I remember it as a day far different to the one in which I write to you; a Sunday, if I recall. The year was eighteen-hundred-and-forty-two or eight-thousand-one-hundred-and-forty-two if you are of the other kind. It was lar mekār, the first of its year, and the beginning of what would become known as Sequekenmar. The Forest of Souls slept at the bottom of the mountain, the world seeming a rather dim, foggy place. When I awoke, the forest rising above and ahead, I had thought I could see it breathing.
I know I should have been curled in my bed on such an autumnal morning, the windows of our village dark as they should have been, but I was one of two not doing so. I remember my clumsy boots trying to be quiet through the street as I kept watch on the man leading me, his features as dark as the sky. I fear to say, I have little memory of him. After so long, he has become little more than a shade of a spectrum to me, but I suppose that is how it is. In the end, that is all we ever become, a colour, a sound, a style of writing.
I digress. On this night, I carried with me a lamp low in my hand, and I felt the gleam of tired horse eyes on me as we passed through the village. I'd been called so suddenly that I was only half-dressed from my nightwear, and the cold air had chilled me, unnerved me.
"Thomas," I had said, for that was his name. "This is not a good idea. You have heard the stories. There be something rancid within the forest."
"Ye hae the courage o’ a’ Englishm'n," my friend had mocked, his old cap shadowing his eyes so that I could not see. I wish I could have. "That be why we're here. We'll prove once an' for aw that the auld uns are wrong. Whit better wye?"
"I have a wife. I cannot do these sorts of things." At the time, the women had been my integrity and my propriety, and I am sad to remark, nothing more.
We had travelled onwards to the church however, I following an impulse of curiosity that had to be seen to, Thomas a sense of importance and dare I say it, bravery. The roof had been caved in recent times, but service was conducted as it always was. I had still smelt the angelica in the air. There had only been a foot-high wall to separate the hallowed land from the field leading towards the Forest. It was the closest I had been. Thomas had seemed to think that the rumoured spirits would be hunched behind the gravestones, or atop the roof like a murder of crows. He was disappointed, and I wanted to depart.
"Can we go?" said I, hesitating at the church gate. I had then spotted a grave I had not visited for a long time, one that shared my name. "I do not believe in ghosts, I do not believe," I remember saying, such blind words, when in my heart I was unable to deny that I had seen one, a woman who made me wish to abandon my world for hers.
Perhaps it was the memory of her that drove me onwards to the Forest, not an intuition, but a desire. Remembering her, it did not take much of Thomas' convincing for me to follow. I knew of something...evil within there, but why I continued on, I am not sure. The downfall of us all, perhaps, that half of our souls feared death, whilst the other craved it.
Following Thomas, never did I forget his true reason for journeying to the Forest of Souls. His daughter, I forget her name, had been taken, seen disappearing into the trees and never returning. Even as we searched, each of us gentlemen knew the truth. She was within the Forest, and so we would never find her, because we would never try. Even Thomas had come so close, to the perimeter, but his humanity had driven him away then.