The full moon shone upon the dense forest, a spotlight in the starless abyss of night.
Its the kind of place that felt as if there was something you didn’t know about it.
That was the kind of thing Trish was thinking as she stumbled on through this dense forest, deeper and deeper into the night, closer and closer to our secret.
It was secrets that brought her here now, my dear reader, and you must know, that secrets are a dangerous business.
That is why, naturally, our world is swimming in them.
Secrets are part of everyone’s lives, but our friend Trish was not keen on accepting that.
She isn’t the type for reasoning, I must warn you.
She wasn’t much for listening ether.
But she is the subject matter here, so don’t be picky.
And she is a person of action.
One of her various actions was the one that is over all making her the subject of this book.
The action to run away.
Secrets were a big hobby for most of Trish’s family members.
Rich nobles with upturned noses and squinted brown eyes and pale skin made up trish’s family.
Unknown tales and illegal deals and secrets.
Trish wasn’t like them. Her long brown curly hair sat tangled on square shoulders. Wide green eyes pierced through the night and elf-like features littered her face.
So that’s what brought Trish here.
Her dislike for the constant secrets of her family, and her differences.
For she was about to enter the realm of secrets.
And that would be, my dear readers, our story.
“They say I can’t do anything, HA, they can’t even tell the truth!” Trish told herself as she walked through the forest.
Lying was something Trish had a distaste for, but was also a talent of hers.
“What kind of person would keep things out of reach from their own daughter?!”
Trish, who was carefully taking all the “bad habits” and constructing a valid argument, had blinded herself to her surroundings.
She had not noticed the air of mystery in the air, and that the crickets had stopped chirping, and that the forest was easier to navigate because the trees weren’t thick as glue anymore.
There was a slight breeze, and the air was crisp, like rain had just fallen. Fog clouded her vision.
And just for a second, it felt as if time itself had slowed down.
The crickets returned, the air returned to its average state.
Only after a tree offered its opinion about her carelessness and gave her a bump on the head as some advice, did she care to look around and give the appropriate response.
As she shook off the daze, her gaze focused on her surroundings.
“Where in the living world am I?” (This was spoken in a half whisper, so that she could know that she was still capable of words,
but also to not disturb, well, whatever this place was)
She was in a bed of grass next to a shimmering mirror of a lake so clear,
and the pale moonlight so bright you could see her reflection as well as day.
She felt a sense that this was not at all the woods she had run off to earlier that night.
She stood (her legs not very much liking that decision very much, because they had been walking for so long that they did not want to let go of the small moment of relief of sitting down, for you must know, before this whole story started they had been had been, along with the rest of her, quite spoiled).
While her spoiled little self slowly rose up from the short term rest, something growled behind her.
She had no feelings about this, for there was no time for any feelings on the matter.
Only time for action.
Of course my dear reader, Trish is a person of action.
Trish ducked as the mysterious figure (this is a place of mystery, after all) lunged over her,
Its pearl white fangs shone as its lips drew back into a wide grin.
Its well worn fur as the effect of age.
Yet there was an air of power surrounding her.
Something that rarely anyone has, and is quite hard to achieve.
“You think you can outsmart me?
I am the ruler of this forest, and with that too, soon the world as well.
I am not one to be underestimated, for soon all of this planet, seven seas and all shall know my name!
No creature of your kind has ever came to this realm, and now you dare to insult me?
Speak strange creature, and with your words you may shape your fate.”
Trish was at a loss for words, so all that came out was a choke.
As soon as she caught her breath (as you must know all this activity was not well suited for one with a pampered life, and was quite tiring for someone like Trish)
She managed to make the words, but they were barely a sound,
“Who are you?”
“The creature dares not know my name, the name of her ruler!
What a petty servant it shall be.
But for pride is a mere misunderstanding for some, I shall spare the creature this.
I am Silverfang, ruler of all, and of the many before, but you shall address me as master, or Queen.”
