The Reapers of Gracewood Forest

Photo+credit+Adelae+Norwood.+
Photo credit Adelae Norwood.

Photo credit Adelae Norwood.

Photo credit Adelae Norwood.

Adelae Norwood, News Editor

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There was once a land forged of mist and forests on rolling mountains enveloped in the unending tendrils of space itself. The forest sang of the fires at night that the creatures would dance around with voices wrapped gently in blankets of golden song. Shadows of flames danced among the trees, leaping and bounding to an erratic music only they could hear.

The young children simply sat on the fallen pine needles that coated the forest floor, and watch, the windows of their eyes open wide.

Some of the wilder ones liked to run down the great hills, with their hair unbound; to be young is such a freeing thing, and they knew it. Sometimes, when their feet could no longer carry them at such a speed on the fine blades of dewy grass that blanketed the hills and valleys, the children would plummet. They could have been vibrant tumbleweeds, curled up into balls, flying head over heels.

And when they finished with the first hill, they would stand up dizzy, laughing, and with cheeks as red as crisp autumn apples, racing for the next mound of greenery.

Such a beautiful creature is autumn; it brings its gifts to the world: in bursts of exquisite reds and yellows and oranges that swirl around on the chilling breeze, traveling from one place to another; pumpkins that dot the country like thousands of tiny setting suns; legends told around the fires on the night of no moon. But just like everything does in its own way, on the heels of autumn comes inevitable death: Winter.

Winter, too, is a divine thing. In other worlds, perhaps, it brings joy for more than just the twenty-fifth day.

But, for the living things of the land, winter was something spoken of only in hushed tones that dripped with fear — not that it was their fault. It was such a shame that the season of white snows and plump red berries hiding in the woods was the time of the Reapers.

Many did not dare to utter their name, for fear that malicious events would rain down upon them. Yet the ones who spoke of them were also among the many survivors when the icy hands of winter finally loosened their grasp around the throat of the world.

The Reapers were gracious enough to come at night, when they were only visible in the light of the flickering fire. If only they would cease to exist, for then the people of the land could breathe easily.

But how could they, when winter is also the only time of childbirth? One day, the old wives said,with wizened faces full of hope, there would be a child born of the autumn. And that child would be the one to save them all.

But until then, all of the living things of Gracewood Forest would live in dread of the winter.

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The Reapers of Gracewood Forest