Melissa got up and patted the leaves off her journey dress and coat. “Exchange?” She looked around for Lysande’s white raven.
The cherry’s crown swayed. “Some people became trees to learn from us how to become witches. Only if humans experience the land’s magic in their own body, they can control it. When they stopped exchanging with us, true witches died out.”
“Do the people remain trees forever?”
“Only during the first three years. After that, they can decide freely which species they want to belong to.” The cherry shoved its roots through the soil and inched it’s trunk toward the edge of the forest.
Melissa watched it interestedly. “That seems fair to me. Why did the people stop?” Her gaze searched the sky but Lukas was nowhere to be seen.
“I don’t know. But without the exchange, more and more of our own offspring are mute trees. Not that we love them less her than our talented children, but there are only very few Talking Trees left.”
“What a pity that most people won’t care.”
“Unfortunately, people won’t stand a chance without magic. Their decline can’t be stopped if no magic flows back to them. Already, magical creatures are getting stronger and more numerous.” The cherry shoved its trunk another inch forward. “Take the roc colony you have seen as an example. It’s three times the size it was a hundred years ago. And what can people do against an attack of the rocs?
“Not much.” Melissa shuddered as she remembered the giant bird’s attack.
The cherry rustled agreement. “Also the numbers of giant spiders, manticora, giants and trolls are growing, and more often than not, their victims are humans. The dragons hide away in caves instead of sharing their wisdom with the people as was custom. Over their vanities and pond rivalries, even unicorns have forgotten that they were helper and allies of people once. Greenwitch is off balance.”
Melissa shook her head. “All this could be prevented by transforming of a couple of people into trees?”
“If it happens on a regular basis again.”
“Why haven’t you told people?”
“We tried again and again. But even Lysande who pompously calls herself »Mistress of the Talking Trees” did not hear me.”
“Why didn’t you change a couple of humans without asking them?” Melissa looked for Lukas again. It was time to leave.
“If we want to take someone who doesn’t come voluntarily, a king has to agree. That’s our law.”
“Does that mean that the attack of the Dark Warriors is actually the smaller problem for Greenwitch?”
“If the balance between magic and nature isn’t restored, it does not matter who wins the fight. They won’t enjoy it for long.”
Suddenly, Melissa had an idea. Just when she was about to explain, Lukas sailed over the treetops.
“There you are! Why don’t you come?” He settled in the cherry’s crown croaking hoarsely. Confused, he bobbed up and down on the blooming branch. “Wasn’t this tree dead?”
“Not quite.” Melissa extended her hand. “May I introduce you to my new friend? Cherry, this is Lukas, Lysande’s raven. Lukas, this is cherry, a Talking Tree.”
“Ouch! Lysande bit of more than she can chew. I am looking forward to her excuse”, Lukas croaked.
Melissa waved him off. “We have no time for skirmishes. I have an idea how to win the fight against Djarret.” She decided to implement her plan without long explanations. Therefore, she buttoned up her coat, picked up a fallen branch, pulled Korosadja from her pocket and thought, Please, Korosadja, take Lukas, me, King Gregor and all the Talking Trees you can find to Djarret’s magician on the battle-field. She kept her fingers crossed and held her breath.
One heartbeat, nothing happened, the next, she stood beside Djarret’s magician. She raised the branch and smashed it on the back of the magician’s head with all her strength. The branch splintered, and the magician slumped. Hopefully, he will survive that. Melissa breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that the magician still breathed. He was unconscious.
She turned to King Gregor who stood beside her in a circle of Talking Trees. The king seemed confused. He looked around, again and again, stroked his beard, shook his head and mumbled. Melissa gave him no time to ask questions.