Far beyond the mountains of the Fish, and deep in the wood that sleeps on its side, there was a small house perched on a lonely hill of green, a blanket of blue above it by day, a veil of black, salted with stars by night. The house was placed in the center of the hill, surrounded by a herd of sheep kept safe inside a circular fence, separating them from the forest. The forest was dark, and harsh. No light sprouted through the branches, for they were too closely wounded. No life was seen in the shadows, save for the night, when all was cloaked in darkness. For one to step beyond the fence was unheard of, and rightfully forbidden among the residents of the home. When night fell, the growling of wolves and howls every full moon could be heard, and nothing else. The dark forest was named The Howling Lupus, or sometimes referred to as “The Shog”, a mixture of shadow and fog. The only visible light seen in the night was that of the moon, which hung bright above the hill shining on its surface. It sat immovably from the sky, and gazed upon the house where it stood in the woods like a flame on a candle seducing moths… only moonlight seduced the beasts.
The residents of the home were quiet folk. They lived off of sheep and pigs, and the gardens they grew—never seeing anyone except their own kin. This family included a husband, a wife, and a daughter named Luna. Luna was a young girl, and independent, which, according to her father, is dangerous inside the fence. Her curious nature drove her nearly to madness; being secluded in a small patch of earth, where undiscovereds were yet to be discovered. She would walk to the fence, stand on its edge with the shadowy forest before her, and be filled with mystery and secrets. What were the animals that she heard at night? How far does the forest stretch? These questions rang unanswered in all her years, and she feared she would never learn of their truth, for her father locks her bedroom door, and boards up her windows for her safety, separating her from the world she wondered. She understands her father’s concern, but not his lack of adventure.
As a girl of eight, she once stood on the edge of the fence, and reached her hand beyond, until the tips of her fingers were covered in the veil of black. Her father exclaimed behind her to stop, causing her to jump, and pulled her hand quickly back to her side. Turning around, she saw her father rush towards his daughter, pulling her away from the edge. She had received three thrashings for her disobedience, and hasn’t reached since, although she stills walks along the edge, imagining what Beyond may hold.
As she lied awake in her bed, she would imagine the animals she heard at night. In her mind, she pictured a beast with big, black teeth, eyes of white, and skin of grey. They had large heads, small bodies, long claws protruding from their fingers, and spines, as well as noses like that of a pig. She once drew a picture of it, and her father confronted her. “What is this?” He said, lifting the page from the wooden table.
“It’s a Narg.” She would say, peering up at her father for approval, but he simply laughed and replied with, “And what is a Narg?”
“The animals outside when the sun goes down.” At this, her father laughed again, and placed the paper back on the table.
“They are called wolves.” He said, leaning in so to speak to his daughter. “And they look similar to this.” Her father then flipped the page around, and began to draw lines with the drawing stone. He drew a beast with four legs attached to a thin body, a coat of fur encompassing it. The teeth were white, and the eyes black. When he had finished, he handed her the drawing and she looked at it intently, analyzing each line while a smile broadened on her face. She looked back at her father, and then at the picture. Jumping from her chair, she dashed to her room, and placed the beast underneath her pillow, every night staring at it in the pail candle light whilst listening to its growls. Whether the noise was in her head or not seemed irrelevant.
Now much older in age, approximately ten name days older, she learned to cooperate with her lifestyle, and put away her old childish thoughts of the Beyond. The growls of the wolves died away in her ears, and she slept at night without a thought of the beasts. She tucked her father’s drawing away in a drawer, and it collected dust as it lay abandoned for years. She learned to knit, and grow her own vegetables in the garden, as well as cook. She became a lady, and the adventurous heroine was tucked away deep in her heart, leaving room for propriety and lady likeness. Her walks in the daylight did not change, however. She still roamed the fence in a slow pace, but more out of pleasure and relaxation than curiosity.
