Having no home, there no reason to live beyond survival with in the city of Caldera was no longer enough for Anya. Having recently witnessed yet another family have their children taken away from them because of their Vis ‘taint’. She felt so helpless and lacked enough courage to act out and was eating away inside of her. The alleys and sewers had housed her for her entire life but being constantly on the run meant that she would never know a sense of peace. One she wanted so desperately but she knew if it was one she wanted it meant she could no longer stay. The urge to escape was always present but a level of complacency and apathy compelled her to stay, even with the Academy having successfully made the city uninhabitable for anyone who used Magik at any level.
After many preparations, Anya made plans to sneak out of the city and was almost flawlessly executed. She had managed to sneak a few meters out of the main city gate, before her presence was noticed. It was still enough to avoid being trapped inside the gates. The guards pursued her with raised voices orderings her to stop, with their pole-arms extended readily as if to carve the air and provide an aerodynamic benefit. Either through willful ignorance or sheer determination, their echoed commands fell silent on her ears. The guards in chase would not let up and they continued to pursue her relentlessly.
Anya ran as fast and far away from them as she could. With the open terrain all around Caldera there was no where to hide, apart from one remote location, Silvasung Forest. The steepness of the mountains and soft ashen ground made it hard to maintain her balance and caused unwanted strain on her already starved body.
As she entered the forest and disappeared through the trees, and out of sight, the guards gave up. They looked on with disbelief and a strong sense of relief; in their belief they saw that she was no longer their problem. Their chuckled among themselves, as they holstering their spears and swords, and walked all the way up to their original posts.
Running such a distance was agonizing and was unbearable. Anya’s legs ached all over, her blistered feet were sore and had a few open wounds. Her chest was pounding, like her heart was about to explode. After a few hundred feet inside the forest she had tripped on an outcropping root, falling fast onto her stomach. Her face was covered in thick ash that was underlying beneath the leaf litter, almost caustically burning her heavy set eyes. She propped herself up, shaking through her straining arms, with almost no strength left. Staying on her stomach would have prevented her lungs from grasping the much needed air they hungered for.
She looked back, stretching her head over her shoulder and saw that her hunters where no longer in pursuit, she could no longer see the dark brown ashen hillside or the towering Calderan city gates. Only the summit was visible, barely, and the plumes of steam that poured out from the various vents that ran along the rim of the basin, as well as lower down the mountain where the few rivers of lava that erupted from around the volcano, carved through the landscape like fiery snakes meandering for prey.
The forest leaves were of the deepest crimson and were present all year round. When they had wilted they would flood the rooted-over and bolder scattered floor. A sea of blood mirrored the canopy of the area and was broken only the thick weaving trunks, their branches reaching out like pale hands for any spare food.
No one entered the forest willingly. In days before the Academy, rumours of the forest being alive or haunted were told, as childhood stories to prevent children from running off to an uncertain end. Stories and legends have always existed about there Silversung Forest, so much so that even the top scientists of the Academy have deemed the forest off limits. No research teams were permitted beyond its edge, as all previous attempts had been met with groups of Calderian Academy students failing to return from the deepest reaches. Their attempts to control the forest from overgrowing were constantly hampered, were it only not for the rivers of lava and areas where no ash fell stemmed their intrusion.
The tranquil serenity of the forest warmed her heart and calmed her mind. She could hear the wind rush through the leaves and all the panic that beset her since melted. The fresh air free from ash was invigorating. Knowing she could no longer return and having lost all desire to do so, she picked herself up and proceeded to walk further into the forest, using it as cover to get as far away from Caldera as possible. Hoping that once she finds the other side she would find a better life for herself. That was until, the hissing started.
Laura Steel © 2015