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Wood spikes

Chapter Text

It was a small village in the mountains. It was warm in the summer and especially cold in the winter. A wide forest circled the village, making it hard to leave but the towering trees made the perfect ambience for a murder scene.


That thought always passed Keith's mind, but he didn't think it will actually be the case with him.


He knew he wasn't the villagers favourite, maybe they even scorned him behind his back, not that they made any precations to hide it even when he was around . But they never actively sought to harm him.


That mindset had long crashed when he was ambushed in his own little home. They came in the early morning when the sun had yet to rise. Men with half their faces covered, like Keith couldn't be able to discern their identity by their eyes and the ruthless determination lurking in their depths.


They drugged and tied his whole body, not even giving him the chance to fight back more than a few moves.


The village head's son gave him an extra hard punch to the stomach for the hit Keith managed to land on his face.


"Guh! Ox! You bastard!" Keith sputtered while being hit. 


Ox widened his eyes at being recognized but didn't stop in tying him down.


"Quiet! We need to hurry up." A man with a brown cloth covering his mouth shouted.


Judging by the scar near his eyebrow, that one was Feddin. He didn't look Keith in the face while hauling him on his shoulder.


Whatever they gave him made his body numb, so his words were his only weapon.


"Hei! Where are you taking me?" Keith said a little louder than a whisper. "Going to beat me up?" He admits that he threw punches at this guys more than once (credit to his temper and the shitty morality of the villagers) but-


"You cowards, ganging up on a single person. Bastards! At least fight like a man!" He sneered at all the people present, five in total. Not a single one looked at him.


It was weird. Keith couldn't feel anger from them, proved by the fact that he could still curse at them freely.


Their ever-changing expressions in their eyes were more of pity and resolution.


The more they advanced towards the woods, the more dread raised in his gut.


"All of you! Look at me!" Their avoidance only ascertained his assumptions. 


It was as if his whole body was thrown into a basin with cold water. He would rather face a beating than face what was ahead of him.


They went down a ravine, putting Keith on the stone altar near the ravine's wall.


Feeling started to come back to his limbs.


Keith bid his time and when the ropes were undone by two minions, he started thrashing madly, striking them as best as he could with half-operating arms. He managed to tumble down from the altar. 


Keith gathered his strength and ordered his legs to move, to run, to get him far away from here.


Ox straight up grabbed him by the neck. His chances of escaping dissipating like sand in the wind.


They tied his wrists and ankles by the altar.


With a crooked knife at the handle, Feddin cut thin slashes on his arm. Fat droplets of crimson blood dotted his skin, falling in rows before silently hitting cold stone.


Keith could do nothing but stop the whimpers from leaving his chest.


"You should be grateful. As a mixed-blood without fate, drifting in life, you now have a noble purpose" Feddin announced in a righteous voice which did not align at all with his words.


"Fate my ass. If this is such a noble purpose why don't you take my place?!" Keith barked back. "I am not a sacrifice and the fact that I’m of mixer blood doesn't change that!"


"Pei! What you are is an offering to the great forest god! You should be happy for all we did for you and repay us tenfold!" Ox said with disgruntled tone.


"Watch me wipe tears of gratitude! Even saying that you are as ridiculous as the animal you were named after is an insult for the animal!” Keith had nothing left to lose anymore. Before he met his dad, he would at least rip off the masks of these people he 'should be grateful' to.


He turned his eyes towards Feddin "Hah- you say that I am taking-, forced to take such a grand role, but you, yourself are standing down! What a show of hypocrisy!" Keith pronounced every word clear and loud for them to hear.


"And you!" He looked past Ox and Feddin, "Just in what world do you think a human can be traded as an 'offering'. Merely because you stayed at the back won't clean my blood off your hands! That's right-, I-I-I-, No. The other 'gods' you are worshipping will definitely let my ghost come back for revenge! Their followers killing one of their own! I'm sure that's a good enough reason!" If looks could kill, Keith would have incinerated the people before him.


The 'minions' took more steps back, while Ox prepared to strike him. Feddin grabbed his fist and said "Don't damage the offering"


It reminded him of when he still worked in the vegetable stall and the owner always reminded him to 'not damage the merchandise'.


