Matthew had tried his best to walk straight so that he didn't find himself going in circles. But one look back the way he'd come costed him everything because when he turned once more to face what was in front of him. It was exactly the same as what he'd seen behind. He panicked. All the trees were the same. It didn't matter which direction he faced. He had to trust that he had not turned his feet in the few minutes that he'd been in the forest.
So without looking back again he walked. He had not walked for more than an hour when his leg brushed against something and a loud pouf sent sparks crackling into the air.
He jumped back and fell onto the floor clutching at his burnt thigh. The skin had been burnt right off the muscle of his calf. As soon as he saw this and it registered in his head pain shot up his leg. He bit his lower lip to try and suppress the seething burns but it was just too much. There was no way he was going to get up and walk in this state.
He lifted the makeshift hide bag and used it as a pillow. He was stubborn but he also knew that going on at this rate would only make things worse and the best he could do was rest.
It did not surprise him when sleep didn't snatch him out of the miserable night and he found himself just staring up at the leaf covered sky. Through the intertwined branches and leaves he caught a glimpse of a star. He did not realize what he'd just seen until it flickered again. He sat up and focused on the spot where the leaves gave way to the sky. Another sparkle.
He couldn't believe it. Men had described gazing at jewels in the night sky but most people disregarded such poets and old history books. 'They merely reference fireworks.' Some would say. 'Those were famous during the olden days.'
Others believed it was so because the gods used to walk among them and thus men's eyes were blessed with the ability to see the heaven's divinity, to remind them that they were not alone when darkness ruled.
But Matthew was actually seeing a star now, not reading a book or listening to a feline who'd spent too many years around humans.
Leaves crunched behind him and broke him out of his reverie. Upon glancing back he made out a figure making its way toward him at an alarming speed, the leave crunching becoming louder and faster. Had they followed him into the forest regardless of the dark? On the other hand, butchers and hunters weren't usually the superstitious type and would probably not be phased by the concept of entering a 'walking' forest. Especially when there was a meat stealing thief taking refuge within it.
With a few wobbles and falls he managed to get up onto his good leg. He limped closer to one of the closest trees making sure there were no fire daisies to surprise him. He clenched his teeth. Wrapped his legs and arms around the tree and started shifting upwards. It was an agonizingly slow process as he could only use one leg and had to try and not touch the tree with the other. After what seemed like an eternity he was at the top. He looked below in search of his pursuer but he had climbed too high and the branches that had loyally assisted his ascent now blocked his view.
He forced his head up and out through the bushy leaves and saw a sight that for a moment drowned all his misery and fear.
There were thousands of them. Tiny little lights in the night sky that sparkled like fireflies. He had read about them and seen the pictures but none of them compared to what he was looking at. This was the most amazing thing he'd ever seen. That was until he turned his head to face the moon. It shone brighter than ever before and it was big. It had completely lost its grey nature and now shone white with a blue tinge to it. He gazed at it. He didn't want to go anywhere anymore. He just wanted to stay there marveling at the beauty of the heavens. This truly was a divine sight to behold.
His fantasy was short lived. The tree came to a jarring stop that almost sent him plunging down do the ground. When the branches stopped swaying and he didn't have to hold on for dear life he quickly made his way down, well, as quickly as one could with a burnt calf. He did not even stop to consider his stalker who'd most probably still be waiting for him at the bottom as his mind seemed to have lost the ability to make sense of things.
Had the tree been moving the whole time? How had he not felt it? He was confused.
None of what had just happened made sense.
As soon as his legs touched the ground he looked for his bag. It was gone. No. He had left it behind. Even the fire daisy shrub that had costed him his calf was not there and to his relief, neither was his pursuer. When he had started moving or how became the least of his worries so he quickly cast those questions aside. He needed food. As if on cue his stomach rumbled. He suddenly remembered that he had not eaten the entire day. Without worrying for too long he started walking.
