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A young girl named Lily finds herself alone in the woods and yet she is not alone as she crosses spirits of nature that linger in The Wood. Young Lily finds herself alone and is found by a creature made of twig and moss named Poppy who leads the child on a mission to take the child back to her mother and to safety. The Wood is roamed by creatures of nature that would attempt to take the child but at Poppy's side she would surly be safe.

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Dusk had come and gone, the moonlight cast through the tall trees, caressing the small figure laying in a cluster of leaves. The figure was that of a young child of pale skin, and long, slightly wavy amber hair. A slight dusting of freckles bridged the sleeping girl’s nose and cheeks, her hands curled up in front of her face. She was wearing a simple cream dress but no shoes and was there completely and utterly alone.

The hooting of owls echoed the forest as the night claimed the lands surrounding the young girl as her eyes slowly flittered open. First the look of bewilderment and confusion and then a look of pure horror crossed the little girl’s face as she realized that she was not where she had expected to be. She had last remembered falling asleep within her booster seat in the back of her mother’s car as they went for a drive. She remembered it being daylight then and wondered if this was simply but a strangely vivid nightmare. So much so that even in her young mind, she truly wondered if she really was in a nightmare, that she would wake up, snug in her own bed in any moment.

The fluttering of wings overhead rustled the leaves as a flock of small birds darted from their small roost as an owl took the sky to hunt its nightly prey. The sounds of insects resonated, permeating the night with its constant ambiance of chirps and high-pitched whines. The girl had sat up, curling her arms and legs to her chest, hugging her knees tighter and tighter as she realized that the place that she was in was not part of a dream at all.

A rustle in bushes nearby caused the girl to stand sharply, backing swiftly to a tree, placing herself upon the firm structure of its bark. A small rabbit skittered from the brush and went from bush to bush. She relaxed a bit seeing the rabbit yet a moment later a large bird swooped down and impaled the small furry creature with its talons and swooped back the air. Drops of blood dripped from the screaming creature’s body as it was ripped from the forest floor to become the nightly meal to a large bird of prey.

The girl began looking back and forth, seeking out some sort of person or people, and most importantly, her mother. She was scared, terrified of being alone, terrified of every rustle of leaves and every animal call. The yipping of animals could be heard echoing through The Woods, coyotes calling out to one another as they prowled deep within those woods. Woods the little girl stood in all alone and afraid and lost within her own sobs.

Another strange rustling peeked from across the small clearing that she was within and the little girl cast her gaze towards a set of trees.

“Are you lost?” a meek female voice echoed across the small clearing bringing a look of shock to the little girl’s face.

She looked around and around, stepping forward from the tree she had plastered herself against. She sought out the owner of the voice, to see someone, anyone, deep within The Woods she had awoken, and yet, she saw no one, she saw only trees before her vision.

She bit her lip and continued to glance around.

“I’m right here,” the voice stated, the individual clearly noting the little girl’s loss and confusion.

The little girl turned to the voice and stared directly a juvenile tree, which had branched containing beautiful red petals. It was odd for such a tree to be flowering, but the little girl did not understand the air of nature nor that it was not the season for blossoms upon trees. Yet, the little girl was not noticing the red petals upon the tree but instead a shape upon the trunk of the tree.

The shape was seemingly human yet embedded within the tree. “Don’t be afraid, I can help you.” The voice stated. The bark of the tree was a mild gray and both smooth and scaly in texture. It seemed that the strange figure within the tree was thin as the trunk of the tree and its shape pooled upwards into the blossoming skyward branches. As the figure within the tree shifted, a sound of snapping and popping broke the peaceful nature of the dark wood as the strange figure within the trunk of the blossoming tree shifted. First a long, thin, barky limb came from the base of the tree, disturbing the soil as the leg of the figure within the tree emerged from its home followed by a second. Its torso covered in a bark similar to the tree it was within and dusted with moss ebbed through followed by two abnormally long arms with hands crowned by twig-like fingers that had been pulled down from the branches above. The face of creature as it emerged was slightly rounded made mostly of bark but peppered with a moss upon its top as well as long vines housing similar red blossoms to the tree the creatures just emerged. Its eyes were wide and fully painted a deep-set green the same color of the leaves of the many tree surrounding them. The creature held the abstract form of a human and yet build of tree. Though bark and moss covered the majority of the creature, its overall stance, posture, and mannerisms seemed human. Even its face held some sort of human quality beyond the back exterior.

