Well, it’s been over a month since I’ve added any actual content, so I suppose I should be getting to work here…..
The Path of Black Leaves
Simplest description: It is a path. Which has black leaves on it.
More detailed description: The Path of Black Leaves is one of the Mythos’s few open source locations. The Path is an alternate dimension, related to Slender Man (and possibly the Bleeding Tree), which can be used by some of Slendy’s followers as a means of transportation. Traveling through the path is similar in theory to traveling through a wormhole in science fiction, or other forms of dimension hopping: the user enters the Path at point A, moves along the Path, and comes out at point B. Distance within the Path is different than in our regular world: A trip which would take days of driving can be done in a short time on foot through the Path. As such, people who can use the Path have a limited form of quasi-teleportation; it’s not instantaneous, and it does require physically moving, but it’s much, much faster than conventional forms of transit.
As for describing the appearance of the Path, well…. That first description might be the best, really. The distinguishing trait of the Path of Black Leaves is the presence of black leaves, either on trees or blowing around. In its first appearance in White Elephants, Robert didn’t even realize where he was at first, assuming it to be another delusion. The description he used was, “Dead quiet street. No one in sight. The trees on the sidewalk are filled with Black Leaves.”
Going to be a bit of a short history, as unlike Redlight or the evolution of proxies, the Path of Black Leaves doesn’t have a narrative attached to it. It first showed up on White Elephants, in the post titled “Black Leaves,” where Robert stumbled across it after accidentally walking through a portal a proxy left open (those wacky proxies and their comedic ineptitude!) It gained its name several posts later, when Robert used the Path to rescue Reach from Redlight. There was no follow up post explaining just what the Path was, which meant it was left in the hands of everyone with a keyboard and an internet connection to create their own explanation (which is THE BEST way to form canon, if I may say so.) However, this also makes finding specific points of change difficult to locate.
Following the introduction of the Path, the ability to open portals to and travel across it was added to Revenants’ collection of powers. Several times over, it was insisted that regular humans either couldn’t, or at least shouldn’t, use the Path, but that never stopped non-Revenant proxies (and Robert, Konaa, plus any other protagonist whose author wanted to throw their character through the Path) from using it whenever it worked with the plot. After Revenants were retconned, use became much less exclusive, although the ability was still mostly focused on Slendy’s followers, with only a few exceptions. By now, it seems as though that entire idea of only superhumans using it has been dropped (at least on blogs which want to keep using the Path), or altered to make it so that regular humans using the path have a harder time than proxies. “Conduits” (humans with special powers) have also been used as characters capable of accessing the Path, but their lack of popularity in the Mythos as a whole means that this ability was rarely shown.
In April of 2011, the PTC of Observe and Terminate launched a scouting expedition into the Path. This was the first time anyone had tried actually exploring the Path, instead of just using it as a road. It… didn’t turn out very well for those involved. At all. Only one man returned alive, and his memories of the expedition had been wiped. Another mission was sent by the PTC into the Path in May, this time with a more aggressive, militant focus than mere exploration. The results were slightly more successful: they failed completely in all their objectives (hurting Slender Man and finding out what happened to their last expedition), but at least none of them were killed that time. After that failure, the PTC chose to cease all further missions into the Path.
Following the PTC shenanigans, focus on the Path shifted almost exclusively towards only using it as a device for moving characters around, rather than a plot point in itself. The Bleeding Tree was alluded to have a connection with the Path, and sometimes shown to be located within it, but no detailed reports were made about the connection. The only big event to happen to the Path was at the end of the third Redlight arc, when Zombie!Robert claimed to have taken over the Path. But that seizure of control didn’t appear to stick long, due to a combination of Robert’s reputation as an unreliable narrator and the simple fact that too many blogs were using the Path as part of their plot, that it couldn’t just be dropped on account of a single blog’s storyline.
So what is it
That is an excellent question, and the answer is I have no idea.
Like Slender Man himself, there’s been no final, canon definition of the Path of Black Leaves (except for a minor explanation in the Fear Mythos.) All we’ve got to go off of is that it’s a separate dimension under Slendy’s influence.
Now, what this implies is that Slender Man has multiple dimensions under his control. When the Path was first introduced, many assumed it was the Other Side (or Slenderworld, or Slendy’s Home, or whatever you want to call the dimension which may or may not be where he comes from or where he resides in.) However, the two are distinct locales: when the Other Side was first described in White Elephants, it was a swamp, without any mention of black colored leaves. In fact, in the Path’s introductory post, Robert described it as looking like street he’d been on, with the only difference being that whole complete and utter lack of people plus unnaturally colored leaves. Later writers added features which made the Path better resemble the sort of place you’d imagine Slendy living in, turning it into a SPOOOOKY forest. Even then, there continues to be a distinction between the Path and Slenderworld, in the rare cases where both crop up in a blog.
The Fear Mythos (which may or may not be in the same canon as the Slender Man Mythos, depending on what you’re reading) is slightly more standardized in their use of the Path. In their canon, several the Fears, including Slendy, have a dimension for playing around in. Other examples are the Plague Doctor’s Crumbling Castle, the Convocation’s Bleak Shore, or the Wooden Girl’s Screaming Tower. The Path of Black Leaves is just one in a whole collection of nasty eldritch dimensions in the Fear Mythos.
An important thing to note is that the Fear Mythos makes a careful distinction between the Path and Slendy’s (and other Fears’) teleportation abilities. Those abilities are based on the use of the Godsway, which is only accessible and useable by the Fears. The main Slender Man Mythos is much less clear cut on this; occasionally the Path has been used as an explanation for Slendy’s offscreen teleportation abilities, while other times teleportation is just one of Slendy’s abilities, with no need of the Path’s assistance.
White Elephants (Black Leaves): http://fighthimuntiltheend.blogspot.com/2011/02/black-leaves.html
The Archive (CW002: “Path of Black Leaves”) : http://scribesigma.blogspot.com/2011/07/cw002-path-of-black-leaves.html
Observe and Terminate (Basic Gist of the Report): http://nightcrawler-observeandterminate.blogspot.com/2011/04/basic-gist-of-report.html
Observe and Terminate (Operation Headhunter After Action Report): http://nightcrawler-observeandterminate.blogspot.com/2011/05/operation-headhunter-after-action.html