Warning: this blog post contains possible spoilers, as usual.
For my blog this month, I’d like to explore in depth the main character of my novella The Lerewood: Ilere. Last time, I discussed my protagonist Uallas and his views of the other characters of my book, including Ilere. Click here to read that.
Ilere is not quite the protagonist of the novel, nor is she the antagonist. The townspeople of Lerewood view her as their enemy, and they’re quite right in thinking so. And in the beginning of The Lerewood, the reader is led to believe this too. But The Lerewood is all about perception. The legend of Ilere tests the reader’s judgment by giving them only one side of the story, and then questioning their beliefs without the other side…Ilere’s side.
The townspeople view Ilere as not just a hideous creature, but a jailer. An obstacle. She keeps anyone from leaving town to find a better life. She makes sure the people of Lerewood remain trapped in their miserable lives of endless suffering. But why?
That question is revealed when a middle aged man from the town of Lerewood enters the haunted forest and finds Ilere. And she reveals that there is a reason why she must keep the townspeople contained. A reason that paints Ilere in a very different light to the stories…and the lies…that Uallas grew up with.
"The trees tell me stories of how the 'outsiders' you know so well in your legends were anything but. They have lived in these woods for centuries before your town formed. And there was an entire population of my people, my ascendants that harnessed the same powers that bind me to the forest. Then one day, the trees tell me, your people appeared out of nowhere in one of the clearings. They chopped down hundreds of our trees and started to form shelters and a civilization. Where they came from, the trees do not even understand. Even the wisest of trees say they witnessed your people rise from the ground, as if they were born right out of the dirt.
"My people found no harm in letting your people live in the forest, forming their little town. But after many years my ancestors began to see your people for who they really are. They would storm into the forest, hunting and killing all of us, and spoke of feeding their starving families the flesh of my people, for they could find no other source of meat. We were peaceful toward them at the very beginning, offered them the hospitality of our forest, but instead they chose to slaughter us without asking if we could help or provide them with food. It was soon apparent that your town was the essence of darkness."
"So ever since my town formed, your people have been hunted? Even before you were born?" Uallas was wide-eyed. At first, he didn't know who to believe. Ilere was telling him a completely different story from what he had lived by his entire life. At first he didn't truly understand what she meant by his town being the essence of darkness, but seeing the vacant expression on his face, Ilere continued.
“When my people started to defend themselves, and your people had fallen in our territory, their souls were absorbed by the forest. That is what the Lerewood does . . . its power is based on the souls that surround it. It was once a beautiful, bountiful wood because we were a good people that cherished nature, took care of it, and it absorbed our kindness. But once the trees began to take in the deaths of your people, they started to quickly decay, and as the blood of your people seeped into the ground it became consistently dry and no water would quench its thirst. Your people are cursed souls, Uallas. You are filled with a natural evil.”
~Excerpt from Chapter 6
Ilere has one purpose in life: to contain the evils of Lerewood, and to keep it from spreading and infecting the rest of the world. She was born into this purpose because of the slaughter of her family, and the rest of her people. Her personality is very reserved, very serious, as she grew up alone, with only the dark forest to accompany her. I had to create a being that would install fear in the small children of Lerewood as well as most of the adults. The legends of Ilere that the townspeople tell one another are mostly true…but most monsters are born for a reason. I hope that The Lerewood teaches my readers that some evils are not as evil as they seem…and sometimes they are necessary evils. I have always been fascinated with the motives of people considered ‘evil’ by others, and the untold story of that villain, usually a pain that is always overlooked and untreated. I deal with this same theme in my current work in progress, a story about a notorious Scottish crime lord and his attempts at battling his inner demons and struggling to become a better man. To read more about Ilere and her character, check out The Lerewood, available in ebook and paperback at the Kellan Publishing store. To stay updated with my current work in progress, follow me on social media. Links down below!
~ Andrea Churchill
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