The Anti-Disclaimer: Since it has been determined that gods maintain their places in our society by faith alone, the Greek gods and goddesses ARE mine. They are also yours, if you want to use them.

The Treachery of the Trees

Before the seasons came into being and after the goddess of the corn's fair daughter was taken to the underworld, there was another story told in the days of old.

When the earth under her feet opened before her, Persephone let out a last resounding cry, a plea for help from the trees. All of the trees; linden, oak, pine, spruce, and willow alike heard her cry for aid, but they could not move to help her, for their roots were too deep. All that they could do was whisper amongst themselves when the wind brushed through their boughs and branches.

In these forsaken days trees had no needles or leaves, they were only made of wood and other mysterious matter. In these days there were also no seasons, only a long wonderful summer, which Demeter blessed with crops of corn.

They whispered the tidings of a beautiful maid taken from her mother by a rider, terrible to look upon, in a chariot of the dead. They had no name for this dreadful rider, as they were living things who knew not of the perils in the land of the dead, but only of the splendor in the land of the living. They knew only that his kingdom was that from which no mortal could return, and that he was a king. At the start of Demeter's wanderings in search of her daughter, she asked all of the creatures of the forest where she could find her, fairest of all.

They knew not, "But ask the grasses," they said.

She asked the grasses, and they knew not where her daughter, fairest of all, was, but said that she should ask the linden, oak, and willow.

She did so, and they deceitfully said that they knew not, for they were afraid of the wrath of Hades. They sent her on her way without a further hint.

Demeter wandered until she came upon another forest of trees; spruce, pine, and fir. When she asked them whether they had seen her daughter, Persephone, fairest of all, they said that they had. When asked where she had gone, they could not say, for the wind would not give them the words to whisper. They could only say that they were mute in the matter, and sent her to the sun for her answer.

The sun could not help her, and she wandered for many years, refusing to put sweet nectar or ambrosia to her parched lips. Eventually Demeter was given back her daughter Persephone for half of the year. For the other half she left the world in coldness.

She learned from the sun, who sees all that occurs on earth, that the fir, pine, and spruce had told her all that they could by what means they had, while the others, the willow, oak, and linden, had lied to her about what they had seen and heard.

In her anger, she put a curse and a blessing on all of the trees of the wood. "To the fir, pine, and spruce, I grant you the gift of coniferous needles. They will be cool in summer and warm in winter, and will not fall in any season. To the willow, oak, and linden, I curse you with deciduous leaves. They will be a burden to bear in the intense heat of summer, and will fall off, leaving you cold in winter. This is how Demeter, goddess of the corn, punishes those who are deceitful and rewards those who speak the truth!" She bellowed in a rage.

In the underworld, Hades took pity on the linden, oak, and willow, and decided that while the wind would no longer whisper in the needles of the pine, fir, and spruce; it would whisper and keep company with the linden, oak, and willow. To this day, the conifers remain warm in winter and comfortably cool in summer, while the deciduous trees must bear harsh winters and scorching summers.

A/N: Written before I had mastered the art of effectively using dialogue.