The Journal of Squire Fitch
©1998 Hawkyn -- all rights reserved
I was helping my Great Aunt clean out her attic in preparation for a big yard sale. As I explored the dust covered piles I found an old leather folder filled with hand written papers buried in an old chest. I convinced my Aunt to let me keep the ancient documents in exchange for helping her get things ready for the sale.
When I had a chance, I examined the contents of the folder and found it was filled with a collection of journals and personal letters. After carefully translating them I have selected the following entries from two of the journals that I hope you will find interesting.
I have returned from a hunting excursion with Thomas Milby and a friendly native man called Fallcha. We were most successful, bringing down several deer, three black and gray creatures that Fallcha called "Rachoon", and best of all, a large black bear whose hide shall grace my wall after Fallcha has tanned it. With Fallcha's knowledge of the forest we now have several excellent places to hunt near the settlement.
Fallcha and I have just returned from another excellent foray. Thomas had to go to Plymouth settlement to get some herbs from Doctor Tillison for his family. The damnable weather here in our new land is taking its toll on the young and on frail women like Thomas' wife. This does, in some small way, ease the pain of not bringing Allisa over with me. I would have died of grief watching her beauty fade under the withering strain of this unforgiving place. How could God have created a land that is so beautiful and deadly at the same time?
I am striking out on my own this morning to a hunting site near my cabin. Fallcha and Thomas have both been stricken by the Pox that has swept through the settlement and nearby native village. I feel it best to distance myself from those affected till this pestilence has passed. I pray for their quick recovery.
I live! I don't fully understand or remember everything that happened to me in the woods. I know only that I must write this down, try to find some sense in it through the re-telling. I stuck out in the early morning two days ago, hiking till near sunset to reach one of the hunting grounds that Fallcha had shown Thomas and I. Near the center of a glade I built a fire and prepared for the night. I began a meal of bread and salt pork I had brought from the cabin. As I was finishing my repast I heard a noise and was startled to find a magnificent Buck standing at the far edge of the clearing. Quietly I crept over and grabbed my musket. I carefully moved closer, staying up wind, and when I had reached a proper range I fired. The buck leapt over me and landed awkwardly still unaware as to what had befallen it. It's eyes suddenly glazed over as the mortality of its wound became apparent. The mighty beast's legs buckled, sending it crashing to the ground where It's exposed chest heaved in desperation, struggling to cling to life's breath. I approached carefully, watching as the broad chest stilled. The Buck was dead.
I had moved over and began to examine the large rack of horns when I heard another sound behind me. I pulled my pistol and spun to face the location of the sound. From the edge of the clearing I could hear something moving through the dry autumn leaves. Then I saw a maiden looking out at me from behind a spidery bramble of thorns and ancient foliage. Her skin was the burnished red of the autumn leaves and her hair like dark clouds sweeping through a midnight sky. As she emerged from the shadows, her movements had the fluid grace of a wild animal. She wore only a few beads and shells strung around her neck. Two blood red marks down her left cheek were a striking contrast the perfection of her unblemished skin.
The beautiful maiden moved up to the deer showing no fear of me. I stepped back watching her, fascinated by her grace and striking appearance. She didn't look like any of the women from Fallcha's village. Her features were somehow different, both more feral and beautiful than any I had seen in this land or any other. She placed her hand on the deer's side and chanted something in a strange language then looked up at me with tears in her eyes. Her look of pain and anger was so intense that I found myself suddenly feeling fear of this maiden. I fear no man, but the look this maiden gave could be felt to the depths of my soul and I knew she danced with dark forces. She moved her hand down to the buck's wound and dipped her fingers in its blood. Pointing the bloody fingers at me; she began chanting in that strange language again.
