THE LOST QUEST
(In a pitch dark tunnel, three men were holding hands. Three candles were lit in between them with a spirit recorder buzzing.)
“Tiara! You’re hearing me? Tiara! Are you with us? Tiara!”
“It’s so spooky in here. I’m freezing. Where’s the foul smell coming from? I don’t think, I can stand this anymore.”
“No matter what lords, don’t leave the hands. Aiden! Don’t let go. We’ve reached this far. She is the only one who can help us get through it. We’re trying to communicate,” said Zohar, the wizard.
“Tiara! We need your help. You’re here? Please give a sign.”
“Tiara!” repeated Yannic.
(The recorder started buzzing like being tuned to any local station. Some weird music began to play. In the broken and unclear sound, they heard someone sobbing.)
“I! I warned you!”
“Tiara, is that you?”
“I warned you,” Female sobbing voice, they could hear. I warned something’s wrong you can’t fight him. He is going to kill you. He killed me. He’ll kill you all. Save your life! Run away Yannic!”
“Who killed you Tiara? Who’s going to kill us?”
“Run for your life! Ru…”
(The sobbing was gone. Random station was tuned. The recorder started rattling weirdly. Heavy manly voice started crackling through the recorder)
“It ain’t thy wish when thou arrived, ain’t that be the way thou go,
None have ever defeated the demon, see the power he owe,
The dawn thou want to see is far far away,
The elegy of death song has just begun to play,
Now until the game is over thou have to stay… So Stay!”
“My lord! That’s not Tiara. He has arrived.”
“It’s scary brother! Feels like somethings climbing my back,” said Aiden.
(The recorder crackled and made rattling noise. The gentle breeze turned into howling wind. Wind growled harder swinging the men. Rattling grew noisier. The foul smell like that of rotten corpse grew stronger.)
“Don’t leave the hands! Don’t let go! We need to be together. It’s a trick no matter what, DON’T LET GO!!”
The swirling wind blew off the candles, leaving the men in pitch darkness, feeling the tight grip of each other’s hand.
“I’m scared! It’s all dark now.”
(The boy beside them started shaking vigorously.)
“Aiden’s trembling, Zohar can you feel his hands getting colder?”
“Aiden! You’re okay?”
“Lords! Don’t let go. We need to hold on. She’s going to help us.”
(Storm grew wilder! Men started swinging with wind)
“SAVE ME!” (Painful scream they could hear)
“Who’s yelling?” asked Yannic.
“Aaaahhh!” the scream was heard to be fading away.
“Sounds like someone’s dragged out of the tunnel.”
“Help! Brother! Save me! He’s taking me away! Zohar!”
The scream grew bitter.
“Holy god, Zohar! That’s Aiden!”
“How’s that possible? Whom are we holding on?”
The sound slowly vanished along with the rattling of recorder. The trembling was all gone. All that left was heavy breaths, bumping hearts in dead silence of the pitch dark tunnel and unknown pair of cold hands that they were still holding on.
The First Night
Moonlight falling through the window, near the door, had brightened up the whole place
“Finally! Life seems good.” Yannic woke up with a grin, in his king sized bed. Moon light falling through the window, near the door, had brightened up the whole place. The first night of the spring, seemed like the brightest night of the year to Yannic. Beside him, laid beautiful Tiara, love of his life. He could see her curvilinear waist, in the light of moon. Her brown curls that was falling upon her face covering her pouty lips and elegant nose making her look prettier than ever. He got closer, gently brushed away the hair and placed it behind her ear. How pristine she looked, in deep sleep closing her hazel green eyes, with languid eye lashes of black velvet. “What might she be dreaming, is it me?” wondered Yannic. She was there like a lying goddess in her golden night attire, looking beautiful more than any dream. How many hurdles had this girl been through, how many tears she had cried. How long she had waited for them to be together. He took her hand on his. He looked at her cumin red finger nails which seemed to bring colors into his dark life. Her long slender fingers. There was their bond for eternity, their wedding ring, which made them each other’s forever. He promised not to let a drop of tear roll through her cheeks, not to leave that girl alone ever again. He promised never to let her down and always protect her. At that tranquil hour of night, all he could hear was deep breaths of his wife and the ticking of his grandfather’s clock opposite to the bed .He raised his head, it was quarter past 2. Feeling the immense peace and satisfaction in his heart, he looked at his wife, looked at the night, and all that seemed was perfection. He wanted to capture this moment and treasure it forever.
All his thoughts got hindered by a sudden beep in his mobile. He soon reached the mobile and switched it to silent mode, made sure his wife ain’t awake. In the screen appeared an unknown number. Yannic decided to ignore the call, at that hour of night. The mobile beeped again as he ignored it again. The mobile beeped for the third time, the same unknown number on the screen.
“Must be something important,” thought Yannic and received the call.
“Hello, Is that Mr. Yannic,” (Youthful girly voice)
“I am Saisa. I study with your brother Aiden. We came to a college trip and had been camping on Tilaurai together.”
He remembered Aiden excited about his trip.
“He has been missing since dusk. We saw him head towards woods but hasn’t return yet. We’ve searched for him everywhere. We couldn’t find him. So we thought, it would be better to acknowledge his guardian about it.”
Yannic freaked out. The young enthusiastic lad of 21, his brother had been missing. He calmed himself up and asked
“Was he alone? Did you try his cell?”
“Three other of our friends have been missing with him. We’ve tried to contact them but all of their cells are unreachable. We’ve informed their guardians.”
(With a sigh)
“Okay, I’ll be there soon,”
(Hung up the phone)
He dialed the number of Aiden. It was unreachable. He had to go, find his brother. He soon got dressed. Picked up his coat from the hanger. Beautiful Tiara, still asleep looking like a goddess. He didn’t feel right to wake her up.
“Will be home soon.. I love you!”
He left a note on the lamp table beside the bed. He kissed her forehead and headed towards the door. On the way, he took a peek out of the window. He saw a huge cluster of black cloud grumbling towards the moon. The beam of the moon vanished in the shed of the cloud. The beautiful bright night turned dark like the lurking darkness in his placid heart. He still could hear breathing Tiara. Ticking of clock in that immense silence of night. Then he suddenly heard screeching owls and a wolf howling somewhere deep far from the woods.
Into The Woods
The moonlight fell upon the highway through passage of trees
Something about the night was dragging Yannic behind. “I can’t leave her like this,” thought Yannic. However, he had hopes of finding his brother soon and be with Tiara again. He slowly opened the door, making sure not to disturb his wife. Walked down the stairs, to the entrance and to the main gate. He could hear the pitch of howling was fading away. As he opened the main door, a heavy swirling wind blew past his ear but everything was calm again. It was a calm night that was passing away. All he wanted was to find his brother and grab him tight more than anything at the moment. He checked for the keys into the pocket, he could feel them. He had his black Acura parked in the garage, underground. He walked to the garage. It was all dark. A small kitten ran across the entrance as he opened the door. “We have a kitty here,” Yannic thought to himself. He took the remote and pushed the button, the headlight of the car glowed in the darkness. He entered the car and drove it out of the garage, out from the compound. On the way out, he took a glance to his bedroom’s window. Light of the night bulb had made the room pretty visible from outside. He felt some shaggy image moving into the room. “Must be Tiara” All he could think of, then he drove out to find Aiden.
Yannic and Tiara had decided to spend their wedding night in this vintage farm villa, couple of kilometers far from the noisy city, near the woods. He had to drive past the woods, the city and towards Tilaurai as soon as possible.
Yannic drove through the woods. The black cloud was slowly scattering away from the moon. The moon light fell upon the highway through passage of trees. The headlights were glowing bright enough to make the highway clearly visible. There was no sign of any other vehicle or anyone at that hour of the night. All he could hear was the sound of insects, buzzing through the bushes. As he started approaching the middle part of the woods, the howling sound was heard again. This time more distinct and louder. Yannic still couldn’t focus on anything else. He remembered Aiden so excited that he left for the trip soon after the wedding ceremony. After the demise of his parents to a car crash, where two brothers were only survivors, at least he was told so, Yannic always had been a guardian to his little brother. He had very blur images of his parents. In fact, grief of the parental loss was so deep that he didn’t remember anything about being with parents during the crash. He couldn’t take it, if anything would happen to his little one.
