Chapter 3: A Question Ignited

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The people of the Forest gathered around the Town Hall, waiting to hear their new mayor convince them that their votes were given to the right person, and I stood amidst the crowd, waiting to see if Tuck really was fit for a job like that. He wore a crimson tie and looked both casual and formal at the same time. The townsfolk applauded as he took the mic and waved at the people. "Hello, good people who reside in our peaceful Forest! I'm on this stage today because you voted for me. And why did you vote for me? Because you know that I can keep this Forest under control!" People cheered and the younger girls clawed at the stage, obviously enamored by their handsome new leader.

I began to zone away from Tuck's speech. Don't get me wrong, Forest politics are a good time and all that, but I think I'd rather be getting mauled by a bear at the moment. Unfortunately, there was not a bear to be seen. So instead I decided to go find a drink to down. I was heading to the ale barrels when I felt a pat on the shoulder. I turned, only to find our local news writer. "Hey! Marion is it?" He asked.

"Yeah, that's me. I was actually just heading to the ale barrels. I guess you can tag along if you feel the need." I started off towards the ale again but he stopped me. "You're not staying for Tuck's speech?" He inquired. "Eh, politics aren't my forte." "But I thought you and Tuck had a thing going on? I saw you and him eating lunch together earlier?" "A thing? We're friends yeah. And I guess I wasn't aware that shared meals was a thing straight out of the romance stories." "So you're not staying?" "I don't plan to." I stated, annoyed that this reporter wouldn't leave me alone, "I'm done answering your questions. Leave me be."

I finally made it to the barrels as I filled up a mug and found a cozy tree stump to rest on. I wouldn't be surprised if people thought of me as unlikeable. My words may seem harsh at times, but I don't mean any disrespect. I chugged my frothed beverage as I stared at the clouds passing by. "What do people expect of me any way?" I thought to myself, "Do they expect me to marry Tuck and have a perfect family? I know it's what he wants, but I'd rather just live my life free." I finished my mug and closed my eyes, feeling the heat of the sun on my skin.

Beeping. A steady beat. My stomach lurched and I gasped for air. The heat of the sun began to get hotter and hotter, until it felt like the flesh was melting off my bones. I started screaming, and the crowd started gathering around me. I tried to look at them, but my vision was almost entirely shut off. I heard a familiar voice, the reporter. "Oh my god! Get her a bucket of water! There must've been somethin' in that ale of her's!"

He began trying to lift me up, but I was limp as a corpse. The beeping slowed and slowed until it became consistent. I was gone. Falling through the darkness again, just like in the bath. I suddenly felt a rush of water fall over me, and I was lurched back into life. The beeping sped up to an extreme rhythm. I heard screaming. Ghastly screaming. I opened my eyes and saw the reporter being burned alive. "What happened?!" I screamed, "What's going on?!" The townsfolk said nothing. Before I knew it, the reporter was no more than a pile of dirt on the ground. I laid petrified and soaked in the water that apparently helped save my life. "Did I kill that guy?" I asked myself silently, "What the hell is going on?"

Tuck was pulling me down a long hall at a rapid pace. "What happened back there?" I asked, terrified, "Why is no one talking to me?!" Tuck dragged me into a dark room, lit with nothing more than a single candle. He sat me down in a wooden chair. "Marion. Something happened back there." "Yeah, and that something is a complete mystery to me!" He paced around the room. "Marion, you're unstable." "Well yeah, I've never been the sharpest pickaxe in the tool shed, but how did that light a guy on fire?!" "No, I mean there's something really wrong here. I think I know what it is, but I can't explain it to you right now. I know how to fix this, but..." "But what?" "Marion. I've lived my whole life in this Forest, and by all means I would never wish to leave, but" He was shivering, almost worse than I was, "Marion, if we want to save you and our home, we'll need to leave the Forest for the first time in recorded history."

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