To Walk The Paths Of Death

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Chapter Eleven - A New Land

Dew layered the forest’s ground, a slight breeze giving a cool chill to the morning air. Some of the trees’ leaves began to turn other colors; oranges, yellows, browns, and reds. Though the forest was mainly made of several kinds of firs, the forest still housed oaks and silvery birches.

Summer had left the Black Forest, the early signs of Autumn beginning to show. The fog had vanished from the valleys, exposing a bare ground to the newly risen sun, a clear sky stretching from each horizon.

“Maida, wear this,” Cedric said.

Maida walked over to him, grabbing the long-sleeved tunic out from his hands. “You’ll need it, it’s cold” he spoke. One arm at a time did Maida put on the sweater, her arms feeling a bit of warm relief.

“It’s so warm!” she said.

“I know.”

Maida finished packing several baked goods into her bag. “Looks like it’s time to go,” Cedric said, looking down at Maida as she finished packing.

“Alright,” she replied.

“Anita!” Maida yelled, calling for the lost acquaintance.

“What do you want?” she said, giving a smug-like smirk as she entered the room.

“Time to go, get your things.”

“I’ve already packed,” Anita replied.

“Then what are you waiting for?”

“Let’s go so I can get rid of you two,” Anita spoke.

The group of three left the opening of the cavern, the morning sun beaming a bright yellow glow to the ground. There was an occasional draft of wind carrying small batches of falling birch, maple, and oak leaves, pulling their sappy scent along with them.

The autumn air was of a cool nature, bringing a light chill with it. The group walked through the forest, trekking over hills and shallow creeks.

“What is that!” Maida yelled as a creature with short legs and arms, but a tall purple body of a gelatin-like substance approached them. In a high-pitched yet childish voice, the creature spoke: “My name is Torskem, what’s yours?”

With a rather shaky voice, Maida spoke, “My name is Maida. This is Anita, and this is Cedric.” Maida pointing to each individual.

“Anita, eh. Ya out doing tasks for Orpheus again, aren’t ya” Torskem uttered.

“Why yes I am, though may I remind you that you are the pile of shit that Orpheus threw out because nobody wanted a filthy purple turd to be running operations alongside me.”

“Anita!” Cedric spoke, expressing his disgust.

“What? We all know it,” she replied.

“It doesn’t matter,” he murmured.

“I just say it how it is, isn’t it the truth though, Torskem?”

“Orpheus hadn’t liked the way I’d done things there from the start,” the alien-like being had spoken.

The crowd was interrupted by a rustle in the bushes near them, a quick collection of movement that could be heard from all around. Anita unsheathed her dagger, preparing herself for an attack. Suddenly, a creature fell out of the shrubs beside them, it was an ugly golem-like being - it was Driedor.

Anita approached the Kobold and gently pressed the cold metallic dagger to his neck. “What in the hell are you doing here?” she snapped in a slow, quiet voice.

“Me lady Anita, I wanted to assist you in the journey,” Driedor mumbled, his eyes meeting Anita’s, creating a long drastic stare.

“Driedor!” Torskem yelled in excitement.

“Torskem, it’s been so long.”

“This is not the time for a reunion, we still have a long voyage ahead of us,” Anita said.

“Of course, me lady,” Driedor had spoken.

The Forest of Orphecia was covered with maples, birches, oaks, and firs. The trees’ branches oftentimes twisted in an awkward shape to make for a frightening sight. The sky was nearly covered by the many trees’ canopies, the sun just barely making it through the slight gaps between them. Most of the trees were tall in height, an emerald green moss usually layering the ground that surrounded them. Small stone paths weaved throughout the forest, making it quite easy to become lost within the woodlands.

The bright golden glow of the morning sunlight showered through the endless canopies of green, red, yellow, and brown. Though it hadn’t rained in several days, perhaps weeks, the ground of the forest stayed moist, the sun’s beam unable to dry the lands.

Birds could be heard singing on the rooftops of the woodlands. Beneath the large trees, a boscage of alders grew. Though the forest at first could be quite frightening, the children had begun to realize that the forest is beautiful, harboring much astonishing wildlife never seen by the rest of the world.

“What’s your story, Anita?” Cedric asked, though knowing within that she would never answer that question, instead, throwing about her insulting remarks.

“That is a long story,” she uttered, the thought of it bringing a lump to her throat and a pounding to her chest.

“We have quite the journey, I’m sure you’d have time”

“It doesn’t matter, the past is gone, nothing we can do about that. Let’s worry about the future.”

“C’mon Anita, although you are a madwoman we do still care,” Cedric said.

Anita quickly spun around to the young boy standing behind her, unsheathing her dagger and pressing it against his cheek. “I said, no,” she spoke in a dominating tone.

“I-I’m sorry,” the frightened boy had voiced.

“Get your hands off of him!” Maida screamed, running towards Anita, pushing her away from Cedric. “Don’t you dare touch him!”

“You need me to teach you another lesson, little girl?”

“Just . . . just leave him alone.”

Anita put the dagger away and began walking down the cobblestone path once more, her angry footsteps creating an echo that could be heard from afar.

“Are you alright, Cedric?” Torskem had questioned.

“I’m alright, she hadn’t hurt me.”

“Driedor!” Anita had called.

“Yes, me lady?”

“Fetch me some wine.”

“Me lady, we hadn’t any.”

“You join our expedition and do not think to bring wine?” she spoke softly, yet angrily.

“No, me lady. I’m sorry,” he said with an apologetic voice.

“You are a worthless creature.”

At the edge of the horizon to the East, the forest could be seen disappearing, a glowing beam of light shining towards the end.

“Have we made it?” Maida questioned.

“Almost, when you see the ‘Wall of Green’ you will know you have reached the Gardens of Orphecia,” Driedor spoke in an enthusiastic voice.

Several moments had passed and the group had made it to the edge of the forest. The difference in color was quite astonishing, the forest being made of a dark, nightly feel, the new lands being of a bright and otherwise happy nature.

“Is that the ‘Wall of Green’?” Cedric asked.

“Yes,” Driedor spoke looking out into the vast rolling hills, looking upon a large wall of marvelous flowering hedges. Some were blooming with white, some with yellow, some with purple, and some with red. The children stood there absolutely amazed at the site.

“If it is autumn, how is it that the flowers are blooming?” Maida questioned.

“The sorcerers of the Gardens cast spells to have everlasting spring within these lands. The gardens never decaying, always staying within a purely beautiful state.

The crowd entered the Gardens through a magnificent black iron gate that seemed to be as tall as the trees. They were welcomed by the scent of the many blooming flowers and herbs that were grown, the vinery and bracken layered many beds that were set between the stone paths.

“Welcome to the ‘Gardens of Orphecia’,” Driedor spoke.

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