The Rest of Forever: Chapter 6
Sneaking into the King’s Forest, at first, seemed easy. Ambrose thought that leaving at night would be a surefire way of leaving the estate with no one taking notice. She had that sense of ease until she remembered of the house rules. The Vine family had a lockdown mandate. The doors were locked from the inside and if any doors were unlocked by anyone other than the head staff, they were locked away.Lord Vine permitted nothing in or out of the castle after mid-evening with this threat. Any threat against the Vine household was a threat against the King, or so the household was told. Ambrose was stuck trying to figure out what she could do to leave. It was only when one of the twins was bullying her with embarrassing mundane tasks that she was able to plan properly.
“Why doesn’t your family come work here? We have plenty of room for more servants,” he sneered.
“I could certainly ask young master. They live in a neighboring city,” Ambrose replied meekly.
The twin had smiled then, perhaps thinking himself brilliant and congratulating his “cheap” thinking. With the seed of her leaving she finally had an out. The idea of her leaving to invite her family to work now circulated as an idea around the household. Ambrose wouldn’t bother trying to figure out next steps until she saw what lay hidden in the King’s Forest. A part of her felt that maybe it could be her father hiding there, waiting to take her to safety. She let the feeling die down, focusing on the plan instead.
Ambrose had laid the groundwork for her escape, creating a cover for herself for her disappearance. All that was left was physically preparing. The lockdown made things difficult. Each night that the thundering stomps of the beast could be heard created unrest in the head of the family. Lord Vine wanted more rules and structure to protect his heirs, even if it meant sacrificing staff to the beast. Ambrose had yet to find proof of this but she hoped to learn more in the forest.
The night of her escape, she left through the servants’ door and passed the stables. Horses whined as she walked past, as if to warn her of this reckless plan. Even the scent of horse manure was an invisible barrier trying to stop her from going further. Once she cleared the estate line, she relaxed and walked at a leisurely pace. The Vine household owned the most uninhabited land due to their deal with the Royal family to protect the King’s Forest from intruders. The lore of the land and rumors helped keep people away from the land close to the forest. No one would be around because no one dared to step into the forest.
The empty hills and sporadic trees were the only company Ambrose had as she made her way to the forest. If she squinted, she could see the pale brown haze of the bordering wasteland. Something about seeing the sands, even from this distance, made her miss her mother. She remembered the stories her mother would tell her off the “dry ocean of crushed quartz” and the magic within. She felt a pull to the wasteland that she couldn’t explain. Ambrose stopped for a moment to drink some water. She had walked far, and when she looked back, she could only see the roof of the Vine estate. The further she walked towards the forest the bigger the stone wall surrounding the forest appeared.
The forest was dark and tempestuous; the trees grew high and the stone wall was a meager branch in comparison. Beyond the forest, the sands of the wasteland bordered, further containing the unruly forest. As she approached the high stone wall, Ambrose felt unease growing along her skin. She walked along the wall, looking for a way into the forest but no door or gate appeared. Frustrated, she leaned against it and then Ambrose fell through. She hit the grass, landing on her back. Her leather pack had spilled out some of her supplies onto the grass. She closed her eyes feeling the dark cool blades calm her skin. She opened her eyes and looked up at the wall, astonished at the illusion it presented. Sitting up, she straightened her blouse and fixed her travel skirt. The forest felt like it shivered with her arrival and, for some reason, Ambrose was afraid.
The dark trees sprouted to a colossal size, their leaves a deep jeweled green. Vines and plant life flourished into sentient art alongside these trees. The flowers produced a pungent fragrance in the air. Instinct pushed Ambrose to cover her nose. She looked around; it was unnaturally dark. No light penetrated from the treetops. She set down her pack and pulled out a lantern. She lit it and the warm light glowed within the glass container. Opening up her mother’s journal she began flipping through looking at the map. The inked scrawl showed the forest had only one path and it lead to the lair of the guardian beast. In the journal she saw her mother left notes about a path made from old earth magic. She looked around and saw a path that looked like the scrawls in the journal. The magic made path was constructed of mossy stones and lined with curled mushrooms that led straight through the colossal trees.
