• Golden rays of light shine brightly; the rising sun creates a sky of fire bearing its light over the land. These waves of flames hail over a sea of mountain ranges. The mountains are very important to the land, protecting the plains and valleys and whimsical forests, but are uninhabited. At night they are nothing but dark silhouettes filling up the sky and during the day they lumber over everything, scarring the vast territories.

    One mountain range in particular is the Crook Mountains. They aren’t just any mountains but magical ones. It was said they change colors with the feelings of children. Glorious shades of green and wild flowers were only displayed in gay eyes, but blue shrouds of mist covered the land when unwell. The mountains are indeed breathtaking, serene, and untouched like fresh green leaves of summer trees.

    At the base of the mountains laid the little village of Stonebridge. The small houses of sticks and stones glowed and the stream sparkled from the morning light. Not a lot of people lived here. Farmers woke up early to work the fields and tend to live stock while the women began household duties. The land had been treating them well for the past several years providing juicy crops and clean water from the mystic mountains above.

    There is one house though unlike the others because only one person lives in it. He’s a child by the name of Tristan Gale; who lives on the outskirts of Stonebridge. He is a thin lad of eight stone with brick colored hair, brown eyes, and freckles marking up his face. He is the poor boy, the beggar, and his meaningless life brought him nothing but sadness.

    Today is a brand new day but everything was the same. At the rickety house of Tristan Gale there was a lot of work to get done, things to wash, weeds to pull, and a garden to grow, but he did none of the work which left is house in shambles. The wooden shingles on his roof are missing or barely hanging on and the chimney never worked. His house is also dirty, littered with cracks where the vines would invade.

    He did not see things as magical as the other children. Ever since his mom passed away the mountains were always gray in his eyes and nothing but a burden. The trees looked bare and dead with limp branches. There were no vibrant leaves or pastel blooms, but a bitter, gray, and cold earth.

    Tristan stared out the cracked window to the outdoors. Something strange caught his eye that he didn’t notice until the sun hit highest in the sky. Looming over the Crook Mountains were white fluffy clouds, penetrated by rays of light that shined on the rocky slopes. He couldn’t prepare for the journey that awaits him.

    The sun hid behind the mountains casting large shadows over Stonebridge and igniting the sky with glorious flames. Night approached and Tristan curled up in his quilt. His eyes stared blankly at the edge of the fabric and his bony fingers traced over the seams. His room was dark. The sapling growing outside raked its branches against the window and casted eerie shadows in the boy’s room. Tick tock tick tock went the old wooden clock and a brown field mouse squeaked before escaping into a hole in the wall. Tristan slept peacefully as images filled his head.

    The door creaked open letting in what little light there was. A woman stepped in, her white night gown flowing with her slender legs. She sat on the edge of Tristan’s bed and gently pulled his hair out of his face. “Tristan,” she said softly as she set a lit candle on the nightstand. “Are you ready for a bedtime story?” She asked. Tristan nodded. Every night he’d be told a story by his mother. They could be about anything from a forbidden romance to dangerous dragons! “Once upon a time there was a small animal village,” she began. “There in the smallest borrow, a mother Lemming bore three beautiful children. One sunny day she led her children to the pond to drink, but one of them lost its way. Scared and alone the little Lemming tried searching for his mother but she and her brood were no where to be found. He feared he’d never see her again.”

    “Will you be my mother? He asked of the foraging pheasant but she said no. Next he asked the old goat, but she declined. Then, the youngling ran into the large mother bear with her cubs at her side. Will you be my mother? The little Lemming asked again hoping to be accepted, but the mother bear refused, having enough children to look after. All of them said no and the little Lemming was left by himself. Suddenly he heard the loud squeaks of his own kind and there, amongst the clovers, was mother Lemming. The family was reunited at last with tender love. The end,” she finished seeing something was wrong.

    “Why are you crying?” she asked. Her eyes followed the trail of tears running down Tristan’s face. She gently wiped them away before breaking out into hoarse coughs. Covering her mouth with her hand she tried to hide the mess on her palm but Tristan could still see the blood. “Good night dear,” she said quickly. She tucked in her son and blew out the candle.

    “Good night mother,” Tristan said drying his watery eyes. He snuggled up under the covers as his mother left the room and shut the door behind her.

    The boy’s eyes eased open as a tear ran down his cheek. It was just a dream. Tristan hadn’t dreamt of his mother since she left but he could still remember her vividly. She would sing to him in the morning with the voice of a nightingale, in the afternoon when she’d hung the clothes to dry she would play with him, and at night she always had a new story to tell him. Her wheat colored hair, alabaster eyes, and warm smile comforted him whenever he was sad. However, things had changed for the worst. He couldn’t take joy in her songs or sleep without thinking of the next tale. No longer would he be able to see the only thing that brightened up his world. Tristan reminisced late into the night before being able to drift to sleep again.