open the door? Linda sounds mechanical. -Why? -Not until you tell me what’s wrong! Linda walks to the door and stops in front of it -I just need to breathe!
-Mr Hatman, Hatman…! Magnus calls at the top of his lungs and hope that mr Hatman will hear him and come as quickly as he can! Magnus doubts that Linda needs air, but he don’t know what’s wrong and even if he is getting very bad feeling about all this, he opens the door!
As if a wild sand storm swept through the house, the draft sucked Linda out on the courtyard. Magnus tried to grab her but his hand slipped. When the dust had settled and Magnus could what was happening, he understood the bad feeling. A loud laugh cut through the courtyard and returned an echo from the house. Magnus turned surprised around. The main hall was gone, the mirror, the wooden carvings, the old beautiful furniture… everything was gone and the castle looked abandoned.
Magnus walked out on the stone stairs and closed the door, he was shocked and didn’t understand what’d just happened. “If I open it now, all will be normal” he thought! But as Magnus found out, someone must have locked from the inside when he closed the door. He was locked out? He slowly turned around again and now he saw Linda and a hand around her neck. Magnus felt like ice just filled his stomach! -Scream! he said without seeing anything else but Linda and the hand around her neck! From the settling dust a figure grew more clear.
She had tied her dark brown hair tight in the neck. On her shoulders over her black long dress a white collar rested strictly. Magnus thought she looked like a teenager from a weird sect. Her face was pale, her lips bluish red and her eyes was just like black hollows.
Magnus saw Screams tighten her grip around Lindas neck! -Let her go he screamed! He was so scared he felt his knees tremble. -Let her go! Scream just stood there staring at Magnus, holding Linda in such a tight grip around her neck, that Linda was turning blue!
Magnus hear something behind him and see in the corner of his eyes, mr Hatman climb up from the steep stairs in the mountain. -I told you that you can’t go out the same way you go in to the castle! -I told you! Magnus was still too afraid to move. In front of him Scream stood, choking his paralyzed girlfriend and breathing so heavily, it made him think of a furious bull and staring at him without eyes!
Mr Hatman hid behind Magnus and pushed a couple of paintbrushes into his hand -attack her and stick the brushes in her empty eye sockets! When Magnus heard the order, he became so nauseous he made a burping sound and almost threw up. This triggered Scream who let the grip of Linda’s neck loose and ran charging like an animal across the yard to attack Magnus, and she screamed…! The scream was to disturbingly high it made Magnus, lose his balance and cover his ears! He had never in his life heard something so painful. Mr Hatman tore the paint brushes back from Magnus and ran equally fast as Scream! He threw out color droplets that stuck in mid air on which he quickly ran up… he made a jump against her and when she couldn’t fend him, he shoved the paintbrushes straight into her eye sockets! With the sound of a demp implosion, Scream vanished into thin air and left a cloud of grey and black dust after her.
Magnus, ran out on Castle courtyard and picked Linda up in his arms. The color had returned to her cheeks and while Magnus carried Linda back, she gave him a warm hug -thank you for trying to save me! She said. Magnus felt a bit embarrassed -it wasn’t me, it was mr Hatman that saved you! Linda hugged Magnus even harder -no, you locked yourself outside for me!
Mr Hatman unlocked the castle door again, he let the kids inside and stopped them once they passed the threshold in the main hall -never ever, leave the castle the same way you got in! -Haven’t you learned anything? he banned them. Magnus already felt stupid. He had been so afraid of Scream that he froze and practically left Linda to her destiny and mr Hatman had to come and save them both!
-You killed her? Magnus asked. -No! She can’t be killed, she’s as old as the life itself -she’s insanity! -Go to your rooms and stay there, mr Hatman commands. -And… here, takes these paintbrushes and don’t lose them! You own the same gift as I do, go to your rooms and you Magnus, paint both of you dinner! I will call you down, when I know how we should solve this!
Magnus helped Linda up the stairs and Linda asked outside Magnus door -can I sleep in your room tonight? -I’m afraid! Magnus looks at Linda, he is very much in love with her and he know that he would give his own life to save her, still he froze and did nothing in the time of need. He doesn’t feel like a hero or someone to depend on. He wants to say no Linda, why should she feel safe with him when she almost died because of what he didn’t do?
Magnus are just about to tell Linda how he feels and tell her that she can’t trust him, when he see the look in her eyes. They weren’t that full of life as before, they didn’t smile… they just looked very sad! -Okay, yes of course you can he says. -I guess you’re hungry too!
He tears the big blanket of the bed and they make it cozy on the floor again -what do you think? I guess I will have to paint our food and the fireplace myself this time! -Are you ready for a long night, because I think I will fail repeatedly!
