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The Forest of Cigam ( I )

Part One: The Tree of Life

By Donna Fox (HKB)Published 24 days ago Updated 22 days ago 6 min read
Top Story - April 2024
23
Art work Created by DALL-E software

Dusk was settling upon the sleepy town of More Bay, that sat on the outskirts of the Enchanted Forest of Cigam. Which began to awaken with activity. Firefly-like lights bobbed and weaved through the underbrush, some ascended tree trunks until they disappeared beneath the foliage.

 

From the edge of town, I watched the sun disappear behind the mountains that framed the valley we sat in the middle of. I took one last swig of my ale and tossed it aside before gathering my things. I flung my bag over my shoulder and sauntered into the forest like I owned the place.

Which I do, in a way, as I am a dealer by trade. The townspeople pay me to find and collect various rare substances from within. Which means I know more about it than anyone else in town, so by that standard I own it.

 

As I walked through the dimming forest, crickets chirped, frogs croaked, and a low hum echoed throughout. The deeper I walked inside, the louder the hum got and an eery golden glow pulsated along the forest floor. Like veins that pumped blood throughout a gigantic body. If that body were The Enchanted Forest of Cigam.

 

You see, this forest is special. It has a very unique ecosystem. The entire Forest of Cigam and all it’s inhabitants are fuelled by something called Life Force. A golden substance that is pumped through little channels that reach all the edges of the forest. Which is created and fed by The Tree of Life.

And that is what I am in search of.

 

During the day, it’s too light out to see the channels that carry the Life Force, which is why I waited until night. This way, I can follow a vein as it connects with others and gets bigger as we get closer to the Tree of Life.

 

I crept through the Forest of Cigam, careful not to cross paths with any guardians.

They are beings that not only protect those that live in the forest but most importantly The Tree of Life. Typically they aren’t violent by nature but more or less like to scold you when caught in their forest with nefarious intentions. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t be aggressive when there is a need for it. So I would prefer to avoid an encounter with one at any cost.

 

I continued to track a vein as it grew larger until I emerged from the thick covering of the forest. I stood at the edge of a clearing and there in the middle sat the Tree of Life.

 

It gleamed like a jewel in the empty clearing, its golden glow bathed the surrounding area in a warm light. With a low hum, it continued to produce Life Force and pumped it out through its roots and into the veins of the forest. Which spidered out in all directions, weaving under the forest floor until it faded from sight.

 

I continued to stand at the edge of the clearing and watched little golden balls of light sparkle past me. I was awe-stricken by the sheer beauty of The Tree of Life, so much so that I had almost lost the nerve to do what I came here for.

A rustling in the trees pulled me back to my senses as I regained my resolve and observed the clearing around me. Seeing nothing, I approached the tree, cautious of exposing myself to any beings in the area.

The hum of the Life Force was almost defeating and vibrated through the forest floor beneath my feet. I admired The Tree of Life as I continued forward and it continued producing Life Force, unbothered by my presence.

A smile crossed my lips as I walked toward it while I rummaged through my bag until I found my enchanted spile and hammer. Then I knelt beside the tree and got to work, hammering the spile in until the golden glow flickered for half of a second. Immediately, the shimmering golden fluid known as Life Force dripped from the spout and fell to the forest floor. I quickly hung my bucket upon it and began to collect the sap.

I leaned against the Tree of Life and listened to the steady dripping of the sap as it filled my bucket. She continued to hum and produce enough Life Force not only for me but for the forest, too. I continued to smiled to myself as I watched the dark forest around us. Secretly enjoying the low hum of the tree and the peace of this moment.

The tempo of the sap changed as it dripped into the bucket and drew my attention. It was almost full, which meant that I was finished collecting my bounty. As I knelt beside the tree again, I removed the spile and placed my thumb over the hole my it made. I began to pack up my things as I waited for the sap to clog itself.

 

“What are you doing?” An ethereal woman’s voice called from behind me.

 

I quickly stood up, brushed my hands on my pants and watched the sap leak out down the bark towards the forest floor.

“Just collecting something,” I replied vaguely, then I turned to face the owner of the voice. I laid eyes on a woman who wore a silvery sheen full-length dress, a guardian of the forest.

 

Her platinum white hair fell over her shoulders at chest length and almost blended in with her dress. The woman’s pale skin glowed like the moon on a clear night, glittering with every movement as she tilted her head at me in curiosity.

“You have injured the Tree of Life.” She accused. Her grey eyes focused on the trunk behind me. Her lips pursed together in a sort of pout, as though I’d injured her by extension.

