Mistica Chronicles

Welcome to Issue 73

Melody Winning Entry

Though Pandoria was more closely connected with life than most beings, even she found it hard to believe that the wooden figure she clasped in her hand was mere wood, not a living, breathing being. She marveled as she traced the miniature form of an Oceanic Yehxil, astounded by the illusion of rippling motion in each fin and the loving detail that had gone into each strand of hair on the… “toy” was a vastly insufficient word, though the young Tarinooki to whom the item belonged treated it as such. Pandoria indulged herself in one more pass over the smooth wood before she handed it gently back to the girl.

“This carving has brought you much happiness, has it not?” she asked the child, and she smiled at the enthusiastic nod she received in response. “May I ask where you acquired it? I would surely love to meet the one who has created a statue of such skill and joy.”

“Oh, my da gave it to me! But he says he got it from the woman on the hill, a long time ago. She used to bring presents down to everyone at Mistmas!”

“Thank you, child.” Pandoria watched as the Tarinooki ran back to her friends – and as she turned towards the hills, she noticed that they too held wooden carvings, no doubt as intricately crafted as the wonder she had touched. Smile still on her face, she began the climb into the hills.

The small house she found was unmistakably the destination she sought. Though its size was modest, nearly every inch of the wooden façade had been carved into elaborate designs. She saw scenes out of myth, moments out of history, and her smile grew even larger when she noticed a small carving representing a young Tarinooki and Yehxil playing around the Kingdom Village well. The occupant of the house was clearly less of a hermit than her dwelling suggested.

The goddess was met by a pair of cloudy white eyes and the creaking of a rocking chair as she entered the house, stepping carefully around the many figurines that covered every available surface. “Can it be that Pandoria herself has come to visit me, or have my eyes grown even more mistaking?” laughed the Belragoth gently, slowly standing from her chair to greet her guest. “What an unexpected honor this is.”

“It is an honor for me to meet the one who can imbue such life into wood,” Pandoria replied, her eyes drawn all around the room. “Many have called my Overgrowth Box a miracle, but now I find it has a rival in your art!”

The Belragoth smiled with the quiet familiar pride of one who creates out of love. “It is kind of you to say. I have been carving for as long as I can recall – my claws trimmed twigs when I was young, and as I grew I learned how simple wood could reflect the beauty of everything around me.” She reached down to stroke the mane of a wooden rocking-Shyre, and as her claws gently traced the wood her face fell into a wistful sadness.

“What troubles you, my child?”

The Belragoth laughed once more. “Oh, Pandoria, what troubles me is that I am far from a child. I grow old, and while my soul is full of joy, my body seems full only of pains. Both eyes and claws have lost their sharpness, and these shaking hands cannot create like they once did.” She gestured towards a small workbench, and Pandoria noticed that it was littered with pieces apparently abandoned in progress, flaws marring the smooth wood. “Now I find myself envying my own creations, and wishing I could be as precise and poised as carved wood.”

Pandoria was silent for a moment. “I have been traveling to make sure the people of Mistica have lives filled with joy, and when I passed through Kingdom Village I was delighted to see that the children there had already had their wishes granted – for they held treasures clearly crafted with love, treasures that grew even more special as they passed between family and friend. The joy in your soul and the skill in your hands have done my work for me! But it seems there is one wish left to grant, one that will need both my magic and your art.”

The goddess walked over to the workbench and picked up the rough figurine of a wooden Belragoth. Though its form lacked the flowing elegance of the carver’s earlier works, Pandoria ran her hand over each surface with as much reverence as she had shown the Oceanic Yehxil in town. When she drew her fingers away, the figurine had been transformed. The blocky form of the Belragoth was replaced with a smooth wooden sphere, only a partial frill giving any hint of its original form. “Consider this my thanks, poor payment though it may be for the many years of delight you have brought through your art.”

The Belragoth’s hands perhaps shook a little more than usual as she gingerly took the Grace that the goddess held out to her. Cloudy eyes fluttered closed as a warm light emanated from the sphere, flowing over her scales like warm tree sap.

When the light cleared, the carver’s face was a picture of perfect serenity. “Ah,” she sighed, slowly stretching rich mahogany wings. “It feels just as I always imagined, when I had worked on a carving for days and felt the lines blur between the wood and myself.” Her hands did not shake, but stood steady and strong as oak.