The woods are normally a place of peace and refuge. That small woman, pacing through the natural undergrowth would normally pause. Stopping to look overhead at the towering trees. Trying to spy a squirrel, a hawk, or some little creature hidden in the foliage.
But not now. Now she strode onwards with a purpose. Eyes set straight ahead. Axe held in her hand. She’d walked many miles, tracking a party which had departed some time before. Luckily, she was quick on her feet, and knew the woods well.
It would be a few hours before a distant sound interrupted the quiet tranquility of the woods. Metal meeting wood. Shouts of fear and direction. Her steps picked up. And then an anguished cry. A voice all too familiar. The woman ran.
Breaking through the trees, she came upon a sight that sent her heart dropping to the depths of the Nether. A great corrupted Fae, terrible in its twisted nature, crushing her sister to the forest floor. Without thought of consequence, she ran ahead. That axe was lifted high. An arrow struck then, burning ichor being sent spilling over all those close by. Despite the pain, the woman moved ever forwards. The sharp edge of her axe was brought down in a brutal swing. Ironwood biting into corrupted Fae flesh. Her sister now virtually entombed by the abomination, dying before her eyes. She pulled the axe back for another swing….but it never fell. A twisted blade met twisted wood, and the Fae became something more. Something darker. Growing and twisting, it sent out deep roots into the soil. Blight filled the air, poisonous spores burning the lungs. Tanila was swept away, her screams echoing from the very tree itself. Knocked back by the sudden growth and now choking on noxious fumes, the woman made a choice. Others turned. They fled and ran, escaping the scene. But together with the Lion, the woman stepped up. Facing down that twisted tree, its maw agape, the visage of Tanila, now pale and twisted, evident within. Her eyes though, remained alive. Suffering, crying out in anguish. The woman began to climb. Using roots as leverage, she parkoured up, her lungs screaming for air which was no longer present. There was only moments to act. First the axe was sent flying for the roots impaling Tanila. The tree knocked it aside. A hand dipped into the woman’s pocket. A last effort, as her lungs felt about to burst. She withdrew a rock and leaped from the roots towards her sister. That special stone, carried for years, meant to end Tanila’s suffering.
But the blow never came.
Her mind was already filled with the screeching agony of nature. The blight filled area caused so much pain. The anguish from her sister only struck her ever deeper. It seemed impossible that there could be any greater pain. Any further harm.
Then the roots struck. Sent forth from the twisted form of Tanila, they shoved their way into her body. Twisting and writhing, taking over what was once a descendent form. Now her voice, previously unused, arose in an unearthly shriek as the Paletree invaded her very being.
She thought she had known pain. She thought she knew suffering. She was wrong. Branches twisted inside her, forcing organs to work when they wanted to fail. Every choice was ripped from her, not even able to control her own breathing. Those alien vines forced her lungs to breathe in that poison. A searing pain settling deep inside with every desperate intake of air. But this would offer no relief. Anyone else would die from such. But that cursed tree…
It healed to only destroy. It built up so the body could break down anew. A twisted, vicious cycle of unending pain and agony. No relief, no respite. No rest, no sleep. Breaths of poison and pain. No food, but no starvation. No air, but no suffocation.
Her body bombarded with agony beyond comprehension, one would think that would be the end. But now she was forced to stare across at her sister, knowing she was enduring this same cursed fate. Trapped and dying, but never fully dead. The heart of the elder sister breaks then. Knowing she had failed. Her baby sister, the little one she had loved and cared for, now condemned to a living hell.
Nature cried out as the blight spread. At the sheer wrongness of everything about this tree and what surrounded it. Nature’s screams filled the natural world, taking over any peaceful song and twisting it into a mind numbing, unbearable horror.
For the woman, there was no peace. Her soul was connected to nature. In her mind all she heard was this constant wail of affliction.
To her ears, the howls of her sister.
To her heart, the pain of being helpless.
How long can one survive such a fate?
Is it truly surviving?
The tree forced their bodies to remain alive and intact….
But the mind….
Who knew if it was mere hours, or days, or months.
Time was a funny thing for a woman completely trapped in living death.
She fought to be free. She fought to choose. She failed.
There was no freedom, there was no choice.
Eventually, she fell silent. Her eyes drifted shut.
Acceptance, the only sort possible.
She gave up. The tree would do as it willed. She would fight no longer.
The body remained….but the mind was lost.
Nenar drifted away.