Jack, halfway opened his eyes, blinked, and then opened them up, the rest of the way. He found himself lying in the composting earth, where they all fell unconscious, from what it would appear, to have been, hours ago. Scrambling to his feet, he glanced around in a panic. He was all alone.
Breathing heavily, he called out for each of them by name. There was no answer. He tried again, but still there was no answer, not a sound; and the forest, divulged nothing, of any living thing. Jack took observation, to his surroundings, a little more closely; on the ground, in front of him, was a large trail of rodent tracks, and deep, embedded grooves, from the more than likely, dragging away of bodies. He followed them, until the tracks split up into seven smaller trails, all bizarrely to his left. What had become of them... were they all dragged off, and left somewhere alone. Alone like him… unharmed like him… he could only hope. Coming to a skeptical decision, to follow the trail furthest out, he tread down the path, for a meandering long time; the tracks seemed never ending. Had it all come to this devastated dread most feared? Had the worst of their horrors, come to be? Where have these possessed creatures, dragged them off to?
Somewhere, very far off in that direction, Jack had chosen; Adrian, wandered aimlessly, in search for his lost companions... or someone… or anyone. Crunching moss and leaf-covered ground underneath his step, he called out for them, one after another, by name; and repeated doing so, over and over. This was getting him nowhere. He should give up now. It was certain, that there was no promise of survival. Not at all. Not unless if by some kind of miracle.
Suddenly he stopped. His ear, caught by an unexpected and delightful sound. It was singing. A beautiful song, sung by a beautifully and elegant, feminine voice. He moved towards the sound, blissful, in serenity and peace, for the sweet singing, stirred his soul, and had melted all his worries and fears away. He came out of the darkness, that consumed the woods; and wandered into a forest of bright, warm, beaming, heavenly illumination. He squinted to its intensity, till his aching eyes, adjusted to the light.
The blinding light, ceased, and he beheld a small sparkling pond, with a glowing and dazzling, brilliantly shining, clear crystal beneath. A tiny person, having wings, jointed to her shoulder blades, with four very vibrant green dots on both, was dressed in leaves; dancing and singing, upon the flawless diamond glint.
He could not fathom what he saw when he saw it. Adrian watched her in disbelief. He opened his mouth, and said, very delicately, to not startle the little creature; and have her fly away. He bent down to a less threatening height. “Fairy, is this the Lost Forest?” The fairy stopped in a pose, and turned her head to see behind her. She was flushed with fright, when she had seen him, and quickly zipped away, to hide among the trees. Adrian stood up and walked over to the glittery pond. He looked at it for a while, and then, carefully reached his hand out, to touch it. A mimicked curiosity of the witch, this human had. The fairy came zooming through the air, towards him with a stick; both of her hands, tightly gripping to it. Adrian, had been moreover oblivious to the fairy; he still reached out his hand, to this thing of glitter and sparkle, that so enchanted and amazed him. The fairy gouged the stick into his face, then, flew fast, getting clear out of the way, of him being, within any reach of her. He rose up, and caressed the stinging of his punctured cheek. The fairy spoke, with a heated shout. “Don’t touch, you stupid giant!” She hovered in front of the small pond, in a defensive manner; with the stick, remaining in her grip. “Stay away!” Adrian rubbed his face, smearing the wetness of blood into his hand. He took a quick glance, then returned his hand to his face, and replied, as he took a step back. “Ouch, why did you do that? I meant no harm.”
“This is my Life Stone, you pollute it and I die!” He looked down at her. “I couldn’t imagine something so awful to impart upon you; I was just curious.” The fairy flew up to his face, and he covered it shrieking. “Why have you come here?” Adrian drew his hand down. “I was lost, there were others I was with, but I’ve been separated from them. I woke up… and found myself alone. I began searching for them, when I realized, all of them were gone; and just as I was doing so, I heard your singing.”
“So, there are more of you?”
The fairy tossed the stick aside. “You shouldn’t be here! You’re going to cause a lot of trouble by being here!”
“What do you mean? Why shouldn’t I be here… what is going on? How am I to cause trouble?”
The fairy looked at the ground, tilting her head to one side. “You didn’t do anything; it’s what had happened long ago, before you.”
“What? What happened long ago, fairy?”
“Alright, I will tell you, but first, I’m called Elvia… not fairy.”
“I wouldn’t have guessed fairies have names…”
Elvia pardoned consciousness, and thought back to Astrid, for a moment. “Do you have a name?”
“Yes… Adrian. Now as you were saying… you were going to tell me something… what was it?”
“There was a witch, who came through the same trees you came through, a long time ago; and I sang and danced on my Life Stone also this long time ago. She had startled me and I flew behind a tree to hide. I watched her for a while, and instantly, charged, when I saw her moving too close to my Life Stone; fearing of curiosity bringing her to touch it. She trapped me in a magic cage, and I pleaded to her to be freed. We ended up exchanging words, and she told me her name, as I did mine… and when she released me, I then knew, she did not intend to kill me, as I was made to believe. I asked her if she would like to go meet the Elder Forest Fairies, but she did not heed my question; she just stared off into the distance. I thought she ignored me, but that wasn’t it! She was under a deep trance, lost inside herself, somewhere… far away, from reliable cognizance. She roamed out into a depth of the forest, I’ve never gone before. I followed her, and to a place I would never expect; to the Tree of Beginning. My mind defeated; I was filled with all kinds of discomfort, and questions enough; and it was then, when I learned, she had transformed into a monster! Her eyes were black, her skin were scales…her hair turned a ghost white. I had no idea what was to happen next.
There are two ancient trees on opposite sides of the forest, the Tree of Beginning, Life and Light, and the Tree of Ending, Death and Dark. The two trees, keep good and evil, existing in harmony. But ever since Astrid destroyed the Tree of Beginning, the balance of the dark, and the light, had been destroyed. It seems the more we struggle to fight against it, the worse it becomes. The dark side is taking over the forest. The creatures, who were once my friends, are now my enemies; and the forest I once explored freely, has been taken over by the pollution, of darkness. Our kind, is now, being infected by the Dark Creatures. The reason, your being here, will cause trouble, is not hard to figure out; an outsider destroyed the Tree of Beginning, therefore, the Dark Creatures, will see it as that you’ve come here, to destroy the Tree of Ending. They will come after you… if they know you’re here. But, destroying the Tree of Ending, is only one way to defeat and triumph over the dark; the other… is by spilling the blood of the one who destroyed the Tree of Beginning; which would bring the Tree back to life, and restore the balance of darkness and light...”
