Life. They say, it is easier to die than live in a gloomy world. The politics of power are played in royal houses, over and over again.
Death. They say, to die displays cowardice to flee from the course of nature that challenges you in every step of your life.
If both life and death are tough, what should then be the most favourable path in living and dying? I wonder what kind of life should one live. I think about what destiny someone should accept, if the subconscious choices are made towards one of the many ways of death.
My life wouldn’t have had been the same. None of all this would have happened. And I cannot help but put them into words for the world to know what she did. Not just for me, or my soul, but for the small wonders that were possible at any point of time. There can be no summarising, and it cannot be judged at times. There have been good and bad things done, but choosing what was right in that moment has shifted the face of life on our world.
It was only six months ago when I met her. I was on my way home from a boar hunt along with a few of my friends from town. It was a three-hour walk from the forest. After successfully killing four wild boars and a deer, everyone was tired. We were twenty of us in all and would go to hunt once every fortnight. Sad to say, but at least one of the members of the hunting party would get either scratched, or wounded in an encounter. I walked along with a friend of mine. All of us were walking along the edge of the forest. There wasn’t much to see, except for the soaring trees on our right. And to the left were plains followed by another forest, which lay in the distance. The bright star was starting to fall and starting to take its leave for the day, for the hottest times of the day were over.
A movement in the branches caught my attention. I stopped walking, and so did my friend who was walking with me.
“Did you see anything?”, my friend asked.
“I don’t know. I think I saw something moving in there.”, I replied.
“We’ve seen way too much movement for the day, Shar. You’re tired and so am I. Let’s go now, shall we?”
“Why don’t you go ahead, Brak. I’ll catch up with you soon.”
“Alright. But don’t go deep inside the forest. You know it isn’t safe in there, especially for someone alone.”
“I know. I only want to look for something. I’ll see you soon.”
“Okay. Take care then.”, he said, and walked away hastily towards the party.
I watched Brak join the group. Another movement of the branches confirmed my eyes about something stirring up at the edge of the forest. I walked towards it. Grabbing my hunting dagger from its sheath, I readied myself, for if it were some animal in search of a prey, I would have to defend myself.
As I moved closer, I saw a hand sliding over the bark of a tree. The branches moved followed by a rustle. The hunting party had gone beyond the crest of the hill, so that no one could hear me even if I screamed.
“Hello.”, I said in a loud voice. Once, twice, thrice.
“Go away.”, it sounded like a girl screamed at him.
What was a girl doing out here in these parts of the forest?
“It’s not safe here.”
“Go away.”, she repeated.
“I’m not going to hurt you. I was out hunting boars with a group of other hunters. We were on our way back home. . .”, I said. But why was I talking about myself. It’s her I should ask about. “Where do you come from?”
I reached the edge of the forest, but the girl had ventured inside, hiding behind tree trunks.
“Let me just take you home. I promise I won’t hurt you.” The girl looked at me from behind one of the trees. I saw her eyes wide open. And then I realised, I was holding my dagger in hand. Quickly, I said, “No. This isn’t to hurt you. You do not know. There are dangerous creatures in the forest. One has to be careful at all times. You aren’t safe.”
I kept on walking closer and closer towards her, but she was running from one tree to another. Soon, I was enveloped with trees everywhere. Not a glint of sunlight fell on the ground. But my eyes adjusted to the dark green shades of ambient light everywhere.
A time came when I walked into an area with dry leaves fallen everywhere. The girl was nowhere to be seen. She hadn’t responded for a long time. I hoped she would be okay.
Which is when I heard something growl nearby. I heard deep grunting sounds from all sides. What could they be? Bears? Wolves? Tigers? Could be anyone of them. I couldn’t count their numbers using my hearing. I tried to look for the girl, but she had disappeared into thin air. Where could she go, I wondered.
And then I heard the thumping of the feet with a clicking sound. It came slow and steady from all sides. And then it showed its face to me.
One by one, they came out of the shadows and showed themselves. I was surrounded by them on all sides. They were at least two feet in height. Most of them were black with white patches. But there was one who looked the most fearsome, completely black and shiny, with a huge scar on its face crossing over the nose. The other wolves looked at this one, and I understood.
