Fantasticoe 2004

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Erin Wooley

The Dark Forest

 

    Suneville was located in a large, lush valley. The Great Forest grew to the west and the vast Portner River bordered the eastern part of town. A large wall formed a blockade to keep people out of the Great Forest, for this was no ordinary forest. The blockade was built by a man many years ago. The man's son had wandered into this strange forest one afternoon and never returned. After that day the forest became evil. It seemed to draw in children from the village and they would never be heard from again. The man decided a wall was needed around the forest to keep the kids out. It took twenty-two years to build, but the wall stood tall and kept kids safe. The sad thing was that this man became crazy after the wall was built. His eyes glazed over and walked around town mumbling strange phrases about the forest.

     There once was a young, greedy boy who lived in the prosperous town of Suneville. The young boy was very spoiled. He came from one of the wealthiest families in the country. He had his own servants who took care of his every need. He ate from gold plates and drank only the finest water. He was an only child, the heir to his father's estate. Blain had his own wing built onto their mansion; no heir to such wealth should have just a bedroom. He did not have to attend schooling, so he was free to roam during the day, but there was one place Blain was forbidden to go. Blain's mother had told him he was never to go into the forest. She told him the story of the boy who dared to venture in and never returned. She also told him of the man who had built the wall. After the last brick was laid he went insane. "The forest is filled with poison Blain, there is no good within it." But Blain was fascinated by this forest. A part of the wall ran along his family's estate. Blain would climb up the vines on the wall and sit up on the wall for hours, watching the forest.

     He could see a small brook a few yards deeper in the forest. It was almost enchanting. Small waterfalls formed in areas where rocks had piled up. The trickling noise it made was music to Blain's ears. It all looked harmless to him. He could see no such poison that the forest contained. Why was his mother so insistent on making him stay out? All he wanted to do was explore a little.

     So Blain found other things to keep him occupied. He roamed the valley with his trusty servants who did not dare disobey him. He loved to be adventurous and discover things in the valley. Some day he would rule the valley he told himself. He also took travels to the surrounding cities. He would find the most valuable trinkets and display them in his wing. One day Blain had finally seen everything distant places had to offer and he decided to go into the forest. He had heard enough of his mother's ramblings about the dangers. He summoned two of his servants, who were reluctant to go, but they had to go to watch over their young master.

     Blain packed a backpack with food and water. As he was leaving his room he thought to bring his knife, just in case they would encounter trouble. "Just in case," he said under his breath. As he walked down the main stairs he ran into his mother.

     "Where are you wondering off to on this glorious day Blain?"

     "To have a picnic on Gordum's Hill with some of my friends," Blain said, lying through his teeth.

     "Have fun dear. Be back for tea this afternoon. The Bennets will be here."

     "She is so naïve," Blain thought to himself. Blain ran out the front door and straight to the servants' quarters. He and the two servants headed towards the forest. Along the way they encountered some strange happenings.

     First, an apple cart tipped over right in front of them, delaying their trip. Delicious red and green apples from Killen's Orchard rolled by their feet. His servants tripped and stumbled over the apples. Blain thought nothing of it and cursed at the cart's driver. As they passed a man cutting tree branches, a large branch fell right in their path, almost too close for comfort. A branch scraped Blain's leg and a trickle of blood was staining his sock. The last odd thing to happen was an encounter with a strange, babbling man that confronted them. The old man just kept saying the same lines over and over. "The trees are black, the men they laugh. Your soul they steal and always keep. The Great Forest holds dark magic." Afterwards, the servants begged Blair to return home because they felt the trip was not safe. For a moment he thought of what his mother had told him, especially about the crazy man. But nothing was going to stop him. He was from a wealthy and powerful family, he was a strong boy; some old crazy man's words would not scare him. In his eyes, nothing could possibly hurt him.

     As the group reached the edge of the forest, dark clouds began to fill the sky. The servants shook at their knees. They did not want to lose their souls, they were just servants, not adventurers. They really didn't want to die for such a bratty young child. "You cowards stay here and wait for me! I shall be gone only a short time." yelled Blain as he walked into the dark forest.

     At first glance the forest was quite pleasant. The trees were tall enough to reach the heavens and a small brook curved between the trees. Up ahead, deeper into the forest, Blain could hear the faint sound of voices. He wanted to see who else was brave enough to come into the forest, so he trudged ahead to find whose voice it was.

     "He's here, he's here," grew louder as Blain walked onward.

           Blain took out his small pocketknife he had brought "just in case". As he continued towards the voices, they seemed to get no closer. He heard laughing and the thought of the crazy old man rushed into his head. "Maybe this was a bad idea," said Blain as he began to turn around to head back out of the forest. But he could not see the edge of the forest anymore and it was beginning to grow dark. In that brief moment of contemplation, Blain felt a tap on the back of his leg.

     Blain turned around to see a small man, only tall enough to reach his knees.

     "Who are you?" cried Blain. "I am Black," said the little man. "I have something you want, you desire. Look into my eyes and you can see it. I know you wish to learn the wonders of this forest."

      Blain did what the little man asked of him, for he knew the little man had something so desirable that he longed for it. He looked deep into Black's dark green eyes. Everything around Blain felt like it was spinning and he could hear laughter everywhere around him. Then, just before everything went dark, Blain saw who was laughing. Hundreds of little men, just like Black, were pointing at him and laughing and singing the same song the crazy old man had been mumbling. Blain's body fell to the earth floor.

     The little men quickly surrounded Blain's body. They picked him up and carried him even deeper into the forest. In a clearing was a little community of grass huts. In the middle was a fire roaring like the fires of hell. The men hoisted Blain up above the fire on a metal slab that was suspended between two trees. They sang a chant and danced in circles around the fire. After many hours, Blain's lifeless body no longer contained a soul. The men breathed in and were rejuvenated by the soul they had just stolen.

     The men were happy to extend their lives a little longer, for there had not been any children in the forest for many years. The men needed a child's soul to live off of. Children's soul held so much energy and they were pure. Children had not be exposed to the impurities of the world. They had known Blain would come soon, for they had watched him everyday gaze into the forest as many other children had done. After they were done with the ceremony they took his body down and hauled it to the edge of the forest for the wolves.

     Blain was found later that day by a search team by the edge of the forest, but he was never the same. He was taken home and placed in bed to rest for many weeks. The best doctors from all around the world came to see him, but they could not figure out what had happened to Blain. He just kept faintly singing the song over and over: "The trees are black, the men they laugh. Your soul they steal and always keep. The Great Forest holds dark magic."


     Acknowledgments:
I want to thank my fellow classmates who helped me work to develop my story and also Terry for his great suggestions!!