old things in the woods

  By Bon

chapter 1

There were few things Nathan enjoyed more than a good meal. Maybe a long walk in the forest to get ideas for his thesis. Maybe.

He was studying something that his family would always complain about but it was what made him happy. Mythology and folklore had interested him since he could remember. More specifically, European folklore. It had always been about the forests for him. Great expanses of wilderness, where you could walk for hours and not see another soul. It was the stories he'd always been told as a child: witches, fairies, wolves... they'd all kill children if they wandered into the woods.

As he'd gotten older, the forbidden had become the fascinating. In his teenage years, he'd figured that fairy tales were just there to scare children, to keep them out of the woods. Later, he'd realised that the tales themselves were universal. Cultures all over the world had similar stories. There were witches, vampires, werewolves... you name it. Every culture had similarities.

His interest in folklore met his interest in psychology and his thesis was born. Looking into how tales and stories outlined humanity's fears and worries.

He'd been all over the world and read every book he'd been able to get his hands on. His friends liked to joke that he was the only true explorer left, likening him to a modern day Indiana Jones. Finally, he'd been able to book a trip to a small village in Europe that he'd always wanted to visit. It was just off of the infamous Black Forest.

Part of his research looked into the origin on myths and legends. This area had such a high concentration that he just had to visit.

Walking through the forest, he felt uneasy for a moment. It was colder than he'd imagined it. He was used to being away from civilisation but something felt different here. There was something heavy in the air besides the smell of the forest floor. There was something old, something powerful.

He laughed to himself.

It was no surprise so many stories sprang up around these parts, he thought. It was a spooky forest. There were old trees, with roots so gnarled they tried to trip him with every step he took. According to the guidebooks, there were plenty of animals that could maul a young child.

Hours past. Nathan took photographs, tree rubbings and even a few plant samples. He liked to remind himself of the feel of the place once he got home.

He came to a small lake and decided to take a break. The water was beautiful; clearer than he'd ever seen and so still it looked like glass. It took him a moment to realise what had drawn his attention. There wasn't a single ripple on its surface.

Nathan paid it little mind as he sat on a log and pulled his lunch out of his bag. He had granola, sandwiches, a few pieces of fruit, along with some other snacks at the bottom of his daysack. He never wandered without ample supplies. He'd been lost a few too many times to risk it. He ate until he was sated and then realised how late it was getting. The sun would be setting in a few hours. He needed to head back.

On his route back to the village, he realised he must have made a wrong turn. There were trees he definitely hadn't seen before. One was split almost perfectly in two. He would have noticed that. It was charred black and starting to rot. Nathan took a photograph. He was sure it had been struck by lightning but some time ago. Maybe a decade.

He pulled out his compass and, sure enough, he was going in the right direction. He shouldn't have been off track. Then again, he often got carried away. A slight wrong turn in a forest as wild as that one and he was sure to see a few different sights. He kept walking towards the village, listening out for the evening bird song.

That's when he saw it.

A solid, stone archway.

It was just standing there, independent of any wall or any other structure. Amidst the trees, a huge archway covered in what appeared to be runes, like it had been pulled from a fantasy world.

Nathan approached it slowly, careful not to give into his excitement. The last thing he needed was to trip over a branch or fall down a foxhole in his haste to see the strange structure. He took photos as he approached, careful to get different angles.

He froze when he got close enough to see something in a heap on the floor, just in front of the archway. A heap of cloth... no... was it a person? It wasn't moving.

Nathan stepped forward, his heart hammering in his chest. Under the cloth, he could see a pale flash of skin. A hand?

"Hello?" he called out. "Are you hurt?"

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the shape move. It groaned. He hurried to help, self preservation the furthest thing from his mind. The shape stirred and the cloth covering it fell back to reveal a young woman, maybe eighteen or nineteen. She was stunningly beautiful; his mind went straight to stories of otherworldly, ethereal beauties.

"What happened to you?" he asked.

"I... think I fell," the girl said weakly.

"Do you need help?" Nathan asked.

He didn't know what to do. It was getting darker by the minute and he didn't know if she was injured. Did the village even have a hospital? He didn't think it did.

"No... no I think I'm okay," the girl said.

She sat up slowly, checking herself as she did so. Nathan couldn't see any blood, the girl just looked tired.

"Why are you here?" she asked. "People don't come here. They're scared of these woods."

Nathan laughed. Were the locals really that superstitious?

"I'm not afraid," he said. "It's just trees. Nothing to be scared of if you take the proper precautions."

The girl smiled and stood up. She was taller than she looked, only a little shorter than he was.

"Well, maybe," she said. "There is danger here, though. You should get going."

Nathan frowned. Going? He couldn't leave her. The girl brushed leaves from her clothing, which fell perfectly around her. She was wearing a cloak in a vibrant azure blue. He'd never seen anything like her.

"I can't leave you here, come with me," he said.

The girl giggled and shook her head. She approached him and put her hands on his shoulders, turning him to roughly where he'd thought the village was.

"I'll be fine," she said. "Thank you so much for helping me. Start walking. You wont be safe here once it gets dark."

Nathan took a step forwards and looked behind him. She was gone. So was the archway.
6 chapters, created 5 years , updated 5 years
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Fatchance 3 years
I SO wanted this to continue ... and maybe figure out how to find that place ;-)
Built4com4t 5 years
2steppinfa 5 years
Excuse me Miss? Can we have some more?
FrecherTyp 5 years
Such a wonderful fantasy smiley

And so very seductively put into words

A very sweet and warm story who wouldn t love to go back to her smiley?
Built4com4t 5 years
Piturekapiteka 5 years
How can every story you write turn out so great?
JM Ross 5 years
This is the start of a good yarn. I'm envious. I hope you know where you're going and that you take a long time to get there. Best wishes.
Built4com4t 5 years
first 3 chapters a fun read...keep it coming