Into the Weald
A hiker stumbles into a fantasy world and is transformed into a dryad deertaur version of herself. Explicit.
Skyler hadn’t planned on wandering into a fantasy world. She’d gone hiking up in the mountains plenty of times before and had never once slipped between worlds. She’d even hiked this very trail a couple months ago and had stayed well on Earth the entire time. Today that would change.
At the moment, she was still hoofing it up the side of a steep rise, which she remembered from last time because climbing it had made her break into a sweat last time, too. Just a little further and she’d come out on top of the ridge, with a great view of the reservoir that the trail encircled, framed by the foothills and distant peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Once she was there, she could find somewhere to sit for a minute and rest her legs, maybe have one of the granola bars she’d stuck in her bag on the way out. Already she could see more light coming in through the trees; she was coming up on it now.
But when she left the shade of the ponderosa pines, she found she was not standing atop a small, rocky outcropping. There were no familiar peaks poking above the tops of the trees, no reservoir, no scruffy alpine trees and scrub—not a single thing she recognized.
Instead, a lush meadow studded with flowers stretched out before her, nestled in the belly of a valley so thick with verdant foliage that it looked almost primeval. The towering peaks around her bore thick skirts of mist that shrouded their sharp purple cliffs, and slender waterfalls like silver strings that lost themselves in the clouds. Her gaze floated up into the sky above, where the ghost of a crescent moon hung, four times bigger than it should have been and bearing a broad ring around its equator.
Her eyes made several circuits of the album-cover-worthy view before Skyler found the words to say, under her breath, “What the hell.”
2 February, 2021
A quick sketch of a deer-taur transformation folktale.
Men tell many tales of the Lady of the Wood, of her cruelty and caprice. They say that any son of man who enters into her Greenwood must either be fool, or desperate.
Desperate indeed I was on that night. The king's hounds were upon my trail, and his men so close behind I could hear their hue and cry. I had little choice but to enter the wood, or face the sword. I hoped, perhaps, that the men would turn their horses back at the edge of the kingdom, that they might be more superstitious than I, but still I could hear them. They were more distant, slowed by the branches and bramble that pricked my cheeks and tore at my legs, but still they pursued me.
I fled deeper into the forest, under roots taller than a man, over streams that wound silver in the moonlight. My breath was ragged, my face stained with blood and sweat. Still I ran, until from the woods around me, I heard a voice speak, "Halt."
The word chilled the blood in my veins, but I could not have moved even if I had wished. Where I stood, roots rose from the ground and twined about my feet, such that my legs were held fast, like a striding statue.