Spring

A Dark Invitation

Hilde pauses. Her hand is a whisper away from the velvet soft golden petals. She sits back on her heels and looks up at the displaced.

"This isn't the answer, is it?"

The displaced's mouth works, gaping like a fish, and a mournful call quietly escapes.

"This is the wrong location, isn't it?" Hilde looks to the oncewolves. "You herd people here, don't you? To this clearing."

The oncewolves all bow their heads, a couple whine

"And they naturally believe the pretty grove and the impossibly lush flower is the right one. But it's not, it's the wrong location, isn't it?"

Hilde's eyes widen and she claps her hands to her mouth. She hurriedly scoots back from the flower. Fear fills her eyes. She whispers to herself.

"What would have happened?"

She looks up at the displaced and repeats herself. Anger is taking over once again and the steel in her voice makes the displaced float backward a little. The displaced folds in on itself, seeming to crouch before Hilde. The withered lips move, as though trying to speak. A low moan comes out. Hilde leans forward, listening more intently. In the ghostly rush of air she can almost make out a word.

"Eaten? Are you saying that I would have been eaten?"

The displaced nods sadly. It reaches out, skeletal fingers catching a wisp of Hilde's golden hair; darker than Tiane's. It then points to the flower. Hilde puzzles this over for a moment, idly caressing the lock of hair the displaced had touched.

"The flower, it looks an awful lot like Tiane's hair. Do you mean that is Tiane?"

The displaced shakes its head and frustration furrows its brow. It tries to speak again. The voice is slightly stronger, clearer, but still hollow sounding.

"Gone, through."

"Look, there's no way she's gone through the flower. That's not how things work"

The displaced grimaces and motions to itself and the oncewolves arrayed around them. Hilde looks around, pondering.

"I guess you have a point. This place is not how things work and yet, here we are." She sighs. "Well, is there another place? Another flower perhaps?"

The displaced shrugs. Hilde chews on her lip.

"What about a place you don't go, or can't go." She looks to the oncewolves. "Is there somewhere that you always avoid?"

Her answer is in several whines and a couple of eyes hidden behind fuzzy paws. She looks up at the displaced who hesitates before nodding.

"Can you take me there? Please? It's my daughter, my only remaining child." A tear escapes and trails down Hilde's cheek. "Please?"

The lead oncewolf noses her hand. The displaced beckons to her. Hilde stands and follows. The displaced and the lead oncewolf lead her from the clearing, the rest of the pack following close behind. She is led on a long twisting path through the forest. After many twists and turns and what feels like hours, they finally enter another clearing. This clearing is dark and shadowy, the air almost feels oily against Hilde's skin.

"Very well done, you have outsmarted my creatures." The voice is omnipresent, coming from the very air around her. Hilde turns, looking for the source.

"Where's my child?"

"She's," the voice pauses, as though pondering, "elsewhere."

"Bring her back, we'll leave and you'll never see us again."

The voice chuckles and the hair on the back of Hilde's neck stands on end. The oncewolves press close to her.

"I have an... invitation for you. Here, accept this flower, a peace offering as it were."

A flower blooms in the air before Hilde. The petals are lush, a deep black that reminds her of the moonless night sky. Iridescent blues and purples gleam in the velvety black. Hilde reaches it for it unthinkingly. The displaced gently pulls her back, the thin fingers pressing against her arm. Hilde shakes her head, her eyes wide. How could she have almost? She nods at the displaced.

"What is the price of this?" She demands.

"Why, only that you join me, rule over the forest with me." The voice drops in timber, almost soothingly. "We could be quite the formidable team you know."

"I have no need for that, I only want my daughter back."

"Oh Hilde," the voice cajoles, "naturally you'd get your daughter back too."

Hidle's breath catches. How does it know her name? Fear skitters over her nerve endings and goosebumps prickle her skin. The displaced tugs on her arm again.

"Traap, musn't."

Hilde pauses. Is the displaced getting stronger? It was much easier to understand that time. And is the body filling out from the gaunt shell? Hilde shakes her head. 'No time for this' she thinks to herself.

"No deal. I want only my daughter."

