Chopping at the endless lumber in front of me I straighten to a stand for a moment of pause, exhausted in my daily chores against the forestís ramparts. Staring at the hellish wood that stare back at me with the hardened and lifeless amber eyes that form inside the treeís knots, I look past the infinite layers of oak and willow, and begin to wonder, ďhow thick is this enemy of mine, how many days of timbering must I take to eradicate this parasite that has pushed me back to my fleeting coastline, to hide behind the security of my Great Citadelís shade.Ē
After the last several days in memoryís past dedicated to fighting the titans of lumber, my brow has accepted its last bead of sweat. Dropping my axe and every other piece of utility I carry, I begin to step forth, into the womb of thickets to search for the opposing end of this Wood and the goal of my hardship. Each step forward, my stomach turns, as anxiety builds in wonder of what lie ahead, and the ever possibility of losing connection to my abode, a thought that would halt my foot and haunts my nights on any other day.
Several paces inside the wood, I witness remnants of forgotten attempts to navigate the forest; Lonely candles with their everlasting light diminished and hidden in the fog of the impenetrable brush leading broken trails attempting to clear the forest floor and locate my Great Tower; adding to this fear over the futility of this endeavor. The demons of anxiety mock my thoughts: This has happened before. Unfortunately, as I turn and rush home I realize the severity of my plight. I have wandered too deep, and lost sight of the passage that returns me back to safety, fooled by the false hope that the trails my past life has created, lain like traps preying on my foolishness.
Nervous and unaware of my surrounds I look to try and spot a landmark of my travel, to see some shred of my path that lead me astray, torn at the diminished vision of my Beacon thats become lost in the cover behind the leavesí shield. Paralyzed by the lack of security, I slow to and halt and begin to shake my resolve to retreat, and decide to push onward. Because even though stunned by fear and anxiety, I know I must push onward, for getting lost escaping the forest is no different than getting lost pushing to the end.
Venturing away from the incompetent paths that lead me further into the void of the growth, I break through the forest floor, and stumble across a large hill. Climbing to escape the shady darkness that haunts my focus and spot my watchtower from above the floraís sentries, I stumble upward to hopefully gauge my progress. While on the steep rise to reach the summit, the rays of the dayís sun begins to retreat behind the distant mountains, revealing the slumbering tones of the nightís blue and subtly starry quilt-like sky that adorns the jungle landscape around me. The peace of the falling sun fixes me in my position til its departure, where the image of its sister moon snaps my senses into awareness to the dangers of my unarmed solitude.
The creaks of skeleton archers awakening from their holds that protect them from the dangers the light has upon the undead abominations sneak into my ears, painting their positions in the distant forest; The maleficent glow of spiderís crimson eyes riddle the trees under the hill scattered in view as they emerge from their nests; And the faint feeling of what†else
†lay beyond my attention drive me to strive shelter away from the tortures of the wild. But without sight of my Spire, or defined trail home, I am forced to press forward against the horde that lies beyond, hoping for safe passage through the darkness of the night or the trees, whichever is overcome first.
Trying to make sight of the distant figures of the landscape in the darkness, attempting to locate the easiest route down the hill and through the branches below, I fail to make a decent imprint through the nightís veil, tentatively marching forward into the unknown of what horrors lie ahead, and cause the plague of cacophonous symphonies around me. Increasing my pace to outrun whatever could be lead on by my scent, or otherwise aware of my presence, I hold my eyes fixed several paces in front of me, too frightened of what could be pressing in to pull up from my gaze. Unaware of the sense of time, focused on the mental stresses of this journey, Iíve lost view the physical toll thatís paid itís price.
A bigger foe than the forces of the night, my stomach begins to churn with each passing step. Without a meal since axing timber, The rush for adventure takes effect, clearly establishing its presence over the creatures that surround me, overcoming my ability to escape. Scrambling through the trees and brush that lie beyond the mountain, I spot a bright selection of large berries shining in the darkness. Fiending in hunger like the beasts I cower from, I rip the husks from their branches and begin to smash the pods on the nearby rocks, relying on the thuds to blend into the wildernessís rhythm. Instantly throwing them into my mouth, my jaw cracks from the berriesís shell, causing me to spit them into my palm, reflexing from the pain.
While massaging my jaw with the relieved hand I begin to toss about the husks inside my palm to inspect the outlying food through the shades of the moonlight, unable to identify the pods under the shroud of darkness. Realizing the shells to be inedible, I stuff them in my pockets, unable to give up the potential resource. Wrestling hunger while stretching back up to a stand, my senses return to me, warning me of the attention I have drawn in hungerís impulse. Avoiding the drawing crowd, I continue to press forward, using the lulls in the orchestra as my guide for safe travels.
