He walked in the woods and talked with his friends of the way the wind moved their needles, of the mist that clung to the mountains, of the owls that hunted the mice who lived amidst their roots. He dipped his toes in the lake among the crabapples and mays and thought his long slow thoughts through their quick chatter. And when he tired of them, he planted himself on the rock overlooking the waterfall for a season and watched the meltwater from the two peaks turn white. Swift-water-white-water-falling-falling he calls it, and a great many names besides. It was his favourite place. He had not been there for a decade or three. Five, at the most.
The roar and crackle of a forest fire was his cry when he crested the pass, the crash of a thousand trees felled by a single stroke! Smoke rose from the sawmill in the valley and curled around his branches. Foul orc stuff choked the mossy clearing where drifts of anemones once marked the passing of winter. And atop the waterfall, what was left of it – the very water had been stolen! – squatted a great building fashioned from the limbs of his friends.
The wrath of his kind is slow to build but slow, too, to quench. He sang all the many names of his lost friends before he listened to the news brought by the wind in his branches, news of an orc-child straying in the forest. It never finds its way home, and it’s just the first. Some feed the saplings, others leave only their wits behind them. Soon the two legs speak of a curse, of an ancient evil awakened in the woods. Ancient he is, yes, but he tastes the sawmill soot on his bark and calls it justice.
11 February 2014