Legacies: Forbidden Forest

Antony

Forward:

This series is loosely inspired by and coincides with a neoclassical album by the Taliesin Orchestra, called Forbidden Forest. I recommend that any and all readers listen to these tracks. This story is aretelling of a classic fable, with a twist of horror and a little alternative romance.Please enjoy, and review.

Tamarack Pines

1

The ice shone green, holding fast to the thick timber of the weathering wood. A reflection shot down from the moon, through the thick foliage, so creating the misty gleam that transgressed past the line of trees into the silent glade. A scene set and ready for the players to begin, but someone was late. The silence was void, no emotion was bubbling under the surface of this shadowy tranquility. Night cannot breathe without lungs to capture it, a heart to give it life and flesh to hold it; so enters Miranda. Tumble, ripple, snap, the dead flora gave way slowly, like icy water under her booted step. She stopped to grimace at the stain that traveled up from the hem of her traveling cloak, a rotten mixture of mud and snow.

A howl flew up over the trees, nipping at her ears, ushering Miranda easily into the clearing.

Her step was quick as she traveled backwards, feet skirting the edge of a body of water. No noise, trying to breathe quietly, she felt as if the rising and falling of her chest was creating a monstrous racket. A signal ringing out into the night, calling to anyone who was listening. Moonlight was a glaze subduing her movement. Not until her feet began to quake did she realize that in her rush she had waded into the shallows, deep enough for winter to soak through the leather of her shoes.

The freezing air seemed thicker, hovering above the water, making every breath that Miranda took a labor. When she heaved the wind burnt her throat, making the next intake all the more difficult. Only as the numbing pain in the woman's toes and soles of her feet intensified did she attempt to ignore her other discomforts.

She started for dryland, returning to the path she had taken into the clearing, stopping short to consider the noises and her own paranoia which had driven her to this sanctuary in the first place. The night had not always frightened her so, but with the small benefits of age came the now obvious disabilities that were left in the place of youth. An answer to her dilemma, a pitched, mournful howl cried out, the masked cackle of the coniferous warriors.

She retreated back into the water, turning quickly to survey her surroundings. A struggle ensued as she tried to see through shadows cast by towering trees. The moon's light shone only in the center of the clearing, amplifying the onyx color of the midnight waters. Her anxiety increased a she realized the magnitude of dangers that possibly lurked in the inscrutable abyss of the large pond. Though everywhere she turned to seek dryland she found the water's edge far to close to the looming woods. Trapped by her own misplaced fears, Miranda lost herself among endless depths, roaming eyes, incessant howls, and the foreboding feeling that tickled each of her senses in turn.

He didn't sneak up on her; a deadly shadow creeping from behind, not in the least. He came upon her like the patient flood of sunlight across the morning horizon.

The footing beneath her gave way suddenly, mud traveling forward, her feet in tow, landing with a resounding splash that sent ripples to every cornerof the pond, disturbing the previously calm setting. Miranda's fingers began to burn with the severity of the wintry water, a feeling with which her toes had already gone numb. She knew what was done to frozen appendage. Using much force she stood, stumbling under the weight of her now thoroughly damp clothing. She turned towards the glade's edge, trying to weigh her options. Sensibility did win indeed, as she tookher first sodden steps towards the remainder of her journey.

The trek back into the midst of such a gloomy forest only served to dishearten her all the more. She wondered piteously if she would be home in a days time, imagining what life would be like in such a place for a fortnight or so.

She walked for some time, tracing her way around the clearing, heading in the direction she had held the whole night, due east, she hoped at least. It wasn't until the unnerving chattering of her teeth and the goose bumps seemed to freeze permanently did she stop, pausing for a moment to lean against a large tree.

"Never again," muttering under her breath she continued, not taking notice, at first, of the thinning vegetation and flatter terrain. Without realizing it she began to swerve, accommodating the bend in the path. The realization smacked her with the force of her own lack of awareness. "A road!" she cried, all to quickly forgetting the caution she had been practicing. "I can finally go....' the voice discontinued her excitement.

"Indeed," a baritone chuckle, the voice of a young man spoke slowly from her left, resting against the tree she had just recently been standing at, she found after turning quickly. He didn't quite smile as he laid his palm against the trunk of the tree. It almost seemed as if the tree was leaning onto him, this only emphasized the man's grand height. "It is a road indeed, but I'm afraid this one will not take you home." Miranda stood silent, his eyes unnerving her, she was at a loss for words,the man'slast comment taking a moment to register fear in her mind.

