The following is a sample story from my newest story collection IN ROOTS OF ASH. This is one of the many stories included that tells the story of a cursed woods and the things that haunt the dark places of the world. Things older than Man and much more cunning.
The Echo of the Axe
The Woodsman’s skin shines, even in the dark heart of night. It shimmers, its color so black as to be blue and was almost luminescent. Were you to catch him at his work, toiling in the moments between moments where Man could not see him, you would think he was on fire, or perhaps made of flame.
The Woodsman’s body was almost perfect, almost.
He had been asleep for so long that it had taken decades to undo that damage but his body had begun to return to its ideal form.
Muscles hardening from clay to iron, mind returning from sea into stars, and for a moment, for one moment he was within the Machine again and its thrumming was the sound of the universal womb.
He saw beyond the Machine to the world beyond it and then woke to find himself encased in another sort of womb, one made of wood and connected to his enemies.
He heard the murmur of the void and sang back to in the language of inferno.
He was free again.
Free of dirt, and stone, and grass.
Free to stalk the lands once more.
Free to turn the jungles to blood and the skies to screams.
Once free he tuned out the thrumming of the Machine’s Design and focused on molding himself into his own image. Into an image of his own making and once that was done he would call forth his children, the children of Mankind, lost and searching for their god.
He would be that god.
And with them, he would create an army.
An army to wash the world in fire.
The Woodsman spoke to the winds and his words, like seeds, planted themselves within the hearts of wayward pilgrims who had lost their gods.
He offered them a new god, and a new religion and he promised only one thing, fire.
He promised fire that would cleanse, purify, and incinerate all things and leave this world to be reborn anew, in an image of its own making, as he was remade in his own making. The Woodsman would become not an agent of Design but an agent of unmaking.
The Father of Ash as the witches, the six sisters were the Mothers of the Wood.
And so, he began his work.
And slowly did he work, from the outer edges of their roots, in the depths of the jungles of South America, where time had buried him.
Starting with their Cousins and then their Heralds and working their way to their Children and it was almost time to turn his attention fully to them.
They had stolen so many of his potential children over the years, so many souls that wanted fire but were swallowed by their roots. They had slaughtered them and left them for him to find, like a road of bone he would take as he made his way to them.
He too had been working though and a day was fast coming when they would realize that there was rot within their roots, a wolf amongst their flock, and it would open the door and he would step through it with the apocalypse close behind.
He was coming for them.
Comes the fire.
Comes the ash.
Comes the void.
Comes the end.