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    Senior Member Hermann Morr's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
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    Other side of the wood ( WHFRP )

    Yagmurlar . Sebnem Ferah

    Matti was running along the path regardless of stones and puddles, water and gravel flew as he passed, wool trousers covered with stains. In fear nothing mattered, not even the risk of falling. Just get to the safe in the fence of Herzen, his town.

    Seen less than twenty winters, Matti the shepherd, but he knew every plant and animal. The richest landowners wanted his services and his family did not lack anything. He loved the woods and all that was inside, so had been easy to befriend the old man who lived there.
    The druid he was called.
    He spoke little with people, rarely seen in town, but he began to teach his secrets, as if it was normal conversation, he never asked anything in return.

    Then the past month it began, the carpenter Andreas fell ill first. It seemed a simple cough at first, but did'nt stop, the throat closing up over time to reduce breathing to a reluctant whistle, the fever. Every day there was some new sick and still no one was healed. Katya, the woman of herbs, could do nothing. Shortly after the start Matti had the dream for the first time, now it was coming back every night, same.
    A month that way, he wanted the advice of his friend, but that did not show.
    Finally his father had begun to cough, that made it, despite the rain Matti walked deep into the autumn woods, the house of the druid was far away, atop a hill.
    No dogs outside the house, but the door was open, bad sign.
    Matti had entered.
    The Druid was lying on the ground, half-dressed, in the left shoulder, bare, had planted an object with many spikes. Departing from the small wound a blue web of burst capillaries was spreading down to mid-arm and to the chest, poison, his friend was dead.
    Matti had not cared if it was recent or not, he had turned and started running.

    He stopped only after arriving in his room at home.
    For a long time was lying in bed waiting for the heart back to normal.
    Coughing from father's room. Now even enemies out in the woods, but who? There was no one to turn to for advice, and the dream was waiting should he fall asleep.
    The dream .. eventually he got scared only because none ever was so clear and haunting him for weeks. But it was not bad, there were indeed a beautiful music and a beautiful woman singing unknown words. Sometimes she could be seen clearly, but often she was hidden by water as if standing behind a waterfall, or a veil of tears. Always seemed eager to tell something, but he withdrew. Might she want to speak of the danger they faced? He kept thinking till dinner.

    In the downstairs room the table was set just for him, his mother sat silently in front of the fireplace. The soup made with sour cream, dry bread and an egg, then the red cabbage salad, beer. What is found in every modest house throughout the Empire.

    "How is dad? "
    His mother had to nurse him all the time, was only a matter of days before she too got sick.

    "Worse than yesterday. And i was told that Helena is sick too now .. "
    Helena, Katya's daughter, the disease had been able to enter in a house dedicated to Shallya.
    Ever danced with her at parties, sometimes they went together to look for medicinal herbs.
    That same moment the decision was taken, the woman in the dream was his last hope, so after a few spoons of soup he returned to his room to wait for sleep.

    She was there as always with her song, holding out her arms through the water curtain, Matti felt as if he was still bright awake. He tried to touch her and saw himself sinking into the water, thinking it was just a dream dropped. Suddenly the scene had changed, was on a path through grassy hills, but a rat were blocking the road. As big as a deer, ferocious-looking, but definitely a rat, Matti knew how to treat animals, it took little to soothe him, the rat went away leaving free passage. Just beyond was an uninhabited hut, but full of tools such as an herbalist's workshop, a pair of rather common medicinal herbs could be noticed. There was then a steaming pot with a yellow moss that had never seen before. His hands gathered moss from the hot water and squeezed on the other two herbs ..

    He was awakened by the dawn light, he remembered almost every detail of the dream, the yellow moss, could recognize him if he could find, maybe it was the cure. He might be insane to entrust his hopes to a dream, but in that situation was the only thing he had.
    Had lunch with more appetite than usual, knowing that might be the last of his life, then prepared his best clothes. Boots, wool coat, felt hat, then his sling, stick and flute. He kissed his mother before going out, perhaps he would be found lying somewhere poisoned by one of those spiky things, but it was decided, without yellow moss he would not come back.
    The town people did'nt care of him, they were all crowded in front of another house. There was no need to ask, the disease had the first death. At the door of the fence two guards armed with spear warmed with a brazier, their faces covered with scarves, a cough.
    Matti sank into the woods.

