The trees… They used to walk you know. Across the land they roamed, over tall mountains, under deep canyons, beneath great lakes even. Drawn they were to the whims of a sun that could never sit still, forever rising, forever falling.
O’Mighty star, they implored. Won’t you be still and grant us reprieve? For we are weary of eternal march, trek, and quest. The sun who had heard their pleas grinned and acquiesced. Slowly it drifted to a halt, suspending motion and flight for as far as the eye could see. The trees, exasperated yet rejoiced, fell into an immense slumber, eager to rest and feed.
Eons had passed and the sun remained still; a drop in a bucket within one lifetime but a thousand generations in another. The trees had wedded themselves to the ground for their roots dug deep and their trunks grew tall. Asleep they all were when the destined day arrived and the sun imperceptibly moved. Little by little it accelerated, regaining the flight it once had ages yonder. And so the slumbering trees woke up to a frosty dew and a new witness. Day and night had been born.
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A sunset looms in the distant West as we blaze towards its horizon. Upon a furious pace, we barely manage to halt time as we delay the coming of the night. My companion is exhausted for old age has made it harder to outrun the sun. Press on comrade! Mustn’t let the shadows overtake us he muttered but with a hint of glee between heaving breaths. I wasn’t sure if he understood his fate or simply laughed in the face of it. After several more hours at this breakneck pace, he collapses onto the ground. Darkness creeps around us and he tells me his body can go no more. Shutting his eyes, he falls into the most peaceful of slumbers. I remove the sun so that it would never rise again.
I awaken in a maze of galleries. Lining the walls are an arrays upon arrays of masks, thousands of them upon my estimation. I meet a man frantically trying on different masks. While observing him between swaps, I realized that he had no face of his own. Approaching him, I inquire as to the nature of his predicament. He replies that over a lifetime, he had lived a life of vanity in the image of others, never having discovered who he was or what he wanted. The masks, once the veneers of his successes, were more like decorations over a cast that veiled a forgotten injury. I took all the masks down from the galleries and handed him a mirror. Over time, he grew eyes to see his own reflection and found his way out of the labyrinth.
A cancerous forest envelops us with a suffocating canopy. While the largest hardwoods thrive under a brilliant sun, there is hardly any light left for the life below. It seemed like the trees had grown too massive, too competitive in their struggle for attention. We approach a listless grove where song and mirth used to ring through time immemorial. My companion, a dryad who helped raise these woods, stares despondently at a leafless sapling wedged between a network of overgrown roots. This one has no future; she spoke with a tear welling up in her eyes. Perhaps she gave them too much love and had nothing left for herself. I uproot the sapling and transplant it on a burgeoning planet, where it would grow magnificently through the ages into tree onto itself.
Drenched by the night. A single spotlight shines upon a lone warrior having hewed down waves upon waves of apparitions that lurk beyond sight. The ground beneath him is stained with his own blood, wounds inflicted upon him by his demons. His steely eyes however betray no hint of fear as he begins to press forward. His destination however is unclear as the path is circular. Demons materialize in greater force, drawn again to his blood thirst which he satiates. I dare not approach him as to maintain the illusion. Instead, I invert his vision; once demons in light, now warriors in dark. The cycle of bloodshed was at last annulled.
Parts 1, 2, 3