Near my hometown, there is a forest. A forest no one knows the depths of, nor what roams about in its shadows. But one thing we do know; if you go in, you either return with no memory of being there or not at all.
Tales about the Telliriun forest spread far and wide across the continent, though, the further you go, the more people forget that the forest is real, and very much alive. One can only wonder at all the undiscovered life that resides there.
But my wonder should soon seize.
I brace myself as I glare at the forest and its unfathomable depths, my feet along its roots, and ax in hand. Animals hoot and call in the distance, like demons promising they'll collect me for every wrong step I'll take. I swear I can feel the forest breathe along the currents of the wind that pass between its trees, the air swelling with its energy.
I meander through thick underbrush and leafy carpets. It is dark, but a finger-swipe across my mobile's screen illuminates my path, and the darkness gains a new gradient of gloominess as shadows increase. I go deep, first minding my steps, but soon flying through, urged on by the adrenaline that gives me a sickening high. My heart's aflutter. My lungs ache. But I cannot stop. I mustn't stop. And I know what I'm doing is wrong, or at least foolish, but I have to. In this dire equation, it's either me, the forest or my mother.
When the trees grow eerily similar and I'm hopelessly lost, I know I'm where I planned to be. I know because of the greenish taint along the trees' bark and the faint earthy scent it spreads. The legends are clear; drink from a goblet cut from Telliriun wood and you'll never feel pain again. It's the surest remedy humankind has ever known. It heals all ailments.
Catching my breath, I lean against a tree. The moss is soft underneath my hand, and when I come free of it, it's aroma lingers on my skin. Such a soothing smell, I almost forget that I have to butcher one of these trees and chisel a goblet for my sick mom.
I raise my ax.
But... is this really needed?
Yes, it is!
I swing, but my actions fall short and the ax bumps sheepishly off the tree.
I don't know why, but I start to cry. Down on my knees and peer at the weapon between my hand's fingers and the life I was so ready to cut down. Is this really right?
Minutes pass and my confusion only grows. First at how I wanted to commit this horrendous act, then at what that says about me, but also because my own thoughts, my feelings feel alien to me. It's as if there's another voice inside my mind, whispering things that feed my fears and groom me to doubt myself.
For more minutes I think and rethink all I know. Minutes. Hours. Days, until hunger and dehydration shake me back to reality. I feel like I've been asleep for weeks and dreams still cloud my mind.
As I take in my surroundings I have the faint sense that something has changed, but what, my memories fail to point out to me. I stretch and dust myself off. Leafs lay scattered around me like a nest, causing me to almost overlook the wooden goblet standing right at my knees.
What in the world?!
I came for this. I was ready to do anything to attain this goblet; Lose myself, lose my life, lose my mind, anything so I may help my mom, and now... now it's right there.
I jump up and see if there's anyone there with me, but I'm alone. Alone at the start of a road, lit by bioluminescent flowers. I don't know how, but I know it's my way back home and out of the forest. So before hesitation slows me down, I take the goblet and run.
I crash through bushes and stumble over fallen trees, never stopping once until I reach the end of... the end of...?
Fields of green grasses rustle at the gentle blow of the wind. Down the hill moa strut between wooden fences and wooden buildings spring up along the countryside. Some of the giant birds are being ridden by a group of teens. The forest is right behind me, but I've got no clue why I'm here.
Tension in my hands grows to pain and when I look at what I'm clutching I find a strange goblet. It's shaped like a gracious flower and made with craftsmanship unrivaled by anything I've ever seen before. But I don't remember buying it and wouldn't be able to afford something as fancy as this if I wanted to. I don't remember coming here. And I don't even remember when or why I got here.
As I ease my fingers around the goblet, it's as if the tension seeps into the rest of my body, causing me to shake. Worried and scared out of my mind, all I can think of is to quickly return home.
I dash home, as fast as my legs allow, ignoring all the stares I'm drawing. Once home, I open the door and find my mother in a chair across from the door.
"Ella!" She cries and flings herself at me. "I thought I'd lost you forever! It's been months!"
"Impossible," I breathed and fold my hand over my mouth in shock.
"Don't ever go into Telliriun again, please, promise me you won't," she says as she keeps alternating between hugging me, and keeping me at arm's reach so she can look at me properly. "I'm so happy you're okay."
"I am, but how about you?"
She finally let go completely and sighed. "It's spread everywhere. There's nothing they can do anymore."
I stare down at the goblet again. A... Telliriun goblet maybe? I look at my mom and I can't help but grin at her. "Maybe they can't, but it seems I can," I say and hand her the goblet.
She gasps again, then sobs and laughs at the same time. "It'd be a miracle if this legend were true as well."
"It's a miracle worth believing in."