Hearts Of The Forest – Part 5

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Part 5 – Darkness Retreats

After days of storm and seeking for places to hide, the traveler began to question himself if he had made the right choice. Leaving all behind in the search of something he was not quite sure yet, especially at such a disputated and somewhat dangerous land, could mean the loss of everything he knew before.

Ever since the old lady told the traveler to hide, the following days were the most challeging he had faced since his arrival to Greenlands. The storm did bring strange events. A true dark sensation was all around, and no matter how good he was at cloaking himself from whatever it was, something was always near. During the nights, the worst nightmares awaited him if he dared to sleep. He soon realized he was not feeling like himself, perhaps the old lady’s stories were indeed proving to be real.

Which awoke the traveler’s curiosity greatly, so many questions to his mind now, but the old lady was nowhere to be seen. The traveler went back to the place where the old lady’s cave should be, – a part of the forest so distinguish for its big rocks, these rocks were carved all around with symbols and drawing patterns he had never witnessed before. He would often take a small notebook he crafted himself to draw the symbols for later studies – though the mossy cave and the small campsite was not there. It came across the traveler’s mind that Greenlands is indeed a place to drive the more skeptical ones into madness. For what he experienced the forest was proving to be alive, never looking the same, and one could easily lose track of time…

— Pointy hats! There you are!

The traveler who was abstracted in his own thoughts, jumped in a heartbeat, quickly drawing a small sword. Once he turned his back, the old lady stood behind him, supported by a long-handled broom.

— My apologies, traveler. I’m afraid we must hurry. Come, follow me. — The old lady said.

The traveler did not question, he immediately followed behind her, feeling relieved in a way. “No welcoming smiles this time”, he thought. It was not the appropriate time for conversations.

She headed up at a fast pace, leading to a way where the forest grew denser. It impressed the traveler how the old lady could move with such skill through the terrain filled with roots of trees of all sizes. Some roots so large that served as stairways.

A couple hours passed by and even though the traveler began panting, the heaviness in the air caused by the storms, slowly faded away as they moved up. The traveler was more concerned not to trip his way over those roots, his eyes were focused on where he was stepping and calculating every step. He took the last step up and raised his head up. He was struck with an overwhelming sight. He stood there in awe.

— Welcome to Highaltars, traveler. We should be safe here for now. — The old lady said, taking a look at him over her shoulders and slightly squinting her eyes like she normally did when she smiled.

They were surrounded by short trees, at a wide forest glade area. For what he could tell it was some type of ancient shrine. There were black tumbled stones outlining the shape of a pentagram on the grassy field, the stones had runic symbols in white paint. One huge elder tree on the middle of the pentagram. Each point of the pentagram had one altar.

At the far east point there was an altar dedicated to the water element. At the southeast end another altar for fire. Southwest the earth altar and at the west end of the pentagram, an altar for air. The traveler tried to peer past the huge tree on the middle, to see what the far north end looked like and to his shock he spotted what he thought to be a mere tale.

The Oracle Witch. Her totem hanged on a door of an average sized cave entrance. “Is this the original location”, he thought. He did not dare to lay his eyes on the Witch totem for too long… He fasted his pace to reach the old lady.

Though it was impossible not to be mesmerized by the large formations of blue crystals, which were to be seen in abundance. Lanterns glowing in violet light were placed hanging on the branches of the ancient tree and on other trees around the place. Candles burned in bright violet flames were also placed near the altars, especially the fire element altar. Fireflies flew busily all over the place, glowing in all sorts of different colors. He couldn’t wait to draw everything his eyes admired at.

The old lady walked towards the northeast of the pentagram – between water altar and the Oracle’s totem – where her simple yet cozy campsite had already been set, exaclty the way the traveler had first seen it. He was about to ask her what was happening when she replied.

— Oh, yes you must have questions, Tiseh. Please sit. — she turned around and took off her grey hoodie.

— Forgive me, but how do you know my name? — the young man asked, he frowned, but sat down on the grass still with his gaze on her. He resting his back on a small wood log.

The old lady looked in the direction of Mezelda’s altar, then back to the traveler.

— She has spoken about you too, dear traveler. You may call me Aiga, long ago I have sworn to be at her service. But if you ask me, telling stories and taking long naps would be the life I envisioned for myself… — Aiga said, smiling with a dreamy look on her face.

It took her a couple minutes telling him about the terrible back pains and how lore keeper Witches suffer from going through old and dusty scrolls. It did not bother the traveler, somehow he enjoyed listening to her stories.

— I digress, what was I saying? Ah! yes, yes! Not many travelers are able to maintain a true heart under the influence of dark energy, and you passed your first trial, young man. Dark energy began to expand on that day, making the moon to absorb part of it. The moon absorbs whatever etheric energy is expanding the most through Greenlands and once the moon absorbs it, it starts reflecting this energy back to all other lands.

She continued.

— Causing storms and other disturbances to occur. Nightmares arise with the expanding of dark energy, corrupting the hearts of men and women. The only way to truly survive in the forest is learning how to become one with it, to feel it more than to see it, this is the art of Witchery, traveler. Only then the forest will show the way you seek.

— But Lady Aiga, why did you bring me to this place? — Tiseh asked, as he looked around one more time.

— Here is where your journey begins, it has been foreseen. You may leave now or stay, and learn how to speak with the forest for what awaits you.

Aiga closed her eyes as the warm breeze caressed them and rustled the fallen leaves.

— Soon she’ll arrive… — The old lady murmured to herself.

— She? Who will arrive…? — Tiseh asked, tilting his head expecting for an explanation.

The sleepless nights grew his eyeslids heavier. The young man let out a long yawn.

— Rest your mind for now, traveler. When the morning comes, clarity will be on the horizon…

Witches’s ArchivesMasked one. A type of priest, it is known to be one of the highest ranks. The groups of Witch hunters never walk without at least one of them in the party, to make sure they are safe from “curses and profane practices.” To our knowledge, it is their duty to identify Witches and Forest Spirits, sentencing them to death.

Note: I made a couple changes and doing some adjustments, hope you like it! Part 6 coming soon.

Nida B. 🖤

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