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The Dark Forest Children

By: LittleMetalGirl
LittleMetalGirl's Profile

Real Name: A. Conrad
Age: 14
Sex: Girl
Location: London, England

Other Passer Name(s):
not specified

My name is A. Conrad. I always get great ideas for fictional writing, but I can never get them down on paper. I hope that this website will help me with my writing skills.

Writing Style:
Fantasy, Romance, and Adventure.

The Dark Forest Children Summary

Amore Is an orphan,living on the streets of Triste city, a dark and sinister city where the sun never shines. On the day of Amore's 14th birth day, the Ruler of the city ordered that all orphans be killed at once. She ran for her life into the forest, where she met three other orphans from the same city: Miseria, Grido,and Odio. What happens next?


Jay Ling was a child of the Dark Forest. He hoped he was not the last.With heavy heart and many prayers,he lowered the last child of the village down the cliff to the depths of the churning river.
It was daybreak with the forest full of the sounds of bright birds singing all around him. Clouds scudded across the azure sky like the deer playing in the meadow.Life flowed and thrived everywhere except here in this little village of Death.

Jay Ling scanned the horizon for the dark wings of a friend. Holding his gloved hand aloft,he was pleased to see Sunset ,his Falcon diving towards him.
"Ho," he called,"Where have you been my friend?" as the bird settled lightly on his wrist. Now he was ready to travel.He swung a pack across one shoulder and took his Grandfather's ceremonial spear in his right hand.Without a look back,he ran off into the Dark Forest . His was a quest for his own survival as well as the survival of his kind.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 10 2010 17:54:10 EST

Jay Ling had no idea that he was about to meet four other orphans running for their lives.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 10 2010 18:10:04 EST

Across a raging river and over the snow capped mountains,Amore and her fellow orphans made their way through dense underbrush.
"Let me have the machete for a while," Amore said and traded places with Miseria at the head of the line.
Odio slumped down on a fallen limb and put his head in his hands.He was frail with delicate features like those of an aristocrat and he was exhausted.

"Where are we going anyway?" he moaned,"Why can't we just stay here for the night?"
Grido nudged him with his foot and said,"Get up.We have to get as far away from Triste City as we can before dark."

"Then at least give me some water. I'm dying of thirst,"Odio whined.

Amore kept hacking her way through the vines and called back,
"Odio,get up .You know we have no water.That's why we are trying to find the river.We'll stop when we get to it."

Odio sighed and got up reluctantly,swatting a spider out of his blond hair.As the sun began to disappear behind the mountain range,they heard the welcome sound of the river.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Jul 11 2010 21:16:43 EST

Jay Ling placed the hood over the falcon's head and continued his journey.The bird had caught him his dinner and he would not go hungry tonight.Up ahead Watcher's Rock loomed against the horizon."One last look," the boy thought and climbed to the top of the monolith.
At the top ,he spread his arms wide and cried out in mourning and pain for the great loss of life.Raising his face to the twilight,he began to intone a somber dirge as a last tribute to his people.Across the Dark Forest he could barely discern the clearing that had been his home .

Miles away the four interlopers stopped still to listen to the strange call reverberating from the darkness.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 13 2010 03:07:39 EST

Miseria listened to the mournful howl and said,"That sounds almost human,".
"Just some animal,"shrugged Odio,"Let's get down to the river before I die of thirst,".
Amore slashed through the last of the vines that blocked their view of the surging river and gasped. It was silver in the setting sun ,winding away through a canyon of flowers.

Odio broke free and took off stumbling and running down to the water.Grido chased after him and snagged him by the shirt sleeve ,dragging him to his knees.
"Hold on Odio,"he warned. "You don't know what's down there,".

Odio shoved him and yelled,"I don't care.I have to have a drink or I'm going to die!"

Amore went past the boys with the machete ,hacking a swath through the banks of flowers.At the river's edge ,a tangle of snakes writhed and twisted in a wild frenzy. Amore and the others went around them with Odio shivering in disgust and fear.

"They aren't interested in us," said Miseria,"Let's get a drink,".

The water was cold and fresh and nearby Amore found a clearing for a campsite.Miseria came up behind her and asked,"Do you think a fire would be alright?"

"Yes," answered the girl,shaking back her long black hair."I'm sure we are far enough away from Triste city by now,".

Amore scanned the verdant terrain before her.Flowers of every variety ,color and shape stretched as far as the eye could see.She could hardly wait to see the valley in the daylight.The fragrances blew in the breeze,each vying for the viewers senses with equal sweetness.

Odio lay down at the edge of the river sucking up the cool liquid."Don't drink too much at once," Grido advised,"You'll make yourself sick,".

Odio looked at the tall young man and laughed,"Why don't you mind your own business Beanpole.You look like you haven't had anything to eat or drink in your life,".

Odio struck a nerve with Grido ,ragging him about his height and thinness made him angry.That with his red hair and freckles had made him the target for a lot of bullying in his fifteen years.He wanted to kick mud in the smaller boy's face but he didn't. A fight would be stupid right now .He turned away and said,"I'm going to gather firewood ,".

"I saw some berry bushes over there," said Miseria,"I'll go pick some for our dinner".