"And why," she would not allow her voice to tremble before this intimidating stranger, "is that?" Miranda did not particularly want an answer, running seemed to be the most obvious solution to this problem. She did not believe that she could outrun him,but she had not other options.

His lips twisted into a smile while he gestured towards the direction she had been heading in. "That wayleads nowhere," he told her simply; "and that..." he pointed the opposite way, she turned to find a scarcely visible disturbance in the leaves that created a crooked line into a deeper part of the now seemingly enchanted wood. "That way leads to my home." Her features were pinched with inquisition, and she seemed to forget that she was talking to such a mysterious man.

"It has to lead somewhere," she told him, suddenly exasperated. The events of her long night were beginning to take effect on her. "Everywhere and anywhere leads somewhere," she spoke without internal consequence, therefore she paid no heed to the possibility of outer conflict, this was to often the headstrong, trades-woman's attitude. Amount of sleep or lack there of and the deadening chill in her middle-aged bones did noservice to her blinding ill mood.

"It does lead somewhere," he would not allow her to finish her triumphant smirk, "but somewhere is nowhere." Every direction seemed to grow hesitant, pulling back from her sight, growing distorted and hazy. "You see," his hand gestured towards the direction in question. Miranda looked, only to be bombarded by a conglomeration of living colors, wrapped up into a pivot of confusion. "That path leads unto itself, a traveler might walk on it for days, or longer, entrapping herself under so many layers of the same segment of reality that they would never find their way out." With the end of his sentence the world convulsed and fell nearly neatly back into place.

She began to respond to his explanation, but found that, for once, she had no quick retort. The loss of voice was a frustrating shock to the woman, the wind reminding them both of their already chilly surroundings.

"Come," it was an order in the most futile sort of way, only to succeed in making her feel childish. "The least I can do is feed and house you. It is my fault you have entrapped yourself so in this enchanted wood of mine."

"No," refusing dryly, she chose not to think about the meanings behind his last words.

"But why?" the fact that he seemed rather disinterested, studying the rather ill looking bark of a near by tree as he spoke.

"I must go home to my... I must go home to tend to my business."

"You'll never make itthere in this state," his eyes appraised her soiled clothing. "I couldn't allow - I would rather you come with me."

"I must." her determination waned, for a moment.

"You can't." but an order, how could she resist.

"I will!" resolute and stubborn, Miranda still took no caution. The frivolity of an argument among strangers is anything but frightening. "For all I know, you could be a monster."

The man's brow furrowed, rising to a crushed peak as his eyes widened. The obvious, yet discernable look that she had dismissed all to easily became a facial expression torn between hurt and rage. He took a step forward, then retreated, his eyes looking past her, seeing nothing , but his own thoughts. The memories slid into place and he focused his gaze on her again, perturbed, yet unnaturally in control of his emotions. "A monster you say?"

Her lips were cracked, the icy air made each indent burn. Yet again Miranda could not speak. Throat shut tight, neither her lazy tongue or immovable lips would succumb under struggle. Both hands shook with the fear that had finally been received.

"I am not a monster," she nodded, "I've been a gentlemen, no?" to this she replied suddenly, knowing fate rested on her answer. She was not weak, only intelligent.

He smiled and nodded, repeating his services, now as an offer, not a decree. Agreeing was patently the agreeable thing to do.

So they left behind the endless trail and headed east towards the imminent dawn.

Miranda's eyes reawakened to the night. Her confrontation had been unaffected by the darkness her previous turmoil had brought her. Light was the on-coming future.


Morning was burdened with emotion. It seemed to be summer, the humid mood draped over skin like sweat; though none could be fooled by the November chill that tip-toed across hands, turning knuckles white. Skin pricked in anticipation, waiting - remembering - the wicked frost that the new season would soon give way to.

The boy's breath was heavy, thoughts affecting him in such a way that he was exerting energy over it. Dawn crept past his shutters, he needed not open them, knowing Miranda had not returned. Like a premonition, his mother's absence was the sign of the change he had waited so long for.

A/N: I would now like to explain my mistakes away. If only that were possible. Actually, I just wanted to let everyone and anyone who is reading this that this is my first attempt at fantasy. Forgive me for choosing to retell a classic, I have a slight problem with plot development and I am hoping this experience will strengthen my weakness. If somehow someone hasn't caught on yet, this is my version of Beauty and the Beast, mixture of both the classic and hint of the Disney version. Shhhh... don't tell a soul. Aren't my gender reversals ingenious.