Gardens keep secrets…especially old gardens. Orphaned and wary of magic, a young woman knows little of her ancestral garden’s mysteries until she discovers her own power in the darkness of winter, the words of a witch, and the loss of her innocence.
In a huge willow tree, perched the shadowy form of a cat, oddly cloaked and sitting with one leg hanging down. It shifted like rolling water into a mink, a salamander, a frog.
Tansel lowered herself into a clumsy curtsy. “Aunt,” she said carefully, “I need your help.”
“What will you pay for it?”
Tansel hung her head. “I have nothing.” It was true. Nothing but tansy.
“You are still innocent. You must give me that.”
Tansel blinked. What did that mean? She recalled what the crone had told her years ago, about knowing the darkness. But it did not matter now. She nodded quickly.
The watery thing in the willow tree swirled down around the trunk like a snake and coiled on the ground, where it became a hovering shadow. In a voice like wind over a grave, it chanted:
“These things three, your garden needs
“To make the dark and light the same.
“Slis, a frog,
“Gea, the spring and
“Retch, the oldest wizard’s name.”
“The Trouble with Tansy” originally appeared in Tales of the Talisman, V5-1.
This story is included in Wizards, Woods and Gods, a collection of twelve dark fantasy tales exploring the mysteries of the Otherworld through tree and animal lore, magic, cosmos, love, war and mysticism.
“The Trouble with Tansy” was also the original inspiration for The Winged Hunter, Book Three in the Chronicles of Ealiron.
© F.T. McKinstry 2017. All Rights Reserved.