Peryn Roel

Peryn Roel Black and White
"The Unfolding of Time," by Peryn Roel, is about three siblings who embark on an incredible adventure through the Realms of Llalethar. The story centers around a prophecy said to involve three human children and is filled with eccentric creatures that are met along the way. Peryn's ideas drew from her love of the "Chronicles of Narnia," the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, and Cornelia Funke.
This story would not be what it is without Peryn's family listening to her talk out ideas and offering up thoughts of their own. Her goal for this book and the series to follow is to write a compelling adventure that parents and teachers feel good about placing in the hands of middle-grade children.
Peryn grew up in the countryside of Michigan and now lives on ten wooded acres near Leesburg, Virginia. She studied English and Anthropology and has worked with kids in various professional settings. When she is not writing Peryn is actively involved in theatre with her daughter, including producing and directing a production of "Alice and Wonderland." She also enjoys playing tennis with her son, creating outdoor landscapes with her husband, photography, anything with an artistic bent, and spending time with good friends.
Award Category Finalist
Award Submission Title
Unfolding of Time~The Curse
Logline
Three siblings discover a magic door and a key beneath an old willow, sending them traveling through the Realms of Llalethar. When Ella is cursed by the enemy, she must fight the power of the curse and the fear that she may cause the downfall of the Realms as foretold in a Prophecy of long ago.
My Submission
Preface

Have you ever had to sit and watch a clock slowly tick, tick, tick?
Perhaps, in a particularly tedious class where the teacher prattled on and on, while the fading day tapped impatiently at the window, imploring you to venture out?
As the clock insisted you stay and watch it creep along, have you ever let your mind wander to the place that wonders~What happens between each tick?
What mysteries linger deep within the folds of Time; drifting beyond stars, past constellations, planets, and galaxies?
And what will the future’s outcome be, when the Unfolding of Time releases the Serenstones and reveals those long-awaited?


The Country

Ella Bexley fidgeted.

The unfamiliar noises outside her aunt and uncle’s farmhouse were intolerable. She longed for the chaotic buzz of New York City, which always lulled her to sleep. The clock on a small nightstand ticked methodically, taunting her that she wasn’t any closer to sleep than when she had crawled under her covers, hours before.
“Lily…Lily, are you awake?” Ella whispered, glancing across to the bed on the other side of the nightstand. Her little sister was sound asleep, clutching a ragged stuffed bunny.
The annoying chirp of a noisy cricket was Ella's only answer. She wiped a bead of sweat from her forehead. “This is unbearable,” she thought. “I’ll never be able to sleep."
"Stupid cricket,” she muttered with a heavy thump on her mattress. She thought back to the last night in her family’s brownstone apartment and the conversation she overheard, just before reaching the kitchen in search of a glass of milk...

~

“Rose, they can’t go to Maggie and George's. I’m leaving tomorrow.” She had heard her father’s distraught voice say.
“But, John, the letter is quite clear. It is time.”
Ella crouched down to peer through a thin crack in the partially open door to the kitchen. She could see her mother sitting at the square metal table in her pink robe with a letter clenched firmly in her hand. Her strawberry blonde hair, the same color as Lily’s, fell to her shoulders.
Ella’s father stood near the sink in green striped pajamas and brown slippers. His hair was dark like Ella’s and his clean-shaven face carved with the concern evident in his voice.
“It can’t be the right time. The children need to be here with you. Not wandering through that wretched woods,” insisted her father.
"I wish there could be another way," Ella’s mother said, her face looking much older than her thirty-five years. Ella always thought her mother young and beautiful. Now she looked worn, tired, and frightened.
Her father stood quietly by the sink. Ella could tell he was desperate for an answer that was evading him like the missing pieces of a dream.
"You leaving for the war might be the perfect reason for why they are going,” her mother suggested desperation in her voice after a long silence.
“Rose, this is New York, not London. People here are not sending their children to the country to avoid bombs.” Her father’s eyes flickered for a moment in pain at having sounded so stern.
“Well, I…I’ll need to find work. Besides a nice vacation in the country will be good for them.”
“A vacation in the country? Rose, stop fooling yourself. We don’t know what we are sending them to. Who says they are the ones anyway…”
“John, we knew this day would come, that the Stars of Valaina would align once again, and they would have to find the old willow.” Ella watched her mother's hand reach for a lock of hair, which she twisted between her fingers.
“I know, I know.” Ella’s father’s face fell. “Why now?” He lifted his head, his brown eyes looking pleadingly at Ella’s mother.
“It is not up to us, John. It never was.” A tear slipped down her pale cheek, which she quickly swept away. “If they are the ones of the Prophecy…we can’t stand in the way.”
Ella pinched her nose and stifled a sneeze. What did her mother mean, “it was never up to them?” What about this old willow, some stars aligning, and a Prophecy?
Should she barge in and ask a million questions or talk to Jack in the morning? He was thirteen. He might know what to do if he believed her, but he wouldn’t. Her parents weren’t making any sense, which meant it would be impossible to explain to Jack. He would only tell her that eleven-year-old sisters never got anything right.
Ella watched her father walk quietly toward her mother. He took her hand in his. “I suppose I never thought this day would actually come. I feel so helpless sending them away like this.”
“So do I.” Ella’s mother squeezed her father’s hand tight. “Maggie and George will watch over them. They have been preparing for this day as much as we have, and the Council will be vigilant…”
“Yes, they will,” said her father. “I’m going to look in on the children. I won’t be seeing them for a long time.”
“I will phone Maggie and let her know…”

