Together

They all knew it they could not remain here for much longer. The pathway had taken a lot out of all of them and had sapped their spirits to a low ebb. Some worse than others. Word was now going around about what some had seen, heard and felt. It was time to try and make some sense of that.

Speck stood up first to speak he had seen the dark sky split and moon appear briefly, and it was he the first night in the cave woke in a fright with a warm breathe on his neck. He had woke with a start and whatever it was gone and stayed away.

“We saw the night sky clouds open and show the moon, that was a real sight for sore eyes”, said Speck, “and we also heard what Keith said about the bird speaking to him about going forward.”

“Chloe! What was it you were saying to me a while ago? Speck looking at Chloe and asking the question. Chloe pulled out her notebook and began to tell the group about how the trees spoke to her. The others were not so surprised at this for on the pathway there were times they all thought they could hear the tree murmuring and even speaking.

“So what did they say?” asked Speck.

“They told me about the need to go forward and follow the path,” said Chloe, “and to find the red stone and old oak tree called Askel.”

“So where is the old tree and where are we suppose to go? I just want to go home and have a good meal,” said Sarah tears welling up in her eyes.

“We have to follow on………I guess go into the cave as far as we can and to a ‘great valley’ they said called Gorm, I think? Chloe was speaking and checking her notes, “then to the forgotten mountain Shadenwell in the Tilden Hills”. Chloe stopped for a while as if thinking then said, “That is all they told me.”

Speck stood up again and said, “We can’t stay here, and it is clear to all the back through the trees and the pathway is not going to happen. I suggest we move on, also it is not good to remain here in one place too long. Better we move on together and go forward as we appear to have been told.”

They all held fears and doubts and some spoke of them but all recognized the situation and the need to move forward – together.

 

Going back

Chloe was so encouraged by what she had seen and heard that she rushed to tell them all.

Just the sight of the sunset over the lake held out for her to see by the branches of the trees. Just that sight filled her with hope.

For that she was going back. Back to the group huddled in the cave wondering still about it all.

 

 

Recall

The fire was starting to get low and Chloe watched the glowing red embers as the cold wind fanned them.

She placed three more dry branches on the embers and sat watching as they first smoked a little then began to catch fire.

She began to wonder if the trees missed these branches and minded at all if they were burnt.

She left the fireside and move toward the end of the path where trees ended. Putting her head forwards she listened keeping perfectly still.

For a long while there was nothing and then she asked,”Do you mind if take and burn the old branches?”

The trees suddenly moved in the cold breeze, though more than before, and she listened and she heard their voices

Copyright Feb 2017 IGL

murmur and she recalled their few words.

 

In a moment it flashed in her head such a scene, the trees holding out a lake with setting sun. The cold wind blew across it but the image engraved itself into her mind. Such a change from the darkness.

“Now recall”, said a tree, “Remember our words…..the way is long….there’s danger ahead…….but you can only……go on.” There was a pause and murmuring then a tree spoke again, “Find the red stone at the feet of Askel the great oak.”

“Follow the path….find the sun…..and green trees….deep into Gorm the valley deep….and up the steep slope of Shadenwell the forgotten mountain lost in the hills Tildon the great hills…….”.

The trees fell silent nothing more to say as if perhaps they had already said too much. Chloe scrambled to write what she could hold the fading light torch of her mobile. She wrote all she could recall.

 

Near dawning

They sat thinking for a while around the warmth of the fire. Chloe’s words sinking in and each with their own thoughts. Keith now had moved closer to the fire wanting to sit next to Sarah, but she moved away to get something from her bag and returned to another spot.

Joel spoke now, “when will it cease to be night? This constant darkness is so depressing and oppressive.” Keith wondered if he should mention the bird and the way the sky appeared at that time.

The group was low in spirit and Keith could feel their despair. He need to share so he discided to tell them.

“I saw a bird just over there,” he said pointing to where the thick trees ended between the pathway trees and the stark black rocks. The trees were more sparse here appearing like blackness on a black background.

“When I saw it I noticed the sky appeared to have a sunset, it lasted for a few moments and then it was gone.”

Keith hesitated to mention that the bird spoke to him, the group were now eyeing him and beginning to question him on why he should see this alone and no one else did.

“The bird spoke to me!” he interjected looking about him and expecting more comments. This time though they ceased to question and seemed more interested and keen to know what the bird has said.

