Chapter 6

Written by: Rosemary Wakelin

Many considered Mithweld Forest a place of mysticism, of folklore, a place where legends took their first breath. Many also considered it a place of swift and ruthless judgement. Those who bore good-hearted souls could journey through its strangely silent thicket with safety. Those deemed ‘soulless’, would be forever cursed, imprisoned by the forest’s wrathful sentinels. 


One could imagine the old gnarled boughs strike out, seizing those foolishly seeking escape and hear the screams of the wretched begging for mercy as they were driven deeper into the forest’s lair. 


One could imagine anything in Mithweld Forest.


Mrs Ratleigh halted Bekra just inside Mithweld’s periphery. The blistering gales immediately ceased, the day mutated into something darker, more sinister. Ahead, archways upon archways of twisted tree branches hovered eerily in the misty glades. 


Mrs Ratleigh wrapped her grey cloak tightly around her trembling body. She knew of the disturbing stories about Mithweld and prayed her soul was worthy for safe voyage, prayed she would survive the black-hearted Dog-Heads waiting for her on the other side.  


She never considered herself brave. Armed only with her father’s extraordinary teachings about the beasts, she could easily end as Dog-Head fodder… nothing more. But what else could she do? Alwena was her friend and the only one who knew the location of the mighty Wergrantor flower. 


Again, Mrs Ratleigh studied the forest and noticed the massive tree roots contorted in ugly lumps and bumps along the onyx-coloured soil. She dismounted, deciding Bekra would have enough difficulty travelling in such terrain.  She gently clasped his full flowing mane and with much trepidation stepped forward, hushed taps of feet and hooves sounding upon an equally hushed earth. 


Time crawled, the forest appeared never-ending. When Mrs Ratleigh finally spotted the outside light in the distance she felt a sickly combination of relief and dread. Perhaps she would be wiser using the forest’s safety a little longer.  


Beside her, Bekra pulled to an abrupt stop. His ears pricked forward, his illustrious white tail clenched tightly against his hindquarters. He arched his neck, exhaled an almighty snort and bolted into the mist.


Fear paralysed Mrs Ratleigh. Bekra would never leave her unless….


She searched; saw nothing.


Suddenly, she sensed far too much.


She wasn’t alone.


Panic juiced her veins, hastening her towards the light. Shadows hummed around her growing louder with every hurried step. She tripped, felt something wet, cold brush her face and she screamed… long, silent, frozen screams. She scrambled to her feet and stumbled onward. 


The shadows thickened, almost suffocating her, deafening her with their sepulchral voices, and a smell, pungent and decrepit stained her nostrils. A hand grabbed her ankle. She brutally kicked back like the wild, terrified animal she was. Then with one last effort, she threw herself headlong. 


Daylight caught her, settled her aching, breathless body on the warm grass of the outer forest. 


Waiting for her, as expected, were the Dog-Heads.


Wow, this is a rich evocative chapter with wonderful use of language and imagination. I could not stop reading this highly imaginative piece of writing....dare I say it....magical.
Wow, this is a rich evocative chapter with wonderful use of language and imagination. I could not stop reading this highly imaginative piece of writing....dare I say it....magical.
Sometimes words are so overpowering that the reader becomes oblivious of the unfolding story and his/her attention is completely captured by them. It is only later that the reader realizes that those words did nothing to enhance the plot/story. However, in this chapter, you not only manage to capture the reader's unflinching attention with your words Rosemary but also give the story a strong but subtle push toward an exciting climax. Loved the chapter.
Hard to follow. I think the Dog Heads my be waiting for me. Great chapter, Rosemary. I trembled with reader's fear and smelled the pungent odors. The more stink or blood or mystery poured slowly into the plot, the more you have the reader on the edge of the chair. Terrific stuff.
Thanks so much Suraya, Hemali and Ray. Another first for me, writing fantasy, challenging but fun. :)