They had left in a hurry with little except the clothes on their backs and a few things in their knapsacks.The Magistrate of Triste was an evil man who had just usurped his Father's position. His first act was to make a law decree that called for the extermination of all orphans.He claimed that they were a drain on society and would only turn out to be criminals if left alive.The orphanage was run like a prison and the four teens managed to escape during a change of the guards.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 14 2010 11:53:07 EST

Grido dropped the arm load of fire wood at Amore's feet.I know you've done this before with you Dad right?" he queried.She had told him many times about the camping trips her family used to take before the fire.Amore looked up and smiled.She felt a warm affection for Grido. He had helped her through the first months at the orphanage when she was grieving the loss of her family.
She began to make a teepee of twigs over a pile of dead leaves."I'll need your help ,"she told him."The way I know to do it takes work." Half an hour later they got their first spark and soon a fire was lighting up their clearing.Miles away,Jay Ling saw the glow in the night sky.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 14 2010 12:37:25 EST

Jay Ling recognized the glow as some kind of fire.He watched to see if it spread in case it was from a lightning bolt.After ten minutes when it remained constant,he knew it had to be other people.His heart raced as he realized there were others alive in the Dark Forest.He took note of the direction and decided to waste no time.If he didn't find them tonight ,it would only be more difficult tomorrow.he set off in the direction of the glow,traveling through the tree tops as much as he could.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 14 2010 17:55:25 EST

Miseria chewed a handful of berries and watched Grido tend the fire. "So handsome ," she thought but he only sees me as a bratty sister.Miseria was fourteen and deeply infatuated with Grido. She had tried in vain to get his attention but he always jokingly brushed her off.She wondered if he liked Amore more.
She studied the other girl from the shadows.Her long raven hair was tied back with a flowery vine showing her high forehead and aquiline features.She looked like a fairy princess to Miseria and those sea green eyes were too beautiful. She didn't stand a chance with her close cropped blond curls and pug nose. She would probably wind up with a homely runt like Odio she thought to herself. She stared at him in disgust with his thin brown hair and bad skin. She couldn't bear the sight of him especially since he whined all the time.
Amore shook her and said,"Did you hear me,? I asked if there were any berries left. Odio is still hungry. "

Miseria shook her head and held out her empty hat.Amore looked and said,"No matter ,we'll catch some fish for breakfast. We don't have to travel so fast any more."

Odio groaned and held his stomach. Grido handed him the last of his own berries and stretched out by the fire.He stared across the flames at the two girls whispering together and smiled. "This will be a great adventure ," he thought to himself and fell asleep.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 14 2010 18:02:09 EST

Jay Ling swung to the edge of the clearing with the falcon flying above the treetops.Jay Ling scanned the campsite where the four orphans slept restlessly around a low fire.They were not of his people.They were unlike anyone he ever saw before.His skin was olive toned and his hair dark and thick .He sat high in the tree deciding on a plan.Before the Great Sickness,he had been next in line to be leader .His uncles trained him as a small child in the art of decision making as well as many other necessary things a leader must know .

The falcon settled on his wrist while he watched. He noted the movement of the smaller male. The frail one sat up and looked around cautiously.After a moment,he went to his sack and rummaged around for a small package.After unwrapping the item he quickly stuffed a chunk of cheese into his mouth and hurried to lie back down in his place.Jay Ling saw him lying there chewing and knew what sort of person he was immediately.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Thu, Jul 15 2010 01:11:36 EST

Twenty miles away from Triste in a small city-state called Warfaria,a celebration was underway.The Magistrate had recovered from a four year coma to the delight of his beloved followers.Marner the Proud lay quietly surrounded by a dozen of his closest supporters.His ancient grandmother held his hand gently in hers and whispered,"At last my prayers have been answered. I knew you would return to us."

Marner took a sip of the liquid offered to him and licked his parched lips,"My son," he gasped,"Where is my son Grido?"

Outside the sick room door were three people who were not happy about the awakening. Count Olan and his two sons could hardly contain their fury.
"I warned the old hag it would happen some day,"Olan growled.
His elder son Leeser paced nervously back and forth ,"You should have let me smother him long ago.Now everything will be spoiled.Everything we have worked so hard to build here and in Triste City."

The younger man , Karge ,wrung his hands and moaned,"Oh Father ,what if he finds Grido .We can't have the heir brought back to rule."

Olan grabbed Karge by his thin shoulders saying,"Get a hold of yourself you twit! Why do you think I had my minions in Triste City order the slaying of all orphans. I could no longer let Grandmother Malla's sentimentality ruin my plans."

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 16 2010 02:03:05 EST

Malla left the bedside to join the trio outside the door..Motioning for Olan to follow,she scurried off down the hallway like a huge black rat.In her chambers she bolted the door and sat down in her chair before the fireplace.Olan sank to his knees before her and she cradled his head in her lap.
"Do not be afraid my Dear," she told him,"Grandmother will protect you."
Olan was born out of wedlock to her favorite daughter.The young woman died giving birth to him and Malla raised him like her own son but he had no rights to the rulership .When she found out Olan had poisoned Marner she rose up to protect him and usher him into power but she would not let him kill Grido.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 16 2010 02:28:56 EST

Deep within the Dark Forest Grido opened his eyes and sat bolt upright. He had the nightmare again.The one where he heard his father's moans and then was tied and gagged and thrown into a damp cell.Sucking in the cool night air,his head began to clear and he realized where he was.Amore shivered in her sleep across from the dying fire.Grido took a handful of small branches and built the embers back to a blaze as quietly as he could.He took off his ragged cloak and covered the girl with it.Above them in the dripping trees,Jay Ling sniffed the wind.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 16 2010 02:53:36 EST

"The Windgrowler is coming," Jay Ling whispered to the falcon,"He has found their scent."

