A long, long time ago, a young spirit named Artemis spent her afterlife in a forest that was forever cast in a perpetual night. Although she loved her forest, and all the creatures in it, Artemis had always held in her heart a special dream: to visit the sky. The heavens had always looked so empty and lonely to Artemis, and even before her passing she had hoped to one day climb into the sky itself. Finally, after much deliberation, Artemis decided she ought to pursue her heart’s desire. How hard could it possibly be?
It took some searching, but Artemis eventually managed to find the tallest tree in her forest. It stretched upward as far as her eyes could see -- surely it reached the sky itself! And so Artemis set about climbing the tree, carefully hopping from branch to branch as she slowly made her way higher and higher.
Artemis made it to the top of the tree, but even if she stretched her hands out as far as they could go, they simply never came anywhere close to the sky. But Artemis wasn’t discouraged! From her new tall perch she could see a mountain in the distance, its pointed peak scraping the bottom of the clouds. And so Artemis climbed back down the tree and found her way to the mountain. This had to lead straight into the sky! Artemis steeled her nerve and began picking her way up the mountain, determined to make it to the very top.
The top of the mountain was higher than Artemis could have ever imagined! She’d climbed past the clouds themselves to get to this point. Surely she could visit the heavens now! But no matter how high she jumped or how much she tried, she couldn’t seem to make it into sky. Feeling defeated, Artemis made her way back down the mountain and returned to her thicket. To her surprise and horror, however, a doe had been wounded while she was gone. Although Artemis tried everything she could to save the deer, the poor creature eventually passed on. Artemis was devastated. She hadn’t been there to watch over her forest, and as a result the unthinkable had occurred. Heartbroken, Artemis and the other creatures of her grove buried the doe in a peaceful meadow. Artemis planted a single seed there, a sign of her sorrow and respect.
As Artemis mourned by the deer’s gravesite, she heard something strange: the sound of soil shifting. She opened her eyes and stared in wonder as a massive tree, bigger than any tree she had ever seen, suddenly erupted out of the ground before her. It grew, and grew, and grew -- it never seemed to stop! Its branches formed a gnarled staircase that spiraled around the trunk, all the way to the very top of the tree. The tree reached so high she couldn’t even see the top of it anymore, and its massive crown of leaves seemed to glitter with a comforting, twinkling glow. Artemis gaped, too stunned to react. Was… was she supposed to climb it?
Gathering all her courage, Artemis hesitantly placed a foot on the first branch. She began her long climb, ascending higher and higher. After a while, Artemis realized she felt… strange. She had always glowed a little bit -- most spirits do -- but now her aura of light was dazzling to look at. When Artemis made it to the top of the tree she was positively alight, a halo of luminous brilliance surrounding her. Smiling, Artemis settled in amongst the sparkling leaves and clouds, watching her forest from her new perch high in the sky, bright and beaming, the land below her bathed in a pale, soothing glow.
These are children's book style illustrations that I did for gaia online this month. The story is written by Rachel GK and character design by Mary Ye. Have a good weekend!