A layer of white Mist drifted across the forest floor, obscuring my feet as I walked along that forested trail. Ancient trees towered above me, and their giant leaves stretched downwards, acting as the blades of a fan that tossed the mist into perpetual motion. I craned my neck to search for the sun, but in that forest, time held no meaning.
The mist cleared for just a moment, but it was long enough for me to see the small pawprints that marred the mud in front of me. Ahead was a rustle, and then I caught sight of her white coat—the White Fox was here, leading me to the Heart of the Forest.
She led me to a clearing. A grassy outcrop hung over a rocky canyon; a scar on the forest.
The bottom of the canyon was lined with black, jagged rocks, with a soft river of mist lazily flowing through it. At the center of the river was a figure, a slumbering human, made of leaves and vines instead of flesh and sinew. The Heart of the Forest.
The fox bid my gaze to the sky. Above us floated five crystals, all a vibrant hue, all bigger than a man.
The fox flicked her tail and left without preamble. Her paws carried her over the lines of a circle engraved in the ground around me. I felt enclosed. No longer did the wind tickle my face, no longer was the world outside tangible.
The crystals spun over my head, washing the world outside with the passage of time. Canyon walls grew and shrank, grass eroded and burst into thousands of trees. One thing never changed, though—the fox sat idly outside my prison, watching, waiting.
The crystals burst into a technicolor rain of glass, made brittle by the passage of time. Upon their destruction, I was free.
The fox stood and walked away, taking my gaze with her. Before us was a neon city. Metallic, glowing buildings stretched high into the sky, turning the stars into no more a spectacle than a dying firefly.
Tumid thunderclouds rolled in overhead, drenching the city in acid water. It was beautiful, but empty. The city was a disease on this land, a scab that needed to be peeled off.
The western sky erupted into light. The sun rose on half the city while the moon held fast its claim. A line of warring light and darkness bisected the city, trapping the civilization in an eternal Vernal Equinox.
Soft fur brushed my fingers. The fox sat beside me, staring at my face. She silently told me this world was destined to be unbalanced; neither side was willing to give up its claim. The death of the Heart of the Forest was the catalyst for disharmony.
Mist drifted from the fox’s wispy fur, grass sprouted from my feet, and vines from my hands. I closed my eyes. As my heartbeat slowed, I accepted my fate as the Heart of the next cycle.