We cut the trees and bled the rivers for our mills. We burnt the green away and harrowed the soil. We built our houses, fields, and lives nestled in the forest’s wound. It is human nature to build.
And build we did. Our settlement became the seed of a great city, though its fulfillment was lifetimes away. First, they came.
From the groves and glens we spared, they slipped from shadow and sunbeam to walk among us. Many things. Dark things, with skin the color the frozen earth. Light things, whose hair fell down their backs like noon sun. Beautiful things, deadly things.
With them the blight and the bloom descended. Crops died, withering in field, cellar, and kitchen. Others grew. They budded and swelled. Tomatoes grew fat overnight until they broke their stems and burst overripe on the dirt. Wheat rotted in the fields days after planting.
Our bodies, foreign to the wilds and its ravages, perished. Young and old, godly and sinful. Their touch was as capricious as spring rain. As some of us shrank down to bone and skin, other’s grew large with growths and weeping sores.
They played and punished like gods. And for a time we prayed and repented as if they were. But they were cold and grinning things, and we and the beginnings of our great city had trespassed.
The forest reclaimed our fields and began its work on our homes, retaking its flesh as vines pulled apart window slates and floor boards we’d cut from the trees. Our home was almost unmade.
Still, some hoped. We’d planted seeds of steel, sweat, and stone in the old forest, and those are not easily dislodged. With this spirit, the eldest children of four families remained whole. They would not see their dreams of spires and great walls denied. Three sons, Ward, Wolfe, and Wilde, and one daughter, Wren, sought out the beautiful deadly things at the tree’s edge.
Nothing said on that day is known. But a bargain was struck, for Ward, Wolfe, Wilde, and Wren walked past the tree line and were not seen again for some time. With them, the deadly things departed.
Blight and Bloom faded from our lives. We nursed the living back to life and buried the dead beneath our fields. Our harvest was a good one that year, though not overly abundant, which many were softly thankful for.
The years passed and we remade our town. It was odd at first, building the tailor’s shop over the cobbler’s, stacking house over house and winding stairs about it all. But so we grew, up and never out, lest we disturb the treeline and the things that waited there.
Ward, Wolfe, Wilde, and Wren returned to the town when it was an ugly tottering thing, too afraid to of its borders to grow properly. They were children no more, but decades into life and smiling like the blight and bloom had never come.
There were those in the town who thought to turn them away. On their left hands, they wore shining rings, and with their right, they led children to our gates. The toddlers and babes were beautiful people with hair like summer and skin like frozen earth.
The wise did not against the four and their children. We flung the gates open and sung songs for their return. They’d saved us so many years ago, they’d saved a city that would eventually be.
Not sure if I did this right, but I attempted the “Stories By 5” prompt which can be found here.