As she paced, her mother called from the house. “Luna. Come inside dear, it’s time for dinner.” She looked up from her feet, and saw the sky had turned orange, with dashes of pink in the clouds. It would be dark soon, which meant she would soon be in danger. Luna walked to the door, and crossed the threshold, closing the door behind her. Looking around the room, which was small, there was a fire on the opposite wall, a table before it, her parents’ room on the left and hers on the right. She noticed her father was absent. She then glanced at her mother with a concerned look, “Where is father?”
Her mother turned away from the pot of boiling stew, and looked up. “He went into the forest. Your father noticed a part of the fence had broken, and a sheep was missing.”
“He went into the Shog?” Asked Luna.
“Yes, dear, hush. You mustn’t raise your voice.” Replied her mother.
“How long has he been gone?”
“Not long.” Taking the stew from the fire, she placed it in the center of the table. Luna spoke, “Are you not in the least bit concerned?”
“Of course I am, Luna.” Said her mother. “The forest is a dangerous place. But your father is very cautious. I don’t think he would do anything that’d put himself in danger. Now come and help me set the table.”
Luna stepped to do as she was instructed, but pulled away and opened the door a crack, peering. The sun had completely set, and the light of the moon was shining white on the grass. There was not a stir, but Luna noticed something. It was the figure of a man. She thought it to be her father’s silhouette, but was confronted with indifference as the man disappeared into the forest. The scene startled her, and she closed the door quickly, staring at its face until her mother’s words interrupted her thoughts. “Luna. I asked you for help.” She looked at her mother, and proceeded to help with the table.
They ate in silence, only the clanging of silverware, and pouring of refreshments was heard. Not one spoke a word. After many moments, they cleared the table, leaving one bowl of stew left, and sat in their chairs with a cup of tea. Where is my father? Is he hurt? Is he crying for help, or in pain? Will he return? These were only a few of the questions hopping around in both of their brains. Deep concern flushed over their faces, and Luna began to imagine her father lying wounded, and bleeding in the forest, as wolves circled him, waiting for him to die. She suddenly had the desire to find him. He needs my help, she told herself. He’s dying. HE’S DYING! I must find him! He needs my help!
“Luna, stop!” She was standing at the door and it swung open. Her father stood in the frame, hunched and tired. He held a small sheep in his arms, the color red staining his hands. Luna gasped, and put her hands to her mouth, then embraced her father. He stepped back, and then quickly pushed them forward and into the room, closing the door with the heel of his foot. Luna’s mother jumped from her seat and proclaimed, “You had me worried sick! I thought you dead!” He placed the injured sheep onto the table where it cried as it slowly made contact with the wood. Luna noticed a harsh wound on its back leg, blood dripping from it. “I assure you my dear, I am alive.” He said. “Hand me a white cloth, and soak it. This poor thing was hurt badly when I found it. I think a Clapper had gotten to it.”
“Clapper?” Asked Luna, confused at the new word.
“They’re like rats with leathery wings, and sharp claws. They’re not normally big, but this little one isn’t very big himself.” Luna’s mother handed her husband the cloth, and he began to dab at the wound. The sheep wiggled its leg, and breathed heavily, but calmed as its master continued.
“How can you tell it was a Clapper?” Asked Luna, observing her father’s actions.
“Well, it’s not a bite, and there are scratches around it. They usually swoop down and swing their claws as they approach their target, which explains the scratches.”
“It only attacked once?”
“I think so. I haven’t seen any other wounds. I must’ve gotten there just in time.”
“Did it attack you?”
“Oh no, I’m much too big for a single Clapper.”
“Why is it called a Clapper?”
“That’s enough with the questions, Luna.” Said her mother, and she wrapped herself in a hand knitted blanket.
Her father continued dabbing until most of the blood had absorbed into the cloth, and in getting a dry one, wrapped up the leg. “We’ll give this thing a bath tomorrow. I think it would be best if it stayed inside tonight, probably still too paranoid to be in the dark again.” He stroked the back of the sheep’s woolly coat, calming it down.
