Cautiously, like a snake, he approached the sleeper. The forest was quiet now and the trees towered above, blocking the sky from view. Small shades of light burst in from the tree-tops and fell, like leaves, on the sleeper. He drew his breath as the light glistened on the sleeper’s pale skin. He could see him more clearly now. It was a man with deadly white skin and brown hair that covered his forehead untidily. He touched him and withdrew. Somewhere far off a horn sounded, a low, rich sound but as sweet as the song the birds sang early in the morning dew. Before his eyes, the sleeper awoke. His skin remained pale but with each breath he drew he became more real, more lifelike. 

Suddenly, the sleeper turned to him, not angrily but in a friendly tone. Softly, he croaked, ‘Thank you, you have broken the long spell and in return I shall tell you my story.’ He need not an answer so he drew a deep breath, wept and began.

‘My name,’ he said, ‘is Sir Valiant de Pomfort, son of Sir Gregory of France and true heir to the throne. I was only two when my father died but I held firm and became a knight at twelve. Most of my subjects wanted me to be king but my Uncle did not. He lured me to this very forest and tried to kill me but failed and I killed him. In revenge, his heir and my cousin united forces with the English and captured my strongholds by the sea. I managed to escape to this forest and stayed as a hermit here until luck renewed itself on me. It came, or as I thought, after several years when I met an enchantress in the heart of the forest. She gave me gifts of gold, a castle built in this very same spot and the pleasures of immortality. In return, I pledged an oath that I would remain loyal to her by staying in the forest forever. In the years that followed I would regret it.

The years passed and my heart hungered for my world, the world beyond the forest. So, one night, I slipped away and escaped the forest. In a spurt of light, the enchantress appeared before my eyes. She was weeping and her eyes were fiery red. With each tragic sob, she became more hag-like until she became a hag herself.

Large, black. leathery wings burst from her back, her hands became claws and a tail, the size of eight men put together, ripped from her bottom. Suddenly, a realisation gripped me: I had incurred the wrath of the enchantress. I fled but she held me there and then. Howling, screaming and screeching, she ate my soul, the essence of life, and with deep shock I lay down to die. She growled and disappeared in a puff of smoke to fest upon another hapless victim. Alas! I could not live or die for a man needs a soul to do such things. Instead I fell into deep sleep with no dreams in it. Now, though, the sleep has been broken thanks to you. Listen, the heavens are calling me and thus my story ends. So I must bid you good bye. Farewell!’ He smiled and dropped dead onto the ground, still smiling. 

The specks of light that had glistened on his skin faded away and soon he was like he was before, dark, pale and lifeless.

Somewhere up in the heavens the horns sounded again, a tragic sound this time, and with it a golden leaf floated onto his dark body. As it touched the sleeper’s bony arms, his body became illuminated and a gap emerged from the tree tops, bright clear music accompanying it. The man started up into the gap. He gasped and pinched him self to make sure he wasn’t dreaming. In the sky, standing on the silver lining of the clouds, dressed in pure white and singing, were hundreds, thousands, gazillions of… angels. Slowly, in rhythmical beat with the music, a light descended down from the gap and touched the sleeper’s body, spun it slowly around and broke it into hundreds of tiny particles. Then there was silence. The gap closed all too quickly. The music stopped and the forest’s mysterious tone invaded the forest once more. Still dazed by what he saw, the man, who had been listening to the knight’s fearful tale, backed away and ran for deal life. Why he ran, he never knew. He just kept running and running and the forest grew bigger and bigger. The enchantress had found herself another victim.