†‡† 0 --2009.07.28 †‡†

Tale of Tales
Auriea Harvey & Michael Samyn
The Endless Forest, version 3.21’

---Tuesday, July 28, 2009---
One of 0's journal entries. . . .
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Writing based on events in The Endless Forest that day; inspired by Sablekat’s character, 88, and her sketch story.
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Qualis': 0
Sablekat's: 88
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Memories of last night’s dream are all but bits and pieces now—in short, I can’t remember much about it; something to do with another forest, I think? . . . Although I may have written down what had happened, I just can’t seem to find the journal. Well, there’s really not much to do right now; everyone is sleeping, and watching them is making me tired, too. . . .
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Fog. . . .
| The air should’ve been clear, the temperature warm—there should’ve been a cool, refreshing breeze, and bright sunlight lighting up the area—at least, usually, when I woke in that place, that’s how it was. It was normally a calm, peaceful forest, filled with birdsong and the calls of deer—odd deer, at that. I knew that the forest must have been part of my imagination—that I must’ve been sleeping, dreaming—because the creatures, though possessing the body of a deer, had humanoid heads. They wore masks, their antlers grew in a strange variety of nearly impossible shapes, they and used spells to change their pelts—in fact, they used these ‘magic spells’ to change all those aspects of their appearance—even their entire bodies could change shape! Some had glowing symbols above their heads.
| It might’ve simply been a dream, or it could’ve been a completely new world—a world I was trespassing on in my sleep. I’ve been visiting and trespassing in many places lately. . . .
| The air was opposite of what it should have been—it was damp and cold, instead of dry and warm. A cloud had come into contact with the ground, passing through the trees and causing their branches to droop with the heavy moisture their leaves now held; less than 4 °F: that was the difference between temperature and dew point—those two factors combined, caused water vapor to condense into tiny liquid water droplets in the air, creating fog.
| The fog wasn’t so thick at the time—I could see quite a few meters ahead of me. I found myself standing in the middle of a depression—the ‘Blue Bowl’, as some of the deer in the forest had named it, for it the deep depression, surrounded by a ring of sycamores, and with only a couple birch trees within it, was full of blueberry bushes—except the blueberries, it seemed, hung in bunches from tall, thin stems that grew above the green shrubbery. I always found it to be near the center of the forest, because no matter which direction I took, wherever I went—particularly the major landmarks—it was just about the same distance: from the Ename Ruin to the Pond, to the Old Oak and the Playground, the distance and time, give or take a few feet or moments, was almost always the same.
| I was lying next to one of those few birch trees that was within the vicinity of the bowl—the one closest to the middle of the depression. It was one of my favorite spots to be in the forest. I stood up, feeling drowsy, yawned and stretched; it must have been morning, foggy as clouds rose with the sun. The new type of weather was a nice change—I usually preferred it from the forest’s norm.
| It was strange to feel something in a dream.
| That day, I felt calm and reserved, but also quite timid and skittish; I also felt parched—thirsty—so I decided to head to the Pond. I remember walking slowly out of the ring of sycamores, listening for a moment before turning around at a sharp angle, then walking south-southwest—that way, I could reach the Pond’s shallows in the shortest way—a straight line. I stopped as I came upon a small patch of purple hyacinths. I watched blue-winged butterflies flutter around the numerous flowers, bringing even more color to the brown and green forest. I lowered my head and, with my mouth, plucked one of the flowers and chewed on it. Moisture from the leaves trickled down my throat, and when I had finished with the plant, I simply dropped it.
| That small amount of leaf-tasting water wasn’t enough to quench my thirst, so I got ready to continue heading towards the forest’s only significant body of water—by ‘significant’, I meant that, not only was it a major landmark, but it had probably become an area of interest for the many deer of the forest simply because it wouldn’t dry up. When I got to the edge of the flower patch, I stiffened—a no-mask stag with normal antlers and fur color rushed past, and as the small breeze that followed it tugged at my fur, I watched it head towards the pond—there was no golden symbol above its head, so I knew it was what the deer called a ‘nameless deer’. For them, the symbols above their heads signified their individuality, but mostly that they were a member of this forest.
| Sighing, I shook myself and continued on my way. I walked around the small willow tree that grew on the northeast side of the pond, avoiding the few deer that slept near it. I placed my forelegs in the water, enjoying the cool feeling it gave me as it washed around my ankles. I shivered—it felt good, even though the air seemed even colder when I brought them out of the water. I listened—the hum of dragonflies could not be heard. I looked to where they usually buzzed around, and found only about three actually awake and flitting around the cattails, the fog muffling the noise their wings made.
| I stepped forward into the shallows; after taking a few sips of water, enough to moisten my dry throat and slightly fill my empty belly, I decided to lie down next to a log that had fallen partway into the pond. The water receded from my body, allowing me to lie on my belly, legs tucked under me, then came back to drench my fur and wash over my dorsal surface.
| I looked down at my reflection—I appeared to be a normal fawn—or best referred to as a female, adolescent ungulate—with the light brown fur sprinkled with specks of white, the same shade of white that covered the entire face. Only a few features of mine were different—in fact, I was surprised to see that the color had not yet been drained out of my body—my eyes were blank and featureless, bi-colored as the left was a glossy pitch-black and the right a pale stark white. A small ‘scar’ or ‘brand’ or what-have-you could be found in the center of my forehead—it was an oval shape, like the numeral 0—and it was skin, faded in color of the hue that surrounded it, noticeable only from a close distance. The last feature was a chain that wrapped around my neck, with no start or end, the metallic links were too hard to be cut through, and it hung too tightly to be pulled off without serious damage, and was too small to be brought up around my head—it was not coming off.
| I looked up when I heard a mooing noise. That was new—instead of the normal deer—most of which seemed to be elk, red deer, and white-tailed deer—I saw a single species of antelope: an individual blackbuck. Its fur was thickening and dulling from a brownish color to a gray, the brilliant green peafowl-feathers on its head—seeming to be held by blue, dome-shaped antlers—were losing color and starting to fall off, only to be replaced with a grayish, arched antlers—or, considering it was an antelope, they were probably more like horns—that looked almost like upside-down pronghorn antelope horns. Despite having horns, the antelope was a doe. It wore a white mask with green markings and a large, blue-lipped smile painted on the round covering, through the eyeholes of which could be seen chartreuse-green eyes.
