Asela had spent the day dozing, drifting in and out of awareness of her surroundings from where she stood in the midst of the forest. A young ash tree strived with the forest giants for a bit
of sunlight, though as evening fell and the warmth of the sun fled her leaves, they seemed to ripple in an unfelt breeze, branches stretching faintly almost like a human might upon rising as she
stirred her thoughts to wakefulness. A moment later, the tree shuddered and seemed to fall in on itself, twisting as it shrunk, leave retreating and then branches, pulling in as bark softened to
tanned skin, cap of leaves feathered into hair, thin leaves of bark weaving into rough spun clothing that draped what had become the slender form of a girl. She blinked, a small smile on her face,
uplifted arms falling to her sides as she shifted her feet, tugging them free of the earth that seemed to hold them tight as she cast a look around.
-Halekial- *The same way that she drifts in and out of awareness, is the same way Halekial is exploring, going from one place to the next...one realm to the next. Though, his mood seems a sour one, the once-glowing countenance seeming to have been darkened by the thunderclouds of unhappiness. Head held low, bent, he is following an invisible line on the ground, it seems, as he goes...nowhere? Yes, nowhere… nowhere in particular, and from nowhere...the common theme of him and his day -- without purpose or origin. Feeling lost, emotionally, he sighs and merely plods through the sylvan~scape, the colors of evening etching themselves into the fabric of the place like some scenic embroidery -- such an embellishment! Even so, it does nothing to lighten the mood. But, as he passes what he thinks and considers a tree with a glance that is askance (blame it on camouflage?), he merely continues on...endlessly.*
* Asela blinked as she caught sight of Halekial…a person…this far back in the forest? It was unusual, to say the least. She often tried to find a place that she thought would be undisturbed while she was there, but… for all that she was still faintly wary of people, the good experiences she had had with them thus far had turned away much of her fear, and left her only with her curiosity. She hesitated but a moment before she took a step, and moved after Halekial. She didn’t say anything, and though she didn’t hide her steps, she didn’t make them obvious, simply trailing along in his wake to see what he was up to…
-Halekial- *Without anything in mind, immersed in his purposelessness and preoccupied with oblivion, he is merely moving, the shell of a man simply going through motions. But, as time passes, the android-like mentality and perambulation shifts to a more human fashion. Perhaps the wearing of time awakens him to a reality he dulled himself to. It's with this awakening of awareness, the revitalization of his ears and attention, does he notice as time dutifully passes that there are more than his own footsteps. Hard to tell with the night-life in abundance in full of activity, from the concert the crickets put on, to the random crackling of twigs from this or that unseen force or creature. No, these steps sounded as if they belonged to someone human…or human-like -- hard to tell in these day and ages, in these types of places. Basically, someone he could hold a conversation with; and so, Halekial keeps on walking, not saying anything, wanting so very much to cast a glance over his shoulder, behind him, to see what or who it is -- surely not a killer of some kind, for he'd be dead by now, wouldn't he? Closing his eyes, he continues walking, still going on in the current pattern of a simple straight line. *
* Asela picked her way along in his wake. She couldn’t really say what it was about this figure, but something seemed a bit… odd about him. People who came to the woods seemed to wander through it to enjoy it, or to have some specific purpose in mind, but she saw evidence of neither in this man. He didn’t seem to take note of her presence either. She made her steps a bit more obvious, not wishing to approach him and surprise him. Some people weren’t fond of being surprised. But other than that, she stayed as quiet as he did, watching him. Maybe he did have a purpose here… he was walking in a rather straight line, she considered to herself. She did hope to eventually catch his attention, but she could wait for him to notice her, or to do whatever it was he might be off to do first, she had decided.
