Photo Contribution by Karen Savoy
Moments after Astoria realizes what Octavia has done, they began to run up to people they once called friends. One by one, Astoria received the same reaction of confusion. The place Astoria once called home no longer remembers them. With tears running down their face, Astoria rushed out of the village. Once at the end of the bridge that connects the village to the mainland, they dropped to their knees in sadness.
“No one remembers… will they ever?” Astoria mutters under their breath.
As they were going through all the different emotions, they began to get up slowly. When finally steady on their feet, they looked up to see something move in the shadows of the forest.
“Who’s there?” Astoria yelled, pausing to hear a response and not receiving one they shouted, “I saw you; you can’t hide now.”
When no one appeared, Astoria cautiously drew their sword and approached into the woods.
With no luck, Astoria began to truly believe whether they saw something or not. As they were leaving the forest, they stumbled across a campsite. In the campsite was a hooded figure.
“Who are you?” Astoria ushered with their sword to the hooded figure.
The hooded figure turns quickly, trying to strike Astoria, but Astoria does not back down.
Disarming the figure, they ask again, “Who are you? I will not ask again.” This time with the sword pointed at the stranger.
Finally, the hooded figure spoke, though not the words Astoria wanted.
“Listen, I am not going to tell you my name, I am not the enemy those things are. What your friend did to your village… they are the enemy,” said the stranger.
Astoria, shocked that this person knew what happened, blurted out, “How do you know what happened in my village?”
With no hesitation, she remembered and followed up with, “YOU! You were the thing in the forest that I saw when I crossed the bridge.”
“Fine… I’ll refer to you as Oak,” Astoria said.
“Refer to me however you want, but it is getting dark, it’s not safe. There is a village not far, you passed it to get here. Go there, they have an inn you could stay in with a tavern for a meal,” Oak said to Astoria.
“If it’s not safe, then why do you stay out here?” Astoria responded.
With a large sigh, Oak explains, “It’s not important. Please just go before it’s too dark.”
Even though Astoria can be stubborn, they said, “Fine. I’ll go but I will be coming back tomorrow.”
“Well, you know where to find me,” Oak said.
With that, Astoria began to head to the village. Not far from Oak’s campground was the small village of Dellus. This village was built with a beautiful stone. Through the streets of the village, Astoria could hear mutters of people talking about the hooded man in the forest. The villagers talk about him as if he is the village’s protector. Astoria made their way to the inn and settled in their room for the night.