Warning: Spoiler Alert!
One of the more obvious themes of The Lerewood is the ol’ ‘Don’t Judge a Book By its Cover’ theme.
The people of Lerewood is cursed to isolation; the town is surrounded by a forest on all sides, without a trail or a road to the outside world. The facts? Anytime anyone enters the forest, they do not return.
Some of the townspeople are positive, and believe that those that have left have found a much better place to live, and do not return by choice. Others speculate that a create named ‘Ilere’, who controls the woods, capture and kill those that try to pass through.
"I swear it was her!" a man stressed. His companions didn't believe him. They shook their heads and looked at each other. "I was on my way back from my day's work, and it was just starting to get dark. I was walking alongside the woods . . . it was a stupid thing to do, I know. One should never walk near the woods, especially at dark. I don't know exactly what I saw, but I know I saw something. You see, I heard a rustle in the trees. At first, I thought it was just the wind, but then I looked, not thinking I would see anything, but was I mistaken! Sure enough, staring right at me were glowing green eyes. I took off as fast as I possibly could."
"Are you sure it wasn't a wolf or some other animal?" asked a woman. She had blonde curly hair and brown eyes. Her voice was full of fear, for she was scarred from the legends since her childhood. She was one of many who found no peace at night, too worried to close her eyes and be vulnerable to this creature.
"With glowing green eyes? Absolutely not! It was the creature." The man continued to reject any other possibility as the two women started to become convinced of their friend's most fascinating story.
"Well it's a good thing she didn't get you," the other woman said. "But from what I hear, the creature supposedly isn't able to leave the woods. She is cursed there. She can never leave."
"Where did you hear that?" asked the man with doubt, with an air of curiosity.
"Ask anyone who knows their legends. Personally, I heard it from a woman in north Lerewood, but she seemed to give me the notion that it was common knowledge."
"Actually, someone told me it's not just town. She cannot leave the forest that borders us. She is cursed to contain us so we can never leave Lerewood and explore the world . . . but she can enter into town . . . ," the blonde woman explained.
"More like we are the ones who are cursed. No one has ever left Lerewood. It's only a dream to know what it's like beyond our borders!"
"Oh, I don't know . . . I never really believed in this old town legend. It all just sounds so silly to talk about," the blonde said again. She looked at her fellow townspeople with unsure eyes.
"Of course it isn't real. It's preposterous and impossible for any being to live over a hundred years and yield such power as everyone claims the creature has." The second man said, eyes flaming with debate.
"Don't be so ignorant, man. The creature is real. She lives in this town as much as the rest of us do. You can't go a day in Lerewood without hearing of her. I highly doubt we would make such a fuss about something that did not exist! We teach our children the legend just as our parents have taught us. And how’d that old poem go? You know which one I mean…the one Reichenbach used to recite to us around the fire."
The woman with blonde hair trembled in her skin as she recited a few lines by heart, mumbling under her breath like it was a spell. "…Its villainous treachery repeatedly has a mind of its own. What is the chill that corrupts its victims…is it the victims on their own? No one could ever know. And yet, could the answer be eclipsed in the mind? Is it hidden? The truths that may possible keep one from knowing the danger that lives inside…"
"Some poem…Reichenbach had a wonderful ear for rhythm, I’m sure." The second man teased. He snickered and gave the woman with dark hair a comical look. "Ilere was a story created all those years ago by our mayor's ancestor to scare us from leaving town. We all know what Fendley's policy was on exploration. Think about it—isn't it logical that Fendley, Lerewood’s first mayor, would have made up a story about two outsiders that ended up being immoral and unnatural beings? Isn't it logical he did this to teach the town to reject the idea of outsiders coming into Lerewood? He wants our town to be one blood. Surely you don't think that there really is a woman living with wolves inside the woods, with the power to harness the energy of nature around her, and use it to kill anyone who enters it? Surely you don't believe the curse everyone speaks of contains us here, or her there? Where is this curse? Can you see it? Does it make any sense? How silly our imaginations are to invent something to lay all our blames on. It is our Mayor who rules this town, not some curse!"
"Fine. You make a good point. But how do you explain the fact that no one ever has come out of the woods, after they go in?" the second woman asked smugly. Her male companion smirked. He gloated with intellect.
"Easy. They find a pathway in the woods that leads them out of Lerewood. They escape this wretched, pitiable town. And who wouldn't want to escape? Fendley continues to enhance this legend to keep us from leaving. He needs all the help he can get to keep this unfortunate town populated. If he let us have our freedom and tell the truth, we would all have left by now. I must applaud the man—it's a very well-thought-out plan, and very effective."
The dark-haired woman continued to stare at her conflicted partner with a superior glare. "If there really was no creature, then how come Lerewood hasn't had an outsider since the original two? Why couldn't someone from another land come across Lerewood from their explorations? And if you know all of that, and if you think so poorly of our town, then why don't you just go into the woods yourself and leave already?"
The man didn't answer that. He didn't have to, for the original initiator of the conversation hoisted his hands in the air in order to try and discontinue the conversation.
"Think what you must of the creature and of her legend. I know what I saw."
~Excerpt from Chapter 1
A middle aged man, Uallas, overhears the above conversation in a lodge. Over the years, many townspeople had created their own rumors about the creature, snowballing the intensity of the story. Unsure of what was part of the original legend and what is not, and conflicted by what he believes, Uallas sits down around a crackling fire amongst a group of young kids, and listens to the infamous legend once again by the town’s storyteller.
Although his paranoia and fear become heightened after hearing the legend once again, Uallas gets into a bit of trouble, and he finds himself in the woods, without anywhere else to turn. Knowing he will surely die whether he stays in the woods or tries to find his way back into town, Uallas decides to make it his mission to find the creature; he actively makes it his last mission to find death. Once he finally finds Ilere, though, he discovers that she’s not what everyone thought.
She’s repulsive, yes. She looks every bit as described in the legends:
She was exceedingly tall, nearly seven foot in height. Her body was skeleton-thin, and the dark green, almost black cloak she wore was draped over her bones. The only parts of her body that were visible were her hands, face, and hair. Her skin was a pale, sickly green. Her fingers were long, thin, and bony, like those of a reaper. Dirt caked beneath her long, yet uneven, ripped fingernails. Her hands seemed to have never been washed, as well as her hair. It seemed to never have been cut, for it extended past her knees and leaves, twigs, and dirt intermingled with her black curls, giving it an olive-green appearance. Her face was scrawny and long; her eyes, nose, lips, and jaw were tight and stern. The color of her eyes were bright lime, and they burned him like acid.
~Excerpt from Chapter 5
But the creature spares Uallas’ life. She does not wish to kill him; in fact, she does not wish to kill anybody. She is constantly forced to as an act of self defense, for most of the townspeople who become lost in the woods attack her at first sight, not wanting to die without a fight. Uallas realizes that all of the rumors and the legends were only half-truths—the horrible hunt that occurred several years ago between the people of Lerewood and Ilere’s parents was true. But Lerewood’s first mayor, Fendley, had left out many, many things. Ilere is not the essence of evil…but someone…or something...else is.
Uallas wishes to go back to town and tell everyone the truth, but Ilere explains that no matter what he says, no one will believe him. Some people’s minds are so set on believing something, that they just couldn’t see the truth even if it was obvious to a more open-minded person.
If you’d like to know what Uallas decides to do in this ‘damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t’ predicament, you can read The Lerewood here.
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