Hearts Of The Forest – Part 6

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Part 6 – The Mysterious One

Peaceful and welcoming yet one of the busiest places in all Greenlands. Where Witches of all kinds and travelers used it to come and go. Once it was one of the best places for trading goods, for Witches and travelers gathered around to sell, buy or trade all sorts of items. Also, where special celebrations took place, as well as the seasonal festivals. It was here that some of the rituals were performed – these rituals which attracted the attention of many travelers and outsiders. Niluwá, was the main and largest village of all four villages. The second village to be closer to the only location where outsiders and travelers could enter Greenlands. Making this village also a place to accommodate those who wished to venture in the green mysterious country, filled with stories about magic and unexplainable events. Some travelers had great interest in going to Niluwá solely by the fact that the art of crafting was highly valued, they could leave a miserable life behind to instead sell their artwork and live a simple yet fulfilling life.

Niluwá was notorious for the making of sacred candles – an important magical item with the power to connect all five elements into one. Medicines, healing ointments, tinctures, teas, a wide variety of dried herbs and the yellow mushrooms – only to be found in Greenlands – were some of the other village’s especialities, brought to be shared here. Mostly a practice that Green Witches mastered. There was a time the five primary kind of Witches could teach about their healing skills and pass on their knowledge, though the times have changed…

Despite of what other travelers said, traveling within the forest was not an option for the outsider. As long as she kept hearing the winds whispering voices, seeing things moving behind the trees or being approached by a Spirit who spoke things she kept locked in the depths of her heart, she would not risk going too deep into the forest again if there was another option. Simple roads or the main trails was all she wanted after everything. At least for now, she was still feeling uneasy…

The outsider had been looking for the village of Niluwá for days. To be finally seeing the village was quite comforting. Although, it was nothing like the types of villages she was used to back in her country. A continuous pathway of dark brown bricks going all around the short establishments and buildings, which were all rounded. The roofing tiles were shaped as Raven feathers, all the details perfectly carved as feathers – as black as the night, like the bird. Doors and windows were decorated with twisted branches of a willow tree known as Bone Fairy, for its white bark and blue leaves. When the outsider approached the village square, she saw a wide open area circled by totem stones of birds and winged creatures. A bit further from the ceremonial area, there was a trading market and campsites set to accommodate travelers for a small fee. A fair with a variety of small tents selling goods was the busiest area, and even though a lot of those items caught the outsider’s attention, she had to stay focused. “Transport, I need transport.” She reminded herself.

A flickering glow coming from her far right caught the outsider’s attention, she turned her head to see what it was, and what she saw was a establishment with a small fenced area, a couple horses in it and a young woman standing next to it, brushing a brown and white horse. “Perfect, that is what I need.” She decisively walked towards the young woman who wore a mossy green hat, little copper medals hanging all around the edges of her hat – the tip of it slightly thinner and crooked down. The outsider also noticed the young woman was barefoot, wearing a white blouse and a long layerd skirt with a green scarf tied on the left side of her hip, while the rest of the scarf layed around her skirt. The young woman had many rings on her fingers and for a moment the outsider thought they were glowing a bit.

– Your rings were glowing – said the outsider, suddenly intrigued and frowning in confusion.

– Oh, hello there fellow traveler! Did you say something about my rings? – the young woman turned to the outsider, then took a look at her hands.

– Glowing, the crystals on them were glowing… Well, never mind… – she shook her head a bit, realizing this was not her main priority. – Do you offer transportation to the next near village? – asked the outsider feeling quite impatient.

– Ah! of course, you are looking to the one! and today is your lucky day, outsider! We leave to the next village in a couple hours.

Her enthusiasm and cheerfulness impressed the outsider, it was not common to see people like this young woman at her homeland.

– In fact! I’m glad you came by, I needed a hand to store some more supplies for our trip. It’s quite a long one. Here, take this! – the young woman threw a heavy bag which had the outsider awkwardly trying to catch it.

– Of course.

