Story five of Trolls for Dust origins. Playing with fantasy and fairy tales. As always, happy reading.
March 21, 2010 (Story Seventy-Six)
In between the tall thin trees are glimpses of sky, grass, brook and meadow. The brook runs merrily along through the forest all down the sloping, tree-covered plain called Glasse. Villages and hamlets pepper Glasse, pockets of safe havens between the trees.
During the daytime, Glasse is as lively and bright as any other forest-plain, but at night, when the moon’s light is scattered in ribbons under the canopy roof, dangerous creatures awake. One such creature is the goblin. As everyone knows, goblins like to steal valuables and hide out in caves. They also prefer dark to light. Werewolves are another creature often seen in the forest at night. Some say they roam the daylight hours as handsome young men or, quite oppositely, as old beggars. Much like vampires, who also roam the forest, werewolves have a special fondness for women, and the younger the better.
Arriana of Glasse is often entranced by moonlight. Hers is a predilection passed down from generation to generation of Glasse women. For centuries the men of Glasse have had to tie down their women to keep them from going into the forest at night, especially when the moon is full. Still to this day, the women’s fondness for moonlight leads to many a quarrel in village households, for the women dislike being tied up and the men dislike it even more, as it often leads to cold suppers and even colder beds. No one knows when the entrancement will begin, so the children are watched closely. In Arriana’s case, it began when she was eight years old. Now, at sixteen, she has resolved to see the forest in moonlight, even if she should never return.
The longer one is tied up, the longer one has of studying how to get free, especially if the tying up occurs over a period of weeks, months or years, and one’s father uses the exact same knot he has used for twenty years on one’s mother who only stays put any more out of love for her husband. Arriana watches her mother closely, understanding that the moon’s siren call has little sway over her any more. To Arriana, this is quite sad, for the dangers of the forest at night surely must be little compared to being a prisoner in one’s own home.
As soon as first her father, then her mother, drop off to sleep, Arriana slips her thin wrists out of the knot, grabs her bag and leaves. She turns to look at the house and blows a kiss for love. The forest path is dark at night as it well should be and at first Arriana has a hard time making her way up the long slope of Glasse. Soon enough, however, she learns to guide herself by the light of the moon as it peeks through the tall trees. For an hour or more, she runs, skips, and jumps, gladly through the forest, caring little for the tales of the night creatures that she has heard since birth.
Crack. Something breaks a branch on the path behind her! Arriana hold her hand up to her mouth, afraid to run and afraid to scream. Suddenly, all of those stories come pouring back into her head. Tales of ravishment and fear and blood. Tales of evil and foul beings. One such creature, tall and black steps toward her, coming into a patch of moonlight so bright that the reflection off of his fur coat blinds her for an instant. In that instant, the werwolf lunges and catches her with a clawed hand around the throat, preparing to silence her forever.
Arriana begs for mercy, but the werewolf holds his ground. Only when she cries aloud that she regrets leaving the safety of the village does he let her go. Then he sits at her feet and stares at her with sad, familiar eyes. Arriana rubs at her throat and stares at the wolf, not wanting to believe what she sees. “Papa?” She reaches out to touch the silvery gray coat of fur.
“Yes, my child. Now you know why we tie our women up. We fear ourselves and no one else.”
–Original story by Pixie Beldona was previously published on pixiebeldona.com. It has been edited for this post.–