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The Cycle

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As dawn’s light first touched the forest it began to wilt, and from the forest stepped an old woman. She slowly made her way to the middle of town where she proclaimed, “You have taken from me that which was not yours, payment must be made, or all the land will die.” As she left the townspeople laughed and mocked her.

As the days went by and the streams dried up and the crops began to die they sent a search party into the forest to find the old woman. Yet all they found was a note pinned to the remains of the ancient willow in the center of the forest.


The youngest maiden in the village must be left here as a sacrifice. She must never leave the forest for she is to be the life that was stolen.

As it so happens the youngest maiden was the daughter of the forester, a man who was quite fond of the forest, more so than the extra mouth to provide for. Ergo the girl was taken and left at the willow and many years passed and the people forgot what happens when you take from the forest.

A young man walked through the forest hunting the elusive white stag known to reside in the ancient forest. Equipped with a quiver and hunting bow he follow the trail until he heard a sound that did not belong. As he followed the sound, he realized it was singing.

See me now, a ray of light in the moon-dance. See me now, I cannot leave this place. Hear me now, a strain of song in the forest. Don’t ask me to follow where you lead.

Deeper and deeper into the forest he went all but forgetting the trail he had been following. There he saw the maiden singing the song between the branches of the largest willow he had ever seen. Wreathed in a ring of ruby toadstools he called to her. “My lady how do you come to be lost in the forest? Come with me and I will bring you to my home. Come from that willow bed.” She lifted her head to gaze at him and shook her head. He went from the forest and told his tale but did not dare return to the fairy that haunted his sleep. Thus many years passed and what lie in the forest was forgotten.

A young man walked through the forest. He had heard tales of a witch that would grant a wish if you brought her a gift. So dressed in his finest green tunic and brought with him a bouquet of yellow roses to present to her. The one he found was not as the stories told. Where he had expected an old crone, the witch of the willow was a young maiden. Her hair was a deep vermillion her eyes as bright as polished emeralds. His wish forgotten begged, “My lady, my heart is yours. Leave this willow bed and I will be your groom.” She shook her head and declared, “I will never wed. Not near, nor far, nor soon.” Heartbroken he left the forest and many years passed.

A young man walked through the forest. He had heard tales of a beautiful being residing in the forest. His father had commanded he wed, and as the Lord’s son he would marry only the best. Knowing the from the stories that she would never leave her willow he had decided force would be necessary. Thus, he took and axe into the forest. He followed the sound of the haunting melody to the ancient willow.

See me now, a ray of light in the moon-dance. See me now, I cannot leave this place. Hear me now, a strain of song in the forest. Don’t ask me to follow where you lead.

As he entered her ring of toadstools, he told her, “I will free you, my green-eyed fairy and you shall be my wife, we will raise our children and live a grand life.” She wept when she heard him and watched as he felled her ancient tree. “Now your willow has fallen, come with me where you belong.” She followed him out of the forest, but as she reached the edge where forest became field she collapsed upon the ground, and as he watched she transformed into a single flower. It would bloom for one night and if the seeds were not returned to the willow by morning then the forest would begin to die. Not knowing what was happening beyond that that which he had sought was now gone the young man left and returned to the village empty handed.

As dawn’s light first touched the forest it began to wilt, and from the forest stepped an old woman. She slowly made her way to the middle of town where she proclaimed. “You have taken from me that which was not yours, payment must be made, or all the land will die.” As she left the townspeople laughed and mocked her.

And thus the cycle begins anew.