A short epic

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Sometimes a warm evening breeze from distant seas wafted over the land and stole easily, unhindered and unchallenged through its deep valleys and dark glens. The towering grey rock mountains alone would rebuff this gentle invader but in pale, shifting patches of moonlight on their flanks, the dark woods would whisper as the trees leaned close and sighed in sorrow to one another. They wistfully spoke and dreamed of places far off in time and history where axe and saw were unknown and where forests feared no man's fire. But the smell of the sea was borne on these breezes and the heart of the woods was made sad.

For it was across the seas that the men of the land now sought to steal the silver and plunder the gold of other kingdoms. But to embark upon these greedy, grim raids to grasp the wealth of the lives of other little men, they had need of weapons and shields and great warships. And for these, the ancient forests would pay in trunk and bough and branch.

For every fire-forged sword and every proud and terrible boat and every spear shaft and shield, the forest was made to surrender its proud living wood. To grim faced and war-eager lords who would stalk the sea-road for silver and gold, the life of the woods was of little account. "Let the wolves and the bears find another home!" they said and turned their thoughts to their great raiding plans and to the waiting treasures across the sea.

Mighty timbers and trunks were hewn down and hauled free from their standing places of a hundred years or more. The stout wood was dragged off and cut and craftily fashioned into sleek and fearful warships with grinning dragon heads. Wood-hungry fire ovens were kindled and metalworking was begun to shape swords, battle-axes and helms in the heat of a hundred logs each.

The remaining trees sighed and groaned in the wind from the sea and their deepest roots wept into the earth and into the buried rock where, undreamed of by the sweating and toiling boat-building warriors above, and undiscovered even still by the glinting rays of the daytime sun, lay secret silver veins and gold of untold worth.

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