Josefine Ottesen
  prize-winning Danish author
Presentation > Books > Fables > The Greenmere series 1-3

The Greenmere series 1-3

Book 1: The Stolen Stone, Sesam 2000
Book 2: The Guardian of Wisdom, Sesam 2002
Book 3: The Solar Tears, Sesam 2003

Extract from The Stolen Stone
Extract from The Guardian of Wisdom
Extract from The Solar Tears
Author's comments

The Stolen Stone:

Behind the western mountains, the sky glowed red. The sun had set and the chilly air from the running water made Willow shiver.
”Come on!” yelled Ollie from the other side. There was a big gap to the next stone. She summoned all her strength and leapt. But it was too far and she only got one foot on it. She tried desperately to pull herself up but the stone was slippery and the current soon dragged her off towards the waterfall. Olli flapped around above her and screamed and yelled but he could do nothing.

When the sacred Peace Stone is stolen from the little community beside Lake Greenmere, it doesn't bode well for the future. Unrest and dark times threaten. There is only one thing that can restore peace between the Rooters, Hillsiders, Stargatherers and Treeleapers: the Peace Stone must be found and brought back. The little Rooter, Willow, is sent off on a long, dangerous journey along with the chattering, cocky jackdaw Ollie. Follow Willow and Ollie in their efforts to find the Peace Stone and save their friends from the brink of disaster.

The Guardian of Wisdom:

Willow reached out to Bukar and the three of them continued hand in hand. Suddenly they heard a cry from Ulmus. They rushed in the direction of the scream and, at the very moment they arrived, they realised that they'd been drawn into a trap.

When Greenmere's Guardian of Wisdom dies and a new guardian has to be found, chaos reigns in the little community. The four groups, Rooters, Hillsiders, Treeleapers and Stargatherers, each make their own claim to rule over Greenmere. But before a new Guardian can be named, the Sword of Wisdom has to be recovered and the sword is in the Ice Cave in Grumpfendale, a long way off. It's a journey full of dangers - who can recover the Sword?

The Solar Tears:

A creak from the door frightened her. Did the wizard already know that she was here outside with the solar tears? Her fear gave her the courage to jump down to the next step. It went well and she continued out over the edge of yet another step.
'Willow Rooter!' A voice thundered down at her and she felt almost paralysed with fear. In spite of it, she managed to continue down to the third step. But this time she lost her balance and she fell as she hit the stone stairway….."

Tonia is ill and it slowly dawns on Willow that she is the only one who can save her. The kind Sulk, Klob, promises to help her and together they set off to fetch the Solar Tears, which are the only cure that can save Tonia.
On the dangerous journey to the wizard's tower, Willow is thrown several times into doubt about who is a friend and who is an enemy. Why is Klob so eager to help her? And why mustn't she tell anything to anyone? Why does the little gnome Glimps persist in following her?

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Extract from The Stolen Stone :

Far, far away beyond the blue mountains, in a warm and sheltered valley, lay Greenmere. Beside the lake, Rooters, Treeleapers, Stargatherers and Hillsiders lived side by side, as they had done for as long as anyone could remember.
At one end of the lake were the Wetlands, where the Rooters lived. They made their burrows in the great alders' spacious root systems and here there were often hullabaloos and flashing fireflies until late in the night. When the Rooters finally went to bed at daybreak, they usually just fell over on the nearest bunk.
In the forest which grew along the banks of the lake, lived the Treeleaper families. They had a good vantage point in the treetops and it was a point of honour for them to know everything that was happening in the valley. For this reason, they were naturally always fairly busy, leaping back and forth among the treetops, while they prattled and chattered.
It was much more peaceful on the soft hills which made up the valley's south side. Here behind the thick turf, the Hillsider clans had made themselves comfortable for centuries in their cosy warrens, where they spent a lot of time reading, thinking and making beautiful artefacts of gold, silver and precious stones. A long time could pass during which the doors to their homes were not opened. If you didn't know the area, you would never have guessed that there behind a random thicket of blackthorn was a door which led to an ingenious system of illuminated passages and small cosy burrows where these slow, thoughtful people lived.
On the rockier northern side of the valley, the steep slopes were covered by the shadowy Murkwood and here lived the Gnomes.
They had established their treasury in underground chambers where they spent most of their time. They only came out occasionally to search for glittering, expensive objects.
The Stargatherers lived out on the lake in their little houseboats. During the night, they captured stardust and moonlight in their spidersilk nets. They used their catch to weave beautiful cloth from. Once a month, when the moon was full, they came ashore to trade with the other people who lived along the banks of Greenmere.

