---As a warning now and furture warnings will be given at the top of each chapter, this novel will go into detail at points when it comes to certain topics such as, abuse-mental, physical, emotional, sexual assault-, suicide along with learning to heal and the recovery the main character goes as she seeks to understand what all in all happened to her and why in a fantasy setting. If you feel this is not your cup of tea, that's okay. You find the best kind of tea you want to enjoy for you. I will do my best to list the sites when needed.---
--- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 1800-273-8255 or visit the website at http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org ---
--- Crisis Text Line: Text 741741 (For USA and Canada) or visit http://www.crisistextline.org ---
--- RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network): Dial 1800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit http://www.rainn.org ---
---If it is an emergency, pleace call 9-1-1 or your local area emergency services for help.---
Waking up into a forest was not how I was expecting this day to start out. My head throbbed, a heavy pulse that thankfully slowly faded and allowed the sounds of leaves rustling and various animals calling out to each other to flood in. I rubbed my eyes to get rid of the possible eye crust and looked around, head still feeling heavy as I attempted to wiggle myself in a better position to look at the sort of patch of clearing I was in. The trees were widely spaced, a few pathways in between a few trunks-most likely made by people or animals. Bright golden-green grass covered the ground, it felt like silk on my skin. Bright sunlight lit up the remaining morning fog with a golden hint through the leaves and large ancient looking trunks.
Everything was really bright, almost staring into the sun bright.
It resembled a piece of Earth that somehow hadn’t been untouched by greed, the air smelled so clean, so pure and fre-
I flinched at the feeling of water dripping onto my head, looking up at the tree I was under, noting a couple of squirrels dash through the branches as they chittered, leaves and drops of water falling through the air in silver shimmers of reflected light. Another wiggle of my limbs and I managed to look myself over, finding myself covered in a thin, silken dress-possibly explaining the silky feeling I thought was the grass-my hands flexed, feeling the young shoots and found they were still soft but a different texture. The color long since faded from sun exposure and heavily worn if obvious by the breezy holes. The air was surprisingly cold despite the deceptive warm spring look. I sat up fully, wincing at the tugging of my scalp and saw the state of my hair, finding it to be quite long since the last time I saw it, easily reaching past my feet like that of Rapunzel once I actually looked at it. It took a bit but I managed to free my hair from where it was caught on some exposed roots and winced at the ache in my scalp and some bits that were torn.
I need to get my bearings, figure out where I am and see about trying to get back home. I inhaled again, the air smelled so wonderful though-focus!
Something crashed in the distance, growls erupting from the area as birds flew away and getting closer by the second. I jumped up, nearly falling over at the sudden rush of vertigo. The thing crashed into the clearing and I tensed at the fear of getting attacked, bringing my arms up to protect my face.
The chirping squeak had me cautiously looking, seeing a familiar cat.
“Boyd?” I froze, bringing my hand to my throat. No sound had escaped, I couldn’t speak somehow, was it just from not using it? I attempted to clear my throat but felt it more than hearing it. At most it felt like something was stuck in my throat but I could breathe. I attempted to get up again, slower, using the grooves of the tree to provide an anchor. I rubbed my temple at the feeling of another headache coming in, gritting my teeth at the pain.
What, had happened to me? The last thing I remember was going home but I wound up in a forest in the middle of gods know where.
A bird croaked overhead-raven, not crow-my mind added, and I turned my head, spotting the corvid. It hopped a few times, croaking once more. Boyd trilled his response, winding himself between my legs as he squeaked and chirped. The raven flew closer, avoiding a swipe of Boyd’s claws.
“Leave him alone.” Not hearing my voice was going to be a habit I needed to form. I raised my arm and the raven gripped my shoulder with their talons. It took a few seconds of them attempting to fly to realize they were tugging me towards some sort of direction. I looked at Boyd before letting the raven lead me, they flew off and landed a few feet away, hopping a few times as if impatient, waiting until I was close enough to touch it before flying down again.
I did find myself stumbling over exposed roots and the occasional rock, my limbs unused to working. I’d often catch myself on a tree when something would scurry out from until a bush or a deer would bolt deep into the thicket. I even caught glimpses of humanoid figures in the distance, something warning me to not draw too much attention, especially after I noticed a bunch of scantily dressed women sitting in a circle as they talked and wove fabric seemingly from air, the otherworldly skin tones, extra animal and plant-like features had me hurrying along.
The raven I heard as it flew down, leading me through a bit more forest before the babbling of a brook overlapped the other ambient sounds of nature and I hurried along, feeling my thirst rise at the thought of cold, fresh water, even Boyd could hunt some fish.
A few more steps and into another clearing.
