He heard of a legend, a legend where a great spirit had dwelt deep within a forest Emot Emoc. The spirit, however, was nameless. Legend has it that the spirit was cursed from ever to be seen from those who never believed in the nameless spirit, and cursed to ever rest unless those who believe would come forth with a story.
"Now if I heard correctly," said the barkeeper, "one must tell a story to the great spirit. If told correctly, then the spirit would grant him a cure, but if he were to tell it incorrectly, well, it'd be to the contrary--death."
"But what story is that to be told to the spirit?"
The barkeeper spat into the mug. "How should I know? I don't believe."
This puzzled the man, but the barkeeper was overall enigmatic himself. Nevertheless, the man contemplated deeply. It was a rather large village, he thought, hardly anyone has the time for such nonsense, or even stories, not like his daughter had. Surely, Death hovers upon my daughter if I refuse to care for her any further. With a quest in some consideration, he stood from his seat.
"Leaving so soon, lad?" asked the barkeeper.
"I have to return home. My daughter needs me most now."
He began digging in his pockets for some coins when the barkeeper shook his head. "No, need, Hamish," said the barkeeper despite the man had the coins ready.
"Like you says, your daughter needs you most."
Hamish was a humble man, though many in his village had asked several times 'why be so modest?' His answer was no more than a cordial grin, though for one to have truly known the man, it was a weary grin, for his daughter was very ill. For now, the only remedy was hot soup, herbal tea, and a good story, so in case if she were to die, she would rest peacefully with them. Stories every night seemed to serve the best for the ill-fated pair, daughter and father. There's only enough money in his pocket to help one body, but in his mouth stories were plentiful and never did they seem to run empty. The father told hundreds of stories, recited passages and poems, word for word.
If this legend had truly rested somewhere within Emot Emoc, he thought, then forward he must go--"To Emot Emoc," said the man to his daughter.
The daughter grinned; it was a great story, something different, but then she frowned. "Is that all? Whatever will happen to the knight?"
"That part is for when I return," said her father, kissed her gently on her forehead.
"Where are you going, Father?" she asked--the fifteenth time. Already her memories were going, faster than he was leaving.
Father managed a tender grin. "Remember," he said. "To Emot Emoc."
"Is that all? What ever will happen to the knight?"
"That is for when I return."
"Tomorrow," said Hamish, though she'll ask again tomorrow the same, and the day after that. To his sister, he asked, "Please look after her. I won't be long," then left with no more than a dagger, walking stick, and a blanket wrapped with the other necessities needed for the journey to Forest Emot Emoc.
The weather wasn't much of a bother, and he was in no hurry though he hoped along the way he'd meet someone who might believe in such legends, who knew exactly what story to tell to the nameless spirit. There was, in fact, someone privy--a hex, said the villagers of a small town though they wished him Godspeed. "Where you seek, there is no turning back." The man stopped. "Pardon?"
"Oh, not the witch," they scoffed. "The Forest."
Perhaps they only know half of the legend, he thought, and went assertively to the hex.
"You wish to know the story to tell before the nameless spirit?" said the little woman, the hex. Her eyes had gone but they said she wielded a strong perception of the world and its secrets already. She asked, “Why, yes. And what for?" For a moment, he believed she desired something in exchange, but she only shook her head. "No. Why do you seek this quest?" she asked.
"My daughter. She's ill," he replied.
She was then satisfied and answered, "Your entire quest is what you will tell to the nameless spirit. At the heart of the Forest, you will tell to the nameless spirit."
He meant to hand her a few coins, but she shook her head. “The quest you seek is already too costly," said the hex. He then left quickly before she could change her mind. He was baffled to have ever met such generous hex, but it felt to him as if she only sealed his fate.
She said he would know when he had reached the Forest, and indeed, he had after four days of wandering. The Forest was dead; its limbs were decrepit and petrified in an aching position. Days ago, he heard the birdsongs cease to a silence that seemingly owned a voice to which he was drawn. He could hear it ever so lucidly now, "Come... to me."
He hesitated for the moment but upon remembering his quest in songs, he proceeded into the Forest assertively. Darkness devoured him, leaving his shadow to abandon him and a cold blanket of air cast, so cold it revealed his breath. He believed he was close to the heart of the Forest when he heard a voice, as clear as his own.
"Right there, will do." The man then stopped frigidly when he noticed a white face emerge slowly from the bore of the great tree before him. Its eyelids were peeled away, its lips as well revealing gums woven shut together with black, thorn vines through top to bottom. The nameless spirit was horrid as any spirit would be within such ghastly forest, but the man believed it was intended for the frightened to turn away and be stabbed to the back.
"Hm. You are different," said the spirit, approaching slowly and eerily continued drifting this way. The man, disgusted, took steps back. "I expect a rather interesting story from you."
The man assumed if he didn't tell it quickly, the spirit at arm's length could apprehend him. Thus, the man Hamish began, "There once was a man. . ."
"Was there?" chuckled the spirit. "Ever wondered how he was to end?"
Frankly, the man hadn't the slightest idea, but he continued as best he could. When the spirit was only shy from touching him, Hamish ended it in this fashion: "--And for his daughter to be well, he rested his good life upon hers. The end."
The spirit stopped. "Well, well. . . I've never been so impressed. I say, that is quite a journey but to end so suddenly, and yet, with much courage. Hm. I like." The spirit handed him what looked like a tooth. "Here. Ground this, serve it within her meal. You've spoken well. . . Hamish." With that, the spirit vanished, and the tooth Hamish hastily took back home. However, home he could hardly find when a thick crowd had shrouded around it. An incoherent mumbling rose about them but they quickly quieted in Hamish’s coming. He found the barkeeper at his door, and the door wide open.
“What’s this?” asked the man.
He could already see it in his eyes— something appalling. The barkeeper murmured sullenly. “Something’s happened . . . to your sister. We assumed she’d taken ill, got struck with a relentless fever. It drove her mad. We’ve taken her body already—”
“My daughter. What about my daughter? Is she all right? Tell me!”
Barkeeper hesitated. “I didn’t want to move her until you came. There’s something you need to see.”
Rather than creaking, the floor cracked and crunched like gravel. In fact, there were teeth strewn throughout the corridors. “We sort your sister had an infection growing in her gums, hence the fever,” explained the barkeeper.
“Gums?” gulped Hamish.
“Her teeth had fallen out apparently.”
Then they stopped. The daughter’s bedroom door was closed. The father had given himself a minute to grow immune to the dead stench that waited inside, and then proceeded. It only took a crack in the door to allow in enough stenches to kill a tree.
As he peered inside, it was as if he’d gone in circles in his quest, returning to the Forest and meeting the spirit face to face once more, as it now lay in his daughter’s bed. He immediately averted his eyes, seeing the peeled eyelids, skinned lips and the gums woven shut together.
ih8u 17:39, September 20, 2014 (UTC)