There was a smell of smoke in the air that explained itself as she came into one of the only clearings in the Forbidden Forest of the Felled Druids. Black, viscous smoke billowed to the heavens with such force it was humbling. She was stupefied by the destructive grace of the flame absolutely tearing through the glade she would have loved to have a rest in. It spread between the trees around the circle, spreading much more slowly in the glade itself. Her only option was to hopefully outlast the burning of the trees before the flaming glade reached her. As if it was waiting for her entrance, the spread of the flame increased to such a speed it was merely a flash before the ends of the flame met, the circle completely locking her into her decision now. So too did the clearings burning speed rapidly increase, following suit of the trees and encircling her. She had maybe twenty feet of clearing left when the flame froze. Quite literally, as if the flames were waiting for something.
In that same breath that hitched in her throat at such a strange event, she noticed the presence behind her. A Greenman that she had only heard whispers of stood before her, except, not a man in the slightest. She had a beautiful form, albeit massive. Where you might expect hair was the most gently flowing willow tree branches. She wore spanish moss like a dress, her knotted legs ending in gnarled, wrapped roots not unlike the shape of booted feet.
Without preamble she said, ‘I understand your love of the forest and all that lives in it, but you would do well to remember the power of healing. We are all capable of healing our forms, even from the most devastating of events. We need not fear the worst that can happen to us, but rather, never reaching our highest potential; our capability to grow and adapt to our environment and our dream is our duty, and we cannot run from it for the familiar and comfortable. Where there are embers, ash coating the remains of the past, there too are blooms.’
She smiled, and as she did so the flames vanished with only the blackened glade remaining. From the edge of the circle of safety she witnessed flowers of every origin rise and bloom, the circle of trees fell to piles of ash and in seconds they were replaced by fresh trees of a new formation, vines and all. She rotated in all-encompassing joy as the forest regenerated anew. When she brought her gaze back to the Greenlady, she was offering her hand. Aunt Matilda took it openly and watched that wooden hand detach and take the form of a wand, with a dazzling deep green orb on the crown.
The last thing she said before forming into a willow tree in the center was, ‘Remember to grow, and become a monument for those that follow your path.’