Deep inside the Dark Wood atop the largest hill, stood three trees that were twice as tall as the others. They stretched their limbs as the sun rose over the eastern mountains. Their shadow’s cast far drinking up all the sunlight and all the other trees around them grew weak and hateful. To the South of the forest a lone Silver Maple stood in a grassy field. Perched atop it the Mother of the Woodlands watched as the three trees stole sunlight from those around them.
The sunlight reached her then and her brilliant white feathers shone. A crystal in her crown sparkled and sent flickering prisms of light dancing all about. The three trees seemed to shrink then as if cowering. Shamed by the beauty that offended their arrogance, they let other trees around them bask in the warmth of the sun. For three hours Aveline sat on her perch until the sun had risen high enough in the sky she could do no more. She knew once she left that the three trees would take it out on the others, but they would have anyway, it is there terrible way. They were Aveline’s bane. Her burden and she did all that she could to correct it.
Having other matters to attend to she took flight. Spreading her wings wide Aveline closed her eyes and went forward into a free fall. She let the wind fill her wings and as she neared the ground she shot out from under the tree flying just above the tall grass. She opened her eyes and let her exuberance run wild. Without a single beat of her wings she rode the wind, dodging this way and that to avoid small trees and tall thistles. The land suddenly dropped out from beneath her as she flew over the edge of a small bluff. Below at the bluffs base was a small pond fed by springs. A creek wound away from the pond to the south and west and she followed it. Ahead a large tree line emerged and the creek was running into it. It was the start of a very large forest that stretched many miles from north to south and ten times that to the west. This was the Woodlands, this was home.
Darting between the trunks of the trees she greeted each one, all she had known for decades and all she counted as friends. Mother Earth was good to her and those that dwell in the woodland. It was important to Aveline that all that live here know the voice of Mother Earth. Listening to her calls, be they blessing or warning, was the key to peace and love. We are all accountable to one another and anyone choosing to dwell in selfish actions and secrets soon find themselves alone.
Hearing chatter she turned and saw a family of squirrels ahead. They were gathering nuts in the forest, at a small clearing and were all standing around a stump of a long dead tree. The mother was explaining to the children about the importance of not taking too much, leaving some for others and giving back to the land. The father then planted an acorn in the center of the decaying stump. He explained to their young ones how to properly bury the acorn and then went on to tell them how the new tree would use the old one for food to grow strong. Aveline smiled and flew over giving them a gracious nod of her head. The mother and father waved to the Mother of the Woodlands and the children gasped in awe.
With a powerful beat of her wings she lifted to the crowns of the trees, dodging branches and then above them. The feeling was like waking up again as she crested the canopy, where the sun shone brightly. Ahead she saw many others in flight. They were children of many families of the forest. Their differing colors reflected in the sunlight as they whizzed about playing some game. They saw her then and calmed there playing as she came close. No doubt there were chores being neglected. Not wanting the young ones to feel she was prying she turned south.
The land dropped gradually beneath her and she skirted the tree tops until she reached the lake. Across the lake she could see Crescent Hill. A friend lived there but she knew he wasn’t home. It was another she was looking for. Aveline scanned the waters as she flew above the lake following the shoreline east. There she saw what she was looking for. Bubbles were slowly breaking the surface of the water near some trees that had fallen over in the early spring flood. She circled down and landed on a large branch of one of those trees. The tree was loose and it bobbed in the water beneath her.
“Oh my!” she cried aloud. The tree settled then as she flapped for balance and almost flew off. Standing precariously she waited a moment before settling in on her perch. She thought to herself, ‘that should have made enough stir under the water to get her friends attention’. Indeed some bubbles issued forth from the lake in front of her, then a very large head and eyes breached the surface to stare at her.
“Good afternoon Tabitha.” Her friend smiled in response and rose further out of the water. A very large shell emerged from the water and Tabitha hauled herself onto the bank of the lake to bask in the sun.
“Good afternoon Aveline.” Tabitha replied finally. She spoke slowly and deliberately as was her way. “What brings you to the Emerald Lake on this fine day?”
“I came to inquire about your meeting Miss Tittles. She was brave to undertake such a journey for her friends. How was she?”
Tabitha closed her eyes and turned facing the sun directly. She seemed to be enjoying the warmth immensely. Aveline knew she was not being ignored and that Tabitha would answer. Finally she responded and spoke with great affection regarding Miss Tittles. “She was well. Her bravery was fueled by her concern for others only. I believe that her thirst for knowledge has now been equaled by a yearning for adventure.”
“You do not think she will be content to stay in the woodland with the others?” Aveline asked with concern?
“She is the most unselfish person I have ever met. If the knowledge she seeks will aid others then she will seek it.”
“I will admit that this worries me. Beyond our lands are great evils both current and ancient. Our spirits come with free will though and Mother Earth has filled herself with choices for us.” Both sat for several minutes in reflection. Both were much older than Miss Tittles and remember things neither of them wished to discuss.
“Perhaps then she will need help? Especially since Gwendol gave her that book.” Tabitha asked breaking the silence.
“I know just the person and he definitely needs to be occupied.” Aveline smiled then and Tabitha gave her a look, wondering what she was up to. They both leaned forward, their foreheads pressed together and Aveline gave a short prayer. Then they parted, Tabitha still basking in the sun and Aveline took to the air once more. “Now where might that rat be?” She asked herself and flew back north and west over the lake.
To be continued…