There is something about a stag wandering silently through a cathedral that makes one stop and stare. The juxtaposition of wildness in such a sterile environment is foreign, and disbelief is suspended and given over to marvel. For the stag, it must be an equally singular experience.
I have never been beholden to mankind. Much less do I feel a need to bother with their sacred places. I despise them for the carnage they wrought upon mine. The centuries of man are momentary, and I can still remember the elder days enough to long for them.
Before the war began, I was revered and my dwelling place was sacred. My followers thrived, and I smiled upon them and blessed their lives with plenty. I loved them as I loved my own children, and in return, they cared for me.
But now…now have come the days of new gods. My followers are dead and gone in the twinkling of an eye; my sacred trees torn down and destroyed. My very flesh is rent and ravaged to forge this towering shrine to others. They spend lifetimes to perfect it until it stands upon the land that once was mine.
My children are savaged, thrown out and removed, for Man is a jealous creature and will not tolerate the enemy in his sacred place.
Though I mourn for the old world, I must concede and protect what little I have left. I call my children and they retreat. There is nothing left for us in this new realm. We will go where Man does not; where even his thirst for conquest is stemmed by fear and uncertainty. I will flee from his eyes, left to tend the deepest groves alone in silence.
In time, I will be forgotten, for that is the way of old gods when there is no one left to follow. Some may recall in memory and marvel at my children, but they do not know me.
Still, I am always there. I live in the rowan and the oak, in the pine and the yew. I sleep in the moss of shadowed trees and dance in the sunlight on the leaves. My anger is the summer storm and the bitter winter cold. My joy is the joy of the birds, a thousand voices singing.
Today, the doors to the shrine stand open, inviting. I am curious, so I travel to the edge of my realm. In these centuries of man, I have never forgiven, but I must know. I must see what I was destroyed for. I will not take my true form, for mankind has never seen it. One of my children will do.
They call this shrine to new gods a cathedral. The air inside is quiet and still, and smells of dust. There is no trace of the world before. Gilded pillars rise around me, carved with symbols I do not understand. Below my feet is an endless slab of stone, smooth and unrelenting.
There is no living thing in sight; no tree or seedling, no moss, no loamy earth to give support. The songs of my children have fallen silent, and the only sound is the hollow echo of my own footsteps.
In this this monument built on the desolation of my kingdom, this place that man calls beautiful, I am utterly alone.