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        “Elder, will the Divine Tree really help us?”

        “Mother Nature has always helped and cared for us!” The old Druid knocked his disciple on the head with his cane. “How dare you forget this! Hmpf! Why did I even bother bringing you here to the Divine Woodland?”

        “I mean...will it help us ‘more’...” The Druid’s disciple rubbed his sore head. “The Divine Tree has always been opposing Demons’ corruption. Flowers, grass, beasts, dragons, Xian, elves — all of them are seeking help from the Divine Tree. Already with such a heavy burden on its shoulders, will it still be able to help us?”

        “Child, did I give up on you just because I’m old? No. I kept nagging you to learn the principle of nature.” The disciple had more questions, but was halted by the old man. A breeze blew by, prompting the two’s fondness for entering the forest against the wind. The old Druid led his disciple up an inclined tree trunk, and they entered a dark-green passageway through a leaf curtain. Twigs and leaves interlaced into webs; the swaying foliages seemed to be waving at them. The old Druid climbed on a web and murmured a spell, prompting the vines to grow and lift them. This being his first time to the Woodland, the disciple proceeded in awe. Every wiggle of the soft leaf amazed him; and the smell of vegetation vitalized him. What he did not know was that if there had been even the slightest shred of evil within him, the leaves would turn into sharp blades; the scent would become poisonous gas; and the web would open, flinging him onto the sharp rock below...

        Suddenly, they sensed a feeling as if their arrival was noticed, and they were now being asked the reason for their visit. The two finally reached the exit of the passageway. They stood on a broad branch and saw the trunk of the Divine Tree, so large it appeared like a cliff. The sea of leaves blocked out almost every ray of sunlight. The old Druid slowly walked with his disciple to a platform made of branches. Numerous moss-covered animal skeletons encircled a tall tree-skinned figure at the center. The female tree figure was sitting on her knees, an aged ape in her arms. The old Druid sentimentally knelt in worship to the female.

        “This is Cybele, incarnation of the Divine Tree. She is the ear of all creatures, and the witness of all time. You think she is not moving, but actually she is just moving very slowly. She also talks; yet her voice is soft and lengthy like the sound of wind. Beasts seek help from her. She embraces them in return, and shares the earth’s power. The power of Mother Nature protects all creation; and all creation use this power to protect the earth.”

        The old Druid held the aged ape in his arms as he asked his disciple to hand him a piece of fruit. He bit the fruit from the disciple’s hand and pre-chewed it before feeding it to the ape. “Thank you for beckoning me.” The old Druid handed the ape to his disciple. It was not until now did the disciple witness the ape’s wasted legs; it seemed to be the result of continued kneeling. The old Druid crawled into the embrace of the tree figure: “Child, return. I will stay here and pray to the Divine Tree from now on.”

        Attempting to dissuade the old Druid, the disciple wanted to put down the ape; but to his surprise, it had already died a tranquil death. The smile on its face touched the disciple. He then realized all the skeletons around were once animals which had prayed to Cybele.

        “In thirty years, or maybe fifty, Cybele will answer my prayer, bringing a silver lining to the chaotic earth. By then, you return here to Cybele, embrace my dead shell, and pray to the Divine Tree for all creation.”

        The disciple laid the ape down on the platform while the old Druid sat in Cybele’s embrace. Just then, a breeze blew by; sound of the wind lingered in the disciple’s heart. He bowed to the tree figure: “Elder, Cybele, I will return. I hereby vow to you, in the name of the earth which nurtures all!”

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