This is a rewrite of our previous collaborative story "Apples". Enjoy.

Heather stood under the shade of the twelve Elders, arms folded and lips curled displeasure. Her toes dug deeper into to ground like roots for support as her patience was being drawn out and pulled to shreds. The Elders, tree guardians of renoun, swayed, groaning and moaning for her to keep patience. However, Heather had put in a lot of effort to adopt a formal humanoid appearance and apply for their counsel. She did not want all that effort to go to waste.

“My fellow nymphs all agree,” Heather continued, hoping she was not speaking too fast for their old ears. “Ivy has not been paying careful attention to his duties in his West sector near the Glass Mountains. There is a severe misproportion of parasitic vegetation to plant life. The wildlife are moving from his section into ours. They're permanently migrating. My huckleberries are being trampled by deer and the wolves are tearing the place apart.”

“Tragedy...” Aspen Elder began but was interupted by Sequioa.

“Are...you...suggesting...Ivy...is not...capable of...his...job?”

“Well,” Heather began.

“Are you...suggesting...we...made...a...poor...judgement...concerning...his...placement?” Cypress continued, drawing out his words longer than usual.

“No, Elder Cypress, I only meant that there is powerful change in the West. I believe, for the good of the forest, corrections are in order.”

“Do...you...think...we are...” Oak sighed, “Unaware?”

Heather held in her own sigh. For being the wisest and most experienced caretakers in all the land, it was dreadfully hard to listen to them. Heather only wished it wouldn't take so long for their wisdom to show. Heather collecterd herself. “Certainly not. I only wish, with your permission, to help. I only think Ivy is in trouble, or perhaps is trouble, and I want to offer my service.”

The Elders were silent for many long minutes, still except for the gentle rustling of leaves. The sun seemed to turn to stone and hang immobile in the air. Heather hardly breathed as she waited for an answer.

“Heather,” Fir finally whispered, her thick coat rustling. “You are...di...diligent...but too...eager.”

“Patience” all twelve Elders continued to murmer as if in agreement.

“Ivy has...” Oak continued. “His...challenges...and you...have...yours.”

“I assure you, I am capable of overseeing the Meadow-lands. Have I not been so meticulous that some call it the 'Ellipses of Paradise'? I want to help,” Heather argued, a whine beginning to creep its way into her voice.

“The...meadow...lands...have encountered...something...” Beech moaned. “A...threat. You... must... attend... to...your...own...problems.” The Elders let out a collective sigh and they all became silent.

Heather knotted her fists in frustration. She lost her chance to prove her worth and now she was stuck with the meadow-lands for another hundred years or so. She had disappointed herself and the Elders had disappointed her. Heather choked out a weed in anger as she walked toward the Meadow-lands. She thought she had performed flawlessly and yet they did not deem her worthy. “Threat?” she laughed to the birds. “Only the threat of Ivy's lost dogs.”

The birds flew away nervously then, their wings pounding against the air as they called out in high pitched shrieks. The plants seemed frozen in fear. Heather unclenched her fists. Something was terribly wrong.

Heather ran, the earth pulsing under feet. As she ran nearer and nearer to the meadow-lands she could feel the distress of the woods. The animals were quiet, the plants were tense. In her mind she heard nothing but a string of “No. No. No.” as around her she heard the whisper and rustle of “Intruder. Intruder,” repeated over and over. By the time she arrived at the border of her region, Heather already knew something was out of place and that someone was disturbing the precarious balance of nature in her meadows. 

The End

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