The Forest's Shadow
Posted 12 April 2006 - 12:14 AM
The lively stream was cool and refreshing as it had always been, but even that soothing feeling couldn't assuage Ayden's panic. The water was streaming away, tainted red with blood, yet he was still frantically washing away the stains, bording on insanity. Tears ran down the warriors cheeks as he knew he had done something terrible... again. He glanced at the sword that was also stained with blood. The sword was not his, yet he woke with it nearby.
Exasperated, he grabbed the sword and swung it hard, at a rock with the flat side of the blade. It shattered with a clang that echoed through the forest despite it's muting abilities. He then collapsed, putting his hands to his face as the tears streamed. "What have I done?" He said to himself.
Hours later he stood in a village on the eastern edge of the Lost Woods. The village was still burning, unnoticed by the rest of Sornaiid. The village had been one of the few that dared edge the forest, they felt here they were safest from the pirates and that they could flee into the forest if attacked. Little did they suspect the attack would come out of the forest. Deshar was the village's name, which meant dusk in the old language. It was named that after an attack ages before that left it in nearly the same condition it was in now.
Ayden had watched over this village, accepting their desire to use the woods as it's refuge. He had helped them to an abandoned temple just inside the forest, in which they stored supplies in case of an attack. He felt bad for what had happened to them before and vowed never to let it happen again.
And yet here all the clues pointed to his own darkness consuming the village. He rushed into houses saving journals, clothing, pottery, anything that would help the village's spirit live on. Once the flames died away he began buring the corpses, praying to them and to the creator asking for forgiveness and vowing that he would not take a breath if it were not for his desire to redeem himself.
Soaked in the tears, sweat, and blood all caused by his sins, Ayden collapsed, drifting into a deep, nightmare filled sleep. He was inside of Deshar's forest temple, even in exhaustion, still bowing before their alter, begging forgiveness.
Posted 16 April 2006 - 09:13 AM
Ken had been sent out from the Forbidden Fortress to find a certain kind of mushroom that grew in and around the Lost Woods. He had no real choice--someone ran up with a horrified look on their face and pressed the orders into his hand. Ken had heard a few stories of woods, but he did not believe the more horrifying ones. He had been skirting along the edge of the forest for a few days nonetheless--the boy did want any trouble with the "woodies," and would avoid confronting them if possible.
Ken tried sniffing around as a wolf, but stopped when he realized he did not know what the shroom smelled like. He instead opted for looking around. The boy kept being frustrated, seeing aplenty of mushrooms, but none were the kind he was looking for. Sighing, he got up and stretched.
"By spirits, what am I supposed to do?" he wondered outloud.
Ken walked outside the treeline, taking a look at the horizon. He eventually noticed some smoke to his left, just along the forest edge.
He ran over, going up and down a few hill before he beheld the terrible site before him. Ken walked down to the ruined village, shaking uncontrollably.
"What happened here...?"
Ken kept one hand on the handle his blade. There was no way he wield the over-sized spirit sword using one hand--it was as long as he was tall, and the blade at least one foot wide--but he felt that much secure with a weapon in his hands.
Edited by Ken the Wandering Soul, 17 April 2006 - 08:31 PM.
Posted 18 April 2006 - 11:18 PM
A steady stream of tears emerged from his blue eyes as he read about the "unknown protector from the woods" who had lead them to their temple. They didn't quite worship him, but were more than thankful that he was there.
Ayden continued trudging back toward the village, reading. He had intended to plant the seeds around the village to give offering to the creator for his transgressions, as well as honor those he had slain. However, as he walked, his pace slowed till finally he was completely still, eyes scanning the worn pages.
"The third month of the 132 year of Deshar.
We've made a startling discovery after recovering some of the ancient texts in what we believe is the old library. The entire city must have been buried after the first... incident. Why the Library was lower than the rest of the village we are not sure, however it is by far our greatest find.
Many of the texts have been examined, preserved, and copied elsewhere, however the most startling discovery is the identity of our protector. No name was given but the ancient texts talk about a protector even then. He has silver hair and piercing blue eyes and was born in Deshar. Later it discusses erratic mood changes in this protector though.