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 16 2010 03:07:42 EST

Jay Ling sharpened his teeth with the whet stone he always carried and tied the falcon to a limb.He did not want his friend to die in the battle that was going to take place. It would be wrong to try and warn the sleepers. He did not know their language and the time was too short to explain.

In the moonlight he could see the ridges of scars from the last battle.Before she died his mother told him the blood of the Windgrowler had saved him from the Great Fever. He didn't know if that was true but he was the only one to ever fight the beast and live.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 17 2010 23:57:26 EST

Above the Dark Forest a sillouette appeared against the moon.Jay Ling waited. Windgrowlers were nearly blind at night but their sense of smell made up for it. Jay Ling knew he had to move quickly. The gigantic creature silently swooped down toward the sleeping orphans ignoring Jay Ling completely.

At the last moment ,the boy dove from the tree onto the monster's back and sank his teeth into its throat.A horrible scream split the night, waking the sleepers.Blood and feathers rained down on them.Leading the way out of the clearing, Grido yelled for them to take to the trees.

Jay Ling held his grip on the beast ,sinking his incisors deeper into the creature's jugular.Claws tore at his back but he would not be dislodged. Hundreds of times he had played this moment over in his mind.The Windgrowler fell to the ground,writhing in agony and trying to scrape away the attacker. Jay Ling strained to breathe under the weight of his enemy.Seeing the dilemma , Grido jumped out of the tree and ran at the beast with knife in hand. Dodging the flailing wings,he sprang forward burying the blade in the monster's eyeball.A clawed hand caught him a glancing blow but the beast was done.Blood gushed from its throat ,covering Jay Ling and Grido.After a series of spasms , a great seizure struck the Windgrowler ,tossing Jay Ling off its back and trapping Grido under one of its wings.

In the trees Amore cried out and ran to help Grido. She tried to pull him free but the tremors of the beast overwhelmed her efforts.She called to the others and all but Odio came running.Jay Ling scrambled back up the tree where Sunset,the falcon, was tied.He watched while Grido was rescued and pulled out of danger.
Weak from loss of blood, he straddled the branch and fought the encroaching darkness. Blood dripped to the forest floor as he passed into unconsciousness.
In the clearing Grido retrieved his knife from the beast's eyeball and trembled with relief.
"What is it?"whispered Miseria, "and who was that boy who saved us from it?"
"Where did he go?" asked Amore.
"He ran into the trees but he was bleeding badly," said Odio from the shadows.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Jul 18 2010 16:13:08 EST

Jay Ling woke to see Amore leaning close .She stood up and said,"He's awake,".
Jay ling struggled to rise but could not. Amore dribbled water from Miseria's hat into his parched mouth. Lying back , he glanced over to see the carcass of the Windgrowler encompassing the clearing. The orphans circled 'round him speaking in their strange tongue. He had to warn them about the coming danger but he could hardly move.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Jul 18 2010 16:59:43 EST

Windgrowlers always traveled in pairs.Unless this one's mate was dead,she should be here before dawn.Jay Ling sat up and wiped the blood from his face. The strangers circled him ,watching his every move.The beast had torn his shoulder but other than that he was alright.He made his way to the fire and placed two large limbs across it .When it flared up,he took a stick and drew a windgrowler in the hard packed earth. Then ,making sure they were paying attention,he sketched in another beast beside the first one.They looked at each other as expressions of understanding began to cross their faces.
"There's another one coming," Odio cried,"We have to get out of here right now,".
Jay Ling saw that they understood. He turned back to his drawings and quickly drew a tree with his falcon tied to a limb.Grido came close to examine the picture but didn't get it.
Miseria looked at it and offered,"I think he wants our help,".

Jay Ling went to stand at the base of the tree where Sunset waited. With his good arm he pointed upwards at the bird.The moonlight was not strong enough to help but Amore nodded her head and began to climb the tree.Grido protested and said he would go but she was fast and soon found the creature tethered to a limb. A few moments later she untied the bird and removed the hood. Sunset took off in a flurry of feathers, happy to be free again.
Jay Ling smiled and everyone gasped at the sight of his razor sharp teeth. Amore shook off her fears and approached him with a wet piece of her shirt tail to clean his wound. He would have darted away into the forest if it wasn't for her gentle demeanor. He sat down on a fallen log and she began to carefully clean the ragged gashes.With his good arm,he reached into the pouch tied to his waist and pulled out the rabbit that Sunset killed for his dinner.It was large and plump and already cleaned.
Grido laughed,"How did he keep that through the tremendous battle he just fought?"
Odio answered,"I don't know but I'm starving.Who knows how to cook it?"
Jay Ling pointed to the north and got up making motions that meant for them to follow.He had been told of a cave nearby where villagers once came to worship the windgrowlers . They would be safe there for a while if he could find it in the dark.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Mon, Jul 19 2010 00:55:37 EST

