The Girl, the Wolf and the Tree

My what a big heart you have! Bravery can result in a growth of something never seen before; desperation can bring forth more bad than good; love can be more powerful than anything other. This isn't your average little red riding hood. Believe me.

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1. The Beginning and the End.

 

Long ago in a small village, there lived a young maiden. After the unfortunate death of her father, her family had become quite poor and they often required her to venture into the dark and dangerous wood to forage for food.

The girl had grown brave over the few months that she strolled about the forest, to the point that when, one day, a wolf with burning red eyes and fur as dark as midnight came to her and demanded she keep out of his woodland, she adamantly declined. The wolf told her not to underestimate him; that he would not hesitate to take her life. The girl did not waiver at his threat. She saw in the wolf’s eyes that he would not kill her.

The wolf allowed her to leave and she came back every day, continuing to steal the bounties of his trees. The wolf would stand and watch her, never straying far until she would walk back out of the tree-line to her family’s farm.

It continued like this for many months, the wolf watching as the young maiden grew in beauty. The wolf had been alone for some time, and he hoped that she could come to love him. But they had never, spoken kindly to one another.

So, the wolf devised a plan and began to tell the woman stories. He told her of the little winged creatures, which no one could see, that flew about the forest and made the springtime blossoms more beautiful. He told her of the creatures with bodies like men and legs like horses, who roamed the land and had much pride. There were stories too, about dark creatures. Women with voices like angels that take men into the lakes and drown them. Large snakes with arms and legs that stole the lives of thieves and assassins as they walked the paths of the forest.

Though she never spoke to him, the wolf knew that one of the girl’s favourite stories was about a tree. The tree was real and it was hidden deep within the wood. It could only be found by those it deemed worthy. The wolf had been there only once when his mother was friends with the tree and had spoken to it without words. His mother had brought him along when they were being hunted by creatures that used to be human but whose hearts had turned cold, metallic like the gears of the clock-towers.

One day, when the wolf had reached the end of his story, the woman spoke to the wolf for the first time since she had refused to leave the forest. ”Wolf,” she called, finding his red eyes in the dark of the trees. “Why dost thou tell me these tales?” When the wolf did not answer, she put down her basket and asked whether the wolf loved her.

“I cannot say that I love you, maiden. You are too fair and gentle to run with a wolf.” He responded.

The maiden then threw off her shawl, letting the autumn air nip at her shoulders. “Good wolf, I am not as gentle as thou makest me out to be. If you love me then do not let thy tongue stay now, for if ye say nay, or speak not, I will never return to thee.”

“Maiden, I do love thee, but I am not so gentle as to keep the company of a woman,” he spoke the truth.

The woman called back to the wolf, still hidden in the brush. “Oh, wolf, it is our covers that makes us what we art not! I have thrown my warm fleece and shown that beneath I am wild. Throw off thy fur and be made more tame.”

The wolf steps out of the forests dark shroud and threw off his shadowy coat. He arose a man and the woman came forward to embrace him. “I know not how to act as man, fair love, for I was never taught.”  

“T’is not so necessary as thou would think,” she replied “We will build a home here in the woods and stay here together.”

“What of thy family?” The wolf-man recalled.

“I shall bring them what they need, but I shall stay here with thee.” She promised.

And so the pair made a home in the woodlands where they lived happily for many years. The woman bore no children, though they tried. It brought them great sorrow and the woman would stay silent for great periods of time.

During one such day of silence, the woman was wandering through the wood when she came across a line of magic. The magic glistened blue and green, and though she dared not to touch it, she could see that it led deep within the wood.

She followed it on a great winding trek until she came upon the great tree for which her town of named. “Great Tree,” the woman called. “Thou hast deemed me worthy?”

The tree did not answer, and the woman recalled the stories that her wolf had said to her. She placed a hand gently on the bark, which felt smooth and warm beneath her skin. The tree gave her thoughts: it filled her mind with images and impressions, consoling her inability to bear a child. The tree lacked strength, which it needed to sustain itself, and proposed a solution to both of their problems. The woman agreed and returned to her home.

After many months, the woman gave birth to a single son. She never tried for another, knowing the terms of what she had promised the Tree. The little family spent many years in happiness, though the boy, like his father, could walk between the worlds of man and beast.

When the boy was grown, the woman knew it was time to uphold her bargain. She made a great meal and told her wolf-man and their son how she loved them, and in the night, she stole herself away into the dark wood, following the path that the Tree illuminated.

“Great Tree,” she called as it came into sight. “I come to fulfil the debt which thou art owed.” Again, there was no verbal response, but when the woman touched the bark as she had so many years before, a glorious light was released.

The woman’s youth returned to her and she felt the magic of the Earth and the Tree within her being. Though the tree gave no words, the woman understood what she must do. A witch, now made dark by the deed she was bound to perform, she made trails of beautiful flames that burned blue and green, leading men and stray maidens into the wood to give power to the Tree.

For so very many years, the tree was sated by the woman’s dutiful honour. The woman became less and less attached to her worldly form, slowly fading into a smoky ether. She glided about the wood which few wandered into anymore. She spread her flames about a passer-by who would follow them to their doom.

One such wanderer of the forest was a strong, brave man of years beyond that of a mere mortal, with eyes that burned crimson and hair as black as the forest he roamed. The wisp of a woman lured him in as she had done to many others. When he came upon her ethereal form, he cried out a name, but she had already begun to steal his life for the Great Tree.

She glided forwards and knelt beside the quickly dying man. A faint recognition gleamed in her mind and the creature lay dying before her spoke one last time in its dying breaths, “Mother, I have found thee.”

The ghostly creature wailed and the trees of the forest alit in the flames she had created. Her heart shattered in that moment; splintering into millions. With a rush of air, the dutiful servant was at the Great Tree, “Oh, Tree!” she cried “What hast I one in thy service? The child which I had by miracle born, is gone at mine own will!”

The tree reached out in consolation. It told that there was no method to bring one back from what lies beyond, but it released the grief-stricken from her servitude.

And from then, the smoking wisp of a woman has ventured through the land, helping those lost souls who are worthy of guidance, and leading astray those who would do wrong.

Be of sound moral, lest her will take you to your doom. 

 

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