by Colleen Anderson
Laden wooden carts carved with arabesques flowed toward ships filigreed in gold and silver that awaited in the harbor. Mist swirled in the distance obscuring the Tuatha de Danaan’s retreat.
“It is of no use, Tavaril,” replied Callandal, his dark locks shading the sadness in his eyes. “The humans will never learn and have destroyed the land again."
Tavaril pulled her cloak closed against the knife-edge cold and clenched her fists. “Would you leave children behind because their mother set fire to the house? We are supposed to be better, yet you give up, sacrificing the land. That is not what protectors do!”
She turned and strode into the forest rimed with thick white snow. “Well, I will not give up!”
She ignored the plea. The ships would sail soon.
It saddened her that they abandoned the land, the animals and the flora of wood and field to the continual abuse. Where was “making everything right?” As she moved between the gnarled tree trunks, her neck and fingers tingled, a sense that someone watched. When she looked over her shoulder, other Tuatha de Danaan followed her path.
Winter had lasted more than six months; stray leaves hung dead and brown, crisp as the icy air. The land lay gripped by death’s cold fingers, an orange pall coloring the mist that settled like sadness over the ground.
Tavaril searched near trunks and in lingering snowy copses. Only dead leaves showed, life sucked away completely. Eventually, she spotted a valiant, pale green sprig. Cupping it close, she held it up and sang the song of invigoration. The incantation took time, requiring stamina, and had to be painstakingly repeated with each plant she coaxed forth.
The sprout before her quivered, then grew and twined, flushing emerald, becoming taller, until before her stood a man clothed in the splendor of spring. Leaves unfurled, blooms formed and opened as floral eyes.
“I will show you how to fight back.”
Tavaril and the green man waited while the other Tuatha de Danaan sung forth an army. They would moved through the land bringing green growth and this time, they wound bind those that did them harm.
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