Fiction logo

Voice of the Forest

Inspired by FromSoftware's video game: Bloodborne

By Amanda StarksPublished 4 months ago Updated 3 months ago 11 min read
Photo by Anna Kucherova. Edited with Canva assets.

Sap, grime and blood coated Vex’s boots as he traversed the murky streets of Old Carthus. Residents milled about on their crumbling entryway steps and tightly packed balconies, giving him wary glances down their noses as his cloaked form slithered past them in the fog. Anyone who grew up in these parts would know the stories of the leather clad Resin Hunters and their brutal purpose. Whenever one of them appeared, it meant death was afoot.

“This one is a strange case, Vex,” Vivian said beside him, the only person who would dare come within a few meters of him. She pushed up her spectacles from where they had slid down her narrow nose. “It was spotted at night after screams were heard in the alleyway.”

“You know as well as I do that these things don’t move at night.” Vex pulled the high collar of his hunter’s cloak tighter around his face, blocking his view of the gaping citizens. The sun was barely piercing through the thick fog, but he felt warm all the same from the weight of their attention.

Vivian shrugged. “Like I said - it’s a strange case.”

A few blocks down, the pair finally made it to the alleyway where the attack had taken place. Signs of the struggle were everywhere: blood splatters painting the street like poppies in an open field, wilting branches scattered between the scraps of trash and refuse, and the telltale sickly-sweet scent of sap.

One of the constables at the scene quickly approached the pair, his gloved hands glistening with golden ichor. “Hunter Vex, right? I’m Constable Averys.”

Vex nodded to the man, his eyes sweeping over the gloves and up to the shiny pinned badge on the constable’s shoulder. “A pleasure.”

Vivian coughed, unslinging a bag from her back and producing a worn spiral notebook. “Please, Constable. Could you run us through what happened here?”

Averys nodded, stepping back and moving aside the flimsy plastic barrier that kept passersby out of the alleyway. “Of course. Late last night, at approximately 0200, the owner of the apartment overlooking the alleyway was awoken by screams. When they looked out their window, they claimed to have seen an abomination running from the scene.”

Vivian wrote down the constables testimony and observations as Vex walked further into the alleyway, keeping within earshot as he made his own assessment of the area.

Official artwork by FromSoftware for their videogame: Bloodborne

The pattern of blood and resin on the pavement indicated a fierce struggle. Whoever was the victim had been thrashed about, tossed, and pinned in several different spots while they had viciously hacked at the abomination. Vex couldn’t help but paint a picture of a stubborn, brave soul as he mapped the altercation in his mind.

“And you’re sure this witness was of sound mind and body when they saw this?” Vivian asked the constable. “It wouldn’t be the first time someone falsely identified a common city creature with an abomination.”

The constable answered. “I have it on good authority that this citizen was awake and aware enough to make sound account of what they saw. Plus, they are a retired constable, so they have plenty of experience identifying abominations.”

This information gave Vex pause. In the six years he had been a hunter, he’d never once heard of an abomination being active at nighttime, let alone running in the pitch dark. Even regular citizens knew that these beasts could only operate in broad daylight. Biologically, it was impossible.

“Even the most experienced of constables can make mistakes,” Vex said. He crouched down and swiped his finger over a small puddle of sap, bringing it up to his nose so he could memorize its unique aroma and get a closer look at its color. For a regular person, this action would cause them to gag or outright be sick, but to a hunter, it was as sweet as biting into a ripe peach. “Plus, as people age their eyesight isn’t exactly the most reliable.”

Vex could feel the anger roll off Averys before the man said anything. “Constable Matthews has been working scenes like this for longer than you’ve been alive, you-”

A pointed cough from Vivian silenced the man. “I apologize for the brashness of my colleague, but his point is still valid. We will take over from here, constable Averys. Thank you for your hard work.”

Averys grunted. “Always a pleasure working with the Hunter’s Collective.” The man then turned and left, joining other security officials who had begun to arrive at the scene.

Vex stood as Vivian walked over to his side, giving him a grating side-eye with her dark, blue-eyed gaze. “You really should practice more tact, Vex.”

Vex ignored the jab, instead holding out his finger that was covered in the sap. “Look at this. Doesn’t it look strange to you?”

Vivian rolled her eyes but conceded, leaning in to stare closely at the sap slowly slipping off Vex’s finger. She pushed up her spectacles once more as they tried to slip off her face.

“It’s...it’s purple,” she said, her voice thick with shock.

