This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
The forest with its darkness hides what little we truly know of it, and under its canopy death awaits. . . .
It is a cold, unfeeling place where nightmares do exist and monsters read from fairy tales live.
I was there, in the middle of such a place, alone and lost, not knowing how or why, but soon those reasons would show their face.
I awoke to find myself starring up into a blacken abyss, shrouded under leaves that soon would die, fall and decay . . . like death. Droplets of water splattered my face blurring, sending chills throughout and rendering my clothes damp and heavy.
As I became more alert, I sat up and adjusted to the darkness that surrounded me. This wasn’t home where I previously had been and I tried to recall what had happened to make me wind up here outside.
The dank smell of dead leaves, earth and ground permeated the air and made still the creatures there in . . . except one.
I felt its presence, it gnawed at my fear, forcing it forward, but I held back. This thing was feeding itself off my emotions and so I closed my mind to all things visible and invisible, he would not win out.
Pressing harder and harder, its mind, its feral presence tried to break through to the bonds that held shut what was me, my thoughts, fears and emotions. It was a battle unto its own and fought it I did, but barely.
In one solitary moment of sheer madness, where I could no longer be silent, I bellowed my constraints, my voice as it were and let it be known that I would not fall prey to some repugnant creature that hid in the shadows like a coward. Where be this monster, this foul stench that it was? That played me as a fool . . . “Come out! Show yourself!”
Then silence, like a powerful sword pierced the solitude of the night and all living souls whose songs carried the night, were quieted too. And so there I was, in the middle of what would deem nothingness. My heart beat so, that it was the only song I heard . . . beating, beating its life source loudly. My throat caught as I heard a crackle before me.
In the blackness, eyes, blood red loomed there in front. Whose coveted death starred back at me. Muscles rigid out of fear as it slowly came from the depths. It was hideous, the color of decay, a grayish matter, with pustules oozing stench that would make the strongest man weak. It smiled as it felt my fear grow stronger. Its teeth, brown, broken and in different heights of instability wiggled as a low guttural laugh came up from its belly.
“What delights have we here?” Drool fell from its mouth, as a groveled voice resounded forth.
Bravery answered back, “I am not this delights you speak of!”
“Bold I see, but stupid. If you knew what I could do, you’d hold your tongue. As it were, I like this spiciness. It’ll make the kill all that more enjoyable.” Again, a laugh from deep within gurgled, its tone, rich and dark.
I had no weapon to speak of, it was I and I alone who had to deal with what fate had dealt me. It was most cruel, for I already felt defeated, but I still stood there, nevertheless, defying my death.
It moved closer, dragging its heavy feet along the dirt clad ground. Bits of small, dead branches, crunched under its heaviness, which sent chills crawling down my spine. Inches from my face it breathed in, savoring every scent that was I. It’s hot, repulsive breath stuck to my skin, thickly as its feral habits reminded me of a troll, slobbering as it walked around sizing me up, like I was a prize to be won, a prize to be eaten. I kept watch, planning a course of action that I could take when given the chance.
“Small boned I see not much meat either, but it’s the small creatures that have the most flavor. You will do, yes, you will do nicely.” The mere thought of being eaten, alive set my nerves on edge. “Nervous are we?” He noted happily.
Mad that I had let my fears to be known, my eyes caught sight of a bush. A bush that I had not seen in a long time and thought that they no longer existed, I was wrong and as it t’were, grateful for the find. The only trouble now is that it was several feet in front of me. I hid my joy not only from my face, but from inside and placed myself back into a stupor of graveness that would befit my situation, until I could figure out a plan.
Snippily, he snorted, and turned his back on me. This was it, my one and only chance. Grabbing a stone on the ground I threw it to the creatures left side. It rattled branches as it soared through the thicken growth before landing.
“Who goes there?” Calling loudly as it turned toward the noise.
As I had planned, the creature went in to investigate. The bush, in full view now enticed me to run forth and take hold of the red berries that hung heavily upon its branches. With a deep breath I took off, but not fast enough, for the creature, unbeknownst to me, was quite fast and grabbed my ankle. I fell, just barely out of reach of one its branches.
“You are foolish. Did you think you could outwit me? Did you?” His skin, whose pallor, changed, from gray to blood red and eyes that now enlarged to twice their size, was in fumed.
