White Stag #7

The antlered woman stirred the long oar into the deep, cool water. With each stroke, the water rippled, but oddly, almost as if it consisted of thick oil.

Earlier, they had climbed up the mossy hills from were they had stood, and then the creature led her through endless twists and turns within the forest. Sade could barely keep up. She feared blinking for the sheer terror of losing sight of the woman. Her feet had moved with the deft silence of a deer unlike Sade’s clumsy clunking about. Sade had boarded onto a small, wooden boat made of dark walnut wood.

rain

Now, without emitting a sound, the woman swept the oar through the waters, and they made their way towards the forest that was underwater. Sade sat back, staring agape at the tree tops poking out of the water while their trunks were submerged; a few branches poked out from the murky depths like barren and lonely poles. It was like nothing she had ever seen before.

The sky above them had changed to a cold, depthless blue, and clouds rumbled in the distance, threatening rain. A sudden flash of lightning lit up the sky, and Sade was surprised to hear whimpering. It would have never come from the deer-like woman in front of her; a creature like that would surely be too proud to emit such a noise. She glanced all around her, and then saw a group of small, furry creatures clutching onto the leaves of the trees. Their faces and ears were similar to that of bats, and their eyes were larger than their face seemed capable of holding. Their tiny hands gripped at the leaves while a merciless gust of wind attempt to shake their round, fuzzy bodies from their sanctuary.

“We have to help them! They’ll drown!” Sade shouted unexpectedly, shoving her hair away from her face. She turned to get the stag-woman’s attention but discovered that she was already staring at her with her glittering axinite-brown eyes. It was as if the woman were considering her.

“They are your tenants. And these, your lands. Your people are drowning,” her strange voice was hard when she said it, but Sade could hear the gentlest layer of sympathy affected it.

“How can I have people?” roared Sade, “How the hell are these my lands? I don’t know what those things even are, but I know that they are drowning.”

“You caused this,” the woman extended her slender fingers indicating to the watery forests all around them. Sade looked all around her and saw the tops of trees barely over the surface of the growing waters. The sky rumbled louder and a whip of lightning crackled above. In the distance, she could see a pair of boulders not too far, and for a moment, she could have sworn another horned figure stood atop the rocks; but this time, the creature’s eyes were not brown, they glowed red.

Sade glanced back to the woman, and she stared off in the exact spot that Sade had looked in, but if she saw anything, she made no mention of it.

“I did not cause this. Maybe things-people like you can, but humans can’t cause forest floods.” The small creatures were now trembling atop the tree. They couldn’t be more than a few feet away.

The woman patiently gazed at her now, “Whether you are human or not is no matter. Your body is tied to this forest due to your sacrifice.”

“What the HELL does that mean?” Sade demanded.

The woman stood up in a huff, clearly not accustomed to being spoken to in such a rude manner, especially by a human child. An annoying human child. The boat rocked, and the smallest amount of water splashed against Sade’s knee, leaving it muddy. She firmly regretted not wearing pants. At least her brother’s –a stab of pain– Nirvana shirt was oversized enough to be a near dress.

“It means,” her dreadful voice vibrated against Sade’s ears, “that you made this maelstrom, now you fix it.”

And with that she vanished.

Sade was left saying words far worse than any twelve-year-old should be allowed.

***

If you would like to read installments of White Stag, check out my page above under “White Stag Installations.” Stay tuned for more White Stag each Thursday. Thank you for reading !

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Leshy

The Leshy (also known as Lesovik or Lezca) is a woodland spirit who is also a guardian of their forest. These lords of the forest are typically depicted to look satyr-like, with dark, jade eyes and are often covered with leaves and other foliage.

They’re known to be tricksters, so forest visitors should be wary. Leshiye do not like to be bothered by humans, so they live deep within their forests; however, when bothered, they are known to erase a traveler’s footprints, so the human becomes lost in their forest.

leshy

According to the Encyclopedia Britannia, the Leshy can be identified by the following, “…though he often has the appearance of a man, his eyebrows, eyelashes, and right ear are missing, his head is somewhat pointed, and he lacks a hat and belt. In his native forest the Leshy is as tall as the trees, but, the moment he steps beyond, he shrinks to the size of grass.” Though, I must say a man covered in live vegetation would probably be easy to recognize as a Leshy.

Still, others claim it is easier to hear or even feel the presence of a Leshy than spot one. In “Storytelling: An Encyclopedia of Mythology and Folklore” the author states, “His voice might imitate the rustle of the leaves or the sighting of the wind in the trees.” People claim that when the forest feels as if it were closing in on you, or as if the very trees were watching you, then a Leshy is not too far away.

People have met their deaths by the Lord of the Forest, fore the creature has led people astray, lured them to dangerous spots, kidnapped women and even tickled them to death…which is strangely macabre and adorable all at once….

