The castle is dead and proud, but everything around it teems with life. The Everfree creeps dangerously and keeps her children cradled to her dense foliage. Most have more than just faces only a mother could love. Their fangs, claws, and scales are not the gentle coats and downy feathers of ponies. Smooth unicorn horns and their dainty spirals do not rival the shocking bright gleams of feral starlight that pierce the Everfree's deep, dark layers.
And the castle still sits, waiting for nothing because there is nothing to wait for. Time has left the tapestries, woven with a hundred enchantments each, too hauntingly intact. Yet, few outsiders invade the bones that rest there. The stories of each stone hurt more than any timberwolf bite by sight alone. Who can walk in this dead place? What pony would walk on historical carnage so obviously dismembered? Would a pony prod at the half-together bones and hanging bits of flesh of their grandmare if left upon the kitchen table? No, and that is why only the heroes, the legends, and ghosts really want to come here. Even were the cragodiles the only thing that hid these dead walls, what foals would be drawn to the moss-rotted place?
The edges of the bricks have worn to something whole the more everything else is cleaved with time's mercilessness. Where one brick begins and the other has ended is lost on anypony but the gods that built the stronghold of sorority when it was new and good. Nothing here can be trusted anymore. Even the walls are stacked to hurt the travelers who do not come. The spires are like shadows some night mare picked up halfway and left pinned in the air. The teeth of rocks that held them up so many years ago have been splintered and tossed like twigs, like the world had known the sorrow that would be here, and that the only way any of this could be contained in a way that a mortal could bear would be to pluck the teeth from this world of sisters and throw them on the ground.
Let them dot the ground like graves. Let them succumb first so that moss and lichen and the Everfree's damp caress. Could that be enough to soften the burns of magic that made them so worn and tired? Will that be enough to wipe the struggle from the stone so that the mortal ponies who make it here will call it the wind's work? Mistakes have been made on this ground that must never be repeated, but the Everfree forest cannot bear to show them, not anymore. The night when even the monsters of the woods stayed silent would always be the longest.
Few of them remember that night now, when the moon leered at them, waxy and bright and all was quieter than quiet. It is like every timberwolf cursed with that memory has been lost where these bones still stand, and every twittermite that shone that day must blind themselves with their own light. That is the real horror of this forest, and it is at the heart where the perilous bridge sways, even when there is no wind. Wood preserved as if through a curse dares one more pony to dare and use it, to risk their hooves above the chasm frozen and hollow beneath it. The lips of the stone where that bridge has been so carelessly driven have more feature than every carving wiped and forgotten by a castle that does not want to remember. The stone is stretched and screaming, because it was here when the moon goddess made the sun fall, and where else was she to be swallowed but by the castle?
And where else was the castle but the nameless quarry that let it rise? How could the forest forget that? The Everfree forest was ruled not by peace and magic of organization, but the primal enchantments from the belly of the world and by tooth and claw. When the night bears fangs that laugh down the sun, there is no creature that can fight that. They all cowered in the forest when the white mare laid in her own castle like it could be little more than a tomb, and for every day and every night after the world's longest it would be just that. The wind itself would tell the creatures not to go there, for every bird to never nest there, and for no paw or scale or any other limb to know that cursed place again.
Only the star spiders and ponies did not listen. Ponies did not give the walls their ears because they lost the old skills to hear that way, in the ways of the world's first magics and the ways that now only their gods know. Star spiders did not listen because they are fat fools and not to be trusted. The castle is too forlorn to reject them, and continues to bend to the wind, not out of hope that the wind can erode its sorrows, but because it is a dead place. Dead to even the spiders that live in its bones and make their webs into tunnels of layers of silk when frost comes. It is only then that they act like they might not be safe, like they are capable of the sense they chose to shirk and every other creature in the Everfree forest knows to cling to, because it can be just as sharp as tooth and paws. But the spiders stay in the skeleton of a home filled with unnumbered regrets and flies. They are fat bastards in that way.
Timberwolves only howl at the very fringes of the forest for more reasons than one. The Everfree does not choose to be what it is; a place of herbs and many wicked things, but there are animals in it that at least believe it chooses to let those spoiled spiders stay, even if they stay where none want to go. Perhaps the Everfree forest has been free to chose that, but it has never been free of the old bones looming within.