-Halekial- *Indeed, he does seem odd -- what, with his orange hair and warm heat that emanates from him, naturally. Without any sort of supernatural ingenuity or detection, he can feel a disturbance in the atmosphere, maybe from the static electricity that comes with a person's body, or something else. He can feel her; someone's behind him. Closing his eyes, he suddenly stops in his tracks, which she may not be ready for (probably causing her to bump into because of the suddenness, depending on her following distance), he turns around and faces whatever or whoever is behind him. As he completes his turn, eyes that were a moment ago, closed, are now opened. And what exactly does he behold? … some strange-looking sylvan woman. What is she? A dryad? -- A woodland nymph of some kind? Or an Amberleaf Wealdean??! (Do they exist?) Blinking once more, as if he can't exactly swallow the image whole, attempting to get the image in a second snapshot, he then seems able to visually digest her for whatever she is. What it is exactly, he can't tell. But, she has a sweet-looking face, and is pretty unique…and pretty...enough. And there’s nothing wrong with being in the company of a pretty girl. The sour mood is still there, but it's punctuated by his slightly confusion and sudden intrigue. Great.*
* Asela came to a halt when he did, surprised, but not near enough to him to run into him. In fact she was still a couple of paces away from him where she paused. For a long moment she just looked back at him, studying him with the same interest he showed her. Something about him made her thing of a flame, if fire could be pushed into a human form… That was a bit of a stretch, though. He must just be some unique human. She shuddered to think what fire might do in a forest. That was the only thing she was really frightened of. A small smile eventually curled on her lips, her hands tucked behind her back. “Hello,” she greeted him simply, her voice just loud enough to carry to his ears and no further.
-Halekial- *The interesting creature is studying him with the same aplomb that, he is, her. It's not too involved or too in-depth, just enough to glean the surface of one's demeanor and physical traits/attributes. And he's not the least bit put off by it. In fact, it makes him that much more curious, intrigue piqued. Hm…it's obviously intelligent. He can see it behind the knowing eyes, the lively mouth. More interesting than the creature herself is the very description that is used to describe him, both interesting and ironic -- 'fire pushed into a human form' -- for, that's exactly how it could be described -- that, or a human form worn around the fire. For, essentially, he is the fire, and the human form is just that, a form. Consider it fleshly clothing. The fire inside can be hinted at in the full scope of his eyes, filled with the fiery color of orange all the way through, spanning the entire shape of the eye. The bronze skin shines in the lunar lighting, shining with that of life. And then, THEN, the thing, the she-creature (for, obviously, it's a "she"), speaks. Offering in return, he answers in kind,* "Hello." *Simple as that -- short and sweet, much like her own. In his own voice, in a cinnamon-dusted tone, wafts her way as well. No extra push. No selective withdrawal. No, straight to her ears, and no further. As of right now, they pretty much are the same kind of creatures, despite the obvious physical differences -- curious, intelligent, and wary. *
* Asela often found it easy to warm up to people. One could usually tell what sort of creature they were, what they were looking for when they left their homes to come out here. But Halekial… well, she could read about as much of him as she could in the babble of a river or the chatter of a squirrel. It was different and intriguing, but indecipherable for all that. His eyes, though, bespoke of something more than the human appearance he carried. And as such she made no move to come closer, content to carry on a conversation from a distance. She was quiet a moment, waiting to see if he had anything more to say, before her curiosity demanded that she fill the silence that had fallen between them. “What are you?” she asked him. The question was not impolite. It was a simple search for knowledge he could provide. Usually she looked to discover why people had come to the Weald. You could tell much about someone if you could learn the purpose of their actions. But Halekial… first she had to fit the nature of his being…before she could tackle the intricacies of his personality.
* The Tree 's roots shined in pale light of the falling night, reflecting the soft glow of pixies and fireflies. The moons' light did not fully pierce through the laurel's branches this night, leaving the dancing lights as the sole source of illumination about the tree's form. The tiny darting motions of the pixies danced about its roots, fireflies zipping and zinging about the thick dark bark. A cricket added its song to the dance, chirping happily as the tree swayed gently in the air that flowed through it's branches.