Then the most bizarre thing. The handwriting changes, not to mention the labored look of this different writer's script. His only words were 'The protector betrayed us'
This coupled with the few sightings we've had in recent years tell us this is the same person. We can only hope that these mood changes are a thing of the past.
The only inconsistancy is that this would make the protector more than a century old. Our only guess is that the magic of the woods preserved him and with that said, maybe it cured his malicious side."
Ayden stared blankly at the book for a few moments. Many thoughts running through his head. 'I destroyed them before...' then '... more than a century old...' His heart sank even farther. Not only had he caused these horrible events... he had done it twice.
He looked through his tears then continued on, trying to think of how he would atone for all this... and how he could prevent it from happening again until he did atone for his actions.
Ayden was still musing over these ideas when he emerged from the forest to find a young warrior with a rather large sword. He paused, pocketing the journal and trying to hide the streaks where the tears had dried on his cheeks.
Posted 20 April 2006 - 05:59 AM
One of the buildings cracked and collapsed behind Ken. He reached both hands for his sword and drew it, swinging it in a long arc to face where the building collapsed. He stopped the large blade from hitting the ground, and slowly brought the flat to his shoulder. He breathed hard as his eyes scanned the area.
Finally decided that he would like to get out of there, the boy ran to the edge of the village, stabbing his sword into the ground. The place simply scared the wits out of him. He sat down on the ground, his back against the flat of the blade. He breathed deeply, brushing some platinum-white locks out of his face as he recovered from the relative quick-draw. He glanced to the forest edge noticing someone looking in his general direction.
"Hey," Ken shouted before taking a few deep breath, "Do you know what happened here?"
Edited by Ken the Wandering Soul, 20 April 2006 - 04:04 PM.
Posted 09 May 2006 - 08:51 PM
If he ran, he would incriminate himself, which wouldn't be false. Plus there was the fact, he might not get away. Although he was pretty sure he could lose him in the forest.
Ayden was about to turn and run when a voice yelled ^Let me handle this!^
Ayden froze, unsure if he had heard that or not. He glanced around, then back to the man standing before him.
^I can make it so you don't have to run or explain!^
He had not heard it... it came from his own mind. Ayden though ^Who are you?^
^Oh don't be so naive! You know who I am!^
^You're my alter ego?^
^I like to go by Aiden you little shit!^
Ayden wasn't sure how to react to this. He knew this alter ego existed, but it had never ... "spoken" to him. ^Why... nevermind! No you can not kill him!^ Ayden again turned to flee but found that he couldn't move.
^You don't have a choice my friend!^
Aiden turned to face Ken. "Yes, I know what happened... but you'll never live to tell!"
Aiden charged in, fists curled as he launched himself into the air, coming down at the warrior, resting against his blade.
Posted 10 May 2006 - 03:11 PM
Ken froze for a second, but scrambled when he realized the threat upon him. Adrenaline now controlled his system. Ken stood up and tugged on the handle of his sword before he ran in the opposite direction of his attacker--he had made a dreadful mistake of sticking his sword too far into the ground.
Unfortunately the village was the only relatively safe place, but with Aiden on his tail he threw caution to the wind and ran. Ken had little to no skill in fighting with his hands--he may have had magic, but he had no time to concentrate and he did not want to tire himself out so soon.
He breathed fast as he narrowly escaped the hostile and ran towards the torn village, its crumbling architecture now more welcome.
Edited by Ken the Wandering Soul, 10 May 2006 - 06:22 PM.
Posted 10 May 2006 - 05:57 PM
The sword fell just in front of Aiden's eyes. He smiled through his silver hair and looked up at the warrior fleeing into the village. Resting a hand on the hilt, Aiden swung the sword to his shoulder, resting it against his shoulder. "My... my... what a heavy sword."
Trudging toward the ruins, he started humming a folk tune in a slightly off tone giving it a very ominous sound.
Posted 10 May 2006 - 07:02 PM
"What," Ken took in another deep breath, "what do I do now?"
Ken took a few seconds to realize he still did not have his sword. He had to get it.
Barely hearing the hum of Aiden, the boy took off, trying to be as quiet as he could. He slowly found his way to where he left his sword. Ken's eyes widened when he found that his sword was missing. There was a just an impact crater and a slit in the ground where the sword should have been.
"Damn!" Ken muttered quietly.
