Genii Locorum are spirits that protect places. Their homes can be found in the woods, lakes, rivers, mountains, plains, and deserts. They keep watch over their charges, protecting all that dwell within. Time has no meaning for these Spirits other than the Cycle of Seasons.  Time is a constant Cycle of Seasons, and the Spirits measure passing of time only by these signs. How many times the cycles occur does not matter to beings that exist in eons.

These Spirits are the awareness you have when you walk in places of nature. If you enter in peace, you feel welcome. Any other emotional state is reflected in kind. These Spirits protect all that wander within the boundaries of their domain. And if something wanders in that threatens, the Spirits have ways to remove the threat.

This place is in the New World. Our Spirit protects an area in the mountains of northern New York State. The Spirit rests in a cave that overlooks a large valley nestled in a stretch of wilderness. The area is the home to herds of creatures that walk on four legs and sky creatures that live in the trees. And there are small creatures of water in the river that divides the valley. The river also provides water for the four legs that called the valley home.

Early in the valley's history, there were what this Spirit calls Two Legs.  They were more intelligent than the four legs and made things like fire and complex shelters. They would hunt and gather food, living for a while on the land.  They also did something the Spirit especially liked - they sang. Not like the sky creatures would sing, which was pleasing to the Spirit. The Two Legs had their own song, and the Spirit would listen.

The Two Legs would spend time in the valley, taking only what they needed. In return, they would sing at the end of each Cycle of Light into Dark. The Spirit interpreted this as an offering for what they took.

They would move on before the Season of Cold. They would leave no trace they had been there. But the Spirit would remember their songs. To the Spirit, these were a different kind of herd passing through its protected area. They made a gift of song for their use of the land and the Spirit allowed them to stay as they needed. They visited the valley for many Cycles of Seasons, till they finally came no more.

Many Cycles of Seasons passed, and the Two Legs did not return.  Then a new kind of Two Legs arrived. The most noticeable difference was these new Two Legs were very pale. At first there were a few, who hunted, took what they needed and left. The Spirit allowed them to come and go as they would.

Then came the pale Two Legs who took four legs for their skins and left the rest to waste. This made the Spirit angry. To show displeasure, the Spirit sent terrible storms and harsh weather to chase these Two Legs away. They did not come back.  And the Spirit kept watch.

More cycles passed and an occasional Two Legs would wander through the valley.  Sometimes they stopped overnight and then moved on. The Spirit watched them carefully, to make sure they did no harm and did not stay.

Then the first Two Legs came that stayed. The Two Legs built a small shelter and stayed for the warm season. It only used what it needed. It cut down some trees during the season before the cold and built a larger shelter. It stayed through the cold season. The Spirit watched. This Two Legs respected the valley. The Spirit allowed it to stay. 

Then a few more Two Legs came and set up more shelters. In and around the valley, these Two Legs lived with the land. The areas they cleared of trees they planted with food. They shared that food with the four legs and the sky creatures. They were peaceful, and the Spirit allowed them to stay for many Cycles of Seasons.

Then one season they abandoned their shelters. The Two Legs left, taking what they could with them. Shortly thereafter, another kind of Two Legs showed up. These were groups of Two Legs wandering the valley and mountains. One would hold a branch, the other would walk a distance and look through something atop three branches. They were odd, but they did not stay long.

Then they came. The Two Legs and metal crawlers that made a horrible noise. The metal crawlers tore down the shelters. Then started digging up the valley. The metal crawlers tore down the trees. The Spirit cried out in pain as it felt the trees ripped from the ground. Before the Spirit could fathom what to do, the metal crawlers had stripped the valley. Other metal crawlers were busy stacking huge smooth stones at one end of the valley.

The Spirit was afraid and outraged. The Spirit called up fierce storms for many Cycles of Light into Dark. It rained so hard the valley started flooding. The Spirit sent every kind of weather it could to get the Two Legs and the metal crawlers to leave, but they continued in whatever kind of weather the Spirit sent. The metal crawlers were not hampered by the weather, nor did it care about the storms or the rising water. They continued to destroy the valley and to place the stones. The stone wall they created held back the rain, causing the river to overflow. Water began to fill the valley. The stone wall was a dam, but not like the one the four legs made with trees and mud to create a home. This was so much bigger, and it brought death to the valley. The trees were gone. The water rose up the sides of the mountains and chased out whatever creatures could run. Those that could not escape were drowned.

