Spikes #SundayPhotoFiction

Lakshmi Bhat

Hog built the spiky fence to keep the bears out. It was easy enough to do, he took some tall logs, hammered bits of wood in which he then shaped into spikes. Finally, Hog dug holes and stuck the logs in around his cabin.

He didn’t mind the bears, but they could be dangerous and bothersome. Hog didn’t want to hurt them but he had to defend himself. This idea of training them to stay away with the pain of the spikes, had come to him one afternoon when he had seen a bear stealing honey from a beehive and getting stung but the angry bees.

Days of work later, the fence complete and with a gate so he could get by, was done. Hog admired his hard work then went into the forest to check his rabbit traps.

When Hog came back, he saw a bear sniffing the new logs. He held his breath and watched as the bear brushed up against the spikes, felt the pain and stumbled away.

Hog smiled, his fence had worked! Feeling happier then he had in the last few months, he went inside and had a good meal of rabbits and vegetables.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/sunday-photo-fiction-june-16-2019/ with thanks).

 

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Xylophile (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

The cold river water rushes over my bare feet and legs. I feel small stones against my toes and move slightly to be more comfortable. My hand are flat on the rock I’m sitting on and I can feel the slightly damp moss brushing against me. I shut my eyes and just listen to the sounds of the water, the trees and everything else around me.

A few minute later, I feel the natural energy gathering. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like a warm wind wrapping around me then sinking into me. I feel little electric charges dancing across my skin, they go and I feel calmness, sleepy almost. I drift, dozing on and off, letting the wind and water carry me away.

Time passes, I’m aware and not aware of it at the same time. I just feel the magic filling me up and the sense of the river against my feet and the mossy rock under my hands are not there anymore. Dizziness makes my head swim and I lay down on the rock to make sure I don’t fall. I don’t sleep but I’m not fully awake either. I’m just drifting in and out, around the energy that takes over.

When I next open my eyes, I lay there and listen. I can hear the trees whispering to each other. They are having conversations and telling stories but I can’t make out their words clearly enough to understand.

The river laughs and tickles my feet. The water is happy to tumble down the waterfall and around the rocks. The river asks me to give it sticks and leaves to race with.

I slowly get up, make my way back to the grass bank and in a daze, I find anything that will float. I collect a few sticks, leaves, bits of things and place them into the river, above the waterfall. I watch the river play with the things, turning them and making them race through the tumbling water. The river laughs loudly like a child enjoying a good game.

Going to a near by tree, I sit down. I hear the tree talking, the leaves above moving not by the wind but by the energy of the tree itself. The tree tells about the owl that lives in a hallow high above and the two baby owls inside the nest. The tree says it is happy to give the owl and her babies a home.

I touch the bare earth, my name sake, that the tree has disturbed with it roots. The earth tells me to take it’s energy and to use some of them to anchor myself down, like the earth does to everything.

I breath deeply, filling my lungs with the energy. I hear then feel a spring rain began to fall. The drops patter onto the trees and plants before reaching my skin. It feels like warm, soft kisses on my skin.

Getting up, I walk out from under the tree and stand in the rain. It’s soft and warm. I let the rainfall wash me and from it I take more energy; the elements of air and water.

I feel better and like I can face my problems again. It’s hard to leave the forest, the place of my birth and where I feel most like myself, but I must do. I have to get back to things but I’ll keep returning, drawing the energy and making the magic until the day I return to nature and am buried under the soil here to await re-birth.

Xylophile (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

I was born in this forest, like most of the coven members. It’s a centuries old tradition for babies to arrive out here. It’s said to be the most natural channel of magic in the area and also gives a connection to life, death and rebirth just like the cycle of the forest.

My love for the forest and it’s magic comes from that moment. I’m in tune with the nature around and can use that energy to create magic. But these are not the fantasy or supernatural magics of books and movies, this is a neutral magic that can be used in help me or others or to cause negativity towards others.

Nature’s magic doesn’t always work though and we can only ask so much of it. I guess that’s why so many people have stopped believing in it. They have turned to the world of technology and forgot how to ask the different energies to help them.

