I continued running through the Forest trying to free myself of the feeling of wrong that had settled over my skin like dew clinging to the leaves on a winter morning. I did not stop running until I had a considerable distance between myself and that….place. I couldn’t even comprehend what was wrong with it. It was just all wrong! Nothing should survive while being steeped in such evil.
Eventually I stopped in a tree situated near a small clearing. I sat down with my back pressed firmly into the solid trunk. It felt good to have something stable to hold me upright as I recovered from my horrific experience at the edge of the forest. I could feel each individual ridge of the tree pushing into my bare back. As I applied pressure I could feel my skin adjust to their shape. It felt wonderful to be so close to nature, so in sync with it. It gave me a feeling of wholeness that I hadn’t felt from anything else before. This was how the Forest was supposed to feel. It was comforting and welcoming yet solid and resilient. I would have everything I needed in the Forest. She would provide for me so I would never have to go back to that place. I could happily survive on the opposite side of the Forest never having to worry about the creature that produced that shocking scream. Even thinking about it made me shiver. I stopped thinking about it and returned to my state of bliss as I lay against the tree.
I stayed like that until I was interrupted by the strangest of sounds. It sounded like laughing or giggling but it was much too musical to be Falath'Nakan voices. It was a happy and carefree giggle, like a bubbling stream. This sound shocked me. It was most definitely not a Falath’Nakan nor was it a human. I didn’t know of any being capable of such a beautiful noise but I wanted to find the source of the noise. I rose up from my seated position and slowly started making my way towards the source of the noise which I soon discovered was moving through the forest. I came to a tree that hung out over the old, rough, overgrown path which led through the Forest. I heard the giggles again, closer this time yet quieter as if to draw me in. They had come from my right hand side, meaning the source was further into the forest than I.
Hanging down from the tree I checked to see that there was nobody around before I dropped myself to the floor of the Forest. As I hit the floor I raised a small cloud of dust which told me immediately that whoever it was that had dared enter the Forest was using horses. Their thick musty scent was almost like an assault on my nose. I clambered back up into a tree and quietly followed their direction of travel. As I got closer they became silent. This halted me. Were they expecting me? Had they heard me? They continued on, apparently unaware of my presence. I could clearly make out two females and a male. They were travelling slowly and did not seem to be suspicious of anything. I sped forward through the trees until I was directly above them. From here I caught their scents. The two females smelled fresh, but not like humans at all. Not only were their scents strange, they were absolutely beautiful. They looked as pristine as a new blade. And as for the male, well he was just as fascinating. From him there was the same faint smell of the freshness as flowed from the females, yet from him there was also the very obvious scent of human.
The male said something to the females and they all stopped. Fearing my presence had been detected I fled back to a safer distance and readied my bow. The male and one of the females dismounted. The male went over to help the second and most beautiful female down from her horse. As he lowered her to the ground I saw his muscles tense as he whispered something in his language to the females. I was also hit with the scent of unwavering resolve and complete confidence from the male. I didn’t move a muscle. I remained perfectly still, blending into the trees as he scanned the area.
His confidence was unnerving. Here was this human in the Forest and yet he was not afraid. He knew he was being watched yet he was not troubled by it, it was just an acknowledgement of my invisible presence that he had stepped out in front of the women, hands by crossed in front of himself not on his blade or in any way threatening. I felt a strange feeling build–up inside my chest. What was it? Anger? No. Fear? No. Respect? Maybe. Maybe that was it. It was quite strange not to see a human swinging their weapons around wildly in some misguided perception of strength and skill. This male truly was fascinating. He had stirred up feelings inside me I loathe feeling towards a human. He was truly remarkable. Maybe it was time for an introduction.