Far away in Warfaria, Marner was growing stronger and more angry."Where is my son!" he demanded,"Why is he not here to greet me after my long sleep?"
His grandmother took his hand saying,"Now,now,you mustn't excite yourself so. You will have a relapse and fall back into your sleep of death. The boy was so distraught,he could not be comforted. He ran away into the Dark Forest one night after prayer time.We searched for days but alas he was lost to us.
She did not know how right she was . Grido was indeed in the Dark Forest . Marner sat up in bed and swung his legs off the side."Leave me please Grandmother and send in my man servant immediately,"he told her.
When she had gone and Rupert the servant came to the door,Marner gave him a list of orders."First ,my old and faithful friend,you must tell me all that has happened while I slept."
At that moment ,Olan appeared in the doorway behind Rupert ,"You must lie down dear Marner,you are weak and not at all well."
Marner glared at his cousin and growled,"I am going to find my son in the Dark Forest . I will require a few good men to accompany me."
Olan flinched but felt a great sense of relief. With Grido dead and Marner away on a wild goose chase,he would have the kingdom to himself again.This turn of events would keep him from having to plan his cousin's murder again.He would not have to deal with Grandmother Malla and her tender hearted ways.To Marner's surprise,Olan smiled and said,"Of course you shall have anything you require for your quest.I will send my finest bowmen with you .When will you depart?"
Marner stood up shakily and answered,"This very night! I shall not rest until my son is back by my side.Now please leave us that I might prepare for my journey."
Olan nodded and watched as Rupert closed the door. He was overjoyed.His problems had all been solved.
Marner paced back and forth getting his bearings while Rupert packed their sachels."I don't trust Olan's men," said the servant who was also a good friend," I will take my son along too.Bastien was always close to Grido as children. He will be helpful in finding the boy."
Marner nodded,"Find him and meet me outside.I want to leave before Olan comes back with his men.The three of us will go alone."
Just before dark,Bastien stood waiting with his quiver and bow across his shoulder.He was nearly shaking with excitement. He had seldom been away from the manor house and he was looking forward to this adventure.He was also anxious to find his lost friend ,Grido.
At dusk,Marner and Rupert joined him and they left by the East gate into the forest.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 20 2010 13:05:21 EST

In the Dark Forest, Grido took a long stick and wrapped his socks around the end of it making a torch.He lit it in the fire before they left hoping it would help them see where they were going in the dark.Jay Ling struggled to recall all that his uncles had taught him about the cave temple.In the side of the tallest mountain,the cave was located beside a skull shaped boulder.High above ,a strong wind blew the clouds away and the moon broke through in all its glory.Jay Ling ran towards the mountain with the others close behind.There at the base of the tallest mountain,Jay Ling saw the unmistakable form of a skull.
Miseria gasped at the looming visage so stark in the light of the full moon but she had no time to ponder over its meaning.Jay Ling was gone. He had disappeared into a small entrance to the cave .Everyone followed,breathless with fear.Grido's smoky torch lit the way showing a vast interior room with passages branching off from it.
Jay Ling took the torch and lit sconces set into the walls.Soon the whole place was dancing with light and shadows.
"Oh my!" exclaimed Amore ,"look at the altar".

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 20 2010 13:43:28 EST

On the altar there stood a large clay bowl full of water which dripped constantly from an opening in the roof of the cave.Below it ,where the water overflowed onto the cave floor,grew hundreds of succulent mushrooms.Clay bowls and cups stood on the altar beside a fire pit.Miseria pointed at the walls,"Look at that," she said,going to run her hands over colorful paintings that ran in a mural around the cave.Jay Ling took wood that was stacked next to the fire pit and soon had a fire going while Grido skewered the rabbit and placed it across two rocks on each side of the flames.Odio was terrified,
"What are we doing?,he cried. The monster is going to be here soon and we are worrying about our stomachs."
Grido answered without stopping his work,"You were the one wanting someone to cook this thing remember? The beast can't get in here,we are safe for now. We'll worry about what to do next in the morning."
Miseria followed the depictions on the wall and whispered,"I think people were sacrificed here."
Amore stopped picking mushrooms to take a look.
A noise from one of the dark passages made them all stop what they were doing .
The noise got louder causing Grido and Jay Ling to brandish their weapons.Jay Ling motioned for them all to stay back and he made his way cautiously toward the passage.He yelled out in his native tongue for the stranger to show himself thinking all the time that it might be an animal of some sort.
Miseria screamed when a voice answered back in the same language.
A very old woman dressed in tattered robes hobbled forth into the torchlight followed by an even older man.Jay Ling fell to his face on the hardpacked floor,prostrating himself to the priest and priestess.
The old woman caught sight of the orphans and said something to her husband.The priest came forward and addressed Grido saying,"You are people from the outworld beyond the Great Forest.Welcome.We have not seen any of your race here in many years."
Turning to Jay Ling he continued,"Do you also speak their language?" When Jay Ling said no,he nodded and spoke again to the others,"You are fleeing from one of our gods. Don't be afraid,she will not hurt you here on sacred ground."
The priest asked Jay Ling why the villagers stopped coming to worship .He told them how his father had made the worship of the beasts illegal because of the human sacrifices and how the Fever had killed everyone except him.
"That was punishment for your people's infidelity ," growled the old man.You must respect the power and beauty of the ancient Windgrowlers.

"Odio went over and continued turning the rabbit on the skewer ,throwing mushrooms on some of the outer coals. The old woman mumbled something and the priest seemed to calm down.Thunder rolled outside and a storm blew in from the East.
Miseria asked,"How have you survived here alone without the villagers to help you?"
The priestess perked up at this and motioned for her to follow her back down the passage.Amore went too and the passage quickly opened out into another chamber.The top of the cave was a honeycomb of holes through which a light rain was now falling.A sprawling garden gave the air a fresh ,sweet smell.Rabbits hopped among the rows of vegetables disturbed by their presence so late in the evening.
The old lady sent the girls to pull some carrots and pick tomatoes along with an orange spiked specimen they had never seen before.
"We have everything we need here," said the priestess." "Everything except worshipers," offered the old man with tears in his eyes.It is so good to see you young ones.Come,let us go back and we shall have a feast in your honor."

