- Character Bashing
- Dark Themes
- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Discussion-Domestic Abuse
- Discussion-Sexual Abuse
- Hate Crimes
- Fix It
Section Two: A Great Big Tree
Stiles left school in his Jeep as soon as the final bell rang and headed toward the memorial site. He felt like a bit of a dick but he was glad Scott had detention. It gave Stiles an extra half hour or so to get out into the Preserve and find the Nemeton since he didn’t have to swing by Scott’s house to drop him off. And there was no way Stiles was going to bring Scott along on this magical mystery tour to a magical tree that wasn’t exactly actually a tree but maybe was.
This time there were no mysterious visitors to the memorial when he parked and the weather was sunny enough. There were clouds but they weren’t the kind that made rain. Then ground as he hiked into the Preserve, following Peter’s directions and a vague tugging sensation in his own chest, was soggy and the mud was deep in some places. There was no real path to follow, just his compass app on his phone and the odd tug. By the time he reached the clearing Peter had described to him, his hiking boots were caked with mud and detritus from the forest floor, his lower pant leg was splattered with it from walking though and it splashing up, and it had only been a twelve minute hike.
The mystical tree thing looked pretty normal, just abnormally large compared to the other trees nearby. It looked to be over a hundred feet tall and Stiles estimated its diameter to be around seventeen feet. It was huge and definitely the tree Peter had described.
Stiles approached and walked around to the far side, drawn by something, though he wasn’t sure what. He thought it could be the tree itself, because according to his sources, it wasn’t really an actual tree. It took the form of one. It behaved like one much of the time. But it was something other.
On the far side of the tree, Stiles found the root cellar Peter had discussed with him. With a shrug, Stiles decided he had no other ideas and descended to the space beneath the towering tree.
Once inside, Stiles realized the root cellar didn’t look like a space under the roots of a giant tree. For one, it had a floor and walls. They appeared to be made of a light colored unstained wood but it did not look natural. Especially as they seemed to provide light to the room without a source of it to be seen. And looking up, Stiles saw a flat ceiling, no sign of the tree’s interior trunk or root structure.
Other than the walls, floor and ceiling, the room was nearly empty. The only thing that was anamoulos was a strange collection of sort of branches on the far side of the room that kind of looked like they were growing out of a blank wall. It was bizarre and frankly a bit disturbing. Stiles got the inappropriate urge to laugh as he thought he felt like he was in a weird modern art museum where people would look at the thing and talk about it being a comment on the demise of nature as man’s technology increased or something pretentious like that.
As Stiles got closer to the only thing in the room he noticed something he had missed from further away. There was something sort of cradled in the middle of the branches. They were kind of weaved around it. It was a glass jar with a lid. Just a plain unlabeled jar, maybe once used or made to be used for canning fruits or something.
Stiles got closer and tried to see inside the jar though the screen on wood. He put one eye up to a break in the overlapping branches and peered into the jar. He couldn’t see anything.
Stiles, his curiosity overcoming common sense, poked a finger between the branches and tapped on the jar. His nail made a clinking noise as it met resistance, sounding like a finger tapping on a juice glass. It was really there and it seemed to be empty. The only thing in this entire room and it was a bust.
Stiles shrugged and moved to the center of the room, putting the little sculpture to his right side and the opening to the outside to his left. Part of Stiles really wanted to be facing the archway out but that would put the branches and jar at his unwatched back and the thought gave him the creeps. Stiles sat on the wooden floor, cross legged and took out a small candle for his backpack. It was a little white scentless candle in a glass jar. He lit it with care and set it in front of him flat on the floor before slipping the lighter back into his pocket.
Stiles breathed in, held it for a five count, and breathed out for a five count. He repeated this five times and then stared at the candle flame as he relaxed his body and let his mind follow as he relaxed into a state of deep meditation. This state had become commonplace to him since his powers had activated with the Bite. He didn’t normally go this deep but felt this situation more than called for it.
As his mind began letting go of its worries and burdens, the walls and floor around him lightened from a pale wood to a bright white color. The candle flame became the only spot of color in the entirely white room.
Stiles rose to his feet and took a step towards where the archway to the Preserve had once been. The wall was blank now. He glanced back to the candle and saw his body sitting there in his meditative pose, eyes locked on the flame. He nodded, a feeling confirmed and turned his astral form towards the branches curled around the jar. As he got closer, the branches retreated into the wall as if being pulled by an unseen hand. By the time Stiles reached the once cage, only two branches remained and they were underneath the jar, supporting its weight.
Stiles reached out a hand but before he could touch the glass once more, the lid rose off of the jar and the glass cracked, spider-webbing, first one spot, then another, then another, like a mirror struck repeatedly by a fist.
After two more ‘hits’ the jar shattered and the glass disappeared as it fell past the branches that had once held it. The lid floated down to rest on the branches and Stiles reached for it.
As his astral hand grasped it, the lid morphed into a flower and then a fern and then four more different flowers. As Stiles brought to his face to smell, it changed into a bowl filled with oil, then the oil evaporated and the bowl lengthened until it was a stick of incense. Before Stiles could even change his grip, the stick shortened and turned white and chalky, and then seemed to melt into a pin with blood on the tip. As Stiles reached out to replace it on the branches, the pin transformed into a crown of branches woven together and the pin it shrank rapidly and changed color. In the end, Stiles was holding a silverfish bracelet in his hand which was inscribed with runes.
Stiles reached out to place the bracelet on the branch shelf but it had disappeared. Stiles took an unneeded deep breath and bent it out the bracelet on the floor when he overbalanced and fell backward, impacting his own body.
Stiles blinked as the candle flame flickered out and looked around. The room was the same light wood and the arch to his right led outside. Glancing to his right, the branch cage was gone, as was the glass jar. Stiles sighed and reached out to pick up his candle but stopped in shock as he saw it was now sitting inside the silverish bracelet. After a few minutes contemplation, he shrugged and put it and the candle in his bag before leaving empty root cellar.
It was only when he got back to his Jeep that Stiles realized that he had sat down to meditate with the exit arch on his left, not his right.