The creature slowly stepped forward, keeping a short distance, and kneeled down to the little girl’s level. “I can help you.” The meek voice was clearly the creature’s own as she addressed the lost little girl, who stood petrified gazing at the creature of wood and root that had just appeared before her.

“What is your name?” the creature asked, remaining perfectly calm and seemingly concerned for the lost one before her.

The little girl, though shaking, looked up at the creature, “My name is Lily.” She stated.

The creature smiled, a strange sight upon the creature of bark and blossom. “Well, Lily, call me Poppy.” The meek voice stated calmly as the creature made a sliding motion towards the little amber-haired girl.

Lily slipped back slightly, still terrified of her situation and even the kind creature before her.

The tree girl, Poppy, stood to her full height. She was not very tall at all and was likely only a foot or two taller than the little girl that had only just awoken in The Woods minutes before. “Do you want me to help you?” Poppy asked.

Lily looked around frantically a moment: her last ditch glance to find her mother. Yet, she realized it was only she and the creature before her that were there at that moment. She was still processing and hoping that everything that was happening was simply a dream. She had had some unusual dreams before after she watched her favorite movies, but she had never had one quite like the one she was experiencing. She could feel the cool night air upon her skin and the soft and mossy grass beneath her shoe-less feet. Her hair pooled over her arms and a strange threatened to tickle her nose as it curtained over her eyes as she gazed up at the creature that had just emerged from the tree.

Lily had no one to help her, no one but the strange one before her so she slowly relaxed her posture, looked down at the forest floor, and brushed over the moss with her foot. “I want to go home.” She stated. “Can you help me find Mommy?”

Poppy smiled and stepped forward, stretching out one of her long arms and opened up the bundle of twigs and moss that was her hand, “Sure, let me take you to someone who will know how to get you home.”

Lily hesitated but reached out and placed her hand within the hand of the tree-girl before her.

Poppy began to slink forward, pulling Lily with her as she led the girl through the forest. The night permeated around the pair of tree and flesh, the sounds of all sorts of animals echoing through The Wood. The sounds caused Lily to glance around within the areas they passed, her vision only taking so far due to the darkness cast from the trees, the full moon above peeking through the leaves in clumps spots.

The dark seemed not to bother Poppy as sight was not the only sense she could utilize to traverse The Wood. She was a child of The Wood, a creature belonging to the forest, tied together in a net of root so she was always guided by the feel of the earth and the sensation gathered from the many trees surrounding her. She was a youngling compared to the many others encompassing The Wood and she knew that she was not the only being of her kind, nor would she ever be the last.

Poppy knew that The Wood was a peaceful place for ones such as her. The children of The Wood were safe from the dangers that lurked within the shadows and lingered in the sky above. However, she knew the dangers that were in store for the little girl who walked by her side. She worried for the little girl as Poppy would not be able to fend off every fragment of lingering darkness in The Wood.

As a sapling, Poppy had to learn about the various evil of The Wood and all of its inhabitants. Aside from the various creatures of the normal world there were things that were beyond the usual cycle of the waking world of the human. It was part of life for beings such as Poppy to first learn that their world, The Wood, was different than what the human’s perceived of them.

The time within The Wood was one outside of the normal flow of time. It was a fact only those of The Wood knew as the humans could not see nor experience the phenomenon except in extreme circumstances. Poppy knew not why little Lily had crossed within that certain sect of The Wood even for Poppy to approach her.

It was a fact that had made Poppy curious to find out by taking the little girl to her destination. And for that Poppy knew that she needed to know which direction would be where to go and for that she would have to see The Master.

As they walked and walked towards their destination, Poppy had to aid Lily from crossing fallen limbs and branches as well as untangling the girl from briars and branches. The girl was wearing no shoes and was a fact that Poppy had taken notice. Such was a fact that Poppy made sure to take the girl on more of a natural path through The Wood. Yet, Poppy knew they would not creep through without any encounter by this manner.

Such was true that when the sound of rusting from nearby brush disturbed their travel, Poppy had expected such. The shifting shadows off to one side of the natural path caused Poppy to turn to face the sound, pushing Lily behind her. She noticed instantly the shadowed darkness grew ever darker, so Poppy knew exactly what was approaching them.

A creature breached the brush bringing shadow with it. The creature was covered in think ashen-gray fur and held the overall appearance of a larger than normal wolf. There was a dark aura that pooled off the creature in waves of thick darkness. Around the large paws of the beast emitted pure, un-pierceable darkness. The creature’s eyes were deep voids of swirling black. It opened its wolf-like maw to reveal rows of razor-sharp teeth and from the maw emitted the thick shadowy smoke.

