Opposite Cults
By Deandre Sanchez
Date: August 7, 2016
Ch. 11

She was wrong to be here. It had been forbidden. The laws of her house were always strict and to the point: No wandering after the twilight succumbs to the dark but she had always been a naughty little girl. It had been her habit since childhood to defy the rules, question them and if they were illogical, try arguing with the elders about the incorrect logic.
When she was a little girl, she had asked her grandmother why one should not wander after darkness covers the earth and then she would listen to stories about the nightly terrors that prowled outside in the forests, monsters and ghosts. All telltales she had thought then; stories told to children to scare them. She was not scared then. She was unlike other children of her age. She was smarter, stronger and her heart never faltered.
Despite what her elders warned, she used to sneak out of the house through the small round windows of her room after everyone went to bed which she thought was too early to sleep. The nights were always cool even when the days lingered in the long summers they had in their place for the small village of Nockbury was situated in the southern tropical regions of the world.
Tonight however was weird and unusual. Storms were only heard of in seaports and cities on the coast but a storm had never ventured so far deep inland. She had heard of land-storms but those were seldom seen either. It was unusual now at this time of the year. Summer had just started and the winds if any were dry and full of dust.
But tonight was different. The winds howled and the night grew chillier than usual. It was almost like winter was coming back. The leaves upon the trees rustled and made a loud noise. The stars could not be seen which dampened her moods. She loved to see the twinkling stars from amidst the gap between the trees. She had wandered far tonight and a thought crossed her young mind that she ought to be racing back to home. Thunders and lightning smote the sky and if by that sound if anybody woke up in the house, they would rush to her room and find out that she was gone. Then she would be in a lot of trouble. And she did not want to be.
She turned around only to notice that she had wandered deep into the forest, farther than she usually went. She could not see the small clearing where the ground was laced with flowery shrubs and cool grass where she used to lie down and watch the stars floating in the blue night sky. There was a golden lamp shining far away but she knew that was not her home. Perhaps a cabin in the woods. Some people still dwelt in the forests remembering the old ways. They seldom came into the small village she stayed in and sometimes, she thought they were weird people. They had long black hair that reached almost to their waists and their skin was far duskier than those she normally saw. She had heard legends about them; about how they were descended from the first folk that came to live here. She wanted to meet one of them. In fact, her hope was that in her wanderings in the forest, she would meet one. But her hope had failed and night after night passed and she still had not talked with one. The night skies and the cool winds comforted her however and she began to like her forays into the forest.
She retraced her footsteps in the direction she deemed right. Her sense of direction was keen and she knew she could not be wrong and even if she was, she could always seek out the help of the forest folk. She cursed herself in her mind for having wandered this deep into the forest.
Her feet made more noise than she ever did. She was usually smooth in her footfalls and she seldom made any noise. She had perfected the art of ranging. In fact, her ambition was to become a ranger. Ever since her childhood, that profession had interested her. The rangers worked under the Sheriff, the local guardsman and authority of crime although crimes were rare and disputes were easily settled. The sheriff was just a nominal figure and always one who had skills with negotiation. The rangers, however, hunted food in the forests but when a criminal did appear in the village, they were tasked with finding and capturing him. Their skills were great, she had heard and she had aspired to be like them. She liked to sneak around people, which earned her a good amount of appreciation as well as ridicule. People grew angry whenever she did that. Her skills in stealth were unparallel among most people. When she had told her parents she wanted to become a Ranger, they had downplayed it. They told her being a ranger was a responsible and dangerous job. Hunting was never easy and there were risks of being killed. They had narrated a story of a young man who was tusked by a wild boar. She had held her face in sadness and even that did not move their parents to accept what she believed was her destiny. Dangerous or not, she was going to become a Ranger and nothing on earth was going to stop her.
Her feet dug deep into the cold moss that had accumulated on the ground. She found it strange. A storm had been unusual but cold moss? The night was stemming with weirdness yet no fear crossed her heart. She ran regardless of the noise she made. Her only thought was bent upon her house a few miles away if she were true.
How she had wandered that deep into the forest, she did not know. What was happening to her? She remembered the tales of the creatures of the night. Was there any truth to it? Did they exist upon this earth? She had ridiculed them before thinking such evil would not mar the beautiful earth but what if they did? Did they have strange powers? Was the cold moss a sign? Thinking about it, was the storm of the connivance? Did they lead her hither so deep? Questions, questions, questions! She did not want to know the answers. She just wanted to get to her house and the comforts of her feather bed covered with white linen.
As she ran, she noticed a strange green light upon her right. She stopped and bent on the ground. Picking up the gem, she looked at it and the crystal entranced her. She grew curious as to its owner but she began to think the owner would not have cared otherwise he would have come back for it. She quickly put it back into her pockets and that was the moment when she heard the sound of a rustle. At first she thought it was just the wind that howled, the noise which the storm usually brings but as the sound sank into her mind it became more evident that it was the sound made by an animal or a human. She turned back to look in the direction from whence she came. There was nobody. No sign of whoever made that sound. She huffed and clutching her blue gown, she ran again.

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