Feddin turned to him and continued "Accept your fate. Don't anger the forest god"


They left after a few more seconds, not looking back however many insults Keith hurled at them.


Being left alone with only his thoughts was worse than being cursed at. It made him extra aware of everything in his surroundings. His heart pounded like a drum inside of his chest, distorting his hearing. 


Keith didn’t know if the weakness in his limbs was caused by the drugs or by the loss of blood. Squirming his arms a little, he could feel the pain from the cuts. It was not as bad as he thought. Looking at them seemed scary only because of the blood but they were actually shallow. Meant to draw blood before it coagulated back.


A strong wind made the trees shake. Keith Trembled in unison with their branches. He was, after all, only wearing a thin shirt and pair of pants meant for sleep, in a house, under the blanket, not for standing in the forest awaiting your death as an offering.


Ox didn’t skimp on tying the rope very tightly. It practically cut into his skin. It didn’t stop Keith from pulling with all the strength he could muster. It didn’t budge until he broke his thumb.


Blue bruises and grazes smeared with a few drops of blood covered his left wrist.


The wind kept becoming stronger and so were Keith’s movements. He knew that it wasn’t a good sign. He bit at the rope tying his right hand and using his left hand he untied his legs were the rope was looser. A thin layer of sweat covered his forehead.


He looked up only for a moment. His eyes constricted. The movement of his hands became more erratic. His teeth scraped skin when he tore apart the rope.


Yellow eyes glowed in the darkness between the trees not far from the altar, staring straight at Keith.


The eyes advanced. From under the shadows peeked two sets of antlers, but it wasn’t a stag that was coming closer because the antlers were worn by a humane figure, a very big one.

Keith’s whole body jerked, lunging behind the altar. His face reunited with the ground since he didn’t manage to completely lose the rope from one of his legs, anchoring it down to the altar.


He didn’t know if that ‘person’ was near since he was behind the altar. 


The stone altar was corroding from the rain and harsh nature, slates peeling off its sides.


Keith grabbed the sharpest one he saw. It helped him free himself and left him with a weapon.


Leaning with his arms on the back of the altar, he slowly got up.


In front of him was the fully shown body of the forest god, he believes, no , he knows.


The two sets of antlers were only the tip of the iceberg. His face was the skull of a dear, hollow circles bordering the sharp, yellow glow of his eyes. He was at least two feet taller than Keith. He couldn’t see the muscle hidden behind the mantle made from tangled roots cascading down his wide shoulders, but the little material looking like moss covering his arms outlined them enough to know he could die if he made the wrong move.


He stepped towards the wall of the ravine, going along it. He winced when he made the first steps. The effects of the drug and his grazed ankles made him take a sharp intake of air.


A strong gust of wind blew through the ravine, signalling the approach of the ‘man’. In his hand was a staff with splinters sticking out. On top of it was a sharp, glistening rock.


It all screamed at Keith that his death will be caused by the poke of a god’s spear.


He didn’t need other ques before he made a run for it. 


Keith expected to hear his persecutor trailing after him. When he didn’t hear anything apart from the drum of his own heart and strengthening of the wind, he thought ‘ was that to low for a god’


In reality, Keith knew that being caught was inevitable, but to hell if he was just going to wait for it.


If I die today, I have the right to a last struggle, a last fight!


Keith was hot on the inside and shivering on the outside. Ragged breathes came from his parched throat. It felt like his chest was on fire.


He kept running,


Small twigs and rocks pricked his feet, a constant reminder that he was supposed to be sleeping right now.

He kept running.


The clenched hand around the grey slate gave him comfort. The moon above, his guiding light among the trees. He had better eyesight at night than most of his peers, but it wasn’t superhuman. Getting branches stuck in his clothes, ripping them and leaves in his hair was proof of it.


He kept ru-




He crashed, being cushioned by the leaves. He didn’t know if he was pushed by the wind or if he tripped. He heard the crunch of leaves under the god’s feet.


He didn’t stop for a reason. Now he didn’t have the power to get up. The slate flew from his hand somewhere where he didn’t see.


Keith curled on himself, covering his ears. The sound of footsteps was blocked, he concentrated only on his heartbeat. Silent tears trailed his pale and dusty cheeks.


He prayed to whoever could hear him in less than a whisper.


“Please make it quick and painless” he was sick of pain.

