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  • Writer's pictureCharles Zitta

Season of Shadows (Chapter 25 - Enchanted Garden)

A streak of orange shot down from the dark sky—repeatedly looping round the chosen outsider and his two friends.

Dark Thorn Elontra and her pack of shadow wolves charged the electric-orange swirl, sensing little time to waste.

“Hurry, they mustn’t escape,” shouted Elontra.

Looking like a band of distorted shadows with violet eyes, the wolves closed in on their target.

Charlie, Ben and Oteza, consumed by the magic funnel, could not see the oncoming attackers.

Leaping high above ground, the pack of wolves extended their paws outward, bearing razor-sharp teeth, as they came down in a rage of fury upon the swirling mass.


The magic swirl vanished, leaving the beasts with nothing to grab but air and pavement.

“Ugh! I should have done it myself,” shouted Elontra.

The enraged Dark Thorn disappeared, then reappeared, where the boy and his friends last stood. Her black cloak spiraled out of control as she spun round in circles, searching the area for traces of her prey.

The shadow wolves dared not get close to their leader, for they knew it would not end well. Anxiously, they circled the perimeter, searching for what they had failed to capture.

“Hurry! Find them. Search the entire land from top to bottom ,” said Elontra. “They could not have traveled too far.”



A sparkling orange light burst left Charlie and the others standing safely behind what should have been Mickey’s Toontown house, but instead, was a broken down shack.

The enormous fifty acre garden they found themselves in was full and active. It was a hidden secret. A ray of hope amongst the evil queen’s Shadow Kingdom. Rich, curly vines sprouted out of the crusty ground in every direction, as hundreds of vibrant orange pumpkins grew out from their ends.

A small trail of orange pixy dust bounced from pumpkin to pumpkin—transforming each into a fully animated scarecrow. Charlie, Ben and Oteza watched in amazement.

“She’s really quite something, that Abigale is,” said a familiar voice.

“Hey, I recognize that voice,” said Ben, turning to confirm his assumption.

“Good ta see ya again, Ben,” said Jolly. “We really didn’t get to talk much last time I saw you. My hands were kind of full dealing with that grumpy, old shadow horseman. You either, Charlie. I see you brought your trusty stick with ya.”

“Stick? Are you calling me a stick?” Oteza rumbled with anger.

“I…I didn’t mean to—”

“Do I look like a plain old stick to you?”

“Oh, now you’ve done it, Jolly,” said Ben, “you’ve ruffled her feathers.”

“Really? I didn’t mean to offend you, Miss…”

“Oteza,” she said bluntly.

“Well, Oteza, let me begin again. If I may? I am Mayor Jolly Crow, leader of the Shadow Kingdom legion of scarecrows.”

“So you’re sided with the queen?” Oteza snapped.

“Well of course not ma’am, we’re actually quite the opposite.”

“The opposite?”

“We’re here to help you and your friends, not harm you. Really? You don’t recall our last time together? We battled the shadow horseman side-by-side?”

“The Mayor speaks the truth, Charlie.”

“And who are you?” asked the boy.

The tiny orange spec leapt off Jolly’s shoulder—transforming into a life-size fairy. Her luminescent skin and long golden hair glowed like the warm sun. Her eyes, large and crystal blue. The short, layered dress which she wore sparkled bright with metallic orange and yellow feathers and transparent butterfly wings. “I’m Abigale, pumpkin fairy of this enchanted garden.”


“Keep looking, you brainless twits, I know they’re here,” thundered Elontra.

“But we’ve looked everywhere, Dark Lord,” said one of the wolves.

“Everywhere?” The Dark Thorn’s marble black eyes opened wide—her chin raised as she cast her long boney-blue hand back, then forward.


A bolt of blue lighting shot from her hand into the unfortunate soul who dared speak against her word.

A puff of blue smoke rose from the asphalt. Only a scorch mark remained where the shadow wolf had stood.


“So this is your army?” asked Ben.

