Few ever venture to the south side of the valley where the mountain sits like a tall, rock wall. A beautiful waterfall cascades down one part of the mountain. A dense, untouched forest shields it's base, stretching for miles and miles. Those that have spent their lives within the valley say the forest is enchanted. Those few that fell under its spell and entered the forest, disappeared. Never to be seen or heard from again.
Some say the forest is haunted. Others tell tales of fairies or nymphs. Tales are told around hearths late at night and used to scare small children. Some say a witch lives in the forest, others a spirit searching for her lost lover. But no one has ever returned to set the tale straight. There are those that say they have seen her, yet each tell a different tale.
The rock wall of the mountain is covered with ivy and moss. Next to the base of the falls, where the water forms a crystal clear lagoon, a small cabin lays nestled into the side of the mountain. It looks as if it were built into the mountain itself. It is camouflaged so well by the ivy and moss that one could walk beside it and never know it was there. A small mossy clearing lays between the forest and the cabin. Ferns and all manner of vegetation grows in the clearing and around the lagoon. The spray from the waterfall keeping the area moist and cool.
Near the entrance lay two wolves, one as black as the darkest night and one as white as the purest snow. They slept peacefully upon the soft moss until a small figure stepped from the curtain of ivy and moss. They both raised their large heads and looked up at the small petite woman. She knelt down between them and stroked them both atop their large heads and then she stood. Her beauty was unquestionable, most of her golden tanned skin was bared to the sun. What was covered was draped in flowing gossamer. It's colors seemed to change, blending into the forest and mountains around her, browns, greens, deep reds and golds. Gold and jewels accented the gossamer giving some level of modesty to her scant garments. Her hair seemed to mimic these same colors. It flowed thick down her back and shoulders. Gold and jewels sparkled in it's length. If one stumbled upon her, they would surely wonder if she was fairy, wood nymph or something even more intriguing? Her face was youthful, but her opal eyes held the wisdom of the ages.
She grabbed her cloak of the same forest colors and swung it around her shoulders, setting the large hood in place. She picked up a hand woven basket and moved towards the forest. The wolves rose to follow her. As she entered the dense forest she seemed to disappear into her surroundings. Her bare feet made not a sound on the forest floor. Even the wolves moved beside her in silence until she reached the other side. Stopping she looked about. She turned to the wolves and whispered "Attendez-moi ici" then she stepped from the forest into the open. When she did, the cloak took on a simple brown appearance, one of little wealth. To any who saw her, she appeared as a simple peasant upon the path to the village ahead.
As she moved further from the dense forest she began to take on a bent appearance and her steps slowed until she began to limp. Worn leather boots could be seen peeking out from beneath the worn cloak. Soft wisp of grey hair flutter out from the concealing hood. A crooked cane fashioned from the branch of some tree appeared in her hand and as she limped she used the cane for support. The hood slowly slid from her head revealing soft grey hair, tied in a bun at the base of her neck. Her features were old and weathered, her clothing now those of a simple peasant. From her basket wafted the aroma of fresh baked bread. Slowly she made her way to the village of Blackwulf.
When she reached the village she made her way slowly to the market square. She went to a few of the different vendors and traded her fresh baked bread and homemade berry jams for eggs and cheese as well as other items. The vendors seemed to know the old crone and greeted her with welcoming smiles. When she had finished her trades, she made her way to a bench that sat under a shade tree. Setting her basket next to her she set down to rest. It wasn't long before several children began to gather around her, setting at her feet. One's mother brought her a cup of cool cider. She took the cider with hands that were old and wrinkled. “Thank you child” she replied in a shaky voice. Slowly she sipped the cider.
“Tell us a story mother.” one boy called out. “Yes mother please, tell us about the dragons.” a young girl coaxed. “No, tell us about the princess who became a wolf” another pleaded. The old woman smiled down at the children as they settled in, to set quietly before her. “Long Long ago.” she began in a voice that was old and frail. “when the magic people called the valley home. A snow princess stumbled into the valley. She was very beautiful, with snow white hair, porcelain skin and ice blue eyes. She was lost and alone. She could not find her way out of the valley.
As night approached and she sat crying, a black wolf walked up to her and asked *Why do you cry?* startled she looked up and wiped the tears from her ice blue eyes. *I am lost and I want to go home.* replied the princess. The wolf came closer and nudged her with his big head. *Come dance with me.* said the black wolf. *Dance?* she asked. *Yes* he said and slowly he changed into a handsome prince, right before her very eyes. She stared in wonder, having never seen such things. He was the most handsome man she had ever seen, with midnight black hair and sparkling silver eyes. He offered his hand to her and she took it. They danced all night and the princess fell in love with the handsome prince. When the sun began to peek over the horizon, the handsome prince showed her the way out of the valley. But she refused to leave.
Each night he would appear and turn into the handsome prince and they would dance. One night she told him she did not want to go home. She wished she could be a wolf and that she could stay with him forever. He smiled down at her and kissed her lips softly. *Then run with me.* he laughed and took off across the tall grass, turning once again into the black wolf. She laughed and took off after him, slowly the princess began to change into a beautiful white wolf with ice blue eyes as she ran next to him. To this day they still roam the valley and the forest. The black wolf prince and the white wolf princess. Sometimes late at night under the light of a full moon, if your lucky. You can see the handsome prince and the beautiful snow princess dancing.”
The story finished she drank the rest of the cider. Getting up slowly, using the cane for support, she said her farewells. The children went about their play, some hugging her before darting off. Picking up her basket, she once again walked through the market square. As she slowly made her way out of the village, dusk was quickly descending. She still had a long distance to go before she reached her home once more.
Old eyes glanced upward, to the castle that set upon the mountain. The old crone stood straight and the cane disappeared. The boots faded from her tiny feet and the meager peasant clothes returned to that of sheer gossamer once more. Her features slowly returned to that of youth and beauty. Her autumn colored hair replaced the gray and her eyes once again took on their mysterious opal glow. The light was fading and the moon had not yet filled the sky. This was dusk, a time when things were not always as they seemed. A time of wonder and mystery, a time for magic.
She left the beaten path, her direction now the forest ahead. She swirled and danced in the tall grass and wild flowers that filled the field she crossed. The two wolves that waited at the forest edge soon joined her, dancing around her. At one point she discarded her basket and cloak. Her scantly, gossamer clad form looked like a ghost as she danced with the wolves.
The black wolf was the first to change. His form altered into that of a tall, black haired prince. Silver eyes looked to the white wolf and then she joined him. Her form changing into the white haired snow princess, her ice blue eyes seeking his. They laughed and danced together. Laughter filling the night and drifting on the breeze. Fireflies darted and danced around them. The three of them danced like children and giggled as darkness slowly approached.
Before long she set down in the tall grass and watched the two lovers as they danced together. A sadness filled her opal eyes and she looked up at the castle once more. Darkness approaching the castle was just coming to life. She drifted back to a time, long, long ago. When she had danced in the great hall of Blackwulf Castle. Her opal eyes closed as she let her self remember. She could feel his arms around her waist, her hand in his, as he held her and they danced. The castle was filled with guest, from far and near. Laughter and music filled it's halls and there was all sorts of food and drink. So very long ago she thought.
Opening her eyes she stood once more and retrieved her basket and cloak. Slowly she began to move towards the forest, glancing back only once. The two joined hands and fell in behind her, and they disappeared into the dense forest.