And just one such afternoon, when the night's full moon would illuminate the valley, the small boats came in towards the meadow where the Moon Market was always held. In the bows of each boat sat a flute player, the music sounding like a friendly chorus across the water. The Treeleapers heard it first of course. Their large ears glowed eagerly to work out which boat would reach land first and then off they ran, chattering away, to come down to the meadow. But the sound also reached one of the

Rooter burrows, where as usual everyone lay sleeping, all together in a heap. They snored and they smacked their lips and they farted. Just one of them sat up sleepily at the sound of the Stargatherers music - Willow, who unlike the others of her stock was very fond of beauty and music.
Willow smiled and remembered that the Moon Market would take place that evening. She strained her ears to hear the music more clearly. The Stargatherers must already be on the point of putting in. This time she wanted to see what happened when they carried the crown with the Stone of Peace across the meadow and set it up!
Slowly, so as not to wake anyone, she tiptoed towards the opening of the burrow. She would much prefer it if none of the others noticed that she left. On the way out she grabbed a crust of dry barkbread which someone had left from the previous night.
Whoops! She would have to watch out! Stumpy turned over just as she went past and she only just avoided treading on him. Corm lay as usual across the opening. He couldn't stand it if something happened that he missed out on. Willow stepped delicately and almost soundlessly over him. Nothing could be worse than him waking up! She could almost hear his scornful voice: "Oh, little Willow. So we're off on a little trip, are we? Stumpy and I must certainly come along. You're sure to get into trouble and get yourself all upset! Blah blah blah ..." They enjoyed teasing her all the time because she burst into tears so easily.

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Extract from The Guardian of Wisdom :

Willow woke up late one afternoon. She sat up and noticed right away that something was different. Carefully, she worked herself free of the pile of Rooters she was sleeping among, stepped over her tormentors Corm and Stumpy, who as usually lay right in front of the door to the burrow and went carefully outside. Willow blinked in the strong light and sucked in the warmth of the rays. The sun was shining! That's what was different! My, how good it felt!
Since the last Moon Market, it had rained, howled and thundered and she had been forced to stay indoors for days. It was often fun to be with the others, because Rooters were really fond of parties and noise, but frequently the parties developed into fights and arguments, and Willow could well do without that bit.
She looked up. There was not a cloud in the sky and even if she, like other Rooters, first got up late in the afternoon, there was still plenty time before the sun disappeared behind the high mountains.
Today she felt like visiting Tona, an old lady who lived in a hole in the trunk of an old tree in the leafy forest. So off she went, jumping from tussock to tussock through the alder wetlands where the Rooters lived until she reached the banks of Greenmere.
It was perfectly still and like a mirror. She wrinkled her tiny round potato-nose a little when she saw her reflection. If only she looked like a Stargatherer! Carefully she drew her fingers through her matted hair and straightened her coarse tunic while she looked out across the water. Maybe she could spot of one of the Stargatherers' small boats. No, it was too early yet. It would be quite a while before they would wake up and cast their cobweb-thin nets out over the lake's shining surface to capture stardust and moonlight.
Willow plodded further down the path along the shores of the lake.
First, she came past the open meadow where the Moon Market was held. In the middle of the meadow stood the pole with the great conch which was sounded to summon the gatherings of all Greenmere's inhabitants. Soon the path swung in between high trees. Here and there up among the branches she could catch glimpses of the Treeleapers' huts and she made an effort to move soundlessly on her broad, soft feet. She really couldn't be bothered to talk to the Treeleapers right now but unfortunately the nimble creatures with the big ears had already heard her.