~

Ella tugged at her twisted pajamas, as the cricket continued to chirp in the darkness. All she thought she had known, everything that made her feel safe had been ripped from her in a moment, leaving her, Jack, and Lily alone at their aunt and uncles. She was desperate to know why!


Second Thoughts

“Aunt Maggie, what’s in the woods?” asked Ella as she slopped a piece of pancake through her maple syrup. She had fallen asleep sometime after midnight, between her thoughts and cricket chirps, and was now determined to find the willow.
“The usual,” replied her aunt, who wore a plain yellow dress and had short dark hair, neatly styled. She wiped a plate dry and placed it in the cupboard. “Trees, ferns, birds, bugs, and a stream. There is a lovely willow your mother, William, and I used to play under.”
“Is there anything scary in there?” Ella asked.
“Bugs!” stated Lily matter-of-factly, taking a sip of her orange juice.
“I wouldn’t say so,” said her aunt, running a dish towel over a mixing bowl. “Although, your imagination could get the better of you. The bugs will mind their own business, Lily.”
“Good, then we can make up stories about a lost princess,” replied Lily, flattening the folds of her pink dress. She turned toward her older brother. “Jack, you can be the prince who rescues me. Ella, you can be the queen.” Lily frowned. “The ogres and evil sorcerer will have to be pretend since there are only three of us.”
“Only two of you,” said Jack, having already finished the food on his plate. “I’m not going.”
“Jack, you have to,” pleaded Lily. “Ella and I can’t go all the way to the woods by ourselves and we need a prince.”
“You’ll have to make up the prince,” said Jack. He ran a hand through the loose curls of his sandy brown hair. “I’m going to the garage and see if I can find something to fix.”
“Jack, please?” begged Lily. “You have to come with us…please?”
Jack stood from the table. “Sorry, Lily,” he said. “I don’t really feel like it.”
“Why don’t you at least walk them down there?” suggested their aunt taking Jack’s plate. “Maybe take a quick look around. Then if you don’t want to stay, you don’t have to.”
“I guess I could do that,” said Jack, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets.
“Thanks,” said Ella, secretly glad Jack was coming.

