Lost In The Forest: Pt. 1

 

Light fell on my eyes, and they half-opened. Trees rose all around, and the soft hum of life could be heard from them—birds, the scratching of rodents, a splashing of water. My gaze widened as my head turned side to side, absorbing everything. All of the trees seemed to be rising out of deep water, and a gentle golden light fell through the leaves.

Something crashed out of sight, like a tree falling, and the sound shocked me to my feet. I was on a small, mossy island, water everywhere—I leapt frantically off the island, across a few feet of water, onto a massive log. One foot landed with a splash in the water before I pulled all of myself onto it.

The crashing sound had reminded me in a rush of fear what was at stake. All was silent now, but I could feel his gaze on me: The beast… The hunter. Something had happened between us…something in his mind had quickened at the sight of me, and now he hunted me, relentlessly.

I was hesitant to swim in this flooded forest, even though I could see quite far into the water’s greenish depths. I leapt across small, moss-covered islands and huge, dead trees. I climbed trees when I had to, to find crossings higher up from one branch to another. I had nowhere to go, nowhere but away from the site of my awakening, nowhere but away from the hunter. His presence pressed upon my mind; it could be felt in the silence of the trees, as if they were watchful sentinels, ready to report my presence to that relentless beast.

Sometime in the afternoon, I came across a flight of steps—stone steps, climbing incongruously out of the waters, turning twice at right angles every forty steps or so, until they ended abruptly, fifty feet overhead. “Centuries old, I guess,” I muttered. They were covered in the vine-y growth of the forest, and they stood alone, the last artifact of some lost structure.

I passed the evening on those steps, exhaustion pressing my eyes closed. In my mind’s eye appeared an open circle, like a kind of portal hanging in the air, glowing blue in the darkness. The strange object intruded with a sharpness that drove my mind into wakefulness again, and I stumbled up onto my feet. The shapes of the forest were now only dim silhouettes in the darkness. Exhaustion weighed heavy on the limbs, but the eyes of the hunter were felt as sharply as ever; they were a constant goad that kept me in motion.

Hours passed, and morning’s warm light began to filter through the leaves once more. Heedless in my lack of rest, I had taken to swimming through the water to traverse the small islands.

I felt it before I saw it—a structure, something solid and real in this wilderness. As I drew closer, a stepped stone pyramid could be seen rising out of the water. Half-laughing and half-crying, I swam to the first steps and collapsed on them.

In my mind, the structure spoke, and I knew it was him. The hunter, the pyramid, spoke in shapes, and gusts of wind, and shinings of light, but I knew the meanings. His mind had been riding on mine for days, and now we knew each other.

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Howl was born in the wastes north of Hithlum, where only beasts and witches dare roam. He was raised by two old hags, Tabby and Wiles, who had an unhealthy fascination towards the literary arts. Howl now resides in a well-furnished cave off South Rim Trail, complete with an old iBook and Wi-Fi.