“And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul.”
There was once an ancient forest with a tall tower hidden within its heart. The legend says, a fair maiden was trapped in the tower and only a man with a brave, pure heart could save her.
That was at least the very first version of the legend, known among people when the forest was still young, so many years ago. The newest one is quite different.
There was once an ancient forest, which was eating people. The fair maiden was leading them into the tower hidden within its heart. And they kept disappearing there, never to come back.
No one really knows the source of the legends. Sometimes people would forget about them for a while to remember again, when another person went missing. Sometimes one of the legends would push someone to visit the forest. Another time it was a pure coincidence. The legends were always here though, passed from generation to generation. First treated as sacred, then just as stories and finally, only as old wives’ tales. One thing remained the same though. People would still wander into the very same forest to be lost forever.
It wasn’t as though someone dissapearing every day, of course. Sometimes it was once in a few months, sometimes once a year. Oh, it was more at the beginning, when nature seemed to be much closer and the tale was still vivid among those, who wanted to listen. But then, less and less people were interested in visiting forests and hearing legends. Years were passing by, there were less trees and stories were replaced by screens. The forest was still there though. Not growing as it used to, but living, tempting… and dangerous.
* * *
I was sent there to take samples of the soil and plants shortly after we discovered that natural phenomenon. The expedition was supposed to wait for me in our station at the edge of the forest, but I needed to go deeper, to the very center where we picked up the most signals of life. It was almost a mystical experience to wander among those huge tree trunks, bare branches and green moss. For me, a person who’s only seen the forests on screens or in the virtual so far, it was like stepping into a different reality. It was almost like I could feel strange presence somewhere between the trees, almost like I could hear them whispering to each other…
I can’t really say, when or how did I notice the outlines of the tower. It was almost like it appeared out of nowhere, tall, ancient, emitting strange energy. I was about to get closer, when I felt a gentle touch on my shoulder. There she was, a woman with dark hair, dressed in a green dress that looked like out of a different era. Her touch was cold and her eyes… Her eyes were like the forest itself. Deep, dark, otherworldly. I can’t even tell, if she actually spoke to me or I only heard her voice in my head. I was used to the telepatic communication by now, but this was… different. More powerful. Ancient.
“The Forest is dying” – she told me. “People used to come here, at first because they wanted to prove they’re pure or brave enough to win a fair maiden. They were entering the tower to face four challenges, each on one of the four floors. The challenge of patience, bravery, the challenge of the heart and the mind. Then, and only then they would win a maiden. No one could pass my tests though. They’d gone mad, one after another. So I gave them a new life, among all others who were here before them. Then they were coming to show they can be brave enough to fight the very same maiden. No one could overpower me, how could they? They all gave up finally, one after another, close to the end of their lives. I gave those new one as well. Some were coming here to destroy the forest, terrified of its power. Those I took to fertilize the soil, they didn’t deserve my gift of life. Some wanted to see if the legend was true. They’d wander among the trees and couldn’t find their way back. They stayed with me as well. Their will was weak, but the forest needs every energy it can take. Thanks to that it was growing for so many years. It doesn’t anymore.”
“It’s hard to grow on a planet, where nothing grows…” – I dared to say. She looked into my eyes and I instantly heard hundreds of screams in my head. Screams that seemed to be almost human… Or were they?
“I was giving you life since ages. I won’t let it to be taken from me. I need you to tell this story. The story of discovering something long forgotten, of finding home among the wilderness. The story about trees which are still alive. You don’t need to prove your bravery anymore, you don’t believe in legends anyway. But there’s still a longing in your heart, longing for the world as pure as it was, the world you destroyed so recklessly. Longing for home. The home is here. It will always be here. And I will be waiting.”
If you’d ask me now, how did I find my way back from there, I couldn’t tell. Our station was empty when I got there. Well, of course it was. How could anyone resist energy so strong, so pervasive? Strange and yet well-known at the same time…
Here I am then, sending this message straight into every transmitter in the whole system. You won’t remember how did you hear it. You won’t know what it means. But sooner or later, you’ll all go there, to this forgotten place in the very heart of the forest. As will I, as soon as I end here. The forest is calling, and I must go. It will take time for her to grow again, but she will grow. Little by little, as it used to be eons ago. One life, one tree at a time. Maybe at some point it will take over the whole planet, who knows? She doesn’t need to rush anyway. She has all the time in the universe.
Okay then… Some of you wanted to read more stories on my blog, so I decided to post them more often. I’m not really sure about this one, to be honest. I feel it still need someting more, maybe more background or just a little more of the storyline itself. But I actually decided not to post stories in their final form here. Mostly because I usually change them few times anyway, but also in case someone would be tempted to steal the idea or the story itself. I know you won’t do that, but the Internet is dark and full of terrors xD I can’t be sure, who’d stumble upon my blog at some point.
I’ll be working on this story more for sure. If I ever decide to publish some of those short tales of mine, I’ll probably include the final version there. This way you won’t know everything in advance 😉
Also, many thanks to Holy Clothing for that amazing dress! It surely helped me feel like the Lady of The Forest indeed.