With adrenaline leaving after failing to attain some sustenance, I stumble onward accompanied by a continued churn of my stomachís hunger. Looking up through the thinning canopy to the sky above, Iím surprised as light begins to cut into view. Shining through the newly opened gaps in the trees, the moonís beams cut through to the forest floor, allowing a faint gleam to the area around me. Equipped with the newly appointed view of my surroundings through with the moonís glow, I notice a stampede of movement, subtly cutting through the trees, off in the distance, followed by the sound of a babbling torrent of water. Rushing to what could be the end of my quest, I pick me my pace, rising to a sprint in joy, ignoring the pain from my hunger.
Arriving at the banks of a wide river of water dividing my island into two smaller sections, a small sense of security embraces me as the torrent of water masks my presence from the dangers of the trees behind me. Panning the view for any immediate dangers, the sight of continued forest beyond the river breaks my spirit, knowing Iíve yet to complete my journey. Continuing to scan the far side of the river, a large monolith fixes my eye. A labyrinth of stone and mortar, stealing view from the nearby surroundings and obstructing the waterís passage down to a creak at the riverís mouth. Dumbstruck by the purpose of the foreign rook, I step further in to river, sloshing across the chilling stream. My goal has changed, mystified by the structureís wonder.
Coming face to face with the colossus of stone, the distant forest is dwarfed by its girth. Following around its edge to find a way in, running my palm across the cobblestone walls as I rise to the lower foyer of the tower that becomes increasing visible, I wonder of its origins, climbing the formation of rock dug into the hillside. ďHow long has it been here? Who would built this lone tower? Or perhaps itís sentry for a bigger fortress further into the forest,Ē thoughts swirl amidst my mind, as I step through the opening passage into the shadowed fortress.
Entering the monolith to tentatively search what lies below, unaware the dangers hidden in the night, I begin to crawl down the corridors, searching in the darkness for what lie inside this tomb of mortar, pushed on by curiosity's call. Even with my eyes attuned to the nights shade, the blackness of the twilight mixed with the shadows of the tower blind me, leaving me to stumble like a madman. Locating the gradients in the dark, I follow the corridors patting the walls in front of me while carefully attuning to the silence listening for the sound of what could be ahead.
Reaching an larger opening at the end of the corridor, I spot a large chest in the distance of the room, hidden in the blackness. Fixed on its sight, my mouth waters with the possibilities, boosted by the curiosity of its tower blockade, for who would keep such a lone box so secret. Stumbling forward like a zombie searching for hunger, desperate in the torments of my travels. Moving forward, blind and unaware of my surrounds, I feel a tug on my ankle as I trip over a small wire. Feeling the slack in the noose, the sound of a faint click as the rope reaches its taut limit enters my ear, setting off a series of mechanical tumbling of gears that sounds like deafening boulders in the silence of the night. Regaining my footing to unwrap from the wireís trap, I stumble inline with the gearís maestro, an unmanned crossbow embedded the rock, left to defend the chestís treasures.
Unaware of the unloosed bolt until it pierces my chest, the shock of the impact causes me to fall under the pain, panicking from the sudden rush of endorphins, along with the thoughts of failure followed by the blood from the wound. As I stare at the chest just out of reach, Un- in my defeat, I try to pry out the bolt from my breast, unable to muster the strength to relinquish the point, torn by the pain of the arrowheadís†prongs
, weak from starvation. Feeling the life drain as I waste my strength removing the arrow, I desperately inching towards the chest, bent on revealing the treasure from within.
Delusion rising as the diminished glow of light fades into an internal blackness, I drag myself ever closer to the chest, clenching it with my last bite of strength. As I lift the large casket-like lid, the last glimpses of light fades from view, tunneling into the slumbers of death, causing my hands to quiver under the weight. Unable to muster the stone slab, I collapse back to the floor, as the slam of the chest echoes throughout the jungle. Weak from the arrow and hunger, my head begins to throb from the crash, as I struggle to pick myself up from the floor. My eyes, affixed on the stone ceiling, slowly shuttering, matching the rhythm of my fleeting breath, as the view of the last sights of the stone room slowly pass. Strobing out of view accompanied with the withered pulse, the glimpse of the fleeting beads of light suddenly fade, before blackness. read