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17th Anni Horror Stories


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  • 3 weeks later...

It was an ordinary day in the forest of Loreroot. Unlike most ordinary days, which he would spend at his resting place under the shade of his tree near Wasp’s Totem, he was sitting by the roots of the Oak Fort, enjoying the breeze and the sounds of the lake water and the rustling of leaves and grass. Weary from the previous day’s hard work, he closed his eyes and let those natural sounds put him to sleep. And deep he slept and peacefully for some time.

And then, after what seemed to be a few hours of rest, he opened his eyes and had a look around. He knew he was still in the very same place where he had fallen asleep, but something seemed terribly wrong. He rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times to clear his vision, then looked around again. The oak tree was as tall and massive as it had always been, but it had no leaves on it and its trunk and branches were darkened and dry. There was no grass around its roots and no water around the islet where the ancient tree was standing on. Even the rest of the trees in the distance seemed barren and dead to him.

What happened?”, he asked himself, without realising whether he actually uttered those words or he merely thought of them, “Why is the land dead?” He laid his palm on one of the tree’s roots and rubbed it gently with his fingertips. “How did that happen? And so suddenly…?”, he asked himself again, “Everything was fine a mere few hours ago and now the whole of the forest looks like an endless graveyard.” He stood and began to walk around the tree roots, often kneeling to touch the ground. “The grass… it’s gone! And the water of the lake… it’s no more! What happened here?”, he asked once more, a little more loudly this time.

Bitter thoughts began to fill his mind and he dropped on his knees, his arms falling almost dead on his lap. A deep frown made his usually expressionless and icy-cold face crack. “What have I done?”, he muttered, as if he were making a desperate attempt to keep his thoughts a secret. But from whom? There had been no living soul around for as long as he had been in this place and if there was anybody passing by, they ignored him and went on their way without paying him any attention.

What have you done?”, a voice was suddenly heard from the other side of the giant tree. He turned his head towards the general direction of the source of the voice he heard, but he didn’t have the courage to stand and go look for the one that spoke to him. “Who goes there?”, he merely asked. “Just a traveller.”, replied the voice, its words followed by a soft hissing sound. “And why would you want to know?”, he asked again but without much confidence. “Simple curiosity.”, was the voice’s response, “Are you afraid of random strangers asking random questions?” He shook his head lightly as if he had been talking face to face with the one bearing that voice. “No…”, he mumbled, “that’s not what I’m afraid of…

What are you afraid of then?”, asked the voice. “N-nothing…”, he muttered and shook his head again. “Nothing?”, exclaimed the voice, as if it had been surprised by his answer, “A very courageous answer, but spoken in such a cowardly manner. A pity, isn’t it?” He turned to the side while maintaining his kneeling posture, trying to find the one who the voice belonged to. “What do you want from me?”, he asked in a passive aggressive way. “Nothing”, said the voice in response in a simple and natural way, “just to have a nice friendly talk with another person. Is that bad?” “Erm, no…”, he said in return with another shake of his head, “I just… don’t feel like talking to strangers about things such as my fears.

So…”, said the voice with a soft hissing, “you are afraid of something then. Speak up!” It continued in a somewhat encouraging way, “A stranger may be a stranger, but even if he judges you harshly for something you say or do, he will remain somebody you may not meet again and who you shouldn’t even have to care about. If there is something that troubles your mind, a stranger can indeed be the perfect person to talk to.” He sighed softly, but the voice spoke again before he managed to utter a single word. “So, what troubles your mind, stranger?

My land, as you can plainly see…”, he paused for a moment or two to point around him, “everything is dead.” The voice hissed, but in a more intense way that could make it sound almost like a chuckle, and asked: “What killed it?” He lowered his head and looked bitterly at the barren ground in front of him. “It could have been me…”, he mumbled, uncertain of the validity of his words, but heavily encumbered by the weight of his thoughts. “You?”, exclaimed the voice amazed, “And how exactly could you do that?” “I-I-I… I don't know.”, he laid his palm on his forehead, as if his head were to fall off from the burden of his thoughts and he were making a desperate attempt to keep it in its place. The voice was heard hissing before speaking again: “You must be one of great powers to devastate an entire land like this. A wizard or a mighty sorcerer. Why don't you share a few tricks of yours with me?

I have no tricks to share, even more so with one who doesn't even dare show themselves before me.” He sighed softly and spoke some more: “I'm neither a wizard nor a sorcerer. I have no powers and no tricks to use. It was more a lack of power that led to this…” “Lack of power?”, asked the voice and grew quiet, but merely for a moment or two before speaking again, “Please, continue. This is getting interesting.” “It's not a matter of having done things. More like not doing the things I should have done. A lack of will, lack of courage to step up and get things done.” The voice was heard hissing, but it remained quiet for a little while to let him speak up on his own without interrupting him. “It was fear that crippled both my mind and body.

But its silence was short-lived, because the mention of fear in his words made it hiss again in frustration of the discussion going in circles, but also in amusement, since it kept revolving around his fears and that seemed to be a subject that interested its owner greatly. “What kind of fear?”, it asked. He laid his hand that was lying on his forehead down on his knee and snorted, “Several kinds. Some are simple fears, the kind that people can go through at least once in their lives, and they can be eventually overcome. But most are deeper, more profound, more persistent and more intense…” He sighed a little in the end. “What are your deeper fears then?”, asked the voice again, more and more intrigued about his story.

