When the Forest Wakes

There was once a village perched on the edge of a forest. A row of houses made of timber and straw lined the single street belonging to the village. Hidden by the lush green of the forest surrounding it, the village was hidden from the world by nature.

It was a village still growing. To build more houses, towering trees, trees that were saplings at the dawn of time, were being chopped down by the villagers. They chopped, and they hammered, and they carved. Day by day, the forest surrounding the village started retreating. And soon the village was hidden no more.

The villagers not only built houses from these trees, they also depended on these trees for their livelihood. They started trading the lumber, the corpses of the fallen forest. Soon, travelers came to the village on their own volition to hull lumber back to their own villages. The village once small, started to grow with ambitions and perceptions of wealth.

After working for all that wealth, there soon came a need for entertainment for the villagers to relax after a long day of chopping and sawing. A tavern was the simple solution. It was as crude as the villagers who visited it, which was the whole village, but it served it’s purpose. It is two-stories of magnificence that dwarfed the houses surrounding it. Its lofty heights dwarfed even the church and on occasions also served as a gathering hall for town meetings and the occasional wedding.

Many nights came and went in this little tavern, the usual hubbub and bustle like any other small village. A warm place where familiar faces smiled and clanked their mugs in cheer. A place where arguments brought on by the overindulgence of liquor and mead often turned into brawls that involved the whole village. Brawls that were soon forgotten the next morning. A welcoming place where travelers and traders that happen to pass by can eat and rent a room for the night.

The tavern was the sole source of excitement in this small village which had little to celebrate about except for the color of leaves changing with the passing of seasons. Village folks would gather in the tavern each night after a hard days of work, no matter the season nor day. On some peaceful nights, nights where the drinking does not overtake them and start a brawl, they would sit and listen as one of them shared his stories. On this night, they were treated to a story by a traveling stranger.

With his hood pulled low, the stranger began telling a tale that he swore was not a lie. “My village was once like yours.” The stranger started and went on to describe how his village once supplied great numbers of lumber to the great kingdoms beyond. He told the villagers of how wealthy they all got. “We had to build extra rooms just to store our gold.”

“You don’t look like someone with a room of gold.” Said one of the villagers followed by the laughter of the other villagers in the bar.

“We were all so happy.” The stranger paused to drink from his mug. “Then one day, the trees came to life.” He took another drink. “Lucky for me, I was traveling. I returned to find my village smothered by them trees. Nobody left alive.”

After the stranger finished his story, the whole tavern was silent. Then came a voice from the back, “That’s a bloody scary story. You’re a great storyteller. You should write it down and sell it.” The bearded man raised his mug high. “Time to drink, boys.” And for the rest of the night, the tavern was filled with laughter, and singing, and surprisingly, there were no fights on that night.

And the next day, folks in the village woke up to find their houses surrounded by trees. The villagers were prisoners of their own homes for the tree roots tangled around the houses, restricting the doors from opening. They chopped, they sawed, they cut, but the roots grew too fast, almost instantaneously.

The forest was not retreating anymore. No one was going to destroy this forest, for this ancient forest has survived scars from wars waged by men, and fires set by bumbling children. Bones of warriors still lay covered under moss on its forest bed, a village won’t be the death of it.

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