“To scare sprouts into staying with the community, and to honor the tree of the dead?” Tophan avoided any contact with the trees, as did Sujela. “Maybe it is, but what is this place then?” pointing at the deceased again Tophan stopped. “I haven’t got the slightest idea.” she sat down, at about the same place from the trees that she had spent the night.

“Listen,” he sat down as well, both listened to the forests wooden mourning breathing. “the ancestors, just as the floFloral/Fungal Journal – 1 Darkness (ep6)rals of today, were dorsal, benevolent beings of the forest. They valued peace over anything!” he felt slightly ridiculous sayibg that feeling the weight of the dagger on his hip, but prior to the invasion Florals had been peaceful. There had been no violence amongst them. No fighting training what so ever. One of the reasons the invasion of the guards had been successful, although it was short lived.”They wouldn’t harm us, unless something urged them to.” the two exchanged a long silent stare. For a moment both their hatreds for one another boiled up, subsided the next. Each remembered the haunting visions of the night before. Embarrassed the two looked away from each other. “We must stop this.” she sighed. Slowly she unsheathed her weapon, looked at it long and thoughtful, thrust it into the ground. With a lot more reluctance Tophan drew his looted dagger, glanced it over. Feeling uncertain about the action he too thrust the weapon into the ground. Leaving no other trace of their presence but the abandoned weaponry Tophan and Sujela wandered off, climbing strange rocks, all to familiar roots, and vaguely similar soil, onto be arriving at the deceased guard again a little before sunset. Bereft of their weaponry the two examined the soil. It was rockier. A lot harder to penetrate with bare feet, but manageable.Unlike the night before they had decided to stand next to each other, leaning against each others back. “Has the ground worsened for you since your arrival?” Tophan tried to pass the time until sunrise with a little conversation. Despite both of their non carnate nature, sleep debrevation started to affect them. Before Tophan had arrived in the forest of darkness Sujela had slept a few hours during the day, wandered around a bit, rooted to the soil to outwait the night, and started the day with sleep.”No. It was as it had been last night.” the first louder moans echoed through the trees, as waves traversed on waters surface, so did the moans and mourns of the trees wave through the pitch black darkness in the forest. “Do you think the soil changed because we ditched the weapons?” Tophan felt his hand was searching for something to hold on to, only finding Sujelas hand, which had been in sear h of hold as well. At first the two inched away from one another, after hissing excuses however, their hands found each other again, grabbing a hold the second time around. “Maybe,” she cleared her throat out of feeling ashamed. “perhaps it is the first step towards the end? I mean, us getting out of this forest.” the first dancing specks of colored light danced before their eyes. Sujela sighed in anticipation of the unfolding events that were as real as the images seen in clouds, when she felt soft breath on her neck, another hand that was lyibg on her waist. “Surely you feel as desperate for intimacy and closure in this place as much as I do.” Tophans voice gad a strange echoing ring to it, revealing itself as an illusion of the forest. Instead of giving in to the sounds and impressions of it Sujela squeezed Tophans hand. Reminding herself of reality. “Maybe we should rid our minds of the insane hatred we bear for one another.” Tophan snickered at his own remark. “Which is easier said than done, I know.” he felt Sujela squeezing hus hand, but at the same time her other hand holding his cheek, her breath upon his lips. “Let us replace the malevolent passion with passion ofa benevolent nature!” she breathed, Tophan almost felt her lips, remembering the squeezing hand and the back that leaned against his, provoked by tbe surreal tone to the voice. “Perhaps the Phoenix will return, shining away these insane visions?” Sujela gasped, as each pressed the others hand so tightly they only felt numbness. “Would making fire help?” hissing Tophan tried to decide what was worse, the pain in his hand from squeezing and being squeezed, or the sexual advances from the forests illusions, unknowing that Sujela was weighing the same options in an unspoken question. “No.” she grumbled between grinding teeth, breathing shallow to breathe the pain away. “Somehow that made things worse for some of my comrades.” Somewhere far off in the forest an ethereal glow glimpsed shortly through, between trees, branches and twigs and needles. As sudden as the dim light had appeared, it vanished again. Apparently the phoenix would not come to shorten the night for them again.

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