A few years back, magic users got away with saying they didn’t have phones, computers or TVs but now the world relays on all of those so much, we can’t avoid them. I don’t spent a lot of time with technology, I’d rather be reading books or walking in the forest.

My mother called me Ela which means earth. She never told me who my father was and the coven members don’t know either. My story is that my mother desperate for a daughter ask Mother Nature to give her one. My mother created a spell which involved swallowing an acorn – the seed- to make her pregnant. I’ve always believed it to be a true story.

And this story isn’t going to be about my search for truth to that tale because I’m happy with that knowledge. Today, I want to tell you about my current situation. Things haven’t been great for me lately, lots of stuff has gone wrong in my life all at once. It’s the normal young adult stuff; the struggling to find a job, the break up with the boyfriend, the falling out of the best friend. You know, the normal life problems.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the forest, getting away from all of that and trying to use the magic to fix things. There’s a favourite spot of mine which I always go to and spend a good few hours there. It’s next to the river and a rushing waterfall. There was lots of rocks around which the water has to make its way over or around. These rocks make good places to sit and dip my bare feet into the cool water.

I let the water take the negativity away and draw from it clean energy to help me get through things. The sound of the water calms me and adds to the wind shaking the trees and the animals playing about.

Dear, Nature I draw energy from you. Today, I wish to make magic to help my life and others around me. Please, give me the energy I need to cast those spells.

I call upon the elements to aid me. Water, I take energy from you to help cleanse and heal me. Air, I take energy to speak my spell and to cast it out. Fire, I take energy for heat and passion. Earth, I take the energy of life force you give us all.

Mother Nature, hear my request and grant me what I need.

 

To Be Continued…

 

 

Rift #WritePhoto

I called a coffee break and began sitting up a place to sit. Nat and Kiara helped me to set up the folding stools and table. We dumped everything else but the stuff we needed whilst Damex set and started up the instant campfire.

Ode hadn’t stopped with us but carried on walking through the rocky clearing we had just entered. She seemed lost in her own world, the amazement of being on Earth not worn off for her yet.

Around us the forest was loud with sounds we weren’t use to. There was the calling of different wild birds and animals which roamed around without the need for programming. The wind was real in the trees and not from fans, the sun also real and pleasantly mild on our sensitive skin and the air wasn’t recycled or filtered but fresh and earthy.

It had all taken some getting use to and we still hadn’t adjusted fully even after the four months we had now been here for. Earth had been abandoned a few hundred years ago, humans had found other planets to spawn on and it had been decreed Earth needed time to regenerate and was to be left alone.

That was until the reason we had come here. A small time-space rift had been detective somewhere in this location and we were the team that went around fixing those holes.

‘Fire’s up, Ash,’ Damex announced.

I popped the folding coffee pot out, but in some water formula and coffee grains then set it on the stand above the fake flames.

Kiara appeared at my side and put some cheese toast pockets next to the pot. They only took a few minutes to cook and made good hot snacks.

‘I’ll get Ode,’ Nat spoke and walked over to her.

I sat down in one of the chairs and looked around. It was impossible to grow bored of the Earth’s sites but I found being in the places with buildings much more interested then the wilds.

Damex sat down on a rock and began rubbing his hands along the surface. The moss catching in his fingers and the dirt getting under his nails. It was always hard to tell with the android but he seemed to be enjoying the sensation.

Kiara looked as bored as I was feeling. She took the chair next to me and began messing around with the hand held computer. No doubt, emailing her husband and children then she would play some games and let her frustrations out on those instead of us. Kiara wasn’t one for these long, complicated trips.

I turned my attention to Nat and Ode, ‘the Lil’ scientific genius’. They were stood on the other side of the clearing, a few feet or so away, next to a mass of rocks. They were looking at a large rock piece that appeared to have a huge, gaping split down it, like a giant had tried to cut the rock in half but had given up before the job was done.

Ode, her white hair tossed in the breeze seemed excited about something and was holding a scanner around over the rock.

Nat laughed, tried to calm her down and pointed back to us. Ode shook her head, determined to stay and it took a few minutes for Nat to convince her to leave whatever it was and come back to the group.

