The woods were covered in moss throughout the year. It was a very damp territory; every day rain fell, flooding the small brooks and the two larger rivers that drained all the water from the forest. The water then arrived, in a more gentle way, to many towns down the river. The people were grateful about it, as the only source of drinkable water was the river. There was no underground wells they could use and the closest mountain range, which wasn’t very close, was dry as a bone, not enough snow to fill a spoon.
For centuries, people venerated the river as a god and concluded that if the water stopped flowing as it always used to, it meant that the god was angry. But there was another god that might be angry and that was the forest. They believe that it housed so much life that it had a life of it’s own. The few real explorers of the towns had come back from the woodlands with stories about a creature, always a different one, with an iridescent skin and bright white eyes. Sometimes it was a deer, a reindeer, an owl, an eagle and even a rabbit. People thought those were representations of the forest, guarding it from destruction and the hands of men in general. This explained why every man that attempted to fully explore the forest always ended up, mysteriously, at the edge of it, never really penetrating the land.
As the towns grew and time passed, people began discussing the possibility of constructing a couple of barrages midway between the forest and the towns. But as soon as they began the construction, people died because of severe floods that happened unexpectedly. Once there was nothing else to be destroyed, the floods stop and everything went back to normal. The elders reminded the young about the spirits in the forests and told them to leave the river alone. No construction made by man would ever be able to harness anything coming out from the forest and that was where the water sprung out of the planet, so it was better to leave it alone.
Time passed and people stopped trying to make them rich with the water. But then they started thinking about logging in the forest. After all, they had chopped off every other tree in the region, leaving large areas of land without a single tree standing up. The elders condemned this but no one really listened to them unless there was proof to be so scared and this time there wasn’t. They didn’t touch the woods, only the grasslands, until they had nothing else to burn in their factories and fireplaces. A group of young men travelled to the forest with axes and chainsaws, ready to bring the forest down, one tree at a time.
When they arrived, they were excited and begun their work right then but when trying to chop off the trees, their machines didn’t work. They didn’t affect at all how the bark or even the leaves. It was as if the whole forest was made of metal or something much stronger. They tried every tree they could see but after a whole day they were exhausted. They decided to camp there that night and keep trying the next day. But there was no next day. The people that found them, botanists taking notes about the plant life of the region, said that they suspected the trees to have showered them in their sleep with a certain kind of spores that was deadly to human beings. They died in their sleep without even knowing it. Their families mourned them and, once more, people forbid themselves to go to that forest.
Due to the lack of wood and the difficulties having a way to harness energy from nature, most towns in the course of both rivers began decaying rapidly. Many factories closed, almost putting an end to industry. Many local businesses closed too due to the lack of resources to fill their shelves and make their products. And finally, people had begun migrating somewhere else, where there might be enough jobs and hope for a better future for all the kids who had grown in the good times of the region.
But some thought they had left too soon, that they had given up too easily. And they said that because one day, without people ever noticing it before, trees started to grow where men had chopped them all off. Some creatures, animals and plants, had come back to the plains. Besides that, people started feeling the wind blowing a bit stronger, coming from the forest. That made no sense but it was what it was.
Slowly, some towns began flourishing again, this time calculating every move they made to survive. The new trees where taken care of for some years, until they where good to chop down. And they only chopped down one section of the trees corresponding to each town. They created a schedule on how and when to chop each area of trees and that seemed to work because in no time life had been brought back to the plains, and no plants or animals were being harmed.
The scientist among them realized the wind’s strength was ideal to be harnessed. Somehow, they had never thought of it, thinking only water could be strong enough to give them the power they needed. So they started building windmills and other structures to harness the power of the wind and it worked. The wind generated power not only for the mills, where they could make flour to make bread, but also to illuminate the dark streets of the towns and the homes where people spent most of their time. The lighting of several squares and public buildings was always an event but with time, the people saw this as normal. Some of the windmills were eventually replaced with higher and more powerful turbines, which gave energy to the whole region. People now lived much better than before and the belief that it was all because of the forest was stronger than ever. Small shrines where built near the turbines, to thank the god and spirits.
Nevertheless, some people had grown even more curious than before about the secrets of the forest. Some many times, groups went into the forest trying to discover its secrets but, yet again, they always ended up coming out of the woodland instead of really penetrating the area. That was until a men and his wife, both scientists trying to uncover the mysterious properties of the forest, arrived and attempted to get to the core of the place. Their first couple of attempts ended up in failure as everyone else’s. For the third time, they had come with their child, who had learned to walk recently. As they had no one to leave him with, they had decided to bring him along and show him the animal and the smells of the forest.
But one day, the day the father attempted to enter the forest, the child went after him, without her mother noticing. When she did it was too late and when her husband came back, they started to worry. The man said it wouldn’t’ be long until he came out of the forest but nothing happened. It was already afternoon and the kid was nowhere to be found. So they entered the forest together looking for their son and, this time, their attempt was successful. The trees grew larger and closer together deeper in the forest. The couple held hands as they walked and yelled the name of their son. But he didn’t hear them or he couldn’t answer then. They knew what had happened to the loggers who had come and ended up dead. They were very afraid for their son and how he might be.
After hours of walking, they finally reached a clearing, where moss was very green and very damp. They were close to the source of the rivers but they weren’t thinking about that at all. They screamed their child’s name and started yelling and crying. They didn’t care anymore about the water or the wind or anything about that place. They only wanted their son to come back to them.
Suddenly, they saw a light beyond the trees and they decided to follow it. They walked with difficulty through trees and branches and roots but finally got to a smaller clearing. The lights they had seen where the eyes of a wolf that appeared to be almost invisible. They couldn’t be sure the creature was looking at them but it was strange how it stood there, still. He finally moved and revealed their son, sleeping on the mossy floor. The parents got closer and took him in their arms and woke him up by kissing him and touching him, checking he was fine. The creature looked at them all that time, until they stood up. Then, the wolf jumped towards the trees and they saw the lights disappear.
As it had happened many times in the past, they just had to walk aimlessly to get out of the forest. It was fast and they didn’t care about anything that had happened inside there. They had their son back and that was all that mattered. When they went back home, they wrote a book about the forest, claiming the spirit story was true and that there was no real way to explore the forest if all you wanted was to unveil its secrets. The forest only opened itself to people looking for help because nature was caring, like a mother. Men, however, were not as caring most of the time so it was shut out from that place and it would remain shut out for many generations to come.
The forest’s secrets were many but not for the eyes of men.