Linda laughs a little…-take your time she says! Magnus takes one of the brushes and spin it between his fingers like he usually does…-be macaroni and cheese! he says and pretends to throw droplets of colors in the air. Nothing happens… -BE MACARONI AND CHEESE he says much louder this time. Nothing happens… The feeling of being a failure awakens and he throws the paintbrush as hard as he can against the wall…-its no use, I’m worthless like I have always been! He scream as it runs through the air. Magnus raged at the futility of it all, and that made something happen to the brush. As it was flying across the room, macaroni and cheese came off it in all directions and when the brush hit the wall, so did a full pot of food!
Linda and Magnus said nothing at first, they just stared at the wall, at the paintbrush and the macaroni and cheese everywhere… then they looked at each other and started to laugh! -It worked, Linda says! -Yes! Let’s try something else? Magnus suggest!
He pick the paintbrush up again -what do you want Linda? He asks. Linda are chewing on some of the macaronis that made a mess of the bedroom…-I think… I want fruit, yes I want an Orange! Magnus wave the paintbrush in the air as if it was a magic wand and then he throws pretend-spells around the room screaming “Orange, Orange, orange”!
-I think we have to repeat exact same thing you did the last time. Linda continues… -you tried to paint food, it didn’t work, then you got frustrated because you couldn’t save me from Scream… Magnus, looked at Linda -you knew? Linda gave Magnus a hug again. -You didn’t run the other way, you tried to stop me, you got yourself locked on the outside, you still didn’t run away, you almost threw up when mr Hatman asked you to sticks two paint brushes in Scream’s eye sockets! -Magnus, I know this world must be as crazy for you as it is for me and you didn’t run away! -We just need to practice more!
Magnus smiled, that was exactly how he felt and he had never been more happy that he didn’t give up on Linda in the beginning. -So, he asks, what your suggestion? Well when you threw the brush, your were emotionally distressed! Can you feel like that again? Magnus tried to induce a feeling but, everything he did looked silly…-step on my foot! Magnus says to Linda. -Step on your foot? -Yes, step on my foot!
Magnus took a deep breath -when I say now, you step on my foot and I call out for “orange”! Linda was exited, this would probably work but, they would need to come up with something smarter soon. They both got ready… One…two…NOW!
Linda jumps from the bed down on Magnus foot as Magnus scream “orange” in pure pain! An orange was shot out and went like a torpedo across the room toward the copper head above his bed and as quickly as a serpent, the head swallowed the orange… -It’s a lock, Linda whispers. Magnus limped toward the head above the bed…-I don’t know… Is it really a lock? -Nothing has opened! Magnus went closer and leaned toward the copper head, so that he practically almost touched it with his nose!
-Boo! The head suddenly said and scared Magnus to fall backwards down on his bed! -I am not a door! I am a copper head, a copperhead… a serpent, a sssssnake! I wasn’t even disguised as a doorknob! The copperhead snake slithered out his hole and down the wall. -I have a snake in my room, Magnus wheased! Linda started to jump around, and climbed up on a cupboard on the other side of the room.
-I won’t eat you, and I will not attack you, so you can ease up a bit! -You did give me an orange, that mean, you want me to do something for you! Magnus shuffled himself backward and away from the copperhead in the same pace the snake crawled toward him
-no, I’m pretty sure, I didn’t want anything, it was a mistake!
The snake makes a loop over Magnus head and hisses -no! No one makes a mistake with a copperhead and survives! You gave me an orange, not an apple and you didn’t feed me your curious fingers when you saw me! -You gave me an orange…. sssssss! What may I do for you? Magnus thought it strangely enough sounded logical. But what did he want with the odd looking snake? -I want to know how to get out of the castle without Scream getting to know about it! Linda looked surprised -why?
Magnus got up on his feet and pushed the snake away -because I need to get home, he said. I’m worried about mom. The snake hissed again -sssss…go down, as far as you can in the castle and when you reach the cellar, look for a leaking pipe, find the greasy puddle made from the leaking pipe and jump down in it! -That would take you close enough to your mother but, remember…sssss….you can’t return the same way you came, enter is always only one direction, ssss…-never enter in what you already left! The Copperhead slithered up beside Linda as she sat on the cupboard…-ssss…I would stay in the castle if I were you! Then the snake crawled back into the wall and became a lion copper head again!
Magnus never had time to bring his little suitcase when they left Misty Lantern, it is still with his mom at the hospital. He know he will need it soon, he can feel it in his whole body! He also feel the same thing as when Scream caught Linda. He knows something is about to go down at home, and he is the only one who can fix it! Magnus turn to Linda -don’t tell mr Hatman that I’ve gone, I must do this alone, it’s my world and mr Hatman don’t have powers there! Linda nod and give Magnus a kiss -it’s for good luck, she says!