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PLACES


THE FOREST OF DISSEMBLENCE


Beyond the frontiers of Paradise, all is deceit and enticement. It is the darkness of the soul, as Gorin the seeker, Gorin the messenger, Gorin the Christic embodiment of an archetypal pilgrim, pursues his mission to save the Zandernations from the wages of indolence. As only he can.


THE STORY

Following the Path



Guided by a white hind unihorn, Gorin learns to see beyond the veil of illusion as he follows the “Old Way”, resisting the lures and ensnarements of flying dogs, running stones and even more devious devices conjured up to test his resolve to breaking point.

THE EXCERPT

PLACES


THE FOREST OF DISSEMBLENCE


Beyond the frontiers of Paradise, all is deceit and enticement. It is the darkness of the soul, as Gorin the seeker, Gorin the messenger, Gorin the Christic embodiment of an archetypal pilgrim, pursues his mission to save the Zandernations from the wages of indolence. As only he can.


THE STORY

Following the Path



Guided by a white hind unihorn, Gorin learns to see beyond the veil of illusion as he follows the “Old Way”, resisting the lures and ensnarements of flying dogs, running stones and even more devious devices conjured up to test his resolve to breaking point.

VIII – The Forest of Dissemblance


“The threshold of order, on the line
between perfection and rejection.”

From “A treatise on Paradise”, discourse given by Magres in 297.


from “The Song of Gorin”, Stanzas 997 - 1113

A s Gorin and his guide crossed the Garden’s frontier, he felt a strong wind come blowing through the trees; a wind, as it were, of welcome. Except that this welcome was bitingly cold, carrying with it dust and dead leaves which swirled around his head for several minutes before falling to the ground. It unnerved him a little, but Ecinlorne was quite unperturbed and carried on as if nothing had happened, although she was obviously paying much more attention to Gorin and where he was. She kept looking behind her to make certain he was still following before advancing at a measured pace, easy for him to maintain.

Apart from the sudden gust of cold wind, there was no immediate sign, as far as Gorin could see, of any change in their surroundings now they had crossed into the Forest of Dissemblance. There was still nothing obviously sinister, although he could already identify several plants he had not seen growing in the Garden. These were mostly tall, coarse ferns with long trailing leaves overhanging the path that brushed against the travellers’ faces when they passed.

Penetrating deeper into the Forest, Gorin noticed gradual changes in the trees themselves, indicating the presence of an entirely different prevailing influence. In the Garden, they had been slender and graceful, their trunks and branches smooth and unblemished. Whereas here, they were old and gnarled, twisted out of their natural form by unknown forces. Some of them looked so menacing, Gorin was half afraid they might tear themselves out of the ground and come after him at any moment! However, despite the increasing profusion of these tortured trees and increasingly invasive undergrowth, there was no tangible reason to fear anything. For the moment.

After about an hour of uneventful journeying, Gorin began to feel a little more confident, learning to accept the weird growths on every side and even developing a keen interest in some of them. He became lulled into thinking that as he had so far encountered no immediate danger, tales about the Forest were probably grossly exaggerated. He then fell to examining the plant life surrounding him more closely and made the mistake of dropping too far behind Ecinlorne to scrutinise one particularly eye-catching specimen.

He had never seen such a strange life-form before, certainly not in the Garden and not up to this point either in his travels through the Forest. It had a huge central stem ending in a kind of angry red bud. From the stem hung a series of leaves, larger at ground level and smaller nearer the top. Gorin was particularly intrigued by the way these long, pale growths appeared to be completely lifeless, drooping down with the lower ones trailing on the ground.

As he studied them, he became aware of a beautiful perfume beginning to steal around him. It was as fresh as the smell of earth after rain and as sweet as dew-damp roses. An extravagant spectacle then accompanied the heady fragrance as the bloated bud crowning the stem slowly began to open. As it did so, the sweet scent grew stronger, hypnotising Gorin with its subtle, aromatic magnetism. He wanted to find its source, to breathe it deeply into his lungs and steep himself in its overpowering persuasion.

He stepped closer to the plant, and as he did so, the bud opened more to reveal the flower it contained in all its majesty. The scent became intoxicating and he was even more anxious to go to the heart of it. He stepped forward again, touching one of the deathly white leaves with his foot in the process. The beauty of the flower and its allure excited him so much he failed to observe how the leaf he brushed against had perceptively stiffened. Neither did he notice the other leaves reacting similarly, some of them even flushing with the angry redness as they slowly emerged from dormancy.

The next thing Gorin became aware of was something catching in the back of his tunic, pulling sharply and hurting his throat. He was then jerked upwards and hoisted high in the air. Just in time to see all the plant’s apparently “inert” leaves reach out in a coordinated, whip-lash motion centred on the spot where he had been standing just moments before!

Gorin shuddered at his close escape and in the same instant felt himself being swung clear and down again, well beyond the reach of the plant’s snatching tentacles. As his feet found the safety of the ground beneath them, he realised he had Ecinlorne to thank for his timely rescue.


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