“The forest was full of mist flowing between strong trunks. The branches of the trees reached steadily upwards, devoid of any greenery. They reached like a skeletal hand towards the hidden dark sky above. There was no light yet she was able to see everything. Around her there was nothing but the signs of death. The ground appeared burnt, the trees appeared dead, no animals skittered around her. There was nothing in the forest but her and the mist.
She sat down on the cold, dry ground. She was alone, completely alone. There was nothing to stop her from being herself here. She smiled as she whispered into the thin air. She whispered her thoughts to no one in particular, pretending that there was someone there who would be able to hear what she said. They felt meaningless to her. They solved nothing. She was alone and that was worse than being surrounded by people. At least then someone would hear her bitter cries for help and her sobbing grief.
She stood up with tears dotting the edge of her eyes. She wiped them away gently with her hands. She would be okay. She was always okay. She began walking into the unknown mists and forest surrounding her. Her eyes scanned everything to help her discover where she was. This wasn’t Coedfan, this wasn’t even the meadow that surrounded Coedfan. This was nowhere like any place that Caeda had ever been. If there was such a dead place in Ingrew she had never heard about it from those at the university.
Her mind moved from possibility to possibility as she walked carefully between the trunks, under branches, and over roots. Maybe this was where the soul went after the body died. But that would mean that she had died. She was dead wasn’t she? But that would mean that her spirit would be in a state of utter eternal happiness, which it wasn’t in right now. She felt only fear. Maybe she was being punished for all the bad things she had done. But Caeda knew that she tried to do nothing but good during her life.
Then a quiet though pushed its way through those other thoughts. Maybe this was only a dream, maybe she hadn’t died after all. She continued walking as she her thoughts went deeper and deeper. The problem with that theory is that she had read research on dreams and the places found in dreams are representations of places the subject had been before. She had never been here or to a place like here, so she wasn’t dreaming. But maybe it was magic.
Magic gave people the power to make others see things they had never seen before. Only magic could make her see a forest like none she had ever seen before, but she knew of no magic that was powerful enough to create a whole world like this from scratch.
She was pulled from her thoughts as a sound echoed through the trees. It sounded like nothing that could have come from an elf or an animal. It droned like a swarm of angry bees, only it carried with it no hint of life. She heard branches cracking somewhere further into the forest. She felt a hint of fear disguised as curiosity. Whatever it was she didn’t want to be there to see it, however she also wanted to know what it was. She froze as a battle played out in her mind.
Her instincts of survival won out overall. She turned and ran like there was nothing else in the world. She held her hands in front of her. She pushed away from the trees. She couldn’t see where she was going. Her legs were getting sore, but she had not yet ran out of strength. She could hear it chase her. She did not look back. She ran. She ran fast. She ran for her life.
Her foot hooked on the root of a tree and she tumbled to her knee. She felt her ankle snap and she cried out in pain. There would be no more running. All was lost. She stayed as still as possible as she heard whatever it was come up behind her. It roared in her ear, a roar that sounded like death itself. Her breath flew out of her lungs but did not return. This was the end.
She heard the twang of a bowstring and the whistle of an arrow flying through the air. She ducked down, hiding from which was after her. Something fell behind her, thunking when it hit the ground.”
This is the second earliest draft that I can find related to my current project. If you are wondering why this piece ends in a cliffhanger I guess I just never finished writing it. This version was based off of the depression/anxiety I was suffering from at the time. I think this is about the same time where I merged two ideas I had together. One that I had based off a strange character name I came up with and one which I came up with in a dream (literally that is what happened).
The idea was that there was an epidemic of children being diagnosed with shattered souls. The idea of shattered souls was based off of depression and if someone had a shattered soul they would be unmotivated to do anything, unresponsive to everything, and be inactive to the point of starvation, exhaustion, and wasting away. Obviously this is based on a severe version of depression.
I think I wrote this either in late 2014 or early 2015. There is no way for me to know for sure.