After a few moments, Luna’s father placed the sheep on a small blanket in the corner of the room, where it fell asleep, and he began to eat his dinner as his wife proceeded to bed. Luna was about to go to sleep herself, when a question rose inside her. “Father?” She asked at her bedroom door. “Yes, dear?” Was his reply.
“Why did you risk yourself for one sheep? I mean, we have plenty of others.” He took another bite from his stew, and pushed the empty bowl away from him. When he had swallowed, he looked at Luna, and said, “What we have here and now, is all we have. Everything counts; even one sheep out of a hundred.” Luna sighed, and looked at the ground. “Alright. That makes sense. You just… really had me worried.”
“The Shog is a dangerous place. I don’t want you ever going in there.”
“I know, father, I know.” She turned to walk into her room, but faced her father with another question. Somehow, the heroine had risen inside her, and spoke, “What was it like though? Was it dark? Did you see anything?” He stood out of his seat, and faced his daughter, looking intently into her eyes.
“The Shog is full of mystery, Luna. I heard the growls I hear every night. But there was something new.” His eyes seemed to veer out of their focus on Luna’s, as if remembering something. “It was a man with very pale skin and long black hair. He stood far away from me, and seemed to glow in a way. One moment I would be staring at him, and when I had turned my gaze elsewhere, he would vanish, only to appear somewhere else.”
“Was he dangerous?” Asked Luna, her eyes widening. Was this the man I had seen?
“I didn’t wait to find out. He beckoned for me, but I refused his invitation. I suppose there are other things in the forest than Wolves and Clappers. Things that don’t growl.” He then gently leaned into Luna, and kissed her forehead. “Goodnight, Luna. Don’t be afraid, you’re safe here.”
And for a reason she could not think of, Luna collapsed, and was suddenly in her father’s tight, gentle, grasp. She wept. Her father held her close, and stroked his fingers through her hair. Her cry was silent, for she didn’t need words to show her concern. With love, she released from her father’s hold, and turned to her bed, falling asleep.
The next morning, Luna awoke with the sun, and found its light illuminating her room. Small shadows seemed to be dripping on her wall, and turning to face the window, she saw flakes of snow falling from the sky. She rose from her bed, and grabbed a small blanket (which was blue with a white moon in the center of it) that she had she knitted herself, and wrapped her body in it. As she approached the window, she saw the snow had not been falling long, for the ground was not yet covered, and the morning frost could still be seen. Opening her bedroom door, she saw her mother and father had already woken, the table accompanied with toast, eggs and an apple pie. The fire was ablaze, and she felt warm. The sheep was still asleep in the corner, its chest moving up and down in the rhythm of its breathing. Her father was in his rocking chair, a pipe in his mouth, blowing smoke rings that evaporated in the air. Luna walked to her seat, and sat down, running her fingers through her hair, and yawned. “Good morning.” Said her father, who looked at her with a smile. Luna smiled back. “After breakfast, I think I’ll have you take the sheep and give him a bath.” He said, and blew another smoke ring.
“Alright everyone, come to the table, it’s time to eat.” Said the mother, and they both did as they were told. “Luna I wanted you to help me with breakfast, but your father insisted you rest.” Luna looked at him. He winked at her, and smiled as he placed eggs and some toast onto his plate. “So you’ll help clean up afterward.”
“I already gave Luna a job cleaning the sheep. I’ll help clean the table after.” Father said. Luna’s mother seemed to be irritated by the conjecture, but continued to eat instead of protesting.