Chapter Text

A shadow engulfed Keith’s curled body. He felt like a cliff was pressing on him, leaving him to suffocate in the dark.


Big hands touched his back and he flinched . They retracted as if scared.


The ‘person’ above him left phantom touches on different spots on his skin. As if he didn’t know how to proceed.


One arm settled on the back of his shoulders and one on his lower back. 


Keith didn’t dare to react in any way. His knees were glued to his chest. The stiffness in his muscle kept him as still as possible.


All of a sudden, strong arms hoisted him (lifted him gently) to an equally strong chest.


The god walked slow, Keith thought since he didn’t feel jostled around.


In fact, if Keith opened his eyes, he would see how the tree leaves fluttered frantically from the wind created by the run of their Forest god. Long and entwined branched untangled before him. A clean passage opened to allow him free pass.


Keith's thoughts raced as he tried to distract himself from his impending end. He didn’t dare sleep even if tiredness was imbued into his bones. If the spear pierced his heart in his sleep, it would make it even harder to bear. The idea of the sharp staff stuck in his chest while his heart pumped blood for the last time only for it to emerge from his chest in red streams, made him go cold to his core. An intense tremble took control of his body.


The god’s arms tightened around him.


He stopped the tremble and under the moon’s blessing, his spirit passed away from his swift death.


Keith wished to do just that, but he couldn’t stop the tremble and the tears bubbling in his eyes.


He wasn’t moving but his breathing quickened until he couldn’t catch it anymore.


Keith choked on air or more like its absence.


He didn't notice how he was put on a soft surface, a thick brown fur draping itself over his shoulders.


Keith opened his eyes to let the flow of tears free. The image before him was a wet blur of green, violet, and brown. He blinked until the Forest god kneeling before him was visible, hands outstretched on the sides of Keith’s arms, moving up and down in a friction motion.


Keith’s throat wheezed from being unable to breathe properly.


It looked like an illusion. From the god’s mantle, a white flower with yellow stamens like the god’s eyes grew.


The flower was plucked and brought to his nose. It had an intoxicating sweet smell that seemed to penetrate his nerves. His hand was seized causing it to clench involuntarily.


“I’m not going to hurt you.” The god spoke in a husky voice that caused Keith’s ears to itch. It had a guttural accent like he spoke for the first time in a while.


He patiently unclenched Keith’s fingers one by one, guiding them to his neck. Fluorescent rocks littered on the cave’s walls gave the pale neck a violet hue.


Under his fingers, Keith felt a strong pulse hiding under warm skin.


‘So gods have a heart too’ surprise flashed on Keith’s face.


“Breathe” Tranquill words came from under the deer skull.


Without realising it, Keith adjusted his breathing to match the pulse under his fingers. The soothing scent of the white flower pacifying his taut nerves.


He was drenched in sweat like he chased a rabbit for a mile.


The breeze blowing against him provoked a shiver. Keith wrapped the brown fur more tightly against his body with his right hand. He held his breath and looked at the god’s face. The yellow eyes stared at him and he stared back.


“Breathe” The god repeated.


“Ah..yeah,” Keith said dumbly until he realised he was still holding his breath in this ‘staring’ contest “Um..., hi?” His brain couldn’t supply a more intelligent answer.


"Hi" The god responded back.


Keith wanted to ask where they are but questioning a god didn’t seem like a wise idea.

“Thank you, for the flower...and the fur. It’s warmer now” He huddled further in the fur, not breaking eye contact. He would like to believe his tone was earnest, the slight tremble in it being ignored.


The god brought his head closer, the tip of the skull a few millimetres away from his face. Keith’s head stretched back. He didn’t want to find out if the god decided to take a bite of him. In the end, he was here as a form of sacrifice, maybe his purpose was to be tonight’s late dinner.


Something must have dawned on him because the god suddenly moved away, touching his face, the dusty white of his forehead. He grabbed at the bump above his eyes and pulled. 

The skull detached much like a mask, uncovering the human face behind it.


Well, it looked generally human. The pointy ears and the huge antlers on his head gave him away. His cheeks were the colour of the dusk, pale pink. Green markings adorned his face down to his neck. The proof of his identity tas the protector of life, the forest itself.