Taking a deep breath she gathered her spilled things. She stood up, pulled her pack over her shoulder and started walking down on the path. Her hesitant steps turned confident as she walked deeper into the forest. No animals were in sight and no insects fluttered around. She could hear their chirps and buzzing but she never saw them. The closer she approached the heart of the forest, the louder the unseen forest creatures became. The air felt cleaner like a caress inside her chest. Her lantern began to burn out but light illuminated from within the forest.
At the end of the path Ambrose found herself in a large clearing. At its center was a small body of water with a large stone resting at the furthest edge of the pool. The stone had strange carvings. The strange markings casted out a light that reflected into the water it stood beside. Ambrose took in the splendor of such color and golden light warming this clearing. She had never seen anything like this before. As she looked around, she half expected to see the missing people captured from the beast. Instead all she saw was the beautiful pool of water and a wall of denser trees behind it. A small stone perfect for sitting lay at the edge of the lake nearest to her. She placed her pack down, sat and waited. She wasn’t sure why she felt she should wait but she decided she had to.
It was much later that Ambrose found herself opening her eyes. She yawned as she sat up.
When did I fall asleep? she thought.
A splash in the lake startled her into awareness. When did it get so quiet? She looked in the water, seeing nothing unusual; the illuminated liquid looked undisturbed.
“I have waited for you, daughter,” a voice said, echoing into the clearing as all life forms were silenced by its voice.
Ambrose looked for the source, seeing nothing. The water rippled and shifted into a young woman’s form. Her body was ethereal and shimmered under the light. The woman approached her slowly; drops of water would slide off her and mold back into her form.
“What are you?” Ambrose breathed, her voice barely audible as she stared in awe.
“You know what I am child. Your blood answers to mine as did your father’s and mother’s,” the woman said. Her voice echoed into her mind.
“Are you The Guardian?” Ambrose answered.
Her heart sped up as the woman’s eyes shifted from silver into an array of colors.
“That is the name my sickened children have given me,” the woman said. Her eyes never stopped changing colors.
“Then what should I call you?” Ambrose asked.
The woman looked at her as her eyes turned gold then silver.
“I am the soul of magic. I am the mother of life. I am the dawn of all power,” she said, her voice thundering into the air.
“I am Aurora, the mother of magic and the creator of life,” she said.
She leaned down, her towering form growing in size, as her eyes started to change color at an alarming rate. Ambrose was still and unsure, but she couldn’t move. As the goddess reached down to her, Ambrose extended her hand up to her.
“You, my daughter, are the light of chaos to come, the voice of new dawn, and the golden warrior,” she said as she touched Ambrose’s chest.
Ambrose cried out in bliss and in agony. Her mind succumbed to the unimaginable.
Lights. Colors. Words. Time. Whispers. The spectrum of living rushed through Ambrose mind. The world was young and power danced in her veins.
“Aurora, what is this?” she cried through the agony and screamed through the bliss of this feeling.
The goddess did not answer Ambrose as her touch burned into her skin. Darkness. Absence. Silence. Death. Screams. The whole spectrum of life was burning through Ambrose’s being.
“The magic in your blood was tamed and tainted. I will cleanse it and unleash its wildness,” Aurora said, her voice coming from within the core of her body; Auroras’ words were whispers inside of her veins.
Ambrose was frozen under her touch, trapped in her gaze, and mute beneath her power. Aurora seemed to grow; her ethereal form changing from its feminine form to that of a beast. When she pulled her hand away from Ambrose, her body disappeared. Free from her chaotic touch, Ambrose collapsed. She looked around for the goddess.
“I don’t understand! Why did my mother send me here? What have you done to me?” Ambrose cried out.
The goddess laughed. The sound resonated inside Ambrose’s heart.
“I’ve freed you,” the Goddess whispered but Ambrose did not hear those words.
The sound of footsteps startled her out of her daze. Ambrose stood up, alert and alarmed. From the shadows of the forest, a man stepped into the light. His brown hair was crudely cut, showing the scar on his face.
TO BE CONTINUED….
I fall in love more and more each chapter I post! Sorry for the long hiatus, but I am making up for it by now posting two chapters a month. Big shout out to Melanie my editor for putting up with my trash drafts, and Middnite Designs for my chaotic requests for these covers. I’m excited to intruduce more fanart, original art comissions and the ability to buy prints of these covers soon! Did I mention that the series will be featured in DC Web Fest?! I know I am doing the mot but thank you for being here and reading my story!
See you in two Weeks!