Adrian asked her in great disturbance of his comprehension. “What happened to Astrid?”
Elvia replied. “A beast went after Astrid…and that’s the last I saw of her. And I’m stricken by grief to know, it’s my fault the beast went after her.
“Why is it your fault?” Elvia spoke in a way as if she were telling a story that irked something dreaded and dear; yet in the mysterious distances of reconciliation. “After Astrid destroyed the Tree of Beginning, I followed her to an ancient temple. A rock resting in the outer area of the temple entrance, glowed red, in writings I could not understand. I followed her into the temple, and she pulled out a crimson colored stone, there; socketed in the center of the wall. I had learned to trust, that she would destroy it, as she did with the Tree; so I knocked it out of her hand, picked it up, and flew out of there as fast as I could. She came after me, enraged, and my heart full of terror… and pounding. She was not the Astrid I recognized, she was a monster! I discovered there to be a red glowing figure in front of me… but took no severe thought; for looking back, there was Astrid, moving awfully fast; her image, blurred, coming up behind me, and I was distracted, and flew into the glowing figure. I felt the stone slip from my grasp, as I fell to the ground unconscious. I woke, finding myself in Astrid’s hand, and quickly dashed away; I didn’t know what to expect from her…but then, she explained herself, saying she was a Trance Witch; the most powerful, influential breed of the witch; but incredibly dangerous, because of the spontaneous trance. While they are in a trance, they can carry out the will of another. She apologized for almost killing me… then, I noticed the glowing figure! It stood right next to me, for no longer than a second, and then disappeared. After I saw Astrid, reaching out to pick up the stone! I hurried to grab it away, and succeeded before her. I told Astrid to stay where she was, and flew off, to return the stone to the temple. When I got there, I found a beast to be blocking the entrance. I hid behind a boulder for a moment, and then; in a panic; I darted into the temple, and placed the missing piece, in the wall. I found the beast was right behind me, no doubt. I felt its breath, and faced it, intimidated. The beastly creature, asked why I removed the stone; I retorted that I didn’t, but that Astrid did. He asked me, who Astrid was, and when I told him she was a witch, he became infuriated; he continued, with the pressing question, of where to find her. That gave me no choice, but to give away her position. I told him, and then he went after her. You see? I haven’t told anyone before, what I’ve told you. There is something that makes me feel, I can trust you.”
Adrian declared. “Okay, I understand. I don’t know this for a fact, but you sure can tell stories… quite detailed ones… for a fairy!”
Elvia began telling him about the Elder Forest Fairies, and of the Fairy Villages, within the trees. She went on and on, from one thing to the next, in her garrulous nature, of what she was known for.
Meanwhile, far away from the roaming of Elvia and Adrian, Helen, wandered in the dark, alone and stumbling. She held her gun, with both hands stiffly, and pointed it to any noises around; her finger ready to pull the trigger! A twig broke, in the concealing shadows, in front of her, and she aimed her gun straightforward; slowly, something, started to move towards her, and steady footsteps, snapped twigs, as it neared; then, out of the gloom and hopelessness therein, appeared Angelus, with his rifle! She hurried to him, and embraced him, in relief, but, there was something wrong. Angelus didn’t respond to her, nor to her affections; he just stood there, eyes fixed, with a blank expression upon his face. Helen spoke dejectedly. “Angelus? What’s wrong?” Still, he gave her no response. Helen then demanded. “Angelus! What’s happened to you?” But still he did not answer.
She pushed him away, and bizarrely, he fell down. She observed this strangeness, and found Angelus had shrunk, and turned into a fuzzy gray little ball of fur, with two big innocent blinking eyes. It stood upon two small little rabbit like feet, and if this creature had a nose or a mouth, they were hidden under floppy and shaggy hair. The fuzzy little ball, shook itself off, and the big eyes, had directed at Helen for a short moment; before it hopped away into the darkness; how cute, though it was, making little squeaking noises. Helen watched the odd little animal, with a freaked out, and confused face, until it disappeared. This brought new light to the situation; maybe this place wasn’t as bad as it seemed. She continued onward cautiously nonetheless.
In the next few steps she took, came a small voice of distress. “Help!” Helen stopped and shrieked. “Who’s there?” The voice replied. “I’m stuck! Please get me loose!” She moved closer to the voice. “Where are you?” The voice responded. “I’m over here! I’ll talk until you find me.” Helen followed the voice, which continued to speak. “Hello I’m over here, hello hello hello! I am still stuck in this web—” Helen froze, cutting off the voice, and had questioned anticipatively. “Why would you be stuck in a web?” The voice replied. “Because, a giant spider decided to put it here.” Helen hesitated, and then, persisted to walk, but did so slowly. “Can you see me? Am I getting close?” The voice answered. “Keep coming… keep coming… stop! You passed me! Turn around, and take two steps forward. That’s good… now, can you see me?”
“No! Where are you?”
“The tree next to you, look down at the bottom…do you see me? I’m in the web, attached to the plant. Oh no! The spider’s coming; hurry!”
Helen looked at the plant, and saw the web, containing a little green dragon.
The little thumb sized dragon, had his leg caught in the web, and there were signs of squirming from him, that did no good in breaking himself free. He still remained, trapped in the web, by his tiny legs; and the rest of his body, just dangled underneath helplessly. She quickly, pulled him out, and rescued the mini-dragon, barely before the gray and yellow, golfball-sized spider, had gotten to him and wrapped him up.
Helen opened her hand, encompassing the little dragon, along with some of the sticky remnants of web. She stared at the lizard in amazement. “Where did you come from? Are there more like you? What are you called?” While sitting in the center of her palm, rubbing his leg, the little dragon replied. “Where did I come from! Where did you come from, and what are you?”