Vex nodded and shook his hand, flinging the sap off him. “And yet the resin on the constable’s gloves was gold, with no purple tint like this.”

Vivian leaned back and frowned, taking in the chaos of the alleyway with new interest. “A different abomination, perhaps? A new sub-species?”

Vex shook his head, walking further into the shadow of the buildings and taking note of every purple-tinged ichor splatter he could now identify among the regular golden sap. New depths to the story of struggle were becoming crystal clear in his mind. “No, it’s the same beast. The scent is the same.”

“Then why...?”

Vex looked over his shoulder at Vivian, who stood with that detached, academic air that had drawn him to her three years ago when he had chosen her as his handler. Every hunter after a time was required to have one thanks to the changes their bodies went under when exposed to too much resin, but Vex had refused one up until he was nearly discharged for reckless endangerment of a citizen. He knew then that he was in too deep to consider himself still ‘normal’ by human standards. And yet, he didn’t want help if that meant dragging another innocent into this world of senseless violence.

Vivian had been cold and practical, focusing instead on the science around abominations rather than human loss– something he had desperately needed to keep justifying his own involvement in the Hunter’s Collective.

“The body is missing, Vivian.” Vex shrugged off his coat, tossing it on top of one of the dumpsters crowding the alley. “And all the retired constable saw was an abomination – no mention of a human carcass being dragged alongside it.”

Vivian’s eyes widened. “You think the victim was consumed?”

Vex shook his head, unstrapping a short, thick metal tube from his chest that had been attached with a weapon halter. “Subsumed. The color change is reminiscent of a decrease in acidity. Human blood is naturally slightly basic. With enough merging with the sap the color change can be explained. Maybe.”

Vivian chuckled, furiously jotting down new notes in her notebook as she shook her head in awe. “'Maybe', he says. Who is supposed to be the scientist here? This is an incredible discovery, Vex!”

Vex pushed up on a latch on the metal tube and flicked his wrist, unleashing the mechanism inside that popped the short, thick pipe into a thinner shape with an unfolding crescent blade at the end – the preferred choice of weapon for any hunter – an axe.

“Some days I question whose side you're on, Vivian,” Vex said deadpan.

“The side of truth. Always.” Vivian gave him a stern look. “You’re not going to request any backup, are you?”

“Nope. Stay with the constables. Make sure no one follows me.”

Vivian waved her hand as Vex walked to the other end of the alleyway, the fog slowly consuming him whole.

“Yeah, yeah. I know.”

________________________________

Tracking the abomination was the easiest part of a hunter’s job. They lacked intelligence, so the creatures didn’t bother covering their tracks or burying their ‘prey’ like other carnivores. Abominations only existed to consume and destroy – retribution upon humanity for their sins.

Generations ago, Old Carthus had been surrounded by a massive forest, considered sacred by the ancients. The cutting of the trees was seen as sacrilege by the church and its constituents - that was until humans discovered the power of the resin within the bodies of the trunks of the old forest.

It was both medicine and fuel; a substance so full of potential that corporations, factories, and hospitals fought over control of even a sliver of a single tree.

The church tried to intervene, but the lure of the golden sap was too great to resist. Soon, the substance powered machines, lights, and vehicles. It was integrated into recreational drugs and expensive vintages; staples for high society. It also gave rise to new medical treatments once thought hundreds of years away and opened the way for anyone with enough luck and tact to make it rich.

Within only a few generations, the forest was bled dry, its corpse left to burn on human pyres.

That was when the abominations emerged.

A low, rumbling groan disturbed the particles of moisture in the air. Vex adjusted his grip on his axe, using his other hand to slip into a pouch on his belt that held tiny vials of condensed sap – the most potent and dangerous invention to come out of the resin revolution. With a simple flick of his thumb, Vex opened the corked flask and swallowed all its contents.

Just in time, Vex thought as the fog parted to reveal the lumbering, hulking mass of an abomination.

Screenshot of Bloodborne gameplay by Raylan13 - Bloodborne Wiki

This abomination was dripping violet sap; its gaping maw hanging loosely like a dog drooling over a human’s leftovers. It had no eyes, no ears, no vocal cords – and yet it had every ability to tear into flesh and bone with brutal ferocity.

Vex’s body twitched as it absorbed the sap. He had never once looked at a reflected surface after consuming a vial – he had been too scared to see the changes wrought upon him. But looking into the tangled, twisted roots of the beast before him gave him plenty to imagine.

The creature lunged, its body twisting unnaturally. Vex had to follow the flow of its roots and branches rather than any perceived muscular structure.