As all these images were flickering through his mind, he was speeding the car in the highway. Suddenly, he saw someone in distinct white dress at a distance, on the highway. The person on the white cloak with white bushy beard and a tall white cap on his head was approaching the car in terrific speed. Yannic could not think of anything else. He closed his eyes and stepped the break haphazardly, rotating the steering and the car stopped after making couple of whirls few meters away from the highway. All covered in sweat, and breathing heavily, Yannic opened his eyes. His car was just over a cliff. He looked through the window. To his surprise, there was no one in the highway. He had been so much in stress lately, that he had started seeing images. This was all he could think of.
He drove the car back to the highway and raced towards the city. The night was changing bright to dark, beautiful to horror. The howling was growing louder and louder, as if a large flock of wolves was somewhere very near. Then, he felt a gentle tap over his shoulder. Yannic was surprised, he slowly turned his head around. What he saw left him shunned. There was the same old man in the white dress at the back seat, gazing at him with a wide smile.
It was cold! Very cold!
Yannic opened his eyes as this familiar voice fell upon his ear. He saw a blur image of a person in front of him. “C’mon! Wakeup Yannic. You’ve been asleep for days.” It sounded lovable. The tiered eyes, as if they had been waiting for someone, for so long. He saw the wrinkles on the cheeks and lines on his forehead. Yet, the generous smile like it wanted to hide the ocean of melancholy inside. This familiar face appeared in front of Yannic, sitting on his bed, as his vision grew distinct.
“Grand Pa!!” said Yannic. The 10 year old woke up in a bed of a hospital, looked around, kids were playing in their bed in a pink blue room. Pictures of Mickey and Donald painted on the wall, a typical children’s ward.
“Where are we? My heads hurting.”
Yannic felt some weird heaviness in his head, he felt a bandage wrapped around when he held his head. “Rest Yannic! You’re not completely fine.” “We’re in hospital. You had been feeling unwell lately.”
Grandfather laid him down as he was trying to get up.
“How did I get in here?” Yannic laid down, stared at the celling. He was trying to remember what had happened.
“I was in the car.. We went fishing.. Aiden was asleep beside me….”
“Yannic! We’ll talk about it later, child!”
“Dad was driving…. Mom and dad were at the front seat. It was all dark. We had to reach early in the morning,” continued Yannic. He remembered traces of the night.
“Yannic! Look! What I’ve got for you?” Grandfather handed him his plastic superman, trying to deviate his thoughts.
“I was poking dad from behind. I wanted that pocket watch you had given to him.”
Yannic started sobbing.
“Dad! Dad had told he’ll give it to me later, but I was insisting. He turned around. Huge truck! Huge truck was coming and everything went dark. My head’s hurting!” Yannic started holding and squeezing his head tight.
“Don’t over think.”
“Where’s mom? Where’s dad?” Yannic realized something very bad had happened with them, that night.
“Grand pa! Where’s mom? Where’s dad?” The screaming voice of the kid, shunned all other kids in room. Everyone started staring at Yannic. He looked at Grand pa, he had teary eyes. He reached the pocket and pulled something out. It was his father’s pocket watch.
“Mom? Dad?” Yannic lowered his voice, raised his head and asked his Grandfather. Grandfather nodded in disappointment. Tears came rolling through his eyes.
Yannic looked at the watch “Mom and dad died because of me. Because I was insisting. I killed them.” looked at grandfather and screamed. “I killed them!” shouted aloud. He got off the bed ran through the passage of the hospital, crying and screaming.
“Mom! … Dad!”
Yannic ran through the passage crying and screaming
Grandpa ran after him. He pulled him near and hugged him tight. Both of them were in tears. “I killed my own parents, grandpa!”
“No child! It’s not your fault.”
Yannic cried aloud.
After a moment, Yannic stopped. He remembered his little brother who was asleep beside him in the car.
“Aiden! Where’s Aiden? Did he too??” said Yannic, in terrified voice.
“No! No! Aiden’s okay. He has been taken into another ward for the treatment,” Grand pa consoled.
“Take me to him. I want to see him right now.”
Yannic got relived. Grandfather carried him on his waist and walked to the door of an emergency ward. Yannic could see the little three year old through a small window on the door. He was breathing heavily, lying on a bed.
“He’s going to be okay!”
Both boy and the old man waited outside the door of the ward on a wooden bench. Suddenly, they saw the door of the ward open. A nurse came out pushing a white stretcher with a little body covered by a blue cloth and stopped beside them. Yannic got up and stepped ahead.
“Who’s in there?” He looked at the nurse. She didn’t reply. He reached closer and pulled the cloth, he realized it was Aiden.
“Wake up Aiden!” he shook the body, but it won’t answer. His little one was gone. Yannic started crying. He felt like his entire world smashed in front of him. He saw that pale lifeless face of little Aiden, his motionless fingers had turned cold. He felt a tight grip of his grandfather’s hand on his back as he shouted “AIDEN!!”
Suddenly he felt like he was losing his voice. He was trying to shout out loud but he felt like the air was rushing into his lungs. Yannic started shivering .It was cold! Very cold! He looked down, he could feel the water dripping through his pants. The sounds and images of Aiden, Grandpa and the hospital slowly started getting blur and everything was fading away. He felt like his eyes were stretching out with cold. As he opened his eyes, he realized that the car had missed the track and plunged into a river.
The old man on the back seat was grabbing to his shoulder .The rear window of the car was broken with the fall and the water was rushing into the car. Yannic was drowning. In the dark, with a stranger behind him, he was drowning deep into the cold water.
The Pocket Watch
“Did you forget? You left it on my cemetery.”
It was dark. Yannic could feel his head under the water. Water was rushing into his ears and nose. The swirling current of the water got his vision blurred. He was trying to open the door of the car, but the pressure of water had jammed it, it won’t open. He felt the old man grabbing his arms and trying to pull him towards the back seat. He was terrified. He could see each strands of the old man’s beard floating in the water. Yannic was struggling to let go but he had realized the only way out was the rear window of the car. He was stuck on the front seat with his seat belt on. To his wonder, the old man was pretty strong that he dragged Yannic out of the car through the rear window and swam towards the surface. Yannic was half conscious and terrified floating on the river the old man was dragging him towards the shore. He felt the drizzle upon his face. As he heard the thunder of lightening, the drizzle turned into howling rain. The hails started hitting his head. Then a large whirl of the water rushed towards them separating the men and taking them along with it. Then Yannic saw bright flashes of warm unstoppable lights.
The bright light made Yannic unable to keep his eyes closed. As he opened his eyes, he realized it was scorching sun of the noon. He was lying on a shore. He could feel sand of the shore into his mouth. He felt waves were gently touching and leaving his feet. He got up, looked around. He was alone! In front of him was a dense pine forest, behind him was the deep wide river and forest on the other side. Where was the highway? Yannic couldn’t figure anything out. He had to find his brother. It was already noon and he was on a shore of some river in middle of an unknown forest. He could feel his cell on the pants pocket. He took it out, it was all soaked up in water.
He took out the battery and left it to dry, facing the battery and the cell towards the sun.
“Walking along the river shore leads you out of the woods!” Yannic had read this somewhere. He started walking through the shore to find a way out of the forest. As the battery got dried, he kept it on the cell and switched it on. The mobile started beeping. 1..,2…,3.,4……..10 messages.
“Where are you?”
“Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“Call me now!”
“I am worried. Why is your cell switched off?”
Yannic hadn’t even finished reading all those messages, the cell rang. It was Tiara.
“Where are you Yannic? Why didn’t you wake me up? Why did you switched off the cell? I had been trying to reach you for hours.”