“I’m a human, and; as crazy as this sounds, a bunch of squirrels carried me off, away from my group. We all were lost in the woods, and now, I’ve been separated from them…the other humans. Have you seen others like me?” The dragon answered. “No, I haven’t... do you know where you are? You’re on the dark side of the forest! You shouldn’t be here; you could be killed by one of the Dark Creatures, but that would be lucky to run into just one; there could be more than one together!” Helen questioned, worriedly. “Dark Creature? What is a Dark Creature? Is there a way out of this forest? Wait...what are you doing here then?” The little dragon stood up, in the center of her palm. “Dark Creatures, use to be happy creatures of the Forest; but they have been overtaken, polluted, possessed by the dark. This forest wasn’t polluted either, until a short time ago; my home was here, but it has now been polluted by the darkness also.
My name is Nox; I’m a Tree Dragon. A Dark Creature attacked, and I was trying to escape, along with the rest of the Tree Dragons. I climbed down the trees, and made a run for it, but I didn’t make it to the ground… a broken branch flew towards me… striking me! I was disorientated. My leg, had caught in the web, as I fell, and I tried desperately to break free, but couldn’t. When I was sure all the Tree Dragons had fled and I was left behind; I heard something coming, and shouted for help! I figured I had nothing to lose, if it had been a Dark Creature…the spider would have eaten me all the same!”
Nox folded his little claws together and continued to speak. “I thank you for saving my life! Do humans have names?” Helen replied. “Yes, my name is Helen.” Nox said, with gratefulness and delight. “Is there anything I can do to repay you?” Helen answered, in a positive tone. “Well, since you know this forest; I could use your help to find my friends...the other humans like me.” The little Tree Dragon widened his eyes. “Alright!” Helen placed Nox on her shoulder, and held her gun in both hands; and as she stepped forward, Nox warned. “Be careful, and don’t trip on that tree root!” Helen lifted her foot high over the protruding root, and then Nox spoke again; but this time, of something more an oddity than all, of what he had said, so far. “Okay I’ll send out some Seekers.” Helen was baffled and curious of this.
“What? What do you mean, send out some seekers?”
Nox replied. “How can I put it… a Seeker is a ball that glows yellow and floats; every Tree Dragon has at least twelve of them, and well… if they come across anything, whether creature or human, I’ll be able to see it in my mind.” As Nox took them out of a pouch, in front of his body, kind of like a marsupial, Helen questioned. “Are these Seekers alive?” Nox answered. “Yes and no... They don’t have a heartbeat if that’s your definition of alive! So you know… we can only use these once.” Nox released them into the air, and they started floating away, into different directions. Helen watched and asked. “Why?”
“Seekers can only be used every two seasons; it’s fine; I want to help.” Helen nodded, and now knew how grateful he truly was to his rescuer. “Nox, maybe we should wait here, and see what the Seekers find. Helen sat down on a huge branch, and pulled an energy bar out of her backpack; she then broke a piece off, sharing it with her new little friend. Nox examined the morsel, and stated a question. “What is this?” Helen replied, with her mouth partially full. “It’s an energy bar, try it!” Nox held the piece up to his face, and took a small nibble, then, a good sized bite.
The forest was composed, with a wretched dark isolation, coming together above, though it had been midday; pitch-black as night, the day had become in fact, as the giant trees shut closed overhead. Everything blackened. This was a known thing to occur in this strange forest, but this time it brought with it, unpleasant alarm; alarm, revolting and tearing bravery to shreds.
Extreme uneasiness boiled terror in Coral’s blood. There was no escape; she couldn’t get away. A supernatural creature, or demon relentlessly stalked her, like weak, frail, defenseless prey. The shrieking noise, of the blaring wind, whistled, and then, faded volume, as the manifestation moved and stopped. Then it came and circled on around her, in distorting trailing shadows. The wind stopped, and the ghostly sounds, had gone along with it; there was a dead silence and stillness thereof. A dark male figure, appeared from out of the gloom, and the figure floated towards her, with his head bowed. Remarkably black hair, a little too perfect to be human, draped down, hiding his face. Coral backed on her heel, as he advanced. The preternaturally ghostly human, stopped three feet in front of her, and then lifted his head. His skin, was like paper, and his iridescent red eyes, brought to him a devilish appearance. His gaze made Coral feel, he was sizing up her soul… and doing so, lustfully; after a short moment, of this, he spoke. “Don’t be afraid…I’m going to give you the gift of eternal life...” She pulled the trigger, sending a bullet to the devil’s head. But before she could blink, she felt the sharpness of his fangs, sink into her neck. She strained to be free of him, and desperately struggled to push this monster off of her; but her efforts were useless.
Coral became weak and collapsed. The monster knelt to the ground, cradling her. He released his bite, from her neck, punctured his lower lip, and kissed her, making the blood run from his mouth, and into hers. He stopped, as she bent up, quite abrupt and feline like. But she was not Coral anymore. The iris of her eyes, flooded with bright glowing red, as if filled by the blood she had drank. The chill of death, forced pale to her skin. She was a monster... a dark creature... a vampire.
Mark ran, as if he was running for his very life! The forest was dark, and he barely saw the next step in front of him. He tripped over an uplifted tree root, quickly scrambled to his feet, and continued to run.
Thunderous sound, pursued him; giant paws pounded not far behind. An exploding, outrageous cat growl, quivered the terrain; causing leaves, and other debris, to descend upon the sprinting human below. Ahead, Mark spotted a small hole beneath a monstrous tree; it was just big enough for him to fit. He ran towards it and dove in, shifting his body back and forth, squirming to crawl in, as quickly as he could. The hole led to a large opened-up, hollowed-out, space. It was an abandoned nest. The growls of the huge cat, bounced through the forest outside, and Mark, kept as quiet as possible, as he heard the creature near. Scratching for his scent, and smelling the air; the great cat, grumbled a hushed roll, in his throat; resembling that of a lion. Mark was scared stiff; he did not want to know how this would end. He remained as silent as possible, as the creature circled the tree, following its nose. It wasn’t long, till the cat creature found the small hole; and then, it clawed at the entrance ferociously! Mark stood up, and backed away hastily, as the creature thrust its paw in, feeling around inside for him. This cat, would stop it nothing, to have him in its clutches! Mark moved back even farther, as the huge cat, forced its reach deeper. The creature’s paw was six feet from Mark, and Mark couldn’t step back any further; he was at the nethermost wall of the nest. The cat pulled his claw out of the hole, and stood in silence for a moment. Mark hoped the creature had gone, yet he did not dare move; he stayed utterly and impeccably still. The back of this nest structure was his safe haven; his place of refuge. The cat creature, jolted his paw into the hole again, and scratched at the floor, with his six claws, pulling pieces of the nest out, tearing it up, and throwing it around, growling viciously. Mark knew the feline beast wouldn’t leave, until it had him. He crouched down to rest.
