To Walk The Paths Of Death

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Chapter Three - Shadows Of The Moon

The Sun brought its bright orange light to the wooded forest as it peeked over the horizon in the far distance. The sunlight beamed throughout the forest, strays of light glaring into different directions, spreading its beautiful shine here and there.

Bits of moss every so often bloomed, bringing red, purple, orange, and yellow flowers to the surface. The flowers were small and petite and took the look of miniature hydrangea flowers. Much like a marigold, it was quite beautiful to the eye, yet was quite foul to the nose.

Lilac bushes grew on nearly every corner surrounding the willow, bringing small hummingbirds to feed upon their nectar. Small honey bees roamed the clearing, pollinating the so many flowers that grew within the area.

The willow’s tall lengthy stretches of leaves grew upon the branches, reaching down until nearly touching the ground below. That is if you can even call them leaves at this point, rather than simply branches of green that measure the tree’s height. Nevertheless, leaves or not, the weeping willow that stood in the forest, was astoundingly magnificent.

Upon the arrival of the sunshine beaming down to the eyes of the sleeping children, they awoke. Cedric sat his torso in an upright position, leaving his legs to lie amidst the ground. The soft moss below giving his legs a tingling feeling, making him so eager to itch the several spots the moss had touched.

Beside him, Maida awoke. Having put her hands in a fist form, she hurriedly rubbed her eyes, yearned to rid the gunk filling the corners of her eyes, some attaching to her eyelashes.

Both the children stood up, ready to being their venture for the day, anxious to explore the seemingly never-ending forestry that surrounded them. At first stumbling, Maida stood at the base of the willow, awaiting Cedric to join her.

“C’mon Cedric, how long does it take you to stand up?” Maida said, further expressing her feeling of impatience to venture into the forest, to challenge the dangers beyond. Though Maida believes that she is unstoppable, she has yet to leave the age of puerility, but she is just a child.

Maida approached the now standing Cedric. Refusing to hold back the hunger that she possesses Madia spoke adding a slight whine to her tone, “Cedric, I am hungry.”

“Here.” Cedric responded, handing Maida a piece of bread he had brought with him. Maida instantly unraveled the small cream-colored cloth that sheathed the small piece of sourdough bread, holding a smell so wondrous that Maida paused a second to awe at the fragrance that she held in her palm. She took a bite of the soft bread, savoring every flavor that entered her mouth.

“Smells like home.” she spoke.

The children sat down at the trunk of the willow, the breeze causing some of the saplings around them to swing back and forth. The day was quite clear, no fog, no rain. A clear sky, adding a piece of white pillowy cloud every so often.

“Cedric, do you think about home? You know, what mother is doing and such?” Maida asked.

“Yes, of course. All the time.” he said. His tone of voice added much sorrow and guilt to his statement, for he felt bad. He knew he was to never step foot into the woods, yet he did. And brought his youngling sister with him. “To be honest, that’s all I’ve been able to think about.” he said, this time his eyes beginning to water.

“I don’t think about it too much. If I could explore until the end of time, I would.” Maida said, not adding any sympathy to her voice, but rather excitement. “Mother rarely let us go anywhere, and then she wonders why we’ve gone. Sounds stupid to me.” she said, adding a small laugh at the end.

“Now you take that back!” Cedric exclaimed, growing angry at the fact that she insulted their mother.

“No. Mother is always shutting us out, closing the doors on what’s really happening! So, no. I will not take it back!” Maida responded, meaning what she said. Cedric stood up and towered over the younger girl as if he would do her harm. Though Maida and himself knew within that he would never commit such a heinous act.

Cedric stood there, tears swelling in his eyes. Maida spoke, this time with remorse, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled at you nor should I have ever insulted mother.”

Maida stood up, now wrapping her small arms around his waist to show the regret she felt over the fight.

“I am sorry too. I shouldn’t have reacted that way towards you. That was wrong of me.” Cedric spoke, showing true sorrow and guilt, his speech having a high-pitched cry-like sound.

“Let’s get going Cedric spoke, stepping first foot into the forest, thus leaving the clearing that housed the willow. After several moments, Maida spoke: “Cedric, I think we’re lost.” she said in a worried tone.

“I think this too.” he responded, looking around to try and notice the path he had led them off of.

As the children stood there, worried, they heard something. They heard a woman’s laugh. A rather sinister laugh, not of the sort that is made after a joke; the kind that is made watching someone be scared, one that is malevolent.

The children stopped suddenly, slowing their breathing to hear clearer. The laughing continued. Cedric tried to hear for the source of the sound, but he failed, for the laughter was being made from each and every side of them, encircling them. The deafening noise grew louder after every second that passed, echoing throughout the woodlands. Then, gone. The noise was gone. No laughter, no wind, no sound. Pure and utter silence. Cedric and Maida looked at each other, fearful of what was to come next.

