Short Stories

The Forester

Edward reached into his backpack and retrieved his map again. Confused, he waited till the sigils on the map lighted up again, giving him a rough indication of his current location.

Why would his current client want to send a package all the way out here, this far away from the Highroad? The map was barely even drawn this far out; the location sigils won’t help a bit if the map didn’t depict his current surroundings. 

Edward had traveled to many places, even off the Highroad, and always found his destination. But this current assignment proved to be a real challenge, even for a seasoned Robin like himself.

With a sigh, Edward peered down the forked paths in front of him. Best he could tell, his destination was southwest of his current location, which would mean the left path? Only one way to find out.

He put the map away again, straightened his clothes for good measure, and continued. After a good half hour of walking through the increasingly dense forest, he heard someone whistling. Edward picked up the pace, eager to check out if he finally found the forester his client talked about.

He entered a clearing in the forest which revealed a worn little cottage with a little vegetable garden. On the far left of the clearing, an aging woman was working on what looked like a signpost, one of many circling the clearing. She was whistling as she dipped her brush in a bucket and drew something on the wooden planks.

Edward cleared his throat as he approached. “Excuse me, I’m looking for the forester of this area and I’m afraid I’m in need of some directions.”

“My my, a lost Robin it is? How embarrassing,” the woman chuckled, “luckily you just found your forester, though I doubt your fancy maps would be able to tell. How can I help you?”

“Ah, good. I have a delivery for you then, courtesy of the Master Brewer of Arcbury.” Edward handed over a small wooden box.

The forester lighted up “Ah, it’s about time my grandson sent a new batch for my sigils. Thank you most kindly dear!”

Grandson, Edward thought confused, the Master Brewer was close to ninety years old! How old would that make this woman? Of course, he refrained from commenting on that, that would not be proper for an official Robin.

“If you don’t mind me asking madam, what sigils are you drawing here? I don’t recognize the design.”

“These are ward sigils, my dear, they ward this circumference, prohibiting passage by unnatural beings” the forester explained, her face growing solemn while she spoke.

“Unnatural beings? Like the demons from the childhood stories you mean? But there have been no reports of such creatures in decades.” Edward replied confused.

“And thanks to my grandson’s delivery, we can keep it that way for the coming decades.”

Edward looked out over the little clearing and the signposts surrounding it. Something occurred to him. “If you don’t mind me asking madam, shouldn’t the ward signals be facing outward to keep any demons of the forest from entering your clearing?”

“Who said anything about keeping unnatural beings out? Why, these wards prohibit the demons from leaving my clearance dear” the forester smiled. Edward looked stunned, then doubled back the way he came, sure to never come back.

Behind the Story

Word count: 559

This story started with the idea to invert the stereotypical grandmother versus the forest demons.

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