The coffee pot whistled, I took it off and poured it into the four mugs lined up on the table. I set the pot off to one side and grabbed the snacks which Kiara had forgotten about and opened one to let it cool slightly before I ate it.

‘Ash! Ash!’ Ode shout as she ran over.

‘Yeah, Ode, I’m not going to eat all the cheese toast,’ I answered.

‘No….I mean, it’s not that,’ she said coming to a skidding halt, ‘I think I’ve found the rift!’

‘That rock over there?’

Ode nodded, a huge smile on her flushed faced, ‘sensors indicate it could be! Can I please close it? You know it’s the first one I’ve ever found! Expect for the training and exam ones, but those don’t really count. Please, Ash can I do it?’

‘Calm down,’ I responded with a shake of my head but I couldn’t help smiling. Ode was infectious when she got like this, ‘have something to eat and drink first. You’ll need the energy.’

‘But-‘

‘No, buts,’ Nat said playfully, ‘Ash is right, you need to be at your top if you are going to close it. Sit down, here’s a mug.’

With a loud groan, Ode did as she was told and began sipping the coffee.

Nat took the other chair next to her and began nibbling on the cheese toast.

Damex looked up, coming back from wherever his android mind had been and announced, ‘I shall go and complete the scans and confirm it whilst you rest.’

‘But I want to do everything!’ Ode cried like a over-excited child on her birthday.

‘And you shall,’ I cut in, ‘but a second opinion and results is always needed.’ I turned to Damex, ‘please go and do that. We’ll join you soon.’

Damex nodded, collected what he needed and walked over to the huge rock piles. We watched him began the scanning and data collecting. Androids were so useful for those kinds of tasks.

Ode, impatient had downed her coffee, swallowed the cheese toast in a few bites and hurried back to the possible rift. Nat and I took our time, drinking and eating the snacks in silence.

After, as I thought about putting another coffee pot on, Kiara finally stopped being distracted and spoke to us in the first time in about two hours, ‘can I tell my family we might be on our way back then?’ she asked.

‘Better leave it till tomorrow,’ I said, ‘we need to see what Damex and Ode find, then confirm it’s the right rift and then that there are no more around.’

‘Right,’ Kiara snarled.

She shoved the computer into her bag then sat with her arms crossed looking super enraged.

‘I’m sorry. I know we all want to go home. Let’s try and speed things up. You and Nat pack up here. I’ll go and see what those two have found.’

I stood up, leaving them to sort things out and made my way over. I would be sad to leave Earth but this was just another job to be done.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/03/21/thursday-photo-prompt-rift-writephoto/ with thanks).

Hermit Brother #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Brother Aden had lived alone for so long that he had lost count of the years. He knew time had passed because he had aged. He could see it in his hands; brown with too much sun, wrinkled and dry with not enough washing and too much hard work. He could feel it in his body; back bent, slower footsteps, pain in his knees and arms.

His hut was in the middle of the forest, far from everywhere else and that was how he had come to like it. When he had arrived and spotted the two room wooden building through the trees, he had gone in and discovered it abandoned. He had made it his shelter though he couldn’t escape the horrors of the night that had caused him to flee here.

Even now, when the winter nights were dark and wild with storm, his faded memory would show him events of the past. He was an young monk learning to read and copy the scriptures. He was attending four prayer services a day and more on Sunday. He was looking after animals and crops. It was a hard life but he understand the Calling.

Midnight, the danger bell was ringing and the Abbey being stormed by The Cursed knights. There was fire, blood and bodies everywhere. Brother Aden had grabbed whatever he could; books, relics, supplies and fled away. He had selfishly only been thinking about his survival. He hadn’t know that then, had not been thinking clearly in the chaos all round. He had just wanted to live and not die by magical sliver and gold swords.

Fleeing into the winter night, snow melting on his hot face, the forest had seemed to welcome him. The trees sheltered his senses from the battle and he had stumbled onwards till morning. It sometime afterwards that he found the hut.

In the days that followed, he had time to think and decided. Brother Aden realised he could never return to the Abbey, he would be exiled for his actions. He had left the Abbey without permission or proper cause, he had removed relics and books, stolen food and had gone into hiding like a coward. And all that was if there was even an Abbey and Brothers to go back too.

