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She’d been walking through this forest for what felt like an eternity. She only had a vague understanding of the circumstances that had brought her to her current self. A flash of white, a ghastly scream, and then nothing. She awoke in this forest of lies, its warm colors hiding a corrupt inside, she could feel it deep within her gut that she couldn’t trust the illusion.
Her footsteps echoed off the worn, cobblestone path she currently found herself following. It was the only thing providing her with direction, a sense of purpose. It gave her an objective that she so desperately wanted. The girl began to examine her surrounds when a bone chilling wind began biting at her nose. Her boots began to crunch the autumn leaves below her, alit with a thousand colors. Ahead the path lay completely coated in a sea of leaves, as if no soul has walked this path in a thousand years. The girl huffed in determination, hitching the hem of her soiled dress that had been left in a tragic state. She refused to be upset though since it kept her grounded, letting her know she’d been walking for quite some time but there was a purpose behind it. She didn’t know if it’d been weeks? Months? Maybe it’d been years and it was just her delusional mind playing tricks on her. She was in the dark completely. She had nothing to go on, not a name not a place, not even a time. It was as if her memory had been wiped clean of all identity, completely void. She was lost in her own thoughts, trying to grasp at anything that was trying to crawl its way out of the depth of her mind, when a loud screech came from above.
“You foolish girl, do not leave the path least you want to face your own death!” A lone raven exclaimed.
The girl let out a choked yelp, “Heavens you frightened me, why are you up there!”
“Do you wish to test fate’s kindness, get back on the path!” The raven continued, completely ignoring her question, “He will sense you and it’ll be over for both of us!”
The girl looked down but couldn’t tell if she’d left the path by accident. She didn’t know if she could trust this strange and talkative raven. Maybe it was the hysterics?
“What do you mean sir Raven?” she asked, confusion eating away at her insides, “And since when do ravens speak and act concerned for silly girls lost in the woods?”
“How dare you, I am no ‘sir Raven’!”, The raven squawked, “I am lord devium, the protector of the lost and broken!”
“That’s a rather silly title for a raven don’t you think?” The girl asks.
“We’re losing tract of what’s important, you must get back on the path least you want to see what he does to those that annoy him.”, The raven says hastily.
“I beg your pardon sir, I’m not quite understanding what you’re syaing?” The girl asks puzzled.
“You twit, I’m commanding you to get back on this path and play your part!”, said the raven, extremely distressed.
“I still don’t understand, what do you mean my part?”, the girl asked, “I’m just a nobody trying to get home and figure out what my place in this world is. I’m no set piece for a play and I have no intention of being one now.”
The raven had gone quiet, a stillness overtaking its very being. The girl began to approach fearfully, taking a small step towards the raven. She was only halfway through her step when the raven let out a blood curdling scream, a very human scream. The girl covered her ears, but she could still feel the scream shake her ribcage. She dropped to the ground, her head felt like it was likely to explode at any moment. She let out a pained groan when the scream suddenly stopped, the forest now deathly quiet. So quiet, it was as if her heavy breathing was the only sign of life for miles. The raven suddenly spoke in a hushed whisper, so hushed that the girl thought she’d merely imagined it.
“Why couldn’t you just do what you’re supposed to do? Now you’ve upset him so now we both must pay.” It whispered.
“Who’s he, what is he going to do to us?” The girl begged, tears beginning to form in her eyes, “I’m sorry sir Raven, I didn’t mean to offend you.”
“You dim girl, why did you disobey me? Why didn’t you just step back on the path!?” The raven screeched, malice dripping in its voice that sent shivers down the girl’s spine.
“I refuse to be punished for your stupidity, if I must die today, I’d rather go out taking you with me!” The raven cawed, “I won’t pretend any longer, my hatred for you only keeps growing each time you pass me and I’m tired of it.”
“May our king have mercy on both of our souls.” The raven spoke.
It suddenly began to change; its body began to morph into a monster as it grew into the size of bear. It crashed to the ground with a heavy thud, its body convulsing as its back became hunched and wings grew long angular arms. The girl was horrified and feeling nauseous, the sight unfolding in front of her was something out of a nightmare. She’d began to crawl back, wanting to flee from this hideous beast as fast as she could. As she began her escape the beast had stilled, as if it’d just died in that very moment. She let out a sign of relief, a sudden wave of calm washing over her. She slowly began to rise from her spot, she didn’t want to be in this forest any longer. As she rose however a stick had caught her dress, a loud rip echoing across the silent forest. Her stomach dropped. She swore as the body behind her let out a guttural, animalistic growl as it slowly stumbled up. The feathers on the creature’s back began to stand up like a cat and the wings on its back began to unfurl. It let out a choked cackle as it turned to face the girl, knife-like teeth glistening in the autumn light.
“I told you girl,” it spat, “May the Raven King have mercy on us both.” Before the girl could process anything, the beast lunged at her.
Everything that happened next was a blur to the lost girl. All she saw was red. Her clothes, her skin, her very being was stained with it. She remembered a choked scream, the air growing colder, and a thick, milky fog enveloping the forest around her. She remembered the scent of lavender with rot hidden behind it filling her lungs, burning and suffocating. She remembered the weight crushing her body suddenly leaving, a crash sounding next to her. The body of the beast having been tossed off of her by some unseen force, almost like magic. Most of all she remembered a face, boyish in appearance with a nose he didn’t quite fit. His hair was a wild mane of white that was overpowered by a pair of intense, violet eyes that shined with a mix between amusement and annoyance. It was a look that a cat might give its prey as it toyed with it. She remembered what he’d said next.
“Poor little bird, it seems you’ve fallen out of your nest.” the stranger cooed, “If you’d listened to the raven you wouldn’t be in this predicament, now would you? I suppose this slight detour just adds a bit more to this unfinished story.”
The stranger let out an amused laugh, as if he’d just told the greatest joke. His face quickly washed itself of any physical emotion and while still in her face, he let out a sigh. The emotionless face was then replaced with boredom as he contemplated his next words.
“I suppose I should put you back on your way again little bird.” He whispered softly, “We haven’t even gotten to the good parts yet.”
With his final words he quickly rose, striding over to the beast that now lay dead nearby. With a wave of his hand the ground began to engulf the beast. Within a few seconds the land was completely barren, not a hint of the life that had just been there but a few moments ago. The girl felt herself let out a whimper, fear trying to claw its way out. The stranger was standing above her once again, a smirk gracing his face.
“Time to rise and shine, the day is bright and full of possibilities!” He laughs as the trees around him began to envelope him, “And fear not, this won’t be the last you see of me my little bird, fate has funny ways of getting what she wants!”