What a strange concept this is, for power comes with great effort and practice in the art of leadership.
Silverfang was one of all creatures that was not keen on accepting that.
Now I can go on and on, but we must get on with the story.
And so, as you can see, our poor friend Trish was at a loss for words.
As Silverfang circled around Trish, she took a close look at her.
Silverfang had fangs that shone like two daggers stabbing through the night.
Her gray pelt, though old, moved with her like the waters in a river.
Her icy eyes pierced Trish’s soul.
As she stared at Trish, Silverfang decided to go by the common cliche:
“Better safe than sorry.”
As she glared with those icy eyes at Trish, taking in every detail, every breath, every move, she gave her final answer.
Speaking to what seemed like air, she said calmly,
Now don’t think that Silverfang is truly evil.
You have every right to think that, for she seems like a horrible, power hungry freak.
Well she is, but it wasn’t always this way.
Let’s take a journey back, shall we?
For whatever is done is not for no reason.
There is a side effect to everything.
I guess that makes us all side effects of the human race.
Silverfang was just a side affect of life’s cruelty…
* * *
“Silver! We need to go hunting today!”
Silver sat in the cave as her father called for her.
“Don’t be silly, of course you can!”
As he left the cozy clearing, Silver dragged herself to the water hole.
After she made sure all had left, she examined herself, and sure enough,
right where her heart would be, was a gap.
She couldn’t prove that it was gone, but she could not feel it.
She didn’t feel its beats, and it comforting buzz.
And it’s not easy to “have a heart” when yours has been stolen.
As her heartlessness grew, the gap ripping her apart, she replaced it.
She needed to fill the gap.
She filled her gap with the worst of things, but it was the only thing that stayed long enough:
The evil crept into her as well, a shadow, grew into a heart that fed of of pain and misery, and poisoned her from the inside out.
This was not Silver.
This was Silverfang.
* * *
As soon as Trish heard those words her heart beats became a storm.
And without thinking it over, she flew across the lake!
If you knew Trish at all, you would know that is way too much psychical activity for her.
But as the shadows seemed to draw nearer, and the darkness choking, she became desperate.
She saw what seemed like a million eyes, yellow headlights, beaming through the darkness.
Each pair was like two suns, the gaze strong and determined, yet their was something soothing about them.
Then they attacked.
It was just a blur of fur and teeth.
“Get rid of her,” voices surrounding her chanted.
In the tornado of the, the, the cats!
She was in a catnado!
As she looked around, she could just make out their furry bodies.
As she looked around, looking for a escape, the suffocating craziness surrounded her.
“RUN!” screamed a quite intelligent looking squirrel.
Its fur had a neat tuxedo over it, and it looked quite dapper.
As Trish grabbed its tiny, furry little paw, it started to run quite fast for a squirrel I must say.
As they ran alongside the lake, the squirrel introduced himself as the most proper squirrel in the whole woods, and these were his precise words:
“Hello strange creature, and of your ladylike air, I take to question that you must be what they call a girl, yes? Oh, of course!
Let me properly introduce myself my fair, um, what should I address you as?”
“Oh me! Trish would be fine.”
“Oh, of course, trash? Oh dear no! I’m so sorry, I don’t know what has got into me this fine morning!”
Trish looked up from her slow jog (she couldn’t manage more than that, for she was so tired, that as she ran dark spots floated in and out of her sight.)
And as she did, she noticed the bright blood-red sun, slowly climbing up the trees, and making its way to the top of the forest.
The birds sang their songs, the melody weaved into a gentle tone, that flew with the wind and ran with the rivers.
The sophisticated squirrel broke the silence.
“So what a wonderful morning it is!”
He brought his paw out in front of him as a gesture to show the wonderful morning.
“Of course, we haven’t gotten to my name yet. I am Sir Strange of the Sophisticated.I am part of the group for the Intelligent Squirrels. And I am here to escort you.”