“Hello children.” a woman’s voice said behind them.

They turned around, but before they could do or say anything, the woman blew a handful of emerald green dust in their direction. Which caused them to instantly fall asleep.

Cedric awoke on a soft pillow of healthy green moss growing atop the earthy soil below him. He slowly opened his eyes to be greeted by darkness: “how long have we been asleep?” he thought to himself while standing up. He looked around, noticing he was in the same place he remembers standing in, but with no recollection of himself ever falling asleep. He began to walk blindly into the darkness, searching for Maida. “She should have been near me.” he thought. He searched and searched and searched with no clue as to where Maida was. She was gone. Just gone.

Clouds in the sky passed, making way for the light of the moon to pass through, lighting up the forest. Cedric began walking alongside the pines, using them to guide him. While not paying attention, he tripped over a rock and slammed his head into the dirt below him. Covering the left side of his face with blackish soil. At this moment, his memories he had lost began flooding into his mind. His eyes being given visions to relive the moments before he awoke. He remembered. He fell asleep after the woman blew the dust into his face, perhaps a sort of magic. He remembers awakening a short time later to see the woman taking Maida whilst she screamed, then he fell back asleep. He could not do anything, he had to watch her be carried away while he could do nothing about it, for when he fell upon the ground, he had undergone a sort of paralysis. Temporarily removing all ability to move during the period of time.

His legs grew weak while trying to stand up, nearly giving out. “She was taken away from me, and I just watched it happen.” he repeated in his mind several times. He walked through the woods, hoping to find the captor of his sister, but had no luck doing so.

He trekked through the woods, following a path of pines that seemed to grow in a straight line, slightly turning East. As he used his palms to guide himself down the wall of firs, a noise was made. A crackle in the woods behind him. He turned to investigate, but the darkness overtook his vision.

“Maida? Is that you?” he said, fear in his tone of voice.

The rustling stopped as a figure came into the moonlight. It was not Maida, it was not human. Cedric stood in fear, his mind running, but his legs unable to move. He tried to scream, but he had once again lost his voice.

The creature was a tall being, with gray scaly skin, covering the figure’s body. It had human feet and legs, but the torso was nothing of the sort. Its skin was ripped off its chest, revealing its ribcage. Inside was a faintly glowing red, gleaming from the center of its open chest. Its hands were skinny and bony, with sharp knife-like fingers, that would cut through any flesh it touched. The eyes of the being were of glowing orange, with a dark black pupil resting within the center of it. The head of the figure was of pure black, having the sharp white teeth of the animal be the only contrast.

Terrified, Cedric began blindly running through the woods, the creature following behind him. As he ran, he stumbled into an old cobblestone house. Fumbling for the door latch Cedric ran inside, locking the door behind him. Moments later, he realized that the home he stood in, was the house from the story of Anita Stone. Remembering how Anita had survived the creature, he too hid under the floorboards of the abode.

As he sat there, waiting for the creature to approach, he barely breathed from the amount of fear that ran through his body. Silently did he sit there, awaiting his fate. Being ready for his life to end, just as Anita’s had. For hours did it seem he had waited when in reality it had only been a minute or two.

Light shined over the floorboards he was under, for the sun had risen and was gleaming brightly through the several holes in the home’s roof. Slowly did Cedric push on the wooden boards above him, making his exit out of the crevice in the ground. The creature was gone. When Cedric left the cavity next to him, he stood up to be greeted with a small singing bird, resting on a wooden beam running across the ceiling of the abode. As the bird began to sing, he picked up the journal beside him:

Midsummer, 1142

I learned that my mother had not died during my birthing, but in this god awful home in this forest. My father had lied to me about her, why would he do such a thing. To protect me? From what? What is this place? I have so many questions I want answers to, however, if my fate is any at all like my mother’s, I will never have them answered. To my astonishment, I saw something in the woods, a woman, perhaps middle-aged. She was holding a baby, saying “Everything will be alright, Ella”. I had looked away for only a moment, but when I looked again to see the woman, she was gone.

“Ella. That is my mother’s name.” Cedric said softly.

“Why did she not tell me the true diary of Anita Stone? Why would she lie?” he spoke. “For what reason did she lie to me? I would have thought for sure that my own mother would tell me nothing, but the truth. For I have all my faith and more resting on her words.” he thought.

Cedric closed the leather-bound journal, set it on the table beside him, and unlocked the door to the outdoors. Setting foot to the now brightly lit lands of mystery.

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