Chapter 1

1708 Words
One sunny morning, Ashta found herself staring at the Forbidden Forest, and suddenly, an elderly lady walked up to her and tapped her on the shoulder. "Girl, why do you stare into the Forbidden Forest like you want to go in there? I've seen you stare at it like that before," the woman asked her, as she looked at Ashta with a curious look on her face. Ashta looked at the woman and smiled a polite smile. Her skin was wrinkly and saggy from the years that had passed, and her eyes were full of wisdom that no one knew unless she told them. "Oh, I heard the horror stories. I don't want to go in there. I am just curious to see if maybe I can catch a glimpse of whatever is out there," said Ashta, with a breath as she looked back at the thick forest. Strangely, the trees grew very thick here at the edge and then grew a few more feet apart as the forest deepened. The trees along the edge were full of life, and the deeper the forest went, they seemed to die and look old and withered. "Oh my dear, you don't want to see those things. They are hellish creatures that stalk their prey. My husband disappeared four years ago. We didn't know about the forest at that time, but we found out when he never returned. We even sent out a search party after him and his partner. The search party has never returned," she said, sadly. Ashta sighed. Now she really wanted to know what was out there. She turned to the elderly woman, sincerely. "I'm sorry that happened to you. Maybe one day we can all figure out what we can do to make them go away," said Ashta hopefully, and the lady looked at her and humphed. "When you find someone brave enough to go in there, you let me know," cackled the woman, as she walked away, and Ashta watched her walk away in surprise. What did she mean by that? Ashta wondered, as she glanced back at the forest. What was out there? What was it that people were so afraid of? she thought, as she turned from the forest. *************** Ashta walked the road back to her small little cabin she and her grandfather lived in. It was a cute small log cabin with three bedrooms, which her grandfather used one bedroom as a study. They had a backyard with a bench swing in the center. Also, there were rose bushes that grew in front of the house. The inside walls were the wooden logs that they built the house with and sealed with a cement sealer. It stayed warm in the house during the winter and cool during the summer. It was perfect for just the two of them. Ashta had been with her grandfather ever since she could remember. Her grandfather told her stories about how her parents were killed in a car crash after she was born. Also, her grandfather taught her how to channel her energy by moving fluently in slow motion. She found the motion to be soothing when she had bad days, and it was more like a dance to her. However, he never told her she was born with superpowers and that she was a hybrid of Oligarchy Slayer and Selvempt. Ashta's mother had an affair with a Selvempt and when she was born, they secretly sent her off with a trusted friend, who Ashta only knew as her grandfather. After that, her parents had told the king and the queen that they sacrificed their child, just like the king and queen had ordered them to do. Even though her parents were lying to the kingdoms, they felt that this was the only way to save their daughter and stop the great war. Both the king of Slayers and the queen of Selvepmts suspected they were lying and had parties of guards searching for the missing princess, but they never found her. Ashta's grandfather moved them around a lot during her childhood. They never stayed in the same area for over three years. After three years went by, her grandfather would move them to a different small town. Every small town Ashta moved to was always somewhere out in the country, and the population was very small. Ashta didn't mind the moving, she was used to it. They did it all her life, so she really never asked why. She thought that maybe her grandfather was getting a little crazy in his old age. He was always muttering a lot to himself about some war, a stone, and a missing princess. Again, he had been this way all of her life, so she didn't question it. After she had graduated from high school, they had moved to a small little town in the middle of nowhere. The town was called Ereden and had a population of two hundred people. The small little town was vibrant with green grass and luscious trees. There was a coffee shop on the edge of town, a couple of small houses here and there, and there was a small park. Also, there were a few shops along the main strip of road that ran through the middle of town. The small vintage shops sold clothes and food to the locals who lived in Ereden. Around the small town, there was a mysterious forest. Part of the surrounding forest looked like a normal forest, but toward the other end of town, the trees seemed to grow closer and thicker, almost like a barrier of tree trunks. It was a quiet little town and Ashta thought it was just perfect. She hoped they would stay there longer now that she had graduated. She could only hope that her grandfather felt the same. The Mayor named the forest the Forbidden Forest, and he forbade anyone from venturing into it. The legends of this small town were that if you went into the forest, the creatures that lived in the trees would take you, and you would never return. Ashta thought it was all a joke. She shook her head at the thought of it. Tree creatures killing people? Now that was something to really believe, Ashta thought, sarcastically. Ashta had made her own small routine of walking the town every morning, and she would find herself staring at the barrier of tree trunks on some days. Oddly, she felt as though something was calling to her from inside the forest, and she wanted to know what it was. Curiously, she wondered what was really in there. She had heard that a couple of hunters had gone missing when they had gone into the forest to hunt for food a couple of years ago. However, that was just a story to Ashta. She had never seen anyone go into the forest before. Hunting was how the small town kept up with their meat resources. The mayor had paid some local hunters to go out and kill deer and fish in the river that was a couple of miles away. ******************** When Ashta arrived back home, she knew her grandfather was already in his study. He practically lived in that room. Contently, she walked up the stairs and knocked on the door. "Yes?" called her grandfather, and she opened the door. "I'm back," said Ashta, as she walked through the door. Her grandfather had many books that lined the walls and his desk was a mess, with papers scattered here and there. She smiled at the old white-haired man. He looked at her. "Ashta, my favorite granddaughter," he said, as he smiled. Ashta looked at him and put her hands on her hips. She had long, dark auburn hair braided down her back. Ashta stood about five and a half feet tall with an athletic build. Her bright blue eyes sparkled at him. She always liked to go hiking on the trails of the forest on the other side of town. That forest seemed fine to go into, but there was just something about that other part of the forest that intrigued her. "Ha, I am your only granddaughter," laughed Ashta, and her grandfather laughed with her. "Where did you find yourself this morning?" he asked her, curiously, as he looked over some papers at his desk. Ashta sat down on one of the chairs in front of his desk and dangled her legs over the arm. "Oh, same spot. The haunted forest," she said, casually, and her grandfather looked at her seriously over his thin-rimmed reading glasses. "You need to stay away from there," he said, and she gave him a serious look back. "Come on granddad, you can't seriously believe the town's tall tales about a mysterious forest," Ashta said, as she threw her arms up. "Ashta, that forest is dangerous. You will understand one day," he said, as he looked back over his papers, and Ashta stared at him for a moment in disbelief. Could he really believe the crazy town folk's stories about a forest? A place that is just filled with scary-looking trees that grew a little thicker than the other part of the forest. Everyone probably got lost trying to find their way back to town, Ashta thought, as she rolled her eyes. She looked at her grandfather thoughtfully and then she sighed. He had never steered her wrong her whole life, so she should still listen to the wise man. She got up from the chair and walked to the door. She turned to her grandfather and looked at him. "Maybe we won't have to leave, and we can figure out that forest together,” she said, and he looked up at her. "No, we are not leaving here. There will be no more moving. Ereden is our final destination,” he said with a smile. Ashta smiled at him happily and walked out of the study. She was so happy to hear that they would no longer be moving, and she might actually be able to make a friend and keep them as a friend. Happily, she smiled as she walked into her room and closed the door.
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