Storm clouds hung in the sky, dark, thick and heavy. The trees held them back, branches out like arms extended in supplication, leaves palm-up, their lighter undersides shaded by the angry black of swollen cumulous. They leaned into the wind, straining against the buffeting air, gaining strength in resistance. They dug their roots into the ground like toes curled into the dirt. They communicated with one another in a language secret to themselves, born of shared water and oxygen and earth.
Just hold on. Stand tall. Stand strong. Bend. Don’t resist. Move with the onslaught.
Sharp, frozen water, condensed and solidified into knives of moisture shooting down, cutting bark, causing sap to flow like amber blood. Timber groaned and cried out in pain, creaking and cracking along the grains within old and new wood. Limbs broke off and fell on ancient turf. Thunder growled, vibrating the air. Lighting struck out, attacking with electrical precision. Fire engulfed the defenders, their silent screams swallowed by crackling heat.
A mere hour later, the battle field smoldered under a clear, blue sky. Ashes and soot floated where a once majestic forest stood, devastated now by magic driven weather. Death lay upon the world.
Theobald walked among the dead trees, a small smile raising one corner of his lips. This destruction required so little of his power to accomplish. These remains would fertilize a new generation of plants that would know only his domination and influence, producing poisons he would use to take over other beings or used to kill them, if they, too, tried to resist him. He stretched into his satisfied feelings, the joy of his exertions humming along the hairs of his body. He strolled through the wasteland as if he were on a leisurely morning constitutional.
The cuffs of his white wool slacks turned gray. The burnt cells of the trees crawled under the cloth and clung to the skin of his shins. Angry chemicals burrowed their way into the wizard’s DNA, making changes to his most basic being as they went.
Theobald’s skin tingled with tiny needle-like pin pricks, that feeling one got when blood rushed back into a sleeping limb. He stomped his feet, willing the sensation to go away. And it did. His feet grew warm and went numb. His knees trembled and vanished. He looked down to see if they had, in fact, disappeared. Pain stabbed his belly which had blown up like a bloated corpse. He doubled over, retching vile acid, the spittle stretching from his overly moist mouth to the blackened ground. A high-pitched squeal pieced his eardrums, coming from inside his head, causing him to lose his balance. He fell face first into the cinders..
The trees, not extinct in essence, but merely changed in form, rolled Theobald over on his back, crawled along the edges of his body that had contact with the land, engulfed him, covered him like a sarcophagus sealing a mummy for burial in a tomb. He wailed but the sound got lost in the newly sprouting trees from his eyes, throat, lungs, stomach, groin and calves.