As Goes the Way of Immortality
There was once a tree that bled a sap so pure that one taste could offer the drinker immortality.
The secret was bound by the creatures of the forest within which the tree dwelled for a long time. Most of the creatures within the forest boundaries had tasted from the tree, and so led their happy lives in routine simplicity, welcoming season after season. Order was kept by the great stag of the forest, who ruled with justice and mercy. But a chance sighting of the forest king by a wayward hunter overturned this delicate balance. For by word of mouth passing from hunter to hunter, news of so wondrous a creature spread throughout all the realms.
Many came looking for the stag, though few could find him. But those who caught the barest glimpse by the height of moonlight—for it was then that he was most visible—kept the word of his existence alive. As year turned to century, and still the stag lived on, rumor spread of a forest of immortal creatures. And as searchers on the quest for immortality and hunters alike grew braver and ventured further, the day came that the powers of the tree’s sap became known.
Then did all the questers come from all the noble lands, drawing the sap from the tree by plunging their knives between creases of bark. Until the day came when too many wounds had been inflicted, too many stabs wrought, and the tree lay weeping its sap upon the ground, knowing it was spilling all that was left.
The stag came then, and laid his head against the fading tree, for he too was dying—his life blood, and all who had tasted of the tree’s sap, were tied to the life of the tree itself. Each took to find a companion, for they could feel their lives begin to wane.
Thus, it was that not a single forest creature died alone.