Ally Lichen’s Friend: 11. Whispers

Madge and Ally didn’t talk much after the sunflower field. Ally wondered if she had hurt Madge’s feelings, and now the girl was bitter towards her.

She didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. 

She didn’t mean to.

Ally felt twisted and strange inside. She wanted to apologize for being rude, but she had no idea what she would say.

She’ll be glad to get rid of you. Said the whisper in Ally’s mind. You should tell her that she can go back home. She would probably prefer that anyway.

Ally shook her head. The silence was easier.

The two girls wound between the enormous trees. The trunks soared high above them, bright canopies of leaves overshadowing them. The sun rose higher in the sky and then began it’s descent towards the opposite horizon. Ally’s feet began to ache in her boots. Her fingertips and nose were growing numb in the constant chill, and her mind swirled like the leaves at her feet.

Perhaps it would be best if you were to take the rest of this journey alone.

You’re not even talking to Madge. And if you did, you would probably say something rude again.

Not that she really cares to begin with.

“How much further to your village?” Madge broke the silence. The shadows were stretching out around them, long and thin, like black ribbons.

“We—“ Ally cleared her throat. “We won’t get there until tomorrow. We’ll have to camp tonight.”

“Camping it is then!” Madge smiled brightly, shouldering her knapsack straps. “Should we stop now?”

“Yes. Let’s find a clearing.” Ally said simply. An uneasiness she couldn’t explain crept up inside her chest.

Somewhere beyond the trees, the sun was melting over the sky like a pat of butter. No doubt the colors were fantastic. Even here the ground was dappled in fuchsia-tinted light.

The two girls began to collect wood for a fire. The light from a magical fire, created by witches, would protect you from most things in Tanglewood.

They worked in silence, Flicker prowling around the clearing. Ally still couldn’t think of anything to say.

You ruined your last friendship. Said the whisper. Why would this one be any different?

We’re not friends. Ally frowned at the very idea. She hardly knew Madge. She felt bad about being rude to her, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be friends with her. Her head felt foggy.

You just need a moment to clear your mind.

The sky faded to navy. Stars began to twinkle between the leaves.

Go on a walk. You’ll feel better.

“I—“ Ally pressed a hand to her forehead. “Margret?”

“Yes?” Madge hopped up from where she was bent over beside the pile of logs, working to light them, her fingers sparking with magic.

“I’m going to take a walk.”

The logs burst into purple flames. Over the top of them, Ally saw Madge’s brow furrow.

“Are you sure that’s a good idea? At night?”

“I can handle myself.” Ally said cooly. Her head was still pounding. “I’ll be back in a minute. I just need to think.”


“I just need to think!” Ally snapped. She squeezed her eyes shut and breathed out slowly, guilt welling in her chest. “I’m sorry.” Ally muttered.

Before Madge could say another word, Ally slipped away between the trees.

The night air is lovely. Said the whisper. Walk a little faster and feel the breeze on your cheeks. You’ll feel better soon. You need to get away. You need to be alone. You need to think.

Leaves crunched under Ally’s feet as she hurried along, still pressing her fingers to her temples. Out of the range of the fire, everything was tinted silver. Everything was blurring around the edges.

Why did her mind feel so fuzzy? Dreamy? As if everything was caught in an enchanted daze.


Ally stopped so suddenly that she almost fell over. Her breath seized in her chest, and for the first time, she recognized the lilt in the whisper which did not belong to her own thoughts.

Shadow Nymph.

Too late, little one. The voice was right by her ear.

Ally stumbled backwards and fell, landing on her back in the leaves. Blackness swirled around her, stirring the undergrowth at her feet. She raised her hands, desperately trying to remember the spell to banish a Shadow Nymph.

Calm now, calm. The voice was as soft as silk, dark as ink and sweet as honey. No need for that. I have only spoke thoughts you already think. You are safe here. There is nothing you need to remember. Just close your eyes.

Ally struggled to breathe, her eyelids growing heavy, the voice clinging to her like spiderwebs. A thousand invisible threads wrapped around her.

The night is dark. You are tired. You have traveled far. You deserve some rest. No one will judge you. You will be forgotten.

“No!” The word came out as a choked gasp. In a single motion, Ally thrust her arm out before her, casting a flare of orange magic, warbling against the surface of the darkness. For a split second, the Shadow Nymph fell back, and Ally did not let that second go to waste.

With strength only panic can bring, Ally thrust all her mind and heart into the spell, and the darkness went rushing away, like bubbles to the surface of the sea.

Ally lay in the cold dry leaves, gasping, trying desperately to get air back into her lungs and rid the paralyzing fear from her mind.

At last, she pulled herself to her feet and cast around for the violet light of Madge’s fire. The forest around her echoed only with shadows…and a growl.

Low and deep, yet issuing from high above her head. Ally clenched her fists and glanced up, although she already knew what she would see.

A gargoyle.

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docendo disco scribendo cogito

(I learn by teaching and think by writing.)

Millie Florence

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