The Spirit Tree


Berillan is a town known for very few things. Commerce related to goat products, like wool, milk and cheese, its breath taking mountains, and the Spirit Tree.


Long time ago, a shepherd, walking up the mountains, hurried a bit its pace as he looked for one of the goats that happened to lost its track. This particular goat had been giving him much trouble lately as it became the favorite pet of his three children, making the animal very unpredictable and hard to control in the group. As the day progressed, he felt the air get oddly warm and a thin drizzle started falling gently, a heavy cloud begun to cover the top of the mountain, most likely promising an imminent storm. The shepherd knew this and he hurried to bring the whole group to a refuge nearby. A slanted cave on the side of the mountain. Trying to make his mind forget about the missing goat, he went to sleep as the rain fell with violence outside.


Next morning he woke with a strange feeling. He looked around to see that none of his goats were there. Picked up his things quickly and rushed out of the cave to realize they were all gone. He immediately set himself to look for tracks and prints and picked up a trail. They went up in the mountains in a single pattern. Curiously enough, they didn’t seem to have been running away from anything, they just walked away. That made him feel more relaxed but concerned at the same time. Not giving it much of a thought, he got on his way.


Later, around noon as he climbed up the ledge of a rock, he saw something that called his attention. Not far away on a similar ledge, was a tree. The only tree around the area. It was big and thick with leafs, a white bark contrasted the dark stone on the ground. A feeling of comfort got in his mind. Perhaps his goats headed there to nibble on the low branches or to look refuge under.


Hours later after a big turn around and struggling to find his way, he managed to arrive to the place. The tree grew right on the edge of the mountain and seemed to have taken root through the ledge, separating and breaking the rock under it. Seemed like a dangerous place to be, as the ground looked like it could collapse under his feet. But he came close nonetheless. The tree was at least thirty feet tall, and had a soft white curving trunk that came up as twisting itself into the misty air releasing its branches out with a playful nature. The leafs, light green, almost gray, but seemingly soft and tender. Most likely the tree is surviving out of the moisture of the air. But however it managed to be here, was a true mystery. He felt compelled to touch it and go around it. Carefully getting close through the broken ground, as he reached for it with one hand, he heard a bleat. Right behind him, he stopped and turn. There it was, the missing goat. Looking at him and nibbling around dried branches in between the stones. He immediately went up to it and looked over to see the rest coming in a group behind a hill about a hundred yards away. He was so relieved to see them again that he completely forgot about the tree and headed back in a heart beat. But as he began his descent he took a short glance back to see it one last time. And there it stood, beautiful and strong. Fighting to survive right at the edge of the world. He felt a compulsion to go back and try to touch it again. He would definitely return to spend some time there, maybe he could take some of the bark to make a figure out of it, or a branch for a beautiful staff.


Weeks later the shepherd headed back up, into the mountains, without his goats. He told his wife and children about this beautiful tree, up in a ledge, and how majestic it was. He wanted to pick up a branch to bring it to his family so they could see it with their own eyes. His family was very excited and looking forward for the gift. Maybe they could take some seeds or a root and make it grow in their own village. Everyone would love it.


As the day went by, he tried to mimic the trail he took the last time. And eventually, with not less effort, he arrived to the first place he saw the tree from. But to his surprise he saw nothing. It was a clear day, no clouds in the sky. And he could recognize the ledge where it might have been, but it was absolutely empty. A few hours later he arrived to the location and thought the ground might have collapsed under with the tree. But as he came carefully to the edge, he noticed for the first time that the drop was huge, and at the bottom nothing but dark rocks. Desperation sinking in, as he stepped back carefully, he gave a look around to see if he was in the right place. Turned back to see the cobbled ground, where he saw his missing goat and recognized the hill where the rest were coming from back then. As he looked up in the mountains he could notice a small change in the wind and some clouds forming on the top. In between the mist and the peaks, far away to the top, he noticed a tree. Sitting on what seemed to be a ledge. It was a similar tree, a very similar tree. He smiles and a warm feeling fills his heart.


A couple of days go by and back in the village the family of the shepherd grows weary. A group of men is ordered to search the man and bring him back. People start talking about a possible accident. The family gives a description of his clothes.


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