The story opens in a glen. The sun shines as it would on a cloudless spring day. The wild flowers were no more than a few afternoons old. Underneath the jovial songs of birds attracting their lovers a small creek bubbled and splashed along its path. At a particularly shallow point in this creek a young woman stood in the very centre pushing small pebbles about with her feet, dress held high above her knees to keep dry. Serene concentration clear across her face the only clue of any purpose behind her being there.
"Poor little Flower, drowned in the river,
All by herself, who will miss her?
Sad little Flower, so soft, so pale,
What is it you search for among the shale?"
The girl's concentration was shattered. She spun to see a fox sitting at the edge of the water.
"Go away foul mutt, you're not wanted here," she hissed.
The fox sneered back at her.
"O little Flower, with tongue as sharp as glass,
should know foxes never do as they are asked."
The girl grabbed a large stone from the water and readied herself to throw. The fox only grinned wider.
"Leave now or face terrible consequences." The girl took a step forward, brandishing the rock.
The fox laughed.
"O silly Flower, I ask a simple question, for not a grand tale,
What is it you search for among the shale?"
"If I wished you to know, I would tell you. Now leave."
"Flowers pique a fox's curiosity when they say not what they do,
But clever are we and finding secrets is something to which we are not new.
Methinks you seek the Willow feet in this creek of old,
For born of them are the bravest of men, so the tale is told."
"Enough of your hideous rhymes, mutt!" She threw the rock at the fox, missing by many feet, but enough to set the thing running away, laughing as it went.
"Beware young Flower! Willow Men are of a thirsty comport,
Brave they may be but not ones with which Flowers should assort."
Having her pleasant mood taken form her, the girl dropped to her knees and furiously dug through the pebbles and sand. She dug and dug, fingers going numb from cold and pain. She dug and dug until finally she reached her prize. Delicate and sore hands grasped the tough root. She pulled with all her strength until it snapped free, sending her tumbling backwards. Being sufficiently soaked meant nothing, she was victorious in her quest.
She skipped through the trees, singing wordless melodies made up on the spot until she reached a clearing. In the centre was a shallow, blackened pit. No birds sang here.
"Crow!" the girl called. "Crow where are you? I've brought the Willow root."
The trees rustled and out flew a large and battered crow. It awkwardly landed in the pit, angrily muttering to itself. The girl trotted over, catching the end of it's ramblings.
"--like grass, and all their faithfulness is like flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the Lord blows on them. Surely the people are grass.1 Surely the people are grass."
The girl crouched down at the edge of the pit, holding out the root. The old crow eyed the root carefully before snatching it out of the girl's hand, swallowing it whole. It ruffled it's feathers and shuddered before coughing it back up onto the black dirt.
"Such a person feeds on ashes," the crow grumbled, pushing dirt over the root with its tattered wings. "a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself
The girl pouted, "I care not about his personality if he can show results."
The crow nodded and shrugged. "He will be sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.3"
"Will he take long to grow?"
The crow shook it's head.
The girl settled onto the lush grass for a long wait. Crows were not very reliable at measuring time. She lay back and watched the few thin clouds in the sky float along. Her dress clung to her body with uncomfortable thickness.
When it was nearly dry the old crow threw a frenzied fit. It squawked and screeched and jumped about in its pit, kicking up dirt everywhere. The dirt undulated slowly, growing higher and higher. It fell away revealing pale shoulders, a wide back. A head whipped up out of the dirt, coughing and gagging for air. The girl skittered away in fright.
The crow cackled horribly at the girl. "Who are you that you fear mere mortals, human beings who are but grass?4"
In the pit the pale boy had fully surfaced from the dirt. He writhed and coughed painfully. The crow laughed. The boy collapsed, almost completely still. The girl crawled over to him and gently placed her hand on his shoulder - he was hot to the touch. He groaned and coughed again.
"You conceive chaff, you give birth to straw;" the crow nipped at the girl's hand, moving between the two it brushed dirt from the boy. "your breath is a fire that consumes you.5"
"sure feels like it," the boy panted, his voice ragged.
The crow stopped and hopped away, flapping its wings in preparation for flight.
"Wait! Don't leave! Is he even going to live?" the girl scrambled after the old bird.
"I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him.6" It lifted off, flying away with all the grace of a hatchling.
In the clearing, the girl realized how quiet it could be in a crow's nest. She grew more and more unnerved by the Willow man's stillness. She crawled a short ways away from him and watched the treetops sway.
She jumped in surprise and turned to the boy. He was staring back at her with eyes as green as the grass between them.
He said "I'll never forgive you for this," and fell unconscious.