“What is this?” asked a voice of many voices. The sound coming from the creature reverberated in waves and tones of vary pitches and sound. The voices sounded like men, women, and children all melded into many, and trailed off in varying echoes of the words in even more voices. The aura surrounding the beast vibrated and fluctuated with every syllable from its unusual speech, but its mouth had not moved from its gaping position to show its dagger-like teeth.

“It is a human girl.” Said Poppy as Lily grasped onto her branch-like arm.

“A human?” the voice of many filled the air; the darkness stretching from the beast in their direction.

“She is in my protection; I am to see The Master.” Poppy stated in her meek tone.

Unintelligible whispering emitted from the beast as it took a single step forward, “Just one nibble.” It said the singe word “nibble” echoing several times in a variety of high-pitched voices.

Lily clung to Poppy ever tighter.

Poppy shook her head, “This child is in my protection. If you as so much as caress her with your aura, I will inform The Master.” She spoke sternly in her meek voice, showing confidence in the presence of the physical darkness that lingered before them.

The shadows pulsed around the air, whipping in rhythm like the wagging tail of a dog, only this were not innocent flicking of a cute little puppy, but the ponderings of a beast of shadow and fur. The creature exhaled a plume of the shadowy smoke, filling the area around them in a deeper darkness.

Poppy stood an ever vigil in front of Lily even as the creature dropped its maw into a semblance of a grin. Unnerving giggles permeated the air, the aura flickering around like flames on a campfire.

“Best keep close, I’m always lurking.” The myriad of voices filtered through the air. “The darkness is my domain.” The creature said just before the beast began to slowly and silently slink back into the brush from whence it came.

Poppy quickly gripped hold of Lily’s hand and began to quickly lead the little girl from the area of the encounter with the beast of shadow. Lily clung tight the comforting hand and willingly allowed the being of twig and moss to pull her away from the area and back along the nature path.

From that moment there was a constant lingering shadow about a yard behind them. The beast ever present yet not in sight. Poppy knew well that is she allowed the girl to wander far from her before they met with The Master, The Shadow would gleefully spirit her away.

Poppy lead the way, occasionally glancing up into the sky above. The moon was the gauge of the time for the beings of The Wood and Poppy wanted to hurry and not allow much time to escape them or other creatures such as the beast of shadow would cross their path.

Their path eventually narrowed into a much deeper area of brush. Poppy knew they were nearing the location of where The Master of The Wood resided, yet she knew they were not out of the thick of it. The simple brush of casual underbrush eventually peeled away before the thick of the forest began to become laden with a thick tangle of a multitude of twisting thorn-bushes. It was at this point that Poppy hunched over and allowed the little shoe-less girl to climb upon her back in order to protect the child’s tender human flesh from injury.

The cool breeze cast over the zone untraveled within such area of The Wood. The area of The Thorn was home to plants that would reach and grab at you. It was only fortunate, for Poppy, that Lily did not notice the ever reaching and stretching of the tangle of thorn. Being a being a twig, Poppy was not something that The Thorn would want as The Thorn relished on drinking drops of blood from beings made of flesh and bone. There would even be some birds that would feed the mass of thorn for protection from the greater predators of The Wood. Lily was safe with Poppy as long as they passed through quickly.

Shortly after they passed through the thicket of thorns, Poppy let Lily down for the girl to walk on her own. There was a short section of wood but up ahead revealed a large clearing. Poppy took Lily’s hand in her own as she led the little girl to the clearing ahead of them.

As the clearing revealed itself to them as they stepped within the area, an unusually large Oak stood within the center of the clearing surrounded only by grass and flowers. Its large, leafy branches blanketed the area in a deep cover of shadow. As they entered, a being that appeared to be in the shape of an elderly man, hunched over came from the base of the tree. He may have been shrouded by the shade, but his features were clear to both Poppy and Lily, the girl’s eyes long adjusted to the dark night.

Instead of an elderly man, he was instead a being of wood and thick moss, similar and yet very different from poppy. The hunched stance was not from age but instead a bent nature such as a branch would have as its branches tried to stretch around each other as they reached towards the sun. The creature looked quite more treelike than Poppy: his bark thick, coarse, and materially the same as the tree within the clearing. The moss grew thick like a blanket upon his back, even barely caressing the forest floor and almost appearing like a cape upon its person. His face was shaped much blockier than Poppy’s own and was covered in the same thick bark as the rest of his form. The part of his features that appeared as a nose was a short and crooked branch with a single twig branching off to one side; the feature that would be his eyes were not independent of the bark flesh that covered him and were marked with deep wood knots. He as far less human-like in appearance to the one that stood by Lily’s side and clearly made Lily afraid as the little girl clung to the girl of twig and moss.

