Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One More Forever... Chapters 1 and 2. The Prequel to "The Forest Has Ears"

The night would be upon her soon. Rachel knew she had to make it to the cabin before morning. She rode Lazareth harder than she should have but he was strong and would carry her until he collapsed, this she was sure of. She and Lazareth had been together since the day her father had told her he was dead. Refusing to believe it was so, Rachel had gone in to the stables where he lay. Closing her eyes, she had whispered words that her mother had taught her. Her eyes had filled with tears, thinking of her mother, gone for three years. Rachel had spoken the same words over her mother as she whispered in Lazareth's ear. They were strange words, spoken only in times long ago forgotten that her mother shared with her when Rachel was very young.

 "You won't die, Lazareth. Papa only thinks you dead but I can feel your heart beat as if it were my own. Listen while I whisper words of life in your ear. Take them and feed your tired body."

 She remembered the smell as if it were only a day gone by. The sweetness of the grass bales that laid near the stall was breathed in by her and Lazareth. The fragrance was like sweet clover after a gentle rain. The smoke rose from the grass and circled her head, pushing it's way into her brain through her nostrils. She leaned forward and breathed the smoke in to Lazareth's nostrils. With a few more words whispered to the horse, Rachel stood and watched. She saw his back legs kick out and caught the fluttering of his eye lids. Rachel reached out and while touching the huge horses mane she said aloud, "One more forever for you my friend." With those words spoken, Lazareth stood and shaking his head, he neighed loudly as if to say "thank you, I am alive." Yes, he would carry her tonight, taking her to the cabin, or Lazareth would die trying.

 Darkness fell faster than she wanted it too. The Forest was only a stones toss away. She could already feel her body begin to tense as the first shadows from the trees stretched out to touch her. Lazareth tried to slow his pace but Rachel urged him on with gentle squeezes to his sides. She heard the soft spoken voice of her mother as she entered the forest.

 "I am here with you, Daughter. It has been so long since I have seen you."

 Not needing to speak aloud, Rachel answered. "Mother, I am sorry I have been away so long. Father needed me to help with the land. I must get through to the cabin."

 "Why the urgency, Rachel? Who is hurt? I know you would not travel through this forest at night with out cause."

 "It is father... he is terribly ill. The people came and tried to destroy our home and father fought them. I used what powers I had left to try and help. I did little good. He was hurt and the injuries became festered. I need the powers with in the cabin to heal him."

 As she waited for her mother to answer, Rachel felt the sting on her cheek. She could feel blood trickling from the wound. She did not cry out for fear she would attract more of the forests keepers. Lazareth suddenly stopped, tossing Rachel head over heels across his head. She landed hard on the ground, feeling the rocky road beneath her.

 "Damn you, Lazareth, why did you stop?!?!?" Looking past his head, she saw them. There were hundreds of them. Tree dwellers, the size of a large dog, reaching down from the trees to touch her. She shuddered with fear as she watched their arms stretch in un-natural ways, their fingers elongated, filthy with tree sap and pieces of bark. Rachel pressed herself tight against the rocky road as their fingers missed her face by mere inches.

 "What do you want here, young girl? Have you decided to call this your last forever?"

 Rachel, now feeling her powers surge through her stood. She swiped away the fingers that reached for her. The imp screamed at her touch and moved back to the top of the tree. "I do not need to answer you to go forward. You have no powers as long as I am not afraid. Go back to the trees before I hurt you."

 "Hurt us??? Not afraid? Perhaps we can help you with that. Your powers are weak and we are many."

 "Please, I must get through before morning. When I am finished with my business, I will find a way to repay you for safe passage."

 Rachel watched as the imps, one by one, melded together. The creature before her began to grow taller with each meld. He was grotesque and the evil oozed from his lips. He now stood directly in front of Rachel and Lazareth. His voice alone made Rachel shake with fear, fear she could not afford to show.

 "I will take your horse as payment for passing. If you return and bring me something special, I will give him back. If you do not, then I will Eat him! Or you can try to pass without this deal and I will simply eat you both now."

 Rachel stared in to the eyes of the best friend she had. She knew that this creature could over power her at this time. She also knew, she had no choice. Putting her arms around Lazareth's neck, she cried into his mane. Somehow she knew that he understood her. "I will be back for you, my dearest friend. I love you."

 "You better hurry, little girl, I think I feel the sun rising."

 Rachel knew he was lying. She didn't have a lot of time to reach the cabin, but the darkness was still heavy in the air. With a glance back at Lazareth, she ran towards the cabin.

     One More Forever... Part 2

 Rachel ran through the forest as fast as she could. Imps jumped in front of her to try and slow her advance. Tree branches reached out for her, their tips sharp as a razor, tearing her clothing and leaving claw marks on her back and neck. She tried to stifle her cries but some of the wounds were deep and terribly painful. Each time she screamed, the imps honed in on her sounds and tore at her a little more. She knew she needed to reach the cabin soon but her body needed healing before she could go on.

