The little girl had gone missing. Nobody in the village knew where she might be but deep in the night on the edge of town, as the moon was at its peak. There forever stood a strange tree that only appeared under the moonlight – it was an ashen coloured oak tree with uplifted roots. Occasionally as the lamps in the villager’s windows shined on it the tree gleamed a deathly red. Everybody was afraid of the tree, even the elders, and children would dare to go near it in games of bravery.
But little Annabelle was nowhere to be found – and the tree, it seemed, had something to do with it. At least, that’s what people thought. So one dark night on the twelfth anniversary of that child’s mysterious disappearance the parents of the village banded together and set their plan in action. They formed a mob planning to burn down the tree.
That night they set off to the hill in which the tree stood, and the hour it appeared in the moonlight and tore it down with fire, axe, and rope. The villagers found nothing but as they cut at the bark of the tree they heard terrible screeches and moans, the tree bled like any man, woman, or child – and finally, as the last root was pulled from the earth a harrowing green spirit swirled around the mob crying in torment.
The next year upon the thirteenth anniversary of Annabelle’s disappearance another child vanished. But the tree was no more. And every year after that fateful night more and more children disappeared. This went on for hundreds of years, and nobody knew why.
For years afterwards one group of parents would leave a child born that year upon the very same hill in offering to the spirit that they feared still lived among them. Up until this day they still do not know that the tree was a benign dryad guarding children from a foul witch that plagued the swamps.
The witch no longer lives among their shadows but the legend persists to this day of that village in the north plagued by the great tree. Now, the children no longer get offered to the empty hill but still, no-one steps those hallowed grounds – as the land still weeps of that forgotten dryad, that was once upon a moonlit hill.