It was a dreary cold and grey day in the Kingdom of Harrowsmith. Nobody slept well at all now that the secret forest was covered in ice. Princess Charlotte rolled out of bed to get dressed. Princess Evie was already up, dressed and looking out their bedroom window at the secret forest. “It’s still covered in ice.”, Princess Evie said, “I was hoping it was all a bad dream.” “Me too”, said Princess Charlotte. Jib, Princess Charlotte’s puppy dog, nuzzled Princess Charlotte’s leg and started to growl. “Oh, not you jibby jibby.” said Princess Charlotte, “You know, you’re the best thing that happened yesterday.” “Hey! What about my party?” said Princess Evie. “That was fun, but Jib is so cute!” The princesses giggled together.
When the princesses ran downstairs they found a lot more people than usual at the breakfast table; Lord Mike, Duchess Millie, Lords Marcus and Logan, Witch Melanie, Sir Jacob and Lady Emma. The Princesses were ecstatic! They had not seen Lady Emma in many months! “Emma!” they squealed! Lady Emma had been in the Dog Lands trying to negotiate the return of the Queen of Cats’ balls of yarn. “Did you get them to give back the yarn?” Princess Charlotte asked. “Of course! As usual, it was all just a big misunderstanding.” said Emma. “That’s great!” said Princess Charlotte. “Have you eaten?” “Not yet.” said Emma.
The princesses sat down beside their best friend, Lady Emma, and enjoyed a huge breakfast. There was bacon, toast, beans, and eggs and the girls ate until they felt like they might burst! All of the other people at the table spoke to King Daddy as he told them what he planned to do about the ice surrounding the Secret Forest. Princess Charlotte and Lady Emma had so much to catch up on they were hardly paying attention. Lady Emma told the princesses all about her adventures with the cats and dogs and about traveling over the lake on the mountain with the cloud folk. It was all very interesting but before they knew it breakfast was over and everyone was leaving. The princesses were embarrassed because they hadn’t been paying attention. Lady Emma was embarrassed too. King Daddy looked at them as everyone else left. “Come with me.” King Daddy said as he walked towards his throne room.
King Daddy walked to his throne and took his seat. He looked more tired than usual. “Ladies,” King Daddy began, “I’ve saved the most important mission for you.” You are going to deliver a very special lantern to the cloud folk. Lady Emma can show you the way.” “What lantern?” asked Evie.
The Witch, Melanie came out from the side of the room and produced a small wool bag. The bag was sparkling strangely. Princess Evie extended her hand and took the bag. When she looked at it she realized that it was not sparkling at all. The light coming from inside the bag was so bright that the light was escaping through the strands of wool. When Princess Evie opened the bag a blinding light burst out. She reached in and pulled out a small lantern. The lantern was impossible to look at at first. It shone too brightly. As the lantern came into the daylight, the light quickly dimmed. “The darker it becomes the brighter this lantern will shine.” King Daddy said. “It is the only thing Melanie and Queen Mommy think will be able to move the dark storm cloud from above the Secret Forest.” “What about the ice?!” Princess Charlotte asked. “There are many powers at work here, Charlotte.” said King Daddy. “The clouds are no work of mother nature. They are stuck there.” said King Daddy. “I fear the essence of darkness is contained within them.” said Queen Mommy. “That lantern contains the essence of light. It is all the cloud folk need to destroy the storm cloud. Then we can worry about the ice.” said King Daddy. “They are waiting for you.” said Melanie.
The courtyard was busy with guards and soldiers when the Ladies of Harrowsmith emerged. There were far more horses than usual but when Emma whistled her horse, Puppet, came trotting forward. “I’ll have to remember to teach Panana that one.” said Princess Charlotte. The princesses went into the barn, prepared their animals for riding, mounted their steeds and galloped out of the barn and through the castle gates. Lady Emma joined them and they were off.
The day was spent traveling. Princess Evie tied the lantern to Curls saddle. The three girls had snacks in their saddle bags and most of the trip the ate and talked. “Do you want me to tell you about the lands of the cats and dogs?”, asked Lady Emma. “Yeah!”, said Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie together.