Thankfully, even YOU, the fantasy traveler, can prevent a Leshy attack by simply adhering to the following guidelines:

  • Carry some bread to give as a gift (Leshiye love carbs)
  • Wear one’s clothes inside out or backwards (they think this is hilarious and that often breaks their malicious intentions)
  • Provide them with squirrels (this one has not been tested but Leshiye have gambled one another for winning the other’s forest squirrels which is why you see squirrels darting from one tree to another)

leshy-baba-yaga

 

Works Cited:

Conway, D. J. Magickal, Mystical Creatures: Invite Their Powers into Your Life. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 2001. Print.

The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Leshy.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 20 July 1998. Web. 23 Jan. 2017.

Sherman, Josepha. Storytelling: an encyclopedia of mythology and folklore. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2008. Print.

Anxiety

This weekend has been a bit rough with my anxiety, but despite the crappy feelings, I’ve managed to do the following:

  • Vacuumed
  • Make lunch for the next two days
  • Have dinner ready for next two days
  • Make an aggressive financial plan
  • Go to the gym
  • Attend a baby shower
  • Make outfits for the week
  • Graded 40 short responses prior to the weekend
  • Fixed phone problem
  • Made lessons for the remainder of the week
  • Made PowerPoints for the remainder of the week
  • Made worksheets for the remainder of the week

Here is what I’d like to do tonight:

  • Blog for pleasure
  • Read for pleasure
  • Get a good night’s rest

Here is what I’d like to do tomorrow:

  • Workout
  • Meditate
  • Get ready for work
  • 5 am writer’s club

Things to look forward to this weekend:

  • Seeing my mom for mani-pedis
  • Reading for pleasure each night
  • Writing and updating my blogs
  • Reading amazing work from writer’s group
  • Continuing revisions with my manuscript

White Stag Installations 1-5

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

-Robert Frost

No one spoke as the trees passed by in a blur, especially twelve-year-old Sade. But, she didn’t deserve words. That day, she had worn the itchy black tights, and the stiff, black dress, and she hadn’t uttered a word. The dress felt as if it were trying to crush her ribs, or perhaps that was just the ache resonating from her devastated heart. Her Aunt and Uncle were silent as the trees in the forest on their drive back to their home, Sade’s new home.

She pressed her forehead against the cool car window, observing the tall, silent trees; trees that were so exaggerated in height they seemed to reach the heavens. She wished it were true. That way she could join them. That way it wouldn’t be her fault. Her eyes burned at the thought. Grief crept up her throat like a shivering worm, and the sadness trembled through her.

Suddenly, a silver white blur glided through the trees. It seemed to follow the car at every turn; she had assumed that it was just the well of tears in her eyes, distorting her vision. The car slowed as it reached a blaring red light, and she wiped away at her face. The mist rose from the freshly rained on earth; the ground that moments earlier they had been lowered into, and Sade could have sworn that her heart lay there as well. Fog curled around the creature’s hooves. A white stag stared at her amid the powerful trees; its eyes were endless, and she felt that she could fall into them and hurtle away for an eternity.

“Sadie,” her Aunt began. The girl turned her face to stare at the wisp of a woman but couldn’t hear her words. Sade turned back to the woods, and the creature had vanished. But she felt intuition ripple through her, she needed to find it again. She would find it again.

Installment Two: The Forest Calls

The water roared out of the faucet, drowning out Sade’s thoughts as she stared at her reflection in the mirror. How many days had it been since she had seen the stag? Two? Three? Yet, she couldn’t expunge the memory from her mind. Often, she would gaze towards the thick forests surrounding her Aunt’s and Uncle’s quaint home, hoping she would see the silver creature; but there was nothing except for the shiver of the leaves in the trees, and the loneliness in her heart.

She glared at her reflection. People had always told her that she had inherited her mother’s long black hair; her mother had worn it down to her hips, and Sade had followed suit. She had inherited her father’s round face, as well as his freckles; they were scattered across her nose. People always told her she was beautiful and exotic-looking; her mother was Japanese and her father was Scottish. Her older brother Shaw, people joked, had looked like the male version of her. But, she didn’t care about all of that. All she saw when she looked at herself was them. But she was stuck here.

She held the scissors closer to her hair and hacked a massive slice off. A mischievous grin lit up her face. It was the first time that she had felt something other than grief in days. She kept slicing away at her raven colored hair until it was no longer hip length, but just slightly under her ears; she didn’t even recognize herself anymore. She looked like a boy, like the younger version of Shaw. The strands fell on the floor in great heaps. Hurriedly, she snatched them up, and in just her brother’s oversized t-shirt she walked outside holding here severed ebony hair.