    There are people such as hunters and loggers, who can move in silence.
    Not a shepherd, he must make noise to drive away the snake and the wolf, and be found by the lost sheep. Matti for the first time in his life realized how difficult it was to go around in the woods without a sound. He keptaway from the paths, still it would take little to notice his passing. A hunter could find traces, whether the murderer of the old man had passed that way. Matti could distinguish only the plants, those useless and those who heal animals, sometimes he spotted some rare mushroom and stopped to pick it up. An attacker could easily follow and stab him as he bent, could there be more than one and between those branches his sling would not serve.

    "Here, they're coming." Thought Matti holding the stick, something was making way between two trees.
    At first only saw a bright silhouette of a lighter green than leaves, but as he approached the details became visible, a man, the light seemed to pass through, perhaps a ghost.
    Fear gave way to astonishment when he saw his face, was the druid, his friend who was found dead the day before returned to walk among the living.
    The apparition said nothing, just gestured him to follow, before turning back into the light beyond the two trees.

    The shepherd, in turn, crossed the gap, the light and the druid had disappeared, but there was a new path before him, it was as if the plants had voluntarily moved to trace a direct path without turns. He walked until late afternoon eating raw mushrooms he had collected, his sense of direction told him clearly where that path would lead. He was returning to the house on the hill, the trail ended right at its feet.
    The last part was uncovered, he saw no living soul, but he felt clearly to be watched, wicked looks, numerous, yet too coward to show themselves now that he had the space to use the sling. He also felt not to have to show fear, if he had run he would be attacked from all sides, so he walked at a regular step accompanied by the memories of that thing full of spikes and a body ravaged by the poison. The door was wide open as he had left the day before, after closing behind him put the pole and allowed himself a sigh.
    But what he saw inside made him forget the fear.

    The druid's body was not there but his hooded robe was still on the ground, the same spot where he had seen, as if evaporated. On the other hand, over the solid walnut table were two objects that were not there before: a sickle of bronze and a hazelnut, with a tiny hole in the shell, light as if it were empty.
    These were the items Matti would have earned if he had become druid in turn, but his education was incomplete, he was not worthy. But his teacher had left them there for him. For the first time since the whole thing began, he found the strength to cry.

    Kill in the Spirit World - Black Sabbath

    When Mattheus Holtzmann left the house shortly before sunset, was not the same person. He wore the dress of a druid, the face hidden by a hood, a sickle hanging on the double rope belt, of his previous things only the flute was kept. Behind the hill on the opposite side from the road for Herzen, was the place of power, an open clearing. Under bare feet he could feel the stones arranged in a spiral, hidden from the long grass. He could hear noises around, they were still watching, but now were even more numerous, closing a circle around him.
    Ignoring them he stopped at the center of the clearing and looked at the setting sun not to think, soon was filled by the strength of the wood coming up from the feet. They were approaching.
    He broke the shell of the nut with the teeth, bitter taste, a concoction to keep under the tongue while listening to the heartbeat. After a few moments came the blow of vertigo, he could see the clearing from above, he himself at the center and around those things, no more hiding. Rags and scrap iron, they walked on two legs like men, but the faces were those of rats. Small sharp teeth, cruel daggers with gnawed blades, he could distinguish them all in every direction. Two in particular were wrapped in black bandages leaving only a slit for the eyes, the flaps fluttered in the breeze, death went with them.

    Mattheus raised the flute to his mouth and began to play.
    It was a simple theme he had invented while watching the herds, but in that place became a spell, land and plants raised to defend him, the grass twisted around the legs of those creatures, thorny vines appeared out of nowhere choking them. Their squeaking was first angry, then scared, their bullets were buzzing around Mattheus without hitting him, as if the air itself refused to let them pass. He continued to play without worrying about the assailants, the substance contained in the nut expanded his senses, if his preparation was sufficient it would open the way for the other side of things, but otherwise it would kill him. Skaven, that was how they were called, now dead statues, broken, barely distinguishable beneath the tangle of brambles. When he saw all disappear in a flash of golden light understood to have done it, closed his eyes for a moment, when he opened them was in the golden woods, was a druid.

    Now that he saw could understand why the name, the light did not come from a specific point, but seemed to spread from the air and gave the tall ivy-leaved trees that shade. He saw in the distance a source of steaming water and wanted to mirror himself, because he knew that by the other side objects and people change form, including the sickle hung to his belt, longer and heavier it felt. But he dared not look down or leave the trail, because he came without a guide and feared losing the way if he had not focused on his purpose.
    Without taking the flute from his lips began to play the song of dreams, heard from the woman who had called to show him the cure, and walked playing, looking ahead, hoping that the forest would understand his request and take him to the place where yellow moss grow.

