Thursday, 20 December 2012

Thursday, December 20, 2012 -

The Woodsman

by Lucy Appleby
Published: Dec 20, 2012
Words: 6,254
Category: general, romance
Orientation: M/F
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Five hundred years ago there lived an unruly child called Alysha who grew into a beautiful but tempestuous young woman. She ran wild and free and was beholden to no one, not even her step father. He was a good man, but since the death of Alysha's mother many years previously, he had become a somewhat abstracted character whose time was spent happily delving into his ancient books of lore.

Left to her own devices, Alysha tramped through the sweet meadows and over hills and dales until she reached the great wood - an ancient woodland, dense and mysterious. She learnt its ways by listening to the whisper of the wind in the grass and the rustle of the leaves in the canopy of trees; she became familiar with the ribboning course of the stream that wound its way through the wood, and her feet trod paths that had been forgotten by man for hundreds of years, though centuries were but a mere heartbeat in this place.

"Do not stray beyond the great wood," warned Alysha's stepfather. "There are tales of an even older place beyond it - the wild wood, full of strange things."

"What kind of strange things?"

Alysha's stepfather shook his head. He did not tell Alysha that her own mother once ventured into the wild wood, returning nine months later, subtly changed, fey, and with a babe at her breast - a babe that she named Alysha. "There are some things that are not meant to be disturbed. Do not try to find the wild wood. Stay safe. Now, my daughter, come and eat your supper. There is a fine stew of beef and barley simmering in the pot, and we have fresh bread and good strong ale."

But Alysha smiled and tossed back her head, paying no heed to her stepfather's counsel. And so, the very next day she left the house at daybreak and ran out into the dawn, and as the sun rose higher and the air became brighter, she danced through fern and over moss, leaping over the bubbling brook, treading lightly on the leaf strewn path that led to the great wood. It embraced her and she walked the familiar paths until the sun was high in the sky and she had ventured further than she had ever been before.

The trees became progressively less dense, and she was soon walking in a glade carpeted by wood anemones, bluebells and celandines. Spring was apparent in every flower, bud and unfurling leaf, and the air rang with the song of birds as they made their nests in thicket, bark and tree.

Alysha did not return home that night. Instead, she speared a trout from the silver stream, threaded it onto a green sapling stick and cooked it over the embers of a fire coaxed from dry kindling.