"Woman! Do not think to displease me!" The flower before is shredded in a gust of wind, the petals whirling madly before dropping to the forest floor. "I"ll have what I want!"

"Not from me, you won't. Mark my words creature, I'll have my daughter back and we'll see the end of you." Hilde turns and strides from the clearing, brushing aside branches that attempt to block her path.

The displaced looks around nervously and then quickly follows Hilde. The oncewolves trail in their wake.
Spring

Closing The Distance Between

Tiane studies the glowing orb in her lap. There's no writing, no marks, nothing to guide her. She wrinkles her nose as she thinks, almost wiggling it like a rabbit. She places both hands on the orb and closes her eyes in concentration. She sits quietly, focusing, for several moments. A smile sneaks onto her lips as she rotates her hands in opposite directions and slowly pulls them apart. The orb appears to be gelatinous and stretches until she is holding an orb and balancing another in her lap.

"How, how do you know all these things?" Bry asks quietly from beside her. Tiane shrugs.

"I don't know. I just, I think really hard about what people could use, what could help them, and then I know the right way to make it happen."

"Your first thoughts are for everybody else. What, I mean, where," Bry pauses in confusion as his words tumble over each other in his head."I guess I really mean why?"

Tiane hands the second orb off to one of the women waiting and watches as she places it in their slowly expanding perimeter.

"I guess it's a habit, it's really the only thing I've ever known. When Ma had all the littles we had to work together to get them all taken care of, to bring the crops in on time, and to keep the farm running as it should. If we work together then we get so much more done."

"Had the littles?"

"Yeah, I had two sisters and a brother, all younger. But the fever," Tiane bows her head, her hair falling to cover her face. "The fever took them. That's why I went into the forest. If I can't bring them back then maybe I can at least prevent another from the pain my mother suffered while watching them waste away." Tiane brushes a tear away and rubs the moisture into her pant leg.

"I guess, thinking of her, knowing how she raised me, and doing for others makes me feel like the distance between us is less. I mean, I have no idea how far apart we are but helping makes me feel like she's here beside me, you know?"

Bry nods thoughtfully.

"I think I do. You're lucky to have that kind of family. Not many do."

"Then it's even more important to share." Tiane takes a moment to create another orb clone. "We should see if there's some way to build shelters."

"But, there's no weather to shelter from here," Bry furrows his brows as he thinks it through.

"Perhaps, but it'll remind us of home, of what we're searching for." Tiane smiles and hands him the newest orb. "We have to close that distance so we can return home."

Bry nods and smiles. "That we do."
Spring

A Mother's Faith

Hilde pauses before the arch. She raises her hand and presses her palm to the stone. She bows her head. Her lips move; whispered words slipping from them like raindrops in a storm.


She raises her head, wiping tears from her eyes. Unconsciously she wipes her damp fingers on the cold stone. She steps through and into the dim forest.


Unlike any who have come before her, Hilde does not sneak or rush. She simply presses forward, one step at a time.


There is a crashing through the underbrush and a oncewolf leaps onto the path before her. He growls, his eyes narrow. His legs tense as he prepares to leap at Hilde.


She gives him a stern glare.


"No, sit," she commands.


The oncewolf falters, confusing showing in his shifting body language. His ears perk while a snarl also raises his lip.


"Sit."


The oncewolf whines but he sits. Hilde approaches him, her hand out, palm down. The oncewolf's nose twitches and he snuffles at her. A small whine escapes him.


"That's right, you're a good boy, aren't you?" Hilde scratches behind his ears. "That's right, you don't want to attack, you just want to be friends."


Hilde stands back up and looks around.


"I"m sure you have more friends around here. If we come across them they can join too. Come along." She motions for the oncewolf to join her. He falls in behind her, occasionally growling softly and then looking guilty.


By the time Hilde finds her way to the center of the forest the whole pack of wolves is following her, tamer, calmer. Hilde gasps as she catches sight of the golden flower in the center of the clearing. The golden honey petals are an exact match for Tiane's hair. After years of raising Tiane, brushing her hair, watching the light bounce off it, Hilde can mistake it for nothing else. She begins to step into the clearing.


