Chapter 1: A Strange New Land
Prompt #2 - The Glow Clouds
Once a year, the fungi across the planet release glowing spores to reproduce. Most visiting species must wear protective gear to go out during this season. Tides of colorful motes drift through the air in gentle currents, swept into rainbows of light through the trees. Draw or write your character watching the spore lights in the forest. Your piece must include your character, indication of a forest, and glowing spores.
Raiju huffed and puffed as he leaned against a tree; desperately trying to catch his breath. He had been running from a bunch of angered villagers that he accidentally angered. He was lost in thought eating a sandwich, which wasn’t very good to begin with, in a tavern when a sneeze caught him off guard and caused him to create a flaming shock wave that destroyed the tavern and injured quite a few other attendants. It wasn’t long until he had a mob chasing him calling him a witch along with many other slanders he couldn’t understand through their anger. Honestly it was hard to tell if they were mad because he injured a few villagers or because he destroyed the only place that sold alcohol.
Before he could fully catch his breath, an arrow skimmed his cheek. Raiju moaned and started to run again as the sound of angry villagers was drawing near. Luckily for him he was a little faster than they were and being a wolf, he could run for a lot longer. However, being able to run for a while doesn’t prevent you from tripping on tree roots as Raiju quickly learned. His paw got caught on a small root that broke shortly after sending Raiju airborne and tumbling down a steep hill. Before Raiju could stop himself, everything went dark as his head met with a rock.
Raiju opened his eyes to be greeted by a dark forest. His head hurt and he could tell there was a bump on his head without needing to check. He sat up slowly and looked around. Everything seemed normal but he couldn’t see the hill he fell down. Something wasn’t right, he could feel it in the air around him but he couldn’t tell what was causing the feeling. He figured it was just from him hitting his head until he heard someone singing. It was distant and sounded so soothing he had to figure out where it was coming from. He stood up slowly, careful to not fall again, and walked towards to singing. After he got a bit closer, he could tell it was a female’s voice but then it suddenly stopped. Everything stopped. Raiju froze as every sound in the forest went silent. After waiting a minute or so, he tested his hearing by snapping his fingers quietly near his ears and he was relieve that he could still hear but that only made him more terrified that the forest went mute. He jumped when someone started talking right next to him.
“How often we forget all time, when lone admiring Nature’s universal throne; her woods, her winds, her mountains.” The voice whispered not more than an arms reach from him. Raiju quickly turned to see who was talking but no one was there. It was dark but not too dark for him to not be able to see anything. He froze again when he heard the voice speak again behind him. “Thy soul shall find itself alone 'mid dark thoughts of the grey tombstone; not one, of all the crowd, to pry into thine hour of secrecy.”
“Who, who’s there?” Raiju managed to say, not daring to turn around to see if he could see the mystery voice.
“Shh. Be silent in that solitude, which is not loneliness- for then the spirits of the dead, who stood in life before thee, are again in death around thee, and their will shall overshadow thee; be still.” A fearful chill ran down Raiju’s spine. Both from what the voice said and due to the fact that whatever was talking to him was right in front of him now and he couldn’t see it.
Raiju did as the voice said and didn’t move; fearful of what might happen if he did. It wasn’t long until he jumped yet again but this time not from the voice, but from the sound of water flowing near him. He turned around hesitantly and saw a little stream flowing into a very small pond that wasn’t there before. Raiju only stared at the strange pond until he noticed it looked like there was something moving inside the water. As he approached it, he could see what looked like little specks of purple, pink, and orange swimming around in the water. He knelt down to look into the water closer, trying to figure out what the colourful things were but the ground beneath him gave out and he fell face first into the little pond.
