“I have no idea what we are even looking for,” he said, panic tinged with irritation starting to rise up in his voice. “How can we find something we know nothing about?”
“There now, young prince,” the enchantress cooed in a syrupy voice, making Otto feel like a blustering child. “I think we will know it when we find it. Besides,” she added with a wink, “I have a few more tricks up these sleeves.”
Prince Otto didn’t question his captor as she rooted around on the forest floor, looking for something. He didn’t know whether he should be trying to help this woman or foil her intentions. He couldn’t decide whether discovering the treasure would be a benefit to his father or not. The treasure must be of incredible worth, otherwise King Valant and Princess Beatrice’s father King Stewart wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths to discover it. Finally he came to a decision. It was far better to be close to the one in possession of the treasure, for he may have the opportunity to take it from the enchantress in his father’s name.
Suddenly Marguerite the Enchantress popped up from behind a hedge covered in yellow leaves which had fallen from the neighboring trees. “A-hah!” she said in triumph. In her hand she held up a curved stick which had a forked end shaped like a “V.”
“What?” Prince Otto asked. “Is the stick magic?”
Plucking a handful of leaves from her hair, the enchantress looked at the prince with an air of incredulity. “No, silly! This is just a stick!”
“But what are you going to do with it?” he asked.
“You shall see,” she said mysteriously, then walking over to an ancient fir tree, she plucked some green moss from its branches and wound it around the forked end of her stick. Holding her free hand in the shape of a ball, the enchantress started to mutter words which the prince could not decipher. A misty cloud formed upon her palm and she blew onto the mist, making it spark white and then gold. As she continued to mutter and blow, the cloud grew larger and began swirling faster and faster, causing great crackles as sparks erupted periodically from its center. The enchantress blew one more large breath and the swirling cloud jumped onto the moss at the end of the stick. There were more sparks and pops as the mist enveloped the moss, causing it to swirl along with the cloud, until finally the swirling mass looked like a glowing golden orb.
“A torch?” Prince Otto exclaimed. “You went to all that work for a torch?”
“This is not just any old torch, my young friend,” the enchantress explained. “This is a specialized treasure detector, or more particularly it detects gold. The closer the torch is to gold, the whiter the flame will glow.”
“Impressive,” the prince nodded in approval. “Lead the way.”
The enchantress swung the golden torch in a wide slow circle, trying to detect any direction in which the flame may be brighter. When finally she turned toward a dark thicket of dense trees, the prince was convinced it had to be right. Of course the treasure would be hidden in the deepest, darkest part of the forest.
Prince Otto followed the enchantress through the trees, giving her time to swing her torch this way and that, following where the light grew the brightest. Finally, after what seemed to be hours, the two reached a strange outcropping of rocks. As they drew nearer, the prince could see that the rocks were placed in a large circle, with steps leading down to a flat platform low in the center. It looked like an amphitheater, but the prince could not imagine what group of people would have met this deep in the woods. There were stone statues of creatures resting in odd places around the circle. Some were balanced on rocks, sitting crouched on all fours, while others stood erect next to the crude stairs. Their faces were grisly and frightening, with ferocious looking eyes and large teeth. The prince was glad that they were only made of stone, and not of flesh.
By this point the torch’s light was so white hot it burned the prince’s eyes to look in its direction. The treasure had to be here somewhere. In slow and silky movements the enchantress wove her way down the steps, moving around the silent sentinels, her torch growing brighter and hotter every moment.
Finally Marguerite reached the platform at the bottom of the circle. She moved toward the very center and squatted low, looking intently at the ground. She gave a soft chuckle, stood up, and then touched the torch to the stone floor, where it immediately erupted in sparks.
“Gotcha,” she said in a low voice. Tossing the torch aside, she swept her arms in a giant circle and cried, “Panta a’ amin ar’ elea lle dolen!” She then threw her arms toward the center of the platform. A penetrating surge of energy pulsed in the circle and with an enormous crack the stone broke in two.
Prince Otto hardly had time to wonder at what had just happened before total chaos ensued. Upon the ear-splitting crack of the platform, the stone statues began to crumble. Great chunks of stone fell to the earth, but what remained was even more of a nightmare. The stone sentinels were no longer lifeless statues, but hideous creatures in the flesh. Their eyes were piercing, their teeth were gnashing, and their hairy bodies rippled in muscles.
“Run, prince!” the enchantress called in alarm.
But before Prince Otto could respond, a flash and flurry of purple smoke sailed into the clearing of the circle. Roland emerged from the hazy smoke and took three giant steps toward the enchantress, his hands extended.
“Marguerite!” he called, a look of fear and determination on his handsome face.
The enchantress’s panic-stricken face melted into relief as she ran toward Roland, holding him in a tight embrace. Then just as quickly she pushed herself out of his arms and gave him a slap on the chest.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, exasperated.
“You aren’t the only one with tricks up their sleeves,” Roland smirked. But then his eyes grew serious. “Now let’s get rid of these creatures, shall we?”
The enchanter and the enchantress turned back to back, ready to face their attackers together.