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Saturday, April 7, 2012

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Night Wanderings {2::3}

A smoky fog began to curl around the forest floor, but it seemed to melt like mist on a warm day when it touched Crow’s cedar.         
                                 
“Seeing that I am now in charge of you,” Crow scowled, “I might as well tell you I’m the Guardian of the Forest,” 

“A what?” Maun asked absently. When would they get out of here?” 

“A guardian, I assume you know how to spell. They gave me this dratted job as ‘Keeper of the only beacon in Titalukia’s sea of black magic’ blah, blah, blah. Whoever appointed field mice as heads of the Wild Council have bees in their brains, that’s for sure,” he muttered. “It means I have to protect this tree, because it’s the only thing here that can fend of evil trickery by His Majesty. Although it is quite a splendid tree.” There was admiration in his caw. 

The black bird flew down to Maun, and stared her straight in the eye. His beady stare was rather unnerving. “Since I am Keeper of this cedar, black magic affects me after a longer time than most.” 

A sudden shaft of wood cracked not so far away, and still Crow still did not attempt to leave. “On this journey, brat, I expect for your mouth to be completely shut. At least Titalukia gets rid of you annoying humans for me.” 

Enormous footfalls, closer, closer… 

In response to this, at first Crow groaned, but then screeched, “Follow me!” 

Maun scrambled after him, but stepped ankle length into a disgusting bog. How can Crow expect her to keep up? 

“You’re going too slowly. Hurry up already!” When he flew even faster, Maun was forced to change into an exhausted run, which was hardly enough to sustain her. The black bird trailed swiftly away from her, until he condensed to mere shadows. 

“Wait…for…me,” Maun panted. Her one flame of hope had been doused completely by fear. She watched him until he vanished to nothing. 
                                                                  ***
How does one feel when she experienced drawback after drawback, until she is back to where she started? 

Maun now knew the answer, hopelessly left stranded with nothing but sheer human strength, will and wisdom, left abandoned, vulnerable and targeted by an unknown danger. Every time when she ran out of resources to rely on, she relied on the help of others. She must now rely on the strength of herself. Crow was not going to get her out of this. 

Maun put together every strip of helpful information she had: there is a path, where dark magic does not fall. There is a tree, where dark magic does not fall. Forest animals seem to skirt through it as well, unless she is with them. Owl had said she can not learn the trail, unless she learned compassion. But had she not softened her hard ways enough? No. Perhaps she had not. 

But there was no one here to show compassion to. Then she can not use the trail. 

When she tried escaping the ground by using the pine, the Mist had forced her back down to Titalukia. Crow is the Guardian of the Forest, Keeper of the Cedar… 

Titalukia loomed ever closer, and this was not helping her. She glanced closely back to the cedar, and with a start realized it had not moved at all, even though she had. “A beacon of Titalukia’s sea of black magic...” Perhaps she had a spark, however dim, after all. 
                                                                       *** 
How should she use it? Having a tree near her did not help her one bit. The only thing she could do now, since she couldn’t navigate herself out of the forest, is escape the ground…Maun gasped out loud. That is it! She needs to climb the cedar to keep away from Titalukia. 

Maun could have sang, complete with a dance. She found it! She found the answer! She did not have time to celebrate, though. She needed to get herself up, and quick. 

The girl stumbled forward, another step, another, ‘till she was touching the rough bark. To climb it was another matter. There was no more will in her limbs. 

No, no! She must! Or she will not live! 

Maun heaved herself forward, but the lowest branch was above her head. Her limp hands were sliding down, back to the forest soil. 

Hot tears threatened to spill over. Why? Why can she not climb this cursed tree? This stupid, stupid TREE! 

With a scream, she kicked at the roots, and swore so foully the elders of her village would have cut out her tongue. She breathed loudly with rage, but then froze. An enormous shadow loomed over her.

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