So she walked a whisper like walk, weightless and wistful, as her white gown trailed behind her frail footsteps. Her head hung low and the usual sea of thoughts filled her mind. It was no wonder she could not hear the sound of her feet or the rustling of leaves; voices muffled and reverberant, a multitude of shrieks and woes, of secrets and confessions. For the all of eternity this would be her price to pay, in the conscious awake part of her being, in penitence, in restlessness, in the prison of her mind for the crime she had been condemned of. According to her impious fate, now, as it was written in the Scrolls of the Stars, she roamed the Forest of Forever, searching for questions she only knew the answers to. ‘Balance’. She sought the equilibrium of Balance.
The voices were never discernible. The voices were always there. Day in, day out. Her dreams were her only haven. She solaced in the revelry of her subconscious escapades where she would be free from fear, free from frustration. ‘In Somnii, Veritas. Per Somnii, Libertas.’ She had no other place to go than to retreat to her core at nightfall, in the midst of the Forest and seek redemption for her scarred soul.
On a typical day she would hear four, all caught up in argument and in contradiction and debate on a variety of issues and amongst each other. On good days she would hear conversations of three and their vehement ramblings on intense sentiment, on hopeless romantic antics, and on the power of unrequited love. This had an acute comic element which she found endearing and actually barely dared to admit that she enjoyed. She would always smile on those days. On the worst days however, there would be only two voices, one of a victim and one of a tormentor. The victim would often change, but the tormentor was the same. The tormentor’s voice was the only one that occasionally haunted her subconscious being. The high-pitched shrill voice that made her eyes stream with tears and her hands feel as cold as ice, was always the same. On the bad days and on the bad nights.
After the bad days, the bad nights ensued taking the form of nightmares beyond precedent, images of torture and suffering, sounds of shrieking metal and scorched skin in Winter's baneful time. Cries of lament and fear and grief, yells of yearning and screams begging for forgiveness and mercy that never came. Why was there such wickedness in this world? Was it necessary to experience the pain and anguish as a way of identifying the good and virtuous and happy? She felt tired and exhausted. She wanted all of this to go away. She wanted everything to be pure and pristine and primeval for a change. However, she had long ago ceased to question the reasons behind this faltering fate of hers. In Limbo, each suffered their own anguish for their sins of Yore.
Yet, there was a way.
In the days that followed the bad nights a reassuring calm prevailed in her mind; absolute silence. These were the days she treasured, when she could hear the rattling of the leaves by the gentle gust of the wind, the ripples of the water at the riverbank as she ran her fingers on its glassy surface while gazing at her reflection. These were the few days when she remembered what it was like for her pale face to be graced by the warm rays of sun light, when she could hear not internal sounds, but the sounds of the Forest of Forever. Home to others apart from herself, on these days she longed for contact with sparrows and robins, with deer and fox, but most of all, with the Gray Wolf. There was something familiar about him which she yet could not place as he kept his distance and observed her from afar, from the other side of the river. She had not crossed the river. Not once. Not yet. Could it be that there lay the questions, to which she knew the answers?
She had not dared because the North side of the river was a most unwelcoming land. A land of great wilderness and dense woodland, where the trees were the tallest she had ever laid eyes on and the rough landscape was barren and at the peak of the mountains above the trees' canopy, almost lunar. She feared that was the place the voices in her head emanated from as she felt a jolt of alarm each time she approached the silver waters that separated the two banks. But perhaps, perhaps, she should make an attempt to cross. There is nothing left for her on this side, no questions to answer or codes to decipher, no balance to be restored.
The key to the equilibrium lay over there, she was now convinced.
And yes, for the first time on the next full moon, she would cross.