Overgrown

For anyone who ventured close to the murky edges of the Dreadwood, a deadening feeling often presaged their passage into its dusk-shrouded treeline. Despite its torpefying effects, it beckoned unwitting travellers forward, inward, and then devoured them, never to be seen again. As more souls were lost to its insatiable hunger, the trade routes that had winded through the dense trees had changed their course. Yet, a dark allure still lingered, strong enough to draw closer those within its reach. And so many a traveller found themselves glancing back, and feeling a strange compulsion to enter through its borders…

If an unlucky venturer were to be seduced by its numbing pull, then they would walk into a shadow that hung heavy and thick in the cloying air. The wrestling boughs and strangled twigs of the overhead trees consumed the light that tried to pass its knotted canopy. Smaller trees had tried futilely to break through the matted branches, only to be dragged down by the forest creepers that coiled around the trunk. Those smaller boles were left with nothing but a sparse amount of darkened leaves, and fungi that populated its bark.

Deep within that smothering place, a hush fell over one of the deeper clusters of trees as a lone Blight soundlessly made it’s way amid twisted roots and bramble. It crept forward unnervingly, aimless yet deliberate in its movement beneath the thick canopy that buried the forest in a perpetual twilight. Contrasting starkly with the shadowy surroundings, the hide of the pale creature made it seem almost wraith-like as it walked with smooth and gliding motions over the detritus and gnarled roots of the forest floor. Its face was smooth and blank, save for the dark slits of its nose and the deathless pits of its eyes. But ever so slightly a faint jagged line cracked across the space where its mouth would have been, stretching all the way to the back of its head. It attached to a corrugated neck that ended in broad skeletal shoulders with the bone protruding against its spectral skin.

It had an emaciated look to its frame, as skin tightened over a large ribcage and narrow abdomen. From its grotesque body burst forth long and spiderery limbs covered in knotted muscle. One large hand swung idly by its side, long fingers tapering of into pointed ends akin to garled branches. The other hand… was cluthed around the neck of a figure, being dragged across the dead leaves and snapping twigs that bedded the forest floor…

The dragging of its limp body was all sound that cracked the stifling silence. Perhaps, upon closer look, lurking eyes that had dared ventured this deep would have seen the figure as it was carried with a slovenly disregard. As roots rose up to hook on the sparse clothing that still remained – causing the momentary pause in the step of the beast – the still scene would reveal to the onlooker the strange state of the body’s weathered form. What remained of the hapless figure was overgrown by black moss, with tattered beards of lichen hanging from it in grayish-green webs. To anyone watching, the unfortunate soul seemed to have met his end in the woods months ago.

But a closer look of its face, would reveal a pale-grey cast and terror-stricken expression that had not been touched by the hand of decay. If the onlooker were to bite back their horror at the horrific sight, enough to allow the dawn of reason, then they would have wondered at the strange end of the unfortunate traveller…

But no such idle audience was left to witness such things, save for the lone assassin that held her breath among the dark thicket, frozen in place by the fear of the unknown walkers that scourged this forsaken forest.

As the pale Blight dragged him, for a purpose or an end unknown to any mortal soul, she wondered if he had been frightened to his death… or if it was truly the corrupted land that had yet claimed another victim for its overgrown garden of the damned…

Inktober #14

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