It was nearly spring and Rose was sitting alone on top of a tree, gazing out into the mist beyond. Rose heard a loud thump from behind as the fog thickened. This tree was old and his leaves rustled with the slightest movement.
“We’d better get home.” Rose said, looking down at the bright green leaves of her tree.
The tree stood up, fumbled on his roots for a moment, and began to walk away with Rose still sitting on top. The two walked on for a while, until they came to a larger tree. This tree was so tall that his strong trunk grew far over the thick fog.
“Bless you Grandfather Oak,” said the tree, bowing his head to let Rose down. This bow was not entirely intended to let down his passenger. He had bowed his head towards the large tree, as if praying to him.
“Rose, Grandfather Oak wants to see you,” said the tree, “Daoak told me.”
“All ‘righty,” said Rose.
“Catch ‘cha later Spruke.” Rose said in a voice like silk.
This name, Spruke, was one most people would struggle with. Rose however, said this name with such ease, it was almost like she had been saying it for years. That was because she had. Spruke turned and walked off in the opposite direction they had come from; his beautifully carved face looking disappointed. Rose walked up to the front of the large tree and tapped twice on the bottom of the trunk.
“Grandfather Oak, it’s me Rose.” She said, in her same silk-like voice.
A large branch ascended from another nearby tree and Rose stepped onto it. When she stepped onto the branch it began to life her high into the sky. Her hair whipped around everywhere by the force of the wind. Soon Rose soared high above the tree line and was nearing the top of the large tree. The fog had long since past and now only clean blue skies could be seen. The branch kept on rising up to the very top of the tree and came to a sudden halt about a foot from the top of the bright green leaves of the tall tree. Rose stepped cautiously into the leaves and felt her foot touch yet another branch. She planted both of her feet firmly onto that branch and then used her foot to search around for the next branch. She continued to do this until she reached a solid floor. This floor was not just a floor, it was a room, and what a magnificent room it was. The walls were carved with stories and pictures that meant millions to some and nothing to others. There were stained glass windows that were placed in such symmetry that it seemed otherworldly. Rose had only been in here once before, so it still seemed strange, yet the one familiar thing about it was the little tree that was sitting in the middle of all of it.
“Rose,” crackled Grandfather Oak.
“Yes,” She said, as she took her feet off the branch and firmly planted them onto the ground.
“You must be wondering why I have called you here,” said the voice.
“No, sir,” Rose said quietly.
“You are aware of the current circumstances?” asked Grandfather Oak, leaning closer to Rose.
Sometimes this tree frightened Rose because she was so used to Spruke, but she finally got used to his darker tone of voice.
“Yes, I am aware that the humans have sent men into our forest,” said Rose with such confidence, it sounded as though she had been rehearsing it for weeks.
“How?” asked Grandfather Oak.
“That is of no importance,” Rose said, trying to keep a straight face.
“Ah, I’ve taught you well my child,” laughed Grandfather Oak. Rose smiled and looked down at her leather boots.
“Now Rose,” said Grandfather Oak, “You know we are normally against war,”
“I understand,” said Rose.
“I need you to fight with us Rose,” said Grandfather Oak.
“Anything for you Grandfather Oak,” Rose said, bowing to the tree that she had been talking to. All of a sudden there was a great thump and the room shook.
“Now, go my child,” commanded Grandfather Oak.
“And Rose, if it is possible,” he whispered, “Make peace with them before we must advance.”
“Yes sir.” She said as she began to walk down yet another ‘flight’ of branches.
She walked for a while until she came to an opening. She walked through the opening and standing outside was Spruke.
“How’s it going?” She asked causally, as she began to climb onto him.
“Rose, now’s not the time.” He said, as Rose got back into her spot on his head.
“Let’s go.” He said, turning toward the edge of the forest.
When they finally reached the edge of the trees they saw a growing army standing just feet before them.
“Now!” Yelled a man in front. This man, the leader of the army, confidently stepped forward, with dark brown eyes and thick black hair.
“STOP!” Rose yelled, standing up on top of Spruke. Every man in that army gasped as they noticed that there was a human girl with the trees?
“Why can we not make peace?” Rose boomed.
The men looked at each other and shrugged. The leader, Alden, who had called out before, eyed Rose closely. Alden struggled as he watched Rose; curious as something about her seemed familiar to him, something about her eyes. Regardless, he pressed on with the army.
“Peace gets our race nowhere.” He said, looking at Rose and then at his men. You silly plants do not know of economy, politics, or science.”