When the food was cooked,they all sat around a large wooden table in a third passage where the old ones lived.The priestess translated for Jay Ling and the others,sharing each of their stories and commiserating over their respective woes.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 21 2010 03:11:24 EST

Outside in the rain and wind,a dark figure spread its wings against the night sky. Sunset the falcon flew off leaving its master behind in the temple.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 21 2010 04:25:51 EST

At the edge of the Dark Forest just outside the manor,Bastien brought his steed up alongside his master.
"Forgive me sir but I must speak of a matter before we proceed,"he said."I know for a fact that your son did not run away from here.I told no one this but the servants say he was abducted and taken to Triste. I inquired because we were close friends.The scullery maid heard talk of the government orphanage . I believe he is there even now or at least they will know of him and his fate."
Rupert came alongside saying,"Bastien ,why have you never told this to me before tonight?"
Bastien looked away,"I was afraid if you knew you would try to avenge your friends and you are not well Father."
Marner stared at his old friend and asked,"Rupert,what does he mean? Are you ill?"
"Just passing spells ,"the old man answered,"Nothing to worry about.But never mind,we must be off to Triste.It is good that Olan does not know our true destination."
So it was that Marner began to suspect Olan of foul play with himself and his son.
After discussing the matter further,the three men decided to head for the orphanage by a circuitous route.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Thu, Jul 22 2010 02:25:44 EST

Jay Ling gnawed the last morsels from the rabbit bones with his sharp teeth.He looked across the table at Miseria and quickly dropped his eyes.She was so beautiful in the lamplight and he felt himself drawn to her.He did not understand what the priest was saying to them but he knew that there had once been a trade route with the outside world.That surely was how the priest and priestess spoke their language.His father stopped the practice at the same time he outlawed the worship of the Beasts.Jay Ling closed his eyes and listened for the inward call of the falcon.He would have to wait until he was alone to communicate with the bird.Loss of blood and exhaustion put him dangerously close to melding with the falcon in front of these people. He had to stay alert and strong.Images of the stormy forest flickered behind his eyes marking the distant flight of his winged brother.He had left him outside on purpose.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Thu, Jul 22 2010 02:47:17 EST

The priestess,Shura Sing,refilled all their goblets with juices and pulled her husband aside."Chanzo,"she whispered,"We must persuade Jay Ling to stay here when the others leave.He will make a perfect sacrifice, restoring our place with the beast gods."
Chanzo nodded,"When the others sleep ,we will speak to him.We must find out where his spirit brother has gone and bring it back to complete the ceremony."
They rejoined the group who were finishing off their feast with a platter of confections made by Shura's own hand.

"Where will you go?" the priest said to Grido.

"We seek the other side of the Dark Forest," answered the boy,"Do you know what lies there?"

Chanzo groaned,"Alas,I fear it is a wild and dangerous place.Come and see," he offered. taking a lamp close to the far wall,he pointed to a painting of a strange group of individuals . They wore rings in their noses and ears and held dark infants in their arms.
"They are called the Renegades but little is known of them or their culture."
The others gathered 'round staring at the strange depiction.All except Odio who scavenged leftover morsels from the other plates.
"I'm tired," he mumbled from around a mouthful of mushrooms,"Where can I sleep?"
The priestess smiled,"Follow me," she directed,"We have plenty of room."
One vaulted chamber contained a dozen cots made for worshipers who traveled long distances in their pilgrimages.Odio wiped his mouth on his sleeve and headed straight for the largest bunk.Without a word,he curled up with his face to the wall and pulled the thick coverlet over his head.The others went back with the old ones to clean up ,each full of their own thoughts of the future.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 23 2010 02:31:56 EST

At the Government Orphanage in Triste,a broken sign swung crazily in the wind.The front door stood open allowing the trio to enter unimpeded. Silence greeted their calls and a large crow flapped out over their heads."Abandoned!" said Marner,"What sort of insanity is this? What has happened to the children?"
A noise to their left brought them to the alert.A tiny little girl peeked around the corner with her thumb in her mouth.Behind her,an older boy lay slumped against the wall with blood on his face.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 23 2010 03:05:45 EST

Marner went to the boy while Rupert approached the little girl.
Marner knelt beside the child and seeing that the cut on his head was superficial,began to revive him.He poured water from his canteen on a kerchief and wiped the cut.Then he poured a few drops into the boy's mouth. The child began to sputter and sat up.
"Who,who are you?" he muttered,holding his head.
"A friend," replied Marner,"Where is everyone? What happened here?"
Rupert picked up the passive little girl and carried her over to where the boy sat.She made not a sound but held tightly to a ragged doll with one hand and sucked her thumb with the other.
The boy stared at Marner,"Don't you know about the Decree?" he asked,"All orphans were to be killed.We hid but .....Cassie,are you alright Sister?" He reached out for the girl but she did not acknowledge him.
"She's been through something terrible," offered Bastien.
"Let's get them out of here right now."
Marner nodded,"Bastien ,check the place for food and blankets.We can find out more when we are safely away from this place."
He helped the boy to his feet and Rupert carried the girl back out to the horses. Bastien joined them with a sack full of supplies and they all rode away into the cover of the forest.
In a small clearing Marner helped the boy down from the horse and deposited him against the trunk of a mighty oak.Rupert cradled the girl who had fallen asleep .
While Bastien started a small fire for warmth and light,Marner handed the boy a crust of bread and a large chunk of cheese.
"Now tell me exactly what happened at the orphanage," he urged.