That didn’t sound right to Trish.
Squirrels didn’t talk, and they most definitely did not have groups for “Intelligent Squirrels.”
But here was one, claiming that he was an “Intelligent Squirrel.”
But even that didn’t bother her too much.
She was worrying about the fact that she was going to be “Escorted.”
That did not really have Trish thinking about anything good.
But she knew better than to question.
That had already gotten her near to killed.
This squirrel had saved her from Silverfang, and the strange yet believably scary catnado.
There was no one else with her, and she was taking a huge risk, but she decided to trust him.
Trust is a very fragile thing, and is easily broken.
Trust is also, in my opinion, the most important thing for anybody to believe.
If you can’t trust or be trusted, you become lonely and depressed.
Finally, Trish broke the silence.
“Escort me where…?” she questioned.
“Shhh!” Sir Strange hissed “Trees have ears. Come along now, we must be arriving soon!”
About an hour of walking later, Sir Strange finally came to a stop.
They were in the entrance to a small cave.
“This is where we part, my dear. This cave is the home of them.
They know all, and they tell little.
Don’t let them teach you.
They are there to guide, but not to teach.
Keep their advice with you, but don’t let it change your ways.”
Destiny is a strange sort of thing.
It’s something you want to know, but will change if you know what it is.
It’s a ticking bomb, my friend, and with one malfunction it will explode.
As she turned to face the cave, she looked back and asked “Why?”
But it was words wasted.
Sir Strange has left.
As she looked back to that cave and found something in her that she hadn’t had in a long time.
It was bravery, my friends.
It was bravery.
She stepped forward, and as she did, she took one more step towards fate.
Trish had been walking for what felt like hours.
The walls were covered in vines, and as she walked leaves crunched under her feet.
The walls started to cave in, and the air became thick with dust.
But the fire of bravery still burned in Trish.
The walls suddenly opened up, and a dim light shone through the ceiling.
The walls seemed to whisper, and then the whispers came together to make a voice.
The voice was an ancient whisper, and seemed to be wise above all.
“Who dares to disturb our deep slumber?!
Weary traveler or seeker of their life.
They who have came to this olden grim, have come out as the different man.
And as the traveler who travels, come near, and to the spirits of the wood you must dare speak.”
Trish stared into the darkness, looked deep inside of her for that courage, and spoke.
“I am Trish. I have been sent here by Sir Strange of the Sophisticated. I’m am here to find my fate.”
“Fates are shaped by their master. Before you figure out your fate, you must find out who you are.”
“But I know who I am! I am Trish!” she exclaimed. “I need to know my fate!”
“Very well, but fates in the hands of one who does not know themselves will do more harm then good.
You must return to the high of the low, and find one who will not know what it is to be true, and with them they carry the ruby of the soul. You must take this, but beware, this creature is a master of the art. If it sees you, your time will end.
Wander on to the place where the crow meets the eagle.
There you will find either friend or lies, and journey still you must, to a land where not all is at seems, and when you get there, the ancient ground will unearth, and your journey shall be done.
Use these words as guide, and use them well.”
The whirling dust came to a gentle rest, and silence overcame the cave once more.
A loud echo hit Trish’s ears.
“Begone!” it screamed.
Trish didn’t need another word.
Clueless, that’s what Trish was.
“The high of the low, the high of the low… What on earth does that mean?”
But she knew.
She knew exactly where she needed to go.
She just didn’t want to admit it.
It was at the bottom of a mountain,
The place that Silverfang tried to kill her was on a natural platform, about five feet up.
She didn’t want to go back.
It was a childish thing to do, to be afraid of a place.
But we have all felt that.
Some are afraid of the dark, and being in the dark is a sort of place.
Or the attic. Or the basement. Or wherever.
Then it started to rain.
It was a light drizzle at first.
Then the wind came in.
