She is the guardian of this forest. She carries its stories in her belly where she will not forget them. Ask her of the tree who walked away, the stream that went to college, and the ogre who wove a cloak of fireweed wool. She will bring them up for you.
Run screaming in fear of her slithering scales and you’ll be none the richer for her stories. Show her disrespect and she’ll introduce you to her fangs. Tell her stories, on the other hand, and she’ll invite you to join her guild of forbidden fables, of which she claims to be treasurer. To enter the secret libraries of the guild, you must first step through her unhinged jaw and descend a spiral staircase deep into her belly. Be prepared, for she will be offended if you hesitate.
You will be rewarded for your bravery. Within you’ll find all the stories never told. The stories have grown lonely to be read within this secret place. They will spoil any reader with mugs of hot, delicious drinks, comfy pillows, and rainy windows to ease their reading. Take heed, for you may never wish to leave again.
Deep in her dreaming, she found the forest she once knew as a child. The pixies who told her stories, the goblins that played hide-and-go-seek in the gullies, even the mean old witch who lived in the hollow tree – they were all still there.
“Of course we’re still here,” said the pixies. “This is our home. You’re the one who left!”
“You abandoned us for your growing up, didn’t you?” The witch’s voice still sounded as hoarse and bitter as she remembered. “Didn’t you ever realize that growing up and friends like us are not mutually exclusive?”
She sat down on a fallen tree as the realization washed over her. “I never did.”
“At least you’re here now,” said the goblins, hugging her knees. “We’ve missed you so.”
The story hunter hadn’t been to this area of the wood for months. The stories had flourished in the absence of their predator. If he stopped moving, and held his breath, he could hear the plot lines rumbling in the soil. Now and then a piece of dialogue slipped through, filling the forest with possibilities.
He heard dragons, and fairies, and the slumbering sounds of bedtime stories. It had been far too long since he’d heard such stories. He put his trap away and left the way he came. Best to leave this place for now, and give the stories a chance to mature.