Realizing that his attacker must have taken it while he was running, Ken cursed his carelessness. Hearing Aiden again, Ken decided to take back the sword. It was a sword forged by his namesake and great-grandfather--he would not give it up without taking his life. The boy brought his hand to his face and uttered the only magic he knew that he could definitely control.
"Silver Wolf, gaurdian of my line, I ask for your form."
Ken felt his form morph, his clothes melting into his body along with all other artifices. He gradually took on the form of a wolf, it's fur the same colors as his platinum-white hair. His facial tatoos also appeared on their wolfen equivalents.
Now confident that he could take his attacker, Ken lepted out in the open, seeing the backside of Aiden. He charged forward, hoping to get in a tackle.
Posted 11 May 2006 - 09:31 PM
His bloodlust was broken by the sound of padded feet charging toward him. He didn't have time to do much more than react. He spun the sword off his shoulder, blade still down, bracing the bottom with his left hand. He just had time to deflect the claws away.
"A wolf?" He then noticed the tattoo's... or rather fur. "A shapeshifter? My... my... what an interesting character you are." Aiden stuck the sword back in the ground because it was far too slow a weapon to compete with a wolf.
He stepped to the side of the sword and set himself in a fighting stance with one foot barely touching the ground and the other holding him up on the ball of his foot.
"Let's play!" He grinned through the silver hair coming loose and draping acrossed his face.
Posted 12 May 2006 - 05:39 AM
<Okay, I just have to lead him away.>
Ken ran in a circle around his opponent.
<Please guide me spirits.>
The wolf gave a low growl and snarled as he stopped going around and charged forward, going for Aiden's leg.
Posted 12 May 2006 - 05:38 PM
He also realized he was being lead away from the sword. Obviously the sword meant more than winning the battle,or the sword was needed to win the battle. Either way Aiden was determined not to let him have it back.
Aiden didn't bother to chase the wolf, but again stayed near the sword.
Then Aiden froze in his tracks.
^THAT IS ENOUGH!^
^Go back to sleep you pathetic excuse for a warrior!^ Aiden returned.
^You will NOT harm anyone else if I can help it.^
^But you CAN'T HELP IT!^ Aiden glanced at the wolf. ^And you're going to get us both killed!^
^Maybe that's for the better!^
^AYDEN! YOU PITIFUL FOOL! You're too weak to atone for your sins, much less give into them!^
Ayden almost lost complete control of his body again, but quickly regained the little control he had. ^YOUR sins! I didn't kill these people! YOU DID!^
^The blood is on your hands as well...^
With this the malice left Ayden. Ayden quickly looked up at the wolf. "I apologize! I must control my inner demon." He turned and left at a sprint, vanishing into the shadow of the forest.
Posted 12 May 2006 - 06:51 PM
Ken slowly moved towards his sword, sniffing the air as he approached. Nothing seemed wrong, and Ayden's scent was not coming back. Confident that he would not have trouble, at least for now, he decided it was time to change back.
<I thank you, Silver Wolf. I no longer need this form.>
Emerging from the wolf came the human boy's body. Breathing hard and feeling tired, Ken took his time pulling the sword from the ground. When he did, he used part of his cloak to brush off the dirt. After doing so, he swung the heavy blade around a few times before placing it in its equally large sheath.
"And I thank you Wolfen, for coming back to me." the boy spoke to the sword.
Sitting there for awhile, Ken decided it was best to do what he was sent here to do--find a certain mushroom. There was no point in going after the other person. If what the otherhad said was true, then it would best he did not provoke the inner demon. If he was pretending... Well, either way, it was best he did interfere in the affairs of the forest dwellers.
Walking away from the ruined village, Ken spoke a prayer for the souls of the hollowed place. He then took out the scroll with the details of the fungus he sought, and went on.
"I wonder if I will see him again soon?" the boy muttered under his breath.
Posted 12 May 2006 - 10:06 PM
So many questions plagued him. How can I atone for these murders? Why can I hear my alter ego now? Does this means he's weaker or stronger? Why was he in existance in the first place?
Then the shapeshifter. Why had he been there? Why could he shapeshift?
Ayden shook his head. This was tormenting him. Never knowing when this beast would emerge and having no way to control him. The more he thought about it, the more he decided he had to go deeper into the woods. If he could make it at least a days trip to get out, then he should be able to regain control before Aiden could hurt anyone else.