| I could sense fear in those eyes, though. The nameless from before—the one that had run past me—seemed to be harassing the blackbuck. “
No!” she mooed, whirling around and cowering as the nameless stag nuzzled her rump.
| I did nothing as the stag took another step forward, as though ready to touch the doe again in that private place, but stopped as she mooed a second time. The nameless reared up and slammed his hooves down, which had passed by merely inches from the antelope’s face. The doe cowered, her body scrunching up in a pitiful pose, before she turned and ran off, leaping over the small stream that fed the pond, and heading off in the direction of the Playground. The stag stood there for a moment, as though having no idea about what to do next, then walked off in the opposite direction.
| I snorted and shook my head—these dream-deer seem to act weird in weather that’s not what their used to. I walked off, back towards the small valley of blueberries and blue flowers. When I arrived there, I settled myself down back beside the same birch tree, pushing my body into the vines and moss that clung to it, hidden by the leaves of bushes that grew around its white bark.
| I heard something pass by the ring of sycamores and head down into the depression. Looking up, I saw that same blackbuck, lying down in the midst of a thick clump of blueberry shrubs. Standing up to watch the door, I soon felt a deep fear churning around in my stomach. After the doe’s encounter, it would likely be frightened of male deer for awhile—or at least nameless stags—and might even become angered if it saw a fawn, taking its frustration out on me.
| I tried to swallow that fear. I couldn’t get hurt there—then again, I had felt thirsty and cold already that day, hadn’t I? The fear rose up my throat, and for some reason I felt like vomiting—I hoped those leaves I had chewed on weren’t poisonous. I shook my head, telling myself again that this forest was a dream, that those ungulates and flowers were just figments of my imagination, created by my mind while I was in rapid eye movement sleep. I shook myself again, causing the leaves beside me to shake.
| I stiffened. The doe’s ears twitched; she looked up and rose to her hooves, then turned around to face me. The doe walked forward; I backed up a few paces. She bowed; I turned and ran the other direction, skidding to a halt as I reached the edge of the bowl. Looking behind me, I saw the blackbuck’s back arched in a way so that her bowed head was facing the ground—sad, she seemed to express. The doe laid back down, and I, not wanting to leave the depression I considered the most sacred place of the dream, turned around. I slowly approached the antelope, taking one step at time, stopping every few steps to listen for other deer, smell the air, and then take a couple more steps. When I was close enough to her, I leaned forward and sniffed the hoofed-animal’s mask, the stubby tail on my rising in curiosity and then falling as more fear crept down my spine, causing me to shiver. The mask smelled a little like rubber, and the antelope herself smelled sweetly of berries and flowers, suggesting that she hung around the sycamore ring a lot.
| The moment the doe stood up again, I jumped, startled, and sped off to the edge of the bowl again. I stopped next to a large sycamore tree, turned around and press myself against its smooth bark, the sticky smell of sap clinging to my own distinct scent. The doe didn’t lie back down, and instead faced me from where she stood, bowing low to the ground before nodding slowly. I took a couple, cautious steps forward. The doe nodded again—I took more steps, stopping to stand only ten feet from her. My legs trembled—I felt like they would collapse beneath me—but then the blackbuck spoke.
| “
It is okay, little one . . .” she said. “I will not hurt you.” The voice was soft and soothing, and the doe’s way of talking reminded me of someone from outside the dream. I was able to stand still, come closer and sniff her again; I enjoyed the smell of blueberries that wafted around her. I followed her next actions, lying down in the tall grass beside her. A drop of water ran down one of my long ears, dripping off the tip to drop onto the surprisingly dry soil that was beneath me. I swallowed my fears and shuffled closer to the doe, pressing my body against hers, warming up in the cold fog of morning.
| After a while, another deer appeared in the bowl—a nameless. I felt the antelope’s body freeze beside me. I stood up as the stag stepped closer. My body stiffened as it came right up to me and sniffed my neck, and the doe beside me got up on her long, skinny legs. She shook her head and mooed, but the nameless only bowed and sniffed—it didn’t seem like it meant too much harm, but it could’ve been the same nameless before. I backed away in fear as the doe mooed again: “
Go away—get! We don’t want you here—can’t you see that?!” Her words were shortened, and her voice was trembling with suppressed fear and growing anger—she seemed to be defensive of me. . . . Did I really look that young?
| The nameless wouldn’t listen; as I cowered in fear, backing away to the nearby birch, he approached. The doe stepped in between me and the stag, lowering her head and shaking her small antlers at him. He stayed, so she shoved forward a bit, and he then lowered his antlers to her horns. I blinked and stood still for a moment, wondering if he was going to try and lock antlers with her—he would likely push the doe straight off her feet, scoring a few scratches and wounds into her neck and shoulders in the process.
| I was surprised—and impressed—to see that the doe stayed where she was, stomping, mooing, and shaking her antlers at him. He moved around her and leaned forward to sniff my back-end, but she quickly cut in. I ran to the other side of the tree, and he followed—only to be stopped by the doe once more. It was about five, maybe ten minutes of taunting and threatening, chasing and defending, before the nameless finally left. The doe came and nuzzled me, before she then collapsed to her knees; she lay down, her sides heaving with exhaustion.
| It was obvious: the doe had run far and fast today, encountered at least two nameless, one of which she had to continuously defend me against, all the while battling the urge to flee, as well as trying to keep her fear and anger under control. It was quite an accomplishment—this day, the doe was good enough to be an inspiration.
| Lying down next to her, I set my head down on the ground. I dozed off for a minute or two, waking up when the doe beside me shifted. I blinked open my eyes and looked up; seeing that two deer had taken position at two different sides quite near us, I scrambled to my feet. I hid on the other side of the tree as they walked forward and sniffed me; the blackbuck stood up and shook her head at the two named deer. Nudging my shoulder, she walked away from the deer, out of the bowl. I stared at the two deer, flinching as they sniffed my hindquarters, and took off towards the doe. She led me away from them and towards the Playground, where we then settled down in a small cave created by a slab of rock leaning on a boulder. We entered it from one of the two open sides, and lay down together with our backs to the straight wall.
| Another deer and fawn came—both named; the doe stood up and greeted them with a bow. She looked at me, nodding, trying to get me to communicate, but I only stood and stared, taking a few steps back as they tried to approach me. I went behind the doe, but she stepped aside and allowed the two to get a little closer. I gave them each a shy, cautious sniff, before they soon went on their way, and the antelope and I got comfortable in the little shelter made by two boulders.