He sidestepped, raising and bringing his axe down hard on the extended dripping appendage. The entire body of the creature shuddered and creaked, shrinking away from the blow.

Vex freed his axe and spun, predicting another swipe from the abomination before it moved. He ducked under a tangled root mass and slid to the other side of the creature, taking the axe in both hands and cutting a powerful blow into its side.

This time, there was a screech – garbled together with a human tone that froze every muscle in Vex’s body. No amount of experience could prepare him for this.

There, where his axe was buried into the monster’s body, was the imprint of ribs opening like a blooming flower alongside sticky, glistening roots and leaves. Above the axe, a human collarbone and a face – still partly covered in flesh – grew outward from the abomination as if it had always been there.

“Disgust-t-t-ting human,” the head spat, struggling to replicate speech as its mouth was too full of purple ichor.

Vex wanted to hurl. He wanted to rip his axe from this beast’s bark hide and run as far as his legs could carry him. More than that though, he wanted to bury his axe deeper, to claw away the forest and free the human.

He did neither.

“You speak, monster?” Vex growled, keeping a tight hold of his axe as the creature thrashed, flopping onto its side where Vex could more easily pin it to the ground.

“Always have, t-t-tainted.” The eyes within the head rapidly moved within the sockets, never quite looking at anything while taking everything around it in.

Vex gritted his teeth and pushed harder onto the handle of the axe, surprised to feel resistance against his blade.

The human-abomination continued to speak in that garbled voice. “We sc-c-creamed as you c-cut us. We c-cried as you burned our young.”

A human-shaped arm made from the twisted branches of the abomination slithered up and grasped the other end of the axe, its violet life force dripping as the blade sunk into its palm.

“But-t, you are k-k-kin. Your sap sings t-to ours.”

Vex yelled, planting his foot into the abomination and using it as leverage to pull back on his axe to free it. A sickly sound like peeling flesh and popping ligaments echoed off the brick walls of the buildings around him, making him all too aware of what exactly he was removing his weapon from.

With one last desperate pull, the axe came free. Vex stumbled backward but kept upright enough to plant his feet and rush forward once more, using the extended power and energy he had received from his vial to leap high into the air and bring his weapon down with deadly results.

The blade hit home – splitting the human face and skull in two, cleaving into the empty hollow of its ribs. The creature screamed like a human even though its human mouthpiece was far beyond capable of speaking ever again.

The monster crumbled into a heap, its leaves shriveling and its roots retracting into its tangled mass of bark and sap. Vex breathed heavily, leaning over his knees as he watched the abomination cease all movement.

But, the voice of the forest remained.

“We st-t-till live. Deep – in the bowels of your c-corpse emp-pire.”

“Release us, t-t-tainted, so that we may see t-the sun ag-gain.”

________

Author's Note:

If there is enough interest I have more than enough inspiration to do a part II to this story and give it a proper ending. It's really GROWN on me. xD Let me know if you would like to see more in the comments!

Much love,

Amanda S.

Don't forget to check out my other works - fiction, poetry & personal commentary on writing and mental health - below!

thrillerMysteryHorrorFantasy

About the Creator

Amanda Starks

Lover of the dark, fantastical, and heart-wrenching. Fantasy writer, poet, and hopefully soon-to-be novelist who wants to create safe spaces to talk about mental health. Subscribe to my free newsletter at www.amandastarks.com for updates!

Enjoyed the story?
Support the Creator.

Subscribe for free to receive all their stories in your feed. You could also pledge your support or give them a one-off tip, letting them know you appreciate their work.

Subscribe For FreePledge Your Support

Reader insights

Outstanding

Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

Add your insights

Comments (6)

  • Novel Allen3 months ago

    Great read, humans so deserve to be abominations, we better start doing better. Part 2, yes.

  • Ian Read3 months ago

    YEEEEES! Lovely and dark! I absolutely LOVE it.

  • Kenny Penn3 months ago

    Woo! This story is awesome, Amanda! Hell yes I’m interested in part two! Loved what you did for the challenge, giving it a horror like twist with a touch of naturalism. You can’t help but feel bad for the trees even though they are horrifying. And Vex is such a super cool character, all around great concept and originality

  • Matthew Fromm3 months ago

    Man this is great classic grimdark fantasy. Tight story that leaves me wanting more

  • Yes, Amanda, I am thoroughly interested to discover what you do next with this story. This was pretty much stunning.

Amanda StarksWritten by Amanda Starks

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.