What Happens When the Trees Fight Back?  Part One

Have you ever wandered through a peaceful glen bordered on a few sides by towering trees?  Did you shrink back in fear at what they might do to you?  Did you hesitate in step before entering their hallowed grounds?

What might happen to man if – the trees could fight back!

We’re not supposing a few thrown acorns or a slight rustle of leaves to scare one away.  Not even the stinging whip of a weeping willow.  What could the trees use in response to decades of treacherous harm to them by the men of dark reach?  That is the problem confronted by Cre – lo – Way and Song as they contemplated an advance into a thousand acres of forbidding forest.

The question wasn’t always presented this way.  As fable is told, men and tree at one time lived in mutual respect with each adding his strength to the other.  As time marched on, men forgot the old ways of trust and providence.  Instead men entered the forest to take for their needs without regard to the age old warning.

Then it happened.  Man entered the regal forest to within a short space of the aging middle forest, stepping without care upon ancient root, cutting as they went without regard to the shaking branches of warning or the closed shakes of lethal branches.  Those of the line of Foun del’ Guille crossed a sacred line as they hacked their way to that forbidden middle ground.  Without further warning, branches wrapped their lethal arrows into funnels of return hate, bending first up in wide spread of declaration of intent.  Man heeded not as cluster after cluster pulled away from them in strict warning.

The oldest tree in the entire forest of Quinn shuddered as it lowered cluster after cluster of lethal branches toward the unwelcome visitors in swift attack.  Each cluster loosened its one lethal arrow into the running fright of men.  Each arrow in turn struck home with deadly intent, killing in one blow each and every man that had entered the forest of Quinn on that fateful afternoon.  All except one very frightened scout, who knew of these woods and respected what the others did not.  It was this scout then, who ran for his life, back to the castle of Guille to spread the news.

Riders were immediately sent to verify his story, but those never returned.  More men were sent, this time not as scouts but as men of war to assemble and see which sort of mayhem stood before them.  None of these returned in whole, for hardly had they approached when lethal arrows flew through their ranks, cutting them down as a hot knife might cut through butter.  As a group, they turned if fright and ran for their lives.  That is the legend of the Forest of Quinn.

No man or woman to the time of the return of Cre – lo – Way and Song had dared attempt a forward posture to the Forest of Quinn.  Instead war raged for a thousand years between the forces of darkness of the house of Gulle and the Forest of Quinn.  A thousand years for man to cut off the nurturing streams that fed the forest below.  A thousand years for man to plug and divert any spring of nature that dared to spring anew for the sake of the forest.  It was also a thousand years for the forest to shoot down those wild beasts of prey so closely guarded by the forces of evil.  A thousand years to divide the continent apart from one part of mankind and another.  Not until the ancient words were spoken by Cre – lo – Way as he lay in discovery of the glowing new singing tiles of the courtyard in front of those astonished gatherers.  Song was the one who felt those same words claim her throat, opening her voice in song of strange words, few of which made any sense to mankind.  But all of nature knew those words.  Wind carried her notes past the guard of evil man and snarling beasts, lifting perfectly formed verse into the very heart of the Forest of Quinn.

The oldest roots, almost dry of age and lack of nourishment, suddenly heaved tired aching branches in herald of a new dawn.  Other roots felt her delight as an anthem of thanksgiving revived old roots and crackling branches.  Lo knew and understood, opening fountains of nurturing waters throughout the sick forest.  Blooms of new growth found purchase where no turn of vine had proceeded for those dry thousand years.

That was the fragrance that caught upon the wind, blowing from the heights above the castle of Tor del’ Gulle, past the grim fortress walls and into his inner chamber.  He snarled of defiance as the truth of the revived Forest of Quinn dawned upon him.  He raised his battle flag in protest.  “No!  Not while I live shall the Forest of Quinn reunite with the last fragment of man!”

