The area of the forest had been like a great pit, swarming with fog as if it was swelling from the ground beneath the leaves, the trees encircling it as if spectating. I had followed her down and felt myself drawn by her voice, her manner, everything that was within her seemed to sing to me.
‘These trees,’ she had said, her hands gesturing all around, ‘they were planted from a magickal seed many years ago, by witches of maleficium at mor mekār in the midst of Dorelé Šerof.’ I understood nothing. ‘They shall protect anybody of their kind, such as myself, but not you. So you fear them, Daniel Sherwood?’
She turned to me and said, ‘good. Again, you prove yourself not a fool. Now, though it seems clear, I ask you. Do you fear me, Daniel Sherwood?’ Curiously, she had pressed her back against the nearest of the trees, sloping as if it was to be sucked into the pit that we both stood in.
‘I would wonder whether you think I should fear you,’ I had said, walking towards her.
‘I have said before, I have abilities beyond yours and -,’
‘But the question is surely not what they can do, my lady, but what you will do with them.’
We were close, so I remember, and there had been a heat coming from her that I had desired to move towards until it became mine. This had bothered her suddenly, her eyes were wide and her skin appeared to glow as came closer.
‘I -,’ she had said, her voice trembling for the first time in perfect quavering notes. ‘I would never harm you, Daniel Sherwood. I am bound by laws, those of others and of my own,’
‘You continue to say my name, yet you still will not tell me yours,’
‘What difference would it make it you were to know?’ she had asked, her breath warm across my cheek, laced with delight.
‘I may fear you more,’
‘If I tell you, there is but one law that you must abide by,’
‘Tell me.’ I felt as if my body was just a knot at the end of thread, pulled by a needle towards her, binding us as one.
She pushed me, however, her hands lightly on my chest across my heart so that its beat rippled through her skin. ‘You must never leave my side. You shall be cursed to think of me always and to be mine, Daniel Sherwood, and mine alone.’
Her strength had seemed all to stop me falling towards her, myself leaning over her, our foreheads almost touching. ‘Tell me,’ I remember whispering, by now yearning that I know the name of the one that had bewitched me beyond any hope of return.
In the end, she obliged, tilting her head so that her jaw brushed my cheek, numbing me, her voice in my ear. The name I heard was as glorious as the running of a waterfall, the songs of birds and the new bloom of spring. It is a name that I uttered back to her for the first time there, in that dark place, and a name that I now whisper to her in worship every night.
I remember the moment when it had become too much, when the beauty of this woman was far too overwhelming, and when I realised that if I did not claim her, I would never become whole.
‘The first touch is pain,’ I had whispered to her, knowing the desire in her eyes equally matching mine, ‘the second relief. What is the third?’
She spoke an answer to me in an amorous breath before our lips met in union, ‘revival.’
I could speak now of the desire that we shared, or the way that our hands took hold of each other, and of how each moment of touch gave me better fulfilment than I had felt in three years of matrimony. I need only say that on that night, we loved each other, and she became my rescue from a dark world of death and normalcy, to one of only passion and magick.