When the meal was over, Luna rose from her seat and picked up the sheep, taking it outside. The snow had stopped falling, but covered the grass. She took the sheep over to a small pond just inside the fence. She dipped her finger into its surface, and found it was quite cold, but proceeded. She placed the sheep slowly into the water. It squirmed and kicked, but stopped as Luna dipped it lower. It shivered as Luna splashed water onto its wool where there was dried blood. When she had finished, and all the blood had washed, she proceeded to dry it off with a cloth she had taken from the house. As she rubbed the sheep, she noticed something in the reflection of the water. It rippled with the small waves, and only after staring for a few moments did she realize what it was. It was the man. The white figure stared at her. She screamed, and released the sheep, which jumped and ran off. She looked away from the reflection, and up where the figure was standing, but only saw the dark trees, and heard a scurrying of leaves and branches. Luna stared at the spot where she saw it, and didn’t take her eyes away until she felt cold fingers on the side of her face. She screamed again, and covered her face. “Hey, hey!”
She looked at the man, but saw it was familiar. It was her father, and he sat hunched over her, eyes filled with concern. “What’s wrong?” He asked, and Luna sighed heavily, leaning her head onto his arm. She felt tears, but suppressed. Standing on her feet, she lookedat her father. “I’m fine.” She said. “Thought I saw something in the forest, but I’m okay.”
“Are you sure? What was it?” He asked.
“Nothing. It’s nothing to be worried about.” She said. “Where is the sheep? I let go of it and it ran off.”
“Luna.” Said her father, and she turned towards him. “What did you see?” She looked at him for a moment, not knowing how to answer. He knew she’d seen something, denying it would be futile, but describing it caused her to fear all the more. The image of the stalking man sat in her mind. “I don’t know.” was all her voice could muster.
“Can you not tell me?” He asked, rising on his feet, staring softly at his daughter.
“I don’t know what I saw. It was there and then it wasn’t.”
“Was it a wolf?”
“No.” As she said this, her father seemed more concerned. If not a wolf, what could it be? What other creatures lurked in the shadows of the alders? “Don’t worry about me, father. I’ve been safe these many years; I don’t think danger is at our doorstep.”
“It’s always been at our doorstep, Luna. We just never invited it in.” He looked at her, and realized she was suddenly concerned. “And we never will. There is no danger in the light of the sun.”
That night, Luna could not sleep. She lay awake in her bed, staring at the ceiling, and for the first time in many years, she listened to the growls of those beyond her walls. Her door was closed and locked; only a line of light on the bottom of the door could sneak into her room. The room was quiet, with the distant sound of the wolves, but beyond her door, she could hear conversation. Her mother and father were speaking, and their words rose the curiosity in her spirit. She got up from her bed, and snuck quietly to her door frame. The voices grew louder as she pressed her ear against the cool wood.
“I’m not worried for myself, Merida. I’m worried for my family.” The voice was her father’s. “I don’t know everything about the Shog. It’s always been a mystery to our family.”
“Your family.” Said Merida, her mother. “Why they ever decided to settle here and not venture off with the rest of them is beyond me.”
“My great grandfather knew what was best. Before the forest grew dangerous he saw promise in it. Do not blame the dead for your fears, Merida; it would only disturb our peace.”
“Our peace? What do you think peace is? Locking ourselves in our own home, not daring to take a step outside for fear of losing a leg? If that is peace to you, Arthur, then may Caldo purify your heart, and cleanse your eyes. I do not feel peace.”
There was silence, and Luna pondered her parents’ words. In all her years, she never thought of peace, or even the lack of it, for she knew no different.
“I’m sorry, Merida. What do you want me to do? Venture into the forest? Find a way for us to escape? We know not how far the Shog stretches in all directions. It would be sending my own family to their death.”
“How long do you expect us to last here? Our daughter knows nothing of the beyond. She has never gazed up at the stars. She has never seen the moon in all its brilliance. She has not lived. Are you not concerned for her?”
“Do not dare to ask me such a question. Of course I’m concerned for our daughter. There is nothing for her here. Not a man to take her, nor a sibling to play with. I know quite well that the day will come when we all will perish one by one, until all that is left is dust. I have doomed my family, and must watch their lives die away. Yes, I am very concerned for Luna. Do not ever think otherwise, for you know not the sadness in my heart every time I see her walk the fence, for I know she has gone as far as she can. Now, the beasts are growing bolder. What she saw I cannot say, but I know it to be ill. I fear the day of our destruction will soon come, with or without the sun.”