– By the way, my name is Aisla and this is Fligg – said the young woman as she patted the horse and rested one arm over the horse’s back. – He’s partly blind, but watch out sometimes he gets moody and bites the ankles of travelers when they are distracted… Wow! I like how your arrows were fletched, have you crafted them yourself? – Aisla curiously looked at the quiver the outsider carried on her shoulders.

– I think I understand him… Uh…Yes, I make them myself. I enjoy collecting feathers… Where can I place this? – asked the outsider, still holding the heavy bag.

– Hmm let me see, there should be good – Aisla pointed at the second wagon already packed with the belongings of some other travelers. – Where do you come from outsider? Oh no! Pardon me! I forgot to ask your name – Aisla giggled as she noticed she had done it again, overwhelming newcomers with all the talking.

– I came from the distant islands, Thalamirtri. You may call me Kewa.

– I wonder how is it like out there, I never left Greenlands and I will probably never leave. I wish you could have seen some of our festivals, I used to be one of the dancers! Oh, how I miss those days…

While Aisla told the outsider about the festivals and nostalgic memories, Kewa felt a presence walking by not too far, something drew her attention to someone behind her, a mysterious woman. Kewa got distracted by the presence of the mysterious woman, her appearance looked quite distictive to the outsider. She could not see the face since the woman was wearing a big brimmed hat – a thin type of fabric was wrapped around the hat, part of it cascading all around the brim edges, covering most of her face; the ends of the fabric were ripped and looking like it got burned – with a pointy and long tip curled downwards. Every piece of her outfit was black, including a long skirt made of ripped pieces of the same fabric, a corset belt tightly tied around the waist, which held small pouches and little glass containers filled of liquids. Boots and gloves covered the rest of her skin. The woman was buying something from one the vendors…

– We should be ready to leave soon, if you need anything from the village I can give you a couple more minutes – said Aisla, suddenly bringing Kewa back to the conversation.

– Oh, yes I do, is there any place I can find some water?

– Yep! There is a water well for travelers, if you go right on that direction – Aisla said, gently pulling the outsider by the arm and showing the direction.

– Thank you, I will be back in a bit – Said Kewa, wondering how could Aisla be so nice to a complete stranger.

– Enjoy, oh brave archer! – she smiled kindly, theatrically taking her hat off and taking a bow.

Aisla continued to prepare Fligg for travel, while happily talking to the horse.

Even though Kewa liked the silence and solitude, she was starting to appreciate Aisla’s presence, perhaps the trip would be nice to help keep her thoughts from wandering back to him…

She then filled her small flask of water, but something was bothering her. She knew something was watching her from behind the bushes, it had been happening since she arrived to the unknown land. The sensation something or someone was following her lead the outsider to always be on guard. Kewa washed her face and quickly returned to the village’s main area. There she found some travelers grouped up, getting ready to get a seat in the covered wagon – the cover was all artistically decorated and painted with spirals. The outsider noticed the mysterious woman waiting her turn, unlike the others she was speaking to anyone and was a bit distant from them. Once they were all in Kewa finally had a chance to find a seat, though the only seat left was right beside the mysterious woman as the group seemed to fear her presence.

Aisla quickly checked on the group one last time and proceeded to the front seat. The wagon was now heading towards a road connected to the center of the village, the trees sort of forming a green tunnel around the caravan. The afternoon was approaching peacefully. And as much as the outsider wanted to avoid the forest, she could not deny it was calling her in way it scared her, strangely her heart felt at home…The forest felt too familiar for her to admit it. All the calming sounds now coming from the forest and the motion caused by an uneven road made the travelers to quiet down. Kewa then took out of her pocket a piece of clear blue crystal, it was glowing again… “Why is it glowing now… What does it mean…” Her thoughts were slowly fading away as the forest seemed to be embracing her thoughts, inducing her to feel only…Feel everything within and without…

❦❦❦❦❦ ☽●☾ ❦❦❦❦❦

Nida B. 🖤

Part 7 coming soon.

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