Gusts of freezing, rain filled air, striking Trish at every opportunity.
Trish shook from head to toe.
The cold crept in and attached itself to her.
She made the decision.
She would go to the place where it all started.
After twenty minutes of walking through the bitter cold rain she reached her destination.
And there lay, as prophesied, a person.
Or at least that’s what it seemed to be.
No, it wasn’t a person.
It was a shadow.
The shadow had no owner, and it lay as its own creature.
“It is mist with a life of its own,” Trish thought.
Just like another person.
But that wasn’t true. It was far from another person.
It wasn’t really there, yet it was.
It was something with no life or meaning, but this one had both.
It was incredibly, impossibly, true.
There was a glint of red in its satchel.
It was a dark blood red sort of color.
It was moving.
No, it was beating.
“With them they carry the ruby of the soul.”
The words flashed through Trish’s train of thought.
It was a heart.
The ruby of the soul was a heart.
And she needed to steal it.
Now how Trish was going to steal this shadows heart she did not know, but there was one thing she was sure of:
She was a horrible thief.
She needed to find someone.
The rain had slowly ended, first the rain had slowly became a drizzle, then it stopped, like the sky had cried out all its tears and now was bringing itself together, the high after the pain.
The wind slowly became a breeze, and the cold melted off and the sun rose like a flower in bloom.
The shadow was there.
But it was no longer a shadow.
Trish shook off the cold and went off into the forest (now buzzing with life) to look for a thief.
Now you must know that finding a thief is like finding a needle in a haystack.
Thieves are masters of disguise, for that is part of their jobs.
They must remain hidden, along with their, well, gifts that were not given, let say that.
There is one thief, though, that does not follow this rule.
The Fox is the most clever of the thieves.
But the Fox is not at all trustworthy.
And trust, my dear reader, is a fragile sort of thing.
Now it just so happens that Trish stumbled across one of these foxes.
The sun stood straight over the withering tree that, in the shade, Fox lay beneath.
Now Trish, naturally, is clueless about these creatures.
So of course, she spills her story.
Now this Fox was quite interested in this “heart” that she needed (for reasons she refused to say), and started to think about what he could do with this heart.
Now, he being a Fox and all, lying came to him like flies to a venus fly trap.
On this day, he was quite bored.
He wanted to get in trouble.
And so he went with Trish.
He told her he would steal it.
But it’s not about what he said.
It’s about what he didn’t say.
He never said that he would give it back.
Trish stood by the side of the wood.
“If anything goes wrong,” the Fox had said. “You may come interrupt.”
“Of course it is. Now don’t interrupt. This is the work of a thief.
It requires concentration.
Now where is this shadow?
There is only a wolf.”
“WHAT!” Trish exclaimed.
She pushed the Fox back so she could get a better look.
Sure enough there was a wolf.
But in the satchel she could still spot something dark red, or blood red.
This sight spread relief through her, and she relaxed her tense self.
The Fox noticed this (he had a eye for detail), and he struggled to push in front of Trish to see what had happened.
He spotted the heart in the satchel, but he had also spotted something Trish hadn’t.
The face of the wolf.
It was familiar.
But the plan continued.
The wolf had walked off for a moment, taking the satchel.
As he lifted the satchel off the ground, something red, blood red, had fallen out and rolled to the ground.
Trish noticed this, but the Fox did not.
His pride and arrogance had deceived him, and as he walked off, a shadow to the shadow, Trish kneeled down, and reached for the heart. Each step the Fox walked, the farther he was from his final prize.
Maybe even the cleverest can deceive themselves.
Trish turned around, her back facing the Fox, and journeyed on.
As Trish journeyed on with a piece of her fate in her hands, she came across a sign that read:
“sdrawkcab fo dnal”
Next to the sign stood a garden gnome, or what seemed like a garden gnome.
“Well, this is gibberish,” Trish sighed. “Where in the world is this? The land where not all is as it seems.