Poppy placed a hand upon Lily’s head, looking down at the girl by her side, “Lily, this is The Master.” She told the girl, “You can call him Grove,” she explained.

The man made of thick, coarse bark gazed at the child by Poppy’s side and said nothing. For a few moments he stood exactly where he was before slowly walking in their direction. “Poppy, sapling, why have you brought a human child to my claim?” he asked.

Poppy looked up at the man of bark, “I found her alone in The Wood. She had only just awoken.” She explained.

“You understand the connotations of a being waking in The Wood.” Grove stated in his scratchy, blunt tone.

“She wants to go home.” Poppy stated.

“Your ideal is well and good, sapling.” Grove stated. “However, you realize that, at this very moment she is within our world and not one of her own.”

Lily looked up at Poppy as Grove spoke of such being another world and the fact that she didn’t understand was clearly splayed upon her face. It was also clear that Grove noticed the little girl’s massive state of confusion and looked towards her intently.

He was a creature of few to zero words within the land that they inhabited. He shifted, almost lurched forward closer to them before finally speaking. “Child,” he began, “You have awoken within the thirteenth hour, a time beyond human comprehension and understanding.” He explained.

Lily looked at him, still clinging to Poppy’s side, the girl of twig’s hand still upon her head.

“We can but try to help her.” Poppy stated.

“Sapling,” Grove began, “you know that Time has no place here and when dawn comes to break within the mortal world, the hour of The Wood is over.”

It was true, though Lily would never understand. The Wood was not just a place within the mortal waking world but a place of its very own, lost within a fragment of time that was usually beyond human reach. All the beings within were creatures of their world and it was the human child, Lily herself, that was the alien to the various creatures that inhabited The Wood. For ones like Poppy, she was a curiosity and a lost innocent; for beings like The Shadow, she was succulent prey and a tasty treat. It meant that there was precious little time for Poppy to aid the child before time ended for The Wood and the child would be left alone once again within the world to fall prey to the various beasts of the mortal world that were just as ruthless.

“Grove,” Poppy began, “Please.”

Grove looked in Poppy’s direction, again remaining silent, slowly turned and began walking off towards the east. Poppy, grasping hold of Lily’s hand, followed behind him. He would lead them forth and past the boundaries of his clearing. It was this moment, and only this moment that Lily noticed that wherever Grove walked, small flowers would spring up behind him. Poppy took great care to follow not directly in his path but off to one side. No one walked within the path of The Master without direct permission from him as it was an unspoken rule of The Wood.

Grove lumbered, lurched, and sometimes shuttered forward as he led a path through The Wood. They would come across a river soon enough, it’s flow inconsequential and seemingly quite shallow. Even so, Grove stopped a few feet from the edge of The River and waited, quietly. Poppy had stopped a few feet behind and, just as when they met The Shadow, she pushed the human child behind her.

The water rippled before them before a figure breached the surface. The being had a face very similar to a human but her eyes were bright green and glowing animalistically. Her hair was incredibly long and had an unusual sheen to it as the hair was wirier than like real hair at all. Her skin tone was incredibly pale and all that was visible to them was her upper half by which was completely nude. She had a complexion that seemed perfect and shoe with a glittery brilliance.

The being brushed some of her wiry hair behind her pointed ear, grinning thus revealing rows of razor-sharp teeth within such a beautiful face. She giggled, her tone very clean and elegant, and though Poppy had pushed little Lily behind her back, the woman of the water looked at her.

“Have you brought me a gift, beings of tree?” the elegant voice cooed.

“We request passage of your waters, scaled one.” Grove stated.

The woman-like being smiled and slipped further out of the water, resting part of her body upon the river-side. This motion revealed that the lower half of her body was that of a snake and pooled deeper into the water out of their sight.

“Oooh,” she cooed, “and what do I get in return?” she inquired.

Grove said noting and merely met her sharp gaze. She smiled as her only response.

“I want to help this child.” Poppy spoke up, “Please, keeper of the river, let us across and back in order for me to show her the way.”

The scaled woman looked at Poppy and back to Grove, she smiled, “Ooh, should we discus the pay later, Master Grove?” she asked.

“Let us pass, Cordelia.” Grove responded.