“I had to get Aiden. We’ll be home soon.”
“Where are you? I’m going to come right now.”
“Hmmm… I don’t know.”
“What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I came to the place where Aiden had been camping.”
“The place where Aiden had camped isn’t farther than 3 hours. You should have arrived by now.”
(A typical couple fight started)
“Where are you? I am worried Yannic. Are you all right? Something’s wrong!” said Tiara.
“No sweet heart. I’ll be home soon. You take care.”
“You left me alone at our wedding night and you’re not home yet. You even don’t know where you are. Is that supposed to be funny?”
“No, I’ll be there as soon as I….”
The battery went dead, the mobile had soaked up huge amount of water.
Yannic looked the mobile in despise. He felt like throwing it into the cold water. However, he again took out the battery held it towards the sun and fixed his way along the shore.
After walking for hours, all he could find was the wood getting denser and denser, the wide river shrinking to a narrow stream and there was no trace of the way out. He was lost in the forest. He felt grumbling in his stomach. He was hungry. Hours of meaningless walk only led him to an empty stomach. He hadn’t any thing to eat. He decided to enter the forest in hopes of finding some wild fruits. Say his bad luck, it was a pine forest. There was nothing except of hard cones and prickly leaves on the ground. He saw a rugged hut, few meters away, in the forest. He walked to the hut. Roof of straw, walls of mud and mushrooms growing all over the old wooden door had given it a very creepy look.
He knocked once! Twice! Thrice! The Old man opened the door.
Yannic freaked out, he hadn’t expected the old stranger opening the door of that weird hut. He remembered him pulling out of the car and saving him last night. The old man was giving him the warm smile with his crooked teeth hidden behind the white beard.
“Who are you? Why do I keep on bumping on you?”
“I felt like you were trying to save me last night, but then why did you leave me at the shore?” “I fell into the river because of you, though. How did you get into the car, by the way? ” The old man spread welcoming hands to let Yannic inside .Yannic stepped back, picked up a stone at the side of the door, and targeted the old man. “You cannot hurt me. Stay away!!”
The old man burst into laughter, “Do you think I’m going to harm you? Didn’t you recognize me?”
He looked into his eyes. He felt warmth and care. He looked at his smile, it was pure and full of love.
“I think I know you.” said Yannic.
The man smiled.
“Grand pa! You look like my grandpa.” Yannic recognized his face behind the bushy beard and wrinkles. “I loosed two months before my wedding. I had to bury him with these hands.” Yannic stared at his palms.
The old man pulled out the golden pocket watch hung around his neck under his white cloak.
“Where did you get that?”
“Did you forget? You left it on my cemetery.”
Yannic felt like it was a dream. He pricked his finger to a nail stuck on the door, he was bleeding. It was real. Yannic held his head against his hands, felt weak on his knees and sat in front of the door.
“How is that possible? My grand pa died. I buried him!” “I buried you with my own hands. How can you be alive?” screamed Yannic.
“I never died, I never die. It was just a role that ended.”
“I am the same person who raised you up. But, I’m not your Grand pa. I was never your Grand pa. I’m Zohar, I am a wizard.”
All the trees were twisted in strange manner
“How do I know if this is not poisoned?” asked Yannic as the old man handed him a wooden bowl of soup.
“You think the person who raised you up is going to kill you now?” Laughed the old man.
“You told the role has ended. Who knows, you may have taken some other role to take my life this time. So you entered the car and made it plunge into the river. Left me alone on a shore, in the middle of an unknown forest.”
“I saved you from drowning, though,” said the old man.
“For your satisfaction.”
The old man took a sip of the soup with his old wooden spoon.
“See I’m not dead. You can have it. You look pale with hunger.”
“You don’t die,” Yannic looked at him on despise.
The old man sat on a plank of wood, next to Yannic and he started sipping the soup. In spite of the old dirty pottery where the soup was made and the mushrooms probably picked up from the door. Must be the hunger, it tasted well. Yannic could sniff the fungal muddy smell of the hut. There were strands of straws scattered random on the floor. There was a old grey bed sheet over the straw mattress. Potteries and green, blue, yellow fluids on glass jars and piles of books stack on the table.
“So, you are Zohar, the wizard?”
“You live alone?”
“How old are you? Out of curiosity. Because you don’t die.”
“I don’t remember. I have been living in this forest since a long time. There were different kind of trees then.” The old man gazed out of the broken wooden window.
“And you’re my grand pa too!!”
“That was just a role that…”
“……..That ended,” said Yannic “Okay! Okay!” “And how did you get into my car?”
“Because I’m a wizard. I do magic.”
“Oh! Magic. Do you know what I was heading for?” Yannic raised his eyebrows and stared at the old man.
“My little brother, Aiden, you know him right? His friends couldn’t contact him. He is lost in the woods of Tilaurai and I had to find him.”
“I left my newly wedded wife alone in a villa at midnight hoping I would be back in few hours. Another day is about to pass and I’m here, talking to some wierdo, in the middle of an unknown forest, who claims to be my Grandfather, eating mushrooms picked from his old dirty door! What am I doing?” shouted Yannic. “Why did you bring me here?”
“Yannic, it’s not me who brought you here,” the old man tried to console him, but Yannic won’t listen.
“Give me my car and send me back to the highway, by your magic. I have to find my brother. I want to be with my wife again.”
“I’m also worried about him.”
“You’re making it. I know you’re not my Grandpa. You may be a mind reader or something, but I don’t want to hear anything further. You send me or I’m heading out.”
Yannic got up and threw the bowl on the floor. He got out of the door. He could feel the cell and battery dried into his pocket. He took them out and placed the battery in cell. He switched it on, no signal he could see. Yannic raised his cell on a hand and started roaming around in the woods for signal. “Here’s the signal,” after roaming for a while, he found a trace of signal. He realized that he had reached far from the hut. Trees were different there. Some had cones and leaves like Pine trees but the trunks, they were all twisted in strange manner. All the trees had twisted trunks. There was something so magnetic about those creepy trees that made Yannic move further ahead. The leaves of the trees got wider and wider, different kind of trees, the wide trees, thin trees, tropical trees but the trunks all twisted, as if those trees were cursed.
He looked at the cell, there was full signal.
“Tiara, I must call Tiara.” On the first ring Tiara picked up the phone.
“Hello! Yannic where are you? How are you? When you’ll be back?”(Worried voice he could hear)
“I found the way out. I am okay, Tiara!”
“I am on the way to Tilaurai. As soon as I meet Aiden I’ll be home,” lied Yannic.
“Okay! Give me a call as soon as you meet him,” Tiara sounded relived.
“Sure! You take care.”
Yannic was alleviated with her relived voice. He still couldn’t figure out which part of the forest he was heading to, though, he was feeling so dragged to the creepy forest with twisted trees.
To his wonder, there was no trace of animals or birds chirping in such a dense forest but a hideous silence. Suddenly, he felt something dripping on his shoulder. He looked on the shirt. He could see fresh blood dropping somewhere above him. As he looked up, he saw a woman in a golden dress hanging on a branch of the tree. Her face covered with her curly hairs with blood flowing through her mouth, she seemed still alive.
“He’s killing me! Save me! Save me! Yannic!” she said. The sound was familiar. Yannic was shunned as he looked the face carefully. It was his wife hanging on the tallest tree of the forest. “Tiara!” Yannic got terrified. He shivered and didn’t know what to do next.
“Save me! Save me!” the sound was getting bitter and painful every time. The blood flowing through her mouth had his shirt painted red. Yannic closed his eyes and ears and started screaming.
“Zohar! Zohar!” He turned around to the hut and shouted “Zohar! Zohar!” He felt her blood running down his body.
After a while, Yannic opened his eyes. Zohar in his white cloak was approaching the forest. “Zohar… Tiara….” Yannic stammered. He had nothing else to tell. He opened his ear, the sound was gone. He looked at the shirt, it was all white.
It was Tiara hanging on the tallest tree of the forest.
