“You’re gonna have ta try harder than that in order to scare us,” Zane said. He shrugged and then pulled out his favorite wooden blue sketching pencil to twirl between his fingers. “Have you seen those scary Japanese ghost movies? Now those make me lose sleep at night.” He shuddered and almost dropped his pencil.
“I do not know what a movie is.” Tipper smacked away a stray vine. “I thought for sure the ghost girl would scare you.”
“Why would you want us scared in the first place?” Gabbie teased.
“Because it is going to be a long trip just walking and I’m going to get bored real quick.” And then under his breath enough for everyone to still hear. “I don’t know why the elder won’t let us raise deerne. They’d be perfect for times like this.”
“What’s a deerne?” Lila asked even though she was more interested in whether or not she would be allowed to pet Perceval’s soft, downy fur. He was after-all walking right along side her. If she could just reach out her hand and stroke his long ears. Her hand buzzed with the effort to keep it by her side.
“A deerne is like, let’s so…hmm,” Perceval smacked his chops in order to fill the silence as he thought of an adequate description. “Horses! I Remember horses when I went to Earth. They were so fat and small.” The children exchanged glances. Horse were by no means fat nor small. If that was so, how large and slim was this other animal? “A deerne is like your horse only times two. They are bred to carry two or three passengers. Deerne are docile animals, but if they or their masters are threatened, then they will gauge their attackers to death with their sharp antlers.”
“Antlers,” Alastair repeated, out of breath. “We have a lot more to learn about this place.”
“You haven’t scratched the surface, kiddo.”
When the company of kitsune and human children found themselves at the foot of the Forest of the Dead, which the children had actually renamed to the Blood Clot Forest for better affect, all thoughts of horses, deerne, and anything else dissipated. The children clearly saw why Tipper and Perceval had been apprehensive in regards to the Blood Clot Forest. There was no transition from one forest to another. There was simply the now familiar expansive trunks of the kitsune woods layered with healthy vines and vegetation. They were used to a canopy so thick with fat leaves that Tipper needed to use a flame to light their path. In a way, the kitsune woods was like a large house keeping them safe.
The Blood Clot Forest were what nightmares were woven from. They immediately noted the thick blue, yes blue, fog. The wall of fog tumbled in lazy swirls just a few inches away. Lila swiped at it with a hand and noticed that the lighter skin of her palm had been stained a very light lilac. She backed up and scooted closer to Perceval. Again, the trees just weren’t normal trees. They grew as thin as Tipper’s arms and were the color f bleached bones with black knots spotting their skin. Most of the trees did not grow up. A great deal of trees grew to the sides, touching the unseen ground beneath the blue fog, growing up, touching down…actually, Alastair noticed that he could find where one tree started and another began. He gulped.
“Ha! Scared now, aren’t ya?” Tipper inclined his head, his nose in the air imperiously. However, the children saw how he did not make an effort to move into the Blood Clot Forest. He seemed rooted to the spot.
“Aren’t you going to lead?” Ginger asked.
“Er, yes. In a second.”
“Don’t tell me,” said Ginger in a teasing croon.
“Tell you what?”
“Don’t tell me that the oh so tough and powerful Tipper is the one who is scared of the Blood Clot Forest!”