Keith was still looking into his eyes. Light grey merged beautifully with the yellow that scared him before. His ethereal appearance was grounded by the pure, almost touchable emotion he manifested.


That made him exactly like Keith, vulnerable.


“Wow,” Keith mumbled softly. “Gorgeous”


The god’s cheeks were tinted red. His mouth slightly opened, wanting to speak but swallowing his words to replace them with silence.


“What’s your name?” Keith asked since if he waited anymore, the silence would eat his words too. “I’m Keith” He would extend his hand for a handshake but it was still seized by the yellow-eyed god.


“Keith…,” He said slowly, tasting every letter “Keith. My name is Shiro”


The go-, Shiro’s sight travelled over his body, visible apart from the fur-covered parts. It stopped on his wrists, looking back at him.


“May I?”


Keith had a questioning look plastered on his face.


May he what? Take his blood, suck his life force. Was that even a thing gods do? He did hear stories. Formidable existences coming for the life energy of the sinners, evil-doers and trespassers. Keith did them all and he didn’t regret it.


However, Shiro looked innocently at him, almost expectant. Keith didn’t have anything to lose. He’ll find out if it’s just an act soon enough.


“Ok” He watched Shiro attentively.


From all the guesses and conjectures he made, Keith wasn’t prepared for-


After getting permission, Shiro dipped his head down. He lifted Keith’s wrist to his lips, giving it a peck followed by a tiny lick.


Keith froze from either embarrassment or surprise, likely both.


He pulled his hand back. “Why would-, You don’t need to-” He stopped. The bruises and 

scrapes were disappearing at a speed visible to the naked eye. The opened grazes turned to smooth and unblemished skin, leaving only dried blood behind.

While he was caught in his astonishment, staring at his wrist, Shiro leaned forward and grasped his forearm. He pecked than licked every slit caused by Feddin’s knife. He continued his actions until both his arms were left clean of any wounds.


Keith acted before Shiro proceeded further, sensing what he was going to do.


“Nope,  it's fine like this! They'll heal on their own! hahaha" laughing dryly, he pulled quickly on the fur to cover his ankles.


Shiro looked at him as if to say 'you're unreasonable'.


Ah, Keith really wanted to tell him who the unreasonable one was between them

(; -_-)


Because Shiro had a large build, when he came up to him, Keith was backed against the wall, half lying on the blanketed ground. Shiro’s intense gaze was trying to somehow change his mind? Long lashes fanned down lightly, creating tiny shadow rays on his face.


The ambiguous position didn’t match the sincere atmosphere. 


Keith slightly pushed at Shiro’s chest, watching his reaction.


Shiro didn’t seem to notice.


Should he push harder…or-


“Shiro,” The pointy tips of his ears trembled “it’s uncomfortable” The way his waist was angled will soon make him fall flat on his back, besides other things.

It worked.


Shiro backed away apologetically. Keith heaved a sigh and stretched his waist, some of his bones producing a popping noise.


Shiro’s ears twitched at the sound. The fluorescent light weakened, the cave falling under the cloak of obscurity. The murkiness veiled his silhouette.


“Why were you at that place?” 


Keith was tired enough to see double, Shiro standing in all his godly tall might wasn’t helping. This setting wasn’t advantageous to Keith at all. To improve it, he used the wall as support, easing himself upon his legs. The throb of pain shot from his sluggish legs through his spine. He leaned ‘naturally’ against the wall giving his response.


“Can you tell me something first?” Keith tried taking a step forward to fortify his stance.


It was only a precaution but he had the impression that The villager’s god and The god in front of him were as far away as the sky and the earth.

He chose to listen to his gut feeling and not be afraid if his question was reciprocated with ire.


Shiro tipped his head forward. Keith would take it as an approvement.


“Are. you. going. to. me.?” With a crease on his face, he intently asked. Sore neck looked up at the forest god with narrowed eyes.



…………………………………...(・・ )?


Keith ,” Shiro said in a potent tone, his hands moving to Keith’s elbows “ I never thought of eating you .” He seemed wronged “ Why would you think that?


That was a strong reaction.


Good .” Keith grabbed back at Shiro’s forearm. “To answer your question, I was going to be your dinner” Shiro’s arms kept him steady “My guess is that the altar was the plate and my blood some sort of garniture”


Tsk. If he would have been eaten, the villagers might as well say goodbye their blessings since he must taste worse than rat meat.