He pointed up, there was nothing but the tallest tree of the forest.
“She was there, hanging.”
Zohar smiled “The place has started hunting you, my lord.”
Yannic stood there surprised shunned, shivering.
“What do you mean? Why? ”
“I was not the one who brought you here. It was your destiny. I am just here to help you. Now your quest begins.”
The Wizard Of Peninha
He was wearing a tall black hat and a long cloak with a wand on his hand.
It was getting dark. Yannic could hear the sound of flowing river, passing through stone gaps, past trees of the forest. Added with the sound of insects buzzing and very unclear sound of the wolves howling far in the woods. The surrounding seemed ushering grave darkness. Yannic was staring out of the window of the hut. It felt like time was slipping away, in this silent dusk and he was there standing, helplessly.
“What am I doing here?” Yannic thought to himself and sat on the straw mattress.
“What am I doing Zohar? First my little brother gets lost in the woods. Then suddenly, I meet you. I fall into the river and see that dream and my wife, I see in that haunted forest. What’s going on? I don’t understand anything. Please explain all to me,” Yannic asked so many questions looking for answers to Zohar.
“Yannic, first you get to calm down.”
Zohar gazed at him. He could not see him in the darkness. “Be patient and hear the whole thing.” said Zohar. Then, he lighted a spirit lamp which brightened up the whole hut. He pulled a wooden block near the bed and sat opposite to Yannic.
“There, past that river, used to be my village.” Zohar pointed out of the window. “They always told never to go past the river, the forest had been cursed but I was always curious.”
Zohar took off his white cap and placed it on the floor exposing his bald soft scalp through the thin layer of his hair. Yannic could tell he was old, very old. His eyes seemed to look far past the river, past the forest, past to the time long ago.
“We used to rare goats and I was the little one to look after them” he smiled to himself.
“One day! I lost a goat from the herd and was scared to death that my father would find out. I decided not to go home that day. But my bad luck, he counted the goats and he found out. I heard he had been looking for me in rage, all around the village. It was a small village you know, everyone recognized me. I was so terrified that I decided to hide in the forest across the river for a night and show up the next day as it was the last place my father would ever suspect of.”
“So, did you show up the next morning?” Yannic started hearing eagerly.
“Things never go as we plan, my lord.” Zohar smiled. “As I reached the forest, I felt something very strange. The trees in front of me started getting apart as if they were making ways for me. Before I knew anything, I had reached very far. It was getting dark and really terrifying for a small kid. As I looked back I could feel trees creeping closer and blocking the way back. While, in front of me, there was a tall tree with glowing branches. As I was getting closer to it, I got bumped to a tall man standing in front of me. He was thin yet strong, I could feel it. He was wearing a tall black hat and a long cloak with a wand on his hand. I was scared at the beginning, tried to run away creeping beneath the climbers but the way he held me was delicate. I felt warmth in his hands, love and care. He asked me if I was hungry and took me to the nearby hut. It was a small hut yet very beautiful. It had comfortable bed, different magical fluids, he let me pla with. Many books with amazing tales, he let me read. He gave me the most delicious food that I ever had in my entire life and let me sleep on that fluffy mattress. I had never been treated so well, ever in my life. I didn’t feel like leaving. The next morning, he made me a promise that he would treat me the same way if I never go back to my village. For a small kid who always had been living on poverty, it was a never ending treat. I agreed.”
“He treated me the way I was promised but every night he used to take me under the tallest tree and taught me some chanting and worshiping. I soon learned everything and every night we used to worship under the tree together.
It had been a while, I started missing my village. I remembered the promise but I thought there would be no harm to look my family from far. I creeped beneath the creepers and reached to the river.
“It was a small hut yet very beautiful”
What I saw thought there would be no harm just to past the river left me shunned. There was nothing but a dense green forest. I swam across the river called my parents, my friends but no answer I could hear. Everything I had was gone. I looked in the water, I could see my reflection. My face got wrinkled, white beard, white eyebrows.
I looked my hands, they were wrinkled too. I had so many questions to ask but as I got into the hut, the beautiful hut that I had left had turned into old creepy place. The man had got older and weak. He had everything packed up, he told that it was his time to leave. I had never realized, it had been hundreds of years living with him. The time had been frozen until I crossed the river. He was like a father to me” Zohar smiled. “That night we both went down the tallest tree with the glowing branches and worshiped, he told me that he was Lev, the wizard of Peninha, the magical kingdom, underneath the holy pond, that laid at the middle of this forest. It had been protected with good souls unless Ariman , the evil friend of kind , brave and the greatest of Series dynasty, Aerius, invaded it. On a family gathering, he poisoned King Aerius and killed him. He abducted his queen and princesses to torture them. Since then, Ariman and after him, his evil dynasty has been ruling the land. The demon could not kill the old man because he was a wizard but he had been cursed so he was all black and could not use his powers. So all those years, he taught me all his magical spells and wizardry. I could play with his magical fluids. Those good food he fed me were the potions for healing the death. You are the new wizard of Peninha. Aerius is coming back. Protect the Lord! Help him conquer back his kingdom. My loyal will soon send you the seed I still remember his words as he placed his heavy hands over my head and disappeared into ashes.”
“After that!” continued the Wizard. “I started visiting the jungle, every plant, tree, creepers seemed to know me, followed my instructions, and made ways for me. These trees and creepers, led me to the pond where I found your father in the mid part of the forest. All wrapped on silk and the golden pocket watch around his neck. The shimmering shine upon his face soon made me realize that he was not only the royal blood but also owner of the seed, the seed that would conquer the demons and rule the lost kingdom.”
“Have you ever been to Peninha? What’s it like, now?”
“I have been to Peninha. The land beyond the pond, evil have deep rooted it, rotted it and captured all the good souls. The king’s hall is only place which serves the good light throughout the city. The throne of Peninha is so pious that it cannot be touched by any evil entity. Only the holy blood of Seris dynasty can be the heir to it. But, once the heir gets married, conceives and gets impure, the demon can kill them and pour their royal blood on the blood pool in front of the hallway. The blood pool is the essence of king’s chamber in Peninha, source of the bright light. Before your father, all other rulers were allowed to survive till the first day of marriage and were killed. I reared your father in your world, like my own child, loved him, got him married and protected him from evils but once the heir gets married, the demons take them away. So, your father was taken away. It was never your fault Yannic.”
Yannic remembered about the incident. He had been blaming himself for his parent’s death all his life but now he realized it was the fate of every heir of Peninha, untimely death.
“If all the heirs die after they get married, why didn’t they remain unmarried?” asked Yannic, in curiosity.
“Because only the first blood, the pure line can be the heir to the throne. The throne without the pure blood heir, is not lesser than any curse to Peninha. They need a pure heir surviving.”
“The moment you were born and I held you for the first time,” continued Zohar. “I realized, you are the one. The seed wizard Lev had talked about. The pure line of blood with the holy spirit of Lord Aerius. You are the one with powers to conquer the demons and rule the lost kingdom of Peninha. Now that you’re married, Demons will come to get you. They have started dragging you already. But you are an heir who can win the evil over. Save the lost kingdom.”
“But, what about Aiden? He is lost in the forest of Tilaurai, I have to find him.”
“Aiden! Demons have already reached Aiden. Aiden was just a way to get you here, Yannic. They want your holy blood in their hallway. But they don’t know you are also the holy spirit of Lord Aerius, Lord of Peninha. And lord, this is part is connected to the forest of Tilaurai which can be entered and exited only with supreme magic. Go to sleep now, we will be moving towards the state tomorrow.”
Zohar got off the wooden block and pulled out the mattress underneath the bed. He spread it on the floor and laid down. Yannic stared out of the window, the bright clusters of stars had brightened up the whole sky. It was a gentle dark night. He saw the shape of a warrior with a sword in his hand. “Was everything Zohar told, a truth?” Well, he was unaware, but he had something very strong within himself telling this dark night had a bright morning ahead to bring back his loved and lost ones.