"My, aren't you out a little early? Where are you off to? How can you have got up already? Haven't you …."
Willow sighed inwardly. It was just as well to answer them now rather than later, even if their curiosity was unquenchable.
"Good morning, Titti," she replied, because she knew most of the Treeleapers. "I got up because I couldn't sleep anymore. Isn't it lovely that the sun is shining again?"
"Oh, yes." Titti nodded, making her bristly red hair bounce back and forth. "But I can tell you, our huts have been almost ruined by all that wind and rain and, you know what …. yes, it's almost worse still. You can't imagine how horrible it is - dozens and dozens of forest snails have drowned in all that rain. Not even to mention the two tall fir trees up in Murkwood which were struck down by lightening! Just think, they say that many of the gnomes have had their fur singed off, and …." The other Treeleaper who was with Titti took over. "Yes, and then we will have all those disgusting small furry creatures running around here in the forest. You never know what they're going to get up to."
"Why do they come here?" asked Willow uneasily. She had only met gnomes once and it wasn't an especially nice experience.

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Extract from The Solar Tears :

It was still drizzling when Willow tiptoed out of the Rooter burrow. She turned her face up towards the gentle drops. It had been raining for several days now, but it was good that the rain had finally come, as the area around Greenmere was short of water after a long spell with sun and heat. Even Aldermarsh where the Rooters lived was almost drained dry. But now everything was soft and damp again and she leapt happily from tussock to tussock through the marsh to get down to the lakeside.
Even if it had now been raining for a while, there still wasn't as much water in the lake as before the drought, but it would come, she thought and looked up at the high mountains that bordered Greenmere on several sides. She jumped over a stream that merrily burbled away. She stopped and listened for a moment. It was as if the water hummed a little tune.
The large rocks at the shoreline, which were normally covered by water, still stuck up above the surface. Willow sat down carefully on one of the stones and took out her flute. Hesitantly she tried to piece together the stream's song and smiled happily when she succeeded. On the evening of the Moonmarket, she would play it for her Stargatherer friend Bukar. It was him who had given her the flute.
"Well, isn't that little Willow, sitting on the stone?"
Corm's podgy face twisted into a malicious sneer and his trusty follower, Stumpy, laughed too. "Yes, verily our kinswoman is playing a Stargatherer flute!"
Willow put the flute inside her clothes. Her peace was at an end!
"It's none of your business."
"But it is, little Willow. We're family after all."
Corm and Stumpy waded a little out in the water, so they could get closer. Willow already sat on the furthest stone so she couldn't get further away from them.
"Why are you up already?" she demanded angrily. She was usually the only Rooter who got up before sunset.
"Give us the flute. It's about time you started behaving like the rest of us. You always think you're special."
"I do not," protested Willow, but she well knew that it wasn't completely true. It was not common practice

for Rooters to get together regularly with the other kinds of people around Greenmere but Willow was an exception.
Corm and Stumpy lifted her up under the arms so she was hanging there, thrashing about.
"Put me down," she wailed, but they just laughed.
With a quick tug, they turned her upside down, so the flute fell out. At that moment, they both let go so she tumbled headfirst into the water. Stumpy snatched the flute, then Corm broke it and trod it into pieces on the big flat stone which she'd just been sitting on.
Tears of anger flooded her eyes and her two tormentors laughed even more.
"Now we recognise you again, Weeping Willow."
Finally they left. She could hear their laughter for a long time after, while she tried to gather all the broken pieces together. It would never be a flute again, that much was clear. The thought made her cry even more.

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Author's comments:

I got the inspiration to write the Greenmere series when my daughter started school, but it took a couple of years before the idea of the universe around Greenmere's shores finally unfolded properly. I regard these books myself as a sort of "continuation" of the stories of Roselil, except that these tales are a bit more dangerous and exciting. Just like the little fairy, the Rooter Willow has to deal with tasks that are not always easy when one feels neither big nor strong. But fortunately Willow has her heart in the right place and knows the art of creating friendships.
The books are excellently illustrated by Emil Landgren.