I said nothing as I inched myself backward, reaching, nearing the fruit that would aid me.
His grip on my ankle soon became tighter as he raised my leg toward his gaping mouth. No longer were its teeth broken ones, for they now took on the appearance of fangs, long and sharp. Breath hot, coated my skin as saliva dribbled out from its mouth, touching my skin. It was like acid, which burned, and bubbled to a consistency like that of pudding. Flesh fell to the ground, in masses of red and black matter. I had not felt pain such as this and screamed loudly.
Then its teeth, sharper than any knife, bit down and broke through muscles, tendons and bones. It gnawed like a saw, back and forth till it had my foot in its mouth complete. I could not bear it any longer. It chewed happily, still holding onto my leg. Bits of flesh and bone fell as I clung on, trying not to faint, but it was the only salvation I had, it beckoned me to come, to find my release in it.
“No!” And shoved backwards, hard, releasing my leg from it grasp and grabbed a handful of berries.
“Hungry are we?” Again, a laugh from his belly came out in fits of craftiness that it was enough to empower what was left of me, to take back my life.
“No, but you are!”
As it came down for another bite, I shoved the berries into his mouth and down his filthy throat. It startled him, then gasping for breath, coughed and coughed, but the berries were unforgiving, they did what berries do best . . . grow.
It took a step back, holding its throat. Paralyzed with fright, its eyes bugged out as the very breath, the very life was being taken out, slowly . . . painfully and with that life, new life emerged from out of its mouth. Green, spindly vines that slithered out, searching for light and reaching higher as vines, larger than the first came out from its ears and soon its head. It was a death like no other and I relished it.
When the creature was no more a viable thing of life, I took the same berries and rubbed them on my wound and within minutes it healed itself clean. Although I had no foot, I would not die. You see, the berries from the Giving Bush does what one wishes, nothing more, nothing less.
Hawkebat: Playing both Kotor I & II and Swtor I found the story line interesting and it held me until chapter 35 Very good story and plot flow until then, very few technical errors. I felt that the main character was a bit under and over powered, as it fought for balance. The last few chapters felt too f...
softprose: Honestly, this book already has me on my toes, I can't wait to buy the physical copy! It is like a fresh breath of air when reading this. I've already fallen in love with all of the characters! This will be one of those books I'll read over and over again without getting bored of it.
Flik: Hi! ^.^ huge fan of yours on ff.net! When I saw the note about this contest on The Way We Smile, I couldn't help but rush over here, create an account, and vote! XD Seriously love this story and would recommend it to anyone! :D best FT fanfiction out there. Amazing story, amazing concept that wa...
Tiffany Thomson: This story is not something I would normally pick up and read but I'm so glad I did, I wasn't able to put it down and my husband was yelling at me at 3am to put it down and go to bed (just waited for him to doze back off before picking it back up) I really hope Natalie brings out another book eit...
catd69: Karim is a very talented writer. When I started reading his journey it took me into the book and I was in the story till the end. I've never felt this way with any other writers stories. If you want to read a gripping adventure, this will be the one book I would suggest you pick.
Oru Manna: Within this tale is a cast of characters with intensely unique voices and personas; each one radiating their own desires so clearly, you would think they were all written by different people. Their behaviors, their speech patterns, even their thoughts are so independent of one another, it really ...
rudyoxborough46: An action-packed, mystical adventure awaits anyone wishing to read this novel. I’m amazed at how well you’ve managed to flesh out the characters in this book, and I hope to read more of your work.I’ve read books about goblins and elves and all that mumbo-jumbo before, and most accounts of these c...
BlakDreams: Wait is this over already?? I really love this story but I'm not sure, is this story already over?? Hm... if it's over I'm a kill myself cuz I loved it!! AGGHH!This story has a perfect storyline and everything I love itttt! Oh my god!
Alex Rushmer: This was not what I expected, but I enjoyed it a lot Malfoy was always one of the characters that I liked a lot, so I like that a lot of this happens between him and Colette. I read the first couple chapters, and I enjoyed your writing style and am excited to see where you take this story. My com...
Sara Grover: Being that this is your first story and I assume first draft, a lot of little mistakes are common, we all have made them; little things like your instead of you're, missed capitalization, missing punctuation, etc. As for the plot, I have a lot of questions and I did leave comments on certain sect...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."