Meanwhile, Song turned in quiet reflection from her unknown words.  What was it that proceeded from me?  I knew not those words, but they came to me from ancient script.  Of that I am assured.  She looked up in wonder of earth and sky for inside of her, she knew of their ploy and direction of carry of her verse.  But of the Forest of Quinn, she knew not, nor of her entitled place as queen among those lethal shoots or how she and her guard would carry the lethal arrows of the Forest of Quinn into battle.  Nor did she know the prophecy of her own fall in that last battle, when mankind of evil intent would fight against those who stood for the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Now the story of Song and the Forest of Quinn starts with a new chapter.  Are you ready?  Settle into your place of reading with delightful closure to all else.  Turn the light so full reading might carry you into the wee early hours, for this night, the Forest of Quinn accepts its queen and…

First we must let our heroes find the way by way of explanation.  Follow these words from Chronicles of Orm, book one, Legend of Cre – lo – Way.

Orm found voice in whisper of quiet of grim intent.  “We must go of morrow to Forest of Quinn.  A time of testing, to know those pure of heart.  Many are those who tried for singing arrows of Quinn and found to their death, that singing arrows of Quinn are not taken, but given…  And now you three must stand for turn of test…”

Orm leaned toward Song, hoping for her as pure of heart before all others.  “This is of new situation, for Forest, well, you don’t know.  Do you?”

Song returned look of question.

Orm continued as if he asked not question of her.  Forest of Quinn is of old…  Too old, their song of ailment almost gone after fighting dark reach for over one thousand years.”  His eyes lit up of sudden as he turned his gaze back on her.  “Then you fed them of your Song, of many times you gave song over courtyard or out to sea, tile sent your song for feeding, from tree to tree, knowing of desperate plea of Quinn, knowing of fact…  That survival might come of you…    For these, it was like dew drops of honey spun song, bringing life where old limb was gone.  So again of lore and space renewed, Forest of Quinn is revived of more.  But still…”

His look turned back to grim habit of wonder, anxious for his bride of love.  “So morrow will be of tell.  Bring Burenna and Firenna for they too must know of origin of singing arrows of Quinn…  To find acceptance as few of all time could ever do…  Or not?”

Morrow showed early for girls and Orm, letting steaming pots provide hot tea and morning consideration.  Orm sat off to one side on benches not unlike that of Cre Point, high of back and covered with rich cloth with backing.  Three girls yawned as awake found them, finding Orm’ version of tea as welcome as others tried.  Orm swirled his tea for effect.  These leaves grow in abundance for us along mountain’ steep slopes.  Couldn’t ask for better.”  He set his cup down and closed his eyes as Word called.

Girls felt of same, setting cup down as Word announced before them of go and welcome from Forest of Quinn.

Orm smiled his chuckle as girls sighed in relief of knowing.  “It is for good that Word calls with note, for others have tried and failed when coming to Forest of Quinn.  This is no small thing!”

Lo carried solemn procession to north of Orm Place, following rough edge of Flint Mountains as if by guide, not letting dark reach see or know.  Finally lo lowered by choice where wide valley filled with peculiar trees stood in wait.  Long slender branches hung down from lofty perch.  Murmuring brook meandered for plenty of water, letting roots gain for drink.  Orm pointed to brook as he nodded with delight.  “Brook Thrung – ein’-Muir!”  Famous in these parts for supply never failed during long years of fighting with dark reach.  Unknown of source to all but lo.  Hmmm, but our approach is known…”

Branches stiffened in rattle of warning at their approach as they did for every person whether of merit or not.

Song stepped ahead for her place as branches rattled again for gather, as if newness of purpose staggered position of them of knowing her.  All held for moment of assay, as Song held her breath of know, willing that these should be of know as well.

Time of silence became deafening, holding still of honor as generations of wait met and joined with that of new.

One small branch lifted of salute, ringing out in tiny vibration in pitch of note.  Hesitation held that one as all waited of short breath…

Another small branch from way inside of forest joined first in vibration of song, not of hesitate but in pronounced decision…

In symphony of cascade, ten more lifted in salute, ringing begin of anthem to her, followed by eight hundred in thundering ovation of honor.