“Well they’re not like our cats and dogs. They’re far bigger” Emma began. “and they can talk, just like you and me.” “Really? Like, with magic?” asked Evie, thinking about Princess Charlotte’s magic ring. “Yeah!” said Emma “They behave just like cats and dogs; running, chasing, scratching, barking and pawing.” “That’s Crazy!” said Princess Charlotte. “Why do we get involved? Isn’t that dangerous?” asked Evie. “Well it is,” said Emma “but the problem is whenever they fight it rains in the farmlands. So, if we don’t keep the peace we’ll have flooded fields.” the Princesses laughed at Lady Emma’s joke but couldn’t help but wonder if she was being serious.
As the day wore on the princesses found themselves finally at the great wall. As usual, the guards saluted the noble children of Harrowsmith. The princesses and Lady Emma rode their horses up onto the wall. “The last time we came this way,” said Princess Evie, “Lord Logan and Princess Charlotte were going to get me to jump over the falls!” “Well we’re not going towards the falls this time.” said Emma. “It’s this way.” “I know.” said Evie, “I was just mentioning it. I’m still annoyed.” The princesses followed Lady Emma north along the wall. A couple of jumping dragons were getting pretty feisty along the wall so they stopped to help the guards push them back. A few good bops on the noodle with a shield or sword and they were gone.
When the Princesses had followed Emma all the way to the North end of the wall they felt very alone. The North end of the wall was very tall and there were no guards around because the jumping dragons couldn’t jump that high. When they came to the gate of the last tower they swung it open to reveal a hollow cavern with a spiraling staircase. The princesses and Lady Emma dismounted their animals and started to unpack what they’d need for the rest of the journey. Princess Evie made sure she had all her food, her soft blanket, the lantern, and her bubble wand. Princess Charlotte did the same and made sure to take her magic shield and Jaguar. Lady Emma lead the horses and unicorn out of the cavern and said to Puppet very clearly. “Go Home!” “We’re not coming back this way?” asked Princess Evie. “No. We are to guard the lantern until the cloud folk are finished with it. Then we are to bring it back to the castle.” “Okay,” said Charlotte, putting on her croc-tooth ring, “Panana, Curls, we are going to find another way home. You can do whatever you like for the rest of the day.” Panana and Curls nuzzled the princesses with their heads and turned around and trotted off with Puppet. Lady Emma was well on her way up the stairs when the princesses turned around. Princess Evie held out her magic lantern and chased after her with Princess Charlotte.
The stairs were perfectly sculpted in the rocks. Lady Emma was going up them very fast. The princesses had trouble keeping up. When they reached the top there was another thick wooden door with a bar across it. “This keeps the pixies out of our lands.” said Emma, “we’ll have to remember to come and lock it so those little thieves won’t get in.” “Pixies?” asked the princesses, “we thought pixies were nice!” “Some are,” Lady Emma said, “but the wood pixies on top of this mountains are little buggers. They love gold. Any gold. In fact, you’d better tuck your hair under your hood and we’ll run as fast as we can.” The princesses were a little skeptical but they did what Lady Emma said. When they were done tucking in their hair Lady Emma had taken the bar from the door. She put her hand on the handle and looked at the two princesses. “Are you ready?” she asked. “Yes.” the princesses replied, feeling determined. “Now! Run!” Emma screamed as she swung the door open and took off down the path. Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte tore off after her. Princess Evie waved her wand at the open door and it slammed shut behind them. She even used her magic to re-bar the door. The princesses were running as fast as they could down a lovely brick road. The forest was bright and cheerful. There was no wind and the leaves were beginning to turn lovely shades of orange and red. They couldn’t see any yellow leaves. Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie slowed down as they were taken back by how pretty it was. Neither have them had ever been on top of this mountain before. “This place is gorgeous.” said Princess Charlotte. “It is. I don’t know why we were running. We’re going to miss it.” The two princesses began to walk and catch their breath. Lady Emma ran far ahead and out of sight. After a few minutes of strolling and enjoying the forest and the weather Princess Charlotte felt a tug on her hair. She swatted around her head and heard a little ‘Ouch!’