Act One Chapter One
In a different time, there was a
forest that was as deep as it was plentiful. Inside those woods, a house
stood that was built from the same kind of trees that surrounded it. Around
that cabin, the horizon was covered in all directions by the dense limbs of
outstretched timber and leafy thicket. Although the canopy was lush and green,
the sun and the stars could still pierce its ceiling. The boy’s first memories were
of the light of sunrise beaming through the window to draw him from sleep.
That boy, Novas, possessed deep green eyes as verdant as the wild around him. His windswept, chestnut hair fell down his head and face to his firm jawline. For as long as he could recall, Novas was always dressed in clothing coloured in the browns of earth and the greens of trees.
In his youth, Novas rose with the sun to walk with his father among the shaded paths. Like his father and his father’s father before him, Novas was shown the ways of the wild and the ways of man. He was taught that the land was just as alive as he was. Novas was entranced by the dawn and the early morning birdsong that brought forth the unfolding of leaves and the waking scenery of forest life both floral and animal. He learned the names of the lively birds above him and the swift beasts below him. The boy became acquainted with the multitude of greens and the creeping tangles of the forest floor. He tasted fruits and berries and picked herbs and roots that could be used for nourishment or remedy. Novas learned to swim in the series of waterways made up of brooks, streams, and small rivers that were carved across the land.
His father encouraged the exploration of his quiet home, but the man warned him, “Take care to stay within the borders of the wood. The peace that exists between the trees and leaves does not extend past where they end.”
Although the boy accepted his father’s words, Novas searched the forest in vain; he was unable to recognize that harmony without ever knowing its opposite.
When Novas grew older and stronger, his father, Garreth, introduced him to the bow. He had seen his father explore the woods with the large, curved object before, and the boy examined its parts. However, he had no idea of its purpose. With his bow drawn, Garreth knelt down beside his son and asked him to watch with careful attention. Novas looked up at his father whose shoulder-length, light brown hair moved like wavering branches in the wind. Novas shared his father’s linear jawline, but Garreth had shallower cheeks and a more chiseled chin. Garreth’s gray eyes were fixed on the target and steady as an approaching storm.
The bow creaked with tension as Garreth drew the arrow back, prompting Novas to examine the bow. Novas watched the curvature of its frame, the way that the arrow fit into the scheme, and the position of his father’s hands. While Novas was focused on his inspection, the bow snapped free, and the arrow had vanished. Before Novas could turn his head, the arrow quivered in the center of the target and then was at rest. Novas’ eyes widened as he had realized how this tool was used. In his curious manner, Novas thought it peculiar that the bow allowed him to stick pieces of wood into targets. He wondered what the point was.
Like sprinting, climbing, or swimming, the practice of archery was an interesting novelty and a new routine for Novas. Garreth could only chuckle as the bowstrings bit at his son’s fingers or snapped asunder due to the boy’s inexperience. Garreth lifted the bow from the dirt and carried it to the cabin to be restrung while Novas fetched the scattered arrows. When Novas had the bow returned to him, he found it bent in accordance with his strength, and his arrows finally found their mark at last. Later that day, when the beginner target had splintered into pieces due to his son’s improving aim, Garreth pointed out the marks he used to maintain his own skill. With the inclusion of those farther and higher targets, Novas practiced with a sense of challenge and reward. When he was satisfied that his son could use his bow well enough, Garreth decided to include him in the hunt.
While he had always had meat to fill his stomach and furs to keep out the winter cold on his bed, Novas was unaware of where these items had come from. His father had spared him from the truth as long as he could, for Novas was still known to laugh as he sprinted down paths in chase of rabbits or foxes. One day, Garreth handed Novas the boy’s bow and a handful of arrows and asked his son to follow him down the shaded paths again. As they continued along, Garreth strode down the path while Novas savoured the warm breeze of the summer day. They emerged through a break in the trees to an open meadow that revealed a stream and a field of thick grasses. On the far end of the opening, the brown, white, and red feathers of the boisterous turkey shot up over the field. Like he had practiced sneaking up on the woodland creatures before, Novas followed his father towards the gaggle without making a sound. When they were in clearer sight of the group of seven turkeys, Garreth took up his bow and readied an arrow. Novas glanced at his father and then towards the turkeys. Again, the arrow was gone before he could blink, and its presence was replaced by the rustling of bodies in the grasses and a screech the boy had heard before but had never seen.
Novas had an ominous feeling inside his stomach as he followed his father towards the place of struggle. Novas looked at the turkey that was now still on the forest floor and the arrow which protruded from it. The absence of its sound, movement, or essence made him fearful. He became perturbed by the blood, ruby red in the sunlight, that began to pour from the turkey, reminding Novas of his own injuries. A deep horror rumbled through Novas as he imagined the life that once was and the nothingness that now pervaded; an existence void of heat, of pitch blackness, and deeper than eternal sleep.
“This is the way of the wild. This is the way of man, Novas. This is how we survive,” Garreth explained as he placed a hand on his son’s shoulder.
Something grew hard inside of Novas’ chest, and he thought he would never look at the woods the same way again. He looked up at his father with red, empty eyes.
“Many beasts of the wood make the same exchange as we do. Some die so others may live. The forest provides for us in ways we cannot. Our home is not only beauty but also bounty,” Garreth informed his son, who stood nodding his head. Garreth picked up the turkey by its talons and carried it back to the cabin with his son in tow. While the bird made for a filling meal that night, Novas would neither eat nor live the same way again.
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