He set up camp for the night, determined to leave in the morning. Hopefully Aiden would stay contained till then. Hopefully...
Posted 14 May 2006 - 05:12 PM
Getting up and turning around, Ken was surprised to find that he saw nothing but forest. Walking in the general direction that he knew he came from for 10 minutes, he eventually gave up.
"Looks like I won't be leaving anytime soon." the boy muttered, scratching the back of his head.
Ken wandered throughout the trees, keeping himself alert. It seemed as though no matter how much he tried moving away from the center, the trees were becoming taller and thicker.
The boy walked a long ways before he stopped. He looked all around himself, seeing nothing but trees all around him.
"Where am I?"
Water started collecting in his yes. He dropped to his knees and wiped away the developing tears. The sky over head was becoming darker and darker.
"By the spirits, where am I?!"
Ken felt completely helpless. Sniffling, he stood to his feet. He had wanted to get out all by himself, but...
"Hello? Is anyone out there?" he shouted.
He walked on through the growing darkness.
"Is anyone there? Please, I'm lost!" he begged of the vast forest.
Posted 14 May 2006 - 07:01 PM
He splashed himself from a stream that ran through the temple. Then began his trek into the forest.
Searching by sound was impossible. This forest did amazing things with light, sounds, and smells. No, his best bet was to find a clue of something traveling into the forest. Ayden made his way to the edge of the forest then started walking north along the edge. It wasn't long before he found footprints. He began to follow them, broken branches, and various other signs into the forest.
Ayden noticed the footprints stop to examine certain things. They were all mushrooms. Having lived in the forest for more years than he could count, he learned his way around the forest, and knew where many of the plants did and did not grow. He started running a mental checklist of the ones the traveler had passed by. Narrowing down his list, he quickly realized it was the food he was looking for but the medicinal plants.
He picked up his pace as he became more sure of where he was going. Then he froze. The traveller was a little ways off, still calling for help. It was the same guy from before. And Aiden was pissed at having been unable to finish his prey. Ayden struggled to keep him in check.
After a few long moments, Ayden had control again. He called out, then stopped, wondering if that was the wisest idea. Of course the forest could almost sense his hesitation and amplified the sound so as to be sure it was heard. Ayden had no reason to hesitate now. "Follow me!"
Posted 14 May 2006 - 07:25 PM
"Thank you spirits..." he whispered under his breath.
He started going and hesitated when he thought the voice sounded familiar. The guy from before? No, this person sounded a bit different. And he couldn't not follow this person just because he sounded similar to the attacker from before.
The boy ran in the direction of the voice, jumping over roots and shrubs to the voice he heard. He was a little bit edgy, but he was more concerned with fiding someone else. Ken finally saw who it was. It was the person who attacked him earlier! He reached a hand for his sword, but hesistated barely a centimeter away from the handle. He was partially confused that the other was making no aggressive moves. The "inner demon" was true?
Posted 14 May 2006 - 08:30 PM
"I understand your distrust. But you must trust me if you want to leave this forest. It is not safe for even the most experienced traveller." Ayden raised his hands in peace, as well as showing that he had no weapons. He then turned and looked around to get his bearings.
He turned back with the same smile, "My name is Ayden. I trust you found what you were looking for?" He turned and started his journey out of the forest.
Posted 14 May 2006 - 09:26 PM
"My name is Ken, and yes, I found what I came for."
The boy trailed closely behind Ayden, not wanting to be lost again.
"Uh, thanks for helping me." he spoke up, feeling a bit awkward.
Posted 15 May 2006 - 06:01 PM
The forest was a mysterious place and even now Ayden could sense that it was trying to lure them deeper in. It was a common feeling that he had gotten used to.
Ayden paid close attention to how close Ken was so as not to lose him. He was also conscious of how close he was to the temple. His first thought was to keep him away from it so Ken couldn't attack him later, if he chose to, but then Ayden had swore he would leave.
He looked at the sky, which was no help because of the forest's power. He guessed it was nearing noon, but even living here this long, he was quite unsure.
Ayden chose not to ask any questions. He didn't want to pry into Ken's affairs, but he was so curious about the shapeshifting. Finally, the curiousity just got the best of him. "How do you do that shapeshifting thing?"
