|The little guest cabin where Jonas White Hand and Lyla Morning Sky reside. |
Ghost Horse Hollow looks like this photo taken in the late fall in the Cherokee Mountains.
The evening star tipped the horizon just as the waxing moon appeared above the First Hill of Dendoran. Aaron Ray carefully latched the garden gate behind him. It was a necessary routine on any farm. The metalworker beckoned to White Hand to hurry on, and Jonas responded by waving a rope halter in the air, while turning to his last chore of filling the water troughs. Aaron looked around for Bugle and Belle, but the Blue Tick hounds had already nudged their way past the gate and reached the front porch. With a fluttering of his jet-colored wings, Pelbert the Crow escaped out the kitchen window and spoke briefly with the dogs. The bird then flew in the direction of the clothesline in the side yard and headed toward the chicken coop to gossip with Black Bottom the Rooster. By the time the hounds had flopped down beneath the front porch swing, Pelbert had returned triumphantly and slipped back inside.
“Panther! Addie! The bell’s been rung twice now, girls!” Hannah called as she followed the lilting notes coming from the antique pipe organ in the parlor. Lady MacKennon smiled tenderly. The melodies that tumbled down the wide front hall were hauntingly beautiful. They were reminiscent of old fairy tunes, which Glowgold had been teaching the girls all afternoon. He flitted from one daughter to the next, humming in their ears and waving his wand in time to the music.
|This pump organ looks similar to the one in the MacKennon's parlour. |
Notice the old foot pedals that have to be pressed back and forth to make the sound!
Hannah fondly remembered when Glowgold had begun teaching her the same melodies when she was but six years of age. How she had loved the fancy organ, with its beveled glass panels and creaky, embroidered bench seat! Panther and Addie were presently taking turns at pumping the stiff pedals, while giving each other a chance to play the instrument’s worn, ivory keys. The Household Light Fairy was singing with gusto:
The two girls repeated the same line in perfect harmony. Hannah, standing in the parlor doorway, added a third soprano part as their winged leader began the spirited chorus:
“Bravo, my Little Fireflies! Well done, my Pumpkin Seeds! You both are much improved. But it is time for food and drink. Your mother awaits you. I shall go and light the candles.”
Glowgold spun upward and twirled his glittering wand. His transparent, golden wings pulsed with delight. He returned dutifully to lead five-year-old Addie into the next room, for the youngest member of the farm family was blind.
|Adeline MacKennon opens the door for many hearts throughout the fantasy. |
She represents pure goodness, patience, trust, and the healing power of music.
“I’ll help with Sissy, Glowgold,” Panther spoke up, though she knew her little sister could negotiate the homestead’s halls without any prompting. Addie had developed a keen sense of hearing and the ability to count her steps from one threshold to the next. Still, the whole family looked out for her, believing she had already suffered far too much.
Adeline Mariah MacKennon had contracted an unknown disease when she was but three years of age. Many of the children in the Eastern Woodlands had wrestled with the virus’s deadly fury. All of Hannah and Morning Sky’s herbal medicines had been unable to save the little girl’s sight, though they had saved her life. Jake suspected that the contagious virus had leaked from a rusty barrel stored in an abandoned laboratory. The Starlight Fairies, who specialized in healing plants, were confounded by the disease and unable to provide a cure. The sickness wandered relentlessly through the human body from organ to organ without logic. Morning Sky had concluded that only a scientist without a conscience would have created such a problem for others to deal with. Lyla thought germ warfare to be an act of absolute madness; for she knew that illnesses, such as the one which had destroyed Addie’s eyes, could never be successfully contained. As Addie slowly recovered, the Medicine Woman had prayed for the return of health and balance for all Earth’s Children.
Sir Finnias Glowgold had told the grieving mother to keep her chin up. He would personally see to it that Addie be trained as a treasured fairy bard. She already displayed an uncommon love for music and poetry. Let the loss of her fair blue eyes be her payment for remarkable abilities yet to come! This explained the girl’s regular music lessons from a fairy who frequently complained that children were messy, loud, and rude. Glowgold himself had experienced a change of heart in Miss Adeline’s peaceful, trusting presence. Perhaps one day, the royal Starlight Fairy Bard, Thruka-den-al, would visit with his two harmony maidens, Lady Hummy and Lady Lindalynn, to hear young Addie sing.
|The tressle table in the homestead kitchen in solid and elegant.|
Many of the activities on the farm are planned during the evening meal.
Once inside the kitchen, the MacKennon’s youngest daughter found her place at the crowded table beside her mother’s chair. The carved pony heads turned toward Adeline and neighed in greeting. Jake had completed the chairs before he realized that the materials had come from the Enchanted Maple Grove, not far from Grandfather Mountain. Three Toe the Bear simply said that he had found the wood somewhere in the forest. The unforeseen result was that all the sculptures in the Hollow were capable of coming to life whenever they pleased. It took some getting used to, but the MacKennons were delighted in the long run. Addie reached up to pet the well-polished wooden noses and quickly climbed onto the log bench that stretched the length of the dinner table. Hannah and Lyla Morning Sky reached out to clasp her searching hands.
Panther squeezed onto the bench farther down the table, between White Hand and her cousin Eli. Her long hair, slightly darker in hue than her mother’s, was still pinned up in delicate braids. Panther had a passion for running and climbing trees and did not want her hair to interfere with her speed. Slender, strong fingers and the posture of a princess brought her much attention, as did her eyes, which changed with the color of the sky. They looked at the world with both wonder and amusement. Panther had laughter for breakfast and mirth for lunch. Her exuberance only partially explained why everyone loved her so dearly. The other factor was her heart, which embraced the poorest of folks as royalty and the weakest of souls as kin.
