As promised, I revamped the little blurb in my last blog post. But, I just did it now and am not editing it before posting. So, I guess it’s still a first draft.
Crashing through the forest, his hooves pounded hard on the ground, the noise echoing through the trees like thunder. Animals nearby scattered away from him. Occasionally he’d shake his head as branches, witches beard and twigs caught in his horns, which only served to tangle them further. Brushing at them in irritation he managed to keep them out of his eyes, but he carried on hurriedly; the minotaur had an appointment to keep and being late wouldn’t be acceptable to the Jubokko. Even in the humid heat that served to cover him in layers of sweat, the thought of the Jubokko’s wrath made him shiver.
Of course, it was known that the tree lived on the blood of those that died. As their blood seeps into the earth, the tree drinks deeply, its roots soaking in the last droplets of life of the dead men and women. If you sat long enough during its feeding, you’d be able to see the tree grow, and although the tree was taller, looked younger. But, you didn’t want to be around watching it. The dead around it wouldn’t satisfy its hunger and it would capture anyone around to feed on. The minotaur had heard a story years ago about how a young man, mad with grief over the death of his brother, tried to cut the tree down. The tree wrapped its branches around the man, tightening until his bones broke and the jagged ends pushed through his skin, drawing blood. The tree continued to crush the man, absorbing all of his blood until there was none left, then it dropped him to the ground. The minotaur shuddered at the thought of such a violent death. Not wanting to test the Jubokko’s patience, he picked up his speed.
He slowed when he reached a clearing; the Jubokko tree stood tall in the centre encircled by a collection of seven flat-topped rocks. Perfect to sit on, both for comfort and protection. The minotaur didn’t think the tree could draw blood through the stone. He looked around in wariness but didn’t see or smell anyone else nearby. Sighing with relief that he wasn’t the last to arrive, he stepped forward and slowly plucked the remaining branches and moss off of his horns. He picked a rock and took a seat.
Soon he heard more rustling in the forest and watched as different creatures pushed through, all looking as sweaty and harried as he felt. A chimera was the first to come through the forest, followed by a cyclops. Next, a burst of fire signaled the arrival of the phoenix. The minotaur smelled the troll before he saw him and exhaled in relief when he saw it take a seat on the rock furthest away from him. A kitsune darted out and jumped onto the rock next to him. The forest stilled and each rock now had an occupant, with the exception of one. The minotaur wondered where the banshee was when he heard her shrieking bouncing off the trees in the forest behind him. His irritation at the noise was quickly replaced with fear when he saw the Jubokko’s branches extend into the forest in the direction of her howls. Her shrieking changed to the most unnerving scream the minotaur had ever heard, followed by the crunching of bones and then silence. The tree grew a bit and the minotaur knew it had fed on her.
A face appeared in the bark of the tree and the minotaur swallowed hard. The meeting had begun.