“So what do we do?”
“I don’t know, Merida! I don’t know what to do! Tell me what to do!” His voice grew to distress, and Luna could hear a faint sob. She’d never heard of her father showing such vulnerability, or lack of any strength.
“We have to leave.” Said Merida. “Arthur, we have to. If what you say about the beasts is true, we must leave as soon as we can.”
“We don’t know anything for sure.” Said Arthur. “I said there may be danger with the beasts. If there is not a sign of them in the next few days, we’ll talk more about leaving, but I don’t want to jump to conclusions and get us killed.”
“We are doomed! You said so. We have nothing to live for, we might as well take a risk, and at least try escape, and if we fail, at least we’ll fail together, and never know life without the other.”
“This is too big a decision to be decided over the course of one night. We must think about this more, we must ask Luna her opinion, and what she wants as well as us. We’re not even sure if she wants to leave.”
“She will, Arthur. Why else do you think she walks the fence?”
At this, Luna turned away from the door. She glanced at its blank surface, and felt the urge to cry. Turning around, she faced her bed, and began to climb into it, when a bright light appeared at her window. The light was of shape and no shape simultaneously. It expanded, and shrunk, and danced like steam. She gazed at it intently, and began to swim in its brilliance, forgetting her troubles. The light began to take form, and suddenly, the silhouette of a man was clearly visible. Her heart jumped at first sight, but slowly she came to like it more and more. It had the essence of diamonds, and a light that spoke of distant memory. There was a sudden beauty to it that she hadn’t noticed before, and what was once frightening, became alluring. It seemed to gaze at her, and slowly the window began to open. A white hand reached out towards her, and she was suddenly conscious of being right in front of it. Before she could resist, her hand clasped around the figures, and she traveled out the window.
The Man’s form grew more firm as they traveled through the Shog. The trees were close together, leaving little room to move, yet they weaved between them with ease. His hand gripped tightly, but gently hers, as they traveled to and fro. All thoughts of fear seemed to vanish, and Luna had forgotten all that had troubled her moments before. Suddenly the man’s form was completely solid, as far as Luna could see, for the forest was very dark, and what light did pass through the branches, was grey, and dim.
From what Luna could see, the man’s back was chiseled and strong, his muscles like waves in the sea moving to and fro with each move. A trail of short, black hair ran down the back of his neck, and all along his spine. The hair on his head was short and black as well. The clothing on his legs was tattered, worn, and stained. His pace did not quicken, and Luna did not hurry, in fact, she had no perception of speed.
After many moments, the time of those moments unacknowledged and lost, they both came across a small open patch of earth, no tree on its surface, and the pale light of the moon illuminating it. The man led her to the center of the space, where there lay a large rock, thin and slanted, pointing towards the moon. Guided by the man, Luna sat on the stone’s smooth surface. He refused to show his features, hiding them in his shoulder. Luna knew not what to do, besides stare at his bare chest, as well as his core and arms, which were handsome and firm, catching her eye like fire to a moth. At last, he turned his head towards her, and gazed his dark, black eyes into her green ones. Luna was at first startled at their unexpected appearance, but soon learned to admire them.
“My name is Bestriam.” He said, and bent his knees, leaning in close to her. Luna became anxious, no thought crossing her mind. “And yours?” He asked.
“Luna.” She managed to squeeze out. The sight of this man was the undiscovered she’d always thought of as a child. “What are you?” She asked. Bestriam laughed, and stood to his feat.
“I am a man. At the moment.”
“What do you mean? A man? Like… a human? Like me?”
“Like you? In a way, yes. In other ways, no.” The cracking of a nearby branch drew the attention of them both, and they turned their heads towards the sound. Luna suddenly became aware of her surroundings, and rose from the rock, startled. She looked around at the walls of trees, and then at Bestriam, who she now saw. Where am I? How did I get here?
“Did you bring me here?” She asked, and Bestriam crossed his arms, looking at her.
