-Folk Tale told in the forest village of Greymist, near the Annaraparill Forest.
Once upon a time there was a small village at the edge of a great forest. In this village there lived a family, much like any other. The Father was a forester and knew the great forest well and the mother was a nice woman who was loved by the people of the village.
Over time this small family had a child, a boy. This boy was the light and the life of the couple, and they showered the child with praise and joy. From a young age the boy’s father taught the child how to explore the forest and showed the child many of the treasures that a great forest has to offer. The boy was always pleased to learn from his Father and receive praise from his Mother. Then, one year, his Mother had a beautiful baby girl, and this changed everything for the boy.
The baby girl had golden hair and eyes that shined bright and blue like her mothers. Her laugh was like clear silver bell that would ring through the tiny village and set everyone’s heart to joy. Everyone that is except the boy.
The boy child no longer felt like as important. His Father was too busy in the forest to spend as much time with him. His Mother was so very busy raising the new child she barely had time for the boy. The boy was not fond of his new sister and decided he would spend as much time as he could away and in the forest.
So, the boy child left the village and wandered into the forest with bitterness in his heart. He went down to the river and he followed it and as he did, he would throw rocks into the river and wish that each one would carry his hurt and pain away.
Suddenly a voice, cracked and old, asked him “Boy, why do you throw those rocks so angrily? Has the river hurt you in such a way?” The boy was scared for a moment, for he had not heard the speaker approach. When he turned around it was just an old woman sitting by the edge of the river. He hadn’t seen her as he was throwing rocks.
“No, the river didn’t hurt my feelings.” Said the boy.
“Then who did, to make you so angry?” The woman asked.
The boy told the woman about his new baby sister and how terrible she was. She took Mother and Fathers attention and he had no one to play with. The old woman listened patiently to the small boy and with a smile said “Then you and me can play child. I shall show you to a special place. But you must promise me, no one must know about this place child. Only you. Do You Promise?”
The boy promised the old woman, who told him her name was Babushka Stri’Gha and off the two went deeper into the forest. The old woman showed him into a darker path where the trees grew close together and strange vines grew. The boy was afraid, but Babushka merely smiled and said he would be excited when he got to the special place.
When they finally arrived at the special place the old woman had told the boy about, he was excited! It was beautiful! Trees grew in shades of purple and red, orange and black. Each flower shifted to look at him and glowing lights flowed through the air.
The boy danced amongst the flowers, trees and vines while the old woman watched and laughed and played along. When it got dark the old woman brought him back to the rivers edge and made him repeat his promise. As long as he kept it, he could come back any time he liked.
Over the years as the boy began to grow up, he would return frequently to the rivers edge and to Babushka Stri’Gha. Every time he did, she would walk him to the special place in the forest and he could play to his hearts content. For awhile the boy was happy.
As time went on his sister grew older and more beautiful. The town would always praise her and touch her golden locks for luck. The boy, though jealous, knew that he had a secret place that no one else would know about and so was content. Then one day his Mother asked him something terrible.
“Boy,” She said “I must run to market. Watch over your Sister now. Take her with you wherever you go.”
The Boy knew he couldn’t take his Sister with him to his special place. He had made a promise to Babushka and he would not break it. No, today he would have to stay home and take care of his Sister. So, the Boy stayed home and watched over his Sister and saw the way the whole village praised her.
The next day was just as bad. The next day his mother asked the boy to take his Sister with him into the forest. He did, but not to his special place for he had promised Babushka. Instead he took her to the regular grove and slowly began to despair.
For the next week he oversaw his Sister. His little ward would wander about the town and the forest, singing happy songs that sounded like bells while he slowly began to grow angry at her. She was keeping him from his special place! He couldn’t take her with him, and he couldn’t leave her behind.
The Boy began to get worried. It had been so long since he had seen Babushka. What if she wasn’t there anymore? What if she refused to take him to the special place? What if he never got to go back! All of this was his Sisters fault!
The Boy decided that he would try and find Babushka at night when his family was asleep. So that night, when the moon was full, he snuck out of his family’s small hut at the edge of the tiny village by the great forest and went to go see Babushka.
He was surprised but happy to see her waiting where she always waited at the edge of the river. This time she was very quiet and when the Boy exclaimed in excitement, she shushed him and led him away. Soon they arrived at the special place in the forest and the boy was very happy for the first time in what felt like forever.
“Why have you not come to see me sooner Boy child?” asked Babushka Stri’Gha.
The Boy explained to Babushka that is was all his Sisters fault. He had to take care of her every day now. Couldn’t he bring her here too?
“No child. This is your special place. You promised not to speak of it or show anyone else. Only you or I can come here child. I’m sorry, it looks like tonight will be the last time you can come here.” Said Babushka.
The boy began to cry in despair then. This couldn’t be his last time! There had to be another way! If only his Sister wasn’t around. The Boy wished that she would just disappear.
“Oh, child, No. That wouldn’t work. Your parents would be so sad if she did. They would hold you close. They would hold you tighter and never let you leave their sight. No, child, if just your sister was to disappear then you would never come here again just the same. I’m so sorry child.” Said Babushka.
“I wish that they would all just disappear!” said the Boy.
“Come closer child. See this ring of mushrooms here? Come inside it with me and make that wish again” said Babushka.
So, the boy did. Babushka smiled down at the child.
“You should go home child. Tomorrow all will be better.” Said Babushka.
The Boy child went home then still crying from what he said. He was ashamed that he had thought so meanly. The Boy snuck back into his bed and went to sleep.
The next morning the Boy awoke to a sweet smell of meat cooking on the fire. This was unusual as Mother normally just made bread or soup for breakfast. He slipped out of bed and crawled down his ladder from the loft and who did he see? Babushka cooking a small bit of meat, roasting it over the fire. She was humming one of his play songs that he would sing when they were in their special place.
When the boy looked around the small hut, he didn’t see his Mother or Father anywhere. He didn’t see his Sister or hear her laugh like little bells. He didn’t hear the village as they awoke to greet the dawn. All he heard was the sound of Babushka humming and spit and sizzle of the meat.
“Where did they go Babushka?” said the Boy.
“Pay no mind to that child. They are gone, as you wished. Here is some fresh meat child, would you have some?” said Babushka.
The boy nodded yes. It smelled so good. Babushka pulled a piece of meat off the fire and put it on a plate for him, careful to keep her back turned from the boy. The Boy ate hungrily of the meat. It tasted so sweet!
Babushka then slowly turned to the boy while he was finishing his breakfast. Blood was on her lips as she leaned down to plant a kiss on his forehead.
“Anointed with blood of innocence and with anger in your heart you summoned me. Together we shall be, forevermore. Welcome, my child, to the House of Fallen Leaves.” Said Babushka as she smiled.
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