The grass was cool and wet against her feet. She marched to the border of the forest and the cottage property, and with animal-like ferocity, threw her strands of hair into the dark woods. The sky rumbled above like a wolf’s growl stuck in its throat and within seconds icy drops fell from the sky. A hand wrapped around Sade’s wrist forcing her to turn around.

“What are you doing? What have you done to your hair?” Her Aunt cried. Worry carved into her face as she tugged Sade back inside of the house.

From among the forest leaves, an ivory colored hand emerged; the skin was as white as bone. Thin, elegant fingers wrapped around the child’s dark hair and pulled it into the evergreen forest, disappearing.

Installation Three: Forest of Light

The sounds of wheels screeching against the ground resounded in her ears, and then there were the headlights that blared down on her eyes. The lights that kept her from slumber.

Sade sat upright in bed, wiping the sweat from her forehead. Another nightmare. Peering towards the window, she saw the first streaks of dawn. She rubbed her eyes, exhausted and worn. Turning the alarm clock towards her, the red numbers blinked 3:00 A.M. at her. How was it so bright out if it was still night?

Suddenly, the flutter of small paper wings hit her wall, and a speck of light buzzed on and off against the cheap paint. She jumped out of bed, still only wearing her brother’s Nirvana shirt, and with bleary eyes peered to find a firefly flapping clumsily against the wall. How had it gotten in? Blearily, she glanced towards the only window in the room, and outside of the pane a horde of fireflies batted their wings furiously against the glass; it was like listening to the patter of rain. There were so many, she felt herself gasp. With hesitating steps, she inched closer to window, and the pattering seemed to grow louder.

A strong gust burst the window open, and the fireflies dispersed, humming as they flew further away. A breeze moved the oversized sleeves of the black t-shirt she word; it still smelled like her brother. The singular firefly buzzed past her, attempting to reach its brothers.

And like a kite on a string, her heart was pulled by the tiny insect. Frantically, she bounded after it, hoisting herself painfully out of the too small window, fearing that if she were too slow she would lose sight of the small bug. She collided with the wet ground, mud crawling up her pale knees. Wincing she stood, and gasped at what she saw; the entire forest was lit with lightning bugs. It was as if every leaf glowed with an electric radiance. Her entire face was aglow from all of the light that they emitted when abruptly they began to swarm together, and make their way into the forest.

Sade wouldn’t be left behind.

Installation Four: Spectral Glow

Though it was spring, it was as if the forest’s heart were stuck in winter; and Sade’s chilled bare feet grew increasingly numb. Despite the cold, Sade’s attention was focused on the swarm of glowing insects flapping their wings together and emitting a papery whisper; it was something that Sade had never seen or heard before. And before she had realized it, she had run deep into the darkness of the endless evergreen forest.

forest(Art by Ivan Bilibin)

She glanced all around her, noting the proud ferns and the graceful branches of birch trees. And then her throat suddenly grew dry as she remarked that the lightning bugs were now flying faster than she could keep up. As their light dimmed, a shadow darted past her. The dark shape brought with it a gust of frozen winter air. Sade bit her lip from nerves. Had she just seen that? As if in response to her unspoken question another thick shadow rushed past her. The leaves of the forest trembled, and then to her horror, they all stopped at once leaving the forest all too entirely silent.

Even, her breathing felt too loud. A chill coated her spine, and she had the sensation that someone was watching her. Whirling around, she saw a darkness nestled between two white birch trees, blacker and colder than the night around her. The eyeless creature moved its head towards her as if he could see her, and stretched its hooked hand out to her. She took a step back with her breath catching in her throat and a different shadowy hand hooked around her shoulder, burning her. Sade released a scream as the thing’s spectral touch began to scorch through her brother’s old shirt.

A sudden burst of white dashed through the trees.  It was blindingly white like a perfect field of snow. For a moment, Sade couldn’t distinguish what it was, and then she saw: a white stag.  The elegant creature lifted its front legs up and kicked back the shadow tucked in the trees. The stag’s antlers were glorious; Sade had never seen antlers so massive and so intricate. It was as if the creature wore a never-ending crown upon its head. The snowy doe swiped its hoof against the ground, and lowered her antlers in a silent threat towards the shadows. The shades darted back hissing, revealing monstrous fanged and fiery mouths. It was as if their throats held a swirling flame embedded in their maw, powering them. And It was the singular moment Sade could truly distinguish them apart from the dark.

Cautiously, the deer bleated in Sade’s direction and stared at the girl with an intelligence and wisdom that the young girl had never seen before in an animal. The stag’s endless black eyes were like the star speckled nighttime sky above them. The illustrious deer lowered itself as if…as if telling Sade to get on. Cautiously, Sade walked towards the stag. It hadn’t flinched at her approach, like most deer would have. She tapped the stag’s antlers like she was testing it to see if it would bolt. Miraculous, it remained there, waiting. Ever so slightly, the brilliant creature turned its head towards Sade and grunted, urging her to hurry.