Wandering through the forest, Eric came across a collapsed and stony dead horse. No. It hadn’t been a horse; it had been a mythological creature, a unicorn. The silver blood, running from its neck, was nowhere near coagulated. What could have done this? Eric thought, looking down at the cold, stiff creature. He tore his eyes from it, and walked away into the unknown distance. The forest appeared quieter, stiller… peaceful. And whether it made this place more peaceful, or more eerie, he did not know. There was something pale, lying on a fallen tree, at the forefront, now coming into view. The whip of fear, struck him across the face, when he came close enough to see that it was another of these unicorns, dead; by the hands of some mystery predator.
What is going on? He said in his mind.
Unexpectedly, and disturbingly, a voice of an old man, answered within his cranium. “I killed them!” Eric shook his head and thought, wow Eric! You’re losing it! You’re delirious! Then the voice came again. “No you’re not... Eric...” Eric, then, shouted in his thoughts, as he held his head, and ran further into the forest. “Get out of my head; you demon voice!” The voice didn’t reply, and Eric thought it had gone. But then, the voice came back. “I’m still here!” Eric ran a little ways, until he wasn’t able to go on anymore; the forest around him began spinning, whirling mysteriously. He wasn’t sure, whether he’d gone mad or not; it all seemed so real. The forest spun faster and faster, in anticipation of Eric, now becoming dizzy, and then, falling down.
When he dropped to the ground, all of a sudden, his surroundings stood still. He held his head, inhaling deep breaths. He was lost… and found by this insanity. He felt feverish and astray, to all that he knew to be real. Eric took his hands off his skull, and stared up at the trees. I’ve gone mad! The elderly voice came forth to speak in a whisper. “You can run all you want, but you will not… escape from me!” A wicked laugh, disturbed, and enraged Eric. Out loud, for anything to hear; he spoke. “What do you want with me!” The voice’s reply, echoed around him. “I want your longevity… your vitality, I want to take your life!” He ran through the forest, his lack of balance, almost knocking him off his feet. He broke out in a cold sweat; he was terrified. Will I ever see Samantha again... The voice answered him. “No!” Eric shouted. “What are you?” After a short laugh, the old voice replied. “I’m what you think I am, ‘A demon, a fiend’!” Eric strained to become calm; He fell down on his knees, and requested quietly, and humbling. “Who is reading my thoughts? Give me your name!” The voice answered. “I’m Heckyeth the Warlock! I’ve remained alive for an eternity, by taking what I want; life; feeding off the youth of mortals. I’ve been searching for the Lost Forest, for the last eight hundred years, and you just stumble upon it, in a matter of days. That’s something to laugh about… tickles my fancy. But nevermind that. Now I have lastly found it.” Eric stated, slowing, in wonderment. “The Lost Forest! This is the Lost Forest?” Heckyeth replied. “Yes, and darkness is taking over… oh how I’ve only dreamed that this would be possible, and it was; it was just as I planned!”
“Yes and alas… my plans are unfolding.”
“How are your plans unfolding?”
“Well... I plan to kill you and I will. It will be… if I want it to be.”
“What are you talking about?”
“And you can read my thoughts...”
Eric felt his throat tightening. It was sure hell, to know that he was helpless, and this fiend marveled greatly, in his torment. This was all a game, a fun sport to this demon; Heckyeth. Would it even matter if he learned his name? He had no one to make this known to. Nothing else would be absolute. Only death would be absolute.
“Before you kill me... can you use your magic to do something for me... can you make sure that Samantha will get out of this place safe?” Heckyeth laughed. “You think I’m going to feel guilty for killing you, and separating you from your woman; putting an end to your love. Ha! I don’t think so. No. I will not let this end well... and just for that; I’m forced now to cause as much suffering as possible, before I kill you. Your insolence disgusts me. Spoiled brat of the modern world.” If his plea had done anything, it had done him in for certain.
The Warlock appeared, along with a crate, containing Samantha. Heckyeth put his hand out, and caused Eric’s limbs to tear off, without even touching him! Eric wailed in excruciating pain, and shuddered in a series of seizures, from the shock of the severing of his limbs. Samantha screamed in utter horror and distress. “Eric! Eric!” She reached her arms out for him, through the confines of the crate, and cried; then said softly, hoping to somehow ease his suffering, and wished death to come quick for him. “Eric, I love you...” Eric looked up at her with despair and sensitivity, for she was all he cared about, and could understand; but he barely saw her in a blur, for his eyes, drowning in tears. Heckyeth forced Eric’s head to turn to look at him. The Warlock wanted Eric to behold the tall, skinny and dying, gray-bearded, old man, as he transformed into a youthful, blond haired, muscular, healthy youthful man. Samantha screamed, shaking the prison, as she watched Heckyeth take the youth, and life from Eric, making it his own.
“Hmm…what a lovely way for you to die…” Heckyeth closed, then opened his hand, revealing a small white speck of dust. He sent it drifting towards Samantha. The speck, flew into her eye, and the nearness of her fate was sealed. She began to cry and scream uncontrollably, blood pouring from her tear ducts. Eric fell down dead, as the last bit of youth was drained from him. The process was finished; Heckyeth now, a strong youthful toned man. His facial features, were very deep set and boyishly petite. Thick blond eyebrows, concealed his bright yellow eyes, magnificently matching his wavy blond locks. Samantha’s head leaned against the cage; arms hanging through the wooden poles, lifelessly. Heckyeth went over to the cage, in a bouncing stride; and while bending over to take a look at Samantha’s face, he said. “Well, you’ve cried yourself to death.” He laughed, all so utterly amused, by himself. The blood, running from her eyes, dried out on her fair skin. Samantha’s face was an awful, and painfully unimaginable, sight. Heckyeth was a Warlock, of undiluted, and dastard grotesque evil.