Keith felt like smiling.


Taking aside the grim beginning of this night, the rest was….good-, better than good !. He met a god. He met Shiro , the first person since his father to care . Shiro couldn’t conceive how this whole situation was a messed up mess ! However, for Keith this night took away the remaining place he thought he could call home! And Shiro, Shiro might have only healed the wounds on his arms but for Keith that was proof that he was still something for someone in this world.


Suddenly, wide arms enveloped his body. He was drawn to Shiro’s chest, a leaf tickling his nose He closed his eyes and nuzzled into it. Shiro’s mantle grew spikes, which made it harder for Keith to hug him. Instead, he grasped at the front of the mantle that wasn’t covered in spiked roots but woolly moss. His fingers sunk into the moist matter.

Chapter Text

Keith was wrapped up in furs. IT had been a while since he had been awake but continued to lay dormant in comfortable silence. He would like to say that different ways of action were already in his mind being fermented but…………. his mind was blank, empty of everything.


Warmness enveloped him from his toes to the tip of his head. He allowed himself to relax and have a good rest.


The sun was shining outside the cave. Small rays barely made it to where Keith was laying.    Of the fluorescent rocks on the walls, only a select few dimly lit the cave blending with the shimmers of light.


A wet sensation came from Keit’s feet. 

It was, after all, a cave he was staying in. He must’ve rolled on a humid part of the cave floor. A slight twist of his legs and he rolled to his side, continuing his slumber.


After a couple of seconds, the wet feeling came again, followed by a few nudges that unravelled the furs covering his legs. Chilly air woke Keith up more properly. He removed the fur from his head, his tangled black hair standing up in different directions despite gravitation.


A snout was nudging at his legs.


Keith blinked.


A snout was nudging at his legs.


Its owner was a huge deer, which, when it saw that it had Keith’s attention, it came incredibly close. Keith looked into its eyes dumbfounded, a light green glow illuminated from its chest. Its hooves stomped slightly before the deer huffed a puff of hot ait toward his face, blowing his face in more tangles.


It swept his drowsiness away.


Keith reached towards its neck, patting it, trying to bring his brain back to work. 

First, where is Shiro? Keith furrowed his brows.


They fell back on the furs, last night. He couldn’t make Shiro let go of him, both falling asleep in that position. Instead of Shiro, though, he was hugged by the furs.


It may be because his brain was still dormant but he somehow wasn’t worried at all. There wasn’t any panic or anxiety rising within him.


It definitely was something new for Keith.


Shiro gave him a good feeling. Not someone that would leave him here without any explication, judging by last night. Keith rubbed at his pink earlobes.


So, the question was, when will he come back?


The deer nuzzled his cheek, giving him a lick.


“Hey, buddy,” Keith asked, scratching with his other hand at its muzzle “do you know where Shiro is?”


Suddenly, the deer moved forward, huge antlers cornering him. He grasped one of them and felt himself fly upwards.


“Woah!” The deer lifted its head, hauling him a little above the ground, before letting him down on his toes.


He couldn’t help but give a glare to the perpetrator.


Yellow eyes watched him and then turned towards the cave’s entrance, they gave Keith a meaningful glance, before walking outside.


Keith followed after it, emerging into a meadow decorated with wildflowers. It was surrounded by towering, old trees. Their thick trunks were shadowed by the green umbrella above them. Keith could see their roots weaved together with the ground.


It was a marvellous sight for Keith. Although he never especially liked to admire the scenery, the view before him was unrivalled.


The deer sat down among white camomiles with a weirdly familiar expectant look. Even if it sat down it could still look Keith in the eyes. It gestured to its back.


As Keith thought. 


After he carefully climbed on its back, the deer sprung on its legs, moving towards the woods.


Keith gently gripped the fur on its neck as not to fall. Looking down, a fall from this height would leave painful bruises.


The deer sped up, the wind caressing Keith’s face and ruffling his hair. 


A refreshing experience.


Hidden birds chirped their songs from high up. Their orchestra reverberating through the forest and to Keith's ears. He listened while gazing ahead through the antlers that obstructed his view.


