A Walk in the Woods29 Feb 2016 | Memory
“Does anyone remember me?” The fawn repeated. Nearly the same surprised and confused expression painted the faces of all but one of the children gathered in front of him. Half the children stared at the goat-humanoid head, the other half stared at his hooved feet. His lack of clothing was the least of the many oddities.
Jack slowly raised his hand. Noticing the movement, the fawn did a double take. “What is your name young human?”
“Now, then Jack. What is my name?” A knowing smile crossing his face.
“You’re Mr Rockhoof. The faun. You took us on a walk through the woods just yesterday.” With each word the knowing smile faded from the faun’s face replaced by surprise.
He regained composure and eyed the other children, “So I did. Well then. Does anyone else remember me?”
A few seconds passed before a girl raised her hand. The fawn’s eye’s opened wide. “You remember me as well?”
“Um, no. I wanted to know if I can have a fawn costume too.”
Mr Rockhoof threw his head back and laughed. He continued to laugh for some time, and in a few minutes the whole group of children were laughing with him–though most didn’t understand why, and only one remembered why.
Once the laughter died down and the eyes were dried, Mr. Rockhoof lead them into the forest on a well worn path that led up hill slightly.
The lecture sounded the same as the day before. “The trees are ancient and speak truths… magical creatures are always around us… you could spend a lifetime studying a single wild creature.” The only differences were the creatures that they came across, though there were overlaps of those too.
Flocks of wind pixies glowed in small waves across the treetops like swarms of fireflies in greens, yellows, and reds. Deer patrona nibbled moss off trees glowing a cold blue in the distance–they stayed far off the path.
This time Jack saw a short creature walking upright and muttering to himself. The creature looked like a younger, bluer version of Yoda but angry. When Mr. Rockhoof saw the creature he stopped his rambling lecture and pointed him out.
“Just through those trees, you’ll see a gremlin. There are only a few in the hills, and most will only come out at night. He must be in a real mood to be that shade of blue and out kicking tree stumps in the early afternoon.” Just then he kicked a tree stump and let out an indecipherable scream. The fawn’s ears folded back.
“Well. I’ll not stand to have any of you repeat that in a classroom. Let’s move along.” Several students were drawing and scribbling in their notebooks.
As they walked, Mr. Rockhoof continued his lecture on the importance of balance and nature’s way. Jack walked near the back of the group, eyes searching the trees for another glimpse of a magical creature. There, he saw it again. It looked like a large bat with two heads. It was the third time he’d seen it this trip. He thought he remembered seeing it the day before too. Then it was gone.
Jack heard Mr Rockhoof’s voice from up ahead, “and they eat the moss of the other sides of the tree, which is why humans believe moss only grows on one side of a tree. Any questions?”
He needed to know what that thing was, it gave him the creeps. “What is a two headed bat called?” All eyes were on him. “I saw one in the trees. Maybe more than one?”
Rockhoof walked right up to Jack and stooped to look him in the eyes, “Are you certain young human?”
“Yes, it was big and black with two heads, I saw it at least twice this trip, maybe yesterday too. It hangs onto trees pretty high up, it’s the only bat I’ve ever seen with a tail.”
“Frostfire,” he said under his breath. “Alright everyone, we’re going back to the Lodge. Now. We’ll have another walk again soon.” With that he turned back on the path and there was silence the whole way back to the Lodge, partly because of mood set by Mr Rockhoof’s determined face, nervous glances around the wood, and the pace was just a touch over walking speed. Everyone was breathing hard by the time they entered the clearing.