Daniel stood shin deep in the ocean for the next little while trying to grab his food. With no net or means of capturing, he was attempting to catch minnows with his bare hands. With hunger on his mind, he was willing to keep attempting to catch them, but there was nothing else around the area, and he was not quite ready to get lost in the forest.
But if he waited long enough, and considering the season, something would eventually come to him.
Daniel actually washed ashore next to the Tenuni forest, known to be in the northernmost part of the state. Deep within the forest is a lake that inhabits a whole assortment of wildlife. One in particular is the Obsidian trout. On it’s own, the trout is usually quite disgusting but it became a real delicacy amongst Northern Americans. They have become the most expensive fish on the market due to a very specific time of the year, and are fished only in this one particular spot.
During the mating season of the Obsidian trout, after they pick their nest, they migrate down the river into the ocean, which is quite a normal activity that most fish participate in as their way of life. However, the Obsidian trout can only survive in freshwater. As the fish make their way down the river, the saltwater of the Atlantic gives them an allergic reaction. When they make it to the end of the river and the saltwater surrounds them completely, they die within moments.
The Obsidian trout received it’s namesake from the way it’s skin gleams as it floats up to the ocean’s surface. Something that happens only to the fish in it’s death, from the oils it excretes to counter the saltwater. It’s that exact oil that the fish covers itself in, which makes it much more edible in the process.
As Daniel attempted to grab a minnow for the 12th time, the glint of the trout’s skin caught his eye, and as the one popped up to the surface, so did 6 others. He stopped what he was doing, and waded through the waters to investigate. The lifeless bodies of the Obsidian trout shined on as if to let him know that he was going to eat well, and everything would work out fine.
For a time it was. Daniel took comfort in his hastily made fire pit, at the edge of the forest. Warming himself up from the cold ocean waters, and nibbling away at the trout, pleased by its savoury taste. Any other man in his position would thank god for throwing them a bone, but Daniel never gave himself a moment to believe in such things and banked on this situation in particular, as being merely a coincidence.
Even though through all calculations, the presence of the Obsidian Trout was a mere coincidence, the coming storm wasn’t. One could argue that given the fact that he finally has had a moment to rest from all of his previous scenarios, the storm itself was an act of irony.
Daniel had no choice but to take to the forest, as the rain came in heavily. He grabbed as much of the fish that he could carry, and wandered deep into the brush looking for any sort of shelter. The hundreds of trees, 250 feet tall, were shielding him from the storm, and he tried using that to his advantage moving from one tree to the next avoiding any chance of becoming drenched in water again. The prattling of the raindrops against the trees became more faint, the deeper into the forest he went.
Eventually he could no longer hear it.
As he looked up though, he was surprised to see the storm continuing overhead, just as heavy as when it started. Though he could see the rain falling above him, it seemed to disappear into nothingness 100 meters from where he stood. The clouds shrouded the entire skyline, but a part of him still felt the sun beaming down. There was something curiously at work.
It was that curiosity which pulled him deeper. An aura of green, glowed through the trees in-front of him that seemed to twist into strange shapes the further he went. Trees, hundreds of years in a space that felt frozen in time. No signs of wildlife, no evidence cobwebs making a home. Daniel felt as though the forest was hiding something. Like a host cautious of it’s uninvited guest, waiting to see who he was and what he wanted.
Even though the Tenuni Forest has always been known of being magical in nature, it doesn’t possess a self-awareness. Yet the feeling that came over Daniel, wasn’t exactly wrong. There was something lurking around the area, waiting for the right moment to present itself. A restlessness that drew closer Daniel.
“Who’s there?” The fish that he held on to for eat, has now been gripped tightly, as a weapon in his hand.
A grizzly voice spoke back, loud enough to come from any direction. “Nothing fishy, I’m just a tree lumbering about…”
“Just a tree?” Daniel replied, scanning the area.
“Careful what you bark up…”
Daniel remembered that moment in the study, reading up on a book about strange beasts. Though he had not realised it at the time, it suddenly dawned on him where he might be. Daniel crouched and slowly started to move away from the area, assessing whether he should flee or not, but first he needed to know where the creature was coming from.
“I hope you wooden plan on leave-ing…” That last sentence sounded proud, almost sinister in how it sounded.
With each word Daniel was about to speak, he was looking for his exit. “I… Think… I… MUST.” From the bushes to his left jumped a large Jackal, launching itself in Daniel’s direction. Something that Daniel was quick to react to. he leaped forward, bending out of the way, and fumbled to the ground a little before hastily picking himself up and sprinting forward without any second thoughts.
The adrenaline of his body helped his awareness in bounds through the terrain of trees and brush. He couldn’t bring himself to looking behind, though he could hear the growling, and that was enough to keep him running scared.
Paying all of his attention to what was behind him, didn’t quite keep him aware of what was ahead. A collapsed tree on the ground, tripped him over and he tumbled violently down a steep hill. Leaves, stones and thistles padded the rolling Wyke as he completely lost his control and bruised all the way down, before a thick tree stopped him completely. His shoulders up to his head, pressed up the trunk. The shock of the impact prevented him from wanting to move.
There from the hill-top slowly making his way down, was the large jackal-like creature hissing with laughter. Daniel became tense as their eyes locked into each other, and unable to move, he shouted “Back, monster!”
The jackal stopped in front of him and sniffed the air. It moved it’s neck down, closer where he was it examined his feet, all the way up to his head. When their eyes locked once again, it spoke in a eerily quiet way.
“You poor sap. I may be rootless… But I’m not a monster.”