Walking through the silent woods, Angelus spotted something. He aimed his rifle ahead, as a yellow glowing light, floated towards him. Hovering for a moment, at a reasonable, yet close distance from his face, the light turned back and floated away. Curious to know more, of this mysterious light, that had come so sudden, and left just as suddenly, Angelus followed.
A vision, flashed in Nox’s mind of a human, and a face; and the little dragon bounced up and down, in excitement. “A human! Like you! I see a human!” Helen defined in enthusiasm. “What! Is it a man? What does this human look like?” Nox replied. “It has thick sandy locks, and honey colored eyes...” Helen frenzied and screamed, blooming from joyous emotion. “Yes! In which direction is he?” Nox pointed to the trees in front of them, and Helen, eagerly, took off running! Nox was unexpecting and unready; he clutched on, holding tightly to her shoulder, as he almost slipped off. “So hasty!”
Angelus, still in downright bafflement, followed the floating luminance; until he came across a huge fallen tree. The light flew up and over it, but Angelus would have to go around. When he reached the other side, the light was gone, vanished... His eyes scanned up and all around; still it was nowhere to be seen!
The Seeker was coming to Helen and Nox. Nox, opened his pouch and grabbed the hovering light, putting it away in his pouch; and then, he announced. “We must be close!” Helen leapt for joy, as she continued to run. Nox didn’t say a thing, but he knew love, when he saw it; and this one, was all, just a little… too excited, for him, to be insignificant to her.
Angelus heard something in the forest ahead. Then, he heard his name being called. “Angelus!” What a familiar voice. It was Helen! He called back. “Helen?” Then Helen called back again to him, reassuring him. “Angelus! Angelus!”
Angelus ran to her, as soon as he spotted her over yonder; snapping through the twigs, and running towards him! He dropped his rifle, and embraced her tightly. Helen spoke, gratefully, and derived with omen of good fortune. “Oh Angelus! I thought I would never see you again!” Angelus replied, as she held strongly to him. “Neither did I, Helen!” He slowly moved his face to hers, and brushed his nose, with her nose, affectionately, as they examined each other, with fluttering eyes. He kissed her lips, ever so gently. She grabbed his head, sliding her hands down to the nape of his neck, and kissed him back, oh so bothered and passionate; getting lost in the sensuality of the moment. In this instance of bliss, they had forgotten all about this dreadful place, of which they most definitely, would never find a way out of.
Dangling from the backside of Helen’s shoulder, Nox interrupted. “Helen? I need a little help!” Helen released Angelus. “Oh I’m sorry Nox!” She reached her hand over her shoulder, and pulled him up. Seeing the little limey-green dragon, standing upon her shoulder, Angelus delved into this. “Where did this little fellow come from?” Angelus poked Nox, and Nox, whacked his curious fingers away.
“He’s a Tree Dragon! I found him caught in a web and rescued him from being a spider’s lunch...and if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have found you.”
“Well then, it’s sure considerably good-fortune you rescued him! How did you find me?”
Nox jumped into the conversation inquisitively, as if he was about to bestow upon them a great deal of wisdom. He closed his little reptilian hands together. “I used my Seekers.” Angelus, looked at the tiny dragon, with a confused expression, as Nox explained further; informingly. “A Seeker is a yellow light, that sends me images, of what it sees!” Angelus’s confused face, turned into a more in awe one, than an understanding one; he was starting to accept it to be so; that this forest had a magic about it, and its creatures; and some things had not a rational explanation. “Oh right! So that yellow light was a Seeker! I get it.” Helen nodded assuringly to Angelus, then something disrupted the moment, and broke the bliss of silence; tearing to pieces, the tranquil state of the atmosphere.
Afar, an awful roar, pronounced throughout the forest, coming from over the huge fallen tree. Angelus processed quietly. “We better get moving.” While picking up his rifle he grabbed Helen’s hand, and started in a swift stride, getting clear away from the unwelcoming direction, the roar had come. Then, another roar, hailed despondent upon them. Now, beginning to run; Nox held tightly to Helen’s shoulder.
Mark, hoped that the cat, would have given up by now; but this was no regular cat, of a world he knew; the feline, seemed to be crazed with demons, granted strength and endurance of the devil! The creature remained by the entrance, waiting for him to come out. He thought of how long he might have to stay in there, before the creature loses interest and leaves. It could be days! With his back against the wall, of strange organic materials, he persisted to piece together the facts, and compare what-ifs. What if another creature came along and attacked this one… or worse… what if others like it, joined in! This was a least likely thing to happen; cats are known to hunt independently, well… at least to the best of his knowledge; and to the best of his knowledge, was that he should stay put. Stay silent. Wait it out.
Angelus, slowed to a halt, and dashed behind a nearby boulder, with Helen. “What is it?” she whispered in precaution. He replied, in a breathy whisper. “It’s some kind of giant cat... twenty six yards ahead. Keep down.”
Angelus, aimed his rifle, from over the top of the boulder, and fired. The bullet, wounded the neck, and the cat gave out a vicious roar! From inside the nest, Mark listened for more gun fire. A growl, rumbled in the cat creature’s closed mouth, as it peered murderously on in the direction Angelus and Helen had hidden… as quietly as possible. Mark heard the nasally, sniffing, of the beast. The creature spotted Angelus, just as he pulled the trigger again, sending a bullet straight for its brain. The cat’s head tilted back a little, from the force, when the bullet struck. Then, that was it. Its massive body dropped, shaking the ground.
