They told me not to come here. This tree grows through the Veil, and its roots pierce the very fabric of our world. There are few places like this now. They are forbidden. In times long past our kind used these places to cross the Veil to the other side, make contact with humans and others who used to live there. They were much more common, and the Veil had been thinner in many different places, so you could look to the other side. But the times have been different, many things have been different. We were different, too.
There had been stories of courtships, of children born of love between our kind and humans. There had also been stories of fighting, and murder, and children born from unwilling mothers. And stories, usually told in secret, that our kind and humankind were one people once, and this is the reason why we are still drawn to the other side of the Veil. But those are forbidden, too.
There are other reasons for our elders to forbid us to go through the Veil. I know it now. But I have been young, and foolish, and full of dreams and moonlight, and I have disregarded all of them.
I have been coming here for a long time, to dream, to think and to watch those who live on the other side. I have made mistakes in the past. I have shown myself sometimes, by accident and by will. Among the humans, this stretch of wood is considered strange. Haunted. There had been a house here, a long time ago. Nobody lived here for ages and the house fell apart and was reclaimed by the woods. There hasn’t been much to see for me. But then a young human bought the land where the house had been, and settled there. He didn’t see me, he didn’t look for me. I was content with watching. He lived in a camp, and played music, and I admit, sometimes I sang along with his tunes, and he might have heard my voice in the rustling leaves. I have become careless after such a long time of solitude. Craving for distractions.
He took a woman to his camp after a time, and she planted flowers and saplings on the land where the house once stood. I watched over them, and one time I could not resist, and I walked among them and touched their leaves, and left traces of moonlight on the ground.
I think that she became aware of my presence then. She didn’t look for me, but sometimes she paused and thought and watched the moonlight coming through the trees. She made carvings of wood, and the most beautiful ones came from wood that had been touched by the moonlight and the mist that weaved through the forest before the sun rose.
I made mistakes again, when their child was born.
It stumbled naked on the moss, and danced over tree roots, and laughed about speckles of sunlight on the bark of my tree. It chased squirrels and mice and birds and made calls like an owl.
For my kind, time passes differently. When we look through the Veil, we rarely manage to see everything that happens in the correct order. It is rather a series of events, one after the other, like beads on a string.
And I have a life of my own, and responsibilities of my own, and I don’t come to the tree everyday.
The child grew, and became a creature of the forest. She walked a thin line, weaving in and out of my world. She knew I was watching her. I swear she could see my face among the branches, my reflection in the waters of the pond. She could hear my breath, no matter how I tried to conceal my presence.
I mentioned children born of the union of our kind and humans. They have some of the abilities that our kind has, and sometimes those surface in their bloodline, many generations after their lifetime. And maybe the red haired child had an ancestor of mixed blood. It is entirely possible, and it made sense for me. I felt drawn to her. Her laughter woke me from my dreaming. The songs she sang were woven into my very soul. Over time, she created a sanctuary between the roots of our tree, as I came to think of it. She kept various things there, sacred to her, and to me, because my gifts to her were among those. Sometimes she came to our tree crying, looking for consolation, and I gave it to her. She heard my whisper on the breeze that danced on the leaves. She saw my shadow on the mighty trunk. She knew me well, better than most of my own kind.
And in my foolishness, driven by loneliness and need for companionship, as I have not found such among my own kind, I promised her to protect her, and help her, and keep her safe, because I could not stand her tears, and her pain, echoing through the Veil and touching me in my very heart.
One day, another child came to our tree, and stomped upon our treasures, and broke our delicate carvings, and threw dirt on it. He was afraid of the tree, and of the owl that nested there, and he did not want to do what he was doing, but he was more afraid of the boy that bid him to do it.
I was angry, and I knew my red haired girl was angry too. She was not there at the time, but later, her voice resonated through the deep roots, and she cursed the boy responsible threefold. I could hear her, because deep down, all trees are connected and all forests are one forest on my side of the Veil.
I was foolish, and angry, and in love, I think, not with her but with what she could have been, if she grew up with our kind, if she would have been one of us, if she could look me in my face and not be afraid, and I had made that foolish promise to protect her, to which I had no right, and I reached out and took something from the boy.
Every living being, no matter what side of the Veil, is connected to others, with something that we have no word for. When we talk about it – and we almost never do, because it is a thing that is, we call it spirit roots. And when you tear it apart, separate a being from the world fabric, it withers and dies just like a tree would if you would sever it’s roots.
And so I tore at the boy, stronger than I should have, stronger than I wanted to, and he fell and screamed and all color fled from his face. Terrified of what I have done, I fled to my own side of the Veil.
I didn’t go to the tree for a while, and I did not look for the red haired girl, because I was scared of myself, more than I have ever been, and of the anger that took roots deep inside me, and the love I felt for her, for what she would become. I knew I had done forbidden things, and running away and trying to forget seemed the only thing that I could manage to do at the time.