Troll in the Playground
Join Date: Dec 2009
Avatar by Ceika
A Short Story I Wrote - PEACH
The Black Seed
The tree twisted forth from the ground, reaching up towards the moon. Its branches spiraled up and out, tasting the primeval air. As the ages passsed, the tree was withered by sun, storm, plague, and flame - but it stood tall and kept growing. Generations passed around it. Its brethren spouted up from the earth, grew tall, and were struck down by the elements.
After untold ages, the tree began to wake up. It had always been aware of itself, the earth beneath, and the sky above; even the trees around it whose roots drank the same water and whose leaves tasted the same sun. It had always been aware of the life pulsing through itself and the sap beneath its bark. But it began to gain an awareness of the wider world.
It reached out, and felt the minds and souls of all the living things around it. It felt the rough thoughts in their heads and the uncut emotions in their chests and limbs. As they became tamer and more refined, the tree began to learn from them.
It scrawled stories on its bark in a language of its own devising, subtle and rich. It told stories of itself and those around it. It drank deeply from the well of thoughts and ideas that runs through the universe.
As the tree awakened further, its mind spread wider, and it tapped into strange and ancient energies. It soon could shape the land around it, and find its way into the minds of other living things.
Human civilizations rose and fell, and it watched. It learned. It developed a love for the human spirit - a force so creative, fickle, and rash. Though it loved the human soul, it could hardly understand it.
* * *
The man who lived at the edge of the village had been old as long as anyone could remember. He was tall, but crooked and bent. His eyes were clever and his tongue was quick. People came to him for stories and advice - and paid him with gifts of food and whiskey.
Rumours surrounded him like cloak - protecting him from village boys with wicked stone missiles, and priests with a distrust of stories and imagination. He had no books, but words were etched on every inch of the inside walls of his shack. Some were written in the common tongue, but others were in an ancient language only he could understand.
After visiting a local tavern and consuming far too much ale, three local youths came to his shack for a story. He wove a tale for them, wild and raw, never told before and never to be told again.
As the hours flowed by, the three youths fell into a sort of trance. They first forgot to blink, and then forgot to breath. Much to the old manís dismay, all three slumped to the ground, wide-eyed and dead.
The village turned on the old man. His shack was burned. His name was blackened by the iron gauntlet of the church. And, before a frothing crowd, he was hanged with much ceremony.
As the life left his eyes, the old man began to change. His skin twisted into bark. His beard became a tangle of moss and leaves. His flesh turned to wood and his blood turned to sap. He went back to the stuff from which is was made, and the tree lost its love of the human spirit.
* * *
The tree did not commune with humans for a long time after. It grew bitter. Its bark blackened and the words on its bark turned inky and harsh. It soon began to fall back asleep, planning to awaken in a less wicked age.
Old things have power. When the tree dreamed, mankind dreamed with it. The dreams were dark, hurt, and wild. A handful of humans rallied around the dreams, and around the tree. They worshipped it. They gave it a name. Slowly, it wall called back into awareness.
* * *
Six people stood around a towering black tree. Its form was twisted, like an organic maelstrom of emotion, and its dark leaves were thick and wet. It didnít move, but they could feel the power surging inside of it. They tapped into the power. It was sweet, thick, bitter, and intoxicating.
Before them appeared an old man, as dark and wild as the tree. His eyes were hard and sad, and his back was bent. He told them stories and secrets. He showed them his past, and entrusted them with his future.
The shook his hand, feeling the dirt beneath his long fingernails. When their leader finished the handshake, she found a black seed pressed into her palm.
Before their eyes, the old man withered away into the earth, and the tree died. The wetness left its leaves and its body twisted back into the ground. The leader could feel the seed pulsing in her palm, both young as old. She wrapped her hand around it, and closed her eyes
* * *
The old woman who lives at the edge of the village carries a staff of twisted black bark. She has a necklace of silver chain, on the end of which is a stained brass locket. Inside is a black seed.
When people ask her, she says she will carry the seed to her grave, where it will grow into a tree.