Forest for freedom

A story of Ophelia who joins a small collection of outcasts to fight against the reigning monrach.

The sun beams shone like fairy dust through the rafters of the old mill. I could feel the warmth of their rays caressing my skin, and smelt the soft woody smell that seemed to cling on to every particle of the air. I stretched, and heard the creak of the old floorboards underneath me as I stood and let my body be enveloped in the light. Blinking to adjust my eyes, I leant down and picked up my clothes, abandoned on the floor at my feet. The soft feel of the cotton against my skin was comforting as I slid my snow white dress over my head and down, covering the curves of my body. I reached in to the long blonde waves of my hair and pulled from it daisies and pieces of grass, then let it fall back around my shoulders.

Each step I made across the wooden floor was soft and steady, yet the floor occasionally still creaked where the wood had failed to fight off nature. The light grew stronger as I approached the largest gap in the wall, next to the large wooden wheel that had once churned up water from the peaceful river outside. I stepped in to the light, embracing the air and sunlight as both rushed in full to meet me. Underneath my feet the grass was damp with dew, and I stepped softly through it towards the river. The water splashed against my face, refreshing the skin and wetting my lips. I took a sip from the river for the sake of my dry throat, then dried my face and returned to the mill to retrieve my belongings. A bag with some bread, cheese and fruit wrapped in cloth inside, a leather purse of money and the small hunting knife which I carried with me always were all I had in the world, and it was with these items that I had set out to explore the world.

Before I began my journey once again I leaned against the old wooden wall of the mill. This place had enchanted me as soon as I had seen it; the man made building which had been taken over by nature. It had a serene calm about it, something which almost made me want to stay here. But there was so much more out there, and I vowed only to return one day.

The smooth stones that peppered the river made perfect steps for crossing. I skipped from one step to the next, until the cracking of a twig made me start and check my surroundings. From out of the trees ahead of me came three men, all wearing rough garments of a green or brown shade. The central man, a bearded fellow with brown hair, held in his hand a bow and arrow, while his companions had staffs fashioned from wood. They stepped from the trees on to the bank of the river and eyed me up and down.

"What business do you have here lady?" The bearded man spoke; his voice was rough and deep but with a soft quality which suggested he was not as fearsome as he looked. I decided to answer.

"No business, I am merely passing through." I was glad of my knife, fastened to my thigh by a belt, for with it I felt safer travelling alone.

"Not many people pass this way. They believe bandits, sorcerers and outcasts live here."

"I am not afraid of gossip and rumour. Will you let me pass?"

"I am not sure that would be wise Miss. You see, not everything you hear is gossip and rumour. Some of it is true, and we wouldn't want a pretty lady like yourself to get harmed by bandits and the like."

"I have nothing worth stealing so they would attack in vain, and I am not so weak and helpless." I slid the knife out from the slit in my dress and held it tight in my hand. "So I would appreciate if you would let me continue on my way." The man chuckled as he looked from me to the knife and back.

"Well now, it's not every day you see a traveller so willing to fight. This may be beyond us lads." The pair either side of him tightened their grips on the staffs they held. Apparently, they didn't think I was beyond them. The bearded man raised his fingers to his mouth and let out a low whistle. Several seconds later, a figure appeared from the bushes. Covered by a dark green cloak, I could not see the face of the figure until it had reached the three men and stood in front of them. There, the figure raised its gloved hands and pushed back the hood of the cloak. From beneath appeared a woman of great beauty; pale skin framed by hair black as pitch, and dark eyes that seized hold of my attention and refused to let go. I felt as though all my thoughts and memories were being tugged across the water to her, and that she understood me perfectly. Then her almond shaped eyes blinked, and the connection was severed. I felt light headed, but forced myself to remain upright and to continue to keep my guard. My fingers tightened around the handle of my knife. If there was magic involved here, I had best be on my guard. The lady spoke, and I started at her voice. It was soft and sorrowful, as though she had seen too much sadness for one person.

"We shall take her to Ramona. She will know what to do." The men nodded their heads and lowered their weapons slightly. The woman gestured at me. "Come."

Part of me wanted to stay where I was, but the other part encouraged me. Where's your sense of adventure? I jumped the last few rocks and followed the group. As they led me through the trees, the men muttered to each other, and as their conversation was followed by glances in my direction, it wasn't hard to guess the subject. After several minutes of this, we stopped and the woman turned to me.

"You must wear a blindfold from here. Do not worry, we wish you no harm." She pulled a piece of material from underneath her cloak and tied it round my eyes, then led me by the hand onwards. I had lost track of how long we had been walking when the woman stopped me and removed the blindfold.

The End

3 comments about this story Feed