Very soon, the songs morphed into….shouts? bickering? animated curses? Keith didn't hear clearly, but it sounded like humans, very enraged humans.


They stopped under the shade of a big oak, from which, Keith had a clear view of the happenings.


"Higher! Can't you hear me?!" 


“I am trying!” a repressed shout was shot back “Grab at the dirt and climb up!”


Keith dismounted the deer, courtesy of it lying down first and went closer to the familiar voices erupting from the pit.


In the pit, Ox was on Feddin’s shoulders, madly swaying his arms to reach higher and not forgetting to remind Feddin how it was his fault for not lifting him properly. Feddin was fuming in anger, his face as red as an overripe tomato. 


“Do it already” Feddin exclaimed through clenched teeth.


Ox pressed hard with his legs to show his annoyance and grabbed at the soil. Small pricks assaulted his hands, red ants climbing on his arm. 


Feddin read his thoughts before he could do anything else and said “Endure!”


With a grunt, he continued to climb the pit’s wall. From the soil, sharp bits of wood and rocks sprouted, cutting into Ox’s flesh. He jerked in pain.


“Agh!” with a cry he hit the pit’s floor.


Feddin was tugged back too. His last nerve shattered and complaints flew from his mouth like air.


“YOU DUMB ANIMAL!!! Useless! Can’t even climb a wall! You’re the reason we’re here in the first place!” The stoic facade shattered and out came the ugly side below the mask.


Keith looked on at the scene, the actors too busy to even notice him. It wasn’t amusing or satisfying to see them abandon their dignity and fight like dogs.


Lips thinned into a flat line,  forming a sneer manifested perfectly Keit’s regard to the display before him.




The ‘good brothers’ that ganged up together in righteousness to do the disgusting deal of sacrificing a human turned up on each when faced with the true forms of their character.


Keith was ashamed. To let this kind of people one-up him was his own’s stupidity’s fault.


“Do you want to help them?”


“No” Keith looked behind at Shiro, not even surprised “Their wellbeing is not my concern. For what they did,” he sneered, staring down in the pit “they should at least experience tenfold their own vileness.


Keith’s eyes were covered before he could watch more. Calloused hand skimmed by the back of his neck, stroking it lightly.




Keith was manoeuvered to walk in another direction, the wood, most probably.


Behind them, the earth buzzed with the frenzy of insects. Around the pit were ants, worms, crickets singing their eery songs. A cloud of wasps was shadowing the two arguing people, covering up their shouts.


They all were of the same opinion with Keith. Such vile creatures deserved tenfold the suffering inflicted on their darling.




Keith grabbed at Shiro’s wrist, lowering the hand that covered his eyes.


“We’re far enough” Keith said, watching peonies grow from Shiro’s mantle. He raised an eyebrow at that.


“Are you planning to go back?” Shiro asked out of the blue, confusing Keith, which must have shown on his face because Shiro continued “To the village, I mean” He fidgeted with one of the protruding twigs around his shirt.


“Not. in. hell.”Keith said immediately. He wouldn’t be surprised if all the villagers acquiescent to him being the scapegoat meant to put a ‘good word at the dinner table’ with the Forest God. He might be considered a vengeful spirit if he returned alive.


“I will find someplace to live in the forest,” he said dryly “that is…., if you don’t mind”


Shiro stone-stilled, processing what Keith said and was still saying.


“You must know the good spots around here. If it’s not too much trouble, maybe you could help me choose a spot?” It would make the job a whole lot easier since Keith never built a house in the forest and didn’t know the right terrain for it.






“Me! You can live with me!” Shiro turned to him, taking the Keit’s hand still holding his wrist in his own. His eyes shown yellow light, green sprouts rose like a vine, slithering around his antlers, mimicking the rise of his smile.


“Can I?” He means: Can he? . Weren’t there rules or something about mortals and gods and such things? “Will it be ok?” He said aloud.


Keith would, of course, be happy if he could! Together with god, swe- cough , -warm and friendly Shiro would make a big difference with living like an outcast in the village as if he would ever go back , or living like a recluse in the forest. He could also leave his lands... he didn’t want that ! Since he could remember, he felt pulled to this earth like a magnet. 


Leaving... would mean killing something inside him.


Stay” a whine almost voice by Shiro was what made Keith decide.


“Ok” a smile rose within him