Badger; Lord of the Undergrowth

I can remember the Dark Day, as if it was yesterday.

The animals went by their business; foraging, farming hunting and travelling.

It was just another normal day, but then came the stranger.

He was the first man to visit our homeland, and scouted the area of the canopy and undergrowth.

He visited the lake of the beaver, the tree of the squirrel and even the dark hollows of the woodpecker's lair.

We became too accustomed to his visits, and despite the warnings of the trees, trusted him with promise.

But in the nature of man, he broke that promise.

The man who was truly a sorcerer took advantage of our power and used the song of change against us.

He had a debt to Gaea, he said and must return that favour to her children; the animals, us!

The song changed us from creatures of the woodland to spirits with grief to behold.

We didn't want to alter and become subject to sin.

But we did and I became human...

It has been over 6 months since the Dark Day, and still I'm not used to my new form.

Wiry black hair and striking blue eyes I can live with, but soft tender skin and no spines for protection leaves me at risk for predators.

But then after the Dark Day, all the predators disappeared.

My mother sits in the corner of our house, grey hair braided down her lanky side.

The Dark Day was traumatic to her, whitening her hair almost overnight.

I mean who had heard of a hedgehog becoming human? It is practically impossible.

"Deforest," she says, squeezing my hand into a fist. "Will you pick up some groceries for me?"

I nod, place on a wooden jumper and head out the door.

Outside the woodland has been transformed to suit our new bodies' needs.

Trolls and Dwarves grow crops as they are the masters of earth, and dryads and nymphs build homes, with their understanding of nature.

We work together all the races, to struggle the hardships performed by our curse.

No longer do insects sustain our food, or hollows create our homes.

Instead food must be grown and houses must be built, if we are to survive the winter.

When the sorcerer first transformed the forest's creatures, moles and badgers were first becoming trolls and dwarves.

Then beavers and squirrels became pond nymphs and elves.

Birds became dryads, hedgehogs became people.

I don't know what happened to everything else; they probably escaped or became too hideous to show their faces again.

I continue down a pathway to trade chestnuts with the elves, who supply my family with fruit.

Elves are very nimble and can scamper to the highest branches to reach outgrowth.

I have three sisters to feed, as well as my mother and so that means the collection of a lot of food, to support my family.

Next I travel to the river, in which a family of nymphs await for me.

I can tell by the look in their faces that today is a good fishing day, as their smiles are upturned and glimmer in excitement.

My best friend Faunas stands upon a river boat, upturned grin glistening.

"We won't go hungry tonight," he shouts, pointing down to the river. "The supply of salmon is endless!"

We continue into the boat and fashion small fishing rods, made of wood, string and some kind of bait.

With this we are prepared to catch some salmon.

Using a paddle, we break into open water and cast our lines deep into the river bed.

There we wait for fish to take a bite and become destined for supper.

It was around 10 minutes later, when Faunas' mood changed and he began to mutter curses.

We had caught plenty of fish, so that couldn't be bothered him? Maybe family troubles or more likely, the Dark Day.

"Look," he says, pointing to the town. "There's a rumour going around that they caught of the sorcerers ally's and are planning to use him!"

This came as a surprise, but he had yet to finish.

"There holding a ceremony, to choose three people out of random, to go with this "ally" and find an antidote to the curse!"

I laugh on the inside, knowing that will never happen but decide to go anyway for a bit of fun.

After we collect around 8 fish, we head back to the mainland and I wave goodbye to Faunas.

He walks in the opposite direction back to his home and I, into the towns square.

The towns square are usually a quiet place, with its cobblestones being barely touched.

But today however, it is different!

Large crowds hover on the flooring and mutter without a breath.

The new mayor of our city and elf named Alyssa takes her place upon a wooden podium.

Her eyes glaze the citizens.

Almost everyone has gathered to hear her speak about the curse.

"The growing issue of our curse is what I am here to address today," she says, echoing silence.

Next to her sits the most beautiful creature; a dear with a pair of elegant brown wings.

Wings like this could allow flight.

I can hear the dryads mutter enviously, as they too once had the power of air travel.

"This is Damon, and despite the curse gained and advantage!"

The crowd roars in anger, why did he gain wings? How come his transformation was a benefit not a burden?

The only sound is outrage...

"Damon was a collaborator to the sorcerer; he got benefited because he was EVIL!"

Everything goes silent, and the whistle of the woods occurs.

"But," Alyssa's eyes scare like radiant coals. "The trees have told me that he can lead us to the man, and that is why I brought you here today."

I nod, knowing that this sounds good but by the smirk on the dears face I would never give my trust.

Another figure, in fact a dwarf wanders upon the stage and whispers into the elf's ear.

"Aha", she cries. "We have our first adventurer!"

I laugh in amusement knowing the dwarf is going on a magical adventure, with a flying dear.

Hah, what could possibly go wrong?

"This dwarf, known as Glade will be travelling with two other people to stop the sorcerer. Any volunteers?"

Silence returns in the form of whistling wind.

Alyssa purses her lips.

"Very well, luckily I brought a barrel." A barrel is a wooden box containing all the young people's names.

"Glade, why don't you choose the lucky questies, hmm?

Glade places his large, hairy hand into the barrel and surfaces the names like a boat on placid water.

"Saskia Bensgrove."

A young dryad, around 15 saunters up to the stage, her face grinning under adrenalin and long blonde hair tumbling.

She wanted to go on the quest?

Glade then begins with calling the second name, and when he does the crowd parts to reveal the newest adventurer.

"Deforest Kelly".

I Deforest Kelly climb upon the podium knowing deep in my heart that this journey will never succeed.