So, he had decided to stay and allow the forest to provide for him. The guilt, emotions and wondering about what had happened haunted him all the time in those first few years. Slowly, that had faded as he tried to survive day to day, season to season. He had grown use and comfy to things. The desire to try and return to the Abbey or anywhere else vanished.

This was his life now.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/09/10/weekly-writing-prompt-158 with thanks).

 

Through The Mist #TwitteringTales

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Everything was hushed at 6 am as I hide in the forest, breathe held. Through the misty trees ran the wild horses with their coats of many colours, their hoofs pounding the earth, manes and tails flying in the wind. It was a beautiful sight and well worth the wait.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/08/28/twittering-tale-99-28-august-2018/ with thanks.)

 

 

Caught #WritePhoto

sun caught in trees

The morning sun shone through the hole of the bending tree. The wood cutter looked up, shielding his eyes from the glare. He could see the rays of light exploding against the tree’s trunk. It’s a blessing, he thought, shifting his hand on the handle of his axe as he said his thanks to the sun god and the goddess of nature.

The wood cutter continued his walk into the forest, feeling like today was going to be good. He approached the first tree he planned to cut down in the small clearing. He begin chopping, the sounds of his axe startling birds into the sky and echoing in the other trees.

He was about halfway through the trunk when he heard the crying. He was about to swing again but the noise paused his movement. He listened and realised it was a baby. Lowering his axe, he followed the sound to the other side of the clearing and spotted a wicker basket poking out from under a bush.

Putting his axe down, he pulled the basket it towards himself and and saw in the wrapped in a blanket, a baby boy.

‘I was right!’ the wood cutter cried, ‘today is a blessed day.’

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/08/23/thursday-photo-prompt-caught-writephoto/ with thanks).

Fallen #Writephoto

Alice knew she looked a mess but in that moment she didn’t care. Pressing her back into the rock she was resting against, Alice cried harder into her hands. The ferns and trees muffled her sobbing and protected her from curious eyes. Letting it all out, she wondered how things had gotten this bad.

Taking deep, shaky breaths, she wiped her face then rubbed her hands dry. She sniffed loudly and dug around her little blue handbag for a tissue. Blowing her nose a few times, she crumpled the tissue up and dumped it back into her bag.

Looking around, she admired the view of forest, letting nature distract from her depressive thoughts. The dark green ferns were growing in wild clumps, reminding her of dinosaur movies and the large trees were letting dappled spring sunlight in. The rock she was resting on felt cold and rough. She reached out and touched the rock’s companion who was just as cold. Millions of years old rocks seemed beyond belief but here they were and so was Alice.

The sharp barking of a dog drew her attention. She looked quickly around but the forest was too dense. Something broke through the trees and Alice saw a massive grey dog coming towards her. She tried to move but her back hit the rock hard and she cried out. Alice stumbled away, hand trying to rub her back and at the same time trying to keep her balance. She failed and fell sideways into the ferns.

Crying out even more, Alice struggled to get back to her feet. The giant of a dog appeared above the waving ferns and peered down at her. Alice stopped moving and held her breath. The dog was sniffing with a big black nose and paws the size of tea sauces were stomping down the ferns in attempted to get to her.

A scream ripped out of her before she even meant it. The dog stopped, stared in panic and backed off quickly. Alice gasped for breath and pressed a hand to her chest. Pushing herself up, she saw the dog standing some distant away but still watching her.

‘Duke! Duke!’ a man’s voice shouted from the other side of the trees.

The dog turned towards the voice, tail swaying.

‘Go away,’ Alice hissed through clenched teeth.

The dog give a single bark and sat down, sad looking eyes studying Alice.

Staying still and hoping the ferns hid her from sight, Alice watched a man dressed for hiking enter the clearing. He approached the dog, fussing over him. Alice saw the dog was so tall that he came to the height of the man’s hips and the man just had to reach his hand out to pat the dog’s large head.

A fern branch snapped and Alice’s eyes shot to the man’s.

‘Oh my god,’ he half shouted as he rushed over to her, ‘are you okay? What happened? Did Duke scare you? Was that your scream I heard? I’m so sorry,’ he gushed, his words tumbling together so that Alice struggled to understand them.