Angelus had watched the cat for a while, until the dust, clouding around the body, settled. Helen stood up, and stared over the rock, seeing the gigantic, fallen monster, of a cat, for the first time. The feline’s fur, had been thick, and grey in color. Though, yes; the most significant thing about it, was its enormous size; its body, laid out on the ground, fifteen feet long! Angelus started to walk towards it and Helen had followed closely. The details of the creature’s coat, had come to be revealed, as they neared; there were three white stripes, starting from the head, going all the way down its back, to the tip of the tail. Long, black, knifelike quills, ran down the center of each. The quills, started small on its head, and gradually grew bigger, and then, became small again, as they peaked down the tail. Helen and Angelus, gazed down at the lifeless body, as they came to a stop, in front of the creature’s head; the ears, had long white hairs on their tips, the nose, black, and streaming with reddened fluid; and the eyes, very pale, containing the suddenness of death. The body structure, was much like a jaguar, except it was a great deal larger. The feline had unbelievably long and sharp black claws, coming out of its twelve front monstrous toes. Helen, gazed at the powerful creature, in pure amazement, and Angelus, stared, with astounding revelation, of what this meant, this place really was; could it be…
“Who’s out there?” said a muffled yet masculine voice; Angelus recognized it right away. “Mark! Is that you?” Mark scrambled to his feet, and dashed to the opening of the nest; the root entanglement, and dug up debris, of what was left behind of the hole. He climbed out! Angelus became zealous. Where was the voice from beneath them, coming from...? Angelus searched, and, as soon as he found the source of the sounds, he rushed over, and helped Mark, the rest of the way up out of the burrow. “What happened to you Mark? Your weapon, where is it?”
Mark, told him the whole story of the chase; how while, jumping over a stream, he lost his rifle; and how he spotted the hole, and had crawled inside, to get away from the cat. He took a deep breath as he finished. “Certainly you’ve been through a lot. It’s good to see you’re alive!” Angelus, turned his head, to look at the great leviathan of a cat, and paused for a moment. “Can you believe this animal’s size?”
“Everything in this place seems to be oversized!” Helen objected. “Except for Nox!” Mark gawked at her with inquisition. “Nox?” Nox, standing on her shoulder spoke for himself. “I’m Nox! One of the youngest Tree Dragons, and, Angelus at present, has destroyed a Likkumfex! Mark looked at the little lime-green dragon, which stood on Helen’s shoulder, and was amazed; and curious in his expression. Angelus looked at Nox, in outlandish puzzlement, and asked, pointing at the cat creature with his rifle. “This cat thing, has a name?” Nox replied, with his little nerves, hanging on to every word. “Well... it used to be a Likkumfex... but it has turned, into a Dark Creature!”
Helen took over Nox’s conversation with Angelus. “A Dark Creature is one that’s polluted. Let’s put it this way... a good creature, corrupted by evil!” Mark, didn’t take his eyes off Nox for a second, since the little dragon spoke; and still continued to observe him, from a distance. Nox, spotted Mark staring at him, but looked away. He hadn’t thought anything of it at first; until, Nox had looked at Mark again to find that he was still watching him; though looked away again, quickly, as if he wasn’t. Then, for the third time, he glanced at Mark, catching him in the same stupor stare; he whispered in Helen’s ear. “He’s staring at me!” Helen darted her, unmistakably green eyes at Mark, stating. “Mark! Stop staring at Nox! You’re making him anxious!”
Mark, in fairy-tale delirium, looked into Helen’s eyes, as if being forced to do so. “I can’t help it! I mean… how often do you see dragons...and little dragons at that...” Nox whispered in Helen’s ear, and Helen replied. “Okay, he understands what you mean, just don’t do it again.” Mark might be growing ill; that would make sense.
Crack! All of a sudden, a growl struck out at them, from far behind! It was the same growl, which had taunted Helen, Nox and Angelus, previously, before stumbling upon Mark. Angelus, with the role of leadership, declared quietly. “We better get moving!”
Elvia had told Adrian everything about the Forest Fairies, and did so, lightheartedly! “I would like to go and meet the Forest Fairies!” Adrian announced, with enthusiasm. Elvia, overflowing with excitement in her voice, replied. “Yes! It would be great for you to meet the Forest Fairies! I’ll take you there! Follow me!” Elvia sped off, energetically, into the trees, and Adrian followed quickly. “Hey! Wait up!”
Once Adrian reached the trees, where Elvia had flown on passed, he found himself gawking at an incredibly impressive village, with Life Stones, and Forest Fairies, everywhere! Elvia, snuck up on him, flapping her wings actively, at his heads-reach. “Isn’t it divine!” Adrian stumbled on his heel, catching himself, and responded alarmingly. “You scared me a little there! What are you doing, sneaking up on me like that?”
A young, boyish in features, yellow-blond haired, and big sapphire eyed, Forest Fairy, flew up to them. He was hyper and playful in nature, and he came to speak to Elvia. “Hi Elvia, what’s this?” The boy fairy, pulled on Adrian’s face, stretching his cheeks, and then, realized what Adrian had been. “Elvia! This is a human! Do you know what the Elders are going to say?” Elvia went up to the goofball of a fairy, and said, while pushing him away from Adrian’s face. “Gil stop! I brought him here, to meet the Forest Fairies, but I’ll take him to see the Elders right now!”
Elvia said to Adrian, who was rubbing his face, again from the discomfort of a fairy’s doings. “I’ll take you to Elder Koji! Come on Adrian, follow me!” Adrian followed Elvia, who sped passed Gil, and the rest of the busy, Forest Fairy village.
Through the trees, she dodged, until she led him to one, that had a little door, carved out at the same level as Adrian’s chest. Elvia flew up to the door, knocked, and an old bald Forest Fairy, with a long white beard, wearing a brown robe, answered. Elvia spat out quickly, all that she needed to say. “I brought a human to see you!” Koji looked at Adrian, and fell down in his doorway as if startled. Elvia flew up to him. “Koji are you alright?” She tapped his shoulder, and he sprung up to his feet, promptly; holding his walking stick in his hand, while breathing heavily. Adrian laughed, and Koji, stared at him, flying up to his face very slowly, and said, in an old man’s voice. “You think that’s funny?” Adrian put on a serious face, and uttered. “No sir!” Koji, slowly flew back to his little hovel, and said. “Good! Now Elvia… why did you come here?” Elvia replied. “I came here to introduce you to Adrian.” Koji replied, with a great regal-wonder, to his voice, what you would expect from a wise old monk. “Adrian? ... Adrian! The prophecy is true!” Adrian asked, with anticipation. “What is this prophecy?” Koji responded, in vague understanding. “What prophecy?” Elvia looked at Koji, as if he were everything but sane, while Adrian replied; reminding him. “The prophecy you were just speaking of!” Koji answered. “Oh! The prophecy, says that a young Forest Fairy, named Elvia, will bring a human to us… whose name is Adrian!” Adrian was shocked by this stumbling upon a prophecy, and replied slowly. “Really! Me?” Koji replied with a laugh. “No!” He hopped backwards into his little house and closed the door. Elvia and Adrian, looked at each other idiotically, and then, gazed back at the door, when they heard it open and close a couple of times; which just left them in question even more! He was quite limber for his old age. The Forest Fairies, seemed all kiddish in behavior to him, and Adrian thought this temperament to be indeed an adorable and sweet thing about them, if anything. But still, there was something odd about this older one, that would be mistaken by him, of what he had gathered to be in their nature so far… if it wouldn’t have been for his age...