****

Ella and Lily bound through the field that led to the woods while Jack lingered behind, arguing with himself as to why he was tagging along.
“This is so much fun,” cried Lily, as the tall grass tickled her bare legs. “I should have brought Mr. Rabbit.”
“He would have only gotten dirty,” said Ella, dashing ahead of Lily.
“There it is,” said Ella, pausing at the edge of a deep woods. It was lined with red oaks, hickory, and maple trees.
“Let’s go!” exclaimed Lily, ready to run into the woods the moment she caught up with Ella.
“I think we should wait for Jack,” said Ella, grabbing Lily by the arm.
Lily stared at her sister, puzzled. Ella never waited for Jack.
“You going in or are you going to stand there with your mouth hanging open, like your about to be eaten by some slobbery sister-eating monster?” Jack towered over Ella with clawed hands, as if he were a creature planning an attack.
Ella closed her mouth. She was a lot more afraid of the woods than she had realized. “Maybe we should go tomorrow. I’m not sure I’m actually up for exploring today.”
“Oh, no you don’t,” said Jack glaring at his sister. “You dragged me all the way down here. We are going in.” Jack walked past the first line of trees and disappeared.
Ella stood motionless and waited. She thought of the conversation between her mother and father and wondered if Jack had vanished to some strange place that captured obnoxious older brothers.
“You coming, scaredy-cat?” asked Jack, popping back out from behind a tree.
Ella jumped. “Yes, we're coming. Let’s go, Lily.” She grabbed Lily’s hand and marched past the first few trees.
“Ferns,” said Lily, walking through a carpet of green ferns that reached her knees. “This is the most magical woods I’ve ever seen.”
“It’s the only woods you’ve ever seen,” stated Ella. "We live in New York City, remember?"
Moss grew up the sides of the old, thick-trunked trees topped with full heads of green leaves rustling in the breeze. Little bits of dappled light slipped past the trees and rippled across the tips of the ferns. Birds chirped and flitted from branch to branch as the children walked further into the woods.
“I wonder where the willow is that Momma, Aunt Maggie, and Uncle William played under?” said Lily. “I want to find the willow.”
“Maybe we should save that for tomorrow,” said Ella.
“What’s up with you today?” said Jack, more annoyed he had bothered to walk with his sisters. “You never save anything for tomorrow.”
“I don’t know,” said Ella. “I’ve never been in a woods before. Who knows what is actually in here.”
“What do you mean?” asked Jack. “Something like Lily’s ogre henchmen or evil sorcerer?”
“Yeah, something like that,” said Ella, a frown forming on her face. The way her parents talked, there probably were ogres hiding somewhere waiting to capture them.
“Ogres are make-believe, Ella, so stop being so edgy.”
“I’m not being edgy” retorted Ella knowing she was edgy. Jack had no idea what she had overheard. Should she tell him? She was sure he would only laugh.
“There it is,” cried Lily. “I see the willow.” Lily ran ahead toward the willow, hanging partly over the bank of a gurgling stream.
“Lily, wait up for Jack. You don’t know what’s over there,” called Ella.
“You sure are acting strange,” said Jack, jabbing his sister in the arm.
Ella stuck her tongue out at Jack and jammed her fists into her trouser pockets. She had every right to be acting “strange.”


A Red Door

“Wake up, you old tree,” demanded a gurgling stream, flowing past an ancient-looking willow, with a school of fish in tow.
“Hmm, humph?” The willow attempted to straighten itself. It groaned a low moan of sorts that could only be heard by the stream, the trees, and creatures of the forest. 
“I’m awaaake, I’m awaaake,” the willow muttered with a deep yawn, which echoed through the forest, alerting a deer to the children's presence. The willow gave a swift shake of its long twining branches, as the white-tailed deer dashed away.
“Look, over there,” said the stream, splashing water in the direction from where the children were coming. “Three children!”
“Children,” mumbled the willow with contemplation, “we haven’t had children here since…”
“I know, I know,” interrupted the stream, rippling its back at the tickle of skating water bugs gliding across, “since the last three.”
“These must be Rose’s children?” mused the willow slowly. “Why, the little one, she looks just like Rose.”
Lily had come close to the willow and stopped suddenly. The ancient tree was much larger than she had imagined with long, thin branches of silvery-green leaves that touched the ground. 
“It's huge,” said Lily. “Hurry up,” she called to Jack and Ella walking through the thick ferns. “We are going to have so much fun! Just like Momma, Aunt Maggie, and Uncle William.”
“Not if you are the children of that wretched Llalethian Prophecy,” warned the stream with a stern burble, “and their adventure wasn’t fun. Dangerous it was by the end. Had me frightened out of my wits when Maggie found herself cursed.”
 "Remember, it all turned well, thanks to the magic radish potion of the High Wizard," reminded the willow, as a light breeze drifted through its branches.
"And that potion was all used up," added the stream. "If one of these children are cursed..." the stream paused. What would happen if one of the children was cursed?
“Don’t be such a worrywart,” instructed the willow, tapping the wet stream with the tip of a branch, knowing the annoyance it would cause. 
“Oh, I’ll worry and you know it,” replied the stream, knocking the willow's branch away with a firm splash. 