Across from her a displaced appears. With a ghostly trill, it rushes toward her. As one, the pack behind her reacts, growling and leaping forward to stand between her and the displaced.


"Stop!" Hilde's voice is clear and ringing. The oncewolves and the displaced stop and look at her, almost quizzically.


"Nevermind this rivalry or what have you. I'm not here for that nor am I interested in it." She looks to the oncewolves. "You don't really want to fight the displaced."


The wolves cock their heads, a few looking down to the ground.


"And you don't really want to fight the oncewolves." She addresses the displaced. "I'd be willing to bet that you just want to go back to who you were, before all this."


The displaced seems to deflate. A shadow of sadness passes over it's features.


"Right, then let's see if we can fix the situation for all of us then."


Hilde nudges her way through the pack of oncewolves and strides to the flower. The displaced and the oncewolves gather around her in a circle.


Hilde reaches for the flower.

Spring

Enough to Spare

Tiane stares at the glowing rock before her for what has to have been hours. Finally, she can no longer stand the silence.

“So, have you guys tried to move this rock, or break it apart to spread out the light?”

Everybody around her looks at each other in confusion. Eyebrows are raised quizzically and they confer in murmurs too low for her to make out. At last Bry speaks up.

“Why would we do that? There’s nothing here. Grag wandered forever before he found the light. And each of us wandered through the dark before we were drawn here.”

Tiane stares at him. Suddenly the realization strikes her like a thunderclap. Her eyes widen in shock.

“Are you saying that you’ve just been sitting here? Doing nothing? All this time?!” She stands as her voice raises at the end. She sweeps her arms around her.

“Why haven’t you tried to find a way back home?”

Bry looks at her like she’s perhaps a little slow.

“Because there’s nothing in the dark. It’s just dark. Wasn’t that made perfectly clear to you as you were being drawn to the light?”

“You were brave enough, or curious enough, or desperate enough to venture into the forest in the hope of changing everything in your life and when you get here you just sit down and wait for somebody else to do something?”

“It’s like I told you, Grag wondered forever. He found nothing. As each new person joins us we share what we know of this place and what’s happened where we came from. There’s nothing but dark here. There’s nothing to explore.”

Tiane narrows her eyes and glares at Bry.

“Fine then, if you won’t do something then I will.”

She leans forward, her hand stretching out to the glowing beacon before her. The light is neither hot nor cold.

“Tiane! No!” Bry lunges at her, reaching for her hand but stopping short as her palm lands on the beacon.

“But,” he stutters.

“It’s fine. In fact,” she reaches forward with her other hand and picks the beacon up, “it’s lighter than it looks.” She hefts it experimentally as she rises. It really is deceptive in looks and weights very little. The weight almost reminds her of the other kids, when they were babies, newly born and tiny.

“Look!” A voice in the crowd exclaims. Tiane and Bry both look down. The crowd around them murmurs excitedly.

The ground where the beacon was sitting is now growing a rich, lush moss. Tiane kneels down, balancing the beacon on her hip, and brushes her fingers over the moss. It’s slightly cool to the touch and springy. She pulls some up and it’s instantly regrown. Tiane laughs and puts the beacon down by her feet. She pulls more and more; the moss regrows each time. Finally, she has enough to fashion a smallish pallet of soft moss to rest on. She looks up and scans the crowd before speaking.

“This should go to Grag, he’s been here the longest.”

“No child, you should have it, you found it. You didn’t give up like we did.” Grag answers.

“Nonsense. It doesn’t matter who finds the answer, as long as it is shared freely with all who share the problem. There’s plenty of moss, and hope, to go around.”

Quietly, humbled, the group begins to work together, gathering moss and making pallets for each other.
Mother Wolf

Patchwork Repairs

"Tiane! Why aren't you up yet?"

Hilde knocks at Tiane's door; the door creeks open under her knuckles.

Tiane's bed is perfectly made. The room is empty. Hilde checks the hook by the door but Tiane's bag is gone. She goes to the front porch and calls to Lars out in the field.

Lars looks up as his wife's voice reaches him. With a swipe of his sleeve to his face he drops the hoe and heads over to her. Concern creases Hilde's face.

