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Forest by Marcus Ganahl


Faerul clawed his way down into the cave, and curled into a ball.

There, he fell into a slumber, and then began the whisperings of the earth mother.


In his visions the snow seemed to melt faster than imaginable, exposing grass and leaves and the old sleeping lichen on stones beneath.

Then, after receding, like the tides, it would fall again, blanketing the lands in its cold embrace.

The season went on like this for some time, but to Faerul it seemed only minutes, seconds.

Before he knew it, he was waking again, and it was Spring.

He could smell it before he even exited the cave.
And yet, he did not want to, quite yet.

The warm embrace of the earth mother was quite comforting…
And she had been telling him something.
Warning him, he thought:
Not all evil sleeps through the Winter.

And then he began to smell Fire.


Sometimes Faerul wished he could sleep through Spring, or Summer,

And continue to have such dreams.

The great clock of a tree’s roots, viewed from underneath,
from underground,
Would spiral out from the center,
And grow with each passing day,
Radiating, ramifying,
Ticking with the lifeblood of the sap flowing through subterranean vessels,
With the pulse of day and night.

It is there, there that the trees speak to each other, sending tiny sparks of light through the soil, with the mushrooms,
In the underground,

They speak to each other of the passage of time,

Where there is no day or night,

No sun nor moon,

And they speak of the passage of Ages.


Of course, it would not do to sleep through other seasons --
Lest he slept through all of life!

At least not in this form, not as the bear father.

And so one summer, after much spring feasting, he transformed into a humble vole,

And crawled into a hole.

And slept.


Time passed much differently in this form,
Much slower,

Which was strange, as his little heart beat so quickly, and he had to eat quite a bit more -- compared to his tiny body.

But so his experience was quite dense,
And much more full of fear than he was accustomed to,
And brushes with death.

When he finally felt hidden and safe enough to sleep, it was a massive relief, and then time drew out like a long thread, cast out of the Great Tree, and trailing into the sea.

Then -- then the roots spoke to him.
First in clumps of tall reeds in the marshes,
And then willows,
And then great, old oaks.

They were listening to the winds full of pollen, and the squirrels chewing, and quarreling, and mating; and deciding when would be best to produce how many acorns.

But more pressing than that, it seemed to Faerul, was the news of the coming of Men.

“How had they entered the Dream?” he thought.

“At least their axes and saws had usually been relegated to the physical realm…”

But he heard no word of the destructive devices from the trees,

“It could only be one thing:--
A very powerful Mage is among us.”


And at that, a Raven came to him, in his dream.

It unfurled its cloak of feathers, and was at once like a man--

“Young druid--”

“I am not so young, as my little brother” Faerul wanted to reply, but he could not speak in his current form.

“...yet not so old either” responded the Man-crow anyway.

“I have come seeking your eldest” he continued,

“But I find the Dream strangely empty of your kind, the Druids”

And at that Faerul transformed into the burly, feral elf he was and said:
“Well maybe they don’t want to be found.”


“Fair enough, wise one,”
said the mage,

“But something is coming into this world -- our world -- that I think must be discussed among us all.”


“O?” said the druid.


“Certain Dragons
have awoken,
or perhaps fallen asleep,

it is so hard for me to tell here..

Where is Fandral Staghelm, the rumored archdruid among you?”


“I don’t exactly keep in touch with the Circle”
replied Faerul curtly,

And himself took the form of a bird, a great sea bird, and headed for the tree’s edge, the shore.


The man transformed back into a crow but did not follow him,

Instead turning inland toward the heart of the isle.

He knew he wasn’t going to get much more than that.

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