~ The Disappearance ~
That night, Iya woke up in a strange land. A tall woman dressed in a white dress and wearing a beautiful crown appeared next to her.
“Who are you? Are you the Goddess?
The woman smiled a bit but her eyes remained cold. Her face and her hands were white like the snow that surrounded them.
“Not the Goddess, but somebody with powers just as great. I’ve come to answer your prayers.” She said with a gentle voice
“My prayers? I don’t remember praying.” Iya answered.
“You desire power young girl. The power your ancestors have… the power that wasn’t granted to you.”
“Oh, that. I failed the test. I don’t have the magic that my ancestors have. I can’t talk to the forest… I can’t wake her.” she said sad.
“I can give you the magic that you seek. In return…”
“You will give me power? What price must I pay for it? I’ll do anything…”
“I’m lonely… I desire a daughter…”
“But…” said Iya. “My family wouldn’t let me come with you.”
“They will forget you.”
“They would never forget me! My sister would never forget me!”
“I will make her forget! I will make them forget! You mean nothing to your family but a failed magician. They don’t care about your fate anymore. Tell me, girl, do you accept my offer?” shouted the woman.
“I don’t know… I…” Iya kept stuttering. The she took a deep breath and said: “Okay! I’ll take your offer.”
“I’ll give you power, a crown, a kingdom to fall at your feet. You will never come back here. Welcome, my daughter!”
“What? What do you mean I won’t come back? Wait!”
“Too late! Come, my dear. Your new home awaits!” said the woman while grabbing Iya’s hand. Suddenly, a bright blue light surrounded Iya. The next second she was wearing a beautiful blue dress and a tiny golden crown.
“Who are you?”
“I am the Snow Queen!” said the woman and then, both of them vanished.
Ean dreamt of the wind and the cold. Something was falling from the sky. “What’s this? Frozen rain? What is this white substance?”
“Ean, help me!”
“What? Who said that? ... Iya, is that you?”
“Iya, where are you? Iya!”
Nobody answered. Ean woke up with his face turned towards the window from his room. The light coming from the window was so bright.
“What a strange dream. I feel as if I haven’t slept at all.”
Ean went to his mother…
“Good morning mum!”
“’Morning dear! You have to go outside. Something amazing has happened. The is snow everywhere!” she said excited.
“Um… snow? What is that?”
“Go outside and you’ll see. Oh, before I forget, here’s a biscuit. I just pulled them out of the oven.”
“Thanks mum. Do you mind if I take one to Iya?”
“Who is Iya?” asked the woman. “Is this a new friend?”
“Mum… you know who she is. Stop joking. And stop looking at me like I’m insane…” he said cautiously.
“I’m sure I know her…” she said with a weird voice. “Go on, now. Go outside and enjoy the snow before it melts away.”
Ean went outside. Everything was white, no sign of green. Ean was confused. “What did my mother ment by who is Iya? Why can’t she remember her? This is weird.” He decided to go around the village and search for her. Everybody was talking about the snow; kids were screaming and tossing snow at each other. But the adults were concerned. The Valley of the Elves, as some call it, was always protected by magic which did not allow the cold to settle in. Flowers bloomed throughout the year and leaves were always green. The Magic Singers took care of it. They were incharged with the protection of the land. But now, it seemed that Elfwood and The Vale were threatened by a magic more potent that everything they saw since Ahriman’s time.
Ean went throughout the village asking for Iya. But all he heard was :Ean Okho! The snow has gotten to your head, hasn’t it? There is no one in Elfwood named Iya.”
As his confusion grew bigger, he decided to go to Iya’s house. There, the same answer. There was nobody there who knew a girl named Iya. Her grandmother said that Iya’s name sounds familiar.
“You’re not making any sense. Ean, are you sure you’re okay? Maybe you caught a cold. Go home and drink some hot tee. I do not have a girl named Iya.” said the woman leaving Ean alone in the hallway.
Ean, however, went to Iya’s room and searched under a loose floorboard where Iya kept her favorite things. There he found it.
It was her ribbon. The ribbon he gave to Iya yesterday.
“I knew Iya was real! But how come no one remembers her?”
He got out of Iya’s room and then out of the house. On his way home, an idea came to his head.
“Maybe if I go and meet the Elders. Maybe they can help me.”
Ean made his way to the meadow where the Elders usually gather. He asked to speak with Elder Lery.
“I’d like to ask you something, Elder Lery. My friend Iya is missing… I don’t know where to look for her. I went to her deserted room and found the ribbon I gave her, but all her other things are gone… And then the snow came…”
“Child, I do not know what you’re asking of me. We are all worried about the snow. I know nothing about this Iya.” he answered with a grave voice.
“Nobody knows her. Nobody remembers her. She’s my best friend. I have to find her!”
The Elders looked at Ean surprised. Ean kept quiet for a few moments.
“Wait a minute….” He said all of the sudden. “Elder Lery, what would you do if you had a question. A question no elf could answer.”
“I would ask the Elder Oak, of course.”
“But I don’t have magic. I can’t wake him. Only a singer can.”
“The Elder Oak will wake if that who asks for his help is in need. If you’re need is great enough, young Ean, the Elder Oak will answer your call. Go now… We must talk” he said while turning towards the other two Elders.
After talking to the Elders, Ean went home and packed a few things including the ribbon and his biscuit which he saved for Iya. The he set out for Oldwoods. He turned around and looked at his village, covered in snow and then he moved forward.
He arrived in the center of the forest. The trees were so tall that they seemed to touch the sky and their branches were so rich and tightly sealed together that the whole forest seemed frozen in an eternal twilight.