The Suicide Forest
“This is the suicide forest. You see dead people hanging on the tree.”
Creeping beneath the climbers jumping over the roots, bending against the twisted trunks, Yannic and Zohar reached the mid part of the forest. On the way, they only could hear the sound of the cracking dried leaves and dead grass on the floor. A strange desolation they felt in the dense forest.
Yannic knocked his head on a twisted branch, held his head and sat down on a bulging root sprouting out of the forest floor.
“Why are all the trees in this forest so twisted? It’s so difficult to move ahead.” said Yannic as he rubbed his forehead.
Zohar stopped and turned around touched the nearby branch.
“These trees have been cursed, my lord.”
“Cursed? How is that?”
“After Ariman invaded Peninha, he captured and tortured the good people. Especially, the queen and the princesses. Those high born beauties rich in values and ethics could not tolerate the tortures of Ariman and his demons. They fled from Peninha to this forest through the pond but demons followed them. They felt it would be better to kill themselves rather than to return to the same torturous hell in Peninha. The queen was skilled of wizardry, so she commanded all the trees to block the way so that they could die pious, untouched by those evil beasts. They all hung themselves on these tree.”
Yannic nodded in agreement.
“The pain of their screams and their tears were so intense that no birds or animal could stay in this mournful environment. No flower have ever bloomed since that day. The forest was only left with these cursed trees and the hideous silence which still haunts everyone who visits this place.”
“But you were not here when that happened. How did you know all about it, Zohar?”
“I’ve communicated with these trees, the creepers, the climbers. They have told me their stories, my lord.” Zohar smiled to himself.
“Let’s move ahead there’s a long way to Peninha.”
Yannic followed Zohar and both headed towards the holy pond. Even, after walking for hours, all they could see was the twisted trees, bushes and creepers getting denser and denser. The path ahead was all covered.
“How do we move further? The creepers have all blocked the ways.” Yannic looked Zohar. Zohar stepped ahead raised his hand and swung them apart. The creepers and the twisted trees slowly moved apart and made ways for them.
“Zohar, they follow your command.” Yannic looked Zohar in amaze. Zohar smiled. Both men started moving towards the denser part of the forest kicking the dried veins. They had been walking for hours, continuously starving. Yannic felt his throat getting dry, he started coughing. “Do we have water?”
“There’s no water shed in this forest. But there’s a fountain past this forest. You rest here. I’ll go get you water.” Said Zohar and left Yannic in the forest and went to fetch the water. Yannic rested beneath the tree on a twisted root. In the silence, he felt gentle breeze blowing past his hair. The moving leaves had gentle rattling sounds, he could hear.
“Yannic!” he heard something whispering above him.
“Yannic!” he looked up. He could see blue feet trembling, on the air. He moved his eyes up, he saw a boy with a rope around his neck, turning blue, fighting for his breath. He was swinging on the air, with his head tilted to his shoulder as he opened his red eyes. Blood flowing out of his mouth and ears had his face painted.
“Save me! They are killing me. Save me Lord!” his voice fell upon his ear.
“Save me!” “They took him away. They are going to kill him too.”
Yannic stared at the boy.
He had the same feeling, when he saw Tiara, the previous day. Yannic gathering all his guts, stepped ahead and asked.
“Who’s killing you?”
“Who’s taken away?”
Yannic could see tears rolling through his eyes.
“Whom are you talking to?” he heard Zohar talk from behind. He had brought water.
“Zohar, this boy” Yannic pointed towards the tree.
“There’s no one, Yannic.”
There was no one. It was difficult for Yannic to believe, he just had heard a boy talking. Yannic turned back to the tree. The boy had got off the tree and was standing in front of him.
“But you cannot harm him. You’re attached to him. He’ll kill you too. Run away! Run Away!” shouted the boy. He smiled, showing his blood painted teeth and ran towards Yannic to grab his throat.
“Get off me!”
“Get off me!” shouted Yannic as he tried to pull out his hands away from the throat. To Zohar it seemed like Yannic was fighting with himself, grabbing his own throat.
“Yannic! Yannic there’s no one.”
“Zohar, get off this boy from me.” he continued fighting the virtual boy with bloody teeth and red eyes.
“You’re being haunted Yannic. Wake up! Wake up!” shouted Zohar. He took water on his hand, mumbled some chants and sprinkled over Yannic. Yannic stopped, unaware of what had happened earlier. He started coughing vigorously.
“Here’s the water.” Zohar had brought the water on an old leather bottle he carried on his belt of the cloak. Yannic drank the water hastily spilling all over the face. He finally recovered.
“It was horrible. What was that? A dream?” Yannic asked.
“The forest’s haunting you, my lord.”
“Yes, may be the curse,” Consoled Yannic to himself.
Suddenly, the men heard some ruffles on the forest floor, cracking and crumbling of the dried leaves. It felt like some ones being chased into the woods. The fear they could hear in the form of heavy breaths and bumping hearts. The men hustled towards the part from where the scream was being heard. “Help!” “Help!”
The voice was fading away as they were approaching the point. They saw a boy, lying on the floor above a pile of dried leaves. He had his abdomen torn brutally as if fed by any wild creature. His eyes turned red in pain. Zohar and Yannic got near the boy. Yannic held his head and put it on the lap to comfort him. Looked carefully into his face.
He had seen that cheerful boy with Aiden in his wedding ceremony and there he was lying on the forest about to die. Tears came rolling through his eyes.
“You went out to the camp with Aiden, right? What happened? Who did this to you?” Yannic was shocked.
The boy could not speak he slowly raised his hand and pointed towards the bushes. Yannic and Zohar felt something moving behind the bushes. Three men in black cloak were rushing towards the denser part. Yannic got up to follow them. Zohar stopped him. “They are the demons of Peninha, they will hurt you here. You can only invade them in Peninha.”
“Why is that?” asked Yannic
“That’s your kingdom. The pure shrine where the good souls have been captured. Until you sit on the throne and gain all the blessings of the good souls and remember your powers, you cannot win them. You’re just a weak human here, way too weaker than those demons.”
The boy started breathing heavily as if he was counting his last breath. Zohar gently poured water into his mouth. The boy coughed he could not even swallow the water. Yannic could see the blood flowing through his mouth. He saw tears rolling through his cheeks, he enlarged his eyes as stopped breathing. Yannic felt like he was getting a Deja vu. He had seen that boy bleeding from his mouth, his tears he had seen flowing through his cheeks erstwhile.
“Zohar, I had seen him before.” Zohar nodded in agreement.
“Hanging on that tree. Yes! He was the boy who attacked me. I saw him Zohar.”
Zohar seemed no surprised but he looked down and tried to look away from Yannic.
“What does that mean Zohar? I had seen Tiara the previous day.”
“Why aren’t you answering?”
Zohar slowly looked up. He was sad.
“Yannic!” “This is the suicide forest. You see dead people hanging on the tree.”
“You said I was being hunt.”
Zohar looked down. “They must have ripped her by now.”
Yannic took out the cell. Switched it on, but it won’t. The battery was dead, he threw the mobile in detest. “I’ll go save her.”
Yannic started running through the trees.
“You can’t reach her,” shouted Zohar. “You’ve already being bounded by magic. You can’t go out.”
“Why? She’s my wife. I need her. I’ve sworn to protect her. I can’t let her die!”
“You can’t go back Yannic! Do you know how you came into this forest? How you got into that river?”
“You can’t go back until you finish what you came for.”
Yannic stopped, got down on his knees. In front of him, he could see sun setting from the gaps of trees. In that silent dusk, he could feel his beloved slipping away from him. He was crying. His tears were dropping on the body of crumbled dried leaves. At the side of him, laid an innocent lad on the pool of blood and Zohar, well he was looking at his lord, the heir to the throne, the rage he could see into his eyes, the flame that he would keep burning to get back their lost kingdom.
Inside The Tree
It looked like there was a house inside the tree.
Yannic looked towards the grave.
