Into the forest

To the place where no one goes

Runaway maiden

“We will never know her name. We will never know where she came from. Even now, after generations of sentients of all species devoting themselves to studying the myths surrounding the Outcasts, the sad truth is that whoever she was before that day will forever be a mystery.

What might have possessed her to abandon everything she had, including her very name? There are countless theories: that she fled an unfaithful mate, that she was a noble tired of the responsibilities of her station, that her life was in danger, that it was only a fit of madness… or perhaps that she was loved and respected, and the Gods themselves interfered in her fate.  

Some scholars would argue that who she was is not important to the narrative; for all intents and purposes, her story, her life, begins on that fabled afternoon, the day she ran away to Tasakeru, the forest of Outcasts…”

[An excerpt from The Outcasts in Fact and Folklore, by Hill Jakes]

Had they been able, the ancient oaks would have blinked in shocked surprise. An intruder in their forest, they might have thought, and one paying no attention to any of the natural wonders around her. Her panicked flight was unbecoming of the serene, tranquil atmosphere of the late summer afternoon. She ran pell-mell down the narrow, winding path between the mighty trunks, flitting in and out of the splintered sunlight shining down through the vast network of branches, from light to shadow to light again. Stumbling over morasses of gnarled and entangled roots, she struggled to climb the hills that dotted the uneven forest floor. Her clumsiness displaced mossy rocks that had laid undisturbed for centuries, exposing the crawling insects underneath to unwanted sunlight. Loam was trampled beneath her soft sandals, twigs snapped and leaves shuddered in her wake. Bizarre and unwelcome, to say the least.

If the oaks were aware, however, they paid her no notice. The untamed forest was as breathtaking in its beauty as it was absolute in its indifference. High above, a sparrow alighted on a high branch. It watched her for a few seconds, then flew away, its attention on other things.

Time passed. The girl ran on, until she could run no more.


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