    He was passing between the trees without setting his sight on the details to not lose concentration, but could feel that something was not as it should. There were deep shadows, in some places looking like solid lumps of darkness, sticking to the trees like a disease. With all his efforts to stay focused on the song, could not help but notice the withered leaves where darkness had penetrated, he felt an evil at work, of which the disease and the Skaven were a mundane reflection. He felt that this evil would not allow him to easily find the cure.

    When the path opened up and a different light shone in the distance, Mattheus understood to have arrived where he wanted and was not surprised to find the way barred. There were three, tall, deformed beyond words, had only one eye, a twisted horn on their forehead, big broken swords, rusty. Seeing his approach they blathered nonsense, excited as if they had met a friend, enlarged to surround him. Matthaeus had not come all that way to give up, dropped the flute and put his hand on the heavy object hanging from his belt. What in the real world was a sickle of bronze here was a sword, golden hilt and blade of crystal, such as chipped flint, a green fire burning inside, a warm glow filling him with purpose.
    He called the jade wind of magic and it lifted him up, solidifying in a column under his feet, but immediately the darkness enveloped it like a spiral staircase allowing the monsters to get up in line. Mattheus waited them holding the sword high over his head. Also the first to reach the top was ready to vibrate the same type of blow, the blades met in the cut of fire and stones, but the abomination's weapon could not withstand the shock and broke, while the crystal sword continued its ride to open in two the head of the aggressor.
    .. But how did he know the name of that move? ..
    There was no time to think about it, releasing the blade he brought it back, low and horizontal, exchanging the legs. When the second monster tried the same cut, Mattheus moved diagonally letting the opponent's momentum carry him to the edge of his sword, was like tering bags of loose boneless flesh.
    While the rubbish fell into two pieces he continued his movement dropping over the edge of the column, thus hoping to escape the third, but it dived down on him with a great leap, trying to cleave him on the fly. Mattheus had to turn on himself in the air to parry off in a burst of sparks, then continue the rotation to touch the ground standing on guard, as his opponent nearby.
    Dead leaves floated in the air between them.
    Oh if he could also bring in the real world all that clarity, that lightness, what a great hero he would be.
    The abomination charged with the sword raised as the first two, but at the last moment upset the blade in a cut to break down the right leg of Mattheus, which had to jump in a somersault fall, passing over the encrusted blade of his enemy and ending kneeled. With that thing behind. If he had sprung up, the enemy would have beheaded him. Instead he turned on itself remaining low, pivoting on the knee, and ran a low sweep catching the ankles of the creature sending it to the ground on its back. The stumps of its legs emitted jets of a fetid liquid jelly. Mattheus moved swiftly to avoid being touched by the infected crap and finally got up to finish the thing. This was left on its back and stared at him with its cataract-covered eye.

    "Druid-puppy, you're good."

    "Can you speak? .."
    The deformed creature did not care and continued its speech.
    "A druid defends the forces of life, right? But we too are part of it. I come from marshes teeming with life even more than your wood. Rotting of one is the nourishment of many, have you ever thought?"

    "It's not a good reason to hasten the death of that one, before it has reached its time."
    The response was preceded by a hissing laugh.
    "And why not? Life and death are one, one can not exist without the other, as the light needs the darkness!"

    "Life and Light do not need anything else to exist, death and darkness are only their absence, not a real existence."

    "Oh yeah? Then look how the darkness adheres to the trees, how adorns them, touch it before saying that does not exist. We are here, now we are part of the forest, you must agree, must toller graa .. .."

    Mattheus bored with that speech had stuck the sword in its mouth, feeling it sink into the ground beyond the head of that thing, his anger spilled across the crystal blade like an emerald fire, burning the body beneath him, stretching in any direction to trace the roots of trees and reach each infected clot. Without even knowing how, he was healing the forest with his own life, he understood clearly that the time of his material existence would be shortened greatly because of what he was doing.
    But what is the life of a druid, if not to protect the forest?

    "I must nothing."

    In a ravine by the light of dawn touched Mattheus picked up the yellow moss helping with the sickle. With the two peaks of Lavarein visible in the distance he could orientate, he knew where he was and even if his youthful vigor was lost forever, he knew he could get home for the sunset, with the cure.

    In a ruined house, between stones abandoned to creeping vines , a bird cage is resting on a shelf of rotten wood. Locked in this cage the goddess Isha blew in the bowl that had filled with her tears, dissolving the scene that had hitherto observed. Despite his eternal imprisonment she allowed herself a smile.

    Last edited by Hermann Morr; August 15th, 2010 at 12:50.

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