The wishing well, p.1
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       The Wishing Well, p.1
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           Holly Zitting
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The Wishing Well


  The

  Wishing

  Well

  The Paradan Tales

  Book 1

  Another novel by Holly Zitting

  Copyright 2013 Holly Zitting

  The Wishing Well

  Copyright 2013 Holly Zitting

  ISBN: 9781301956326

  Credits:

  Cover Art: Gemini Judson

  Editing: Jeremy Tyler & Sam Ames

  Author Picture: Isabella Zitting

  DEDICATION

  This book is dedicated to my parents. Sandy and Allen and Brian and Bernice. Thank you for always supporting me and loving me when I was my most unlovable.

  Also for my brothers and sisters both by blood and by love. My life is enriched each day by having you in it.

  And for anyone who is searching for their happily ever after……

  Prologue

  I have always believed every wish each held a great deal of power.

  As a little girl I used to wait up at night, then I would look out my window in search of the first evening star. Then, with all the faith and hope in me, I would make my wish. Holding on tight to the golden coin in my hand, I felt it grow heavier and heavier in my cold and sweaty palm. My wish joined with it. I would drop it deep into the dark abyss of the wishing well, knowing it would change the direction of my destiny…my forever.

  I looked up into the icy eyes which spoke deep into my heart.

  I longed for him to stop me. There was a growing circle of mythical creatures starting to surround me. I had come to love them as my family. I couldn’t believe I was about to leave them all. I willed the solid gold coin in my hand to disappear into thin air, and then I would never have to make this impossible wish. Stepping closer to the well and looking down at the seemingly endless hole in the earth—I braced myself.

  Closing my eyes, I held the coin close to my lips and whispered quietly to myself, “I wish—to go home.”

  The coin dropped quickly out of my hand and into the chilling darkness. It burned my fingers as it left them. Afraid this was going to be the last moment I saw them, I looked into the eyes of the boy I loved. Focusing on him, trying to remember every inch of the love I would soon lose.

  It has been said 'Be careful what you wish for, it just might come true. As much as I knew how true those words were, it would never stop me from wishing.

  Chapter 1

  I could hear them following me.

  All I could think was: not here, not now. I dealt with my growing gang of tormentors enough at school. Now they were following me to my sanctuary. Tears threatened to spill over my anxious eyes. There weren’t many places I could hide anymore. The last time I encountered them on my own, I had ended up with bruises and a large cut to my arm. A fading scar on my left arm was a constant reminder of that day.

  My parents had done all they could to protect me. The principal had even called in the police on more than one occasion. This only fed their hatred. No one could ever give me a reason why they were constantly after me. My parents thought they were jealous. My denials only prompted my parents into telling me how I never saw myself the way they did.

  I would never understand.

  By worldly standards, I was considered a beauty.

  My hair was almost to my waist. It was chestnut brown with auburn highlights. I had finally grown out of my baby-fat stage, as my mom liked to call it. Thankfully, I no longer had to listen to her solicit constant helpful tips on how to lose those extra few unwanted pounds. She always wanted me to try some crazy diet with her. I had grown almost 8 inches in the past year. I was five-foot-seven and still growing. My body was long and lean, thanks to my new addiction to running. My eyes were the color of the Caribbean ocean on a sunny day.

  Looking in the mirror, they were my favorite part of my refection.

  I had always been active in student government. However, lately, one of my favorite things at school was working with the kids with special needs. There was a special program where they taught life skills to kids. I was the student who was in charge. It was there where I spent the bulk of my after-school time. Being around those without a voice…I could relate to how they felt, like right now. My voice was caught behind the lump in my throat. I was rushing and my lungs were starting to rebel.

  The top of the clearing was quickly approaching.

  It was a pretty barren hill. Rounding at the top and then heading back down, there wasn’t much to see, with the exception of a large wishing well. It sat right smack dab in the middle of the hill; you could see 360 degrees from it. I had sent many wishes down into the ebony abyss, hoping they would someday come true. The only wish I needed answered, right now, was for me to disappear.

  I searched for a hiding spot.

  Even though I had been to the top of this hill a hundred times, I prayed something new would magically materialize. Luck didn’t seem to be on my side, today. One reason I loved this hill is because it sat high up. You could see the whole valley from up here. I could spend hours sitting up against the wishing well. Either I would read, or just daydream.

  The well, itself, had seen better days.

  It had been here longer than the town. It had been built out of broken gray mortar bricks. Early settlers had built it to christen and bless the land. They had been extremely superstitious, so they built it before harvesting a single tree. Disuse, and no one taking the time to repair the damage over the years, had started to show. Grass grew between the cracks; moss was starting to cover most of the bricks. Once, out of curiosity, I had tried to use the hand crank to see if it still worked.

  It was frozen in place, but I could see the bucket was still intact, not far from the rim.

  It was larger than a normal bucket, and square in shape. The sounds of their rough shuffling footsteps were getting louder. I could hear them gasping for breath. This trip up the hill was easy for me. I did it often, sometimes more than once a day. I could walk it in my sleep. Without taking a second to think about it, I climbed up and over into the wishing well. My legs worked their way into the large bucket, and I held on for dear life.

