A New Season

by Dan D'Alimonte

Springtime is arriving at Metamor Keep. The blanket of snow that has covered the land for so long has finally begun its slow retreat up the mountains. The greys of winter being replaced by green, as life once more springs forth from the cold earth. I find myself once again standing in one of the Keep's many lesser courtyards. The sun is high in the sky, warming the cold granite of the walls. Ivies, laid dormant by the winter's cold, have finally began to climb once more, covering the walls in their green embrace. Other signs were beginning to appear, the normally drab coloured Ravens and Chickadees were being supplemented by the bright plumage of Warblers and Jays, who were returning from their extended vacations to warmer climes in the South.

I took in all the signs that were blooming around me. To be witness to this yearly miracle was always a joy to my heart. My antennae wove gently through the breeze, catching the fresh smells of new life carried by the currents of air. I was here to greet a friend. One whom I had not had the chance to speak with in many months, though I had seen him often.

In the middle of the courtyard was the purpose of my visit. Laracin stood tall in the center of the yard, just as he had been for the last six years. Fifteen meters of branches, forming a skeletal web against the sky that swayed gently back and forth in the breeze. Though still devoid of leaves, I could see the buds that lined his branches were swollen, ready to burst with the conifer's new batch of leaves and shoots.

Some would say that Laracin had been one of the more unfortunate victims of the Battle of the Three Gates. In a unique transformation, he was fated to spend the rest of his life trapped in the body of a tree. Quickly adjusting to the change that had overcome him, Laracin seemed to enjoy the stationary life that went along with being a Tamarack.

In the spare time that he now found himself flooded with, Laracin began to pursue an old hobby, the art of philosophy. I guess that the slow life of a tree gave him the time, as well as the frame of mind, to spend his days pondering the mysteries of the universe. Although solitary by nature, Laracin loved nothing more than a good debate. He would often draw me into long and complex discussions on a wide range of topics, including politics, magic and even the very nature of good and evil.

The coming of winter always saddened me a bit, because I knew that our long talks would have to be put on hold till the plants once again bloomed. Once autumn rolled around, Laracin's needles would shift from their dark green to a brilliant golden-yellow, and he would become tired and distracted. By the time his larch body began to cast its needles to the ground, his mind would be asleep, joining his body in its winter dormancy.

Eventually the forces of nature continue their ever flowing cycles, winter always gives up its hold on the land and spring can once again bring life to the land. The snow melts, the water is released from its icy prison to flow free once more and the soil warms, all under the gentle caress of the sun's warmth.

The time of Laracin's awakening was soon. Sometime in the next few days, the buds that have lain dormant on his branches through out the harsh winter would once again sprout, releasing to the outside world this year's new shoots, as well as a brand new coat of needles. When that happens, the xylomoprh will once again be free to resume his pondering of the world from the unique perspective of his lonely courtyard.

As I stood sentry beside the silvanic form of my friend, I began to feel the nudge of a presence in the courtyard. The sign I had been waiting for, Laricin was about to wake. The strength of the presence grows, though it never becomes overpowering or intrusive. Finally, like a bubble bursting, the man trapped in the body of a conifer escapes his sleepy bonds and I can once again feel the familiar presence of his consciousness surrounding me.

"Good spring, Dan. It is good to see you again after such a long rest." came a voice that seemed to flow from all around, but undeniably centered around the tall form of the larch tree.

"And it is good to hear you speak again, Laracin. Did you sleep well this winter?"

"Relaxing and peaceful. I rested well, and I even had a most interesting dream. I shall have to tell you of it.... But first, I want to hear of everything that has gone on in my absence."

As I settled in to begin recounting the many stories that had made up life at Metamor Keep through out the winter, I noticed the first signs of green appearing on Laracin's branches. It was official; Spring had come to the Keep.