"Have you seen Tiane this morning? Is she in the field with you?"

"No, come to think of it I haven't seen her all morning."

Hilde's fingers clutch at her dress coller.

"Go check the barn." Call it mother's intuition or call it a gut feeling but it's plain that Hilde knows something is amis on their small farm. She spins around and heads back to Tiane's room. No, no, no tattoos a beat in her brain.


She bursts into the room. Her eyes wildly bounce from corner to corner, hoping against hope that she somehow overlooked Tiane. But no, there, on the desk, is a book. They aren't good with words but the book is a family prize. Hilde's breath catches as she sees it's open to the map of the area. Tiane's favorite ring is sitting where the forest is.

Hilde squawks a cry, before the sound is cut off by the fear choking her. Tears overfill her eyes and her hand trembles as she reaches for the ring. She can't bear to pick it up. Her fingers barely brush it.

Lars arrives in the doorway. The sight of his wife so distraught alarms him and he rushes to her side.

"Hilde!"

As he pulls her close she sees the book and the ring. His arms tighten around Hilde reflexively. She leans into him before stiffening and pulling away. She beats at his chest with her fists.

"This is your fault!! You and those fool stories you insisted on telling her!"

"Now Hilde,"

"Don't now Hilde me!!" She punches harder, surprising him. He takes a step back.

Hilde covers her eyes with her hands for a second. She squares her shoulders and brushes past him. Confused Lars follows her to their room where she grabs her own traveling bag and begins shoving things into it.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going to save our daughter."

"Hilde, please, I'll go,"

"No, you've done enough. Just, take care of the crops and animals while I'm gone."

A tear slips from her eye. She sets her jaw and dashes it away before turning her back on Lars. Her heart trembles as she strides away from their home. It hadn't always been like this. But after the loss of three other children, her poor heart just couldn’t take the idea of losing Tiane. There was no patch big enough to fix her heart if that happened.
Spring

Hope in the Dark

Tiane can feel the wind rushing past her so despite the pitch black she can tell that she is falling. It’s interminable with no sense of time. She starts to stretch out her hands and feet, to feel if there is anything around her. Then she realizes that if there is something she is likely to break something given the apparent speed of the breeze through her hair. She opens and closs her eyes; no difference. Finally, she curls into as compact of a ball as she could manage.



Many, many breaths later she comes to rest on a surface. She lands gently, as though somebody is placing her. The wind is gone but the dark remains. She turns and turns but can tell no difference from one direction versus any other.



“Hello!” Tiane calls out. There is no echo. The sound of her voice has no weight.



Am I dead? Is this the afterlife? She muses to herself.



With a shrug, she randomly picks a direction and begins walking. She has no way of verifying that she is moving, other than her legs moving. The darkness is all encompassing. There is an absence of feeling though, no fear, no predatory eyes, no hope.



Along with seeing nothing, Tiane feels nothing other than the surface under her feet. Hunger nor thirst gnaws at her and fatigue does not appear to be affecting her as she walks. She begans counting her steps, simply to have something to hold on to. She is well over five thousand when she sees it.



It is a pinpoint of light, solid, non-flickering. She names it hope and begins jogging toward it.



She begins her count again but keeps losing track and guessing at where she’d left off. It is several hundred steps before she can see any appreciable increase in size. Tiane considers slowing to a walk but her breathing still comes easy. Whatever this place is it is not expending any of her resourses.



Eventually, after what feels like eons, she can make out more of the beacon. There are shapes around it, some even move. Tiane slows and carefully draws closer. The shapes are not giant rocks or predators as she first thought. They are humans, all gathered around the beacon. The ground under the beacon is black.



“Hello?” Tiane tentatively questions.

Several of the people turn toward her. One stands and approaches her. He is about her age but his clothing is quite old, nothing she can remember seeing in her time. He smiles and waves her toward the light.



“Hello, come closer to the light, no sense in staying there in the black.”



Tiane approaches and takes a seat between two who shuffle aside to make room for her. The light does not flicker nor give off heat. It simply lights the area around it, about 5 feet out in all directions. There the darkness takes over again.



