The Forest

Oslo was walking through a unusually wooded area of the plains he knows so well. The area, although very wooded, with creeks, fallen logs, and fern-like shrubbery everywhere, had a surprisingly uneven terrain. Oslo has been wandering around this fairly unexplored part of the plain without an obvious objective besides for the fact that he was bored and this place needed mapping. As he walked into the forest, the silence of the plains faded into the background, replaced with the chirping of the forest birds and the rushing of a river ahead of him. The river ran straight through two steep cliffs, both of which eventually flattened out into less abrupt but still hilly terrain. Oslo entered the forest from the east, and was therefore directly perpendicular to the river. The ground started sloping down, and as Oslo walked farther into the forest the sound of the river grew louder and louder.

The sky started to darken, giving the forest a more ominous look. Still, Oslo wasn’t worried; he had handled situations far scarier than a forest at dark before. The crunching of the leaves under his feet, the hoots of owls in the trees, they were all things that once put him on edge, but now sooth him, as he knows nothing out of the ordinary is going on. As the moonlight seeped through the trees, he decided to take a break from his excruciatingly long walk that day and rest on a large stone, probably around 12 feet tall and shaped to be a perfect stool. Oslo sat down, reached into his pack, and brought out his flute. He began playing his favorite song: a melancholy tune, passed down generation to generation, and taught to him by his father many years ago in a forest not to different from this one.

He continued playing for what seemed like hours, until finally something in him told him to immediately stop playing. He looked around, alarmed, as he never usually got nervous when in the outdoors like this. Nevertheless, his heart wouldn’t stop pounding. And then he realized why he was nervous: the forest was silent. Not even the chirp of one bird, or the rustle of one squirrel as it ran through the leaves on the ground. This could only mean one thing.

Oslo scrambled off the rock, grabbed his pack, and took off into the trees. Above the trees, a great whooshing sound cut through the silence. Out of the corner of his eye, Oslo saw a large, dark shadow streak across the sky. He ran harder.

Trees flew by, branches scratching at his neck and face. He looked back after running for what seemed like forever, and saw the black shape still silhouetted against the night sky. It had two large black wings and a long spike tail trailing behind it. The thing swooped down from the sky, now flying only just above the trees. He could see it better now; it had a large, reptilian face, and two large, mesmerizing yet mortifying eyes. He stared at the creature, and suddenly, it stared back at him. It screeched, a sound so loud that kingdoms for miles around were sure to hear it, and it was a sound that Olso hoped he wouldn’t live long enough to hear again. He took off running, but knew from the choosing sound of the wings above that he wasn’t making any progress on the thing.

Oslo halted. He had entered a clearing. On his left and right, the same dark forest surrounded him, and if front of him was a cliff. 100s of feet below that cliff were the rocks of a river. He looked back at toward where he came, hesitating for a second on where he should go. Just then, there was an incredible whooshing sound, and the creature dove down from above the trees and landed only 10 yards away from Oslo. For the second time ever, Oslo was scared for his life.

He whipped out his mace, although he knew it wouldn’t do any good. He knew he couldn’t turn into a falcon and try to escape, the thing would get him. He couldn’t run or hide, it could find him. He had to fight.

Olso had never seen one of these creatures before, but had heard about them in the lore of the north. They were winged demons — large black flying reptiles, majestic in a terrifying sort of way. It had large black scales, glinting in the moonlight. It had two giant, muscular legs, both adorned with many toes, each with an arm-length sized claw. Standing tall, the creature was probably around 20 feet tall. It really was a sight to behold.

The thing took a step forward, and looked menacingly at Oslo. It bared it’s teeth, a large red tongue flicking out of it’s mouth. Oslo was still standing there, mace raised, ready for anything.

Finally, it sprung. Lunging at Olso head first, it attempted to snatch Olso in it’s incredible jaws, but Olso saw it coming. He lunged to the left, at the same time smacking the thing in the side of it’s jaw with his mace. It roared in pain, but after a second of recuperating, it was good as new. Oslo had barely fazed the beast. That was when Oslo knew that he had no chance.

The beast lunged again, and Oslo dodged to the right this time, narrowly missing the beast’s bite. Again, he smacked the thing on the the side of it’s head as hard as he could, but again, it did nothing. Oslo knew it was only a matter of time.

This time, the beast lunged at Oslo with one of it’s giant claws. There was nothing he could do, it overpowered him. He was caught in it’s grasp, hanging in front of it’s face. It smelled wretched, and up close it was even scarier. It was clear the thing hadn’t eat in forever, and wasn’t doing so well. It’s face was hollow, it’s ribs poking out of it’s chest. He thought that the malicious look he thought it had he had seen he might have mistaken for the look of a creature in a starved frenzy. For a second, Olso actually felt bad for the thing. Then he snapped back into reality, the reality in which he was being squeezed to death in the grasp of a demonic flying creature.

He somehow still had a grasp on his mace, as the thing had grabbed him by his torso, leaving his arms exposed. His heart was pounding in his chest. He swung back, and as hard as he could slammed the creature in the eye with his mace. The thing howled, dropped Olso on the ground, and recoiled in pain. Blood flowed out of it’s eye, but it still got back up and again roared at Oslo. That’s when Oslo realized: this was as much of a battle to the death for him as it was for this creature. It was on the brink of starvation, and needed desperately to find a good meal.

The thing stood there, and closed it’s eyes. Oslo was confused for a second, and then absolutely terrified. Smoke started streaming out of it’s nostrils, and when the creature opened it’s eyes, they were lit with a new fire and determination. Oslo started backing up, running toward the edge of the cliff. This was his last stand, he though to himself.

The dragon looked at Oslo, and in a moment that will stay with him for the rest of his life, it almost looked remorseful. And then it charged, and Olso jumped off the cliff. While he was falling, the flames he knew would come streamed over his head. Wind whistled past him, and before he hit the water, a terrible screech of dread came from the cliffs above.

Then he hit the water. The world went black.

❉ ❉ ❉

Oslo slowly opened his eyes. He was lying on the bank of the river, soaked in blood, hurting everywhere. Yet he was alive.

He went back to sleep.

❉ ❉ ❉

Later on, he woke up again. He didn’t know how long he had been out, it could have been hours, days, or months. The ground around him was a deep shade of red. He had significantly healed since the last time he woke, but still knew that he had broken many bones. His neck hurt the most of all, and by looking into his reflection in the water he realized he had a terrible cut running from his left shoulder all the way to the bottom of his right jaw. He got up, his whole body howling in protest. Realizing that he had no other option, Olso started the long trudge out of the forest.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.