The sun was slowly rising over the forest as the ever-impetuous Colette dashed into the trees, away from her mother. Her long blonde hair was carefully curled, and the clear path left no stray branches to yank at the bouncing strands. In her young mind, she never thought it odd that every path was clear of all but lovely grass. She never thought it strange that sometimes, the trees on the east side of the road looked transparent.
She laughed as she dashed toward one to run a hand along its bark. Instead of touching rough mark, her fingers slid through. A gasp escaped her chapped lips, and she withdrew her hand quickly, brown eyes wide in wonder. She extended her hand again, and watched as her entire arm went right through the great tree. She looked back down the way she came, then grinned as she heard her mother call to her. Without a thought, Colette jumped through the tree and dashed along the newly-revealed trail, eager to explore the forest beyond the path.
The very air felt light and clear, and a laugh escaped her. She looked up as she heard something above, then stared in awe as fairies as large as she was stared down from the high branches. “Hello!” Colette chirped in greeting to the fairies.
Each one above was a different color. There were two purple fairies, three blue, and seven green. There was even one that was pink. Each one looked just the same, from their faceted black eyes, to their delicate, bare toes. “You’re pretty.” the girl added suddenly.
The fairies giggled, and one few slowly down. She was green. “Hello!” the fairy greeted, then covered her mouth and dashed back to the trees, only to peer back down, as though shy.
Colette was satisfied with this greeting, and skipped along. The springy ground on this path was covered in thick moss, covered in glistening dew. She paused as she saw a small, beautiful spring, then grinned and ran towards it. Her clumsy feet caught on a tree root, and her thin body flew forward. A splash accompanied her landing in the clear pool. She looked up and around, trying to see if anyone had seen.
Instead of viewers, she saw a forest that was brighter than the one she was just in. The paths led in different directions, and there was a clearing filled with dancing goblins. She hid behind a tree as they cackled and danced around a fire, showing off aged trinkets.
“My great great super grand father stole this from the castle, you know! Right from under the nose of the Hero of Light, he did!” one announced proudly as he held up a rusted pot lid. “It’s the grandest of treasure! A soldier’s shield!”
One of the others scoffed. “Ha! That’s a pot lid! My ancestor stole this from the castle, from the princess’s dressing room, even!” He held up a half-rotted parasol that had lost all color. “It’s the princess’s own umbrella, you know!”
“Ha! Liar! My grandper’s grandper’s grandper saw yours steal that from a maid’s room!” He guffawed. “Liars, all! My grandper’s grandper stole an apple, and then he ate it!”
The entire group collapsed into laughter, and Colette, in her dirty, sopping wet dress of un-dyed wool slowly made her way past them. She recalled stories of goblins stealing away little girls, and how they were very cruel. She tried not to breathe as she finally dashed down another path, only to run headlong into a giant beast that stood twice as tall as she. It stood on two horse legs, and had a horse head, but the thing had no front legs or arms at all. Her gaze slowly went upwards on the thing, and she saw a grand horn in the center of its forehead.
A unicorn! She could hardly recall a single story about the grand, tall beasts, but she knew what they were the moment she saw one. She held her breath as it slowly slid its legs apart, then squatted and leaned down to look her in the eye. It snorted, its hot breath making steam rise against her belly. It rose again, and the girl stared in wonder and fear as it looked down at her.
Finally, the silence passed as it whickered at her, then left at a sedate, bounding pace. She giggled at how absurd its rear looked, bouncing about, and it looked back with a snort before it trotted off.
Colette covered her face, then fell over in a fit of laughter.
The girl finally opened her eyes as she heard something nearby. She blinked for a few moments, then squeaked. “What?” she asked as she stared at a mushroom on her belly. The creature had a face, even! She stared for a few moments as thin tentacles on its bottom slowly began to feel over her, seeking something.
A scream erupted from Colette as a goblin plucked the mushroom up and ate it. The goblin looked down at her, then made a silly face, and her scream turned into laughter.
“Why you screamin’?” he asked belligerently, lower jaw stuck out.
“Because you’re a goblin.” she pointed out with all of the tact of a small child.
“I don’t even have my hat or my axe!” he objected, then frowned. “I must be very strong, then.” He nodded. “You can be my new servant, then, since you know how strong I am.”
The girl slowly rose. “Um, I have to get to the main path.” she objected feebly, in an attempt to get away from the ugly creature.
The goblin frowned. “I just saved your life.” He objected with a pout.
“My mama is going to be looking for me.”
“Then why’d you come this deep? Come on, servant.” he huffed and began to walk away, leaving the girl to become more lost, or to follow the strange goblin.
The girl looked around, suddenly scared of this bright and beautiful place, with its sun-kissed leaves and tall, sparkling trees. The springy moss seemed less friendly now, and the constant sound of fairies above seemed mocking. Finally, she groaned dramatically and followed along, a pout to end all pouts on her young face.