Resting upon the thickly clustered flowers of a tree, I spied the serpent. The heart-shaped mark on its head shimmered with the first rays of the sunrise. The markings on its body seemed to move and writhe as the snake moved.
I looked closely upon the tree, expecting the cliche of forbidden fruit. But the slithering beauty said in a singsong hiss: There is nothing for you to eat, but instead I give you the choice to be bitten. The seeds of that fabled fruit have long born a forest of its own. What you need now is the antidote to the consequences of that first choice. My venom will pump into your blood the essence of innocence and the pure strains of wonder. It will soften what has become brittle, restore what has been jaded, purify what has been spoiled. Maybe not entirely, but for a very good part. Because finding your way through the Wildforest is hard enough, and to bring along a spirit so bruised and starved will be too much of a handicap.
It could be a trick. But my spirit is battered and barely holding itself together. I asked the serpent what would be the price to be bitten.
Price? Did you think there will be no pain?
Before I could answer the snake had lunged from its languid perch and sank its sharp sharp teeth into my ankle, finding just the perfect spot for its mouth to curve and cling.
And the pain was all the pain of every second I have ever lived in this lifetime, hot and cold, stinging sharp and heavy blunt and cruelly serrated, and all the shades of every heartache every heartbreak shooting through my body. Every sliver of every shattered dream slicing through. Every pinprick and every bludgeon of every disappointment and loss. Scourged by fear and guilt and sorrow. A thousand regrets. A thousand hells.
STORIES are what happen in the Impossible Garden & the Wildforest. They are the overheard conversations, the gossip of the flowers and the trees, the fragments written on bones and stones. They are the secrets whispered by the wind, the tales of the stars, the knowledge earned or traded with the forest dwellers. They are the fairy tales that had been forgotten or never told. They are the rules and the history and how they are repeatedly broken and rewritten. They are the murmurings of magic, the language of hidden love, the wildness beneath every order and the pattern beneath every chaos. They are truths and they are lies and in the end they are real to those who have the heart to see.
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