“And where is ‘here’?” She asked, nervous, and shaking. She did not feel safe, and desired her bed. “Am I in the Shog?”
Bestriam grew stern and focused his look. “You are safe.” He said. “No need for you to feel otherwise.”
“I feel it anyway. I’m in the Shog aren’t I?”
“Yes. You are in the forest.”
“Take me back.” She said, and her voice shook. She tangled her long, red hair in her fingers, and gazed hopefully at Bestriam. “Please.”
“Will it make you feel safe?” He asked.
“Yes. Please. Take me back to my family. I should not be here.”
“Many things don’t belong here. Come, I will take you back.” He then extended his hand, and she took it. They traveled once more through the forest, until Luna arrived at her bedroom window. Bestriam lifted her into her room, and then disappeared as mysteriously as he had arrived.
The next morning grew slow. Luna lifted out of her slumber, and proceeded out of her room. As she opened the door, she saw her mother at the table, her face buried in her hands. The sound of the door creaking made her gaze over at Luna, and when she saw her daughter, her eyes widened. She ran towards Luna, and embraced her tightly. Luna was too startled to ask questions.
“My dear child!” Said Merida. “Where have you been? We were worried to death you may have been killed!”
“What are you talking about?” Asked Luna, flummoxed.
“Your father checked on you in the night, and saw you were gone. We thought you had escaped through the window.”
Luna looked at her mother intently, and recalled the night before, which had temporarily been lost in her mind. “Where is he?” She asked, and Merida slowly loosened her grip until she had backed away a couple steps. “Ma, where is he?” She asked again, but Merida seemed to not want to answer.
“He went looking for you.” Luna went pale at her mother’s grave response.
“How long ago?” Asked Luna. “Has he been gone all night?” Her voice shook, and she felt as though her heart had dropped in her stomach. Please be alive. I cannot be responsible for my father’s death. Luna ran towards the door, not needing an answer, for it was already clear.
“Luna, wait!” called her mother, but Luna could not be stopped. She ran towards the fence, and hopped over it. As she ran further into the forest, she became more entangled in the web of branches and leaves, until it took her moments to escape from its tight hold and move on. She cried out into the darkness, keeping her ears sharp so as to hear his reply. She made several attempts, and all resulted in failure. As she weaved herself through the trees, she tripped, and fell, but did not hit the ground. She was caught by the low branches of trees, and in trying to break free from their grip, only became further captured. She called out again, franticly, and tears began to stream down her face. She could feel blood drip down her cheek. She began to weep, and tried more and more to escape, but only failed. Silence fell, until she could only hear her breath, which seemed loud and quick paced. All around her was darkness. Unable to turn her head, she rolled her eyes in their sockets, looking for a sign of her father, or something hopeful.
Suddenly, the sound of something moving through the forest echoed through her ears. Luna started, her breaths becoming shorter in turn. Tears once again filled her lids, and when she closed her eyes, she could feel them pressing for release. She opened her eyes, and tried to remain as silent as possible, as the thing in the distance could subtly be heard. She closed her mouth, and seized her breaths. As it came closer, she could see in the pail light a creature she’d once seen, but not in the flesh. Years ago, her father drew a picture of the beasts she heard at night. He called it a wolf, and what seemed smaller on paper, was much larger in life. It was the size of a bear, and it hovered over Luna like a dragon over gold. Its furry legs came in sight, and she could hear it breathe as it leaned in close to her. She could feel it sniff her hair, and pace her body. Chills ran down her spine, and her chest felt as if it were to burst at any moment.
Its giant paws smacked at her leg, and Luna screamed. I’m dead! She felt the branches loosen their grip. I might be able to escape! It hasn’t cut me. I may survive. And she was right; the wolf was in fact missing her legs, and only beating at the branches, which snapped with one swipe of its fierce claws. After moments of panic, Luna fell to the ground, and immediately got up and ran. She thought she felt the wolf running behind her. She sprinted deeper into the forest, taking no care of direction, until she saw pale moonlight beyond. The light was only very thin vertical lines, showing no sign of where they would lead her, yet she ran towards it nevertheless.