“Wolves won’t find him after being buried this deep,” said Zohar, as he stood up after throwing the last pound of the soil to the grave.
“We might need this.” Yannic moved towards a bag lying on the forest floor, beside the grave. He slowly unzipped the bag. He could see a recorder, an Ouija board. Beside it, at the lowest part, he found student’s ID.
“Roll number 342, Beth Renis!”
“He was a pretty lad.” said Zohar, who was staring from behind. “Not tough though.”
“Let’s move ahead. We should find a safe place before its dark.”
Yannic carried the bag and the men moved towards the denser part of the forest. The forest was getting thicker and the dusk was getting darker as they were wondering ahead.
“What was that?” Yannic turned around. “What?” Zohar asked.
Yannic nodded no and followed Zohar.
Another tap closer to his ear. Yannic turned around, nothing he could see. Ignored again as he followed Zohar.
(Crumbling of the leaves)
This time he heard some giggles, laughter like some group of little lass have just ran past him. He turned around, he could see a pink silk shawl floating behind a tree. Yannic tapped Zohar.
“Zohar!” he whispered.
Zohar looked back.
Leaving Zohar to walk ahead Yannic slowly approached the tree. He saw three pretty little girls, with dress of silk white, blue and pink floating away from him, giggling and looking back. There was something so sweet and magnificent about those giggles. So sharp, yet beautiful like heaven’s sent the messengers and they were talking to him in form of these sweet and angelic sounds, in that hideous forest.
He wanted to hear them more.
Yannic kept on following the little girls.
He saw three pretty little girls, with dress of silk white, blue and pink floating away from him
Zohar called Yannic but he was so mesmerized by their laughter, he could not hear anything else.
“Yannic! We have to head this way.” Zohar shouted but he saw him running away recklessly towards the opposite part. The little giggling girls were moving towards a huge, wide tree and stopped in front of it. Yannic stared them from a distance.
“Tap! Tap!” one of the girls, in pink, tapped the tree.
The tree slowly started getting brighter, the lowest part of the trunk slowly raised above and it looked like there was a house inside the tree. The little girls giggling entered the door. The last one, in white, turned towards Yannic and moved her hand in a way that she was inviting him in. Yannic had to enter. He wanted to hear more of those angelic voices. As he entered the tree, the opening slowly got closed. The light of the dusk no more could enter the tree. It was dark neither he heard the giggles nor he could see any of them around.
Yannic slowly moved ahead. Even after walking few meters past, he was amazed he had not yet bumped into anything.
“How can a room in a tree be this huge?” wondered Yannic as he continued moving ahead.
Suddenly, beside him, he saw a little sparkle of a fire that soon turned to a flame held by one of those little ladies. He could see her milky white skin turn red with the warmth of the burning flame.
“Mama!” she said “Look daddy’s here!” as she pulled a pocket of Yannic’s pants.
The girl was staring ahead. Yannic could feel a dark feminine figure sitting in front of him on the dim light of flame. He got closer he could recognize her face. On the light of flame, he saw the most beautiful woman in front of him. On her rapture blue eyes, he could see the image of the flame burning aside. He looked at her dainty nose and plumbed lips. The flame had made her long hair look sunrise golden.
“You’re back!” she spelled.
Oh! That angelic beauty, the queen of fairies. Yannic could not take his eyes off her
She got up from her seat.
Oh! That angelic beauty, the queen of fairies. Yannic could not take his eyes off her.
“I have been waiting for you for so long.”
“Where had you been, my lord?” she bowed down to him and clanged to his feet.
“What are you doing? Who are you lady?” Yannic tried to pick her up. A beauty like her would never suit on a commoner’s feet. But she curled more.
“They told you’re gone, to the land beyond the stars.” (Sobbing)
“But I always knew, you were coming back. I knew, we had to wait and we would wait eternity for you, my lord”
“Who are you, lady?”
“You might have…you might have mistaken me for someone else.” Stammered Yannic.
“Didn’t you recognize me?” The lady got up, pulled him close and stared into his eyes. “I am Arina, the Queen of Peninha. Didn’t lord Aerius recognize me??”
Yannic was amazed.
“Your princesses, they had been waiting for their father with me.” She pointed towards those three little girls beside the flame.
“I’ve waited for you so long and now that you’ve arrived, I feel so complete, so safe.”
He looked deep into her eyes, he could see the time she had waited for him. It was long. The pain of undying love she had carried in her tears.
He slowly wiped away her tears.
“I will never leave you again.” Yannic hugged her and kissed her forehead. Yannic never felt so strong, he didn’t know what made him so connected to that unknown lady inside the tree that he could feel the pain in her soul.
“We were so scared. They followed us up here.” One of the little princesses stepped ahead and told him.
“They put us in cage and took mommy to the hall.” Another spoke.
“They are never going to harm you again.
Your daddy’s back.” Yannic didn’t know why he was telling all these to some kids, he had never met before but it felt really good. The little girls giggled and ran towards him. He embraced them tight, beside him sat the queen. He hugged them all. That was the moment, the moment of realization when he felt like the greatest, strongest and the most fulfilled person in the world. He felt like a king, a warrior lost in his battle, who finally got back to his long lost family.
Yannic looked at them. Hugged them. He felt, this was where he belonged.
“Now, that we’ve met you, our wait’s over! We can peacefully go to the rest.”, Softly said the queen as she wiped her tears.
“Rest? What are you talking about?” asked Yannic.
“Lord! After you left, they tried to torture me and these little kids. We fled away from Peninha. They followed us even here. So we chose to leave our bodies rather than being tortured by those demons. But our souls, we were captured here. All this time, we were yearning to meet you, we were in pain but your kiss have melted all that away. We’re free now. We can easily go on rest. Other good souls in Peninha need you my lord! You go! Set them free!” The queen smiled as the tear of happiness flowed through her cheeks. She walked away from Yannic and the little girls followed her. They all looked happy. The little princesses were still giggling covering their tiny little teeth.
“Thank you father!” said one of them, smiling. Yannic looked at them from a distance with tears in his eyes. The queen placed her hands above the heads of princesses and they all disappeared with the sparkles of glittering stars.
Within a lapse of a moment, he found himself resting under a tree, beside him was Zohar snoring. He looked up, the sky full of the stars. He was quite sure this was not just a dream. He looked around, all the trees were tall and straight. None of them were creepy and twisted.
The curse was broken! Yannic shook Zohar.
Zohar was half awake. “Get up Zohar! We must move ahead, now.”
“It’s late night, my lord!” said Zohar yawning.
“Zohar, Let’s go to my kingdom and free all the good souls. Save the long lost land.”
Zohar smiled to his realization. They both stood up. Through the gaps of those aligned and straight trees, they could clearly see the light of the holy pond, the way to Peninha, their long lost kingdom.
The Holy Pond
“Finally! Here we are. To the holy pond, gate way to the magical land, Peninha!”
The wind was rushing as the men headed towards the pond. The shimmering light of the pool had brightened up the whole forest. The men could see lights through the passes of the tree.
“So, that’s the holy pond.” said Yannic as they approached the middle part. At the center, was a huge circle without a smallest patch of grass on the ground. It had some cracks on the floor. The blue pool of water on that droughty brown floor, looked like an oasis in the desert. However, the pool was not lesser than any oasis, to these two travelers who had their long journey to quench the thirst of quest for their long lost land.
“Finally! Here we are. To the holy pond, gate way to the magical land, Peninha!” said Yannic with a big sigh “How do we enter the pool?”
“The pond opens its way to Peninha, during the early hours of the day. At the time of sunrise, only for few instances. That’s when we’ll enter.”
“We will have to wait until then.” Said Zohar and sat at the side of the pool. Yannic stood next to him. He could clearly see his reflection on the pond under the light of moon and stars. He felt the immense peace and yet some kind of anxiety in his gut, the fear of what would happen next? Suddenly, they heard a scream far inside the wood.
“What was that?”
“Aaaaaahhh!” The sound like someone’s rolled over the dried leaves on the forest, they heard as the scream grew louder.
