It wasn’t easy to get here.
The path is narrow, full of holes. Every step was marred—echoed, really—by the steps of the jungle beasts. By the creatures of this magical forest. I could hear their cries at night, and feel their eyes watching in the day. At some point, the trees gave up on me, gave in. Began reaching for me, choking up on the path ahead. Trying to prevent me from going forward.
Yes, it wasn’t easy getting here.
Not in the slightest.
When the sleeper wakes…
It will be worth it.
The moss is so thick it’s become its own entity. It’s own tree.
It reaches. Green, fuzzy fingers stretching from plant to plant. Creating a net above, and a plush carpet below.
The moss is overbearing here. Overwhelming.
Disgusting to touch.
Interesting to the eyes.
It speaks of the time that’s gone by. Of how long this forest has stood. How ancient things move, even when they appear to be sleeping.
Sleep does not kill power.
It simply represses it.
That’s why I’m here.
What I’ve come for.
They say that if you can find him, and you can wake him, he will grant you a wish.
Just the one.
Just the one wish, but still.
That’s more than enough for me.
As I walk—climb, really—atop a boulder, the moss licks the bottom of my boot and I slip. Fall. Hit my ass so hard it knocks the wind out of me.
But I say nothing.
Make no sound.
I don’t cry out, don’t swear, don’t moan.
This is not the place for that.
You see, I have come to wake one.
Just the one.
I can hear their sleeping breaths. The way it sighs through the breeze. A forest asleep, the wind tiptoeing through the trees. I can hear others resting, tucked in the folds of moss, but.
I’m not here to wake them.
No, I’m only here to wake him.
Just the wish maker. Just the sleeping king.
Just the one.
I climb up, ready to start again. Ready to continue, to move forward. Wanting—more than anything—to arrive at the tomb already. To be done with this quest, this wandering. I’ve carried this loss and this sorrow for long enough already. I want to be rid of this dreary, ancient moss. This whispering silence that prods at my back. I want to be done. To be able to speak your name, and hear your reply.
That is my wish.
It’s all I need.
All I need.
It was not easy making it here. Finding this forest. Searching and hunting and surviving. Trekking through the dark, feeling through the fog. Sleeping, despite the howling beasts and the cloying night. None of it was easy.
If it’s for you?
I’ll do it.
I can do anything.
I will do anything.
If it’s for you.
Quietly, I slip over a few rocks. More calculated this time, more careful. As I climb the moss-ridden boulders, slipping by the old and ragged trees, I can see some of them.
Lying in their make-shift tombs—their open-mouthed graves—with their hands folded over their chest. Or placed at their sides. Or somewhere in between. As I slip over and around all these sleepers, I see them.
And I hear the faintest whisper of their dreams.
They call to me.
A lull in the wind.
Dreams spilling, aching to be heard. To be fulfilled.
That’s all they want. To be awakened. They want it so badly, they dream it. Over and over again. Centuries of desire building. Creating this thick fog that looms, permanently, against the backs of the towering trees. It permeates through everything here, soaks us in the desire of the sleepers.
They wish to wake.
All of them wish to wake.
I will not.
I only aim for one.
These sleepers, I don’t know them. Why they’re here. What they want. If this endless sleep was a gift to them—a shelter to hide behind—or if it’s a curse cast down on them. I don’t know these other sleepers, don’t know their stories. So I don’t even think to wake them.
I only came to wake the one.
And, as I approach, I can see his tomb. The decorative patterns that the moss has glued itself to. Birds with sharp beaks, with dark crystals for eyes. Glinting in the low light, ominous, seeing through the thickest of fog. Those creatures decorate the rock of the tomb. The stone building that stands tall, alone, inlaid within the foundation of a particularly large tree. Looking ethereal—more ethereal than the rest of the forest. More magical. More ancient.
As I approach, I can feel the buzzing in my veins. The tiny hairs on my body stand—as if I were a dog with its hackles raised, and I know:
This is the sleeper I seek.
This is where his bed lies.
Power sleeps here.
Immense, endless, overbearing power.
It’s here, in this tomb.
It’s been here all along.
It’s been here…
Been here for far too long.
Oh sleeper, awake.
Oh king, come to the call of my voice.
Join the waking world.
And grant me one wish.
Rise King of Ravens.
I have a wish.