Tolf pulled me back into his arms. ~Not that way!~
My feet waved out over a hidden gorge at the edge of the forest, and my head spun at the ground falling away beneath my feet. Brown rocks that I couldn't see before I'd sprinted towards the edge glinted up from the riverbed far below, glistening with a sharpness that yearned to feel my fragile flesh,
It was my twelfth birthday
Last year, we were playing in the forest, hide and seek, not tag, and it was Ellefu who saved me from hunters who were patrolling deeper than ever before, a side effect of deforestation and coyote overpopulation.
Tolf and Ellefu are two of my monsters, the only family I've ever known, and every year, we come to Osku Skogur to play a game. The outcome of the game always brings the birth or discovery of a new monster.
Tolf was big and furry. His brown fur blended in with the trees of the forest, and his arms were long enough to wrap fully around me and hold me tight.
Ellefu was small and green, and light on her feet. She looked like a cross between and parrot and a badger.
It was Fimm who told me of the magic of Osku Skogur, the first time. He looked like an old man, and he spoke softly, his voice like the evening breeze through rain-laden leaves. Danger was doomed to befall me, every year, and every year, a new monster would save me and guide me through the coming year. He said it was the trees that found me, the wild green that watched over me, and in the deepest grove in the darkest green stood the oldest ash, and it was responsible for the magic.
And it would be my job to guard and protect it when I was old enough. In the meantime, it would see to my growth and education.
Fimm said only one knew where exactly the grove lay, and I would have to wait for Sextan and four more years to be shown. Until then, the trees would lead me astray from the grove. He told me the story every year, as we sat around the fire that kept us warm on the coldest and longest night of the year, the only fire that would burn in the whole of the Osku Skogur.
And at the end of the story, he whispered to me my name.