The snake-tailed woman smiled once again before looking towards the river. From beneath the water, her long tail pulled up from beneath creating a bridge to the other side. She looked at Grove, once again, smiled, and motioned with her hands for him to cross.

Grove did not even hesitate to take her motions. He climbed upon the bridge that the child of the river had created with her tail and crossed to the other side. Poppy hesitated but followed suit. As it was, the bridge she had made with her tail was only wide enough for one to cross in single-file that mean that Lily was unable to hold Poppy’s hand as they crossed the make-shift bridge, and it was Lily that would traverse the path last.

The child being barefoot, the moment she stepped upon this “bridge” she could feel every muscle in the creature’s tail and the scale beneath her feet. And as she stepped upon, the woman casually ran a hand through Lily’s hair and when Lily looked back at her in ponderance, the woman only smiled, her lips closed, hiding her sharp teeth. The woman was almost serene up so close and almost not as frightening as she first appeared, yet, Lily was pulled from her attention of looking towards the woman when Poppy called her name.

Poppy stood on the bank of the river on the other side and held out her hand. Lily turned away from the woman and made her way back to Lily’s side.

Cordelia, the snake-tailed woman, met Poppy’s concerned gaze and smiled teeth bared. It seemed as if Poppy was well aware of the woman’s attempts to charm the child, but Lily was under her watch and she was not let no wolf, no thorn, nor snake harm the child.

As soon as Lily reached the bank, her hand, once again, within Poppy’s hand of twig and moss, Cordelia lowered her tail back into the depths of the water they had just crossed. Though the water had seemed shallow at first glance it clearly was quite deeper as the snake-like tale of the charming woman sunk out of sight. It was just another curiosity of things within The Wood. Every aspect had a mystery to it, and most were a lot worst than they initially appeared. If it had been anyone or anything other than Poppy that had found little Lily, they clearly would not have been making such a trek to find her to safety and back to the waking mortal world.

Not far from the river bank did they traverse before the dense nature of The Wood pealed away. The trees, moss, ivy, and ever-present shadows still crossed their path, and yet it was clear that they were nearing the edge of the boundaries of The Wood. Such a fact was ever clearer when there was a clear break of the tree line not but a mile from them, a short cliff stood between them and the break.

Grove’s form shifted and shuddered as they neared the edge of the short cliff. He said nothing as Lily went forward to the edge and gazed down below. It was there that a sight lay about before them. A sight frozen in a fragment of time, unmoving, before them.

Before them lay the edge of the forest and the glimmer of a dirt road that ran through the dark wood. Upon the side of the road sat an old car that Lily remembered: her mother’s car. Not far from the vacant car stood a woman frozen in time, her back to The Wood. It was another form that Lily remembered, and her voice echoed through the silent wood, “Mommy!” Lily called to the figure, yet the figure could not turn as her mother was behind the veil of time and space and away from the world that she was currently residing.

Grove’s shuddering was quite audible at this moment and caused Poppy to glance back towards the one she called the Master of the Wood. “Poppy, this is something that is out of your control at this very moment.”

Lily paid no mind to the conversation that was taking place just a few feet away.

“Once upon a time a very similar occurrence happened here,” Grove pointed forward towards the figure that was frozen in time near to the road. “A human brought a child into The Wood and placed it down letting it be forgotten, as this is the place to leave unwanted things.”

Poppy turned to face Grove, “What do you mean?” she asked.

“Before you were a sapling, you were a human child, not unlike the one you desire to aid so dearly.” Grove stated. “Perhaps that is your reason to aid the human, some small glimmer of your long-lost humanity.”

Lily ran up beside Poppy and grabbed her hand, “Hey, that’s my mommy, let’s hurry!” she stated excitedly and pulled at Poppy’s hand.

Poppy turned her head and looked towards the woman near to the road, noticing the fact that the woman’s back was turned to the forest and turned to the child that had been placed within. She had no recollection of any past of her own asides that from being a sapling and her name “Poppy” and that was the name that was accepted for herself, though it did not represent her self as a child of The Wood.

“Lily, I…” Poppy clenched tight the child’s hand.

“That human has abandoned you, child.” Grove stated, causing Lily to look towards him. His hand still pointed towards the woman by the road, “Her back has turned to you and not even your voice has reached her. She has already forgotten you or time would have snapped back into place the moment your voice touched her ear.” He stated as his hand slowly lowered by his side.

Lily shook her head viciously, “No! Mommy wouldn’t forget me!” she snapped.