She stepped into the light and fell forward, hitting her head on wet grass. Rising, she realized she was not at home, though the land seemed familiar. It was the place she had met Bestriam. She recognized it by the stone in its center, slanted, pointing towards the moon. She quickly turned around and faced the forest again, waiting for the wolf to leap out and take her, but it did not come. She grew weary, and walked towards the stone, sitting. Although free from the beast, and her entrapment, she was not safe. Pressing a finger to her temple, she felt warm blood, and peered at her hand, seeing its red dye stain her hands. Looking at her blood, she cried once more. She could not express her emotion. She did not try to keep quiet, and simply let her tears fall, disappearing into the dew on the grass.
“Why does she weep?” Luna heard a voice, turning her gaze, and found it belonged to Bestriam. “Her tears sing sad songs, fueled by fear, worry, and insecurity. Fear, for her safety, worry, for her father, and insecurity, in her limits.”
“How can you see my sorrow through tears alone?” Asked Luna, peering at the man who stood far from her. She at first was startled by his presence, but now felt a more comfort.
“The moonlight reveals a great deal of people like you.” He said.
“People like me?” She asked, confused. How am I so different?
“Do you not know?” He walked slowly towards her. Luna stirred in her place, uncomfortably as Bestriam approached, not entirely submissive to him. “You have a wound,” He said, kneeling before her, and pressing strong hands on her bloody temple. He rubbed his fingers softly on her wound, and what irritation Luna felt, slowly decreased. He returned his hand to his side, and gazed at her intently. “Your eyes reflect the moon. I can see its brilliance through them.” His eyes became fixed on hers, and he began to lean in closer and closer, as a song blew from his deep voice.
“Oh moon so high,
What Lume is mine?
The words seemed to lull Luna to sleep. She fell into the cavern of Bestriam’s eyes; a dark tunnel with no bottom. Around her swerved white ribbons of light, and fallen stars that seemed like rain, but shined like diamonds, with the whirl of wind running through her hair and brushing her cheeks. She felt wings sprout from her shoulders. They were white and beaming. She could feel the wind around them, and she began to brush them through the air, pushing herself higher. Above she saw the moon, and had a sudden desire to be near it. She felt as if she could not bear being away from it a moment longer. She pushed her wings further and further, but could not find enough strength to reach her goal. She then fell with exhaustion. She saw she was above a forest, and as the ground drew nearer, she saw herself sitting on a stone, a large wolf before her. Before she had time to process correctly these images, she landed upon herself, opening her eyes, and seeing Bestriam still gazing into them. She left from her seat, and stood far from him, afraid of what may happen next. Although the moment startled her, she did not regret it. The images were strange, and swam among a thousand questions, which were stirring inside her about to burst. One escaped, “What was that?”
“That is a very general question.” Said Bestriam. “It would take much time to explain.” Luna searched for another question that she thought would take less time to explain. “What was the wolf that was standing in front of me?” She pointed to where Bestriam stood, who looked at her without a word, or gesture.
“You saw a wolf?” Said he.
“Yes.” Luna replied. “What was it?”
“I think you’ll find the answer in your question.”
“Why was a wolf before me one moment and the next gone?”
“You seem to think you saw a wolf. Believe me when I say it was no wolf.”
“Not a wolf?” She asked. “Then what was it?” At that moment, a thought returned to her. He is still gone. “Where is my father?” She asked. Bestriam started at the sudden turn of conversation.
“Your father?” He asked.
“Yes, my father. He ran into the woods in search for me and hasn’t returned.”
“You mean you haven’t returned?”
“I don’t understand.”
“Your father went to search for you, then you for your father; and now he has returned and you have not.”
“My father is back at the house?” Said Luna, feeling joy in her heart. “How do you know?”