Adrian felt there was something off about this, and put to good use, his skill of getting to the bottom of things. “Who is Koji?”
“He’s one of the Elder Forest Fairies.”
“Where are the rest of the Elders?”
“They’re in the Elder Tree.” Now would tell tale to Elvia’s sweet innocent manner, not being so innocent after all; Adrian questioned further. “Why isn’t Koji in the Elder Tree with the rest of the Elder Forest Fairies?” Elvia sluggishly replied, squinting her eyes and scrunching her face. “Because, he’s lost his mind... he was kicked out of the Elder Tree… no longer a member of the Elders… and now, this is where he stays.” Adrian, glared at her seriously, and said. “Why didn’t you take me to the Elder Tree in the first place?” Elvia answered with a sigh, and went off much like a child, which brought back that purity of her delightful nature. “Because the Elder Forest Fairies would be furious if they found out a human was here! I don’t want them to be angry with me. They are having enough trouble with the Dark Creatures.” Adrian presented, calm security, in response. “Take me to the Elder Forest Fairies… maybe I can help.”
Elvia took Adrian to the Elder Tree. It was a much older tree, and mostly impressive, amidst the smaller trees surrounding there. Why was this one tree so much larger? Adrian stopped, to take in the majestic sight; all the way up, the tree, and all the way down. “Do I have to climb?”
“No! Silly, the entrance is on the other side!”
Elvia flew around to the other side, breezing on by in front of Adrian, and then, he followed, apprehensively; and slowly, but surely, he came around the tree, and found Elvia, exchanging words with another Forest Fairy, who was guarding the entrance to the Elder Tree. The entrance, which was a porch, made of bound twigs, with a shielding canopy of leaves. Adrian progressed closer. “What’s going on?” Elvia and the fairy-guard, drew their attention to him, staring at him, inspecting him. He didn’t feel like he was made a spectacle; more like a specimen, being examined. Elvia turned to the fairy guard, and said, inconspicuously, but still with her innate energy. “That’s the human I brought to see the Elders!” The fairy guard, examined Adrian again, staring him down, and then, turned on foot and marched inside through the door, to tell the Elder Forest Fairies, of Elvia’s important reason to see them.
After a while, the guard came back out; widely holding the entryway open, for a gray winged and Elder Forest Fairy; who had an undeniably, and very pleasant manner about him. The Elder Fairy spoke. “Elvia, what is your news of a human? Is the human here?” Elvia replied hastily. “Yes! The human is right there!” She directed to Adrian, and the Elder Fairy turned his head slowly, to perceive him. “Oh I see! Just one moment.” The Elder Fairy, leisurely bowed, and walked inside through the open door; to then return to them again, along with five other Elders.
All the Elders, stared at Adrian, as they walked out the door, whispering to one another. Gathered together in a close grouping, one of the Elders, asked the tall human. “What brought you to this Forest… how did you know where to find it?” Adrian stepped forward, answering. “I was lost and stumbled upon it by happenstance.”
“Meaning you did not find it by map… you did not know where to find it...” The Elder Forest Fairies went back to their whispering, as if adding up information, and then, the same Elder asked again. “Are there other humans in the Forest as well?” Adrian replied, hesitantly. “There may be...I don’t know! We were separated!” The Elders stopped their whispering, and all faced Adrian, as one of the Elders in front said. “How many humans were with you?”
“Well…seven…not including myself. There is Eric, Samantha, Helen, Angelus, Mark, Coral and Jack, my brother…”
The Elder Forest Fairies, looked at each other, discussing a resolution to the best of their ability on what to do. This was certainly a task for them. While the other Elders grew silent in contemplation, the same Elder as before, asked again. “I suppose you have not any idea of what is happening to our Forest?” Adrian replied. “Actually, Elvia has told me all about your problem with the Tree of Beginning, and that it has been destroyed.” Elvia looked at Adrian, and gestured for him to stop speaking, while forming her lips, as if she was saying ‘NO.’ Sometimes it is best to disclose as much information as possible to the wise, as Adrian had learned, from dealing with life over the years. So he chose to ignore Elvia, and continued, telling the Elders what she told him. “A witch named Astrid, destroyed it, and now you must be looking for her… right? As I was told, you have to spill her blood, to bring the Tree of Beginning back.”
The Elders, looked at each other in astonishment. Adrian, unknowingly, had been the first to reveal to them, the destroyer of the Tree of Beginning. One of the Elders, from the rear of the group, moved on forward through the bunch, and affirmed. “Yes! You’re right human… but we have never heard of this witch!” The Elder looked to Elvia and said, scolding her. “Elvia… is this true? Did a witch destroy the Tree of Beginning?” Elvia murmured, whiningly. “Yes! It’s true! A witch destroyed the Tree of Beginning, but yet it was her… it wasn’t her, at the same time! Don’t misunderstand; it was someone else, destroying it through her.” The Elder questioned Elvia. “What do you mean that someone else was destroying it through her?” Elvia calmed down. “She is a Trance Witch... Astrid is a Trance Witch. She is a kind of witch, that when they go under a trance, they can be used to carry out the will of another!” Adrian added. “Kind of like a possession of an evil spirit.”
The Elders looked at Adrian dubiously, and then, spoke amongst themselves, while facing each other in a circle. One said. “A Trance Witch? I’ve never heard of this!” Another said. “What does this possession have to do with the tree being destroyed?” Another one said. “We should send them on a quest to find the Witch Astrid.” Then the Elder, who first spoke to Adrian and Elvia at the beginning of their visit, made known to them what they had discussed. “We’ve talked, and we’ve decided… you two are going to be sent on a quest, to go find this witch, and bring her back here to us!”