Poppy lowered her head.

“Many children are left within The Wood to be forgotten.” Grove explained. “You cannot become lost within our realm, child, and only by bringing you hear confirmed this. You can run to that human if you wish; however, you would never reach her. By the break of day time will flow again but you will not leave this place. You will be left alone until our time comes again but we shall not be standing with you as our place is not here; we have our own places.” Grove’s eyes cast over to the side to an ever-present darker patch of The Wood; it was likely the beast of shadow that had crossed their path much earlier, even before the bramble, even before the grove, even before the river. “You will be merely at the mercy of time.” He concluded.

Lily’s eyes welled with tears and Poppy placed her twig like arms around the child’s neck to comfort the young human that she had led all this way.

“If not leaving, what choice has she?” Poppy asked.

“A being that is forgotten is not lost.” Grove stated. “Being forgotten by the mortal world is being born again within The Wood. Her body will die in one way or the other and be consumed by an ever-moving portion of The Wood. Just as you, Poppy. You were not much bigger than the child you hold when you wandered into my grove in the cold of winter. You found a hallow within my bundle of roots and found shelter by which your human form never left. Though your body died, your soul became a growing part of The Wood and that is what will become of the child at your side.”

Grove did not look towards Lily and only at Poppy. Poppy was the first being of The Wood to cross the child’s path and by right, the child belonged to her. Not one could lay claim to the child until the day reset without the agreement of both beings in question. It was the law of The Wood.

“I will protect her, she need not change.” Poppy stated.

“And how will you feed her? Cloth her in change of weather? And protect her from injury?” Grove inquired. “Is allowing her to suffer, starve, and become sick with the weight of the energy of The Wood really what is good for her?”

“So…” Lily muttered, her voice cracking with her sniffling sobs, “Can I not go home?”

“No, child, you cannot.” Grove stated bluntly. “And if there is only one way to show you,” he pointed again towards the figure frozen in time by the road, “go try and leave.”

Lily looked back at the figure of her mother, the figure that stood with her back to the forest. Regardless of her age and wanting to not believe what had been told her, there was something, deep with her, told her that everything that Grove was stating was the absolute truth. She may have been just a child, but her mind felt different to her in that moment than just the day before. She was playing with her dolls within the living room just 12 hours before but that seemed like so very long ago as if the time she had spent within The Wood had aged her mind a bit more to allow such a comprehension. She had truly been frightened of all around her within The Wood, but at that moment, standing near the cliff that overlooked the road, all seemed perfectly normal. She saw Poppy and Grove as no different from the thoughts of the one she called her mother, the mother that had left her at the mercy of The Wood.

Lily turned back to Grove and clenched tight to Poppy.

“I will ask you only once, human child: do you want to stay with Poppy?” Grove asked. “You two can become sisters of fate and nature and can play every moment within the time of The Wood.”

“And if she chooses no?” Poppy asked.

“One of the other beings of The Wood would eventually take her, even if she were to survive in your care for a few days.” Grove stated. “Her mortality will wear on her and eventually death will claim. Be it she become just one of the shadow’s many voices, one of the many bramble’s many thorns, or one of the many water nymphs by the river side; one of the masters of their claim would take her and fuse her soul to The Wood just like the many that came before.”

Grove’s form shuddered as he reached a hand out, stretching his long spindly fingers out, casting a great shadow causing moss to spring up on the ground. He held his hand out to Lily and asked once again, “So shall you become a child of wood?”

Lily looked up at Poppy who, knowingly, nodded and let the child lose from her grasp. After breaking gaze with the being that had been with her the entire journey, Lily looked towards the wooden man that grew flowers and moss with every motion of his being, the one called “Master” by many. Lily glanced back one more time at the figure by the road and the off to the side where the shadows flickered the air as if they were breathing. The Wood was a living thing fueled by the souls of many, ever aspect truly alive, and she would be one of them soon. And with that, Lily placed her hand within the strong wooden hand of the one called Grove, the Master of Wood.

Beneath a pile of leaves not far from a red flowered tree, a new sprout sprung from the earth, planting itself within the forest, visible by the mortals that roamed the Earth, yet lost within a fragment of time and space far out of their sight. And deep within The Wood stood a great tree and deep within its bed of roots, tangled up within the dirt and moss lay two young bodies of long forgotten children who found new life as spirits of wood. One long turned to bone and the other having just stopped breathing as Day broke, sending the Wood into a period of slumber, as time resumed for the world that humans would leave things to be forgotten.


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