-Halekial- *Even with the onset of conversation, Halekial is curious to know why she has maintained her distance. Given the situation, he wouldn't blame her. But, it seems so off, considering how open she was just a moment before. Open, only to say, uncaring of the dangers or hazards of happening upon a stranger…at least, as far as he could tell. Hm. Then, she asks her question. The distance fails to make her any less direct. * "Well, I am a fire-elemental. And what are you?" *Will she know what a fire-elemental is? Let's hope she does, because Halekial doesn't really feel like explaining. Blame it on his ongoing crankiness and moroseness this evening. Life sucks. Well, sucked. Sucked, because even with all this strangeness, the creature seemed to be nice enough. But first impressions are the least dependable…a breeding-ground for lies, exaggerations, and role-playing. It's like getting romantically involved with someone, only to realize that they were your worst nightmare come true 2 years down the line. So, he can see how she'd maintain her distance, and so it is. The heat, though, closes the gap, seeming to be the connector. And it's affable…quite affable. Like a homey little fireplace lit, to make your home all nice and cozy. So inviting. The light behind the eyes hides a festering laughter. Why, though? Only he knows, as he watches her with such inquiry.*
* Asela managed to stand right where she was, though her eyes did widen slightly at his declaration. She had thought a comparison to fire for this flame-headed individual merely amusing speculation, but apparently it was not such an inaccurate idea. She did indeed know what a fire elemental was, and though this one was warm and human looking, she still found it hard to be happy he was here. She was most glad of the distance between them at the faint tickle of fear that trailed down her spine. “Oh, um, I am a tree shifter…” she said. She was well used to explaining that to people who had never seen anything quite like her before, but before he could ask her to explain, she had one more thing to make sure of. “Er…you don’t, um,” she paused not sure how to politely phrase such a thing. “You will not burn the forest?” she asked finally. She didn’t really expect him to, but some things one just needed to ask for the sake of being sure…to put her fears at rest if nothing more. She could accept many things, even a kindly fire elemental, as long as he planned on keeping his flames to himself, that is.
-Halekial- *The man raises a brow at the answer.* "A tree-shifter? So, you can change into a tree? And back to this?" *When he says 'this', his hand is flourished along the length of her person, to indicate her current form. * "That's...pretty cool, if so." *Nodding his head. The enthusiastic tone pretty much says how he's feeling, or thinking. Then, at the mention of him burning the forest down, he shakes his head.* "I would never do such a thing. I have too much respect. This is a home to many. " *Nodding his head. He could see the fear behind her eyes, but he wanted to definitely prove a point. Even though he very well could, he very well wouldn't. And commencing with his efforts to prove the aforementioned point, he lifts a single index finger into the air, poking at some invisible point in the air. Halekial moves his finger smoothly through the air, fire formed in concert with the movement, the end-result of a heart etched into the atmosphere, bright and burning, shining like a hopeless romantic's beacon (guys, pay attention! ^_^). The heart is large enough to fit around her face, if she were to try it on, (though, why would she? It sounds absurd). It ripples, the tangerine-threaded embellishment hanging in the air fitfully, before Halekial moves around to the side of the heart and blows against it, it failing to fall apart or be disturbed, disturbed only enough to follow the flow of his breath -- toward the line of trees on either side of them. And so, it flows, galvanized, floating lazily toward the trees before it fades into them and seems to get entangled for a second, the heart swallowed by the growth; as it is fully enmeshed by the foliage, the flame-formed heart breaks apart into little pieces, fiery dots that got traipsing off in the air, appearing like the mundane (at least, here), fireflies and pixies, alighting the nighttime air with its heated essence. It was as harmless as Halekial himself. She had his word.* "See? I promise you, I won't." *Nodding his head. * "Now…about that tree-shifting...." As if that says it all. It's obvious he wants her to show him something in return. Good ole equal-footed reciprocity. There is something in sharing. It's intimate, and quite equalizer. It brings people together and lets you get to know them better; it's why people seem to 'share' when having dinner or eating together. Share, and share alike. Something in him says she will, though. That much, he's certain of. Or is he being delusional? Probably.*
* The Tree leaves rustled softly in the air, small flakes of the bark peeling off and falling to the ground, small clusters of tiny cream colored blossoms hid, tucked away in clumps of leaves
on every branch. Twisted and gnarled, roots stretched out from the base, are exposed in the small patches of moonlight that escaped through the surrounding tree's branches, the moonlight
falling through, down to the ground . An occasional blossom broke free of it's home, drifting away into the wind, twirling and fluttering it's way to the earth to join it's other fallen
* Asela nodded slightly at his question. She thought it was rather fun, too… She nodded to his words. While she hadn’t imagined him to be the destructive sort it was nice to hear such a thing out loud. Though, when he conjured flames she took a step back despite herself. Midair it could do no damage, she knew that rationally, but that was the thing about irrational fears, that didn’t make any distinction between what was really possible and what an imagination running wild could come up with. Her expression was a no doubt amusing mixture of shock and worry as he blew the flames in the direction of the trees, which were whispering up a storm about the view they had beneath their branches. The flames broke apart, harmless and almost pretty if one could forget what they were. “I see…” she finally got out. “Just please, don’t do that…” she asked of him. Harmless or not her heart was still fluttering with a tense sort of fear. She swallowed, and nodded slightly at his words. Showing people trees was much less frightening… she stepped back a bit from him, finding herself a space that was open enough to shift in. She took a deep breath and stood, feet planted firmly, arms lifting, her body beginning to change with the movement, her skin roughed and her human-esque form was rapidly absorbed, roots diving downwards as branches grew, the whole form elongating and thickening into a tree trunk as branches split into more limbs, twigs and then leaves filling out the top of the tree. It was a youngish tree, by no means a forest giant, but far from a sapling. She stayed in that form for a moment, before the tee shuddered a bit, and then seemed to grow backwards, the process reversing itself as a girl took the place of the plant once more, dropping her arms as she lifted her feet from the earth. “Tree shifter,” she affirmed with a small smile.