I'm afraid of what the future holds.”, he replied hesitatingly, “Not only for me, but also for the people I care about… the land…” He paused briefly and exhaled deeply, before continuing, “I fear that no matter what I do, it's never enough, it never contributes to anything, it's pointless. Completely… I have no power to do anything and many things currently depend on me, but I don't have the strength to do them. And now my land lies dead, because of my lack of will…” The voice responded to his word with a long hissing sound, before speaking: “Interesting. So, the land's survival depends only on your hands.

I didn't say such a thing…”, he replied with a slow shake of his head, “I just…” “But you did!”, interrupted the voice, “You said that your land lies dead because of YOUR lack of will.” “I didn't mean…”, he mumbled, feeling his fear creep back into both his mind and heart, and bent his chest closer to his knees, but the voice interrupted him again. “Do you really consider yourself so important that your own will or lack thereof is enough to cause the death of an entire land all by itself?”, asked the voice in a raised tone. “No, I-I-I…”, he muttered, bringing his knees much closer to his chest and hugging them with his arms, as if he could protect himself from the fear within.

And what's your land that you are talking so much about in the first place?”, said the voice and its owner made its appearance from behind the tree. It was a spider that had been talking to him all this time long; a big-sized one, since it could reach his waist if he stood up. It stood beside the massive darkened tree, waiting for his response and keeping itself outside of his field of view for the time being. “That would be Loreroot…”, he replied, mincing his words. “We are in Loreroot and this is the Oak Fort that we are standing by…” “Loreroot? Oak Fort?”, asked the spider pretending to be confused, but then added sharply: “What makes you so certain that you are in Loreroot, human?” He turned his head to the side to glance at the massive tree and muttered: “But… this tree…

The spider hissed so loudly, finding his reaction very amusing, as if it were feeding itself from his fears, and sounding like a madman laughing maniacally. “You aren't in Loreroot, it said, “and this isn't the Oak Fort, foolish human.” He turned his head to the other side to look at the source of the voice and, only then, he realised that it was a spider and that it had just revealed itself to him. He drew his sword as quickly as he could and pointed it at the spider's direction, but he didn't manage to utter a single word before the spider spoke again: “You are in Necrovion, mortal. You have been in Necrovion all this time long. And this”, it turned to the side, as if trying to point at the big darkened tree, “this is the Accursed Growth and it shall be your grave.

No! Go away!”, he exclaimed in fear, shaking his sword in his hand but still pointing its tip at the spider. “Do you really have what it takes to use your sword against me?”, responded the spider with a hiss and stepped a little closer to him. “Go away! Leave me alone!”, he shouted and crawled backwards, in order to increase the distance between himself and the spider, but his sword slipped through his hand in the process due to his fear that had begun to overwhelm him. “Holding your sword up so courageously, but slipping away so cowardly. Thinking that everything revolves around you and that it all depends on you, but being so unimportant in truth.”, the spider hissed loudly and moved a little closer to him, but he kept crawling away from it. “Stay away from me!

Do you really think that you are so important to your land? Your Loreroot has survived since time immemorial. It WILL survive, whether you do something for it or not. It will keep existing till the end of time, while you will have been long forgotten, if you will ever be remembered at all. Your passing through its woods will go unnoticed, exactly as it has for so many times already, while the forest itself will endure. You have no idea how insignificant you are to it. But, no, you must believe that its survival lies entirely on your own shoulders, yet you are too weak to ensure it.” Hearing the spider's words, fear overwhelmed him completely and, while he was trying to keep a fair distance from the spider, he entangled his arm in one of the tree's roots and couldn't find a way to free himself.

Leave me alone!”, he shouted in a desperate attempt to discourage the spider from harming him, but to no avail. “No, mortal, I'm not going to leave you alone. I have come to set you free; free from your pain, free from your fears. Yield to me!”, said the spider and lunged at him. “No!”, he yelled, unable to get away from it, and squirmed like a fish out of water, but the spider was too close for him to have a chance to free himself even at the last moment. “The dark tree will feed upon your remains once I'm done with you.”, stated the spider and made a firm hissing sound that felt like it was somebody laughing confidently.

No!”, he shouted again, his heart pounding in his chest like a big drum, and he kept squirming, but the spider had already entangled his legs in its silk and it had begun to spin him around to cover him in its webs. His fears had trapped him like the darkened tree's roots and overwhelmed him just like the spider's silk was covering his entire body. He was crippled in both body and mind and there was no way to save himself. The last thing that was heard before everything went black around him was his own desperate scream.

* * *

He opened his eyes with a gasp and a sudden bend of his upper body upwards from his resting position, his heart still pounding inside his chest and his breath heavy. He had a quick look around him, looking rather alarmed, as if there were somebody nearby threatening to kill him. There was a lot of green around him instead, even his hands had sunk in it, and even more blue in some distance from him, but nobody to be seen. He blinked a few times so that he could see more clearly. It was the green of grass and the blue of water. He sat on his knees and looked around to make certain. It was indeed the Oak Fort, its roots, the grass around them and the lake beyond the islet where the massive oak tree was proudly standing on.

It was all a dream…”, he muttered to himself and sighed softly in relief, “a terrible dream, but a lesson to be had.” He stood and dusted himself off with both hands. He looked at the massive oak tree and smiled, but both his mind and heart were still heavy from his dream with the spider. “A very useful lesson indeed.”, he said, as if talking to the tree, and patted its bark with his palm, “There is a lot of work to do, but… damned I will be if I do it, damned I will be if I don't.” He bent to pick up his walking stick with another soft sigh. He looked at the stick, remembering his experience with the spider, snorted and said to himself, his free hand pulling his hood over his head to cover his features: “Keep walking, old man. Above all else, keep walking.

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