There was only one thing I could do. From what I knew, I bent down in front of them. I recalled the story my mother told me about the wolves, who fought besides man during ancient times. Wolves had protected the humans from beasts of incomparable might and terror. And every man bent to show his respect towards them.
But the risk was very great, for these were not ancient times. In today’s world, humans hunted wolves as they preyed over goats and sheep. It would be unwise to bend in front of the wolves.
The leader of the wolf pack closed in. With fear starting to embed inside, I did not allow it to course through my veins, while I stood in front of the wolves. Wolves, I know for a fact, prey on those who fear them.
The leader now stood in front of me not two feet apart from where I stood. I had a feeling that these wolves weren’t here to make a kill, especially not to hunt me. I bent down on my knees and stared at the wolf leader in its eyes.
For moments, everything stood still. It stretched for a few minutes. And then a rustling sound nearby. The wolf leader nodded once at me. I felt it was telling me to stand up and look towards the source of the sound.
With another set of feet making the clicking sound of paws, I saw the girl riding another wolf, this one larger than the wolf leader. She was completely naked, her hair fell to the sides over her shoulders and in front of her body, covering her bare breasts. She didn’t show any shyness as she had shown before. I thought she ran away from me because she wasn’t wearing any clothes, although I never knew it was like that.
After the wolf had stopped ten feet from me, she said, “I told you to go away. Why didn’t you listen?”
“I only wished to help you stay out of the woods. I didn’t know you were with the wolves.”
“I am their leader. And since you now know about it, you cannot live anymore.”
“If it is a death that I shall pay for what I have seen, then I would gladly accept it. But I would rather know and be heard with justification for the reasons of my oncoming death.”
After staring at me for a few moments in silence, she said, “People of these dark ages have gone too far from the knowledge of what we have provided them. You live the life of a hunter. But as years pass by, you and the entire party which walks along shall desire to hunt for animals more dangerous than they hunted before. And that is when they shall start hunting us. Granting your life would insure our death. It is why you and your party of hunters is destined for death.”
“If it is my death that shall come upon me, the others shall definitely avenge for my death, which I wouldn’t wish for them to do so. But in the case of my absence, they will hunt every deadly creature that walks over this world.”
“Then they shall all die. How can man not realise the dangers we take on to protecting you. It is not the ancient times, but the dangers of unimaginable beasts still run everywhere. You don’t even realise the scent you gift them when you leave your towns and cities and bring about trouble for all of you. And it is we who keep you safe on your adventures and journeys.”
“I would never disagree with that. But if you look from a different perspective about letting me go, then I shall speak of your existence in these forests, and about the significance of your habitat. And in that, everyone shall realise that life in the ancient ages still runs through in the current times as well.”
“Then leave now. Speak with your leaders and let them know. We shall not be hunted down anymore with the ever-increasing ways to take our lives for a mere sport to place our heads on your walls, and our pelts as carpets on the floors. You have but the last warning as that of now, and there shall be none of the time to come. If we aren’t heard out and respected for what we do, you shall remain unprotected from dangers unknown, forever. All we shall do is look into the mass murders and bloody holocausts which shall drown every man, woman and child in the pool of human blood, and will settle down as a layer on the world’s crust.”
“Thank you.”, I said, bowing once more to the girl.
She nodded once and left. The rest of the pack followed, after the wolf leader followed her. Soon, it was me and the silence which remained for a long time.
I walked back in the direction I came and joined my party before I reached the town. I had a meeting with the hunting party to inform them of my experience in the forest. When everyone was convinced, we went to town and decide upon the matter.
It has now been six months. Our party has spoken to members of the council, and they in turn have raised the issue with our leaders. The law has been passed out, and every citizen in the kingdom is aware of the presence of the wolves. Although the existence of the beasts is unknown, their stories come out as rumours regularly. I haven’t seen or heard from any wolves since then. But we can hear them howl every night. They are there all the time, protecting our town, and the rest of the human world.
It is now up to you whether you should be saving the life of animals, or do you wish to put them to decorate your houses with different products which they are made of.
This post is inspired from The Daily Post’s Writing 101 June 2014 Challenge – Day 06: A Character-Building Experience