A great Juniper tree grew at the edge of a vast canyon. Its roots meandered through the rocky cliff face, winding out over oblivion and reaching back, deep into the earth.
It grew as tall and wide as its perch would allow. Branches twisted, gnarled, and covered in shredded bark like flayed mummy skin reached over the edge toward the Sun. They extended only as far as balance allowed, for if the wise Juniper grew too large, it would fall and pull the world down into the canyon with it.
You see, this tree grew at the edge of a universe. In the lands between realms where reality thins and ideas reign. The Juniper had been growing for billions of years. It’s roots were the foundation of a whole world. Through ages of mistakes and close calls, it had found a balance.
A snowy owl lived in its branches. The owl whispered tales of the world the tree upheld. One day the owl warned of approaching people from the far off lands where the stars don’t shine. Their cities blocked them out, separating the people from the heart of their universe.
The next night, fires were visible in the distance.
The people had come.
As dawn unfolded, a man approached the tree. He cradled a collection of branches in his arms. Fuel for their fires.
He reached the base of the tree and dropped his firewood. A hatchet appeared in his hand.
He placed it on the ground and kneeled in front of the Juniper and said, “Our cities have crumbled. We ignored the law of balance. We have cast ourselves back into darkness and mysteries bite at our heels once more. I came to you for fuel, but I cannot take from you. You teeter on the edge of an abyss, you grow and stand strong against the storms of time… This is what my people must do now. None shall take from your body to build our fires. We will make you a symbol of hope and you will remind our generations of the balance.”
The man kissed his palm and held it to the base of the tree. He gathered his hatchet and firewood before walking back to the east, into the rising Sun.
The owl whispered to the tree, “There is still hope for them after all.”