With this being said, Adrian replied boldly. “Wait… I mean I’m willing to go find this witch, but isn’t it dangerous out there! Don’t we need weapons...protection?” The Elder answered. “Okay Adrian...”
The wise old Elder, sent the guard inside; and a short moment after, the guard returned with a small purple crystal.
The Elder took the crystal from the guard, and said, handing it out to Adrian. “Take this and break it in your hand.” Adrian asked, concernedly. “What will this do?” The Elder Forest Fairy replied. “It will turn you into a Forest Fairy, so you can fly away from harm, if you will, hide in small places… and also, you’ll travel faster flying than walking.” Adrian questioned. “Wait… what does this have to do with protection. And why would I want to be a fairy?” The Elder ignored Adrian’s questions, knowing for himself, that that was the best they could do, to pay mind to his request, of weapons or protection. The Elder Forest Fairy, said, in giving an explanation, of what he could expect. “It won’t turn you into a Forest Fairy permanently, unless you truly desire to be a Forest Fairy. After a few days’ time, it will wear off, and you will be human again. So go ahead… go on… crush it!”
Adrian took the crystal in his hand, staring at it, and then, lifted his gaze, saying to the Elder. “Are you sure I won’t be stuck a Forest Fairy?”
“It applies to all creatures. They will be a Forest Fairy for three days, and after that, if they do not wish to remain a Forest Fairy, they will change back into their former selves’.” Adrian stared at the crystal, lying in his palm, and said to himself out loud. “Well… this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime.” Adrian crushed the crystal, and his body, lit up with white light, slowly shrinking in size. And when the light disappeared, all the Elders, the fairy guard, and Elvia, beheld Adrian’s fairy form. His wings had four brown ovals, his ears pointy like an elf, and now, his lushes head of hair, a dark green hue; though still, his eyes were hazel. He also, still had on his human clothes; gray jacket and black denims.
Elvia, marveled at him, with shock and amazement. “Adrian! You’re a Forest Fairy!” Adrian stared down at his hands, and his arms, and then, looked up at Elvia and said. “I am!” He began to flap his wings, stumbling a little at first, as he rose up from the ground; but he understood how to maneuver rather quickly, and ascended up in the air, adjacent to Elvia. “This is kind of fun!” The Elder cleared his throat, interrupting the enjoyment Adrian found, from now having wings. “You should be on your way.” Looking at the Elders, Elvia agreed eagerly; now having this new version of a companion, her enthusiasm improved. “Okay!” Then she shot her, flickering bright eyes, at Adrian eloquently. She was dazzled at the sight of him. “Let’s go Adrian! We’ll start looking for Astrid at the temple, where I last have seen her. Race you!” Elvia flew off speedily, and Adrian followed, in a steady course; then, flying faster and faster after her.
“I don’t know where we’re going! Wait!”
Adrian glanced at the trees around him, discovering everything to be quite different from a Forest Fairy’s point of view. He tried to climb higher and higher in the air, and then did so, like it was second nature; he zoomed off, gaining on Elvia, flying faster and faster, until he passed her. Elvia stared at Adrian in surprise, and competitively caught up to him; now they were both aside one another!
Adrian didn’t take surpassing her too seriously; after all, he hadn’t a clue the way to this place, of which she spoke of. Suddenly, all was disturbed within him, and within the surrounding area. He had been caught off guard, when a crashing ruckus approached, blaring from the forest ahead! Elvia and Adrian came to a halt, and she whispered, under a failed breath, fearfully. “Hide.” She flew up to a high tree branch, and laid out, perfectly still, on top; out of sight!
A roar, reverberated through the trees, leaving, unnerved Adrian, to quickly dash behind one that was close by! Everything was uneasily too quiet, too abruptly. A low growl, rumbled from the other side of the tree; Adrian cringed in fear, holding his breath. Elvia slowly peeked down from over the branch, then immediately, pulled her head back, when she saw the creature, to be a larger than average of what she knew to be, a Quinrylack.
Adrian heard the Dark Creature make a mad dash away, and came around the side of the tree, to make sure, what he had heard, was not misleading. Yes. The Creature was gone. While Adrian still had his head turned, something was not quite right about this; and sure enough, he felt a snarling hot exhale behind him, stinging his wings. Adrian slowly veered, and all too shockingly, there was the Quinrylack! It was a gigantic demon dragon, but without wings or scales. Instead, it had a sheer glossy tough black skin, and a fin, starting at the head, going all the way down its back, and ending at the triangle tipped tail.
The Quinrylack’s black eyes revealed their purple sheen, as the creature stood up, swinging its tail through the air! The monster stomped down on its front legs, but, just before it was about to devour Adrian, another huge dragon, came darting through the air, out of nowhere. It rammed the Quinrylack with a sharp horn, centered on its forehead. The Dark Creature, quickly stood back up, after being knocked off its feet, and swiped the soaring dragon’s chest. Blood ran down its belly, and dripped from underneath.
The winged dragon, rose on its hind legs, and ripped a branch off a tree, whacking the Quinrylack’s lower snout. The shiny skinned creature, grew airborne for a few seconds, and then, crashed to the ground, with its jaw crushed into its face; the Quinrylack had been killed.
Adrian stared at the great flying dragon, mouth open in awe; then, the dragon looked at him. Adrian froze in silence, and closed his mouth. He moved a little nearer to the dragon, as it moved away from him, sat down, and pulled a stick out of its tender ribs. Adrian said in a tone of gratitude. “Thank you for saving me from that...” Elvia flew down from the tree, and finished Adrian’s sentence. “Quinrylack!”
The dragon, looked at both of them, and replied. “I didn’t save you! I’ve been after that contaminated Quinrylack for days… and you… you just happen to be in the way.” Elvia made a grateful gesture. “Well, anyway, thanks!” The dragon, though, didn’t respond; he just stood up, opened his wings, and jumped into the air, and flew away!
Elvia turned her head to Adrian. “We should be on our way now, again, come on!” Adrian took in the spectacular sight of the dragon, as it soared away majestically; and then, hurried to catch up with Elvia, who flew away in the opposite direction, continuing on their quest.