Chapter 2: Forest of Luna
The surrounding seemed to loom over her. She felt as if she was trapped in a black vortex and everything seemed to be spinning. A few eternities later, she realized that she was actually on solid ground. She must have hit her head pretty bad when she fell from her father’s horse. As expected, the horse was long gone. The girl inwardly cursed when her rucksack cushioned the wrong part of her body rather than her head.
Slowly standing up and regaining her composure, she made her way through the dark forest. She knew of this forest as it was forbidden for the villagers to enter unless one is trained to survive through it. The total of people who made it out alive is around five. But that was centuries ago. Nowadays the villagers tend to avoid the Forest of Luna.
The forest is so dense that sunlight barely made it through to its floor. This helped little with the temperature since she felt it continuously dropped every passing second. She knew venturing into the forest was risky but she needed to start moving or she will freeze to death. The forest was eerily quiet, the only sounds was the gust of cold wind that passed through the trees.
The girl started walking towards what she assumed was north, although she didn’t know where this direction will lead her. She used to hear travel stories that travelers tend to head north, she was unsure why. But this was her best shot.
After walking for what seemed like hours, the surroundings of the forest changed little. The girl was tired and she did not pack any food. She did not imagine freedom would be this…difficult. She looked around for any indication of food but the plants around her were foreign. None of them were anything like she was used to. She found a nearby bush bearing fruits, they looked like apples but something was different about them. There were sparkling like crystals, their bright color contrasted with the dull background of the forest.
“Pretty.” The girl smiled and was about to pick one when a voice stopped her.
“Touch them and you’ll die.” She turned to the direction of the voice. Standing in front of her was a child.
“Humans aren’t supposed to be here. Are you lost, human?” The child asked, slowly walking towards the girl. As the child got closer, the girl could finally see the true features of the child. First off, the child appeared not to be human. Not full human that is. Her skin is green with scales that lightly glimmer from the reflection of the crystal fruits. Red wavy hair was slicked back to reveal no ears, only narrow holes that stretched backwards. Aside from her skin and earless feature, the girl has all the human features.
“Are you done analyzing me?” The child raised an eyebrow, her tone snarky. “You’re definitely lost since you obviously have not seen my kind before.”
“The great serpent race of course! We are the strongest clan in this forest! Our Raja has power over this land…and beyond!” The girl boasted. She put both hands on her hips and gave an obnoxious laugh.
Upon realizing that she received the unexpected response from the human, who just make a silent O with her lips and a careful nod, the serpent child ended her laugh with a cough.
“Human, you are in the presence of Seraphina and—
“Nice to meet you. My name is Marie.” Marie did not actually mean to cut Seraphina off but she was excited to meet another person after all those years trapped under her father’s control. Not one person dared to befriend her, let alone to tell her their name, because of the curse.
She offered a hand to Seraphina as a sign of friendship but was slapped away by the child. Seraphina was not amused with being cut off.
“How dare you cut me off human! You are in the presence of a superior race. And I don’t need to know your name, Marie. It is not of importance for me to know your name for you will be my prince’s food.” The surprised look on Marie’s face widened Seraphina’s smirk.
“I’m sure…I’m not that tasty. I barely have any flesh on my body.”
The child dismissed Marie’s statement by grabbing her wrist and pulled her down. Until Marie’s eyes were leveled with hers. Seraphina’s yellow eyes scanned her face before disappointment dawned. She brushed back the blonde hair that covered Marie’s left eye and cheek for further confirmation.
“You won’t do. Man, this is a waste.” Seraphina sighed.
“Because you’re ugly. The prince doesn’t eat ugly girls.” Her matter-of-fact tone did not offend Marie a bit. She was used to that description. All her life she was called ugly. The left side of her face carries an old scar from her childhood. Her once beautiful face was submitted to hot coals as part of her father’s temperaments. It was the reason why the skin looked as if it melted from her face.
Marie went back to cover her exposed face with her hair. This does not mean she was ashamed with her scar. She had wholly accepted this as part of herself. She knew the scar would make people uncomfortable and that is why she covered it.
I mean really, why would I be ashamed of it when people avoid me since I was born?
She once reasoned with herself when she first got the scar all those years ago.
The only thing that bothered Marie was that no one tried to get to know her in the first place. And that is why she is happy regardless the obvious insults that seemed to roll off from Seraphina. All those years of loneliness made her desperate for social interaction.
“Well thank goodness for that! I don’t want to be snake food!” Marie laughed out loud. Clearly her laughter was not amusing since Seraphina only glared.
Several seconds passed and Marie was getting uncomfortable. What should I say next? Should I apologize?
Seraphina sighed again and started to walk back wherever she came from. Marie wasted her time. The prince needed his hundredth sacrifice soon. Her Raja is growing impatient. She could not fail him.
“W-wait! Where are you going?”
“I’m going to look for another beautiful girl. Goodbye.”
“Wait Seraphina! You have to help me! I need food and a place to stay.” Marie begged her new friend. “We’re friends aren’t we?”
“Haaah?!” Seraphina was shocked by the notion. Clearly this girl is crazy.
“You… stay away from me. I’ve got work to do.” She took a step back, motioning for the human girl to stay put. But as she took a step back, the girl took a step forward. This was definitely not going to work.
“Pleaaase don’t leave me. I’m hungry and I need a place to rest.”
“You should’ve thought about that before entering this forest! There is nothing for you here! You can’t eat anything from this forest because it will only kill you. Goodbye.” Seraphina ran.
“Seraphina wait! Aren’t there any humans in this forest?!” Marie chased the serpent girl. She was unexpectedly fast…especially for a hungry girl. Seraphina knew she needed to deal with Marie before she could continue with her search. She could not possibly bring Marie to the Serpent lair unless she’s food.
After what seemed like hours of running, Seraphina finally faced Marie head on.
“Alright, I’ll help you.”
Marie tried to calm her beating heart and gasped out a thank you.
“I’ll take you to Leo’s place. After that I’m done and don’t look for me again. Got it?” Marie nodded obligingly.
“The only human in this goddamned forest.” Seraphina sighed.