A sensation like a chill wind blew trough me, chilling my bones and sapping my strength. Suddenly my arms went limp and I felt the pistol drop from my grasp. I tried to move, to reach for my knife, but it was as if my arms were no longer under my control. She walked over and drew her bloody fingers down my cheek, chanting all the time. I could feel the sticky warmth of the creatures blood on my face. The marks started to burn into my flesh, a fire spreading across my face and down through my body. She then turned and walked back over to the tree line from whence she had come. I stood weak and in pain from the two burning lines of fire etched on my face.
The maiden reached the woods edge then turned and smiled back at me. As I watched her, brown hair began spreading down her arms and across her shoulders. Her hands melted as if made of warm wax and reshaped into hooves. Her neck stretched out longer, tawny fur moving up to cover it. Then the maiden's face seemed to push out forming a muzzle with the nose turning black and melding in just above her now small mouth. Her ears curled, stretched, formed into points and then moved up her head. She bent over and as her newly formed front hooves touched the ground the changes shot down her lower half. Brown fur spreading across her back white fur spreading up her abdomen and chest. Her legs grew thicker, shifting and remolding into the hindquarters of a deer with a small tail emerging to complete the transformation. I could only stare in disbelief. There in front of me was a doe where only moments before the native maiden had been.
I stood there bewitched by what I had seen when I felt a strangeness move across my body. The fire from the marks had scorched their way through me and as I looked down, my suit fell to the ground as if my form had become air. Then I saw thick fur begin to spread up my arms. I could feel the bones soften and shift to accommodate newly formed hooves where my hands had been moments before. A sharp pain shot through my neck and the world seemed to drop away as my head moved higher into the air. My mouth pushed forward; my nose, now more visible, turned a dark black. I felt my ears crawling up the side of my head as my hair receded back into my scalp. The world split and whirled as I felt my eyes migrate to the sides of my head. I fell forward and landed on what were now hooves. This seemed to trigger the changes in the rest of my body. A thousand ants began to march across my abdomen and chest; thick white fur replacing my pale flesh. Pain screaming through my hips and legs as they reformed, molded into those of a buck. Then a new sensation, something growing from the top of my head. I looked up and could see a large rack of antlers spreading skyward from my brow.
I tried to think; tried to fight what this daemon was doing to me. As I looked around I saw the buck I had shot disappearing. Its flesh falling away and the bones crumbling to dust within seconds. Suddenly smells and sounds the likes of which I had never sensed, assaulted me. No... I had experienced these things before, but never with such clarity. The senses of my new form were making it harder to think. There was a new smell, something intoxicating, I felt myself compelled to follow the doe. I fought for control -- trying to push through the growing wave of sensations washing over me. As I neared the doe, her scent and her dark magic stripped away the last of my control.
My memory of events from that point are blurred and distorted. The instincts and senses of the animal were more than my intellect could stand against. I awoke finding myself in a state of undress and lying next to my pistol and clothing. I quickly donned my clothes, gathered my things. As I hiked back through the forest to my cabin; I tried to convince myself that it was all just a strange dream.
Arriving at the farm I took my pack into the cabin, gathered my shaving kit, and proceeded to the well to clean up from the trip. As I looked into the mirror to shave I found two red marks down my cheek that would not wash off no matter how hard I rubbed.
I went to the native village today and spoke to Fallcha. Our native friend is recovering from the pox and says he will be ready to gather more food for the coming winter as soon as "the trees stop dancing." His way of saying that the dizziness still comes over him. Although still weak he seemed grateful for my visit. When Fallcha asked me about the red marks on my face
I told him about the native maiden and the strange dream these marks had given me. His expression became somber as he told me of the legend of the Spirits of the Forest who protect the animals in sacred places. Tales of lone hunters who slew a creature under their protection only to find themselves transformed into an animal themselves. He told me to speak to the ancient one who acted as healer for their tribe, he could give me a talisman to ward off the spirits.
I didn't want to insult Fallcha, but didn't care to have the Ancient One give me some useless stone with some tale of how it will drive off this spirit. Hiking back to my farm I couldn't drive Fallcha's story out of my mind. I found myself watching the shadows, wondering if she was still out there, trying to convince myself once again that it had been naught but a fevered dream.