Keith told them and looked over to where he saw the bird. It was strange for darkness began to split apart and for a second or two a bright light, like the moon peeped through. There was gasp for the whole group and a sense of joy for this brief sighting of light and a possible near dawning.

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Around the fire

Around the fire, they now gathered looking to warm their cold limbs and feel the heat this fire.

Keith joined them, slipping his picture into his bag and leaning on a rock close to the cave entrance.

The world intrudes in every sphere – its needs, its greed, its seed of desire, but here they had lost it for a while.

Keith leaning and watching though furthest from the fire could feel it begin to warm him. He liked it gentle warming and with that, he regained a little of that desire as he watched Sarah. He had not noticed her before but now wondered more and more about her.

Chloe spoke for the first time for a long while. “What is this all about and where are we going?” she asked looking about her and all those seated around the fire.

It was Geoff that first answered saying, “I did not what it meant to wander across the green bridge. I did not know we could not go back.”

He hung his head as if he would start crying, but continued to speak, “I don’t know what this means or where we are going, but we have to get back and get through this.”

He looked up with a desire in his eyes and scanned about him at all the faces of them around the fire.

They all knew they had to get out of this and find the way back. They also feared what lay ahead, this was so surreal and weird. Anything could lay ahead, what next after talking trees and birds.

Looking back

From the cave entrance, Keith stood looking back and now it seemed the trees were far away to the right and much more sparse than before. A heavy darkness still rested on them, though an eerie light shone behind them like a previously unseen sunset.

Trees in the distance with setting sun Copyright April 2017 IGL

Keith was no artist but the time there waiting and watching made him sketch what he saw. He wondered if that was a setting sun and if so how it could set without first giving light – and warmth.

The others were now stirring from their long periods of sleep and one of them had started a fire from the numerous dry wood around this flat area.

Keith liked to think it was the setting sun, it gave him hope and a little comfort. He recalled the words the little bird had told him and looked about quickly to see if he could it again.

To the right of the picture, the dense darkness of the trees held their position and Keith choose not to shown them just a brief indication to remind him (as if he needed reminding, of this!).

Sarah caught his eye distracting from his thoughts and his picture, now complete, but she held his gaze.

“Keith! What yer doin’ there?” she said looking back as she walked away.

A little Bird Told Him

Keith had not mentioned it to anyone, nor had he taken any notice of it. Hunger and tiredness had blurred his mind and nothing seemed that strange to him anymore.

It was at the place where the tree covered pathway joined the exposed level area from off which lay the cave’s entrance. The trees for a short length of the pathway grew less densely and it was here Keith thought he saw something moving in the tree close branches. It appeared best in his peripheral vision and seemed to vanish if he directly at it.

Photo copyright IGL Jan 2018

For a moment Keith saw it there and it appeared like the darkness had been replaced with light. Just for a moment and in that moment he saw it was a bird. One of the birds maybe that they had heard singing in the darkness.  Not it chirped a familiar song. Then without a hesitation turned to face Keith and said, “Beware of the cave and now this. All must enter the cave but none can go back until they reach the end. ” The bird chirped a little more as if clearing its throat and then continued, “Beware of the cave and now this, you will never be alone in there but often wish you were alone.”

Keith for a moment could not believe what he saw and heard but also in another moment parked it and allowed his thoughts to go with those of the others now glad to be free of the trees and finding the cave.

Keith now wondered what he had heard and a little bird told him.

 

Suddenly

 

Suddenly Joel woke with the slow rhythmic warm blasts. Smoothing at first but, now it sent a sudden shudder fear through him. In the cave’s darkness, so different from the pathway and the trees, there was a presence that felt nearer and more threatening.

His only thought was to move away quickly and try to grab something. What could he grab, and thinking remembered the walking stick and a branch he tripped over and then pulled from the trees.  Keeping very still he posed himself to move.

The darkness closed about him thicker than ever and his heart pounded in his chest. Surely whatever it was could hear this beating and smell the fear.

 

Forgotten

There is no time like the present. They all like the many before them now had forgotten what they were here for. The questions had long ceased and queries replaced them – those day to day questions of where what, when and how now frequented their thinking. The most basic of questions now so comment and relevant.

Was it the long walk in darkness with those black trees that creaked and murmured that affected them so? Where did it lead them and where are they now? What was the song that bird sang in the night? And how can anything make sense anymore? Maybe it was just the cold wind that blew so relentlessly until it drove you back along that dark way and of course that cave! Forgotten until now!