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The Black Forest: Prologue

There were two windows in the second room of the small cottage Venya lived in. One looked out onto the dirt track that lead to the town, and the southern part of their farm. The part her father did not use for farming or growing. There was a hand pump that squeaked (her father would fix that with animal fat from the next slaughter). There were also carpentry tools and wood that Venya's father used to fix or make furniture and cabinets for the cottage. The making was usually at the urging of Venya's mother.

The town-ward window was always brighter than the other, eastward facing window. Even at dawn and on rainy days was that window dark and foreboding. That was because the Black Forest lay not a hundred yards from the cottage in that direction. Always a mist carpeted the forest floor. The mist would lay still through the gustiest days, and never swirling--so it is said--until a creature from the within the forest passes through it, or when the ghosts that take refuge within use it to take a form. On the brightest day, only two rows of tree trunks could be seen before that part of the world is plunged into blackness that was pitch. The Black Forest had many names, given by the experiences told by the drunk and crazy; The Witch's Forest, The Devil's Forest, The Monstrous Woods. Whatever its name, the forest interested Venya.

She would sit and stare out the windows, differently, depending on her moods. Sometimes she would sit on a chair in the middle of the room, where she could look, smiling, out either window. When she sat like this, her little brothers, twins, knew that they could run in calling her name, and she would turn with her eyes gleaming happily. They could ask her to play even the most childish game, and she would give a laugh, stand, and follow them out the room.

The other times, however, she would sit on the eastward window's sill. With one leg dangling toward the ground, her hands placed one on top of the other, palms up, in her lap, and with her forehead against the cool glass. If one were to look at her from the other side of the window, they would see that her face was completely lax, her eyes distant and glossy, and her cheeks rosy, as if she were feverish. If her brothers were to enter then screaming her name, they would find themselves ignored, and now knew it best to turn around and leave quieter than they had come. It worried her mother to see her interest in the Black Forest, but said nothing. Only Venya's Father, who had seen her from the other side of the window--and had been deeply troubled by what he saw--called her away from the window when ever he saw her. Venya would be in a dark mood the remainder of the day when that would happen.



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