My third entry to Glitterlady's Nightgale blog challenge. Takes place in Verannia.
The earth mage plodded through the woods, fingers touching rough bark of a pine and naked limb of a birch as he walked past his old friends. Snow crunched beneath his feet and clung to his boots.
Weariness forced him to sit under a pine. The tree was old, wounded by the years and twisted by the wind. The mage studied the signs of great age with mild envy; he had lost the opportunity to grow old.
He had healed the ill and lifted the spirits of those in need for ten years now. But when the plague had come to North, he had spread himself too thin trying to help everyone, and caught the damn disease himself. It was a mistake and he had to pay the price, but he refused to die behind closed doors, surrounded by sorrow and decay.
He would die in the pure snow; his body would feed the earth and the trees which stood sentry between his home and the Ice Barrens. Gently he touched the scaly bark of the pine. Perhaps he could help the tree survive a little longer.
He reached outwards, grasped the threads of life flowing beneath the smooth bark, and began binding his body to the trunk. The predators would have to find something else to eat; besides, his diseased flesh might sicken the animals.
Tears appeared along the surface of the tree, resin seeped down onto his shoulders. The golden resin flowed down along his body until it touched the ground, where it hardened. More resin covered him, reaching up to his neck. The mage sighed out his last breath as he left the world behind. But a part of him would stay in this world, feeding the old tree.