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The Misty Valley
by Margo Fallis
Volume 2 Chapter 6

     The witch’s haunted house came into view. She was flying in circles high above, cackling and screeching. They only had another hundred yards to go when they heard a noise in the forest. “Hide. Conri, put your paw over Mr. Death’s mouth so he can’t say anything.” Poe crouched and the others followed his example. Mr. Death’s muffled moans could still be heard.

The forest turned darker as hundreds of black cats came crawling out. They encircled the group, surrounding them with meows, hisses and snarls. None seemed afraid of the werewolves. “Not again!” Prysm let out a deep sigh. “These cats are getting to be a pain. I’m tired of their glowing eyes and long whiskers.”

“When Drake and I came last year they followed us around. I still have scars from the scratches.” Shayde looked at his arm.

Only seconds passed before the cats leaped at Poe and his friends. Their claws attacked, sharp and knife-like, tearing at any exposed flesh. Conri was forced to put Mr. Death down in order to defend himself. Leeloo hit the cats away, thankful she’d left Candi behind. Blood dripped from Poe’s face as he fought for his life. Conri stood on his hind paws and roared. The sound echoed through the forest, shaking branches and knocking many of the half dead trees to the ground. The cats stopped their attack. When Leeloo joined her mate in another roar, the felines fled, tails between their legs.

“That was interesting,” Poe said.

“It was loud,” Prysm added.

“It also attracted Witch Lilith. Look! She’s flying this way. Everybody down on the ground, flat.” Shayde pulled Leeloo down.

“Where’s Mr. Death?” Poe raised his head. The others searched with their gaze. “He’s gone. That lilly-livered creepy guy took off on us again. Great, here’s the witch.”

Witch Lilith soared above them, swooping among the trees. Poe, Prysm, Shayde and Drake snuggled against the two werewolves so they wouldn’t be seen. The witch raised her finger and shot a stream of flames. They landed on a nearby tree, catching it on fire. Like a blazing candle, the tree exploded into a raging flare, shooting fire into the night sky. It lit up the area around the tree. When the witch couldn’t see any movement, she did the same to another tree. Soon the whole area was alight with lemon yellow and tangerine flames.

“She’s going to burn the entire forest down. All the trees are dead so they’re going to catch on fire easily. We’ve got to stop her.” Prysm sobbed into Leeloo’s chest.

Conri jumped up, pushing Drake and Shayde under a bush. He roared, catching the witch’s attention. She flew closer to him and he roared again. In order to protect the others, Leeloo joined him. They faced the witch. “Werewolves? What’s all the noise about? Why don’t you go back to your caves?” Witch Lilith screamed a wretched howl and flew away, furious that she’d wasted her time.

“That was close,” Poe said. “I ache all over. I’m covered with scratches.” Leeloo pulled him closer and licked his wounds, which healed immediately. She then did the same for Prysm, Drake and Shayde.  “I get it,” Poe said with a smile. “Only girl werewolves can heal. Cool!”

“What about Mr. Death? We’ve got to find him.” Prysm tucked in the end of her shirt.

“Everyone split up. Go straight out for a hundred yards and then turn and come back to this spot. If you see him, shout.” Poe nodded and they all marched into the forest, careful to avoid the now smoldering trees. Embers popped, shooting tiny pieces of burning wood at Poe. He stomped on them to put them out.

“I’ve got him. Help me. He’s up in the tree.” Shayde called to the others, who ran toward his voice.

“Oh, there you are, Mr. Death. Come on down, like a good old codger, Jack O.” Poe mocked.

“I will not. Leave me alone. I’m not going to apologize to that hag. I demand that you take me back to Misty Valley Old Folks Home immediately!”

“No way, Mr. Death. You’ve seen what happened. First we were attacked by cats and then the witch nearly burns down the whole mountain. I’m surprised that the candy corn hasn’t begun to melt causing a mud slide; I mean a candy slide. The only way to stop all this nonsense is if you apologize to her.” Prysm petted Leeloo’s paw and smiled at her.

“No! I’m not coming down. You can’t make me!”

“Oh yes we can,” Drake said. “Conri, shake the tree.”

“Great idea, Drake. If Conri shakes it, Mr. Death will fall. Leeloo, you’ll have to be ready to catch him.” Shayde tapped his friend on the back.

Conri stood next to the tree, leaning his shoulder against it. He pushed the trunk and the tree shuddered. “Stop that! Stop shaking the tree!” Mr. Death shouted down at the werewolf. “If I fall, I will sue you.”

“Right, Mr. Death,” Poe smirked. “Sue a werewolf? I’d like to see you try.”

Conri shook the tree again. Some of the upper branches snapped and fell to the ground. Poe pulled Prysm out of the way. After three more shakes, Mr. Death tumbled from the top limbs. Leeloo caught him before he hit the ground.

“You got him. Thanks,” Poe said, shaking Conri’s paw.  “Now, Mr. Death, Leeloo is going to carry you to the witch’s haunted house and you will apologize.”

“No I won’t.”

“Yes, you will. Perhaps Mr. Death needs some time to think about this. Let’s stop by the pit. Have you ever been to the pit, Shayde?” Poe turned to Prysm’s brother.

“No. What pit?”

“It’s so cool, Shayde. It’s full of spiders; big, black, hairy ones that crawl all over you. There are also ghosts and they think nothing of swishing through your soul.” Prysm pretended to shake with fear.

“Don’t forget the Frankenstein monster. He might still be in the pit. If he is, he’ll be furious and probably tear the next thing he sees into a million pieces.” Poe added a few things for drama.

“You’re not frightening me at all. I don’t care how long you put me in your pit, or how many ghosts tear my soul apart. I am not apologizing to that witch.” Mr. Death crossed his arms and let out an indignant sigh.

“There is one more way to get him to change his mind,” Poe whispered to Conri. “Do you remember the cage you rescued me from? If we can sneak back inside without the vampire catching us, we could put him in the cage and pull it up to the roof. Do you think that might work?” Conri shrugged his shoulders. “Probably not. We’ll force him to do apologize when we get there.” Poe stood in front of the others. “We’re going to the haunted house. Mr. Death will apologize whether he wants to or not. In the meantime, watch out for those black cats and keep your eyes open for the Frankenstein monster. I think he lives around here. The vampire might be around too, so everyone be on guard.” He led the ground through the woods, stopping every time they heard a twig snap. After another hour of walking and listening to Mr. Death complain, they arrived at the bottom of the wooden staircase. Each tipped their head back and looked up at the haunted house. “We’re here,” Poe said.

The exhausted group fell on the brittle foliage. Unable to stay awake, they fell asleep. Conri kept a tight hold on Mr. Death, who lay awake counting the stars and mumbling curses on Poe and his friends. “This isn’t the end of it. Oh no, it’s not the end yet.”

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