It has long been said that at certain times during the course of a day, gateways may open or close, making themselves seen or unseen, to those with watchful eyes.
Deep in the valley between consciousness and sleep, I have found myself wandering, near the outskirts of a forest, at twilight. The sky is black with clouds and the horizon dim, stretching out forever. In front of me are many trees and shadows, and to them, I am drawn.
Beyond the shadows a path begins to unfold, and onto this path I find myself walking, deeper and deeper into the forest, at twilight.
Along the way I begin to feel uneasy. The air feels old, and faintly smells of wood smoke. All around are trees, and before me, a winding path unfolds. I slip further into the forest, uneasy, uneasy.
THE DARK FOREST:
From above, leaves fall silently down, covering the ground like dark snow. I hear the forest creak. It is a great vessel sailing through this black night. I move on in anxiousness, as leaves fall silently down.
Deeply into the forest I have gone. The path which guided me has now worn out. The air is thick with darkness, and I can see only silhouettes of trees. Though I know I am alone, I hear whispers from afar, and they speak in unknown tongues. Deeply into the forest I have surely gone.
Time has escaped me. I may have been walking for hours, or days, in an unwavering night, through this endless wood. My uneasiness would reach its peak, if not for a streak of moonlight, having parted the clouds and the canopy of trees. I hear it speak. As I listen to its voice, I feel that time will escape me.
The light from the moon now fades, and it is made quiet. In the distance I see moving shadows. Between trees, over hills and valleys they shift. The sounds they make seem to deepen the silence, rather than break it. I am made quiet.
Though I had lost sight of them, the shadowy figures now appear ahead of me, in unison. As they weave through the trees, they begin to merge into one being, and move onward. I endeavor to follow.
THE LOST MEADOW:
Having chased the shadow for some time, I am found in a clearing, beyond the edge of the wood. The horizon is dim, and the air riddled in haze, but behold: before me I am met with a creature of mystery. It takes the appearance of a horse. Its body seems made of ash, with a mane of billowing smoke, pouring onto the ground and curling 'round its legs. It's eyes are a pale glow, like the moon seen in a glassy lake. It pierces me with its gaze, and I am frozen. Upon its head, is crowned an obsidian horn, at least an arms length, and sharp as a blade. It speaks to me, in my own language:
(CINERES SPEAKS) "Wanderer, do you know where you are? Long has it been since [inaudible] came, defiling this land, and wreaking havoc on my woods, which are now nothing but a shadow. I am Cineres, the legacy of this place, and the protector of its memory. Follow the sound of my voice, and depart from here - this is not the land of the living."
A cold wind blew, and the creature unraveled into a mist. At that moment, I heard a sound like church bells far in the distance, calling me away.
The shadowy figure which once stood before me had completely vanished. Ahead of where I stood in the meadow, the forest of trees seemed to part, slightly. Seeing this compelled me to leave, before I, too, disappeared.
THE CHIME OF THE SUN:
Listening carefully, I was able to discern the intent of the creature, who spoke to me with strange voices. I heard its call, and it guided my weary body away from these woods. As I continued onward, the sounds became louder, and a light began to grow from beyond the trees. Suddenly-- Nothing.
The sounds were gone. I had ended up in the same place I began, but as I turned around, there was no forest, or trees - just the faint smell of wood smoke, at dawn.
released January 23, 2017
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