  Every inch of me was quivering. I had to hold my mouth shut to soften the sounds of my teeth rocking together. Could they hear the pounding of my heart?

  “Where did she go?” An angry, female, venom-filled voice rasped.

  “You said she came up this hill!” a male voice shook with contention.

  “Are you joking? I’m going home. This is ridiculous! Come on, Taos,” a whiny voice cried.

  Murmuring and complaints, along with swearing, echoed down the hillside. My legs were scraped and bloody. Forced into the small space, my muscles were so tense they complained under the strain.

  How long was long enough?

  Did I dare move?

  Would I be safe if I left my haven? My heart still thudded like it was trying to keep pace with a jack-hammer. My lungs burned. It was then I realized that I had stopped breathing. Slowly exhaling, I tried to be as quiet as possible.

  Time passed.

  My breathing and heartbeat slowed. It was getting dark and I realized just how long I had been in the tight space. It had been long enough for them to make their way down the mountain, so I gripped the edges of the bucket and proceeded to push myself up. With one hand, I reached for the edge of the wishing well. The stone crumbled and I started to slip. Panic set in.

  Shuffling my hands to try to regain my balance, I could hear the bucket creak and groan in protest. I could feel it weakening. My only thought was: please, no!

  Then…I fell.

  Chapter 2

  I wanted to scream.

  The sound was stuck in the back of my throat. It was fighting to escape. My brain had disconnected from my voice box. The conn
ection to my hands weren’t working any better. With every breath, my already ravaged and bleeding fingers were desperate to find a hold along the ragged rocks.

  I prepared myself to hit the bottom.

  Everyone says your life flashes through your mind when you’re preparing to die. Maybe it is a reminder of all the good and bad moments in your life. That wasn’t happening. Instead, I saw what I wanted to do with my future. Every little girl wants to find her prince charming and fall in love. I saw myself walking down an aisle with a man I didn’t know yet, but dreamed of often. Another image taunting me was of myself, with a lap full of children.

  My children.

  I wanted to be a mom someday. More than I wanted to be anything else, I wanted to be a mom.

  Reality hit me. I was still falling. This shouldn’t be possible. My body should be broken in a hundred pieces by now. The air around me was no longer heated. It was turning cooler and icy.

  I shivered.

  Wrapping my arms around myself, trying to comfort and stay warm at the same time. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the bottom seemed to be approaching. Light! It was dim, but I could just make out the subtle shift in the well. What had been round and long was now turning into something narrow and cone shaped.

  I was running out of space.

  Terror overtook me and I blacked out.

  Chapter 3

  I woke up to what had to be a dream.

  There was someone, or something, standing over me. I was guessing it was male, and he looked more scared of me than I was of him. The only way I could properly describe him was hideous! He was covered in black hair or fur. I wasn’t sure. Something made my stomach heave—his face. A flattened, pushed up nose reminded me of a wild boar. Each of his eyes were large and misshapen. They looked cold and dark staring down at me while he—snarled at me. Long pointed snaggled teeth jetted out of his oversized mouth. His ears were half the size of his head and came to large points at the top.

  Burlap seemed to be the fabric of his choice, with the exception of a metal vest. It looked like he had made it himself. It had been put together from random pieces of leftover scraps. I wondered if it was decorative, or if he used it as armor? He seemed to be terrified. There was fear dancing in his eyes. What could he have to fear?

  “Why are you here?” He sneered, freakishly. He was looking at me quizzically, but my lips were frozen in place. I wasn’t even sure where HERE was. Terror still seized my body.

  “Fine. I will take you to King Tommit. He will find out what you have been up to.”

  Did I hear him right? King?

  He picked me up with only one hand. It was as if I weighed nothing. He smelled like rotting meat. My dad stood at six-feet-five inches and he was taller than him. My head was spinning and I was on the verge of throwing up. My eyes were closed, trying to fight the panic growing in my stomach.

  The fear must have won out, because I was once again in the darkness.

  I thanked the universe for small favors.

  *

  He dropped me like a hot potato.

  My already sore and damaged body groaned in protest. I tried biting my lower lip and not allowing a single sound to escape. Fear and confusion had etched their way into the furrows of my face. Looking around, I would have to guess I was in some sort of throne room. It was massive; you could have fit a football field in the room. White marble walls and floors shined like someone had just polished them. Heavy red curtains hung on either side of the double windows the length of each wall. There were lots of glaring angry stares directed in my way. Being alone with my tormentors would have been preferable to this.

  What were they waiting for?

  My heart was pounding. My skin trembled with terror.

  Horns sounded.

  Everyone turned to the origin of the sound. The guards marched toward us. They were surrounding someone. It was hard to see who it was, because of their uniform caps towered over them. Each of the guards were dressed in rich gold’s and reds. Crimson red pants, which ended with shiny lace up black boots. Their shirts were the same red on their back and arms. The fronts of their shirts were gold and were accented by two rows of golden buttons.

  Each one wore a hat, reminding me of the guards at Buckingham Palace, except they were gold and metal. In each of their hands, they held shiny, sharp, steel spears.