“Someone’s inside the forest,” Zohar got up and looked towards the forest.
“Should we go there?” said Yannic. “What if it’s a trick?”
They saw a flame of fire moving through the forest, towards the pond.
Yannic and Zohar saw a boy running towards them with a flame on his hand. Behind him were demons in black cloak ready to feast his body. The boy reached them, he was terrified, he tried running away but the beasts were heading towards him. He wept as he knelt before Zohar.
“Please don’t kill me. Let me go!”
“I’ll never tell anyone, about this. Please let me go.” Zohar picked him up. The boy got scared, at the beginning. Zohar moved the boy behind him and stepped ahead. Then he raised a hand and mumbled some chants .Yannic saw something in crystal red light immersing from his hand, he threw it towards the demons. The red crystal made a bubble like shield around the men, the circle which demons couldn’t walk past. The bubble started growing bigger and bigger trying to cover the demons. They saw those demons running away but the bubble got one. The one that was got by the bubble, started shivering. They could see tiny flames arising from several corners of his body and soon turning him into ashes. Watching their friend burn into ashes, other demons fled away. The bubble exploded after reaching few distance in the woods. It was a large explosion.
All three men closed their ears. They felt a kind of pitch silence after that huge explosion.
“Zohar! You made them run away,” Smirked Yannic. “Why didn’t you do that before?”
“Your power alone can kill all the demons in the Peninha. They all are done now.”
“No, my lord!” “Never think these demons are weak. These demons who fled away by my power are only the little minions of the master demons who guard the surrounding of the pond and feast on the human corpse. There are so many powerful demons in Peninha, who feed on the powers of good souls each day weakening them. Those demons cannot be touched by my powers. Only the rightful heir with all the blessings of good spirits to his side can destroy them.”
“Who are you? Where did you come from?” asked Yannic, as he turned towards the boy. He saw the similar bag pack on his back. The boy was still terrified with all that had happened, he wiped the sweats off his forehead and spoke.
“I am Sijal. I came to this forest with three of my friends. We didn’t know how we got this far. We didn’t find the way out. And these weird people in cloak attacked us. They took my friends. I was running to myself from them.”
“Did you come with Aiden?”
“Yes. But, how did you know him?”
“I am Yannic, his older brother. I was informed that you guys got lost in the forest of Tilaurai.”
“Yes, we had arrived here for camping but there always had been a rumor about a secret part and trees in there being haunted. Some said, a different kind of magical entity guard the secret part of the forest and some sad spirits haunt the forest. Very few had been able to enter it. So, we came here to ascertain the rumor and communicate with the spirits.”
“And when you called the spirits on your board something else arrived.” Zohar turned and completed his sentence.
“Yes! Those beasts in black cloak.” The young man stared at the floor. “They killed Denis. Took away Aiden and they had been chasing Beth and me. I heard him scream late at night, yesterday. They must have killed him too.” He started weeping as he fell down on the ground.
“Look! He’s bleeding.” Said Yannic. Blood was running through is legs.
“They almost got him.” Said Zohar, as he gently stroked the boy on his hair. “There must be some medical herbs in the forest. I’ll go get that, you stay with him.”
Zohar went away to get the herbs. Yannic sat next to the boy. “Where did they take Aiden?”
“I don’t know, as soon as we started connecting the spirit, they appeared. One of them captured Aiden and one of them disappeared into fog, the others started attacking us to feed on us.” The boy started crying loud. Yannic got near and put his arms around him.
“You’re safe now,” said Yannic and wrapped him.
Suddenly, they saw something moving past the bushes.
“They have arrived again!”
The boy held Yannic tighter.
“You stay here.”
“No!” said the boy, and he pulled Yannic to his hand.
“You stay! I will go see what’s in there.” Yannic left him there and moved towards the tree behind the bushes. He heard someone’s sobbing as he approached near. He looked beside the bush. He saw a young woman weeping, covering her face to her knees, looking down. Her arms all covered by her long brown hair. Yannic got closer and tapped her on the shoulder. Then she looked up and said
Yannic saw his beloved in that forest.
Yannic could not believe his eyes. He pulled her up and hugged her tight.
“You’re alive! I thought you were gone.” said Yannic and he kissed her on the forehead.
“They are very powerful. Yannic! You cannot win them.”
“What you’re talking about, Tiara?”
“How did you come here?”
She pointed towards a tree in the forest.
She pulled his hand and led him towards the tree. He saw a man hanging by a branch of that slender tallest tree.
“The curse has been broken. How come this man on tree?”
He moved near the man to see his face.
The man opened his bloody red eyes as he said “Go away Yannic! They will kill you too.”
“Paa!” Behind the face painted with blood, he recognized the person. It was his long dead father hanging on the tree.
“How did you?”
“Go away! You can do nothing about it. You’re attach to it.”
“Yannic!” this time a female voice struck his ear. He moved towards the next tree.
“Child! Go away. You cannot win him. You’re attached to it.” His mom, he saw hanging in the next tree.
“Brother! Brother!” Yannic moved to the next tree. “Go away! You cannot win them. There’s nothing for you in Peninha.”
“Aiden!” exclaimed Yannic.
“Yannic!” the voice came from another tree.
“Sijal!” he saw the boy hanging.
“They will kill you too. Go away.”
“The curse was broken, how is all this happening?” Yannic looked back to Tiara. She was hanging on the next tree and saying “Go away Yannic! He’s going to kill you too. You cannot harm the evil.” Yannic had reached far from the pond following Tiara. “I must go save him.” he started running recklessly towards the pond through the woods. But soon, he again bumped to a pair of feet. He rolled his eyes up. He saw a white cloak and over the cloak he saw an old man with white beard.
“Go away Yannic, he’s much stronger than we thought. You can never win him.”
The hanging wizard slowly pointed his hands towards the tree next to him. He saw another man hanging there too. He slowly moved towards the tree. A pair of feet with black leather shoes swinging in the air, rusty brown pant with white shirt tucked inside he could see as he rolled his eyes. His head titled to his shoulder, struggling to breathe, he saw himself hanging there. “You’re going to die!!” he said as the body fell down to the ground and stood right in front of him with his fierce eyes open crying the tears of blood. Yannic was terrified, he looked back. On each tree he saw his loved ones hanging and everyone scream.
“RUN AWAY!!RUN AWAY!! SAVE YOUR LIFE!”
Yannic started running towards the pond through the wood as he shouted “Zohar! Zohar!”
As he got out of the wood to the circle with the pond, he saw the boy lying dead on the ground. The boy’s stomach torn brutally as if his vital organs were snatched out. Beside him sat Zohar with herbs in his hand which were now of no use.
“We’ve lost him.” Said Zohar wiping his tears.
“The battle in Peninha ain’t going to be easy, curse is not over yet.”
They could see the dawn approaching with sunbeam slowly spreading all over the woods.
“My lord! It’s the time to enter the pool.” Said Zohar. Yannic followed him as Zohar dived into the pool.
“This must be the major marketing area of the town. But, why’s everyone so grey?”
“We’ve been falling for hours.”
“I don’t see the end.” Said Yannic as both of the men fell into the dark tunnel which led to few more kilometers of darkness before they could see the light.
Bumping on the walls, they heard the dripping sound of the water all over the place in that moist environment. But to their surprise no one had ever felt a drop of water on their skin. They were slipping down the tunnel for so long.
After few more hours of falling, Yannic saw a small ray of light through the tunnel.
“There’s the light! There’s the light.” Pointed Yannic as they bumped against the wall and travelled towards the light.
“Finally!!” Shouted Yannic and landed on the grey grass, at the end of the tunnel.
“Sushhh!! Lower your sound, they might just hear you.”
“Who’s going to hear?”
Zohar slowly creeped the nearest bush, and moved it aside.
“Why is everything grey?”
They could see people walking around. Must be a small town. There were group of people fetching water from the nearest well. Groups of little lasses running around. Men carrying pots of wines. Some women selling goodies to the children, nearby.