The stream was more like a series of waterfalls with a couple of ponds laid out artfully, one of which, the bottom most one, held lilies. I drank some water, catching my reflection and noticed some things were off, maybe it was the ripples causing those. Boyd was looking around, tail whipping in agitation. The water was barely lapping at the shore and surprisingly reflective as I looked into it. I jerked back in a bit of shock.
I didn’t look too different, maybe my face was slimmer, my beauty marks were still there. But there was a sense of uncanny valley, like a doll, maybe that was why my mother made sure I never had a doll with a face on it, though it was a long standing tradition with my father's people to keep us humble. My hair was really tangled and I tried my best to braid it and loop it. A bit of unsuccessful attempts before I gave up, looking at the water again and saw a ripple from underneath, possibly a fish.
I reached out to touch one of the lilies when a muck covered hand reached out of the water and gripped my wrist, dragging me into the pond with a silent scream. I could hear the raven and Boyd above as I found myself staring into green-yellow eyes and razor sharp teeth.
So many teeth. The beast froze, looking at me before I found myself being launched out of the water. I coughed, spluttering water from my nose and mouth. The beast followed, resembling a man of sorts but scaled and covered in mud and muck, a few sticks poking out of the tangled mess of hair. A Nokken, crap, those must have been their lilies!
“Bare this in mind, there are things that would not care for your divine marks when it comes to insulting them.” Te voice was guttural, harsh as if it wasn't used to speaking human tongue. They slipped back into the water as I laid there, shivering. Boyd trilled again, licking at my hands and I turned, dragging myself away. Past some more trees, I tried to get my bearings and stand again, just needing to think.
Okay, so I was in some sort of place that had dangerous beasts like the Nokken, my mind went through the list of other dangerous folklore beasts and found myself thankful it wasn’t any of the other water horse types. The raven continued to lead me, occasionally nuzzling my cheek with their beak as if to apologize.
After a few hours of walking, my body chilled and dried; I saw a cabin in the distance, someone sitting on the porch. It was an elderly lady drinking some tea as she sorted something in a basket, it looked like the clippings of some plant, was she an herbalist?
“Oh my!” She hurried off when she spotted me, she spoke, English with an accent I couldn't place. “Come dearie, let’s get you out of that messy thing.” She called for someone in the house, a youngish looking man, and a youngish looking girl.
“Hans, get some firewood going for this poor thing, Gretchen, can you spare some clothes?” It sounded like Spanish, but more raspy, her 'S's almost heavy with pronunciation. The girl did a flurry of hand movements and walked towards me with a smile. “Hello, miss. Are you okay?” Hans, Gretchen, old woman, was this woman the witch from Hansel and Gretel? I mentally shook my head, just cause this world has tales of all sorts of folklore, doesn’t mean it would have fairytales.
“Can you speak?” I shook my head, cupping my throat.
“Do you know sign?” Probably not this world’s version so again, I shook my head. She frowned, pulling her shawl from her shoulders, and wrapping it around my frame. “I think we still have a few books on basic signage on the shelf.”
I was given a simple tunic and colorful skirt. Gretchen trimmed my hair, having the experience with the painful knots due to her partner’s own hair type. The headache was forming again and the nerves of my literal scalp screamed in pain as she moved the follicles around, slathering it in a Earthy scented lotion like substance and quickly braided the now hip length waves into a thick long rope to hide some of the shorter pieces. She even braided a green scarf into my hair, adding color to the gold and mahogany tones.
“Well, don’t you look lovely?” I peeked at the kitchen, noticing the herbs gathered in bundles at the window. The old woman tuttered around, pulling bread from the stone oven, checking several bundles Hans had prepared of what looked to be sticks.
“Here you are.” A
book was placed in front of me and I opened it. It looked to be a children’s
book for sign language, the language resembled English, but there was dashes
and dots above vowels especially when two are paired together, including ‘y.’
Thankfully I could understand it.
Gretchen helped me with the basics of sign, stating that it was taught to a lot of people due to the number of them who work in the mines nearby by the people who had lived there. It was a lot easier to talk with your hands rather than risk a mine collapsing due to someone shouting from across the shaft floor. I was glad I picked it up quickly, years of growing up in a multi-language household back home. I was asked me about my backstory, I tried my best to piece it together as I learned the language over the next several weeks with Gretchen giggling over the fact I would still use my mouth to talk despite no sound coming out. I began telling them how I woke up in the middle of the forest and followed a raven, giving some details about my life before as well, I’d been a student, I was working a job and been traveling home one night when everything faded to black and I woke up someplace else. I even included parts of my life which weren’t so great, such as the death of my mother-that earned a shared glance between the three-and my brother getting a stroke, explaining modern medical terms to them was fun, especially with my barely scraped at knowledge of most medical science in general. When not studying every bit of written word in the house, I was watching the days come and go; wondering, hoping at times it had to be a dream and I was going to wake up soon.