[Recommended listening: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQQnxm8FNog&list=OLAK5uy_kd3XarZHq7VOt3BXK4ba_05iHa3iB3s14]
Rain poured down from the roiling mass of thunderheads, bouncing and tumbling off of leaves and branches alike, seeking their new home in thirsty soil and sodden clothing, weighing down wool and linen to cling to flesh. It was all the same to Etienne. The dirt, the roots of the great trees, his pale skin shivering beneath the weeping skies, all were numb before the haze in his mind, locking him into a state of reliving the night before as a series of images; no sound, no touch, merely light and shadow, red and hungry. If someone were to come across him in this state, only the slight steam of his breath would reveal he yet lived.
‘Why do I try so hard, when we can’t even agree on something as simple as upholding a promise?’
‘When have they sacrificed anything for this town, this place sacred to us all? We give, and give, and always bow to their sensibilities, and for what? More loss? More pieces of ourselves torn away?’
His hat, long since sodden, gave up the fight against gravity and slipped off with a squelch of wool and bark meeting at force, sending the small planter dangerously close to tipping over and losing its precious cargo. The sight snapped him from his thoughts, lunging to save the seedlings, and successful at the cost of a face of mud and loam. The scent of rich earth dragged him back to this time, this place, letting the shades of the past evening finally lose their grip and retreat back into memory.
In their place came tears. Of sorrow. Of rage. Of helplessness and frustration and a thousand things and none, all mingling with and becoming lost in the steady rain that refused to quit, determined to accomplish its goal of returning life to the land after such a harsh winter.
Above it all, a distant cry of a hawk, the voice somehow overlaid with the feeling of [Hunger/Hunt/Prey] as it carried across the forest. It seemed his friend was awake, and starving. A sudden snort of laughter at the thought was cut off by a surge of mud meeting sinus, leaving him sputtering and fighting to clear his face of the invader, before turning face to sky, allowing the cool drops to wash away his tears.
Maybe he had convinced them, maybe he had not, and would soon be an oath-breaker. There was nothing more he could do but to *be*, and hope it would be enough. What was the old saying again? Ah yes: “Faire flèche de tout bois.”
“Make your arrows from any wood, my children, as each is as precious as the last, and you never know which will feed you and which will feed the forest.”