The destruction and death devasted the Spirit. For all it could do, it could not stop the Two Legs and metal crawlers. They destroyed the beautiful valley that had existed for thousands of Cycles of Seasons. In a few short cycles, it was all gone. It went fast, too fast for a being that moved in decades. There was nothing the Spirit could do to protect the valley. The mountains were now standing in water. Many four legs had died. And there was no place for the sky creatures to rest or make their shelters. The Spirit felt powerless. It had failed as it could not protect the valley. 

The Spirit moved up the mountain to the cave to hide. It cried in desperation. The winds carried its howls to all corners of the now flooded valley and across the mountains. The sky was always overcast, and it rained with the Spirit’s tears. And when it could cry no more, it slept.

Cycles passed. Then came Two Legs exploring the mountains and they unexpectedly invaded the Spirit’s cave. They disturbed the Spirit’s already uneasy sleep. It growled, and the mountains rumbled. The Two Legs ran.  The Spirit was awake. It was offended and angry. It ventured out of the cave. 

Looking down, the valley was now all water. There were Two Legs on the water in carved out trees. There were Two Legs wandering the mountains, leaving behind smelly waste. They were on the shoreline, burning the remains of the trees. There were shelters in which they defecated. It smelled and leached into the water. The Spirit laughed; they were poisoning themselves. But at the same time, they were poisoning what remained of the valley.

The Spirit was now infuriated. It summoned all its strength and power. It called the most powerful winds. It called the darkest clouds and set upon the valley a storm like no other storm ever known. The scared Two Legs tried to run. Those on the lake drowned as they tried to swim to shore. The lake rose over the stone dam the Two Legs built. Within hours water came barreling down the river that fed the lake. Debris in the rolling water ran across the lake on waves, crashing into the dam. The dam cracked but did not fall.

Many Two Legs died. The storm had come out of nowhere, spreading death and destruction as it came. The Two Legs that survived ran scared. The Spirit enjoyed the destruction and chaos.

A season passed and the Two Legs tried to return. The Spirit called another large storm. The Two Legs tried to run. The winds and rain were so strong that heavy debris rolled down the stripped mountains, killing the Two Legs and burying them so there was no trace they were ever there.

The Two Legs did not come as often to the valley anymore.

Two Legs occasionally dared to enter the valley. There are always those who feel they can do as they please.  The Spirit created some of the harshest cold seasons the Two Legs had ever experienced. Any Two Legs who ventured into the valley during the cold seasons died from exposure. 

This led to flooding in the season of melting, the likes of which the Two Legs had never experienced. It chased away the Two Legs that did not drown.  The storms turned the landscape even more rugged. Water had dissolved the soil. Stone and earth rampaged down the mountains, making it difficult to traverse the now flooded valley.

The Spirit was not going to tolerate any Two Legs in the valley. Two Legs had started a fire. The Spirit then sent high winds which spread the fire to the remains of the forest. It burned for many Cycles of Light into Dark.

When the fire was out and the smoke cleared, the valley was naked and unrecognizable. The fire destroyed whatever trees were left, from the lakeshore on up the mountains. The burnt brush left black skeletons. The four legs abandoned the valley. The fires had destroyed all. The Spirit made sure the Two Legs would not come back. But the price it paid was the death of the mountains and the valley.

The Spirit wept. It had exhausted the Spirit to chase the Two Legs away. The valley it knew, loved and protected no longer existed. It had suffered floods and fire and was no more. The valley had lost its heart.

The Spirit retreated to its cave. It had totally and completely failed. It howled in despair. It shook the valley in anger. It cried from heartbreak. It screamed in anguish.  The Spirit’s voice echoed over the lake and across the mountains.  It haunted many seasons with its grief.

When it could feel no more, it collapsed in the cave and fell into a deep sleep.

The next time the Spirit woke it was because it heard song in its dreams.  The Spirit had not heard song since the sky creatures left. This was a song, but not sky creature song. This was like the song of the Old Two Legs, but not the same. Curious, the Spirit looked out of its cave and saw a Two Legs on the shore of the lake. Anger filled the Spirit for what had been done to its beloved valley. It poised to strike.

But the song. The Spirit could not help but listen. It never understood what the Two Legs songs meant, but it could feel the emotions in the melody. This Two Legs sang sweet and soothing. The Spirit hesitated. Captivated by the song, it watched as the Two Legs put something on the ground.  When the song finished, Two Legs turned and walked into the woods, away from the lake.