“Oh no, it’s Jolly’s army,” replied the fairy. “I’m just here to help when I can.”

“Don’t let her fool you, Ben, Abigale can do a lot more than just grow scarecrows,” said Jolly.”

“For instance?” asked Oteza.

“Abby, my friends and I are gonna need a little more than just an army of straw-backs to beat the queen in her own kingdom,” said Jolly.

“All you need to do is ask,” said the fairy. Taking to the air, she hovered high above the others, and with the clap of her luminescent hands, released three swirling streaks of orange fairy dust which randomly intertwined with one another in the air before slamming into the ground.


Three vines shot up out of the ground, each twisting, winding and growing offshoots to form feminine figures with long flowing vine-like limbs and hair, and large, leaf-shaped eyes.

“The green sprites will help you,” said Abigale, gesturing to her newly-grown friends.

“Really?” said Oteza in sarcastic tone.

“They look more like plants to me,” Ben mumbled to Charlie.

“We are more than plants, Ben,” said one of the sprites, “and would be happy to show you the way back,”—her voice magically projecting through the air, as they had no mouthes.

“As will I and my pumpkin army,” added Jolly.

“What? Wait. How did she hear what I mumbled to the boy,” said Ben.

“Maybe we don’t need any help,” added Oteza.

“She’s right, you know,” said Ben. “I mean, we were able to escape the shadow horseman’s crazy world.

Abigale landed between the two groups, silencing them. Bowing her head, she looked up towards the dark sky. “The shadow you were pulled into by the evil horseman was just a glimpse of what stands before you now. This place…the Shadow Kingdom of the queen, carries with it far more danger and purpose. It will not be as easy for you and your friends to escape.”

Wicked laughter echoed through the park as lighting danced across the dark purple sky. Her voice was everywhere.

“I know you are here, boy. I know we will find you. Whatever you and your little friends are planning will fail.”

Charlie and the others looked to the sky, and everywhere around them. Terrified.

Abigale held a finger to her mouth, silencing the others. The queen could not see them in the enchanted garden. It was protected by magic. At least that is what the pumpkin fairy hoped.

“Return to my castle, boy and I promise no harm will come to your friends…”

Abigale looked at Charlie, shaking her head no.

“…or, perhaps your brother would do?”

The boy’s eyes opened wide—picturing in his head what the evil queen may do to his younger brother.

Abigale, and Jolly battled for Charlie’s attention, shaking their heads no.

No one in the garden said a word.

Angered by the silence, the queen spoke one last time. “Very well. If you will not do as I ask, then you and your friends will do as I command!”

A barrage of lightning shot down from the sky, striking trees, buildings and random outdoor ride vehicles throughout the evil queen’s dark, twisted park.

Even the queens gruesomely created guests began to stir and scramble for shelter, in fear of being struck down by her wrath.

Yet, the enchanted garden remained untouched.

“Looks like she’s pretty angry,” said Ben.

“Ben! No!” said the pumpkin fairy—who immediately covered her mouth with her hands.

“There you are,” the queen’s voice called down from the sky.

The ground began to quake and rumble, as a giant mound swelled up in the center of the garden. The surface exploded, giving way to an army-sized pack of shadow wolves. The hairy beasts flooded the garden with ferocious intentions, their jaws snapping madly.

The scarecrow army scattered in all directions. Abigale turned into a giant, orange hawk and carried Jolly into the sky. Charlie, Ben and Oteza headed for the broken down shack.

Last to emerge from the enormous hole in the ground was Dark Thorn Elontra, mounted atop a dark stallion with laser red eyes. She called out to her wolf pack, “Find the boy and bring him to me!”

“And the others?” Asked one of the shadow wolves.

“Do with them as you wish,” said Elontra.


“We have to save the boy and his friends,” said Abigale, while circling the garden from high above with Mayor Jolly Crow on her back.

“Right,” the mayor replied.

“It’s a shame to see such a good crop go to waste,” said the fairy.

