Here is a short snippet from Book 3: Crow – Vindication. Steven is seen as a terrifying monster by a vast alien community called the Cooperative. There is a rift forming between those worlds that are calling for his immediate termination, and the few that have allied with him. Within this environment, Steven must find a way to prove his benevolent intentions, and to clear his life-mate who had been banished because of her relationship with him.
Raising the Tree
An Ordan arrived with a gatekeeper to help remove the tree so repairs could be made to the other damaged tree houses. Steven stepped out of his way as the diminutive person walked up to the tree and put his hands on it. He was stocky but just barely stood higher than Steven’s waist. Steven was amazed that this person would be moving such a massive tree. He was even more amazed at just how close the Ordan looked to what Steven envisioned a dwarf looking. Squat, thick and bearded. But Sirel had informed him that just as she was a force to deal with in spite of her size, so were they.
“What a waste,” the Ordan said, shaking his head.
Steven nodded, caressing the tree with his hand. “It’s still alive.” He could feel the tree’s life throbbing as it tried to heal itself.
The Ordan looked at him critically. “You’re Steven.”
Steven looked at Lohet then back at the Ordan. Anonymity was not a luxury Steven would have in the Cooperative. It made him a little uncomfortable. He was accustomed to being a nobody, invisible. Here, the opposite was the case. Everyone knew who he was and he knew but a handful of people. “Yes. Yes I am.”
“Zac’te.” the Ordan said simply.
Steven reached out to give the customary Elvish greeting but Zac’te held up his hand, stopping him. “Nope. I don’t know if anyone told you, but the Ordan don’t do the touchy feely stuff.”
Steven pulled his hand back, glancing briefly at Enra as he walked up then back at the Ordan. “Uhm, well. It is nice to meet you.”
Zac’te regarded him coolly. “Word is that you did this. Had a little incident.” He looked at the fissures in the ground. “It sure looks like it.”
Steven frowned. “What word? Everyone here knows I didn’t do this.”
“Bias. It’s natural.” Zac’te looked at the tree, rapping it with his knuckles. “I don’t think they believe you didn’t do it as much as you’d like them to, though.”
Steven flushed with frustration and gave Lohet a look as the Ordan walked down the length of the tree. He turned and looked at Enra. “Is that what people really think? That I did this?”
“The event was very similar to an incident, Steven. And the timing lends to suspicion.” Lohet said.
“Lohet, you know, right?” Steven said, grabbing his friend’s arm.
Lohet nodded. “I was watching you. You are not the source. But I can be accused of bias too.”
Steven shook his head. “This isn’t right, Lohet. I showed Penipe. I can show any of you if Penipe hasn’t already. How many people know about this?”
Lohet looked at him then at the Ordan as he started lifting the tree. “Most of the Cooperative if they were paying attention.”
“So everyone is thinking I’m going around having incidents?” Steven asked, exasperated. “I haven’t had one since I found out what I was. Not a single one!” He looked at the tree, and recalled the fallen temple and Orin’s accusation. “How could I destroy so much beauty? Cause so much harm? It would kill me, Lohet!”
“I know that, Steven.” Lohet put his hand on Steven’s shoulder.
“We know that.” Enra interjected.
Steven looked at him and grabbed his arm. “I appreciate that, Enra. I truly do.”
Enra grabbed his arm back. He had a very serious look. “We know that all is not what it seems, Steven. You are not alone.”
Steven winced, taking a step as he got dizzy. “Wait!” He put his hands out.
Zac’te looked at him, with the tree floating a few feet off the ground. He was about to rip its roots out. Steven touched the tree, then looked at Zac’te. “It wants to live. It’s still alive.”
Zac’te shrugged. “Not for long.”
Steven grimaced as the tree lifted more. “No! Please!” He looked around. Was he the only one seeing what he saw?
“The tree must be removed, Steven. It cannot be restored. None of us can do anything that big.” Enra said, putting his hand on Steven’s shoulder. He jerked back, looking at Steven with wide eyes as he held his hand.
Steven glanced at him then looked at Zac’te, suddenly knowing what to do or at least try. “Can you rotate the tree back upright?”