“This must be the major marketing area of the town. But, why’s everyone so grey, they don’t have any light in their face?” asked Yannic. Zohar slowly turned around.
“We should hide.” gasped Zohar
They could see people turning towards the bushes. Men, Women, Children.
“There they are.” Pointed one of them towards the bush.
Everyone started walking towards them. Saying the only word. “POWER!”
“Run Yannic! They’re going to kill us,” said Zohar as he pushed Yannic on his shoulder.
Yannic and Zohar ran through the bushy ground. Zohar pulled Yannic beside a large bunch of tall grass. He mumbled some chants and put him inside the cloak. A group of those grey people were approaching them towards the grass.
“They’re going to see us.” Whispered Yannic. “They have arrived the bushes” he shuddered Zohar.
Zohar held him tight “We’re invisible under this cloak.”
“Where are they?” said one of them.
“I had seen them running this way,” another said.
“I wanted to rip them off and feed on their power,” said the Next.
“Power!” “Power!” everyone mumbled.
One of the grey men went near the tall grass. “I had seen them tuck right here.” He got closer to the men hiding under the cloak.
“He will know, we’re here if he touches us.” Zohar whispered, Yannic into his ear. Their heart beat grew faster as the grey man stepped ahead. Nearer the man got, louder got the heartbeat. “He just might hear my beat.” whispered Yannic. Zohar shut his mouth with his hand.
“There’s new heir in the town! New heir in the town.” Suddenly they heard someone yelling from a distance.
“New heir! New heir!” they heard the humming from the crowd.
“Yes, the hallway is going to brighten up again. We’re going to get power.”
“Power! “ “Power!”
Everyone started following the messenger, towards the town. After every grey person was gone, Zohar slowly pulled off the cloak.
“Holy god! What was that? What’s with the power?”
“These people are people of Ariman, the evil ruler. Evil runs through their veins. They don’t have any light of soul, they’re dead inside so they look so grey. They are always searching for the good light to lighten up their souls a bit. Small portion of holy royal bloods even human blood will help them get few powers. They’re always hungry for the light.”
“They nearly got us.” Yannic wiped sweat from his forehead.
“Well! Welcome to Peninha, My lord. This is what your lands like.” Smiled the wizard.
“What heir do you think they were talking about?”
“We have to look for it.”
“Well! Let’s go then.”
“We cannot go like this,” Zohar took off his cloak. “This will make you invisible once you put the hanging cap over your head.
“So, I would move invisible all around the town?”
“No! You should not be hiding under the cloak unless the right moment comes.”
“But, we cannot move around looking like this. They will recognize by our skin color.”
“Exactly! I have a solution.” He pulled out small bottle of potion through the pocket of the cloak.
“The color of wild flowers.” He poured some drops on his palms and started dabbing all over the face.
“What are you doing?”
“Painting myself grey.” he poured few more drops and colored his beard grey.
Yannic could not hold but laugh. “What kind of person paints his beard grey?”
“Wizard of Peninha, the Evil one.” smiled Zohar, showing his crooked teeth.
“So does the lord to be of Peninha.” Agreed Yannic and started to dab the potion all over his face and the exposed part of his limbs.
“We must look similar to them.”
Zohar and Yannic then passed through the grassy lane towards the graveled alley of the town. There they saw a person stained with blood and mud with white cloth wrapped around his waist tied to chains and dragged on the street. After him were other people of Peninha dancing, shouting and throwing pebbles at him.
“Take him to hall way. Give us the Power!” shouted one of them.
“Power!” followed others.
“He ain’t from here. He’s a human.” said Zohar and turned towards Yannic.
“That’s Aiden!” said Yannic. He could recognize his little brother behind the stains of mud and blood.
“Yeah! They’re taking them to the hall way of the castle.” Exclaimed d Zohar.
“I cannot see him like this.” Yannic stepped ahead to stop all the tortures, they were giving to his little brother. Zohar pulled him back. “They are not going to kill him.”
“Did you forget, how these demons jumped over us few moments ago, just because they thought we were some normal human? You think, they’re going to leave the royal blood?”
“Yes, he’s the royal blood, but he ain’t the heir. His blood would do nothing to the holy pool on the king’s hall way.”
“So, why are they dragging him like this?”
“Demons! They want you, my lord. He’s your beloved and they know you’ll stop them, if you’ve arrived here. They will use every bit of his breath to find you.”
“Really? But how can I see him get hurt like this?”
“Few more moments, my lord, just hold on for few more moments. When you’ll sit on the throne and gain the blessings, powers of lord Aerius, you’ll invade them all and save him.”
“I don’t know anything else. I just want my brother back.” “Let’s move ahead.”
Yannic and Zohar followed the crowd that had been throwing pebbles, abusing the young lad dragged towards the king’s castle. On the way, they saw bare trees with grey trunks. There were no leaves, nor green grasses on the bottom. All they could see were dead grey as if everything was burnt.
“Give us power! Take him fast!” shouted another. They started dragging him recklessly.
Young lad dragged towards the king’s castle
Yannic could hear his screams in the sound of the humming crowd.
“They’re going to kill him.”
“He ain’t going to die this easily,” said Zohar. “He’s the royal blood, brother of lord Aerius. You should stay strong.”
Yannic wiped his tears and followed the crowd. After walking for few more hours, they reached the main gate of the castle.
“New Heir’s here!” shouted one of them.
The gate slowly opened and they felt the immense warmth, after a long time. It was something so familiar like home.
“It’s so warm in here.” Yannic felt tiny warm ray tickling his face. The dreary feeling of that gloomy grey land was all gone. All the screams, sounds faded away. Grey people who were dead inside, the blood stains on the streets, his brother, even Zohar blurred away. He was home. He could feel green fluffy grass beneath his feet. Gentle breeze running through the gaps of his finger. He smelled the soft scent of blossoming flowers in the royal garden. He walked few meter on the grass lane where he saw some girls picking golden apples from the trees nearby. He heard the birds chirping and tweeting. At a distance, there was a large fountain with a pond around it. He slowly moved towards it. He saw the colors of rainbow from the striking rays of sun to the fountain. As he got closer, he saw his own reflection on the mirror of spreading water. The shimmering shine upon his face. He didn’t know he had grown a mustache. He could see himself dressed in a yellow golden dress with a dark green cape and a huge golden crown over his head. He felt like the lord! After a moment, he heard a huge sound as if a large drum was hit with something tough. Once, Twice, Thrice. The sound of the drum echoed all over the place. He heard the sound of flapping birds that flew away from the echo. He saw a small man running towards him with a red turban on.
“My lord! It’s the time to attend the hall way.”
He followed the little man who led him towards a beautiful golden door. The door was beautifully crafted. It had faces of ancient gods and goddesses. Different precious ivories attached in it were sparkling the lights, and were visible from a distance. An elegant piece of art, the majestic beauty he could see. Then he felt the door open slowly, an intense ray of light fell upon his face. The light was so intense and bright, he could not open his eyes. He tried stop the light hitting his eyes with a hand. The light glittered more and more. He was there, standing in front of the king’s hallway.
Huge wooden pillars richly crafted with gorgeous artistry. A huge golden throne above the series of wide long stairs. Before them was the pool filled with blood from where the bright light was immerging. There was no one in the hallway. Yannic walked towards the throne in the hallway. He heard the squeaky sound through the corners of the hall. There he saw the cages with golden lights trapped inside at a certain distance on the each side. The light of the pool slowly started fading away.
Huge wooden pillars richly crafted with gorgeous artistry
The pool of blood was empty. The squeaky lights in the hallway started squeaking harder. Yannic turned around, he was standing there alone in the dark old room. He looked towards his feet, he saw the same old rugged pajamas under the cloak. He looked up, the beautiful walls suddenly were all covered with spider webs. He heard the swinging sound of the door slowly closing behind him. He was alone trapped in the hallway.
“Welcome to Peninha, lord Aerius!” Then he heard sound from behind.
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