The Daughter of the Woods

Submitted into Contest #16 in response to: Write a story in which characters are warned not to go into the woods.... view prompt

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Mystery

  Once upon a time, a shrouded figure stood in the clearing of the great Woods, with what had seemed like a dress made of leaves, petals and bark billowing around her. Perhaps it was simply a trick of light, but every now and then, towering antlers could be visible on the left of her oak-brown locks, sheltering the collection of delicate petals nested below. 

  Serenity seemed to emanate from her presence, and even the sunlight could not havre resist her allure, its soft glow rested gently on her shoulders. Often, critters and beasts alike would gather around her, heedless of the fact that they might be prey, and she would crouch down and whisper to them one by one, stroking them softly. The animals would break away one by one, and though they did not smile, tranquility would radiate from their light steps and lifted burdens. 

  Now, humans would not believe of this presence if told. Now, she is a myth, a myth forgotten and buried deep within the folds of human history. 

  She is young, but her soul is ancient. She has been respected, worshipped, feared, loved. Her gleaning eyes have witnessed countless deaths, yet her beating heart has birthed hundreds of millions of thousands. 

  She is Thyea, and she has treaded the great Woods from the moment of its creation. 

  ----

  Every day, Thyea would hike around the Woods, visiting every critter, every oak, every blossom. She was powerful, once, and every now and then, seeing weak sprouts unable to take her fair share of sunlight, she would provide them with the nutrients to thrive. Those fortunate enough to be blessed by Thyea would flourish until, one day, they grew to be the the tallest and strongest of their kind. The others, albeit witnessing others being blessed, would not be jealous, because they knew that Thyea had believed them to be enough on their own to prosper.

  It had been like this for centuries, millenniums. She didn’t know how much time had passed, and she didn’t need to. All she knew was that her beautiful Woods were safe and content, and that made her safe and content. All was peaceful, all was serene.

  Until one day, a brilliant glow shined from outside her Woods. Then, the sounds of grunting and heavy trampling.

  The creation of mankind.

  It was fine, at first. Though men hunted her felines, their numbers were meager, and the balance thrived. As long as men ignored Thyea and her Woods, Thyea and her Woods did not disturb men. They prevailed in symbiosis, and Thyea and her Woods went on living.

  Then came the Logging. The sounds of mens’ roars obscured her hunter’s growls, their saws provoking thousands of birds and animals to flee. Down those brilliant, towering trees fell, crushing then again thousands of microscopic bugs underneath its bark. Men rushed into her Woods, stick-like items gripped in hand, pellets shooting out of them quicker than a blink of eye. Her hunters and critters fell, and Thyea, her power only for the kind, could only watch as men tore her Woods apart. 

  It never stopped. Thyea, knowing the vicious behaviour of men, tried to protect her wildlife and animals, attempting in vain to maintain the balance of wildlife. She tried learning the language of mankind, her warning reverberating through the Woods at night, when humans could not make out who she was. It worked for a while; humans were too afraid to enter her Woods during nighttime. But some audacious men entered anyways, and Thyea had to halt, because knew that she would be in danger if ever found out by men, which would enlighten the downfall of nature. So she kept silent.

  There were kind men, though rarely. They, from the start, inhabited within the Woods, and Thyea found no reason to despise them. They befriended her hunters and critters, and they in turn seemed to love the indigenous too. Some of their tribes even helped keep the others at bay, siding up with Thyea. Often, they would proclaim Thyea as a goddess, giving her different holy names. Thyea, knowing that they were loyal to the Woods, started to treat them with care, and if she was pleased, she would bless them, as she did with her plants and animals.

  But it got worse. Too soon, the indigenous started dispersing, either tuning in to the more modern way of life, or wiped out by the others. Outside the Woods, men polluted her waters, invaded her grounds, sold her hunters. The air turned toxic, and Thyea started to get sick. Her power came from her Woods, as did the Woods’ vibrancy come rom Thyea. When men started polluting the Earth, her grounds, her seas, and her air, it also made her Woods become noxious to her.

  Thyea, determined to thrive with her Woods, stayed. She lost its beauty, her allure, and her hunters and critters did not come to find her anymore. Her sunlit skin lost its glow, her antlers seemed to scrape itself off day by day, the petals and leaves on her dress fell slowly, and Thyea started to count her decades, because she knew that she would not last long. 

  She tried to stay heedless to her pernicious environment. She tried to live her gleeful life as it was. But it wasn’t the same, not without her friends and family by her side. She was still surrounded by them, but she had never felt so disconnected, such loneliness.

  Then one day, her animals came to her. She could not hold in her shock, her giddiness. But one look at their pleading and apologising eyes and she knew that, she was not one to stay. She could not stay and make things better, she could only leave and hope to give her Woods more time. Earth was beyond saving, she knew, but she would not die in vain.

  So Thyea drew in a final breath, and let go. She knew that her absence would give Earth at least a millennium of prolonged survival, and a little more life that it needs so desperately. A curse or a blessing, she did not know. She only hoped that some miracle of men would transpire, and her Woods would thrive.

  Thyea’s body dissipated, like she had never existed. Her hunters and critters bowed, shedding invisible tears, and even her plants seemed to droop slightly. And so this billion-year-old existence was gone.

  Now, Thyea still watches over each and every one of us. She watches, heartbroken, as we destroy her, or, our home without a second thought. Sometimes, she comes across kindred spirits attempting to change, to heal, but often in vain. But she still smiles sadly, knowing that, like her, they had at least tried.



November 19, 2019 05:11

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