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The Woods of Envy
Tonight, Elliot was traveling alone. He moved warily under the shining, full moon and along the endless dirt path that twisted up the hill and through the Woods of Envy. Though he himself was light and quick, his bag was heavy and hindered his progress tremendously. Elliot paused at the intersection that lead to the forest, midnight black hair falling back from his pale face as he gazed at the trees. Were there any Bewitched monsters here? He would have to risk it.
A scream echoed somewhere in the distance, but Elliot forged on. His sword was sheathed but he quickly drew it as he heard sounds along the path. He stopped. The hair stood up on his back, but he kept his pack on for protection. If anything were to come at him from behind, it would be the last thing standing between whatever was attacking and his warm flesh.
Suddenly, there was silence. Nothing moved or rustled. The air itself made no sound. No, this was not natural. This was the sign of the Bewitched, however many there were. They sucked the very noise from their surroundings as they swooped above, attempting to find an enemy solely on their ability to hear.
Elliot wrapped a cloth around his mouth and dropped his pack from his shoulders. Protection aside, it would weigh him down if he had to run. He knew that the Bewitched saw him. In fact, they saw everything. “What the hell am I doing?” He asked aloud, and ran.
At first the air stood still, maintaining that painful quietness. Then, there was the sound of swooshing cloaks above him. These were no cloaks, he knew. These were the wings of deadly birds of preys that snatched human souls, siphoning them from the host before stealing into the night. If a man was lucky enough to escape, he may be without his emotions.
Something big slammed into Elliot, sending him flying several meters before landing hard in the overgrowth. He screamed, shriek echoing against the night. Would he have to use his name tonight? He was only sixteen. Would he already have to use his name?
More swooshing sounded from above, though the sound itself went as quickly as it had come. And then a soft sound echoed near Elliot’s head, just a crackle on the leaves. Something had landed there. He knew that he had no time. Immediately, his life flashed before his eyes.
His mom was there, snatched by the same beasts that were about to take his life. Fleeing from the ocean, his father struggled against the tide before disappearing under the fast currents. His little brother was there too, taken from his cradle in the dead of night.
Elliot moved his head, ever so slowly to look behind him, until his gaze was level with the beasts’.
“Elliot a ra’ Donsen Treben ya!” He yelled, more in terror than in reason. The effect was instant. The bird exploded, consumed by a volcano of light. Others who had been circling above, ready for a feast in which he would have been the main course, took flight. Slowly, the leaves around him crawled away, leaving Elliot in a circular patch of dirt. He gasped before the world twisted away, leaving an unconscious Elliot to the dark night.
When Nameless Elliot finally arose, he wasn’t in a soft bed or bundled in warm blankets. There was no fireplace before him where he could heat his freezing toes. No, Elliot lay in the same place that he had been left, nameless and frostbitten. He had survived thus far, but there were still many dangers to brave as he crossed through the woods.
Slowly, he rose, although every bone in his body protested against it. He felt light-headed and dizzy, and his knees were scraped from crawling through the thicket. He needed a weapon, and he needed one fast. The dangers were endless, and the chances of survival under such harsh conditions were little to none.
An immense tree caught Elliot’s eye. Its roots were gnarled in an impenetrable mass, and the trunk was as thick as several grown fighters. The roots opened slightly, just big enough for a boy his size. It was a tempting camp, and a temptation that Elliot almost gave in to. But he couldn’t. He needed to get to the nearest city as soon as possible.
Shambling slowly, injured more than he thought, he ventured down a random path. Perhaps it would lead him to his destination. Perhaps it would lead him astray, into the marshes where he would drown in the wet quicksand. He sure hoped it wouldn’t be the latter. His time was limited, given the formidable circumstances. He couldn’t die before he reached the city: that would be the ultimate failure.
Nameless Elliot continued; his only companion was a sharp stick that he had acquired by the knotted tree. The stick, however crude, was his best friend in a time like this, and he would protect it to his death.
Elliot stopped. There was a slight echo in his steps, he noticed. Someone was following him. It was someone, perhaps, or something. He didn’t want to risk it, and he decided to do what he knew how to do best: flee.
He scrambled through the trees, twisting his way in and out in a tortuous pattern. He could smell smoke already, which was a sure sign of industrialization. Nothing could stop him while he ran. As long as he smelled the smoke that symbolized life, he would push on.
Again, like something out of horror novels, a figure appeared out of the night. It was a skeleton, wearing only crude rags on its fragile frame. Elliot screamed, slashing out at it with his spear. The blow glanced off, and the skeleton continued to drag itself towards him, possessed.
Repeatedly, he slammed the monster in the head. Several times he tried to hide, but it would walk around the trees where he was hidden, brainless but seemingly intelligent. He leaped from tree to tree in desperation, keeping his goal in mind.
This was it: he could see a break in the trees, an opening that sunlight streamed through. Most creatures from Envy would stay in the place where they had been enchanted. He could sense that in this skeleton: it had a connection to the place.
Finally, Elliot reached the edge of the trees and lunged through, throwing his spear down in exhaustion, hunger, and fatigue. He looked up, crazed and excited. He would have a new life here. Here, he could start again. Already, images of success were popping up in his mind. He would have a girlfriend, start a family, and be protected by the clans.
He had gone in a full circle.