Fate doesn’t seem to like me very much, that’s for sure.”
“If you are your fate then what is fate itself?” someone stated, matter-of-factly.
“If you believe in fate then you’re just really self confident.”
“I guess so,” Trish replied. “And may I ask, who is speaking?”
“Ah, thats where you’re wrong,” Trish was trying to pinpoint the voice “Fate and self confidence are two terribly different places.”
It was the gnome that was speaking!
“Are you a gnome?”
“I do not think that gnomes can talk, now can they?”
“So you are not a gnome?”
“Well, I do not see my self to be so, but that is different depending on the eye of the beholder.”
“So, you’re not a gnome!?”
“To you I am a gnome, but gnomes can’t talk can they?”
“Are you a gnome or not!?”
This creature was really getting on her last nerve.
“Well gnomes can’t speak.”
“Whatever. What is this place?”
“It can be any place. It depends on the size of the person in question’s imagination.
To me this is home.”
“You live here?”
“Well you say it in that tone and it seems to be a bad thing.”
This was not her ideal gnome.
“I am your tour guide for today.”
“Is there any way I can skip the talking part of the tour?”
But her comment had already been blocked out by the gnome.
It had already started talking.
“Well here we go,” Trish mumbled.
She had been here (wherever here was) for barely five minutes and she already hated it.
Yet there was something interesting about it.
So the tour began.
I will spare you the long, quite uninteresting details (that will be a whole other story, my dear reader.)
And I will pick up when the story gets interesting.
* * *
“IT’S TRISH!” The gnome had made that mistake far too many times.
“Now, here is where the battlegrounds are.”
“Battlegrounds. Should I spell it out for you?!” the gnome said in a mocking tone.
“No, thank you,” she said in a voice that showed her suppressed anger.
“Of course. Now these ground have been around for centuries.
They are some of this places most prized landmarks…”
Hadn’t the prophecy said something about ancient grounds?
Trish heard a surprising yet familiar sound.
It was a growl.
Silverfang had returned.
“A pleasure, really, seeing you again,” Silverfang said in a cold tone.
“You don’t sound too pleased,” Trish replied in a equally feelingless tone.
“Yes well, we were rudely interrupted at our last meeting.”
“Yes, well, that was preferable. A better option than my dead body!”
“I don’t remember mentioning any options.”
An idea flashed through Trish’s brain.
It was not a very thought-through decision, and it was risky, but Trish was a person of action, not thought.
“I think I have something of yours.”
“And what possibly could you have of mine”
“I think you left your heart in the shadows!” Trish reached into her pocket.
“The shadows seem to love you so much, that your heart is such a lovely token for them.”
Trish pulled out the heart and thrust it at Silverfang.
“Want it back? Come and get it.”
That was the stupidest decision she had ever.
If Sir Strange had thoughts on that, they would go something like this:
“What a strange thing that is, a little girl fighting a full grown wolf! This world is true to its common chaos!”
But Sir Strange had no comment, and we must get back to the story.
We have most definitely lost track of time (it is not quite important in times like these),
so I shall let you know that the pale orange moon had just rose as Trish said those words.
Now, let’s get back to the story.
A flash of realization crossed Silverfang’s face, and was gone again in a instant.
But it was there.
That was her heart.
And without a thought, she lunged (the gnome had fled by now).
The battle was short yet action filled.
Clawing, punching, teeth marks and bruises.
The final screams of the girl and the last cry of the wolf rang out into the thick darkness.
By the end, under the pale orange moon lay two bodies, the wolf and the girl, laying lifeless, the moonlight gleaming on the thick,
The heart lay at its rightful place, at last at rest with its rightful owner, and the prophecy was fulfilled.
Fate in the hands of one who does not know themselves does more harm then good.
(“Why this is an unusual end for a little girl! Stay away from dark woods like these, children, you never know what’s hidden in the shadows.” – Sir Strange)