This is art of a short story, the original illustration for this can be found HERE
Sckelg climbed through the thorns, he was trying to be careful, but it was impossible to negotiate the tangled mass of the Forest without getting scratched or stabbed.
The thorns ripped into his arms and legs, pulling at his shirt and hair, and more than once his feet slipped on the boughs of the thorn branches and he fell to the ground again, ripping his face and arms, the stab of the thorns painful like a hundred needles until his body was wet with blood and sweat.
Every time he got tired he looked up at the blossom, meters from him, just within sight yet an enormous distance away through the tightening thorns, brilliant against the red sky.
"When I get to that flower," he said out loud, grabbing onto the thorns, hands bleeding, "I'll wish them alive again."
Wiping a hand across his face to clear the blood and sweat from his eyes he looked up again, the flower no closer than before, its petals falling slowly.
Gripping onto the boughs again he started climbing once more, shredding his knee and almost slipping but managing to grab a nearby tangle to stop himself. He couldn't afford to fall again.
The tangles became thicker and thicker until he had to face the pain and push through the thorns, squirming to rip his shirt free of them. This chance was a once in a lifetime opportunity, no other mortal would be given this choice for another century. If he could reach that blossom before it wilted...then he could see them again, his family, it was worth ever scratch and agony.
His arms and legs ached, his entire body a ball of pain, and he could feel the blood down his back, the thorn scratches stinging with the salt from sweat, and yet always the flower was just out of reach. Taunting and enraging!
The higher he got the more he began to feel tired, depressed, and like this was all in vain, the tangles getting thicker like barbed wire, the thorns closing in to prevent him passing. And as he climbed, another thought began to rise in the back of his mind, fighting through the pain.
If he could only control his powers, that blossom would be his in seconds. Imagine what he could do with the abilities he had, if he could only master them! The strange things he could do had always frightened him, but that was only because they were uncontrollable...but...what if...no! Seeing his family again was more important! It was what he wanted!
He pulled out his knife and began hacking at the branches in his way with renewed ferocity, keeping his balance on those below him, if he fell now then he would most certainly be killed, and if by some fluke he didn't hit the ground, he'd had no more energy left to climb.
He cut at the plants, hands bleeding against the blade and thorns. But more came to replace those that had been cut, until the knife slipped from his hand and down into the throng of sharp needles below, spinning in a flash of silver.
Using his hands he clawed through the tangle, the thorns ripping into his shoulders and throat, wrapping around him as he pushed his arm through the mass towards the light beyond, the flower glittering inches away from his finger tips.
He leant out forward on the thin branches, enduring the pain that pulled him back, leaning more, fingers inches from the plant...
He was suddenly falling, his heart leaping into his throat, before he was caught up in the thorns in a splattering of pain, falling down through the branches before he came to a halt caught in the tangles, the flower once again out of reach.
He lay there, tears coming to his eyes in frustration and exhaustion.
"It's no use!" he cried sitting up wiping his loose hair from his face.
"No! Climb again! You must!"
"But I'm tired, I hurt all over...I just can't do it!"
"You must! If you give up then your father, your brother, and your mother, they will all rot here for eternity! Wandering endlessly and forgetting Life! Forgetting you! Forgetting who they are, striving to remember! Trapped here!"
He couldn't let that happen, but already another feeling was surging up in his chest, tightening around his ribs. They were dead, would things go back to normal if they were alive again? He would still have these strange abilities, and he would STILL not be able to control them, how could he even hide them from four people when it was hard enough before.
Sckelg wiped his eyes and started climbing again, he would reach that damned plant if he had to fall a hundred times! No matter how much it hurt! The sacrifice was worth while if he could only see his family again...or...or...no, he was here to save them! If he failed now then he would live for all his life hating himself for giving up like a coward! The prize was too great to abandon.
He climbed on, this thought in mind, fighting aside the thorns that dug into his skin and ripped at his hair, let them try and stop him again!
Pulling himself up through the tangles he reached out, finger closing around the coolness of the flower, and ripping it from its perch.
"Thou exceeded my predictions." came the voice of Death. "Very well, the choice is thine, free those thou would, but be warned, choose wisely."
Sckelg turned and gazed out to the Plane of the Dead where thousands wandered aimlessly, he shuddered slightly as he remembered passing through there and seeing the blank faces, hearing them all calling out to lost memories and people they couldn't quite remember. His family were there somewhere...but it would be impossible for them to recognise him or each other.
It hurt to have to make this choice, but the need to wish them alive again was now weaker than it had been when he'd first set out, instead he felt another need, a need for power.
"What are you doing Ish? You know what you want, you want to see your father again, you want to see Morsck, and most importantly, you want to see the mother you never met. Isn't that what you came here for?"
A sudden hatred sprang up in his heart at the mention of Morsck, it had now become involuntary and he felt disgusted at his reaction, after all, it was he who had killed him...no that was an accident! Or was it?
He could feel Death's harrowing white eyes boring into him, waiting for him to make his choice, and it felt as though his entire soul was laid bare before the King of the Dead.
"I...I no longer want to bring my family back to life." he said, surprising even himself for the voice sounded like someone else's and not his.
Death remained impassive, a motionless pillar of towering black.
"Then what is it that thou desires?"
Sckelg looked straight at him, locking eyes with those ghastly white spheres of ghost mist.
"I want control over these abilities I have, they say I'm a Mage, and yet these powers seem more Witch like than anything I ever heard of, give me the power to control them."
Death remained silent for a moment.
"A wise choice Crow."
For those of you who have seen my other art, yes this is the same Sckelg who appears to be hare-shaped in other pictures. He is actually human believe it or not, and the hare business happens much later when he's older.
The story and all related artwork is (C) to me