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Forest Maze (Crystalis)

Forest Maze (Crystalis)

I once visited a world after its society’s destruction and eventual rebirth.  It is always a curious thing to see a sentient species torn asunder and left to crawl back up the technological ladder.  Often, a few pieces of high technology are left behind, relatively intact, from the previous culture.  Sometimes, these objects are worshipped as gods or objects of the gods, and other times, the knowledge of how to use them is retained, and the society becomes some sort of technological hybrid, being primitive, yet able to reverse-engineer powerful devices, which, of course, leaves little to no room for their own advancement.

While bits of this world still had hi-tech devices, most of the world had been reclaimed by nature, and the Forest Maze near Oak was no exception.  No human would dare to enter this place, due to its toxic gasses, which were easily capable of felling even a strong human in seconds, but there were small creatures known as Dwarves, who had made a village, Oak, in a small clearing.  The forest floor was covered in a murky liquid, making it much more like a swamp, especially given its native species and noxious fumes.  While a horrifying place to most outsiders, I found it quite breathtaking.

The name is no misnomer; it is quite easy to get lost in this place, making its appearance all the more frightening.  Even in the middle of the day, the swamp gas and foliage are so thick that they blot out the sun almost entirely, making it appear as though it is eternally night here.  The white vapors float through the air, blanketing the forest with their poison.  The ground is covered in a liquid that appears a dark blue color, as do many of the trees, due to the small amount of pale, almost moonlike light breaking through.  The maze itself is created by the open paths winding through plant life so thick as to be non-traversable.  All one can see beyond the sinister green plants into these thick areas is absolute blackness.  Were it possible to enter, I would love to explore these inaccessible areas, perhaps even taking time to meditate.

In addition to the omnipresent dangers of poisonous mist and getting lost are the aggressive flora and fauna to be found here.  There are long-stemmed flowers that look like a dandelion ready to release spores, but are colored like a thistle.  These are often so heavy that their stems bend at the end, unable to support their weight.  These plants will not just release their sharp, harmful spores, but will cause them to burst forth with great force and velocity, often several at a time.  The greater danger, though, would be the gigantic red cicadas.  These are easily the length of a human, twice the girth, and solid as a brick.  Some are earthbound, but can roll into a ball and charge at their prey to crush them, while others can fly with a surprising level of stealth and speed, considering their size.  Insects might not be frightening to you because their normally small size makes them easy to squish, but you must remember that they have strong exoskeletons, thus are quite dangerous at this size.

There is also said to be a large beetle dwelling in depths so dark that no light enters them at all.  The legend amongst the dwarves is that this beetle is mostly green with six glassy red spots on its back, which resemble eyes.  This creature is said to be the size of a small house, and it can spit venom with enough velocity to cause physical pain, and possibly even break the skin.  Perhaps the most unusual feature of this insect is that it likes to collect bright objects, such as lanterns, magical spheres, and nearly anything that contains fire.  This, of course, is all speculation, mostly from dwarves who are rumored to have seen it, all of whom were carrying something to light their way.  I had made my way up to the dark area of the forest, but thought better of proceeding, at least at the time; I was quite young.  While I normally do not discuss the fauna of an area, this time I found them to paint a more complete picture of this place.

Perhaps it is because I grew up in a forest that such places fascinate me.  I’ve long found dark, secluded areas with strange creatures to be as comforting to me as they are disconcerting to most others.  I used to wander around for hours in the forests, sometimes getting lost, but enjoying the sensation, at least until I wanted to leave.  I’d spend my days in harmony with the trees and shrubs, getting to know them almost as I would another person.  I’ve noticed that most others do not even like to touch plant life, which I find to be odd, given how much physical contact they give each other without even seeming to think about it.  I suppose the human world is merely one into which I am ill fit.

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