Posted 15 May 2006 - 09:48 PM
The boy took a few seconds or more to consider whither or not he should tell. He eventually threw off the concern, deciding that even if Ayden were to try to exploit it in battle, it would not be that helpful.
“Uh, I ask for it and it happens… Well, it is more complicated than that.” He said, stumbling over his words.
“I ask permission of my family’s god-spirit to become a wolf. He grants the form to me and when I no longer want to be a wolf, I thank him and give the power back to him.”
Ken put his hands behind his head, looking up at the forest’s canopy. He looked at the breaks in the branches at the sunlight.
“I have not always been able to do it. I’ve been working hard and praying much since I was a child, and it was only because of that dedication that Raiyu let me have that ability.”
He glanced down to the handle of his blade.
“And my family’s sword.” The boy spoke with a tone of fondness in his voice. He touched a hand to the hilt of the blade, where a crimson jewel glistened it the rays of light. Part of his mind was worried about following Ayden, but nonetheless, a part of him told him to be proud of his story.
Posted 16 May 2006 - 08:51 PM
Ayden didn't even remember his family. Something had blocked out his memory before living in the forest, and the journal that was still in his pocket was the only thing that reminded him he existed before that time. However, even it talked of him being from the woods. His thoughts drifted back to his own worries. The fact that he had nearly undeniable truth that he was more than a century old still hadn't quite set in yet. He looked to be a young adult still.
His thoughts vanished as the two men emerged from the forests edge. Now that Ken didn't need him anymore, Ayden wondered if he would take advantage. Even more important, if he did, would Aiden re-emerge?
Ayden quickly got nervous not wanting to harm an innocent. "Here you are sir. Goodluck with your quest." He started back into the forest.
Posted 16 May 2006 - 10:02 PM
"Thank you again for the help..."
He watched the other disapear into the forest. Can such a person really be responsible for the destruction he saw?
"I hope your path to come is a blessed one, Ayden." the boy finished.
Ken turned around and continued walking until he came to a halt. He held his hands up in prayer, closed his eyes and slowly sat to knees.
<Raiyu the Silver Wolf, if this man does have blood on his hands, please help him wash the sin of his soul...>
Ken continued to pray, his lips wordlessly mimicing his thoughts.
Edited by Ken the Wandering Soul, 18 May 2006 - 09:47 PM.
Posted 21 May 2006 - 07:02 PM
Suddenly he was pulled from his thoughts as he noticed a silver wolf standing before him. He looked strangely familiar. It was Ken's form... or something very similar.
^Follow.^ Ayden stared, the word echoed in his head. He was sure he hadn't heard it, but it was definitely in his head. The Silver Wolf turned and started off into the woods. Ayden instantly broke into a sprint to keep up. The wolf was quick, as most were, but if Ayden hadn't lived in the forest as long as he had, there would have been no way to keep up.
But even with his experience, the stone caught him by surprise as he tripped and fell sprawling to the ground. As he recovered he saw the wolf sitting next to an alter with a silver bowl on it. In all Ayden's years, he had never seen this place. He looked around to get his bearings... and knew EXACTLY where he was... but this alter hadn't been there.
However, it looked aged, grown over. It looked as though it had been here for centuries.
Ayden's eyes again came to rest on the wolf. The wolf's noble eyes full of what seemed to be compassion. ^Ayden, you heart has revealed itself to me. Your true desires lay naked before me.^
Ayden stared, speechless as he 'listened.'
^I have shown you this so that you can make a choice. You wish to atone for the sins of your other half. I can show you the way, but you will not be free of your demon. In fact, to begin this quest, you must embrace your evil.^
"Embrace my evil to atone for my sins? How can that be?" Ayden could feel Aiden pushing to emerge. This wolf stirred his anger.
^Look into the water.^ Raiyu said without answering his question.
Ayden struggled forward, still fighting Aiden. Looking into the water he could see his own reflection. And emerging from it was a darkness, it formed next to him and began to take the shape of a human. Ayden quickly recognized his own features, but the eyes were far different. There was hatred in the other's eyes. Ayden turned, finding no one there, but he looked back and there Aiden stood, separate from him.
"Oh, we meet again! I hope you know I'm going to kill this wolf."
