There once was a girl who had wandered far into the woods.
In those woods she heard wolves breathing, and she heard the trees murmur to her through bowed trunks and reaching branches that moved when there was no wind. She wandered farther and farther into the mess of shadows until she forgot about the world outside, could only remember the smell of damp moss and the sound of scurrying of insects as they felt the soft treading of her bare feet on their leafy bed, awakening them from sleep.
She was lost. She had been tricked by a modest looking frog at the mouth of a well. He had spoken of impossible things, dreams. He dispatched her heart to the forest by some dark magic, and she had followed it, helpless, for one cannot live without one’s heart. So she clambered past the nettles and vines that guarded the trees, ignoring the succinct cries of her thrashed palms, and entered into darkness.
Time had no keeper in that place. Hours and minutes and days had no construct, for they served no purpose. She stumbled and ran, never stopping as the branches whispered her name over and over, and through all the voices that hounded her, it was as still as death. She could feel things following at her heels, catching her scent, curious. She moved until at last she found a place where even the moon could find no entry, and all the creatures stood still. Her white dress torn to shreds, her eyes wide and dark, she nearly collapsed as she knelt down and gazed at what grew in the center of all things.
A golden toadstool.
She pressed her hand into the soft, black earth that surrounded it, and watched as it glowed. A sound, first soft, then growing stronger, claimed her ears. A single, pure note emanated from it, like the sweet peal of a bell that’s been rung. Never in her life had she beheld such a thing. She reached out her hands and plucked it from its soil.
As simply as she had taken it, words slipped into her mind. The blood in her veins ran cool as a voice spoke in her thoughts, buffeting her very soul,
Ai…what have you done?