There has always been a part of me that really wanted to write a fairytale. While I can really lose myself in fantastical elements being twisted into our every day lives as seen in The Monstrum Chronicles speculative fiction series, I’ve never actually sat down and pushed myself to try something completely in the realm of magic. Several months ago, though, I was introduced to a weird and wonderful game called Year Walk by the company Simogo for tablets and phones. The game has since now been made available on Steam. In it, an unnamed protagonist leaves his young lover and goes on his year walk, an ancient Scandinavian ritual that is supposed to help the individual foretell what will happen to them later in life. The games atmosphere is deeply unsettling, fraught with strange mythological monsters and an eerie landscape of snowy woods. The combination of images and the incredibly creepy musical score by Daniel Olsén left me with a taste in my mouth for dark folklore.
Having treated myself to watching Pan’s Labyrinth again recently, I quickly got the idea that a young adult dark fairy tale would be an amazing undertaking to attempt. Thus was born the idea for “Lore”. While the book is still in its infancy as far as ideas, plot, and characters go, I’m definitely on the bus with this one. The soundtrack to Year Walk is responsible for the genesis of this project, for all of the imagery I’ve thought about including in the book. Dark never ending woods, creatures that look and seem human but are hiding something more sinister within, and a protagonist’s search for something they might have lost. The cello is one of the things that strikes me most in Year Walk’s pieces. It is just so hollow sounding. It is haunted and hiding so much deceit behind it. Coupling it with the music box like twinkling found in several other tracks and you get the impression of a childhood that is ending much sooner than it probably should. Today I’ve chosen four songs from the official soundtrack for you to listen to and accompanied them with short descriptive pieces of what I see when I listen to them. Enjoy.
Trees bristle along the side of the mountain ahead, hackles raised on the back of a great and ancient beast. Something about how the fog concealed their tops made him gasp. The sun touched everything but the deepest innards of that forest. He could see its darkness from where he stood, the blackened core of the woods where all things nefarious, wondrous, and old had emerged from. Somewhere inside, was his destiny. He had to enter it. There was no going back.
It stood there, unmoving with its back to him. Its long feathered wings were folded neatly at its back, ever so slightly trembling. It wore a crown on top of its head, tangled in the dark tendrils of hair. The gown on its body, a pale blue stuck out in stark contrast to its white moon-like flesh. What was this thing? He dared not step closer and feared the moment it would spin around, eyes bloodshot and snapping feral teeth at him. But there was no where else to go, no way around. It stood in the middle of his path. He’d have to risk it. And so, taking a deep breath, he lifted his foot and stepped.
He held out his finger to the insect, allowing it to step on. He lifted his hand toward the moonlight, watching the creature’s pale body seem to illuminate before the moon’s glow, like glass. And in an instant, it chirped and sprung away into the dark.
He stepped through the tunnel of trees, each foot fall crackling on a bed of dried twigs, leaves, and pinecones. He knew what awaited him at the end, had dreamed about it every night since entering the woods. He knew what he’d find, who he’d find, and knew that unless he was very brave, or very lucky, he wouldn’t be leaving that room at all. He took his last large breath as he closed in on the small house, nestled in with the trees beyond. Here it was; all or nothing. He reached for the doorknob and his hand fell away. What if it wasn’t at all what he’d imagined? What if the feelings of hope, the feelings of achieving some kind of normalcy again were just illusions? He wanted love. He wanted to be cared for again so badly. He had to keep going. He had to end this.
Want to hear more from the Year Walk official soundtrack? You can find it here for sale on Bandcamp. Want to learn more about the game itself? Here’s the official website.
Next week, I’ll be covering some of the amazing music by the incredible band, Daughters. Stay tuned!