-Halekial- *The reaction that she gives causes Halekial to widen his eyes in his own horror -- horror at causing her fear that he already knew was there. Shame on him! He only wanted to reassure her, though! Such is the way of things, sometimes, people doing things to help or make them better, only to make them worse or get in the way. The saying, 'leave well enough alone', comes to mind. He's hard-headed like that, though. * "Oh! Did I frighten you?" *Wanting to lay a comforting hand on her shoulder, to still the rapid beating of her heart, calm her fluttering insides. Yet, he figures that she is still so shaken enough that, if he so approached, she'd back up -- out of fear. * "I...(bowing his head, pausing as if to reflect and consider his words) am sorry...." *The sentence ends, and he lifts his head, making known the sincerity behind his words with the look behind his eyes. Lips grimly set, he sighs and shakes his head, mumbling quietly to himself, * "I'm always messing up." *She may or may not have heard that, but it may have something to do with the mood he was in, earlier. And then, THEN, she proceeds to share. That lovely word again, that word that placed people on common ground.* "Oh?" *At the mention of her changing. And then, she does, finally, his suspense having grown considerably after he had finished with his own little display. And what a display HERS was! So seamless! Yet it is simple, seamless -- simple and utterly enchanting. No, she didn't sport the physical might and height of the old ones, and she was neither as unimpressive as a gangly, awkward sapling. She is somewhere in between, if not leaning more towards the younger. Or is it older? Hard to tell, especially when he doesn't even know. * "That was great! (A single clap of the hands)" *Then, a question-mark fills his vocal river. * "What sort of tree were you?" *Ooh, another fun question! But, would it be a hard one? Was she an Oak? A Sycamore? Or, most enchanting and fitting of all, a (gasp) WILLOW?! He is ever the inquisitive one....*
* Asela would have shaken her head slightly, as if to deny the obvious. He had frightened her, but his concern was clear enough to hear, she knew that he had not meant to scare her with his display, but he had even so. “It is alright, really… it is just something that has always scared me…” she offered him in half explanation before she stepped away a bit, not hearing the last of his words. His worry over whether or not he had scared her was proof enough for her of a good nature, even if he was a fire elemental. She trusted that he meant no harm. After showing him her talent, she moved a bit closer to him, though she still stood a handful of steps away from him. “I am an ash tree in that form,” she told him with a little smile. He seemed nearly as curious as she could be, though she didn’t ask him anything more about being a fire elemental. As nice as he was, she didn’t want any more displays… “What has brought you to the Weald tonight?” she asked him instead. As she had observed earlier, she couldn’t really say what might have motivated him to come here, like you could with others.