Gable,the boy,gobbled down the cheese and said,"The Magistrate ordered the murder of every orphan in Triste.Nobody knows why except he said we were worthless and a drain on the community.Only a handful of us escaped. "
Bastien draped a blanket around the child's shoulders and gave one to Rupert to wrap up the girl.
"Do you know what happened to my son Grido?" inquired Marner anxiously,"Is he alive?"
"Yes," said Gable,"I saw him running for the woods with three others. I was trying to reach them when I fell and hit my head.My little sister stayed beside me in the bushes until the soldiers left.I woke up and went back to see if anyone survived but I must have passed out."
Marner breathed a sigh of relief.His son was still alive.He wanted to begin his search immediately but he knew that would be foolhardy.
"We will stay here tonight and begin our quest at first light,"he told his companions.Rupert lay down close to the fire with Cassie in his arms. He wondered how they would
travel with the children but they could not leave them behind.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 24 2010 01:00:26 EST

Deep in the recesses of the temple cavern, all of the orphans except Odio were taking a bath. Amore could not believe the luxury of the hot springs bubbling up around her.Phosphorescent walls gave the cave a silvery glow as even Jay Ling slipped into the soothing waters.The old people left them to their own devices after refusing their help cleaning ."We have robes for all of you,"they assured them.Bathe and then we will hang your clothes out to dry."
Miseria went to Jay Ling and asked,"How is your shoulder," motioning to his wounds.His face went red at her touch and extra attention,"I am fine," he answered in her own language.
His ability to learn almost instantly was a gift inherited only by those of nobility in his culture.
Miseria blanched and said,"How can you speak in my tongue? Do you have magic powers?"
But in his embarrassment Jay Ling escaped by diving down to the bottom of the spring.He came up with something in his hand and when he opened it ,a dozen jewels shone there in the glow from the walls.
"Oooh,"crooned Miseria,It is a sunken treasure.
"More like a wishing well," said Jay Ling."My people offered their wealth here when supplicating the Beast gods.Too bad the only thing they ever got was to be eaten alive by the monsters."
Amore swam over to view the baubles,"Don't tell Odio about this,"she said,"He will want to steal as much as he can carry."
Bravely,Jay Ling placed the treasure in Miseria's hand ,feeling a jolt of electricity pass between them.They stared into each other's eyes and smiled.
Grido watched and knew they had made a connection.One that he wished he could make with Amore.
A half hour later they were dressed in soft robes and sitting around the fire while Shura spread their tattered clothes out to dry.
Shura insisted on applying a pungent salve to Jay Ling's shoulder.She wanted the sacrifice to be perfectly acceptable to the beast goddess .There could be no flaws .
Sipping a hot herbal tea,Amore asked,"What will happen when the mate of the Windgrowler comes?"
Shura lifted her cowled head and smiled a twisted smile,"Don't be concerned my dear,old Shura will take care of everything,".
A chill went up Grido's spine as the firelight glittered in the old crone's eyes. He yearned for the morning when they could flee this evil place.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 24 2010 01:58:19 EST

Marner woke the others at first light."Do you know where my son was going?" he asked Gable.
"One of the orphans named Odio,used to live in the Dark Forest. He said they would have to head for the river where they could survive on fish and small animals. He once lived in a tree house or so he said. He was a bad one but he knew the way so Grido took him along."
Bastien unrolled a map of what was known of the Dark Forest.
"There are strange beasts and unknown dangers afoot in these woods,"he said quietly.
"My sister speaks to them," the boy confided,looking over at the sleeping girl,"She can communicate with the Beasties."
Rupert ignored that and gently shook the little girl in his arms."Wake up Cassie," he whispered in her ear,"We must be off."
Marner portioned out some of their meager rations and then they were off in the direction of the river under darkening skies.With Gable riding behind him ,Marner was able to ask many questions about his long lost son.He learned that the boy was always sticking up for the smaller children and had received many beatings at the hands of the guards.He reveled in the knowledge that his son was considered a hero by the other orphans and vowed to avenge him on his return.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 24 2010 02:33:48 EST

Shura spoke quietly to her husband where they stood watching the children sleep,"I put a potion in their tea.They will not wake when we take Jay Ling away."The old man smiled down at her,"We will soon have the blessing of the Beasts once more and worshipers will return."
An hour later when all were sound asleep,Shura and Chanzo gently carried Jay Ling away.They placed him in a cell far out of hearing range of the others and Shura covered him lovingly with a blanket.
"What will you tell them?"Chanzo asked her.
"That he left to find his falcon and said for them to proceed without him,"she replied."Afterall they were not traveling together before ."
Jay Ling lay oblivious to all except the connection to his spirit brother.He was soaring high above the river ,dark wings spread against the moon.His mission to find others like himself was his only concern.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 24 2010 02:55:21 EST

Just before dawn,the dead Windgrowler's mate began a mournful howling outside the temple.This was followed by a clawing sound which soon woke all the children even in their drugged state.Odio screamed and hid behind the old priest begging for protection.Shura put on her cloak and hurried outside carrying two dead rabbits.
The howls stopped and all was still. Soon,Shura returned with a sly smile on her face."All is well," she told the breathless children,"She has gone away to grieve.She will not desecrate the temple but you must prepare to leave before she returns.I will pack some supplies for your journey."
Amore glanced around and asked,"Where is Jay Ling? He was just over there last night,".
Chanzo put his arm around Amore and answered,"He bade us say his Goodbyes to you all. He was anxious to find his soul brother,the falcon. You see in our culture,there is a special bond with certain creatures. He felt the bird was in trouble and he could not wait."
Miseria tried to hide her disappointment ,she felt a strong connection with the boy and could not believe he left without telling her.Still, it was all so new,maybe she had misjudged his feelings.
Grido said nothing but noted the dagger lying just beneath Jay Ling's cot. He would not have left without it. Something was amiss.The priests were too anxious to be rid of them.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Jul 25 2010 21:08:13 EST

