Something Wicked This Way Comes

Friday, October 24, 2014

FREE FICTION FRIDAYS #8 THE FOREST LORD


Welcome to installment #8 of my fantasy piece, The Forest Lord. Enjoy your read!

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The group found a relatively safe place and set up camp for the night, posting regular watches. In the morning they rose and continued moving further into the Adintana Forest toward the location where Smoke assured T’Riss the first of the thirteen murders took place.

As they traveled deeper into the forest, the foliage never thickened, but the level of light remained a steady low twilight. Ilztafay pranced nervously among the Mechans, tossing her cherry mane. Zak kept one hand on the horse’s neck and glanced up at the canopy of leafy branches above them.

“That makes no sense.”

T’Riss halted the column and turned back to gaze at his mate. “Speak.”

“The sun is shining up above the trees, but down here its gloaming.” Zak twisted around on Ilztafay’s back as if searching for something. “It’s almost like… Yes! There!”

Zak dismounted and cautiously approached a large mangrove tree that was half-dead. A glyph dominated the smooth trunk of the wilting, dying tree, though whether it had been carved or burned into the original tender living flesh Zak couldn’t tell. A raw wound, the glyph radiated evil and malice.

“It’s definitely magical.” Closing his eyes Zak whispered a quick spell to identify the glyph. “And it’s causing the darkness, but I’m not getting any else.” He spun on his heel and came face to face with Iym. Her ruby eyes flashed as she met his gaze.

“It emanates malevolence.”

“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Zak’s thin black brows drew together as he frowned at Iym, concentration sharpening his small face.

“I’ve studied a great many runes and glyphs, but I don’t remember that one.”

“And the humans thought this was one of our symbols?” Zak directed his question over to Smoke. The human gunfighter had put a fair amount of distance between himself and the decaying mangrove tree.

“Yep.” Smoke looked very uncomfortable.

“I can assure you it is not.” Iym drew her hood closer about her face.

When Zak reached out as if to touch his fingers to the scarred tree, Ilztafay snorted and whinnied, the sound ripping through the air. She pawed at the ground and danced sideways, nervous and clearly agitated. Her burgundy fur stood up in roughened tufts, white flecks of saliva appearing at the edges of her mouth. Her distress was so obvious Zak immediately returned to her side.

Sliding his arms around her thickly muscled neck he embraced her, murmuring softly. His voice rose and fell in the musical language of the wild elves. Zak expected the cadence to soothe his horse. Instead she grew increasingly more distraught, fidgeting and struggling against his hold to move away from everyone, off the path and deeper into the forest.

“What’s wrong with her?” Kala held her scimitar in one hand, her face pinched as she stared at Ilztafay.

“I’m not sure.” Zak continued to pet, stroke, and cuddle the animal. The others examined the glyph and the withering mangrove tree. “This is the kind of thing she usually only does when she’s terrified,”

“Do your best controlling her,” T’Riss said. “We need to move on.”

 Zak nodded, and after one last quick look in the direction of the unknown glyph, he hopped up onto Ilztafay’s back. She shuddered under him, huddling like a child who believed closing her eyes would prevent the monsters from seeing her.

As the group continued on toward the site of the first murder, Iym pointed out several other trees in the distance, all of which bore marks identical to the first tree. The strange shadow glyph, for they had no other name to use for the pictograph, had been burned into each tree at approximately the same height. Like the very first mangrove tree afflicted, each and every other tree similarly marked was diminished, its life force dwindling away.

At what would’ve been late afternoon if they could’ve told based on the sun, Smoke led the party over a small hillock and across a shallow stream. When they reached the other side, he plunged them through multiflora rose bushes thick with brambles to emerge into a moderate clearing.

“It happened – Holy shit…” Smoke’s breath left on a whistled exhalation. Ilztafay screamed and bolted, taking Zak with her. The war mage held on as his horse fled at a flat gallop.

The entire clearing was dead.

Every tree, flower, plant, leaf, thorn and blade of grass had turned black and was rotting away, Jhul, who had been exceptionally quiet all day as she nursed a headache from the treant battle gasped, choking on her own breath. Iym prayed fervently aloud in an effort to provide some kind of comfort, but there was little to be had. Whoever or whatever they faced had turned an entire clearing into nothing more than putrefied blackened mulch.


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This picture was the inspiration for the Adintana Forest. I know, I know... it's as mysterious as it is sinister and I for one would want to walk through it. I'm funny like that.

Also, I've been playing around with my blog design. I'm taking part in a couple Blog Hops and wanted the site to have a new look. Let me know if anything looks off. Or, you know, if the new eye candy strikes a yummy note.

Thanks so much for reading! Comments are, as always, craved and appreciated. 

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Have an awesome weekend ~ Tux


1 comment:

  1. My Beloved King,

    My imagination created very fascinating yet a little disturbing images and general dark atmosphere, trying to process the update and shaped in my head what you described. I really liked dets about Ilztafay. Her noises and prancing around added a lot of anxiety vibes into the chapter. I’m not sure if I can describe it like that, but as always, I hope you do understand my Engrish somehow :).

    Speaking of Ilztafay, she was an absolutely amazing accent in the whole scene in the forest. I mean, on aesthetic level – everything was drown in twilight, everything I imagined was painted in dark, grim shades of grey, dirty green, brown, and blue. Around was dancing a lot of blackness too, of course, and there, in the center, was her bright cherry mane, almost glowing among shadowy colors around. Beautiful! And very well-thought-out from artistic point of view and considering meaning of red too. I’m curious if your readers tell you how much they love your plastic dets often – I mean, details that you deftly leave for us on different levels of reading a text – not only hints connected with plot/your characters, but also small details that stimulate our imagination on strictly artistic/plastic level. Personally, I love how you put “little somethings” on both plot and aesthetic levels, because those are two different things, yet harmonize with each other in your stories. So do your fan tell you often about colors or I’m a weirdo? Lol.

    The glyph skyrockets my curiosity because if Iym that I see as a well-educated and experienced priestesses doesn’t know it, it may mean that the villain will be even more interesting and powerful than I originally thought. Which, obviously, excites me to no end! And I can’t stop thinking about the fact that glyphs were burned into each tree at approximately the same height. Hmm, I don’t even know why it bothers me that much, but I guess it’s a bit unusual information in general description of surroundings – seems like the one that you would give us for a reason. Even tho I have no idea what it means yet.

    Thank you a lot for another delicious piece of your writing <3

    I’m waiting on pins and needles for the next update!

    Lots of love
    Iza

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