A walk through the forest

Mirko could feel Oliver's gaze on the back of his neck, watching as he walked away, continuing through the forest's heart.  The heart wasn't large, and soon he'd left it behind and was back into the less-dense forest where more sunlight filtered down through the canopy of leaves and small animals darted through the undergrowth in sudden flurries of dead leaves.  Birds resumed their perches and called to one another again, short, bright trills of notes.  Mirko recognised them all, counting five different species, each with a concentration in a different direction, reflecting their nesting preferences.  But he still couldn't shake the feeling that Oliver was still watching him.

Stopping, he placed his pack in front of his feet and turned slowly through a full circle, his eyes relaxed and lazily strafing the view around him.  When he'd returned to the pack in front of him, he closed his eyes and recalled the panorama he'd just taken in, this time searching through it intently for anything out of place.  He felt slightly disappointed, but not surprised, that nothing was out of place; no shadows were unusually dense and no trees had subtle bulges in their trunks that could be a druid leaning into it for concealment.  Of course Oliver wouldn't be following him; if he were coming along too then it would make much more sense for them to travel together.

As a precaution though he stayed where he was with his eyes closed and let his mind expand out through him, pushing down into the ground and surging up into the air, his senses awakening and showing him the world around him from the viewpoint of the forest itself.  Everything seemed green and brown for a moment, and a thousand heartbeats all resounded in his chest, and then he found a point to focus on and the world immediately around him sprang into vibrant vision.

Tracing his path back, a bright line through the darker greens of the forest heart he saw that Oliver had followed him for a little while before turning away on an errand of his own.  Around him now the forest was calm, fading away a little further to the west and opening out to meadows.  Small shapes moved within the meadow, grazing animals too far away for the forest to identify.  Above him the sky was clear blue, with small wispy clouds and no signs of rain.

As Mirko gathered up his sense of self to push out the forest and return to his own body, a sudden shadow darted across the meadows, shifting like a scared rabbit, scenting the air like a hunting hound.  The shape was horribly familiar to Mirko from the last time he'd left the enclave: it was a wolf.

He jolted back into his own body having dropped his connection to the forest in shock.  His heart was racing his chest and his breath was came in quick gasps.  Sweat trickled down the back of his neck, cold and fear-inspiring, and his hands trembled.  He reached for his staff, and his groping fingers encountered only air: he'd forgotten to bring a staff with him.

Panic raged in the confines of his head, demanding that he turn round and flee, run back to the forest heart and hide from the wolf where the forest would protect him.  His eyes darted about, looking for the quickest route to escape.  Slowly, and with steady determination he forced himself to stop panicking and look for a suitable branch to use as a weapon.  He told himself that the wolf couldn't be looking for him, or know that he was here, that it was out hunting small prey of its own.  The words were reassuring, even if he didn't truly belive them, but nonetheless he needed a weapon just in case.

And he could see none about him.

The End

28 comments about this story Feed