There’s a beast in the wood.
I can feel it waiting, watching for me. When my fingers brush the smooth surface of its relic, however slightly, its call leaps forward in my ears, drowning out the world around me. When I let go, it’s a deep ache-- a feeling of withering.
But I can still hear it. I can always hear it.
It knows my name. Not the name I was given, but the name I chose, the person I decided I would become.
That frightens me.
The beast in the wood has been there for a very, very long time. I know that too, as surely as it knows to call to me. It was put there. Trapped. By the people who lived here back before the fields were sown, before my ancestors first set foot in this place-- before the ancients themselves devised their magics and set the world aflame.
They trapped it for a reason. I can’t begin to guess how much of what the beast whispers to me is true-- it’s impossible to discern each truth from half-truth, each subtle misdirection from blatant falsehood. But if only half-- if only a small fraction of its power is real, it is the stuff of dreams and nightmares.
I’m going back there now. Back to where I first found it. The beast and I are going to have a long discussion, a parley down there in the dark, with the roots of the new world above us and the bones of the old below. It’s been waiting for this moment for a thousand thousand years, and I can feel its exultation in my very blood: a fierce joy whose flame licks at my insides, sears the place behind my eyes. At last. At last.
I’ve been waiting too-- counting away the days of my life, all for this; all for now, even if I did not know it, and I smile as I walk. The beast is dangerous-- a danger to bathe the world in flame and topple every high place. And it is very hungry-- a deep, black hunger like stars extinguished one by one.
I am hungrier still.