A branch snapped nearby them, and Sade glanced over her shoulder in panic. More shadows swirled in the back of the forest. The dark things opened their mouths and growled revealing the swirling heat in their throats. Sade didn’t have the luxury to question the impossible events occurring.

She wrapped around her fingers around the perfect antlers, and climbed onto the creature’s warm back, and then they disappeared with the wind.

Installation Five: Terrible Vassal

The stag moved with an impressive speed and grace. It hopped over logs with barely a glance in its direction. It was as if the forest were but a dance floor to the creature, weaving in an out of trees with a speed that made it difficult for Sade to even exhale.

At one point, Sade peered behind them, and she had almost fainted from fright. The shadows engulfed them, reaching out to them with their clawed fingers and fiery mouths. Their translucent, shadowy bodies stretched towards the two fugitives, hoping to scratch them. After that, Sade had promised she would no longer look back. She pressed her eyes firmly shut as the deer swiftly ran; tears burned at the corner of the young girl’s eyes from fear.

Then, suddenly, the stag was no longer beneath her, and the girl was rolling and tumbling about on the floor.  Leaves, twigs and dirt clung to Sade as she spun on the forest ground, until finally the rolling halted. Daring a glance, she scanned what was around. There was no sign of the white stag or the shadows.  Her head was still spinning when a burst of white lit up the forest. Black spots blurred her vision, or at least that was what she thought it was before realizing that the air was actually glittering; the breeze glimmered with a static sparkle.

Sade looked towards the light, and saw the stag jumping up on its hind legs, followed by another bright flash of silvery light revealing a woman. She stood exactly where the stag had stood moments earlier. Long, white hair fell behind her shoulders and past her waist, and atop her head were the same magnificent snow-white antlers that Sade had held onto. She was pale, and her dress billowed all around her. But what caught Sade’s attention most were the woman’s eyes; they were strange; her dark irises were larger than that of a human’s and resembled more of a deer’s eyes than anything else.

A honey scented breeze blew towards Sade as she took a step closer toward the trembling girl. The woman was impossibly tall, perhaps, even taller than seven feet. She wrapped her cool hand around Sade’s wrist and jerked her up to standing position. Sade stared. Absolutely astonished by the brightness illuminating from the woman’s skin.

“You have been a terrible vassal,” the woman chastised in a voice dripping with otherworldly beauty.

 

 

 

White Stag Installation #6

“Vassal?” Sade trembled; her throat was dry as she croaked out her question.

“Yes, tiresome girl,” the antlered woman leaned in closer; her strange dark-brown eyes focused on Sade. “You have given the forest your word, and the gift was returned to you, only for you to squander it!”

Sade was having difficulty simply looking at the exotic yet terrifying creature. It must be a nightmare, she thought in the panicked confines of her mind while eyeing the massive length of the creature’s antlers.

The woman appeared to sense this, but she didn’t falter, “What have you to say for yourself?” She raised her chin, glowering down at the girl. Her neck was long and beautiful like that of a swan.

At first, Sade didn’t even hear the question. She was still too busy staring at the antlers on top of the woman’s head. Clearly, it must be some type of bizarre headband, or this was a dream. Either or.

The woman’s nostrils flared, and Sade realized she was waiting for her response. “Gift? I don’t know what you are talking about.”

The antlered woman raised herself to her full height. She was well over seven feet tall, and Sade’s words appeared to strike her like a sudden arrow. The creature revealed her hand and held lengthy, black locks of hair that had been twisted into a long obsidian braid.

For a while, the young girl stared at it in mute confusion not realizing what it was, and then the realization jolted her. “Is that my hair?”

In a soft voice, the woman answered, “You offered a piece of yourself to the forest, and we accepted. It is what we always ask for before we offer a piece of the forest to you. In return, you are in charge of leading the Southern section of the forest.”

Sade burst out laughing, now positive that the encounter was not physically occurring. Her? A leader? She could barely stay of detention. “Leading? What do you mean?”

The antlered creature widened her eyes, “You don’t know?” Sade shook her head. “Protecting your lands, child” the woman breathed. Her ivory skin was paler than the freshest coat of snow, and her effulgent, obsidian eyes bore down on the girl.

“My what?”

“You’re the leader of the Southern quadrant, and your lands are in trouble.” The hair vanished from the creature’s hands as if it were never there. “Come, sapling we must go there now. I fear the situation has grown out of control, so we must travel by boat.”

“Boat.” Sade repeated dumbly.

“Your lands are underwater.”


If you would like to read installments 1-5 of White Stag, check out my page above under “White Stag Installations.” Stay tuned for more White Stag each Wednesdays at 6pm. Thank you for reading!