. She looked and saw a little pixie clutching onto a lock of her hair. She grabbed the pixie and threw her away. The pixie flew right back into Princess Evelyn’s space and grabbed onto her hair again. Princess Evie didn’t like this one bit. Princess Charlotte grabbed the little pixie out of Princess Evie’s hair and threw it as far as she could. Just then another, and another pixie appeared; Then another! Soon the pixies were coming from everywhere and the princesses could hear them shouting ‘Gold! Gold!’. “What are they doing?” Shouted Princess Charlotte as they started to run away down the path. “We don’t have any gold!” “They’re after our hair!” said Princess Evie. “Run!” The two princesses ran as fast as they could. They finally got ahead of the swarm of pixies chasing after them. Lady Emma stood at the end of the path at the opening of the woods pointing her bow straight down the path at Princess Charlotte and princess Evie. There was four arrows on her bow at the same time. When the princesses saw this they dove to the right and left of the path and Lady Emma let fly her arrows! A huge magic net enveloped the pixies. Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie stood up and ran towards Emma. “Thank goodness you were here!” they said. “Let’s go, quickly!” Emma said.
When the princesses and Lady Emma emerged from the forest there was a great beach, almost as large as the white shores in the west. The beach wrapped nearly the entire edge of the lake on the mountain. Directly across from them there was a castle built right into the mountain! It was incredibly tall. So tall, in fact, that the top was covered in clouds. “Who lives there?!” said Princess Charlotte. “I’ve never seen or heard of anyone who lived on this mountain before!” said Princess Evie, excitedly. “That was the home of the cloud folk, long ago, before they learned to harness the essence of the air.” said Lady Emma. The water was crystal clear and blue. There were giant flowers that looked like tulips growing out of giant lily pads. “Wow!” the princesses said as they looked around. “Be careful.” Emma said. “… and follow me.” Lady Emma led the princesses out into the water to one of the big lily pads. “There doesn’t seem to be any big frogs around.” Emma said, “Quick, before they come back up!” Emma jumped up onto the lily pad and helped the princesses up. When they stood on the lily pad the princesses could see how big the flowers were. They were so big that both Princesses and Lady Emma could fit in one quite comfortably. Lady Emma tied a rope to the bottom of the biggest flower. “Get in.” she told the Princesses. The princesses got inside the giant flower. Lady Emma took out a long knife and swung it at the stem of the flower. “What are you doing!?” the princesses screamed. Just then, the flower broke loose of it’s stem and began to float away. Lady Emma ran along the lily pads pulling Princess Evie and Princess Charlotte with her rope through the air like a balloon. When Lady Emma ran out of rope and lily pads she jumped up, grabbed onto the rope and they were floating away with the wind. Princess Evie was very scared! She tucked herself down into the bottom of the flower. Princess Charlotte was laughing and screaming with excitement. She had never seen floating flowers before! Every once in a while she’d rock the flower just to scare Princess Evie even more. “You stop that right now, Charlotte!” Princess Evie would demand.
The flower picked up speed and landed safely on a balcony in the mountain castle. “How did you do that?” asked Princess Charlotte. “I didn’t. The cloud folk did. They’re expecting us.” Lady Emma said as she led the way up more stairs and through great halls with beautiful blue and silver stained glass windows. After the final flight of stairs they emerged onto a landing high up in the sky surrounded by clouds. Three figures wearing white cloaks and hoods came out of the clouds. When they got close enough the princesses could see that they were not cloaks, the creatures had great feathered wings right behind their arms and thick white hair that fell so straight it looked like hoods. Lady Emma bowed and said “We’re here on behalf of King Andrew.” “You have something for us, then?” asked the figure in the centre. Princess Evie produced the small lantern from her pocket and held it out. The lantern shone with blinding light as the cloud folk took it, placed three small glass vials in her hand, and leapt back into the clouds. The vials looked empty. Princess Evie handed one to Lady Emma and the other to Princess Charlotte. The three ladies opened the vials at the same time and held up the open vials to have a look inside. At first it seemed like the vials were empty. Suddenly wind began to blast out of the small vials. The princesses and Lady Emma held on as tight as they could. The wind blew out of the vials so hard it swept the princesses off their feet. The girls floated up into the air when suddenly Princess Evie, Princess Charlotte, and Lady Emma started growing wings. When the wind died down the princesses and Lady Emma looked just like the cloud people. They flapped their wings and took to the skies!
