‘Come!’ They whispered. The rustling sound of their whispers grew louder and louder. ‘Now!’ They were getting even louder. In the quiet of the forest the leaves of the trees shook harder and harder. The strange thing of this event is that there is no wind. The trees shook even harder. One by one they stopped. When they did though, women stepped out of their trunks. Out of the willow a tall, slender woman with white skin and long, wavy, green hair. Out of the oak came a burley woman, strong yet elegant. The same thing was happening with trees all over the forest. With the beech, the pines and many more, women came out of the trees. They started automatically grouping themselves according to type of tree. Once they were in their groups, they all started heading in one direction.
They all started to sing. Not usual singing but a creaking, rustling singing. It was not cheerful nor mournful, just serious, like a habit. The different trees started singing in rounds, keeping perfect time. There were no words, just tune, and a slow, meaningful marching song. The fruit trees all started to sing soprano, higher more tingling rustle and creak; the rest sort of hummed alto powerful and beautiful. They were all being called toward a clearing, one that had not been used in centuries. The meeting place, big enough to hold all of the nymphs in the forest.
The willows reached the clearing first with their long limbs. The clearing was at least 30 Parthenons long and wide. It was perfectly circular and in the very middle was an olive tree, a huge and gnarled olive tree. This was the tree that Athena created before she made the one that claimed Athens, the very model of all olive trees.
The rest of the nymphs filed in and found the place for their kind. They all stayed standing, and the clearing was alive with a soft green glow of shimmering, beautiful women. The place heaved a collective sigh and the trees in back (oaks, hickory, ect…) strained their necks to see the olive tree begin to shake. It started in its top branches and spread throughout the whole tree until it was reverberating from the very core. Then a foot stuck itself out from the base of the tree.
It pulled itself forward, following behind it a nymph. This nymph was like no other. While most stayed in their youth, this one aged. This was a tree made by a goddess and because of it she had lasted a very, very long time. Her skin was wrinkled and discolored and her hair was thin and wispy. Despite her looks though, something about her radiated power. For this nymph was the queen of trees. And then she spoke.
“My daughters and sisters. Welcome. I have called you here for a meeting. May all your genus leaders step forward,” one nymph came forward from each group. They moved swiftly and reached the center quickly. The fruit trees such as the oranges and apples took up the wings and the taller trees were closer to the center. The olive, of course was center.
“My family!” said the eldest nymph. “There will be a prophecy. The oracle of Delphi will deliver it to a young hero, and he will not like what it has to say. I have seen this in my ways,”
“How?” asked the oak.
“When one is alive so long as me, I can remember the things in the past and I know how things in the future will happen. Do not ask why, but when one such as myself doesn’t come out for years, I see things,” the nymphs accepted this. She was their leader, and it is difficult for a tree to lie.
“What do the trees have to do with it?” asked a cypress.
“We have to do with everything. I can not see when these things will happen, but I do know that for the hero’s prophecy to come true we have to push his companion on his way to him,”
“Who is his companion?” inquired the willow.
“A young lady will come into this forest. If you see her, stop her and bring her to me,”
“But milady, with all due respect, we cannot stop every maiden that comes here,” said the hickory.
“True that, but you will know this one,” said the old one.
“How?” the question rippled through the air, all the trees whispering it.
“She carries an aura of the Lady Artemis,” said the olive nymph. A ripple went through the air, louder this time. This was a surprised ripple.
“What will you do with her?” asked a peach tree nymph.
“I will summon the lady and she will decide. After all that is what a god would do with a hero when the hero found out of his half-blood heritage,” the trees nodded an understanding.
“Is this all milady?” asked the willow.
“Yes, I do believe so. Keep an eye out my children,” with that, she stepped back into her tree. The gathering dispersed and all the nymphs went back to their trees, whispering about what had passed.
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