At the Bottom of the World

muir 2

…and I swear by the gods if I hear “look at the size of that one” one more time, I will…I mean I get it already. The trees are big, the ferns, yes you could probably sleep under them. But I don’t need to fecking hear about it every fecking time.

Erosoi looked at Sgilti asleep there next to the small fire and shook his head. He regarded the treetops out of habit, though he knew by now, so deep in this dark and cavernous forest, the towering tree tops prohibited anyone from gaining any semblance of time even in those rare places where the sky managed to peek through. He looked up in vain and, squinting in what little light the fire provided, returned to his book to catch up for he’d written nothing since he left Mordeen nearly two weeks ago.

Four days we’ve been walking in this shite and I get it already, Sgilti, I get it. Not, of course, that I don’t mind having you around. You’ve been a godsend, after all and I don’t think we would have made it this far—however far that may be—without you.

Erosoi smiled and again, now with the humorous episode in mind, shook his head and wrote about how Luathis, whom he’d selected to join the group, pleaded with Erosoi to take Sgilti along too. He’d looked at the kid, scrawny and long-legged, and said no. She’d begged and promised he could “run even faster than me.” He’d laughed at that one. And when she’d said he could run through solid objects, Erosoi knew she was smitten with the boy and in being in such an enamored state, would not take no for an answer. So he’d added Sgilti to the group and, the matter settled, the group of six set out across rolling hills and rain soaked plains for the Beinn Dubh.

imagesES8F9MAAHe’d chosen Bran to accompany them for really no other reason than because the kid seemed to grow with every step and because of the stories he’d heard about the Coill, coupled with Nudens’s warnings about the “people in the forest,” someone Treetop’s size would not hurt to have around. So Bran, in addition to Nudens’s self-appointed “right-hand man” Arawn, along with two of his red-eared white hounds, the group had its muscle. Erosoi met Arawn, as intractable as they come, that first night in Mordeen and though the two did not speak much past introductions, he compared, there in his book, Arawn’s deep dark eyes to the Beinn Dubh itself.

Arawn’s the kind of guy that takes no shite and he doesn’t fanny about. Like me, he knows when there’s a job to be done and like me, he’s the kind of guy to get it done. And like me, he will. But I guess what really intrigues me are those eyes. I can’t really say for sure, but it seems like he’s always looking at something else, even when he’s staring you straight. It’s weird, really. I’ve watched him and it seems that no matter what’s right in front of him, it’s as if there is something else there only he can see. Creeps me out, but the man is hard as feck and though thinking of him sometimes sends shivers up my back—as it just did—I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable here without him.

I don’t know…this place is too fecking weird. Nudens said when one is in the Beinn Dubh, one comes to know the limitless immensity of the imagesES8F9MAAforest. He said “don’t forget where you are going lest you forget where you are.” But this place is a pissing labyrinth. The mountains are like heap upon heap of ruffled clothes, bending and twisting. And indeed, I’ve been growing in the sense I’ve sunk to the bottom of this almost, as it were, demersal forest. It is almost like the gods just plopped the mountains down before the ground hardened and it all just sank. The immensity, this vastitude is almost palpable, immanent. Like I could almost reach out and touch it. Maybe that’s what Arawn sees, I don’t know. And I don’t know if he’d understand what I meant if I were to ask him.

But his eyes aren’t shite compared to the Coill we’ve seen. Arse over tip barking mad. Fecking crazy. Simple as that. No other way to put it. Nudens said the forest was sacred before the gods themselves even existed. The forest itself was the reason they came here. He didn’t say which gods, but I know they’re pissing insane themselves. I mean does anyone else have eyes like that? They live in small groups. You’ll see their little pointed houses—barely make them out, really—but you can see them nestled there amongst the moss-covered tree trunks. And when you see them, the Coill, that is, they just look at you, unmoving. I made my way toward one of their houses two days ago, just to get a closer look. I pulled back a thick wet fern frond and nearly pissed myself. Skulls! Fecking skulls! At least a dozen of them right there, hanging on the pissing doorsill! Stark raving mad—that’s what the forest has done to them. That’s why they have the logy eyes they have. If Nudens is right, then I’d say the limitless immensity pushed itself into their eyes and sank itself into their very being. Maybe the Coill are the limitless immensity. I don’t know, whatever. All I can say is this place is fecking crazy and thank the gods I’ve got Luathis, Sgilti, and Clust here with me. Without them, I’d probably forget where I was. Maybe that’s what happens. Maybe the Coill aren’t really a tribe at all. Maybe they’re people who come to the forest and get lost and in getting lost, they get sucked into the limitlessness and in getting sucked in, they get stuck. If that’s the case I can only thank the gods. muir 2

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