Cassie snuggled against Rupert's chest on the back of his mighty stallion. She dozed off and on and dreamed of the warm stables at the manor house.She was lightly in touch with the mind of the horse and reveled in its simple thoughts of home .Occasionally a forest animal would scamper past and intrude in her reverie but they were only thinking of food.She loved all God's creatures and tried to avoid talking to humans except for her brother.The horse moved carefully through the forest ,mindful of the child on his back.The screech of a passing bird roused the girl and spooked the horse.Sunset swooped down close to the entourage ,flapping its wings and squawking loudly.
Cassie fell from the stallion ,landing on a pile of moss. Rupert jumped down to help the child ,picking her up in his arms and soothing her.
Back in the Temple cave,Jay Ling gasped and sat up.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sun, Jul 25 2010 21:37:56 EST

Cassie clung to the mind of the wild bird spiraling upward to the sky."You are two?",she queried unafraid.
Jay Ling closed his eyes and told her,"Yes,one near and one far away,".The falcon turned and flew back over the group on the ground."Who are you?",asked Jay Ling.

"We are searching for my friend Grido," the girl replied,"Who are you?"

Jay Ling sat stunned for a moment at the mention of Grido's name. "I too am a friend of Grido's.My name is Jay Ling.I can help you find him.Get them to follow the bird."
"I will try,"said the child but they may not listen."

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 27 2010 02:04:58 EST

Jay Ling looked around and knew what had happened.It made sense that the old ones would want him for a sacrifice. He was perhaps the last of his people but he knew there was hope in the form of the beautiful girl Miseria. They could start a new world here in the forest.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 27 2010 13:17:39 EST

Grido picked up Jay Ling's dagger after the priests left them.He turned to the others and said,"Jay Ling would not have left without this. They have done something with him. "
"They want him for a sacrifice," offered Amore,"He is the last of their people ."
"We must find him ," implored Miseria,"He may be hurt,".
"They won't hurt him," Grido said,"They want a perfect sacrifice to please the Beast Goddess."

"What can we do?" whined Odio,"We are no match for their powers?"
"We will pretend to leave and then wait for a chance to help Jay Ling," replied Amore."Gather your things and act naturally."
They put on their ragged clothes and helped the old ones pack food and water in their bags. Soon they were ready to leave.
"Go quickly before she returns," urged Chanzo,"She will be hungry and the rabbits don't suffice."
The orphans waited as Grido went out the low entrance and surveyed the area."All clear,"he called, and they filed out one by one.
Outside the day was overcast and cold. A stiff wind blew a fine rain like needles in their faces and they hurried to where an outcropping of rocks created a cover over their heads.
They heard the Beast howling in the distance and Odio began to shake with fear."Let's run away from this place before it's too late,"begged the boy, wiping his nose on his sleeve.

Amore put her arm around his slight form,"Shh," she whispered,"I will protect you. Don't be afraid,".In the treetops ,a loud whooshing noise signalled the advance of the Windgrowler.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 27 2010 14:04:41 EST

Rupert set Cassie gently back up on his horse and brushed her off,"Are you alright Little One?"he asked .
"Yes," she replied but you must follow that bird."

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Tue, Jul 27 2010 14:04:41 EST

Marner's horse danced restlessly causing the man to fight to maintain control,"Let's go Rupert," he said with a hint of impatience."Hold on to the girl will you? Or do you want Bastien to take her?"
Rupert ignored the jibe and cantered off through the underbrush,scraping his head against the low hanging branches. The Falcon dove at them again,swooping to within inches of Marner's face.
"What is wrong with that bird?" ,he exclaimed."If he does that again,put an arrow in him and we'll have him for dinner."
"No,No,you mustn't hurt him," Cassie cried,"He's trying to show us where Grido went,".
Bastien pulled up alongside the girl,"What are you talking about Little Miss? Tell us what you know."
Cassie's brother called out,"Listen to her please.She has a special way with wild things."

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Wed, Jul 28 2010 01:20:41 EST

"Nonsense!" retorted Marner,"This is just slowing us down."
cassie turned halfway toward Rupert saying,"Your horse has a stone in his left back shoe and is about to go lame.Check it and see.I felt it when I touched his mind."
Rupert 's hair stood up on the back of his neck at the strange look in the child's eyes.He answered,"Hold up men,I must check my horse for a stone in his shoe,The little one here says the horse complained to her about it.'
They all laughed at that but Rupert got down and put the child on the side while he checked the hoof.
Cursing loudly,he cried,"By Jove,she's right! She just saved me from having a lame animal."He popped out the rock with his knife and said to Marner,"We must take a chance and follow the bird,Master."
Gable smiled at his sister and gave her water before she was lifted back up in front of Rupert.Bastien grimaced at the thought of their folly but led the way in pursuit of the falcon.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Thu, Jul 29 2010 01:34:16 EST

Jay Ling struggled to direct the falcon who wanted only to return to its old hunting grounds. The old ones returned to fetch him after the departure of the orphans and he had to keep part of his mind soaring with Sunset.Chanzo approached him with dagger in hand,"Oh young master,you are chosen today for a great honor."
Jay Ling bowed low saying " This is the greatest day of my life . I gladly sacrifice myself to appease the magnificent Goddess."
The priests looked at each other in surprise.They walked away to whisper out of hearing distance and came back to say,"You are wise beyond your years my son,"said Shura,"Come then and let us prepare for the arrival of the mighty Beast."