The man pulled her up and out of the ferns before she could reply. Alice felt her cheeks getting hot and avoiding his eyes, she dusted herself off. She knew how odd she must look to him. He was dressed to be out here in boots, water proof pants, t-shirt, fleece jacket and rucksack. In stark contrast, she was dressed in a business suit; black blazer, white blouse, black pencil skirt, black tights and black flat shoes.

‘He wouldn’t have hurt you, honest,’ the man was babbling, ‘He’s a big baby. Scared of his own shadow. Typical, great dane. I’m so sorry. Are you hurt?’

‘No,’ Alice forced out.

She looked up at the man and had to fight down even more shock. He was ruggedly handsome with longish sandy colored hair, a matching stubble beard, a nicely angled jaw and cheeks, he had shimming blue eyes and soft kissable lips. Was he a fallen angel? Alice had forgotten how to breath.

‘Then…then is there anything I can do?’ the man asked.

Alice had the impression he was taking her in for the first time and wondering why she was out in office clothes with a tear stained face and her mud colored hair tumbling about like she’d been hit by a hurricane.

‘Would you like some tea?’ he asked.

Alice puzzled, ‘tea?’

The man took his rucksack off, dug around and came out with a thermos. He unscrewing the lids before pouring hot tea into the cup and giving it to Alice. She accepted it gratefully and warmed her hands on the hot metal whilst watching the steam floating upwards.

The great dane yawed loudly as if with bored of this whole ‘saving the damsel in distress’ scene. He laid down, sprawling in the grass and shade of the ferns, looking as harmless as the rocks next to them.

‘Thanks,’ Alice began, ‘I’m not too keen on dogs and he’s so big, he startled me. I’m Alice by the way.’

The man nodded, I’m Kipp. He’s Duke,’ he said pointing at the dog who give a single wag of his tail.

Alice smiled into the tea and took a sip. It tasted sweet and milky, just the way she liked it.

‘So, how did you get out here, if you don’t mind me asking?’ Kipp questioned.

‘I had to get away,’ Alice sighed, ‘my job interview went disastrously wrong. I was so upset and embarrassed, I decided to have a walk.’

‘Surely, it couldn’t have been that bad?’ Kipp asked.

Alice sipped more tea and shook her head, ‘I was so nervous that I tripped through the front door then I couldn’t remember the interviewer’s name. I got all my answers mixed up and I knocked over a glass of water and she got covered in it. When I tried to help her clean up, I hit my head on the desk and fainted.’

‘That’s not good,’ Kipp said, there was a hint of laughter in his voice.

Alice looked up, she had been staring at Duke whilst she spoke, scared of what Kipp’s reaction to her story might be. She saw though that he was trying very hard not to laugh and keep fixed a serious expression his face. He looked so cute and funny that Alice couldn’t help but giggle.

Kipp relaxed, a large grin spreading across his face, ‘I guessing you didn’t get the job then?’

‘I don’t know…she said she’s call me but I’m guessing not,’ Alice replied.

‘Well, you know what to do next time now.’

Nodding, Alice drank the tea. It was making her feel better and so was talking to Kipp. Though, she would have preferred him not to have seen her in this state. He probably has a girlfriend, she thought then scowled herself, this was not the time to be thinking of romance.

Kipp rubbed the back of his neck, cast a long look at Duke then turned to her.

‘Getting a job is hard,’ he said, ‘but you’ll get there.’

‘It sure doesn’t feel like it. I’m no good at interviews, I get so nervous!’ Alice replied.

‘It’s all about practice,’ Kipp explained.

Alice finished the tea and handed back the cup, ‘thanks, I really needed that,’ she said.

Kipp took it from her with a heartbreaking smile, ‘it sure looked like you did. Happy to help.’

He fixed the cup back on the thermos and placed it in his rucksack. Swinging his bag back on, he looked around casually, giving the impression he wanted to leave. Duke on the other hand, seemed to have fallen asleep.

‘How old is he?’ Alice asked.

She knew she was clutching at anything she could just to stop Kipp leaving.