| Deep, slow breaths were soon coming from the blackbuck. I blinked and nudged her—she didn’t move. She had fallen asleep—and now, watching her . . . I felt regret: I probably should’ve tried to help the doe when that first nameless harassed her, but I hadn’t . . . and I couldn't tell her about it either. . . .
| I blinked again, shaking away the thoughts, and stood up; leaning forward, I decided to whisper something in the doe’s ear: “
Zero. . . .
| She seemed to whisper back, “
Eighty-eight. . . .
| I stared, but then cried out as I glimpsed the symbol-less head of a nameless, and ran away towards the blue bowl. With a few more blinks, I had left the forest, and woken up in a tent.
| Just a dream. . . .
dayne's picture

.... Wow. This.. this was



This.. this was simply amazing. Truly amazing. I am.. stunned. Good lord do you have a way with words. I'm sorry I'm not saying much but.. I really don't know what to say. @___@!

Once again, 88 was honored to meet 0.

Fledermaus's picture

Beautiful writing! I believe

Beautiful writing! I believe Zero was tagging along today with Shyla and Masque.

CynicalTabby's picture

This is very beautiful~ ^^ 0

This is very beautiful~ ^^
0 and 88 are such in depth characters, and this piece of writing is magnificent. 8D Kudos to the both of you. <3

Verycrazygirl's picture

Ooooooh~ I'm stunned! It's

I'm stunned! It's been a little while since I was last captivated by a written piece like this!
Zero is a remarkable fawn, as 88 is an amazing doe.
And your writing is incredible. <3

Thanks for such positive

Thanks for such positive comments! Tale of Tales 'games' are so captivating and intriguing to me, chances are that I'll probably be making even more T.o.T.-related stories like this one--at least some of which I might be posting here or on the Tale of Tales forums (no promises, though).