“What is this place?”



The guy shrugs. “It’s the Nothing. Nothing happens, nothing changes, other than the occasional new person who failed to gain hope above.”



“So, you’ve all,” Tiane looks around her at the many faces now lit by the beacon. She swallows hard. “You’ve all tried to pick the flower at the center of Abandoned Hope?”



“Is that the name of the forest now? It’s had so many names through the years. I’m Bry by the way. And yes, we’ve all entered the forest trying to reach the flower. And we’ve all failed.” Bry sighs and settles back down next to the light.



“I’m Tiane. If nothing happens then do we just sit here?”



“No reason to explore out from the light. It’s the only thing in this whole accursed place. They say, no, never mind.”



“What? Please tell me.”



“Nothing, just a campfire tale. Nothing’ll ever come of it.”



“Please?”



Bry sighs and then shrugs.



“There’s a myth that one day somebody will actually manage to evade the oncewolves and displaced and pluck the flower from the center of the forest. It goes that then we’ll all be restored to the living world. It’ll never happen though, those that do manage to make it to the flower end up fighting. Once blood is shed in the forest it’s a lost cause.”



“You’ve given up hope then.”



“You will too, eventually. Grag over there is the oldest of us, been here the longest. It was summer of year 5 when he tried. Hundreds of years had passed before I tried, and hundreds more have passed since.”



“No, I won’t give up hope. Without hope life is pointless.”



“This is not life,” Bry replies emphatically.



“I will still hold hope close,” Tiane resolves.
Spring

Super Fast Headband

One of my fighting guys requested a headband. Well ... it took me far longer than I'd like to admit to sit down and knit it but the knitting took only a handful of tv episodes.



The pattern is super simple. I start with one stitch and increase every other row until I have 5-7 stitches, knit it to length, decrease every other row. Also I slip the first stitch of the row to make the sides neater.

Project page: Ravelry.
Mother Wolf

WIP Wednesday: The Blanket Grows

Knitting:
The blanket has grown a bit, the sections aren't feeling impossible yet but I can tell the difference. Now if I could just remember consistently when I'm supposed to do the yarn over row. I always catch it about 2-4 sections in. Luckily it's an easy fix.


Sewing:
The plan is to start cutting the fabric for an altered version of this overdress. I'd like to have it done by this Saturday since we have an event and I'd like pretty, plus my current overdress is in need of alterations and repairs.



Thought, because I want a new overdress I need a new rank device. And now that we have an embroidery machine I have a better chance of creating what we want So .. I designed a thing!! It needs a little cleaning up of threads but I'm still pretty stoked about it.



Reading:



The Last Paradise by Antonio Garrido. I only just started it yesterday so I'm not very far but it's interesting and based in a time period I enjoy reading about.

However! I just finished Nora and Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor and ... wow! It's a broken girl and broken boy story, and at times it feels a touch slow moving. But the story was just so compelling and wonderful that I didn't care. I felt that I had plenty of time to learn each of the main characters before they meet each other and then we're shown how they both grow brave. I loved the writing and the story itself. I'd certainly recommend this to pretty much anybody

Rainforest

Hidden Hope

Tiane’s legs pump furiously under her like pistons. The cold, dark forest closes around her like a dark presence. She can almost taste the malevolence in her gasping breaths. Her chest is tight, aching with strain as she struggles to draw in more air to feed her starving muscles.

She pivots around a tree. Her foot lands in a pile of leaves and skids out from beneath her. She hits the ground hard, all her weight on her hip. She grimaces in pain, clamping her teeth down to stifle the cry that is almost wrenched from her. She opens her eyes to begin righting herself. Poised above her, glistening with wet and poison are the screaming thorns. They hang scarcely a breath from her skin. The sap they secrete bubbles on the tips.

A oncewolf howls in the forest, the pack has not given up their pursuit. Fresh meat is always a priority for these twisted creatures and Tiane has certainly had their attention since she passed below the heavy stone arch hours ago. She involuntarily jerks at the reminder of the pack.