He did not even stop to try and figure out which direction to walk in. He just walked, limping with every step. He came upon a river and his heart almost leapt with joy. Among all the thoughts that wandered around in his head, dying of thirst and hunger had become the most prominent. He was saved!
"I'm tired!" the princess said.
"And here I was thinking you were dumb." Daniel exclaimed. "We've just entered the walking forest. We need to pass before night falls."
"We've just spent the whole night trying to sneak through the city and we've been walking ever since the sun stuck its nose over the horizon. Can we at least stop for some food?"
"You are on a horse Nadia. Look at Sir..." Daniel realized he had not caught the knight's name. "Sir, what is your name anyways?"
The man who'd been walking silently the whole time looked at Daniel. He had not spoken since they met the day before by the stables.
"Sir Simon. Charles Simon. We will rest here for an hour." the man said.
Daniel didn't complain. They stopped and started eating.
"How early in the evening do the trees start moving?" the knight asked.
"I'm not sure. I have had no chance to try and work it out." as funny as Daniel thought that was. None of his companions laughed. "As long as we follow the river we will be fine though. I just like to be sure so the faster we leave this forest the better."
"Aren't you the brave messenger?" Nadia mocked.
"I am a messenger. I never claimed bravery. Anyways, I don't think brave men would enjoy getting lost in there." Daniel answered flatly. "Eats up your mind and makes you crazy, it does."
The princess looked at the forest. The trees swayed calmly in the cool morning breeze.
"Doesn't look too scary to me." she said.
"SHHHH!" Sir Simon bent low in a practiced crouch. "Hide." he whispered.
Daniel motioned for the princess to follow suite. They squatted under the cover of the tall grass not knowing what was going on.
"What is it?" Daniel asked.
"I think it's a feline." the knight said.
"You don't sound too sure." Nadia responded.
"He is too far to see clearly but I'm sure those are cat ears. He seems wounded."
Daniel crept to where the knight was so he could see better. It was a young boy, about his age. The boy was limping towards the river. Daniel had seen a few feline in the city selling some good merchandise. Most of them sold meat and leather hides and would often go into the forest to hunt for their stock and the rest worked for humans. But he'd never seen one so far into the forest.
"What's he doing here?" Daniel asked.
"I don't think he's from the city." the knight said.
Daniel realized that he'd not seen a feline dressed in that manner and had to agree.
"He is definitely a wild one." said the knight as he reached for his sword.
///Long chapter eh? I hope it was well worth the read. Remember to leave a rating before you move on. As I write this, I am sitting in the middle of a mountain somewhere in the heart of Limpopo. Connection is hard to come by here so forgive me for delayed edits.
Support "King Of Solace"
- South Africa
*Published Author: English Alive 50, a National Magazine. Phuluso-My story (A little token from when I was in high-school, good were those days.)
*Editor of The Lost Redeemer by @DavidMusk (Currently editing this. Check it out, it is Epic!)
Maxwell Dark is a pretty great fella. If he is not writing wholesome fantasy novels or poems, then he can be found reading wholesome fantasy novels and poems. Not that he does not have a life mind you. He does occasionally do the socializing and has a few he calls friends.
Now, back to the writing. Here are some of the stories that he'll be sharing on here. He would really appreciate you checking them out and perhaps chatting with him through comments or personal messages. He will make it well worth your time.
Some books to watch out for by Maxwell Dark.
*The Blades Of Fate Trilogy
- King of Solace (ongoing, also available on Wattpad)
-King of War (Coming soon)
*Dark Reviews (Only on Wattpad)
*Lillian and the Seeds Of Hope (A Blades of Fate prequel)
*Beauty In Darkness
*Mascara Tears (A Romance, Crime Thriller)
*A dreamer's Journey (A Short story Collection, featuring: Phuluso- my story)
*A Broken Man's Ballads (A poetry collection)
Do consider donating to my Patreon to keep my works free! Link can be found on my fiction.