Once the princesses and Lady Emma were above the clouds they saw hundreds of cloud folk flying quickly behind the light of the lantern. The winds were picking up quickly and giving the princesses, Lady Emma, and the hundreds of cloud folk great speed. They charged over the edge of the white clouds and dove straight for the dark storm cloud above the Secret Forest. Princess Charlotte had great eyesight, especially during dusk, she could see before either Princess Evie or Lady Emma that the dark storm clouds were covered in cloud folk as well. They were not as fair as the cloud folk Charlotte knew. They looked a lot alike, but had rougher, scruffier, sharper grey fur with horns and fiercer, yellow eyes. They began to screech when they saw the armies of the cloud folk coming. The light from the lantern seemed to grow brighter and brighter as they flew close to the storm cloud. The creatures from the storm cloud flew hard and fast but they could not fight the wind. The good cloud folk smashed into the bad cloud folk with great force, knocking most of them to the ground. The bad cloud folk that were left in the skies went flying away from the light as fast as they could. The good cloud folk did not chase them. They circled the dark storm cloud with the magic lantern in the centre. Princess Charlotte, Princess Evie and Emma flapped and floated nearby. There wings were starting to get tired. The light of the lantern disappeared into the dark storm cloud. Moments later the cloud folk all flew away from the cloud and it burst with bright light. The good cloud folk seemed to be heading home so Princess Charlotte, Princess Evie and Lady Emma followed. When they arrived back at the spire of the castle the princesses and Lady Emma landed smoothly in front of the same three figures who stood before them before the battle. The centre figure held out his hand with the lantern. “The cloud folk thank you.” he said. Princess Evie stepped forward and extended her hand, taking the lantern. “My name is Raven, the leader of the Cloud Folk.” “I am Princess Evelyn, and this is my sister, Princess Charlotte.” “Nice to meet you. We also found this. See that Queen Ann Marie receives it. Do not look at it until you speak to the Queen.” “I understand.” Raven handed Princess Evie a small wool bag like the one the lantern had come to her in. She tucked it away in her pocket and the Princesses and Lady Emma said goodbye.
As they stepped to the edge and jumped into the air to fly home they wondered how much longer they’d have wings. They soared over the lake on the mountain and dove down the mountainside into the farmlands. When they reached the low lands of the plains a warm breeze surrounded them, changed them back, and placed them gently on the grass.
“Well, that was fun while it lasted.” said Lady Emma. “Yeah!” agreed the girls. “How are we going to get home now?” Princess Evie asked. Charlotte whistled as loud as she could and, wouldn’t you know it, Panana came galloping over the hill a few minutes later. “How did you do that?” Princess Evie asked. “Lucky try, I guess.” said Charlotte. All three ladies climbed on top of Panana’s back and rode back to the castle. On their way past the Secret Forest they could see that the dark cloud was gone. The moonlight glistened off the ice that still covered the Secret Forest. “Now for the hard part.” Lady Emma said. “What do you mean?” the princesses asked. “Well, there’s bound to be hundreds of snow dragons in there by now. Not to mention whatever ice monsters Daniel McEvil comes up with. It’s going to be a mess. But we’ll worry about that tomorrow.”
Princess Charlotte and Princess Evie both looked over their shoulders the whole ride home. They couldn’t stop thinking about the trouble that lurked behind the ice walls surrounding Nanny’s once beautiful forest.