Zsadamh

Part 1

The dim sunlight illuminated sharp, thin, hanging food into an unearthly green glow. Coarse, luscious, supple spikes of green cushioned his silver hoofs, as Zsadamh stood upright as the young but new dominant stag. Sweeping his piercing, pale blue eyes up and over his peaceful munching herd, his ears pricked and his nose twitched to check for any signs of unusual activity. Finding none and feeling full, his mind wandered away from the now and in his head, the image of an older, scar- ridden stag flashed.

He had been dull grey- the same shade as Mother, double his height and had bore the stark air of challenge. Zsadamh's hoof reached up to scratch the area where the stag's antlers had grazed him. The blood was dry now- as always, he healed unnaturally fast. The stag could never have caught him. Though Zsadamh was young, he had majestic antlers, a silver coat, the sharpest senses and lightning speed. However, Zsadamh was so tired of running. He would have to show everyone he was the ruler and protector of the forest.

A scent riding the current of energy in the unseen world pricked his 6th sense. It was very faint. Zsadamh sunk his hoofs deep into the earth, reached out his awareness and located the smell. He opened his eyes and started making his way towards the edge of the forest. He was aware of Mother looking at him questioningly and broke off into a full sprint. The scent loomed closer and closer and he stopped behind a cluster of young saplings to inspect the intruder. It had two furless legs and in its upper legs, it clutched something.

Danger.

Zsadamh knew he had to get this creature out of the forest.

The hunter kept very still and aimed his arrow at the unsuspecting hare. Holding his breath, he pulled back and was just about to release when a blur of silver caught his attention in the corner of his eye. He swung around and released but knew immediately he had not hit his mark.

Out of the trees, the most magical creature he had ever seen stepped out proudly. It was a mere fawn but it's whole body was glowing silver and it's antlers were huge and branched out multiple times like a tree. Its icy blue eyes pierced him to the core and seemed to be able to see into the very depths of his soul. Entranced, the hunter slowly reached back, pulled out an arrow and slipped it in place, his eyes not once leaving the fawn. He had to have it. He pulled… then released.

Whoosh. Zsadamh felt the energy of dead wood and stone shooting towards him and stepped left. The sharp wood whizzed past and hit with a thunk into the sapling. The creature was pursuing him. There was a second of silence and Zsadamh whipped around, plucked out the arrow and sprang into a slow canter, heading for the place where earth was soft.

The hunter cursed and sprinted after the fawn, reaching back for another arrow. And another. And another. The silver creature nimbly dodged his carefully aimed arrows as if it had eyes at the back of its head. Something in his mind was telling him this is impossible but the mere thought of giving up brought about such a gut wrenching feeling that almost seemed to put him in physical pain. He felt slightly dizzy and short of breath but still ran as fast as he could muster. Time seemed meaningless. He had to get it. They ran out of the forest and yes! The fawn seemed to be slowing down. It gave a last leap then slipped on the rocky ground and stared up at him. The hunter notched an arrow into place, concentrated hard and released.

Zsadamh dropped his head and felt the sharp deadly wood and stone blast into his antlers before uttering a cry of burning pain. His vision blanked for a while then he stood up and saw the creature ankle deep in the soft earth, yelping wildly. It had worked. He had led the creature far from the forest. Zsadamh turned to return home.

Suddenly, an intense, dense blast of energy flashed. His heart seemed to stop. Zsadamh could do nothing.

A tiny pellet, harder than rock, drilled destruction deep into his back thigh before spewing out again. Zsadamh instinctively went into shock and for the first time ever, felt the desperate need for survival. The creature was coming after him, slowed by the earth. A vision of otherworldly, blindingly white Father struck him. Protect the forest he had seemed to tell him but how could he? He could not travel the energy currents of the otherworld like his father, could only sense them.

All of a sudden, a flash of grey hurtled out of nowhere and struck the creature. Mother must have followed far behind. Sometimes he forgot he was just a fawn. The creature fell down on its stomach and Zsadamh screeched a warning cry but it was too late.

BANG.

He heard it and felt the angry ball of energy strike its mark. Felt the life of Mother leave this world and become one with the universal flow again. His back leg felt like a screaming never ending burn but his heart felt dead.

BANG.

Zsadamh snapped back to his senses, leapt over Mother, grasped the creature between his antlers and flung him towards a rock. The creature crashed and was still. Zsadamh sprinted home on three legs…

Part 2

Once in a farm village far, far away, there was a girl with hair as long as a string of willow leaves and as red as ripe apples. She worked in the crops all day long with her many brothers and sisters, her neck strained forever down until the tips of her hair were as black as raven feathers. Sometimes, the wind would sing to her soul and her eyes wander after the careless wind, into the sweet smelling forest.

On an ordinary day, her mother ordered, "Go to the forest now. Don't you dare dawdle and bring back some firewood." Lily ran out of the familiar farm village, deep into the foreign woods and gathered a bunch of fallen boughs and sticks. She came upon a clearing of tiny purple miri flowers and discovered an enormous apple tree at least 50 feet tall, dotted with a few ripe apples as red as . Agile as a monkey, she climbed up in awe, picked one and inched her way down. Lily knew that she should give it back to Mother to sell in the markets as apples were a rare delicacy but she had remembered the legend of the white stag- her father used to whisper his deep, rich melodic rumblings which flowed into dancing wild, impossible pictures in her head.

Suddenly, she heard a trotting of hooves and a magnificent silver stag stepped into the clearing. It looked down at her with its pale blue eyes and Lily stared back up wonder. Only when it trotted past her did she notice the blood flowing freely from its back leg. She scrambled after the stag and offered it her apple. The stag sniffed her trembling hands, lay down and slowly began to munch the sweet fruit. Untying her shawl, Lily gently wrapped it around the stag and saw that the world had darkened. The stag glowed silver and its eyes were kind. It was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen, more beautiful than the sun, more beautiful than lying down alone under the star speckled sky after a long day of hard work.

Every morning, Lily returned to the clearing, picked an apple and the silver stag would trot by and stop to eat. She cleaned its wound gently and the silver stag's presence filled her with peace and happiness. In the afternoon, she would climb onto its back and experience the day her new friend. Every night, when she returned home, her mother would beat her with wooden sticks for neglecting her duties and her back became streaked red and bent like an old bridge but she kept returning to the clearing everyday. Her time with the silver stag was so great and she felt so peaceful that the pain didn't hurt anymore.

One night, she was beaten until her vision blacked out and she used the last of her energy to crawl blindly into the forest. Lily sank onto the soft grass and smelled the scent of musky wood- the smell of home. She was too tired to climb the apple tree. Just then, there came the sound of hooves. The silver stag trotted past her and just when Lily thought her heart would break, it turned back and nudged something round towards her hand. It was an apple. Lily opened her mouth weakly and took a bite. The taste that was on her tongue pierced her heart like a terrible, perfect knife and she saw black.

She felt herself leaving the pain, floating, then felt herself as one with the silver stag, now a blinding white. The white stag flew into the night, could fly anywhere and they were finally free.