The Spirit had paused in the moment and now the Two Legs was gone.  The song had captured the Spirit's empty heart and had filled it for an instant with the small joy of song. The Spirit sat for a long time outside the cave to think about this.

The Spirit looked around the valley. It was late in the cold season, early in the cycle of growing. Nothing was yet alive. It wondered if anything had survived. It wondered how many Cycles of Seasons had come and gone since it had destroyed the valley.

It was curious about what the Two Legs left behind. It dropped down to the shore of the lake to see. The fruit was red. A furry gray four legs ran over to it and started eating. It appeared to be enjoying it. The Spirit hovered over the fruit and inhaled its essence. It was a good thing. A couple of other furry gray four legs ran over, grabbed the fruits and took off. It surprised the Spirit that there were any four legs left, but it seems the fruit was feeding these four legs. Satisfied the Two Legs was doing no harm and that it had offered song, the Spirit decided it should watch once again. But should the Two Legs do anything that was suspect, the Spirit was ready to strike.

The valley took on a slight green hue when the season of growing came. There were shrubs and brush that had survived the burn. Seeds must have survived and taken root. The Spirit walked the valley, noticing saplings growing where their parent tree once stood. The Spirit hoped this was a sign that the valley would grow once more. It decided to take up its role as protector once again. The red fruits had seeds that the four legs did not eat, and as seasons passed, they sprouted into saplings. Pleased that life was returning, it decided to protect these saplings as well. 

The Two Legs returned many times over the seasons that followed. The Spirit watched. It was always ready to strike should the Two Legs try to harm the already battered valley. But each time, the Two Legs would sing and then leave fruit, nothing more. And the Spirit relaxed.

The Spirit noticed other things. There were bugs in the air. There were small groups of four legs on the sides of the mountains, eating the grasses and nibbling on the bushes. There were sky creatures. A few trees had survived, and the sky creatures sat in what remained of these trees. There were sky creatures that floated in the water and creatures that lived in the water.

The Two Legs came one-day carrying green things. These were saplings, little pine trees. The Two Legs planted the trees around the area at the foot of the mountain where the Spirit lived. Then the Two Legs sang and left more fruit. The furry gray four legs had come to expect the fruit when the Two Legs came and had developed a fondness for it. The Spirit took these plants under its protection as well. The Spirit also decided that the Two Legs paid its respect to the land in this manner. It contemplated the place the Two Legs had taken in relation to the land. The Two Legs was presenting as a caretaker for the valley, something the Spirit had not expected.

Late one afternoon the Spirit watched as the human came with the fruit. It started singing. The Spirit moved closer to listen. The Two Legs had a nice song. Though the Spirit did not understand words, the song spoke to the Spirit’s heart. It was a song that praised the valley for its beauty and strength. The song prayed that the valley would return to its former self one day.

The Spirit took this to the cave and contemplated the song as it watched the small lights in the dark sky and the great white path they made. It decided that this Two Legs was good, and it would allow the Two Legs to come and go in the valley as it wanted. It had proven itself as a trusted caretaker of the valley. The Spirit had found this behavior very unusual for a Two Legs. Because this was special, the Spirit decided to accept the Two Legs as part of the valley.

Cycles passed. The Two Legs came regularly when the weather permitted. The Two Legs walked around the mountains surrounding the lake. Sometimes it would bring a bag, and in the bag were saplings, and the Two Legs would plant these around the lake. The Two Legs crossed atop the dam that still stood. It was cracked but it still held the water. The Two Legs carefully walked across, planting saplings on the opposite side of the lake as well.

These were all sorts of trees. Most of the trees the Spirit recognized. The mighty oak, colorful maple, the fast-growing pines. There were flowering dogwood, pale birch, and majestic sycamores. There were also fruit trees that would blossom in the season of growing. Those would provide fruit to the sky creatures and the four legs. 

It would be many Cycles of Seasons before the trees would come to full growth. The Spirit thought it strange that the Two Legs would plant things that it would never see grow to maturity. It respected the Two Legs, who thought of others that would one day eat the fruit on these trees and enjoy their shade.

Over time, the Spirit grew very curious about the Two Legs. It decided one time to follow the Two Legs, to see where it went. The Two Legs walked a path thru the mountains and down to another valley on the other side of the Spirit’s mountain home. There was a shelter there, a large one, made from tree and stone. The Two Legs went inside. The Spirit became aware that this was the shelter of the Two Legs.

The Genii Loci returned to the mountain and lake, making its way up to the cave. It was satisfied the Two Legs was not going to harm the valley, so it settled in and fell asleep.

