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The Forest

A lumberjack skywing casually strode into the forest, humming a jaunty tune involving sandwing women and alcohol. Felling axe hooked lazily upon their shoulders, they decided to delve deeper into the forest than they have ever gone.

The sight of a curious splattering of trees, all with reddish-brown bark, and leaves of all colors, drew the lumberjack to it. Walking into the middle of this collection, they looked at the trees, feeling over the surprisingly smooth bark.

The leaves appeared almost scale shaped, giving the strange unfamiliar trees a beauty of sorts. Several of the curious trees had a smattering of fruit.

The fruit, rather large orbs with a soft round skin of cheery red. Almost like large peaches, just rounder. They wafted out a smell like that of his favorite desert, chocolate pudding with mango bits.

The mix of the smell, and the sight mesmerized him. He decided to pick from a tree that vaguely reminded him a good friend- that sadly went missing a few months back- the leaves similar to his friend’s crimson scales.

Taking a bite into the juicy fruit, flavor exploded over his tongue. It was hard to explain, but it was beyond compare. He couldn’t help himself, he ate the entire thing. He was reaching for another when the aftertaste hit.

It was like that of rotting meat, a foul disgusting taste that would coil around your tongue and throat. The skywing made to gag, but it was like fruit slithered down his gullet, skittering down into his stomach, and just sitting there.

His gut suddenly felt heavy, and he wanted to throw up, but couldn’t. A roiling sensation shivered up his spine and bones, but then it was all over.

That immediately killed any desire for a second fruit. Hacking up the spit in his mouth, he spat out, and walked off, grumbling about tricky trees.

He didn’t notice the tip of his tail and claws started to ever so slowly turn reddish-brown.

###

The skywing lumberjack was back in the forest, a few days later. Movement was hard, and the moons damned whispering was so loud.

It started so faintly at first, but came to thunderous din with each succeeding day. Most of his scales were tough yet smooth, a reddish-brown color now most of his body.

His claws would almost try to root into the ground with every step, walking now an exercise of ripping his feet from the soil.

He finally stumbled upon a now familiar glade of trees, cursing. He furiously pointed towards the trees, his pointer claw shaking. Yet, he couldn’t curse the trees, knowing they were all once like him.

Unsteadily, he clomped over to the trees, and resignedly, he stood there. He brought his trusty axe along, and he stuck that into the ground next to him. Maybe someone would get the right idea, and cute them all down. He himself didn’t get the time to do it.

His claws, now finally still, dug into the soil, reaching down, down down, grasping for whatever nutrients they could find. He felt his body contort and twist upwards, the voices becoming louder and clearer. Every single person ever afflicted by this curse.

All in his head, probing his thoughts and memories, like it was no longer his to keep. In return, he was bombarded with the past lives of too many to count, lifes of all kinds, from queens and kings, to farmers and miners.

Now, he would be among them.

He couldn’t move anymore, and he felt himself almost disconnect from reality, now more a mental construct, than a person. A young tree with red and orange leaves, and reddish-brown bark took his place.

The voices welcomed him into their embrace, he now just one more in the flood of thought and pain.

###

A young skywing was out in the forest looking for his missing dad. He was a lumberjack, and just disappeared one day. In his search, he found a glade of weird trees with reddish-brown smooth bark.

They had tasty looking and smelling fruit, and he couldn’t help himself. He took just a small bite.

A father cried.

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