Zac’te looked at Enra. Enra just stared, gaping at Steven. Zac’te shrugged. “Sure.”
The tree groaned as it started to go back upright. Steven kept his hand on the trunk. Shoots were sprouting from it, wrapping around Steven’s arm. Finally it was standing straight up. Steven looked up into the canopy. The tree houses were in shambles. But the canopy was mostly intact. He closed his eyes and concentrated. The life force of the tree was tremendous. In his closed eyes, he saw that it glowed. He could see the other trees reaching out to it through the ground. The damaged root system was glaringly apparent to him. But it wanted to be healed. The forest wanted it back. Steven remembered the lessons with Asherah. He remembered the living chair in the dining chamber. He breathed out slowly as he released his own energy into the tree. It was like opening a valve. Vastly more energy than he had started rushing in and Steven gasped at the enormity of it. It was like he was a tiny needle poking a vast balloon and now it was just flowing out full force.
The ground shuddered beneath their feet and the tree likewise shuddered. Suddenly the rips in the soil were yanked back together as if being zipped. Steven could see new roots emerging to replace the broken roots. They plunged into the surrounding soil, pushing and pulling the crevices shut as they expanded. The taproot healed and sent out new laterals deeper down, adding more structural support to the tree. Then the roots near the surface met those of the other trees. Steven could feel the life in the soil joining them together as the tree seemed to meld into the forest network and the energies in it equalized. The tree rotated a little as it’s old roots came back into alignment and new roots pushed on it.
Up overhead the branches had become animated, whipping around as they healed. Broken branches were replaced and a rain of the old shattered bark and wood came down on them as they stood there at the base of the massive tree. Steven felt the entire tree trembling as life flowed through it. He gaped as he watched it from behind his eyelids. He wasn’t actively controlling it, but allowing it to restore itself unfettered by time or injury.
Quite abruptly, he sensed a nearing of completion of the healing. He pulled back on the flow of energy, squeezing the mental valve shut until all was quiet again. The tree continued healing and Steven shivered suddenly. “Let go, Zac’te.”
Zac’te stood there, his mouth open. He had already let go when he felt the pressure disappear. The tree was standing on its own and had been for several minutes. Enra reached out and touched it, then pulled back sharply, and looked at Steven with eyes filled with wonder. The same shock he got from Steven he also got from the tree as it used up the last of the surplus energy Steven had lent it.
Steven turned his attention upwards, sending the healing up the trunk to the living branches used to build the tree houses and all the way to the top of the tree. Everything was still moving, growing, healing as the fine details were attended to. “It’s so beautiful, Enra. Look at it.”
Enra shook his head. “It’s too much for me to look at.”
Steven opened his eyes and looked at him. “I thought this was normal for us.”
“Yes, it is. But this…” he looked up at the tree shaking his head. “…we can handle a cup of water. Steven, you are handling an ocean.”
Steven opened his mouth then closed it. The tree was finally reaching an equilibrium and Steven relaxed. The rest of the forest had restored its connection to the tree, welcoming it back. Steven was amazed how the entire forest formed what was basically a common root system. He pulled back and suddenly fell down to his knees. Enra rushed to him and lifted him up. “Whew. Got dizzy there.” Steven said, grinning sheepishly as he tried to get back to his feet.
More Elves started coming out of the forest, looking up at the tree. Many had started climbing up into the tree already. Steven could see smaller branches starting to move and grow as the Elves used their own abilities to begin repairing the living tree houses and reconnecting the deck to the other trees. Tor’eng jumped out of a tree and ran up to them. He looked up at his family tree then reached out to touch it. He looked at Steven. “You just saved thousands of years of memories.”
Steven waved, grinning. “Glad to help.” He was feeling a bit loopy and blinked dizziness away.
Tor’eng walked up to him and embraced him. “Thank you.”
Steven grabbed his arms and looked at him, serious again. “Tor’eng, I couldn’t have done this without Asherah.” He looked at Enra. “The same as she couldn’t have gated without me.” He looked up into the canopy. “My life-mate is being punished because of her bond with a deviant, but I’m being rewarded because of my bond to her.”
Book 3: Crow – Vindication is still under revision and editing, however Book 1: Crow – The Awakening is available at…