“Yes, those wolves are making a mess out of my soldiers,” Jolly replied.

“We’ll have to upgrade the next crop.”

“Tell me about it, look what that Dark Thorn is doing to some of my soldiers. She’s lighting them up like scarecrow sparklers.”


Charlie, Ben and Oteza silently watched through cracks in the planked-walled shack, as Elontra and her pack of shadow wolves made quick work of the helpless scarecrow army.

The straw soldiers were pulled apart from limb to limb—shredded into meaningless piles of straw, or set ablaze by lighting strikes from the hand of the evil Dark Thorn, as she galloped around the garden on her red-eyed steed.

There was a THUNK on the rooftop.

Dust floated down, triggering Charlie to sneeze.

“Shhhhhh. What are you trying to do, turn us into wolf treats,” said Ben.

There were more thunks and clunking around on the rooftop. The sound of muffled voices. How many was uncertain.

“What do we do?” said the boy.

“Remain calm,” whispered Oteza.

Something, or someone, leapt off the roof. A stirring of shadows could be seen under the entry door.

“We need to do something,” Charlie said in a quiet panic.

Suddenly, there were sounds of growling, barking and grunting. The occupants at the door were under attack.

There was a flash of light, then wolf-like whimpering.

Sounds of the retreating beasts gave way to a loud CLUNK!

The door swung open, revealing a pleasant surprise.

“It’s OK you can come out now,” said Abigale.

“Geeez. You had us scared for a minute,” said Ben.

“No need to worry now, my friend,” the pumpkin fairy said. She, Jolly and the trio of sprites walked in. “Everyone, come-come, gather together. There’s reason for us to hang around this dusty old place.”

Charlie and the others did as they were told.

Gathered together in the center of the room, Abigale snapped her fingers—instantly shrinking everyone down to the size of a mouse.

“Quickly, we must move quickly, before they return,” said the fairy.

There was a small hole in the floor, some fifteen feet away, which seemed much further for someone as tiny as Charlie and the others.

Abigale led everyone to the hole, then instructed them to climb in.

At first Ben and Charlie were hesitant, but after seeing Jolly and the others do it, they quickly followed without argument.

A long, miniature ladder led them down to a dirt floor with another hole.

“Continue on gentlemen, continue on,” Abigale said, motioning for Charlie and Ben to follow the others.

The second hole led them into a tunnel which wound back-and-forth, then sloped downward, until it emptied out into a small, organically-shaped residence filled with enough books to occupy ones mind for hours, a fireplace, two cozy couches, miniature mushroom stools, a large, wooden table, plenty of food, three bedrooms and four escape doors. It was the perfect hiding place.

“Go ahead and make yourselves at home,” the fairy said. “It’s going to be a while before we can leave.”


A pair of gnarly shadow wolves crashed through the shack windows, sniffing around every nook and cranny for traces of the boy and his friends.

The sound of an approaching horse caught their attention. They turned towards the open doorway, greeting Elontra as she walked in.

“No sign of the boy or the others, Dark Lord,” one of the wolves reported.

“Hmmm. Not even a scent to pick up on?” asked Elontra, looking around.

“Nothing,” the wolf replied.

“They must have fled to another area of the park. Gather the others and prepare a search party. We will find them,” she said in cold tone.

The two wolves trotted out the doorway to carry out her orders.

Taking one last look around, Elontra noticed the tiny hole in the floor. She bent down and peeked in with her large, soulless eye.

“A tiny ladder, how clever,” she said to herself.

The Dark Leader returned to her feet and exhaled—releasing a stream of blue flames all around the shack’s interior.

With a sinister laugh, she walked out the doorway and mounted her steed. Riding away, Elontra stopped and turned back to view the burning structure. “Let’s see how clever you can be now, orange fairy.”

© 2024 Charles E. Zitta. Charles E. Zitta and Disney and the Wonder Within blog novels are in no way part of,  endorsed or authorized by, or affiliated with the Walt Disney Company or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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