 Rachel saw a tiny bridge hidden almost completely from view by shrubs and trees. The foliage encompassed the bridge as if it were protecting it from peering eyes. Rachel knew this bridge and of it's powers. Reaching the moss covered entrance, she quickly slipped underneath of it. A brook ran underneath and her feet were instantly soaked as she stepped in to the clear water. Green, the color of grass, covered the underneath of the bridge. The stones it was made of were invisable beneath the moss that for hundreds of years had kept it from the eyes of imps and demons. The light from the moon shone down in to the water, reflecting off of the rocks that covered the bed of the brook. The movement of the water made it appear as if the moon were dancing, changing with each ripple of brook. Rachel was safe as long as she stayed under the bridge.

 As she submerged herself in the cool waters, letting the wetness flow over her wounds, she could feel them closing as they healed. She felt her strength returning slowly. Laying on her back, the water fully covering all but her head, she thought about her Mother. Rachel was only six when her mother had taken her to the bridge the first time. She had fallen from a horse and broke her leg. It was a terrible injury and the bone from her leg had pushed through her skin, exposing it. Her mother had carried her through the forest and set her in the brook. She watched as her mother moved her hands back and forth in the water, slightly touching Rachel's knee each time. She heard her mother whispering words but could not truly hear what she was saying. As the bone began to move back under the skin, the pain subsided.

 "Watch what I do daughter, for one day, you may need this water. there are things you must know before coming here alone.'

 "Mother, I will never come here alone. I will have you with me and father too."

 "No!" Rachel's mother's voice was suddenly sharp and she sounded as if she were afraid. "You must never use this water for anyone but yourself. Your father does not have the gifts that you and I do. My gift was passed down by my mother as I pass it on to you."

 "Are we witches, Mother? Is that why we have powers?"

 "We do not call our selves witches, though some may say we are. Witches are feared by people and they would kill us if they thought we were witches. We simply say we are gifted."

 "Yes mother, but are we witches? I won't tell anyone."

 "Many years from now, you will have family that enter in to a Coven. They will call themselves witches. One of your daughters will be the leader of the Coven. She will call upon the trees to help her and the cabin I have taken you too will be a safe haven for them."

 "How do you know all of this, Mother."

 "I simply do. Remember this bridge because you will come here one day, alone, and it will heal you and give you strength you need to fight the evil that hides in the forest. There is great evil here but some of the tres are your friend. Call on them if you are ever in need. Only the dark forest harbors the evil ones. The cabin will Always be protected and you may hide in it when you need to. There is also healing potions and incantations you will learn to use."

 "But mother, why don't you just come with me?"

 Rachel remembered the sadness in her mother's eyes. She had looked away with out answering Rachel but not before Rachel had seen her tears.

 A stone splashed in to the water, bringing Rachel back to reality. She jumped a bit when it hit the water. She looked in all directions to see where the stone had come from. She could feel her body was almost healed. The scratches and deep wounds were nearly gone now. Looking above her at the bridges ramp, she saw a man staring down at her. Startled, she grabbed her torn clothing and held them to her body. Her mind raced, searching for answers to so many questions... questions she was asking herself aloud. "How is it possible for him to see me? How is it he is even here?"

 The voice was bass and intoxicating. The face, smiling down at her was handsome. Cold black hair, fluffed in the front like the tail feathers of a duck, eyes as blue as the ocean, that seemed to look directly in to her soul. When he spoke, it was a gentle tone that greeted her ears.

 "If those questions are for me, then I will gladly answer them. I can see you, and may I say, I was enjoying your beauty before you covered yourself, because I live in the forest. I am here because your mother sent me to you. I will guide you safely to the cabin, when you are ready to go."

 Rachel looked up at him, her eyes squinted as if she were studying him. He reached his hand over the side of the bridge. Why she took his hand, she wasn't sure but his voice was calm and she knew he could be trusted. Standing, her hand clasped in his, she lost her hold on her clothing. As it fell to the water, she heard him gasp. Trying desperately to reach her clothing, she felt him pull her towards him.

 "I have seen all of you when you were laying in the water. You, with your auburn hair, like the mane of a beautiful animal and your eyes, green as the emeralds that only rich men have, should be ashamed of nothing. You have the curves of the finest hourglass and the body to rival any Goddess. I am privileged to look on such perfection."

 Rachel was entranced by his words. He handed her new clothing and she quickly covered herself with them. "I can not waste time talking to you. I must reach the cabin soon."

 "Then let us not waste any more time. I have a horse that will take us there. Ride with me and we will battle the forest creatures together."

 Without a thought, Rachel climbed on the stallion and wrapped her arms around the mans body. Leaning into him, she felt his warmth cover her body. "And what do they call you, my handsome saviour?"

 "I am known by my friends and foe as Jacob. as for being your saviour, that remains to be seen. I too can be hurt by the evil that dwells with in this forest."

 Without another word, he spurred his horse and they raced to beat the sunrise that was growing closer with each passing moment.


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