"You know what is to be done, now go and do it!"
The higher initiates around us began to murmur and sing. The Mother passed around a wooden cup of the finest workmanship and we all partook of the Special Brew(3) contained therein. The murmuring grew louder and began to sound like the wind passing through the Forest. And so it was, in remembrance of the Old Agreements made between the Winds and the Trees(4). The wind grew louder and stronger until it sounded like a mighty Storm and at last it grew strong enough to blow my soul from my body(5). Around and around it went, spinning through the air on its mighty journey.
Whistling through the Trees, I sped on the great winds until I reached the place I sought. The winds changed now, becoming softer and more gentle as the murmuring died down to a gentle whisper(6), the winds slowly circled the spot and I followed on them, spiralling into the centre.
We saw what had happened there. The Sacred Groves had been attacked and twisted, made into cruel perversions of what they had been. Pain Spirits and ghosts had been pinned to the wood and bound into the trees. Evil Ones lurked nearby and decided to Pounce. They came with their biting ways and strange songs.
I fought them, spinning on the wind to escape their clutches, one by one throwing them away from me, but there were too many for me. I cried out for help and felt the Others coming on the winds as they grew stronger and louder as they approached. First to come were the Blossoms(7) which fell on the Evil Ones and covered them with their gentle embrace. Many Evil Ones were captured and enslaved. Next came the Seeds, borne like myself on the mighty wind. They struck the Evil Ones and wrestled with them. Finally came help from an unexpected corner as faint gossamer webs drifted in on the winds and covered the remaining Evil Ones - even the Spider Folk(8) had come to help us.
One of the Evil Ones produced a Terror - a Great Fire which threatened to engulf and consume us, but the Mother had prepared a bowl of cool water which she threw over us for protection(9). Another called the White Lady against us but we had all fought with her before(10) and the Mother stepped between us and took the Lady into her flesh. Finally, all the Evil Ones were destroyed or bound. The Spiders took many back with them, wrapped in their webs of fatal beauty. We bound some into seeds and gourds which we had prepared beforehand, others we merely destroyed.
The Mother joined us, drifting like old leaves on the wind, until she could reach into the Grove and speak to its bound Mother. Together they unbent and untwisted the Perversions that had been made. We released the Pain tied into our brethren and freed the ghosts so they could return to the Earth where they belonged.
Finally, the winds picked up and blew us back to where we began, in the Circle of Trees. Some of the initiates lay dead, their breath blown from them in our support(11). Others lay in Pain, having succumbed to the attacks us. Mostly, however, they were whole and we had succeeded. Thanks and Glory to Aldrya our Mother.
(2) A Dryad, serving as Aldrya for this Ritual.
(3)Probably some drug to loosen the ties of the soul to the body.
(4)There is a tale of how the Storms once howled through the Forests, wreaking and breaking all which stood in their way. Many trees stood firm and strong but were uprooted. Finally, one Tree, quicker and more flexible than the rest, spoke to the Winds and made a bargain - he and his kind would open their branches and allow the winds through if the winds promised not to blow them down. The Winds agreed and were given safe passage through the Forest. Occasionally, an old tree will forget this and will try to stop the passage of the Winds and will be destroyed in the Storm.
(5)In return, the Winds agreed to bear the seeds and blossoms of the trees to wherever they wanted to go. Elven Shamans use this to discorporate, sending their souls on the winds.
(6)Were the Elves controlling the Winds or were they merely eflecting what the winds were doing? Who can say?
(7)More Shamans appearing, blown on the Winds.
(8)Presumably from the Spider Woods - they had a similar tale of the Winds and the Trees.
(9)These were obviously well-prepared Elves.
(10)The White Lady is the opponent to the Aldryan Shamans (the equivalent of Bad Man). The Dryad took her disease into her tree and fought her there.
(11)Perhaps they blew too hard, or the Winds sucked the breath from them. Who can say?