-Halekial- *His head bobs as he listens to her as she explains about her fear.* "Hm. I hope one day you can overcome it. At least, enough to not worry so much about it." *After it looks like he is in deep thought, considering something, he waxes philosophic.* "Because, once you break through whatever holds you back from fully enjoying or living life, then you can truly be all that you can be. True, fear can help you stay aware, and sometimes keep you alive, drive you, but you can do that much by simply being conscious, have good-sense, and have ambition." *Giving an alternative in the latter part of his sentence to each disagreeable term or phrase in the former. And yes, he is also a philosopher. That much is certain. She can tell he is something of the sort, be it a scholar or a priest, in the satin ceremonial robes that he wears. He continues.* "An ash tree." *Saying almost-absently, seeming to run away with the name. He considers her question thoughtfully.* "What brought me to the Weald...." *Repeating her question in the form of a statement just about. * "Well, I had a disagreement with someone last night. A couple or so people, actually. It kind of ran over into today, sadly. I never let things get to me, but once my personality is in question, personalities which so much is a part of who we are, what defines us, well, I sorta took it personal." *A mere shrug of his shoulders. Then, he realizes that he probably has made her uncomfortable, to say the least, and so, makes quick to apologize for any unease that's felt, any awkwardness.* "Excuse me. I'm sorry about that." *His head bobs again. Then, as he does so, looking somewhere behind her, he appears to fix his gaze on something in particular…. something that has leafy origins (whoopee, smart guy!). Except, the leafy origins stick out for some reason. Blinking, Halekial stoops down, walking with his body bent forward, the physical attitude of exploring something, hoping not to disturb the subject. He had crept around Asela's person and offered a small little ‘ 'scuse me', proceeding toward what is named The Tree. He blinks again, canting his head to the side as he peers at it in particular. Something about it drew his eye, his attention. It seemed alive… more alive than the others. Then, almost having forgotten about her, he remembers Asela, swiveling his head and eyes around toward her,* "Do you see that? " *Referring to the leaves that are shed. Wasn't it Spring? And how come none of the other trees were doing that? Or were they? In any case, after asking the question, his eyes swerve back onto its form.*
* Asela listened to him, smiling slightly at his words. He did look to be like a learned sort, and he certainly seemed to have a lot on his mind. It was fun to hear him talk, though. It not only shared new thoughts, but it gave her some insight into what sort of person he was. What he thought, where his mind wandered… She nodded slightly. “I know that it is something I should get rid of, but…” she shrugged slightly. “I do not think I will ever not be fearful of fire,” she said softly. The terror of flames, licking up ones skin, burning and eating its way along, bright and hot… that was a fear instilled early on and only ingrained as time went on. “You have no need to apologize. I am sorry that you argued with someone. I hope you can settle it with them later...” she offered to him. She blinked as he fixed his gaze on something, her eyes sliding sideways as she turned to look behind herself to see what he was looking at and not seeing anything in particular. She looked back as he began to walk forwards, taking a step back out of his way, watching him trek towards the tree for a moment before she shifted to follow him, a few steps back but still watching what he was watching. She looked over the tree that was in front of him, seeing nothing unusual. “See what?” she asked of him.
* The Tree remained as it was, leaves still softly rustling within the air, moonlight glistening on the tops of its leaves. The fey that were upon its roots darted about, vanishing into the night's air as Halekial drew nearer to it's form, branches that had fallen free, snapping softly beneath his feet.
-Halekial- *And upon his inspection, he comes up empty-handed, I mean, empty-eyed...finding nothing. He arches a tawny brow high over his right eye as he ‘hm’ 's quietly to himself. Scratching his head, looking all of confused, he turns around, though shoots one last look quickly as if hoping to catch whatever he thought he saw, there and 'in the act'. Again, he comes up with nothing, turning his head back around, focusing his eyes upon Asela's form. He can pretty much figure that she perhaps thinks he's insane. He wouldn't fault her for such a rational thought -- rational because he is acting a complete and utter mess...mad. He shakes his head.* "Well, maybe I'm seeing things. Or maybe you put some spell on me without me knowing! Called your Tree friends to aid in your illusions to make me think I'm crazy!" *She'll easily tell that he is joking, the spry tone in correlation with even spry eyes and mouth. He chuckles soon after, shaking his head.* "I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I just thought I saw something, and I'm not crazy. Well, yes I am, but not THAT crazy. " *Another shake of the head.* "But, I think I may try to resolve that issue that I spoke of earlier. So, I 'm going to have to wrap this lovely little meeting up. And truly, it has been lovely. You're even lovelier, I must say...." *He didn't say it as a come-on, playing the role of Casanova. He is merely saying for what it's worth and how he sees it…simply and truly. He really thought she was lovely, and that could be her personality, her appearance, or her conversation, more than likely a combination of all 3. * "So, until next time, I look forward to seeing you, Tree-Shifter". *Formally bowing; he never had gotten her name. Which reminds him, he should probably give her his.* "Just call me Halekial. " *Nod of the head, twinkle of the eye.* "Good ole Halekial...."
© Copyright 2016 Demetrius. All rights reserved.
Book / Literary Fiction
Short Story / Horror
Short Story / Non-Fiction
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