Raiju flailed around desperately trying to remove himself from the water but slowly stopped when he didn’t feel water. Still holding his breath, he slowly opened an eye and was stunned when he saw he was now in a different forest. It was covered in glowing mushrooms, fungi, and mosses that he had never seen before. After letting out his breath and breathing in the new air, he rubbed his eyes, thinking maybe it was just an illusion but everything remained. Surely this was just a dream. He was still laying on the ground at the base of the hill and this was all just some weird dream from hitting his head. There’s no way any of this was really happening. After pinching him and feeling pain, he laughed nervously. He looked around again and noticed a path not far from him. After much deliberation, he started following it, hoping to find something or someone that could help.
Shortly after he started walking, sounds of voices started to ring out over the ambient forest sounds and Raiju put on his hood out of habit. As he continued walking, he saw that he stumbled upon a little market area. He stopped and stared at all the different species walking around but one thing caught his eyes immediately. Some of the shoppers were wearing various protective gear; completely unaware that he was tilting his head as he stared. It wasn’t long until Raiju caught him being circled by two young kids. One a human girl and the other a male wolf.
“Are you lost mister?” The human girl asked.
“You smell funny.” The wolf pup interrupted catching Raiju off guard.
“Be nice!” The girl said after smacking the wolf’s arm. “He’s obviously poor and probably hasn’t had a proper bath in a while.” Her gaze returned to Raiju. “You were saying?”
Raiju just stared at the kids, head tilted again, as he tried to comprehend if he should be offended or not. She was right, though, he was poor but he liked to think he kept himself fairly well groomed. He started feeling subconscious about how he smelt and wanted to smell himself to see if he smelt bad or like his normal self but he managed to resist. “Uh, I, I am lost. Do you know-”
“Hey ma! Come look at this poor wolf!” The girl shouted and the market place fell quiet as everyone stopped what they were doing to stare at the group. Raiju was very happy that his fur covered his face because he knew he would be bright red with embarrassment otherwise. Luckily everyone went back to their business rather quickly like nothing happen.
A women walked out of the crowd shaking her head. “Anne, what have I told you about harassing people? Run along now before you get into more trouble than you’re already am.” Both children ran off laughing and pushing one another playing some strange game. “I’m sorry about my daughter’s behaviour. Is there something I can do to help?”
Raiju stood there froze for a moment simply trying to understand what just happen. His social anxiety was flaring up like a wildfire and despite being completely lost and confused, he wanted to leave and be on his own again. He snapped himself out of his daze and looked at the women before replying. “Actually, I was just passing through. Thank you though.” Raiju started to turn around but was interrupted before he could get away.
“I, I don’t mean to trouble you but didn’t you come from that way?” The women was being very sincere and it was obvious she was trying to help but she was only making Raiju feel worse about the whole situation.
“Uh, yes. I did come from that way.” He paused for a moment, trying to think of something to say. “I think I left my coin bag at home so I need to go get it before I can buy anything.” He was dead silent hoping that his lie worked but the silence in the air felt as heavy as a house.
After only a couple seconds, the women chuckled before replying. “Can’t exactly buy anything without your money now can you. Well if you need anything, feel free to find me!”
“Thank you. I will. Have a good…” He looked up to try and figure out the time of day it was but the thick trees above blocked his view and all the florescent fungi were bright enough to see clearly so he couldn’t see the sunlight through the trees.
“You have a good evening too!” The women said smiling.
“Right, evening. Thank you!” Raiju then quickly turned around and walked back down the path he came from.
It took him a decent while before he found a nice clearing that showed the sky. It was night time now but he could barely tell with all the extra light everywhere else. He sat down with a heavy sigh. None of this made any sense to him. Where was he and why were people wearing that weird gear. Why couldn’t he just ask that nice lady when he was there instead of running away. His thoughts were interrupted though when he noticed a weird light in the sky. There was a rainbow of something flowing in the air. Raiju safely assumed it was some sort of plant based on all the fungi and such growing out of all the trees. After the day he’s had, it was really nice just relaxing watching the strange, colourful cloud float through the sky. Not long after, his eyes started getting heavy and he laid down, giving into exhaustion that overwhelmed him and everything went dark as sleep took over.