When it woke, it was the time of growing again. The Spirit found several Cycles of Seasons had come and gone. The saplings had grown and were sturdy small trees. The fast-growing pines were now mature trees. There were grasses growing all over the mountainsides. The trees that survived had full branches with leaves. The sky creatures were singing. And the herds of four legs had returned and were larger.

The Two Legs returned. It was older as well. It was accompanied by two smaller versions of itself. The small ones made noise that sounded happy as they ran through the trees. As usual, the Two Legs sang and left fruit. Then it went to play with the little Two Legs.

The Spirit decided they were Two Legs’ cubs. The cubs always came with the Two Legs and played in the fields and trees. When it was hot, they splashed in the lake. They made such joyous noise. It made the Spirit happy.

Cycles of the Seasons move on. The little cubs grew up and the Two Legs grew older. The Two Legs taught the cubs to bring fruits and sing. The trees grew bigger, the sky creatures and the four legs returned and the land flourished.

Then one season it was just the Two Legs again. The cubs probably had left the shelter, as cubs leave the cave to roam, and as the sky creatures leave the trees. They had gone to continue their cycles.

Many more Cycles of Seasons went by, till the Two Legs did not show up for many turns of the Light into Dark. The Genii Loci went down the path as it once had, to find the Two Legs shelter. The Two Legs was sitting outside the cave on a decorated tree stump. The Two Legs was old. It could no longer go to the valley, like the old deer that could no longer go to the water to drink. Or the bird that could no longer fly. The Spirit sat and watched till the Two Legs went into the shelter, slowly, as the Light turned to Dark. The Two Legs was coming to its own time of dark.

The Spirit would go every turn of the light to the shelter of the Two Legs and spend time with her. She would sing sometimes, her voice warbling, cracking. But it was the same song she always sang in the valley.

The cubs came one day. They were no longer cubs, but full-grown Two Legs. Two Legs had not come out of the shelter for several turns of the Light into Dark. As they went in, the Spirit felt much sadness. The next day, Two Legs was helped from the shelter and taken away. The Spirit knew Two Legs would never come again. 

The next few Cycles of Seasons were very lonely for the Spirit. It halfheartedly tended the trees. The happiness of the sky creatures singing and the furry gray four legs climbing the fruit trees were the only things that consoled the Spirit.  If it wasn't for these, the Spirit would have gone to the cave, cried, and fallen asleep. 

But the Spirit found purpose again. The valley might be a lake, but there were water creatures in the lake. The Big Fierce Four Legs came down the mountain to eat the water creatures. Sometimes it brought cubs.

The herds of four legs roamed through the new forest growth and watered at the lake. The trees were much larger, and it almost looked like a forest again. A young forest, but still more like a forest. The fruits ripened and fruit fell from the trees in the season before the cold. They provided a feast for all the four legs that dwelled there.

At the start of the season of growing, the Spirit sat in the fruit grove, watching the water. It remembered the valley that had once been. It contemplated the changes. The lake, the trees, the four legs, and the fruit trees.  Maybe the changes are not so bad. There was always water for the four legs, and they flourished. There were sky creatures that dwelled in the water, something the valley never had before. There were bushes and undergrowth as well as new healthy trees. And the Spirit remembered the Two Legs who sang. Not all Two Legs are bad.

As it sat there contemplating the losses and the gains, a Two Legs came from the path and approached the lake. It had fruit that it left at the water's edge.

The Spirit looked very closely at the Two Legs. It looked like one of the cubs that had grown up. One of the Two Legs’ cubs. As the Spirit marveled at the Two Legs return, Two Legs began to sing, just as its mother had sung. Not the same voice, but very close, and the same song. When the Two Legs finished, it walked back towards the shelter. The Spirit followed. The Two Legs went into the shelter.

The Spirit went back to the lake and sat in front of the cave until the Light turned to Dark. And for the first time in many, many ages, the Genii Loci sang. It sang the song of the Two Legs. As it sang, it mixed into that song something it remembered from long ago, a song about the Cycles of Life. The Two Legs had returned. Not the same Two Legs, but a cub of the Two Legs. And that Two Legs would continue the cycle.

That night, the blended songs the Genii Loci sang crept into the dreams of the Two Legs. When Two Legs returned to the lake, this was the new song it sang.

And it pleased the Spirit of the Place. 

artwork copyright enona via istock

Copyright 2019 Boudica Foster and Tales from the Zodiac Bistro
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