Martyr

Hey guys, Hannah here, with Benjamin. I’m presuming this is my last post, so I guess I should be making my goodbyes and my soppy speeches and stuff. I might too, if I’d actually bothered to get to know any of you, which I’m just now starting to regret. Ah well, I guess we can’t all go to our deaths unburdened by regrets like Marcus.

I guess all I can say is that I hope that what I’m going to do helps because no one deserves to have to deal with the Tree Walker. No one. Even if I don’t destroy him, and, even now, I’m almost certain I won’t, if I, in any way, manage to hamper or hinder him, even if it’s just a little bit, I’ll feel that my death will have been worth while. Well, actually, no, I won’t, because I’ll be dead and thus incapable of feeling, but you know what I mean.

I’m leaving the mansion to Benjamin, since, if I fail tonight, his whole reason for staying on the edge of this forest will be gone. I’m also giving him my laptop and the blog to use as he pleases.

So, yeah, that’s that. Time for me to go. I’ve still got the gun for any dangers I might encounter on the way and the axe for the Tree Walker himself. In the unlikely event that I come out of this alive, I’ll let you all know but…let’s face it, this is my last hurrah. I may as well go down fighting, not for my own life, but for something much greater.

So long, guys. It’s been a hell of a ride.

The Moors (Part 4)

With the wind at my back, I made good time and it wasn’t long before I met the Radau. I reached into its ice-cold waters and felt its flow. I made my way along the banks, walking in the opposite direction. As I got closer and closer to the source, I started to gain an awareness that I was reaching the end of that part of my journey. Sure enough, it wasn’t long before a strange feeling from within told me to kneel down and reach into the water. When I pulled my hand out, it was clasping a simple woodman’s axe with a rough, wooden handle and a smooth, metal head.

I held the axe in the moonlight and, satisfied I had found what I was looking for, stowed it away in my bag and started heading back the way I’d come. The journey did not take me back into the lands of the willow man and I was back on the boardwalk in what felt like no time at all. I returned to Torfhaus under the warm glow of a mountain sunrise, went to the hotel where I’d rented a room for the night, fell into bed and slept for hours.

When I awoke long after midday, I gathered together the few belongings that I’d brought with me, checked out and went to a café for a very late breakfast, then typed up everything that happened on Torfhaus Moor.

Now, I’m waiting for the bus back to Wolfsburg. I’ll post again somewhere between here and the Black Forest to let you know how I’m doing. Until then, guys.

The Moors (Part 3)

His eyes shot open and he let out a grunt of pain. I just stood there, frozen. It was a tree with a face. Even taking everything I’d already gone through into account, this was weird. This was beyond weird. When he first started yelling at me, it didn’t even register.

“Lay down your torch! Its light offends me!”

When his cries of protest finally got through, I lowered the beam from his face but did not turn it off. I’d need the torch if I decided to turn and run. Just as I was about to ask him who he was, several of the beams of light converged above him at once, lighting him up like a candle. In that brief moment of illumination, I beheld his form; a naked human male bonded to the bark of a willow tree, such that no boundary existed between man and plant. Moss grew where hair might have once.

“What are you!?”

His gaze fell on me like a storm of spears, seeing me with such intensity that, for a brief moment, I nearly convinced myself I had a soul for him to peer into. Then, he blinked and I saw the weariness in his eyes, a weariness so ancient that it withered me just to look at it.

“I am…something that should not be.”

The sorrow in his voice forced pity to well in my heart.

“Are you the Last Human King?”

He seemed to stop and consider that question, tilting his head. When he answered, it was in careful, measured tones.

“I do not know. I may be, but, equally, I may not. All I know is that which I have seen.”

I sensed he was leading me in the conversation but decided to just go with the flow. As long as, in the end, he had something to say contributed in some way to the fight against the Tree Walker, I was willing to listen to whatever he wanted to tell me.

“What have you seen?”

He looked down to the leaf-covered clay beneath him and seemed to droop but when I made to step forward, he suddenly looked upwards and his many limbs started shaking angrily.

“I have seen man rise from dust and return to it! I have seen man burn man and shed not a single tear when new life did not bloom from the ashes! I have seen villages grow to empires and empires fall away to nothing! I have seen everything, Hannah Rodriguez! I have known your most secret thoughts and actions! I have gazed into the abyss of the human heart but it has not gazed into me! You come here, seeking truth, but know you the truth of yourself!? You come here, as Marcus Prendergast came, ready and willing to fight the fight of all mankind, but do you think you are worthy of carrying the mantle of man!? Answer me, mortal, and speak truthfully, for no lies may poison the air of my domain! I see, Hannah Rodriguez, I know! Speak!”

I won’t deny that I came extremely close to wetting myself then. In my defense, I’d just been screamed at by a fucking tree person. But, scared as I was, it didn’t take me long to respond. I’d never noticed before but, when the possibility of lying is discarded, the truth comes easily.

“I have everything to live for. With the money I’ve been left, with my training and skills, with the property I own, I could live out the rest of my life in relative comfort. I don’t have to do this. I could turn back now. I want to turn back, as a matter of fact. But what I can do and what I want to do aren’t what’s important. My rights and my desires are inconsequential in the struggle against the Tree Walker. It’s not about what I have a right to do, its about what it’s right for me to do. Continuing is the only course of action I can consider. Give me a weapon, give me direction and I will give everything I have to give, including my life. I am worthy, not because I give this freely, with no fear or trepidation, but because I give it in spite of my fear. Tell me what I must do.”

