“The Forest of Illusions is a dark harbor of legends and mystery, a black stain on all maps. She is an ancient forest poisoned by grief and hatred, a wild beauty full of menace and tricks. But it was not always so. Once she was as other forests, tranquil and content, a haven for weary mortals to whom she would whisper ancient secrets and sing drowsy songs. A nameless boy would often come to visit, to play in her branches and sleep in her shade and sing with her voice. This boy was murdered during one of the bloodiest battles in recorded history, and the Forest withered in loneliness and confusion at the savagery of mortals. She barred herself from men, hid her beauty and sought vengeance on any who bore the taint of violence in their hearts. The Forest of Illusions came to be feared by all, and endured the centuries in miserable isolation.
Until Faeren, a young knight who bore a striking resemblance to her lost child, stumbled upon the Forest and awakened her shriveled heart from its long, murderous sorrow. She begged him to stay, to play in her branches and sleep in her shade and sing her songs, but he could not. He had a duty to king and country, and a life elsewhere. Years later, he fell in battle against the rebel warlord Morgan and awoke to find himself in the Forest of Illusions, scarred but alive. She had taken him from death, given to him of her life and made him one of her own. She guards him continually like a jealous lover, sheltering him from the world that destroyed him–a world in which he can no longer dwell. He is one with the Forest in life, in slumber, in the turn of the seasons. There he will always remain, loved and protected and nourished, but alone. There are no weapons within the Forest, no kings and servants, only peace and solitude. His companions are the trees and illusions made and unmade by his consent. They can neither free nor comfort him in a place no other living creature dares to visit. The Forest is his salvation, his home, and his eternal prison. He has become but another secret in its shadows.”
(For the whole story, please visit Faeren’s Character Bio!)
For months now this image has been in my mind waiting and wanting to come to life. From scratch it took three weeks of 6-12 hours a day, longer than any previous realism painting I’ve attempted. I’m surprised my poor tablet survived the abuse. I spent so much time on that tree that it came to be dubbed “Orville”. ^__^;;