Every year another sacrifice would be made; people would vanish unexpectedly into the gloomy and sinister forest never to be seen again. Innocent children would dissappear in the shadow of the forest; consumed. From the rustling leaves and wending boughs arose a lullaby that none could resist. They walked blindly to their death; their footsteps uneven and untrained to the paths of this territory, they would wake the spirits that resided in the forest, and the wrath of the Waking would consume them. It was a horrific reality that all knew and must accept. A nightmare and a curse which was completely unavoidable. That is the theory.
I had walked these paths from the day I took my first few steps. I was one of those who didn't know the Unspoken Rules, because no one was there to teach them to me. I was left here to die when I was only a few days old. I don't belong to any nearby village, and none of them belong to me. Some say that I am the child of this forest, but I refuse to take on that burden. I was left here by someone who knew that I would die. They knew, and left me because they didn't want me. Yet here, beneath these dark, cold branches I lived a bright, warm life and Iwas unafraid.
I was raised by the village Witch, but she wasn't really a witch. She was a midwife and a doctor. She told me I was like a son to her - cutting the wood when the cold numbed her joints and learning how to look after the animals when she didn't feel well. As I grew I stayed with her and took care of her. I think she knew who my parents were; she had helped almost every woman in the surrounding villages with births. But if she did, she never told me. When I was fifteen she died, and I carried on through the winter.
Come spring, I buried her. Alone. No one came to her funeral even though they knew. I hated them for that. Every family owed her their life, but no one respected her enough to come say goodbye. So I stopped going to the villages, and lived in my little cottage alone. Just me and the forest of death. We got along well.