“Good evening, Eli. Good evening, White Hand,” the Panther said in greeting. Both men nodded with respect in her direction.
Somehow Panther had inherited both of her parents’ keen intellect and their combined magical abilities, as well as their courage and compassion. She stood among the adults almost as an equal, with her soft, lilac-colored sweater tucked inside a pair of faded, blue corduroy pants and a wide, rugged belt. The buttons on her clothing were made from flattened old coins. A stranger would never have suspected that she spoke three fairy languages, including Ancient Fairy Scroll, the more contemporary Fairy Brogue, and the Heraldry of Kings. This difficult tongue was revealed only to a human child capable of surviving a rigorous apprenticeship with the Starlight Fairy Queen. Few were chosen to attempt the study program, and fewer still returned from the wild woods with their sanity intact; but Panther had survived six demanding years under Lady Titrimia’s tutelage, returning to Hannah’s arms each afternoon with clear eyes as penetrating and wise as the unblinking owl’s. Eli and White Hand, as tough as they were, knew Panther could handle herself in a tussle as well. Fairy combat training was not for the faint of heart, and the young teen had mastered the rapier, willow switches, dragon daggers, throwing stars, whip-o-will, and defendo, the dangerous art of hand-to-wing survival.
|Actress Ellyon Elestial brought the part of Panther MacKennon to life|
in the first book trailer for THE HOLLY KING.
Here she is practicing with the willow switches for the video.
Check it out on You tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OyMzKev8hWE
Only in this seventh and final year, Panther had been forced to continue her studies solely with Glowgold. The Household Light Fairy had volunteered to fill in for the Fairy Queen and her royal court, because Titrimia had chosen to return suddenly to the Land of Dreams and Whispers, a cloudy realm where fairies dwelt when not upon the Earth. Titrimia’s decision had rocked the Fairylands, for the Starlight Queen’s thousand-year reign was not yet over. No one understood the reason for her early disappearance. To add to the mystery, Glowgold had been very reluctant to discuss the matter when pressed for an explanation.
By the time the two girls reached the dinner table, everyone else had gathered for the evening prayer before the bountiful meal. Ten pairs of hands clasped together in thanksgiving and loyalty, including those of the two children, their mother and father, White Hand, Morning Sky, Alma Barder, Aaron Ray, Gracie Farrow, and Cousin Eli. The companionship of the evening meal was traditional and important. Breakfast and lunch were served on the heavy sideboard for each person to grab, according to what their daily chores would allow. Suppertime, however, was a community event, which afforded everyone an opportunity to exchange the daily news.
“Glowgold, I do believe that it is your turn to say the blessing,” Hannah prompted.
The Household Light Fairy looked most pleased as the family bent their heads with respect. Jake and Hannah encouraged every member of Ghost Horse Hollow to express their unique faith without ridicule. There were so many different beliefs represented within the group that it was necessary to honor the various concepts of creation by taking turns in leading prayers and ceremonies. This evening, Glowgold selected a more conservative speech as he awakened each bayberry candle in the center of the table with a dash of his wand.
“O Lady Titrimia, Blessed Fairy Queen, and O Lord Achelon, Beloved Fairy King, we are most humbly grateful for these fruits of the vine and flowers of the field,” the fairy droned on with a smug expression. “Keep us ever mindful of your Dance of Balance and Melody of Mysteries, O Abundant Ones.”
“How kind of you to keep it short this evenin‘,” said Alma. As a schoolteacher, she had long ago abandoned flowery speeches. “These youngins can’t wait around for their supper to get cold. Pass the mashed potatoes, if you please, Mr. Ray.”
“Not ’til I get my share, Miss Barder. They are just dripping with butter. Yum, yum,” Aaron made a hungry sound and scooped a mound of creamy potatoes onto his blue and white china plate before passing the wooden bowl to Alma. This initial sharing started a crisscrossing of platters and baskets and serving dishes, with much clinking and plopping and spooning from the entire crowd. No one ever went hungry in the Hollow, due to Hannah and Jake’s careful management of the land and their utmost respect for the natural world.
‘Well, what’s the news?” Alma began, holding a large, fluffy biscuit in her hand. “Eli, did you make it all the way to Piney Grove like you was a goin’ to?”
|The MacKennon family kitchen was known for its creek rock hearth and cheerful fire.|
Be sure to join us tomorrow for the mysterious second letter that White Hand receives.
All the knives and forks at the table froze in mid-air. Piney Grove was many miles away, down Curvy Creek Road. It was not often that a member of Ghost Horse Hollow set out for the post office and general store, known as the Opossum’s Tradin‘ Post, and returned the same day.
“I surely did Miss Barder … What?” Eli looked around the table at the wide eyes and opened mouths. “I done told you, Ravenwood is special. That colt can fly! Now, I got two letters right here in my pocket.”
Eli hastily produced the unexpected mail. The teenager reached across the cornbread to deliver one crumpled blue envelope to the retired schoolteacher and one small, brown envelope to Jonas White Hand. Everyone knew that the blue letter was from one of Alma’s beaus, Mr. G. J. Trotter of Turkey Foot Junction, who wrote to the schoolmarm upon occasion. He complained regularly about his arthritis and bunions. Alma seemed a bit disappointed with her love letter as she glanced over the wrinkled paper.
“I’ll just read this a bit later on,” Miss Barder smiled discreetly. “I do believe Mr. Trotter’s foot ailments can wait. Now what have you got there, White Hand?”