Saucy Wenches writing prompt for July 09.
Mage and Forest
The forest dies.
The birds lay fewer eggs with thinner shells and only the barest spark of life. The mosquitoes are dying, and with them the fish, bats, and birds that depend upon them for food. No unicorns have been seen in a handful of centuries.
The ancient trees, uprooted and cleared away, die without a protest. Even the honeybees disappear, and the fairies with them.
Always, there are cycles. I know this as I have always known it, but this is not a cycle. This is a blight, a dark and greedy hunger. I have watched it grow, waited for the forest itself to rise against such impertinence.
The forest does not stir. I speak to it, and hear no answer. Is it dead already, or simply weakened?
I stir, and call for my brethren. Why have they done nothing?
Again I receive no replies. Am I the last? Has the world truly emptied of magic?
Anger unfurls in my heart, a delicate frond that sends fingers of warmth to my sluggish limbs. I am the oldest mage, and I have slumbered too long.
I send my spirit down, deep to the earth, where the roots of the forest touch the heart of magic itself, channeling and filtering the raw power to the surface.It is the trees which feed from the heart that spread the magic to the world.
My heart shrinks at what I find. Only a few trees yet delve so far. Once, this place would have been a latticework of roots, thick and twisting and healthy as a trout in a rainstorm.
So it is true. The world is almost devoid of magic, and the forest so weak that it has forgotten how to speak.
My fault. No matter that the world still brimmed with wonder when first I slept. It is the duty of every mage to strengthen the balance and uphold the cycle.
Hesitantly, I caress one of the thin, hair-like strands of root. It springs back, like the tender foot of a child who has been tickled, then sluggishly turns toward me, instinctively seeking more.
I look below. These roots cannot hope to reach the heart of magic. They are no longer strong enough.
The decision is easy. If the roots cannot reach, then they shall need a bridge. I move my spirit to stand directly upon the heart of magic. It burns like cold fire, and in a heartbeat my legs are gone, molten and fused to the heart.
I reach over my head and the tiny rootlets reach back, digging their tender, fragile fingers into my essence. It itches, oh, it itches, worse than a thousand insect bites, but I force myself to still. I cannot pull away for fear of ripping them.
Below, the heart destroys more of me. I am dead to the waist, now, but the roots above grow stronger as they pull upon my magic. A larger root, thick as a human’s arm, snakes down and delves into my back. It hurts for only a moment before the fire below joins it and the connection is made between root and magic.
On the surface, a tree reaches down and lifts a bulldozer from the ground, splitting it in half. Men hear voices in the forest. Dryads tempt a forester to his doom and rescue a lost child. The trees stand and walk of their own free will, and the previously shrinking forest borders spill outward like green, growing water. Magic spreads like pollen from the flowers of the forest.
Bees hum and collect their honey. Fish leap in the stream. Foxes laugh and dance in the moonlight. Men grow to fear the darkness once more.
Somewhere, the moonlight peers curiously through an open window as a girlchild laughs, each peal sending a riot of blue and gold flowers growing around her room.
The next mage is born.