He stared at me then, for what seemed like an eternity. Then, unsmilingly, he spoke.

“Go to where the Radau rises. Walk its banks, let your heart guide you. Within those newborn waters, you will find a woodman’s axe. Take it from its resting place and go to the Black Forest. As long as you bear the woodman’s axe, you will walk without guide to Nebelfort. There, you will face the other, whom you call the Tree Walker. I do not know if you will succeed. None can know for no truthful man has ever stood here before. Take the axe, Hannah Rodriguez, and strike at the heart of sin. Wound it, destroy it if you can, but strike! Go now, the time approaches! Go!”

As he bellowed the final syllable, a great wind came from nowhere and started blowing at my back. Wordlessly, I ran, the wind carrying me and giving me speed. I ran.

The Moors (Part 2)

Everything seemed normal at first. I marched through the undergrowth and made good speed towards whatever unknowable, unseeable goal I had set out to find. I let myself be guided by instinct; if this was truly the seat of the power of man, then all I could rely on was my humanity.

I’d been walking for what I can only guess was an hour when I first noticed something strange. The hands on my watch were going in opposite directions. The hour hand was slowly turning towards twelve, as normal, but the minute hand was ticking steadily backwards.

Then, I noticed the sky. It was like it was shattered into pieces. The process had been so gradual that I hadn’t noticed until then but each piece of sky was at a different time during the day. They’d all started at dusk but had since gone in different directions at different speeds. The fastest were approaching either sunrise or sunset, it was hard to tell. It hurt my eyes to look at, so I just put my head down and continued through the strange twilight in which I found myself.

Apparently, my idea of following my instinct worked. As I continued on my path, the strangeness intensified; the sky started changing faster and faster until day and night were dancing together so quickly that pillars of shadow and light began to flit through the trees like ghosts, all in the same direction, like they were converging on a single point. I began to follow them.

After a few minutes, I saw a large shape in the darkness. I slowed down and inched carefully towards it, wary now, knowing that I knew nothing of this place and that caution was warranted. As I got closer, it was suddenly illuminated by a beam of light and I recognised it immediately.

It was Marcus’s car.

Abandoning caution, I ran to it, then stopped as I neared the driver’s window. There was an arm protruding from it, caught on the wing mirror, an antique sword clasped in its hand. Preparing myself for whatever horror remained of Marcus Prendergast, I stepped forward and looked in the window.

He looked exactly as he had the last time I saw him, except for one thing. He was dead and, given how cold he was to touch, had been for quite some time. I barely even questioned the fact that his body was completely intact; this was clearly a place where normal rules did not apply, though, of course, I wondered how he had gotten there in the first place. I didn’t cry that much, since I’d already grieved for him. I just closed his eyes and continued on in the direction his sword was pointing, the direction where the light and shadow were converging, the direction that it seemed I was destined to follow.

It was a short walk to my destination. A small, twisted willow in the middle of clearing. It caught my eye immediately because the rest of the forest was nothing but towering conifers. I cast the light of my torch over its mossy, creased bark, searching for some significance. Instead, I found a face.

A human face.

The Moors (Part 1)

Night had already fallen when I first stepped out on to the moors but I was prepared. The idea that the Tree Walker might be lurking in the darkness didn’t really occur to me; I was assuming, for some reason, that the myths held true, that this was the seat of the power of man and that he could not tread there.

I was alone then and as I tripped lightly along the boardwalk that stood in that place, a safe passage for casual hikers, I felt a growing sense of anticipation. Something was going to happen. Something big.

It only took me a couple of hours to traverse the whole length of the boardwalk and I could see that walking the white planks wasn’t going to get me anywhere, so I jumped off them, landed on the soft, marshy ground beneath and set off towards the treeline.

The night was alive with the calls of animals and the illusion that this was man’s domain began to fade a bit, but I pressed on. Whether I was a native or an intruder, I had a job to do and I wasn’t going to back down before I’d even properly started it.

As I approached the treeline, I had the sense to take out the handgun that I brought with me from the villa in Naples. A mist was rolling in from a distant somewhere and my heart was beginning to stir. As I passed through the first line of trees, I held my torch high and entered the dark.

Harz

I’m in a café in Torfhaus right now. I’ve got all the supplies I’m going to need in the moor, since I’m presuming more freaky mumbo jumbo is going to go down in there.

I’m starting to wonder if I’ve made a mistake. I’ve always wanted to visit Europe and now that I finally have, I’m basically preparing to go meet my death. Is sacrificing yourself for the greater good really the right thing to do if you know you’re going to fail? Which is better, to possibly do a great good with one action, or definitely do a little good with many?

Marcus rode out into the night to try and destroy the Tree Walker. He obviously failed. Did he do any good? If he did, is that good worth any more than the good he had done already, for example, by helping out Doc Cairo? Is it worth more than the good he could have potentially done with his vast economic resources? Does the fact that he tried count for anything? Do intentions matter or is it just the results?

Somehow I feel like it’s not for me to ever answer these questions. All I can do is what feels right and turning back now doesn’t feel right. It feels easy.

I’m heading out now. I may be some time.

Goodbye.