 

I glanced at the tree and watched one large droplet of sap escape through the not-yet-plugged hole. It trickled down to the forest floor, and I felt a tinge of remorse. Like a small child caught stealing from their mother’s kitchen.

But I did my best not to show it, as I straightened puffed my chest out in faux superiority and looked down my nose at her.

“It doesn’t seem too affected,” I muttered, then slung my bag over my shoulder and collected my bucket of liquid gold. “Besides, I need to make ends meet,” I added with a shrug as walked past her.

 

“But what you have stolen isn’t yours to sell.” She protested in a soft voice of forlorn. Her eyes tracked me as I walked away. “This will cost you more than the pennies you will make in comparison.”

 

“Easy for you to say when you don’t have taxes to pay,” I grumbled and continued to walk into the darkness, leaving the Tree of Life and guardian behind.

 

“If only you knew the true cost.” She muttered in a barely audible voice as I continued.

 

I made my way back to More Bay and my small home within it. Where I got some rest before looking to turn a profit on my latest collection.

 

Rumour has it that if you stew the sap from the Tree of Life, you can make a serum that cures all ailments. It even has the ability to bring one back from the brink of death, just before their last breath.

 

 

 

So the next morning, that was exactly what I did; stewed the sap, bottled the serum and carted it over to Jasen’s place. The town apothecary, who was one of my biggest customers.

Fortunately, he bought the entire supply, and I had more money than I knew what to do with.

I wouldn’t have to make another trip into the forest for quite some time.

Or so I thought.

 

Part Two:

Young AdultSeriesFantasyAdventure
23

About the Creator

Donna Fox (HKB)

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Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (19)

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  • Esala Gunathilake4 days ago

    Congratulations on your top story.

  • Lamar Wiggins6 days ago

    Happy belated congrats, Donna! I loved your story. You have a way of quickly drawing us in to your worlds. Can’t wait to finish this series. 😍

  • I was afraid of reading this cause I know it's a series and I was like, "NOOOOOOOOO! I STILL HAVE SO MUCH OTHER STUFF I NEED TO COMMENT ON THAT I READ!" Still, this is sheerly magical. Also, I did expect that guardian lady to sort of attack him like some sort of banshee. Call me crazy, but that's what came to mind. But... if she's just the one that gives You a guilt trip, where's the others that'll give You a stern talking to, and the ones that eventually beat Your @$$ six ways till Sunday, and then again on Sunday cause there's no rest for the weary?

  • L.C. Schäfer10 days ago

    Forest of Magic, right? I like it! 😁

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  • Like freaking finallyyyyyy!!! I've been waiting for this to happen for soooo long! Vocal finally came to it's senses and gave you a Top Story for this!!! Congratulations D! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • D.K. Shepard11 days ago

    Great story! Lots of intriguing elements to this narrative voice and the enchanted forest you’ve created!

  • Liam Storm11 days ago

    Congrats on top story!! I took a break from vocal for a while, it's good to see your name up on the front page 👌

  • Anna 11 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Dana Crandell11 days ago

    About time! Congratulations, H!!!!

  • JBaz11 days ago

    Huge congratulations An absolute brilliant start to a story. Your opening was poetic and alluring. Awesome

  • Alexander McEvoy11 days ago

    WHAT WHAT WHAT WHAT!? It finally happened!!! WOOOOOOOOT WOOOOOOT My girl Donna getting Top Story!

  • ROCK 11 days ago

    Wondrous, strong story telling skills you behold! Congratulations on top story, Donna!

  • Dana Crandell20 days ago

    Off to a great start here, H! I think your Tree of Life and my Great Oak must be related!

  • I absolutely loved it, Donna. I'm a big sucker for the tree of life. This was a great story I look forward to reading part two. I've got to find out what the cost that will outweigh the few pennies they made, is.

  • Alexander McEvoy22 days ago

    Captivating! "Turn back mortal, you know not what you are about," is a phrase that sprang to my mind as I read this story, Donna :) And thank you so much for reaching me what the spout used for sap collecting is called :) I had always wondered, but never enough to properly look it up <3 Really looking forward to part two!

  • Mark Gagnon23 days ago

    How many trips back does he get before payback starts?

  • Oooo, I love the magic that you did with Cigam! Did you see what I did there? Hahahahahahahahhaahha I couldn't help myself! So this Life Force from the Tree of Life can cure all ailments and nurse someone back to health even if they are just one breath away from their last. That's super powerful stuff! Also, I was today years old when I came to know that those things are called spiles! Thank you so much for that! So he thought that he wouldn't have to go collect Life Force for some time but he was wrong. I can't wait to know what happened! Looking forward to part 2! I really loved the guardian of the forest. Can't wait to know her name! I really enjoyed this story so much D!

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