Jay Ling nodded and replied,"First let me bathe in the sacred spring that I might present myself clean and sanctified before her."
They looked at each other and nodded,"Let it be just as you have said. There is still time."
Shura brought a white robe and sent Chanzo off with the boy to guard him while he bathed.
The chamber was dark save for one torch burning on the wall and a fragrance of sweet flowers filled the air.Jay Ling took off all but his undergarment and slipped into the warm spring.He dove down beneath the bubbles searching for just the right thing. Once and twice he surfaced empty handed but the third time he found what he wanted. Among the jewels were long and beautiful crystals.He broke one leaving a jagged point as Chanzo called,"Come out now my child. You are purified by the Holy waters." Jay Ling came out dripping and Chanzo stood behind him with the white robe.At that moment ,Jay Ling spun around ,jabbing the crystal into the man with all his might.
Chanzo slumped to the hard packed earth without a sound.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 30 2010 03:33:33 EST

Jay Ling waited for the woman's return and easily overpowered her."What have you done? "she moaned, You will die for this!"
"Old one I am going to let you have the privilege of doing that" said Jay Ling.He took the rope belt from the robe and tied her hands behind her back while she sobbed over her dead husband.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 30 2010 04:05:51 EST

Jay Ling stopped at the cave entrance and listened.All he heard was the wind so he allowed his full attention to focus on the falcon. Sunset and his followers were coming closer. He had to warn them of the presence of the Windgrowler.He sent an image of the beast to the mind of the bird and so to the mind of the girl.Cassie screamed and held her head.
Rupert reined in his horse and held her closer,"What is it child? Are you hurt ?"
Cassie turned frightened eyes to her brother and said,"There's a monster near. Grido and the others are in danger."
"We must hurry then." cried Marner,"Take me to my son!"
They came to the river and found the campsite with the fallen monster .Bastien wanted to dismount and examine the carcass but Rupert warned ,"Legends say these creatures travel in twos. It must be this one's mate that is after Grido."
Marner galloped away after the falcon with the others right behind him.Cassie began to shake and whimper as they grew closer to the temple."What is it Cassie?" her brother asked and then he realized she had accidentally touched the monster's consciousness.
Suddenly Sunset circled over an outcropping of rocks and began to spiral downward.Below the bird ,the Windgrowler burst out of the forest growling and gnashing its teeth.
Jay Ling heard the sound and pushed the priestess ahead of him out of the cave.The beast was standing between Jay Ling and Grido's group when Marner came out of the woods.

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Fri, Jul 30 2010 04:20:28 EST

Jay Ling untied the priestess and pulled her near,"I know the beast is your spirit kin. If you care for her,tell her to stop before she dies like her mate."
Shura moaned and nodded.A tremor went through her aged body as she connected with the Windgrowler . Immediately the creature sank to the ground and remained still. Shura hobbled out into the wind and rain to join her soul mate. Odio grabbed Jay Ling's ceremonial spear that had been left outside the cave and prepared to throw it at the beast. Grido yelled,"NO!" and wrenched it from the boy's hands at the last moment.
Everyone watched as the creature scooped up the priestess and held her to its breast lovingly.
Then with a great whoosh of wings,the Windgrowler sprang up into the wind and flew off into the Dark Forest .
All was still except for the wind and rain.
Suddenly Grido ran to his father crying out for joy.
The group dismounted and everyone began talking and laughing all at once.
Everyone except Jay Ling who ducked back inside the temple.
Miseria ran to join him,grabbing him by the arm and kissing him full on the lips. He put his arms around her and kissed her back. "Don't go away," she whispered.
He took her hand and led her back to the spring.
"Everyone can take from the sunken treasure here," he told her,"We can make a new life for all of us."

Marner and the others joined them asking what had happened.They could not believe the grandeur of the cave with its gardens and pools. They made a great feast that night and spoke of their plans for the future.
"Will you go home for revenge Father," asked Grido.
Marner looked at Grido where he sat holding Amore's hand and said,"No,my son,there is nothing but bad memories there for me and you.
Rupert picked up Cassie and swung her around," I say we all start over somewhere new.What do you say Little one?"
Cassie laughed and looked at her brother,"We want to go wherever you go kind sir,"
"Then you must call me Papa from now on." he ordered with a smile.
Even Odio had stopped whining long enough to count his lap full of baubles and jewels.
That night Jay Ling brought Sunset into the cave and set him on Miseria's sleeve,"We have a home now," he told the falcon,"Wherever she is will be our home from now on."
Outside,the howl of the Windgrowler carried far across the Dark forest.
The End

celeritas (Rate Passer) added to this story on Sat, Jul 31 2010 14:48:49 EST
The Dark Forest Children Summary

Amore Is an orphan,living on the streets of Triste city, a dark and sinister city where the sun never shines. On the day of Amore's 14th birth day, the Ruler of the city ordered that all orphans be killed at once. She ran for her life into the forest, where she met three other orphans from the same city: Miseria, Grido,and Odio. What happens next?

Print The Dark Forest Children
Genre: Fantasy
Created: 07-02-2010
Word Count: 8695

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