He rested against a large oak. The sun was starting to set, which meant he had to look for shelter soon. He took out his small hunting knife and began slicing the apple he had in his satchel.
Each slice looked like a painting of an apple slice, that’s how precise his cutting was. His large hands wielded the small knife expertly. He was often complimented on woodwork and wielding his sword, but he would quickly change the subject. He didn’t want to dwell on how skilled he was. She even complimented him on it once and he abruptly changed the subject. The truth of the matter was that he had used his big, skilled hands to kill a dragon once. He hadn’t wanted it to happen and it was a mistake that he played over and over in his mind.
He heard footsteps behind him.
“Show yourself,” he said.
She walked out from behind the large oak and smiled at him.
“Hello,” he said. He was happy and wary to see her. It seemed every time they were around each other it would either lead to battle or a war of words. Then she would disappear into the mist. He didn’t want to repeat that for the hundredth time.
She didn’t immediately speak to him. She walked around feigning to be interested in the oaks around him, but continually taking glances at him.
“Walk with me,” he thought his comment comical. He was casually asking her to walk in a forest she’d trapped him in.
She nodded and followed him. They walked together for a while. The sun got farther and farther away with each step. The forest didn’t dim to a pitch black like expected. A purple hue began to radiate from around creating a glow that lit the forest as if from within. He was not scared and had even forgot they were to do something more than just exist. He stopped walking and faced her.
“Why did you come back?” Was his voice too harsh? The forest was always an even, balmy temperature, but he felt ice in his veins.
“Don’t I always?” She started walking in circles looking at the trees again.
She was correct. She would leave, then she would come back, then she would leave again. Her patterns had never changed, but his patience for it all had. He didn’t even remember why they were at war. It was all a blur and if put on the spot he couldn’t remember for how long it had been so. Years? Centuries? He’d lost track of time in this fortress of a forest.
He remembered meeting her for the first time. She was just a girl and she amused him. Then he learned that she was a sorceress and he killed her. He drowned her in the sea and felt an ice block form in his chest. Her appearance a while later trapping him in this forest was both a relief and maddening.
The day she arrived he was standing on a busy street. Where he was headed he no longer remembered. Through the lights she walked up to him and brought the hood of her cloak down. He was so happy to see her that he stopped thinking. He smiled at her and then everything around him changed. He’s been in the forest ever since.
He’s fought dragons. He’s helped villages get rid of werewolves, demons, and the like. There have been so many quests that the few times he’s gone up against her he’s forgotten what it is exactly he’s trying to accomplish. He won’t forget today.
“Talk to me.” It was the first time he had asked her to speak. Usually it was her speaking in riddles and he ignoring her and trying to figure out a motive. Today or tonight by the purple luminescence he was going to talk to her.
She instead played with the purple luminescence and made them change colors while she continued to dance around the forest.
“Why won’t you speak?”
She stopped dancing and stared at him. “ I no longer remember what to say.”
Spells aren’t cast without a price. Maybe the price she paid for trapping him in the forest was that she could no longer recall why. He didn’t need to understand, he just needed to end this entrapment.
“You can’t remember can you?”
She spun in circles to the point that he almost got dizzy watching her. She stopped and looked directly at him, “I remember everything.”
That’s all she said. Then she stood there quietly and said no more.
“Do you want to share it with me?” he asked.
She looked shy, like she might leave again, but she didn’t. She stood studying him for a moment.
“Okay.” she replied.
He smiled and walked towards her. Out of habit he reached for the hilt of his sword as he stood up and she caught it and took two steps back, a questioning look bordering on fear in her eyes.
She was going to flee. She would leave again. He didn’t know what to do and relied on instinct. He reached out and grabbed her.
“Never be afraid of me.” he said.
She looked up into his eyes and moved closer, putting her nose right up next to his. She didn’t say anything, she just stood in place with her nose touching his.
He wanted to say something. He wanted something to be made of this moment. All of the memories of however long this had been playing out came crashing through his mind.
There was rumbling everywhere as if his mind and heart were literally shaking out of him onto the forest floor. Still gripping her arms he looked down and saw the cracks in the dirt. The roots of the trees were ripping out of the ground and the earth was shaking.
“Follow me,” she said. She reached for his hand. He believed her, but he didn’t know if she knew what she was asking.
The portal she came in and out of opened behind her. He had learned so much yet nothing at all during this short time. She wasn’t mad at him, she might actually care for him, but when she went through the portal she came back and they started from the beginning.
“Don’t go,” he said. She was still hanging on to his hands.
He was closer to the portal than he ever had been before. He saw large buildings, moving objects, and thousands of people walking around.
“I don’t think I can do that, but I won’t forget. None of this. I will always remember.” She kept looking at the portal and then back at him.
He didn’t know if she could keep that promise, but he knew that he could. He would remember, he would remind her, and this fortress would break.
“Tell me. Tell me what I should do.” There wasn’t much time.
The wind was pulling at her hair and it was harder for him to hang onto her.
“I think the key is that you will have to talk to me.”
He would have to speak. He would remember that. That was not hard.
The portal was pulling her even harder now. She grabbed his arm and used it as an anchor to pull herself closer. She touched her nose to his again and smiled. She tilted her head to the side and leaned in and then she vanished.
The portal was gone and so was she.
The luminescent lights started floating towards him. He leaned against the tree and the lights covered him. The closer they got the more he could hear their whispers. He was getting drowsy.
“Don’t forget. Follow her. Talk to her, let her know everything she can’t remember that I can now remember. It’s all real.” His eyes began to close and soon he was sleeping by the large oak tree with the luminescent flower lights covering him. He did not know when he would wake, but he feel asleep chanting the things that he should remember for next time. The forest slept as well.