***

“Ella, Jack, come look!” exclaimed Lily stepping under the branches of the willow. “It's like a little house under here.”
Ella and Jack slipped through the long silvery branches. 
“I’ll be,” muttered Jack. The expanse under the tree was much larger than it appeared from the outside. He noticed three wooden chairs set around a small table, a child-sized writing desk with its own chair, and a tall cupboard, all placed neatly under the hanging branches of the willow. “Everything is clean.” 
“How could that be?” asked Ella, strolling around the furniture. “I’m sure no one has been here since Momma.”
“I have no idea,” said Jack, running a finger over the dust-free table.
“I do,” stated Lily, spinning in circles with delight.
“You do?” asked Jack, glancing at his little sister. “What?”
“Magic, of course,” replied Lily happily. “The fairies knew we were coming.”
“Oh? Right,” muttered Jack. “Clearly, that's a logical answer.”
“Do you have a better answer?” asked Ella, walking toward the small writing desk. She lifted the lid to see a stack of crisp paper, charcoal pencils, and a small golden clock that was still ticking. Maybe this woods wasn’t going to be so frightening after all. 
“No, but it wasn’t fairies,” said Jack, giving a long hard stare at the back of Ella's head.
“Well, I think it was,” said Lily glancing toward the wide trunk of the willow. “And look, I’m sure that is where they came from!” 
Lily dashed to the willow where, at its base, red moss had grown exactly in the shape of a door. She ran her small fingers over the fuzzy moss.
“See, It’s a fairy door. Now we just have to find the key.”
“That is absurd,” said Jack, not in the mood for entertaining his sister's imaginings. “That isn’t a door to a world of fairies.” 
“Well, I’m going to look for a key anyway,” said Lily with a long, hopeful look at the tree, and that the moss was a door that led to other worlds. “Ella, want to help?” 
Ella closed the lid of the writing desk and joined Lily.
“I’m going back to the house,” said Jack, turning toward the willow's branches. “This is boring.”
“Jack, you can’t go,” insisted Ella from where she sat on the cool ground. “Please stay. At least until we get to know the woods a little better and won’t get lost.”
Jack thought of his sister's lack of direction and figured Ella would get lost and he’d be blamed for leaving her and Lily alone.
“Fine,” he agreed, turning back and plopping down in one of the chairs, “for now.”
Lily and Ella swept long, narrow leaves and other debris away from the ground beneath the willow, certain they would find something.
“Do you think other creatures besides fairies come through the door?” Lily inquired of Ella.
“Sure,” said Ella, tossing away a clump of leaves. “Any creature can fit through a magic door." She paused and looked long at the moss. "I wonder where it really does lead to, though?”
“It doesn’t lead to anywhere,” insisted Jack. “Except to the bark of that old willow.”
“Oh! Look who thinks he knows so much,” muttered the stream, ready to dowse the boy with a good bit of sense. “And don't even bother to shush me, you ol’ tree!”
The willow gave a low booming laugh. “I've been trying for ages, with little success.”
“Pah!” retorted the stream with its usual indignation, splashing a cluster of black beetle bugs on a green, moss-covered rock.
“If only a few ogres would come about,” said a young oak, “I could give one a good swat, sending it running for good!” The oak swung a branch through the air as if an ogre had just run past.
“Ogres are nothing but trouble,” informed the stream knowingly, “and one hasn't been around these parts for ages.”
“Well, I'll swat the ol’ stinker for sure, if one did happen to wander through,” laughed the oak.
“Best be hoping that doesn't happen,” advised the stream. “Having to live with those Diamond Toads nearby is bad enough! No ogres, please!”
“Settle down, my friend,” drawled the old willow, “the young tree was only having a little fun.”
“Not my kind of fun!” snorted the stream with a long gurgle. “Not at all! I will be quite happy if that door of yours to remain quiet! It is nearing the end of the Fourth Age, you know! Time is running out for that horrid Prophecy to take place.” The stream rippled with a shudder. "The end is near for sure."
“You are quite right,” answered the willow. “Best not bother the stream with talk of ogres just now,” the willow said to the young tree.
“Didn’t their mother or aunt tell them anything of the door?” asked the stream of the willow.
“They can’t,” reminded the willow. “It is up to Time to find the children of the Prophecy. Rose and Maggie can only direct them here and wait for the outcome, whether good or…”
The willow paused, not wanting to imagine any other outcome than one that favored the Realms.
“Oh, right,” stammered the stream with an unsettled burble. “I knew that…I think the boy is going to be a hard one to convince.”
“So was William, but he came around,” said the willow.
“He was a stubborn one, though,” mused the stream.
"Somewhat like you," said the willow, taping the stream with a branch once again.
"Stop that!" splashed the stream. "Why you had to grow so close to my bank is beyond me."
"That is what willows do," said the tree in a low, drawn-out tone. "Grow near water."
While the stream attempted to come up with an appropriate retort, Ella had begun lifting small chunks of light green moss from the ground. She stuck her fingers under a particularly large piece of moss.
“Lily, Jack, I think I found something!”
Lily dashed to Ella’s side. “I knew it!” she exclaimed. “It must be a key.”

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