Great News! Thomas and his wife have almost recovered from the Pox. It is unfortunate that their newborn son was not strong enough to make it also. Thomas was hit hard by the child's death, but is getting through it with his wife's help. I was able to get him to laugh when I told him the tale about the native maiden. He accused me of perhaps having taken part in too much spirits. I chuckled and told him that perhaps my problem stemmed from too little spirits. With his humor returning I am also hopeful for the return of his spirit.
The dark enchantress of the forest came to my farm. I was sitting on the porch reading my Bible, trying to force the thoughts of the maiden from my mind. Turning I found her standing next to the steps, her body silhouetted against the setting sun. I gripped tight to my Bible and began to pray for divine help in resisting this seductress of the forest. I tried to rise, but couldn't, once more in the grip of her unholy power. I could only watch as she calmly strode up the stairs and to my side. With a graceful gesture her slender fingers slid down the marks on my face, causing them to ignite once more. The maiden then moved quickly out into the yard; her body flowing from native maiden to doe effortlessly. I felt the fires of change sweep through me once again. I tried to resist, tried to fight for control, but the changes came more quickly this time. As I looked down at my clothes lying on the floor around my hooves I realized it was too late already. Her musky scent now attacked my mind, searing away my will to resist. My mind faded, lost in the rush of instincts and senses of the buck.
I awoke to the chill of the morning air as it blew across my now naked form. The icy boards of my front porch did not seem to bother me as much as I would have expected. My skin was covered with dirt and grass marks and I could still smell her on my flesh. I rose slowly, looking down at the pile of clothes; my Bible lying atop, mocking me. I had never been a truly devout man and now knew that I was lost. I could feel her watching me, sense her power still playing through my mind. I could feel she was coming back for me and that I would not be able to resist.
I write this as a warning! If you read this take heed and don't hunt these woods alone. I somehow know she will be returning at sunset and when I go with her I shan't be returning. Already the great forests that I found dark and frightening when I first explored them are starting to feel natural. While my memories of the home I left across the sea and my beautiful Allisa are becoming harder to recall, fading like an old dream that no longer holds meaning. I find the native enchantress haunting my thoughts constantly. She dances through my mind, first as a maiden, then as a doe, then merged into one magnificent creature.
The sun is nearly set, I can feel her calling to me. I can't, won't resist this time. The animal instincts have all but taken over making it hard to concentrate enough to write these final words.
Farewell and good luck my fre...
The Journal of Thomas Milby, November 24th:
Sarah and I have recovered from the Pox. With the Lords help, Doctor Tillison's herbals have worked better than expected for us. Sarah is still in morning over little John's death. I am also finding it hard to carry on, knowing my son's body lies there in that cold stony ground. Though we have lost some time due to the sickness and grieving for dear little John; I feel we can still bring in a good enough harvest to get us through the winter. Sarah has already said, that if God is willing, she wants to have more children.
Fallcha came by today and told me that he had been to Squire Fitch's farm to see if he cared to go hunting. He arrived to find the front door standing open and the table overturned. He searched the cabin for the Squire, but found only some clothes by a broken chair and the Squire's journal lying the on the floor. The only fresh tracks he found outside were of forest animals.
He brought the journal to me, thinking that perhaps it might say where the Squire had gone to. I will see what it says as soon as Sarah and I get back from the Celebration of Thanks at Plymouth. The Squire has been known to head off on his hunting excursions without notice before; he is most likely out looking for something special for the celebration.
Fallcha also mentioned a large buck and doe he sighted in one of the squire's fields. He said that the buck had two red marks across its face very much like the ones the Squire bore when last we saw him. The tale Fallcha then spun about Forest Spirits kept us quite entertained for the rest of his visit. His people are such a superstitious lot.
Still, if there is a large buck over at the Squire's place I should see about bagging it to add to the celebration feast. Some venison to go with the fish and maze cakes will make for a grander feast.