Song stood in receiving, tears flowing in free as love flowed once again for healing and as friend once more of forest and mankind…

Anthem awakened in thunderous applause as all other trees added notes of praise of highest regard, together in symphony of song of tribute for her alone.

Her lips received as such and opened of return, sending her step of lo gliding up and through welcoming branches which dipped in salute as she wove among them of song of feeding anew.

“Oh – oh – oh – oh – of – aye.

To be among you is to belong

In answer of promise told ago so long…

That you held in defiance is tribute of you

Now feed and grow again, of what is given you…”

Orm, Firenna, and Burenna stood back in turn of waiting, consumed in awe of her weave among that of hurtling death, barely able to draw breath for tell of glow from her.

Trees that she brushed against in song found new strength ripple from her to them, spreading from branch to root and around as if glow of health recovered in Forest of Quinn for first of a thousand years…

Miles away dark reach shuddered for fear and despair in defeat of thousand year battle, pulling tendrils of evil back from many plans, knowing her song as terror of terrors.  Beasts shook head in terror as song seized upon them.  Marching hordes of evil knew desperation of despair as song whipped over them, as if dancing horror upon each one, to flicker of Truth to next.

Song let lo circle back toward her place of start, thinking again of Orm and other girls.  She raised her hands to forest in glad salute, then turned in point to first Firenna, then Burenna, as if her blessing of them would be shared…

Tears of gratitude flooded each girls eyes as they realized too of tribute.  Gingerly at first, then knowing opening in forest for each, they weaved as Song through branches of mercy, letting lo help make them known among such as these.

All three met in point back at place of start, beaming full in tribute.

Orm nodded to each, then in plain view of all, handing them each an intricately woven basket, long of column but not of round.  Each held basket as young girl might with toy at first, then in firm delight as purpose made sense upon them.

One step at a time, each moved ahead with empty basket held in front not knowing procedure or how to tell of ask.

One cluster of older branches gathered in tight grip of final around central branch, changing tone of singing vibration to sorrow of passing.  Together cluster lowered toward Song, who stood gingerly facing hundreds of deadly shafts pointing at her.  Then, with a willful click, sharp end of center branch separated from others, dropping as perfect singing arrow of Quinn into her basket.

Firenna wept as with Song as cluster lowered toward her repeating as Song found, allowing final song of sorrow of passing, then drop of perfect singing arrow of Quinn into her basket.  Burenna closed her eyes as if in faint as cluster reached for her as well, closing first in final tribute, then in click of surrender to purpose for her into basket.

Girls followed ahead as forest opened Way for each, moving in slow procession as no one else in a thousand years dared to accomplish.

Each old cluster repeated procedure in gallant attitude of giving of self for cause still unknown.

Orm knew of such from ancient script, maintaining grim assessment as girls moved out of view of him.  He knew of their progress as forest moved in sweeping motion where each collected jewels of harvest.

Moments of silence of giving followed each new burst of singing arrows until train curved back to again join Orm.

Question filled her eyes as Song stepped beside Orm, basket filled with gift of death for all who stood in her path of bow.

Other girls joined her in slower step. Still under awe of passage for them, unable to speak for tremble of lip and tuck of chin.

Orm waved in majesty of effort as he stepped on lo for passing of blessing.  Facing Forest of Quinn, he murmured at first, letting Word swell within him.

“Man will pass this day in honor to you, making legend of giving life among them forever after.  Know of our debt of gratitude and this one thing more…”

He hesitated, knowing his fingers to close as fist of battle call, becoming new feeling for him, not of him, but of these, who held out for so long in hope of Song.  Raising his fist toward east to dark reach he flung his arm up as if throwing arrow.  “May each of what you gave find target to death of dark reach!”

Placid forest changed before them as battle call sounded again of man and woods.

What then?  What happens when Song and her escort use the famous singing arrows of Quinn in battle.  Stand by next time for the answer.  Clean your finger tips carefully before you pick up the next episode for reason you’ll soon be called to know…

Contact Terry Palmer at fictionbypalmer@gmail.com., with your questions and comments.