Carefully she edges out from under the screaming thorns. She hears her father telling her about them, about the crippling pain they cause if even a drop of the poison gets into her mouth or eyes. Deities forfend the thorns actually piercing her skin. The oncewolves tearing and rending her apart while her screams filled the air would be a much better fate than the days of blinding pain of that thorn prick.

She snorts to herself as she eases away and rises, limping on the aching hip. She should have listened to her father more, should have stayed away from Abandoned Hope Forest. She was crazy to have ever thought she was the one that could succeed where so many had failed. She brushes her golden hair back from her eyes and looks for the path.

A warbling call rises up from somewhere, close. It is answered by the howl of a oncewolf. Tiane’s eyes grow wide as she realizes that the oncewolves have been joined by the displaced. Well, not joined, they never work together, but they’re both tracking her. She will be their chew toy, caught in the middle, if they find her. She lurches into a hobbled run, careful to avoid the screaming thorns.

This was a mistake. She knows this now. She’s just another failure and her mother will cry bitter tears over the loss of her child. Tears well in the corners of her eyes, mingling with her sweat as it runs down her cheek. She stumbles a bit as she corners on another tree, a huge loon flower blooming behind it. The petals are heavy with the thick powder coating them. A sniff of this powder will give you visions and hallucinations for hours. It was once a highly-valued trade item, but the forest has claimed them and made it too dangerous to harvest. This one could easily provide hours of escape for her whole village.

But there, just past it, she can see the clearing. The green of the grass is a brilliant emerald green; a sharp contract to the dark trees towering around it. The rich red flower grows in the center, it’s petals the ruby of fresh blood. The air is almost crystalline around it, shimmery and sparkly with hope.

Tiane turns her head away from the loon flower and takes a deep breath. She carefully edges past the powder heavy flora blocking most of the path. The oncewolves howls grow closer, the trilling of the displaced bouncing off them. Tiane struggles to hold her breath and not disturb the powder. Time is certainly not her friend here but she doesn’t dare to make a mistake this close to her goal. Finally past it, she rushes to the clearing.

Across the clearing a displaced bursts from the trees and orientates on her. Its skin has lost its color, soaking up the hate and sorrow of the forest. It is ashen and yellow in turns. Its eyes are sunken in, haunted by what it used to be, the life it once had. The limbs are gaunt, barely bones held together by tendons stretched tight. The trill it releases at seeing its prey sends icy fingers tip tapping down Tiane’s spine.

Tiane sprints forward, toward this hellish creature that she’ll become should it close on her. She must get to the flower before then. Behind her the lead oncewolf crashes though the forest, closing in on her fast. The three speed toward the center at a speed that promises a spectacular crash. Tiane drops to her knees and slides. Her hand is stretching out, reaching for the flower and the hope it promises. Her fingers brush the petals, soft as crushed velvet. The oncewolf snaps his jaws shut on her ankle and yanks her back.

“Noooooo!” A sob is ripped from her throat as she is pulled from her goal. She kicks, once, twice, finally landing a solid kick on the oncewolf’s muzzle. It yelps as it releases her. She crawls forward, once more in reach. Her hand closes on the stem. Agonizing pain sears through her scalp as the displaced rakes its fingers through her hair, dragging her toward itself for the killing blow.

The flower is sucked through her hand and into the ground. The green of the clearing is following it, like water through a funnel. Ignoring the displaced Tiane lurches forward, blood from multiple cuts streams down her face, as she tries to dig up the flower. Blood patters around her hands as she loses chunks of hair to the claws of the displaced. The green is gone and the dark of the forest is quickly following.

So close, she was so close.

Sobbing and bleeding she collapses, her fist pounding the ground. She is sucked into the whirlpool too, face first so the crying is quickly cut off. The displaced and the oncewolf back off, each eyeing the other warily. As they warily creep backward a green tendril sprouts where the ruby flower grew. The flower quickly grows and blooms, its petals a rich honey color, golden with promise. A deep chuckle rumbles through the forest.

There is hope deep in this forest but none have managed to avoid the forest’s minions to free it. They have only managed to feed the forest and strengthen it with their blood and tears.

The Golden Flower by fromfairyland