Ayden looked up at the wolf who sat watching him. "Please run."
Raiyu just looked. ^Embrace him and you shall not need to fear.^
Ayden looked back. Now his own reflection was gone and Aiden only remained. Aiden smiled. "3.... 2.... 1..." Ayden closed his eyes and let go of his struggle. Aiden had control of his body. He looked at the wolf and smirked. "Time to finish what I started." He started to close the gap then again froze.
"You?!? Still here?"
"Yep. Now... " Ayden's demeanor became less aggressive.
"How?!" Aiden was furious. He had control enough to speak, but not to control the body. It was almost as though he was locked in a cell in the back of Ayden's mind.
Ayden turned to Raiyu. "Thank you."
Aiden was now only able to voice his words in Ayden's mind. "SCREW YOU!"
Raiyu nodded, ^Don't think this is an easy solution. You shall have to listen to him from time to time. His anger is great, but one must embrace evil occasionally to defeat it. Goodluck.^
Raiyu vanished into the woods at a pace that Ayden couldn't have hoped to keep up with. He didn't need to though. Instead he took off in the direction he came from.
An hour or two later he rushed toward Ken, nearly out of breath. "Wait! Ken! I'd like to join you... if you don't mind."
He stopped, bending over to catch his breath. "Ken, you... your family... helped me greatly. I must... I must repay my debt..."
Aiden laughed. ^You are such a pussy! *in a mocking tone* OH! I must repay you! *back in his normal tone* Why don't you just suck his-^
^SILENCE! You will not rule my life again.^
^Oh, just you wait! Like that old bastard said. You will need me... but I don't need you!^
Posted 21 May 2006 - 09:41 PM
^My answer will point to itself.^
Ken’s eyes looked around, landing upon the sight of the Silver Wolf himself.
The boy’s eyes were wide, and his mouth agape. He had been praying to the being before him countless times, and receiving what he asked. However, the last time he had seen Raiyu manifesting in his physical form… It was right before he left his village to journey the continent.
"Wait! Ken! I'd like to join you... if you don't mind."
Ken looked over behind him to see Ayden running up to him. He stared as the other recovered from the run.
"Ken, you... your family... helped me greatly. I must... I must repay my debt..."
“My family…?” the boy wondered.
Ken whipped around, finding that the god-spirit had disappeared into thin air.
^My answer will point to itself…^ he heard the wolf’s voice say again.
The boy looked at Ayden again.
“Ayden… I… I do not know what…” Ken stumbled around for his words, “You can come with me if you want, but where I will go, you may not be welcome. I work for the Forbidden Fortress—I was sent here to get the mushroom because I was ordered to… I’m not sure what would happen if I brought a dweller of the Lost Woods to the fortress…”
Ken felt pressure on his heart. He felt like he had betrayed Ayden. He may not have been much of a pirate, but the Forbidden Fortress still considered him a pirate none-the-less.
“If—if you still want to come, I’ll vouch for you.”
Ken swallowed some fear, hoping that Ayden did not feel as Ken thought he did.
Posted 24 May 2006 - 10:01 PM
However, Ayden had not realized where Ken was from. The pirates would not take him in. Ayden understood that. "Yes well... hrm..." He stood, pondering what to do. He still felt the deep urge that Raiyu wanted him to join Ken, but how could he?
Ayden looked up at Ken sincerely. "Sometimes... don't you just feel like... you MUST do something?"
Posted 24 May 2006 - 10:42 PM
<Your answer Raiyu... You want me to help him?> he thoght to himself.
The boy had seen what Aiden had down, but the one before him... It did not matter. Inner demons or no, if Raiyu wanted him to help...
"Well, I'm not always doing work for the Fortress..."
The boy hesitated for a moment.
<If this is what you want Silver Wolf, I shall do so to my dying breath!>
Ken drove the last of hesitation from his heart and offered a hand to Ayden. His loyalty to the god-spirit drove out any other feeling.
"If what you said is true, if you have met the Silver Wolf... Then I welcome you with an open heart!"
Posted 23 June 2006 - 11:52 AM
He could sense their confusion.
"Oh, please forgive me. I've forgotten to introduce myself. I am Gabriel Ichiro."
Posted 23 June 2006 - 03:27 PM