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.
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 !