‘About five years old,’ Kipp responded with a slight shrug, ‘he’s super lazy. A trait of the breed. He’d sleep all day if you left him be.’

Alice hurried to think of another question but her mind had gone blank.

‘Anyway,’ Kipp said, pulling the straps of his bag up, ‘it was nice to meet you. Good luck with the job hunt.’

‘Thanks,’ Alice mumbled.

Kipp whistled then called for Duke.

The great dane raised just his head and looked grumpily over. Then slowly he got up on his long legs and ambled over.

Kipp patted Duke’s head and they turned to go.

Say something! Alice screamed at herself.

‘I should repay you,’ Alice gushed.

Kipp looked over his shoulder, ‘it’s fine.’

‘No wait,’ Alice cried, fumbling for her phone in her handbag, ‘let me give you my number and I’ll buy you dinner,’ she added without even thinking about it.

A confused expression clouded Kipp’s face, ‘no,’ he said and came back over to her.

‘But…I….I…’ Alice trailed, words failing her.

‘I should buy you dinner,’ Kipp stated.

Alice opened her mouth then closed it. What had he just said? Words tumbled around her head, she tried to make them say something but it was too hard.

‘If you want that is,’ Kipp added, ‘I’m liking the wild forest woman look you’re rocking there.’

Alice reached up to her hair, where his finger was pointing and pulled out a piece of fern.

‘Oh…I…’ she mumbled and tossing the fern away, began tugging at her hair in search of more.

‘It sounds like you’ve had a bad day,’ Kipp went on, ‘and I wouldn’t be much of a gentleman if I didn’t try to make it better. So?’

Alice stopped panicking and dropped her hands from her hair.

‘Yes,’ she breathed, ‘that would be nice.’

Kipped held out his hand and shyly, Alice took it.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/10/thursday-photo-prompt-fallen-writephoto/ with thanks).

Caim #atozchallenge #writephoto

Caim; sanctuary; an invisible circle of protection, drawn around the body with the hand to remind one of being safe and loved, even in the darkest times. 

I watched the sun rising from my window. It had been another sleepless night. Too many thoughts in my head and nothing to settle me. I pressed my cheek to the cold, wet glass as the clouds began to light up.

A story, told by one of my childhood’s nannies, came into my head. It was about a boy who got lost in a dark forest where an evil witch lived. The boy wanted to protect himself but carrying nothing, could only use a spell his mother had given him. Using the air, he drew a circle around himself with his hand, whilst at the same time recalling a memory of being safe and loved.

The boy walked further into the forest and happened upon the evil witch. She tried to capture him, so she could eat him, but the evil witch’s spell bounced off the boy. The witch tried again and again, chasing the boy through the forest as he tried to get away. Finally, the boy made it out of the forest and back to his village. The evil witch could do nothing but hover on her broomstick at the edge of the trees, cursing the boy.

The boy ran into this house and was greeted by a happy and tearful family, for they had all thought he’d never return. The boy told of how he had cast the Caim spell his mother had taught him and when the evil witch tried to capture him, it was that spell that had saved him.

I sighed and moved my head away from the window. I had long given up believing in fairy stories. The idea of casting that spell stuck with me though. Getting out of the window box, I stepped into a patch of dawn light laying on the bare floor. Shutting my eyes, I thought about the best time I had felt safe and loved. I drew a circle around myself in the air.

A touch of warm brushed my skin, opening my eyes and looking out of the window, I saw the valley below full of sunlight. I wasn’t sure if the spell had worked or not but I felt a lot better that day for the first time in weeks. And that night, I slept well.

 

(Photo prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2018/03/29/thursday-photo-prompt-valley-writephoto/ with thanks).

Chop #FridayFictioneers

As evening arrived, the sound of an axe chopping wood could be heard. The echoing noise carried throughout the night and only fade as first light touched the trees. For months, the chop chop sounds continued and no one could find the source.

In whispers, the rumors started about a woodsman who murdered his family then himself. As punishment the Devil had him cutting down trees to make firewood for Hell.

It’s now said, that if you walk into that forest you would see the remains of the trees the woodsman’s ghost has cut down.

 

(Inspired from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/01/31/2-february-2018/ with thanks).