To Walk The Paths Of Death

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Chapter Two - Entering Labyrinthine

The children looked at each other, then turned their heads to stare into the vast woodlands; both taking deep breaths whilst they stared. Cedric took the first step, second-guessing himself at first. Then Maida followed one step at a time. As the children began walking into the forest, the sky began to turn dark. The treetops of the many pines and firs layered the sky, blocking the majority of the sunlight. As the sprinkles of rain continued to fall, thicker fog approached the forest. Thick clouds of light-gray vapor covered the horizons on every side. Cedric and Maida had to be careful, for the fog was making it very difficult to see.

“Maida, where is the cobblestone home the story spoke of?” Cedric asked.

“I’m not sure, it must be here somewhere though. Unless the story was lying, of course.” she responded, though internally she believed every part of the story their mother had told them.

The children followed the path, for they were much too frightened to go off the path, risking getting lost. As the children continued to search the forest, looking everywhere for the cobblestone home, they ventured further and further into the seemingly evergoing abyss.

The sunset over the horizon, giving a twilight look upon the forest. Dark enough so that the children can barely see, but not dark enough for their eyes to adjust properly.

Maida began leading their continuous stroll through the woods, for Cedric had fallen behind. “Cedric, are you alright?” Madia asked.

Cedric looked to his right to be met a human figure in the distance, with an almost silhouette form, adding a sharp-edged crown to the top. Upon the look of the figure, Cedric’s blood began to rush as he breathed heavily still staring at the creature. He tried to look away from the figure, but it was as if he had lost control of himself. Slowly, it began walking, step by step, closer to him. He could not speak, he could not run, he could not move. He tried to scream, but nothing happened. Closer and closer did the creature walk, losing distance with every step. Finally, it stopped, looking Cedric in the eyes.

The creature’s eyes were of pure black, with a white pupil being the only contrast. Its face was of a darker color, perhaps a dark gray. It had extremely sharp cheekbones that gave the creature an elongated face. It wore a black robe with a hood covering the top of its head, making it so that it was impossible to see anything past its glowing eyes. The creature stopped at eye level with Cedric, being only a few inches away, staring deep into his eyes as if to read his inner soul and mind. Deep down did it stare, giving Cedric an extreme feeling of discomfort.

“Do you know who I am?” the creature said with a ghostly voice; echoing throughout the forest.

“No.” he said, surprised his voice had returned. He looked down and noticed he was several feet in the air, hovering above where he was once standing. The creature arose with him.

“Speak my name.” the creature said, nearly yelling.

“How can I speak your name if I do not know it?” he questioned the creature.

“My name is ... ” the creature was going to say before it abruptly disappeared into the air. Maida touched Cedric’s shoulder and he sharply turned his head and stared at her. It was as if he was in another world. Time had slowed, he had spoken with the creature, then all of the sudden, gone. It was just gone. Maida looked at Cedric and spoke:

“What is the matter? You had fallen behind and were just standing there, staring.” she said.

“Nothing, it was nothing.” he said, actually remembering every minor detail during the moment.

Cedric looked up at the sky that was now fully dark. The rain had stopped and the fog had cleared. Clouds passed, allowing the moonlight to light up the forest.

Cedric began leading the way once more. The night grew darker as they continued their journey, making it so they could only see each other, and usually not even that. At this point, Cedric had not realized that he had led them off the path, slowly leading them off course and into the unexplored woodlands that surrounded them on each side.

The wind grew stronger, creating a soft yet high-pitched howl. Cedric felt goosebumps growing on both his uncovered arms, Maida experiencing the same fault, but to less of a degree, for she had worn a longer tunic than he.

“Cedric, what may that be?” Madia had said, pointing towards a large willow that lied in the middle of the woods, making it so that it was the only willow in the forest around them.

Along the sides of the tree, small mushrooms grew, reaching and reaching till they eventually fade midway up the tree. The mushrooms were not of the ordinary, however, they seemed to possess a sort of bioluminescence, a faint green glow getting brighter the farther inward you look into the small plants.

“I am not quite sure Maida, to be honest, they look like some sort of deformed mushroom.” Cedric spoke, nearly stating the obvious. As Cedric glared upon the unfamiliar yet eccentric plants, he slowly brushed the tips of his fingers upon the underside of the glowing organism. Musing at the visage of the newly found wondrous plant. He turned his head just enough to see Maida, but keep eye contact with the astounding mushroom he held in his left hand.

“It is . . . beautiful.” Cedric spoke, bewildered by the plant he held. “It is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“May I touch?” Maida asked, interweaving her own fingers with Cedric’s, grabbing hold of the plant as well.

The two children marveled upon the miraculous plant they’ve found, gazing deeper and deeper into the biological light that projected through the several outer layers of the plant.

As they continued their evergoing admiration of the mushroom, a crackle was made from a nearby shrub, causing both the children to quickly change their gaze from the plant to the newly made sound, immediately shifting their heads in the opposite direction, behind them.

A squirrel jumped out of the shrub, waddling its way to the stump of the tall willow that stood before them. The animal climbed midway up the tree, stopping to grab hold of one of the glowing mushrooms. Cedric and Maida stared at the creature as it began to nibble at the edges, making its way towards the center. The squirrel met the now bright glowing center of the plant, where it took it by the hand and threw it down to the ground below it. Upon collision with the dark soil ground, the core of the mushroom erupted into a flash of jade green mist, that reached up into the air to soon disappear to nothingness.

“What is this?” Maida spoke.

“I’m not too sure, but I don’t think we should eat it.” Cedric said.

“Cedric, I am quite tired. I think we should sleep here till morning.” Madia spoke, as she began to lie down upon the soft moss that surrounded the stump of the willow.

“Okay Maida, we sleep here tonight. But in the morning we begin our journey once more. That is unless you want to return home?” Cedric spoke, nearly taunting Maida.

“I do not want to go home Cedric, I am perfectly capable of living out in the wilderness for the rest of my life.” Maida responded, she herself knowing she had exaggerated to a rather high extent, but never willing to admit that.

“Okay, Maida.” Cedric responded with a sarcastic tone.

Following the short conversation the children had together, Maida and Cedric both lied down on the mossy floor below them, lying at the base of the tree. Within a few short minutes, the both had fallen asleep.

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