  They marched in perfect rhythm, making their way to the over-opulent throne. It appeared to be carved from a single piece of gold. Then, someone who had zero restraint bedazzled almost every inch of it.

  It was ghastly and beautiful at the same time.

  The guards parted and then, at once, turned around to face me. By the looks on their faces you would think I was the most dangerous creature they had ever come in contact with. After seeing the snarling beast that dragged me here, I wondered how that was even possible. With great trepidation, three guards stepped left while the other three stepped right.

  Sitting on the throne was the man they had been hiding.

  He had wavy dirty blonde hair that hung to the nape of his neck. It had streaks of black underneath, threatening to peek out. His eyes were the color of coal; they were starkly contrasted by his translucent milky white skin. I guessed he was somewhere in his late twenties, but it was hard to tell. He was dressed in all black: black slip on boots, black leggings, which all led to a black silk button up shirt. A dark blood red cape rested on his shoulders. Sitting on top of his head sat a golden crown. Whoever had bejeweled the throne had gotten their hot little hands on the crown, too. It was gaudy at best, but it was all overpowered by his smugness.

  “Who have you brought this time, Cronan?” His question was addressed to my captor.

  “I caught it,” he raised his awful nose at me, “trying to sneak into Paradan.”

  Sneak? Paradan?

  I forced my mouth to stay shut. My mind was still half convinced I was dreaming. The King considered his words for a brief moment. Anger grew around his eyes, his fists clenched in fury. He jumped out of his seat in a rage.

  “You’re from Fara! King Calas sent you here to spy on me, didn’t he!?!” He was standing, shaking those furious fists at me. I was more lost than before, if that was possible. Shaking my head no in reply, the tears finally started breaking free.

  “And just what are you wearing?!”

  I looked down at my clothes. I was wearing simple dark blue jeans and a purple shirt.

  “I would think that King Calas would at least have a little something in that huge head of his to work with. Take her out of my sight and put her to work with the maids. You will have the rest of your miserable life to see my glory up close.” He laughed, and others in the room joined in.

  I tried pinching myself, willing my eyes to open and for me to be at home in my bed.

  When they opened, I was surrounded by the over-dressed guards. One of them picked me up. I started kicking and fighting back. They just laughed. Another one grabbed my legs with ease, dragging me through the opulent hallways.

  Fear had overtaken my body in such a way, my nerves felt as if they were on fire. Everywhere they touched me, it felt like my skin was burning. I wanted to go home. I wanted far, far away from this fairy tale nightmare.

  I couldn’t believe how big this place was.

  It reminded me of a long forgotten labyrinth. Trying to escape wasn’t going to be easy. Looking back in the direction we had come, I couldn’t even remember our path. We went further into the recesses of the pit of the castle. After ten more minutes, they stopped suddenly. My eyes searched for our ending.

  The door in front of us looked just like all of the others.

  What was so special about this one?

  One of the guards knocked loudly. I could hear quiet sounds coming forward. The door slowly opened.

  “Yes.”

  The childlike voice which responded was connected to a small girl. Her hair was fiery red and curled in ringlets all over her tiny head. It hung down to her wai
st. Her bright emerald green eyes sparkled. It seemed as if her porcelain body had been sprinkled with rainbow glitter. Her features were smaller than normal, but years of wisdom filled her face. She was wearing a long black gown. It reminded me of the plays I had seen of Romeo and Juliet. It had a sweetheart neckline with long open sleeves. A simple white apron topped her dress, but her dress wasn’t what I was staring at. My eyes were frozen on her…WINGS!

  They were on her back and still. As she was walking, I wondered why she wasn’t using them. They were beautifully translucent, gossamer and so delicate.

  “Evver, we have a new member of the staff for you. Dress her and then get her to work.” She looked at me sadly.

  “Yes, Rikon.”

  The guards pushed me toward her. She reached out and took my shaking hands. Evver guided me through the door, and then quickly shut it. She walked me over to the small cot that was her bed. Her “room” was more of a storage closet. Uniforms and cleaning supplies were stacked to the ceiling. She sensed the fear that was still cursing through my blood. Stepping back, she gave me a moment to take it all in. Even though she wasn’t using her wings, her movements were still extremely graceful.

  “Why don’t we get you cleaned up and changed?” Her voice was so gentle, so calming. Looking into her anxious eyes, I could see she wouldn’t hurt me. So, I nodded in assent. In no time flat, she had me dressed and my wounds bandaged and cleaned. She hummed a lovely melody while she worked. When I had been dropped into this massive castle, I never expected to find a moment of tranquility. Was it just a mirage? I wasn’t sure. There were so many questions in my heart and mind, but I was too afraid to ask any of them.

  After looking me over, she seemed pleased with the results.

  “Why don’t we get something in your stomach before we start?” My stomach grumbled in reply. Smiling at me, she led the way. I tried to pay attention to our route, but I was beginning to think they were purposefully trying to confuse me with the different ways they were taking me. Walking into the kitchen, I was shocked. It was no bigger than my family room at home. The walls were worn, and it appeared the kitchen went mostly ignored by the King and his guards.

 
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