A ripple of rustling leaves passed through Forest. In its center, the Great Tree shook minutely, feeling fear for itself and its children. The edge trees of Forest sent news of an invader, a lone man, soon to be walking amongst them. The Great Tree listened from its cloister of green and brown, surrounded by the strong trunks and soft voices of its children. It felt hope, like the sun shining on one's leaves after many cloudy days. The Man carried sharp metal at his side, but he did not use it to cut the trees.
"Let him pass," the Great Tree whispered, "I will speak with him." There was a harsh hiss of protest from the trees, but the Great Tree had already begun to change.
Sturdy bark morphed into weak pink flesh, far-reaching branches to hopelessly short arms. The Great Tree pulled its roots up with a sigh, cutting itself off from Forest as they changed into soft legs and feet. Green leaves were exchanged for long brown strands hanging from its newly-formed head. The Great Tree grew thin, pliable bark over its new flesh, fashioning it into garments similar to those Men wore. Finally, it opened its eyes, which were a green the exact color of sunlight shining through leaves.
"Do not worry," the Great Tree placed its delicate hand to the trunk of a tree, "This Man is not like the others. He does not seek to harm us." The Great Tree sat down in the clearing where it had been all its life, from tiny acorn to massive oak.
After a few short moments of silence in the sunlit glade, a head with mussed blonde hair emerged from a bush. The Great Tree smiled to itself. This was no full-grown man, but a petite youth. His face was round, and his body was thin and gangly. The boy's eyes were wide, and blue like the sky on a cloudless day.
"Come here, my little one," the Great Tree beckoned the boy over, "Who are you, and what is it that brings you into Forest?"
The boy stepped out from behind the bush, and the Great Tree saw that he held a small, dull blade in his left hand.
"I'm Reth, who are you?" the boy asked, "You look... strange." He took another small step forward.
"I am the Great Tree of Forest. I speak for myself and all of my children here," the Great Tree gestured to the trees surrounding them.
"You're a tree?" Reth squeaked, "But you're a human!"
"Not so, little one. I only appear like a Man so I can speak with you. Now tell me, what brings you here?"
Tears formed in the corner of Reth's eyes, and his lower lip quivered, the first signs the Great Tree had seen of his young age.
"My mother... we have no food, and she's sick. The other kids said there was medicine in here that could help her, but they wouldn't get it 'cause this forest is haunted."
"Poor child... so many troubles. Come here. I can help you," the Great Tree motioned for him to move closer. Reth took one faltering step forward, and looked into the Great Tree's eyes. Whatever he found there caused him to drop his knife and rush forward, weeping. He fell into the Great Tree's open arms, clinging to it helplessly.
"Please help," he sobbed, "I'll do anything for you if you can save my mother."
The Great Tree wrapped its arms around Reth and smiled over his tousled hair. "I know just the thing. I will give you food, and medicine for your mother, and in exchange you will protect us."
Reth pulled back a little, staring into the Great Tree's leaf-green eyes. "I'll do all I can to protect you. Promise," he solemnly held out his pinky, twining it with the Great Tree's and shaking their hands.
"Good boy," the Great Tree ruffled his hair, "Now, walk out of the forest the same way you came in. You will find an apple tree with red flowers growing beneath it. The flowers will heal your mother, and you can take as many apples as you need to feed your family."
"Thank you, tree-person," Reth smiled and wiped away his tears, leaving dirty smudges on his cheeks. He stood and started to walk away.
"Will you... come back and visit me, sometime?" the Great Tree asked impulsively.
"I will," Reth nodded and waved, "Bye-bye, tree-person, see you again!" The Great Tree watched him until he was out of sight, then it shifted back into its natural form with a small sigh.
The semester's almost over~! Next one's gonna be great, with my three classes. ^.^ Hee.
Hey Maria-chan, I figured out why you always have artist's block! There was a study done that shows that getting sleep increases your creativity. So... SLEEEEP!