“What did you just call us?” Rose yelled, her temper rising.
“Silly plants.” He taunted.
“Thank you, I’m sure it took you longer to come up with that than it will take us to take you down,” she said powerfully.
“CHARGE!” Rose yelled as all the trees rose from the spots where they stood rooted and ran at the human army. Rose and Spruke ran sideways towards the river. The leader of the army and a few of his men chased after them. The only flaw in Rose and Spruke’s plan was that the river was only the view from the cliff they were running to. Rose and Spruke had found the flaw in their plan. They were stuck, the men were closing in and the only way to escape them was to jump off the cliff. One of the men came charging at Spruke and held his axe up, ready to swing.
“Spruke!” Rose yelled, but it was too late. The man near Spruke swung at his trunk, luckily Spruke dodged out of the way so only his left branch was hit. His left ‘arm’ was hacked off and it fell down the cliff into the river.
“How DARE you!” Rose boomed, “You-You nearly killed my father!”
“That shrub is no father of yours,” said the leader of the men. Finally Alden realizes who the girl is to him; suddenly he is flooded with remorse.
“And how are you supposed to know about my family?” Rose asked, putting a lot of emphasis on the word ‘you.’
“Because-because I’m your-your,” Alden struggled to say.
“My what?” asked Rose.
“Your-your father,” said Alden.
“My WHAT?” exclaimed Rose.
“Your father,” he repeated.
“You are no father of mine.” Rose said, glaring.
“But, Rose, I just know it’s you,” said Alden, “I could tell when you were sitting up there on that-that tree. I knew something was familiar about you, but you’ve grown since the last time I saw you.”
“How?” Rose asked sarcastically.
“You-you have your mother’s eyes.” He said, getting down on his knees.
“I don’t have a mother,” Rose says sadly.
“She ran away with you when you were only one.” Alden said, his voice shaking, “Into-into that forest.” He pointed to the forest.
“I never saw her again.” Alden said, shedding a single tear.
“What was her name?” Spruke asked, staring the man straight in the face.
“Mareta,” said Alden, trying hard not to look at Spruke.
“Mareta Elkhelder?” asked Spruke curiously.
“You-you know her?” asked the Alden, his tears fading.
“Of course I know her,” said Spruke, “Every tree in the forest did.”
“Did?” asked the Alden, looking scared.
“She’s still alive if that’s what you’re wondering,” said Spruke.
“You never told me?” asked Rose, turning to look at Spruke.
“It was not my decision.” Spruke said, “Grandfather Oak thought it wise to raise you separately from her.”
“Why?” Rose sobbed.
“I have no idea.” Spruke said, looking at the stub he now had for an arm.
“Sorry about that,” said Alden whose man had taken Spruke’s arm off, stepping out of the small group huddled around Rose and Spruke.
“This is silly,” said one of the men in the back.
“What?” Asked the man.
“This fighting,” said the man in back, “We never get anywhere.”
“I’m sorry Sargent, your opinion matters not here,” said Rose’s father, turning towards the Sargent.
“Excuse me, but you’re saying you only wanted to destroy our forest because you thought we stole your wife?” asked Spruke.
“That is the main reason, but-“
“I can bring her,” said Spruke.
“Really?” asked Alden, his face lighting up.
“I’ll be back.” Spruke said and he ran towards the group of men. The men parted as the tree neared. Spruke soon returned with a beautiful woman sitting on his head.
“Mareta!” called Alden.
“Alden!” called the woman.
She jumped off of Spruke and into her husband’s arms. He kissed her and Spruke went over to Rose and put his remaining arm around her.
“Peace is better than any war.” Alden called, “This rivalry between us has lasted for too long! I let bitterness destroy my compassion towards others. I forgot what it was like to be at peace within. We should end this now! Who is with me?” Shouted Alden. There was no response, instead a silence.
“Well,” said Rose, “My father got his wife back, I got my parents back, isn’t there something that all of you want?” There was a sudden uproar of “A nicer home,” and “More time with the wife,” and many other wishes of the soldiers. “Exactly,” said Rose, “None of those things will ever happen with this rivalry between us.” The word peace echoed from the mass of soldiers standing in front of Rose and her family.
And as the crowd’s uproar died, Alden called out, “Men, I wish you to return to your homes and a pleasant life, it was definitely an experience getting to know you.”
The war between the people and the trees was over. Family and love had ended the ageless war that thousands of soldiers could not.