“Do you wish to go back and see for yourself?” He asked, walking to her.
“You know him to be safe?”
“He is.” Bestriam then held out his hand, and Luna took it. He then led her through the forest, running between the trees with ease, and when they had returned to the house, he vanished as he had before. Luna, before entering the house, turned to see Bestriam just beyond the fence, but he was not there.
When she opened the door, she saw her mother and father at the table. Her father had his leg on the surface of the table, a wet cloth stained red around his shin. At the sight of his daughter, Arthur sighed heavily, and placed his hand on his heart.
“Luna! Oh thank Caldo you’re safe.” He said, the wet rag around his leg growing redder by the moment. Luna’s mother tended to her husband, dabbing his sweaty forehead with a dry washrag.
“Are you alright?” Luna asked, walking slowly towards her father.
“Don’t worry about me. It’s just a scratch.” He replied, but Luna persisted towards him, and lifted the cloth slowly on his leg. Beneath it were holes in his skin, blood dripping profusely from them, landing on the wood floor. Arthur growled, and Luna lowered the cloth back upon the wound. “You were bitten.” She said. Arthur coughed, and growled in pain.
“It’s nothing.” He said. “I ran into some thorns in the forest. No big deal.”
“Don’t lie to me. I know a bite when I see one. What happened?” Luna looked concerned at her father, who sighed, closing his eyes in weariness.
“I went looking for you in the Shog.” He said. “Last night I went into your room to see of your safety, and saw you were gone with the window open, a breeze pushing your curtains in. I feared you’d left, and I ventured into the forest in search for you. I ran into a beast, great in size, and ferocious in character. It knew its way about the forest like nothing I’d seen, weaving through the trees like it were the wind. It attacked me, but by the grace of Caldo, it grew distracted, and left me to bleed. I managed to limp back home, hoping you had returned, only to find your mother alone. You only walked in moments later.” Observing his daughter, Arthur asked a bewildering question. “You posses no scars. You seem to have walked through a valley of flowers. Where did you go child?”
Both of her parents gazed at her for a moment, and she at them, for she knew not how to answer. How can she explain what she’d been doing, or Bestriam? Before much time passed, Luna looked at the floor, and spoke. “I was taking a walk. I thought I heard the sheep rattle, and decided to-“
“Do not lie to me, Luna.” Said Arthur, a stern look suddenly on his face. “Where did you go?”
Luna hesitated, and then decided to tell, leaving out Bestriam. “I was transported to a different patch of land, just outside the house. It’s like this one, only it has a small rock in its center. I don’t remember how I got there, but only that I was there, and woke in my bed the next morning.”
“Is this the truth?” He asked again.
“Yes.” She replied. Arthur straightened in his chair, and sighed heavily before speaking. “We will not leave.”
“No!” He interrupted. “I will not put my family in danger, not while I can still protect them!”
“But you can’t!” Said Merida. “Luna was in danger while under the house you built! You went to find her, but could not and instead hurt yourself.” Suddenly, Luna saw sweat on her father’s brow, his skin seemed pail, and darkness spread around his eyes.
“I need rest.” He said, leaving to his room with the help of his wife.
Luna felt empathy for her father. To be in his place and to have a family on his shoulders was a responsibility she could not fully understand. She could see his fear for her safety, and that of her mother’s, and also the depression of not feeling strong enough for them. Every man desires to be a protector, and when he cannot do that, it crushes him.
“NO!” A shrill noise came from Luna’s parents’ bedroom. It woke her up, and she stumbled out of bed, eyes wide, and anxious. She stormed out her room, and ventured to that of her parents’. When she had entered, she saw her father in the arms of her mother. His body was limp and frail looking, Merida weeping, tears running down her face, and splashing onto her husband’s chest. Luna did not fully understand the situation at hand. She walked slowly towards what she saw, tears rising further in her eyes with each step she took, fearing her thoughts. He father had died, and she felt the guilt and responsibility on her shoulders. It was a guilt no child should feel.