© Copyright 2009 - Darkraptor1 - Used by permission
Storycodes: M+/mmm; M+/f; wrap; bandages; magic; encase; entomb; nc; X
It was not quite yet noon on the warm tropical jungle, but there was a flurry of activity in the little village nestled between the mountains. The mid day meal was almost ready to be served, a welcome break from work in the fields and from fishing in the nearby river.
When the meal bell was rung, the workers and their families were quick to hasten to the meal hut, eager to fill their bellies. As their plates were filled one by one, an older man stood outside on the porch, watching as bowls were filled and as their users promptly walked off to enjoy their meals.
One individual however, a strapping young man in his early twenties, did not join the others when he exited. Instead, he walked over to the elder.
“Good day grandfather. May I eat with you?”
“Of course,” The elder said. “I always enjoy the company. But let me guess…you want a story told, don’t you?”
The younger man smiled. “Yes, I do. Do you have any for me?”
The elder thought for a moment. “As a matter of fact, I do. One that is quite appropriate.” He pointed towards the village’s square, where three tall trees stood amongst the plants. “Do you see those three trees there?”
“Have you ever wondered how they came to be there?”
The younger man thought hard. “No grandfather, I haven’t.”
“Then I shall tell you.” Pulling up a seat, the elder sat down.
“Many, many years ago, before my father was born, our village rescued a man from the sea. Though it took many months, we finally learned to speak with him, and him to us. He came from a land far beyond the sea, filled with deserts and strange structures called pyramids. He was a user of magic, fleeing his country and their persecution of his kind. In return for shelter and protection, he blessed us with a spell to keep our land safe from those who would wish to harm us.”
“What does that have to do with the trees?” The younger man asked impatiently.
“I’m getting to that.” The elder said with a chuckle. “There are many beyond our borders who would wish us harm, or open us up to heathen and evil ways that would corrupt us. We needed to protect ourselves, but our laws forbid taking a life, no matter the crime. But the man’s magics provided an answer.
“One day, we had three of our own who had done a grave crime…they had killed a neighbors cattle for food without his permission. We were to banish them into the jungle forever, but the foreign man told us that the three could reveal our village’s location to others, and suggested that he use some of his magic to imprison the three.”
“What happened then?”
“The man instructed us to wrap the criminals head to toe in bandages five times. After that was done, they were taken to the center of the village and tied to poles. Then the foreign man used his magical spells to summon special trees that grew very fast. In a matter of minutes it had began to grow and wrap itself around each of the criminals. In less then a few minutes, they were completely encased inside the tree. The man then used a final spell to seal the men inside the trees forever, their life force giving life to the tree.
“Two of the trees have always been close to death, wilting, never producing fruit, but never dying. But the third tree has grown tall and very strong, producing many branches and roots for our young ones to play on. It grows many fruit and gives us food year after year…it is said that the criminal inside the third tree has repented of his deed, and now atones for his misdeed by providing food, shelter, and a place for children to play. He was reborn and put to better use for all as part of a tree. But the other two remain unrepentant, and they only wither and wilt.”
“A fascinating story grandfather, but how do you know it to be true?”
“My father told me, as I have now told you.”
“But do you have any proof that the story is true? Has anyone cut open the trees to look inside?”
The elder thought for a moment.
“Come with me after the meal is done, and I will show you the proof.”
Once the mid day meal was finished, the younger man went with his grandfather instead of returning to the fields. Though very old, the elder was able to keep up a good pace as he walked into the jungle. But as they went further and further in, the trail began to fade, becoming indistinguishable from the surrounding jungle.
“Do you know why we do not come back here?” The elder asked as he continued on.
“Because it is forbidden.” The younger man said, nervously looking about him.
“And why is that?”
“The world beyond is an evil, wicked place, and we must not go near it.”
“And it must never be allowed to learn of our existence.” The elder said, starting to climb over some rocks, as the trail had completely disappeared. “We maintain sentries here to ensure that no one comes close. But should we happen to find one…”
The elder came to a stop. And as he stopped too, the younger man saw why.
There was a tiny clearing ahead, with four sentries and one of the other elders. But there was a woman with them, unlike any woman the younger man had ever seen. She was fair skinned and was wearing strange clothes that he had never seen before. She was yelling something in a strange language that sounded like gibberish as the sentries wrapped her up in bandages, making sure to slowly tighten them more and more, slowly taking away the woman’s ability to resist.
“She was caught coming from the jungle an hour ago, before the midday meal.” The elder said. “I was informed before the bell was rung.”
But the younger man didn’t answer. He could only watch in fascination and horror as the woman was completely wrapped up, her skin and clothing vanishing underneath her wrappings.
As the elder had described, the woman was taken deeper into the clearing, where a pole had been hastily planted into the ground. Once there, thick ropes were wrapped around her, binding her to the post. The sentries stepped back, watching the intruder to struggle against her bindings.
The other elder, a man well versed in the use of magic, turned towards the intruder, raising his arms and muttering words in a dialect that the younger man couldn’t understand.
Almost instantly, the ground began to move near the intruder’s feet. Large roots appeared, spreading upwards and outwards. The trunk of a tree began to rise up, unfurling itself like a flower…but slowly closing itself around the pole, and the helplessly wrapped woman tied to it.
The young man watched in awestruck fascination as the trunk of the tree began to solidify around the woman’s wrapped body, moving like the sap of a tree, yet rising and building upon itself, enfolding the woman more and more until it finally reached her head…and then wrapped around it, silencing her muffled screams.
Moments later and the tree went completely still, it’s rapid growth ended, leaving a large trunk with a few branches sticking outwards, but nowhere near as majestic as the one good tree in the village. There was no sign that the woman had ever been there.
“It is a dangerous world out there, and we must keep ourselves safe.” The young mans grandfather said. “Time will tell if this woman from the wicked world is wicked or good at heart, and if she will spread fruit and grow, or remain withered and dull. Either way, she will serve us better as a tree then as a human.”
The young man nodded silently.
“When the time is right, you will become one of the sentries guarding our people and our way of life, the most noble of tasks. You will stop and contain wickedness before it reaches us.”
The young man nodded again… but there was a question that needed to be answered. “But I still cannot fully believe this grandfather… how long has this been going on?”
The elder smiled. “A very long time.”
He pointed towards the jungle around them, and for the first time, the young man noticed something chilling.
Every tree in the jungle was of the same type… they were all like the tree that had just absorbed the woman. Some were tall and majestic, their branches filled with leaves and fruit, while others were scarcely more than dead trunks.
There were thousands upon thousands of trees, nestled amongst a jungle of millions.