The Necromancer’s Shadow
The dark hooded stranger
Carries intricately carved knives at his belt,
And gold and blue liquids
Strung about his neck on a chain,
Glowing in the twilight
Through translucent corked bottles.
He walks through the darkness
In boots worn with adventure and travel
That leave footprints in the mud
In which a bright young shadow
Silently makes his imprints seconds after;
Not quite as large, but just as curious,
Though the the boy's curiosity
Still filters through the veil of innocence
As he stalks the unfamiliar entity
Through the trees that are haunted
With the wails of the cicadas.
The stranger halts
So the child halts
And watches as his mother stands and blinks again,
Still bleeding ancient blood from ancient burns
That never got enough time to heal;
Still covered in the grime
That collected on her person
In its years under the dirt.
But her eyes
Are not still the same loving green
That the child looked into
As she told him stories of her journeys
As a wandering adventurer.
These eyes are empty
And as grey
As their son's broken tears
As he runs through the woods
Back to the orphanage;
Followed, but not seen,
By a startled young magician
Who thought he heard wolves
Stalking him in the dead of night,
Leaving only a whispering mother
Grieving for her grieving child
in their wake.
A small towns tale
It calls to me, to us, the woods that is. Like the pied piper the wind blows through the trees sending such a soft and sweet melody through our ears calling, enticing us to find the source. Oh what a beautiful sound it is, I do wish you could hear it. My grandmother told me story's of how she would sit in her mothers lap and they would crack open the window and listen to the beautiful gentle song of the trees. Night after night they fell more in love with the sounds as they swept through the entire town. However, not all appreciated the gifts the trees had given us and they did what humans do best, tried to turn a profit.
Unfortunately people not born in our little town could not hear the beautiful song of the trees. "If you will not sing for the outsiders then you need not sing at all." They spat in a blind rage once they realized the trees would not line their pockets with wealth. So they called in many a lumberjack and bulldozers so that they may line their pockets in a different way. The lumberjack raised his axe up high and with a mighty swing cut into the bark of the first tree, and out came a screech so gut wrenching and ear splitting it was heard all the way at the edge of town but no farther. And the lumberjack along with all of the men who had come to turn the beautiful trees into paper dropped dead.
From then on, like a sweet siren the woods sang and anyone who dared enter the woods to hurt the trees be it by accident or on purpose fell victim to the screech. Night after painful night it woke them from their sleep and when morning came the police would deliver the news to the town via radio of whom had perished. These woods have fueled many ghost stories they say, if you hear what sounds like change in your pocket as you walk and you don't have any. Then the spirit of the businessman who tried to cut down the forest will drag you down with him. Or if you hear a random thud in the night, its the sound of the lumberjacks body hitting the ground.
Well i can't say there is no credibility to the stories that are told. These woods are haunted with the souls that dared to threaten it, forced to spend their days wandering and dying a painful death over and over again with each shrill call. And in the night the trees whisper to me a funny joke, they say "If you will not live for me then you need not live at all."
My eyes slowly flutter open, I have no clue where I am. I can feel the warmth radiating from the shining sun above, I feel the luscious green grass underneath me, the air sends a pleasant breeze across the beautiful blue sky. I feel at peace. Not a care in the world or a worry on my mind. As I come out of what felt like a relaxing nap, I am greeted with the warm sun shining down. I glance around me noticing the vast field of green that surrounds me, I can't recall how or when I got here or any events leading up to the peaceful and wonderful place my body now resides. I bring myself to stand as I take in the light breeze. I am alone, and I am calm. My body feels a sudden jolt as a memory flashes into my mind, I am in shock as my vision goes black, the warm sun disappears and in its presence a chill comes over me, I am met with the sounds of people screaming and sirens wailing. My vision returns and I am faced with a view of myself lying in a hospital bed, my family gathered around my body, I can see my mom crying. I try to call out and tell her I'm ok but she doesn't seem to hear me. Almost as suddenly as before my vision went to black again. I'm back in the field I once felt calm in, My whole body shakes as the wave of uneasiness washes over me, then I feel it. That peace I felt before slowly returning, I no longer felt that shock and pain of seeing those who I love most suffering over my body but again I felt at peace. Then I heard it, a soothing voice called out to me “welcome home my child”
The night was warm but the twisting silver of the trees was cold to the touch. Regardless, the Witch ran her weathered fingers over the smooth metal, marveling at the power it must have taken to create such an enchantment. She peered closely at the leaves, delicate but sharp as a blade.
Between the trees was only darkness and fog. Above a canopy of leaves blocked out the moon but it's light was reflected all they way to the bottom most branches.
All she could hear was the metallic crunch of her pointed boots as she kicked through the leaves under foot. And, every so often, there came the long lonely cry of something caged.
The sound was getting closer which she found encouraging. Even as it filled her veins with ice and tore at her heart, she was encouraged.
The spell had been cast centuries ago and even then the Witch had been an old woman. The walls of the house where she might once have raised a family had long turned to ash. She hadn't been able to help then, though she'd tried.
Many had tried. Witches with spells. Hunters with arrows. Priests with prayers.
All had failed. Many had fallen beneath its claws trying to do the right thing.
The Witch had woken weeks after her own encounter with the creature with clawmarks raking down he whole right side of her body. Villagers had gathered at her bedside to tell her of the miracle, of the great Enchantress who'd sealed the beast away.
Thus she'd never met the woman but she'd often wondered about her. Who was she? How did she learn such skills? Was she a witch or something other? And where had she gone when it was all done?
Everyone had reasoned there was no need to come this way again. Only a fool would travel to the heart of these woods.
The Witch was no fool. She had something those hunters and priests never had. A relic from a time long forgotten.
She reached the edge of the woods, where the silver trees fell away and at last there was nothing but darkness. Not even the moon shone here. Just the shadows of the tall dewy grass.
A long and terrible keening filled the air. It could only be a few yards away.
With a steeling breath the Witch removed her coat from her shoulders and looked down at the label stitched its collar.
The name, "John Doe" was written there.
Looking back into the dark she called back, "John!? John!?"
Her voice echoed and was swallowed by the long pause that followed. Then a pair of yellowed eyes appeared from the void.
They stared at her hungrily but she raised her chin stubbornly in turn.
Lifting the coat she announced, "It's time to come home now, John!"
Did she imagine it? Or had his gaze softened.
The Wolf crept forward, slowly edging into the reflected light from the trees. The silver light glowed off his black fur. He was tall enough that his head was leveled with hers.
She held her breath as she waited patiently for him to come before her.
At last he stopped and a deep understanding passed between them as they watched eachother.
"That's enough now, John." The Witch told him.
Slowly the Wolf laid down and the Witch struggled to contain her shock and relief.
She threw the coat over him and at once the Wolf was gone. All that remained was the much smaller, lumpy shape beneath the coat.
Slowly the Witch knelt and lifted the collar of the coat. The dazed eyes of a man looked back at her.
She smiled at him tearfully and she cupped his face in her hands like she might have done when he was a child. He blinked at her, his eyes growing clearer.
"I've missed you, my child." She whispered to him.
At once he crawled into her arms and the pair of them wept.