It was a sunny day, but down in the forest it was still dim. The extensive canopy overhead was not letting much light through, giving the woods an eerie atmosphere.
An old man was mumbling to himself while making his way through the underbrush. Although vegetation was heavy the man seemed to move through it with both ease and speed, deftly avoiding having his robe snagged by twigs and branches.
The man was short, but surprisingly nimble. The staff in his hand used to move plants out of his path, rather than to support himself on.
– ‘Ho ho! You all just grow and grow!’ he exclaimed suddenly, only to go straight back to his muttering.
The old man kept on moving, his grey, matted hair swaying as he moved. The man left no trail after him – all plants moved back into place as he passed, neither broken nor bruised.
As he moved onwards, the forest grew brighter and brighter.
– ‘Ho ho! Here we are!’
As the man spoke, he broke through the edge of the forest and found himself standing in a great, circular meadow, in the middle of the forest. In the center of the meadow stood three huge trees, surrounding a peculiar stone formation.
The man stood there for a while letting his eyes adjust to the light and taking in the full view of the place. He then began to slowly head down a small path towards the center of the meadow.
On his way he stopped by a smaller tree growing out of a big tree trunk. The trunk seemed to have been sawed off previously and parts of the former tree was lying in the meadow, almost overgrown by now.
– ‘How are you this fine day? Recovering well I can see. Ho ho ho! You will be back to your former glory in no time.’
The man’s face turned less cheerful as he turned his eyes to the decomposing parts of the old, broken tree.
– ‘The earth will clear the corruption… But where did it come from this time…?’ he asked himself quizzingly.
After a few moments contemplation the man turned and walked up to the stone formation.
– ‘You have anything to tell me today?’, he asked. ‘We shall see.’
The man put his staff aside and lay his two hands on the surface of the stone.
– ‘Ho ho! Cold as always’, the man exclaimed and then closed his eyes and went silent.
A couple of minutes passed before the man opened his eyes and removed his hands from the stone.
– ‘Silent little bugger, aren’t you? Or perhaps you just don’t want to talk to a surly old fart like me? Ho ho ho!’
He turned to look at the huge trees.
– ‘Well, how about you then? Got anything to say?’
The man stood silent for a short while and then turned towards one of the trees.
– ‘Mountain avens are blooming?’ he asked, looking slightly surprised.
He walked over to the base of the tree. The tree’s bark was completely white, and its leaves had a pale green shade.
The man bent down and examined one of the many white flowers blooming by the tree.
– ‘Ah yes, they certainly are, and quite a few of them. Looks like the icy man-beasts are back. Ho ho ho! They sure made a mess of the world last time!’
He looked up at the tree.
– ‘Well, someone will deal with it’, he stated. ‘And if not, it’s just the end of the world. Ho ho!’
The man walked over to a dark tree bearing blood red leaves.
– ‘Looks like your heather is still growing in abundance. Well, I have no idea what that means, and I hope it stays that way! Ho ho ho! Who knows what those goblins are up to? Well, I guess I should look into it…’
Lastly he turned to a tree with a golden canopy.
– ‘Anything from you? … No? Well, good for you! We can’t have chaos in all corners of the world all at once now, can we?’
He examined the rock formation.
– ‘Well, grumps here still won’t talk to me, so I guess we’re on our own. Ho ho! I do hope you all help your brother grow back now. You need him as much as he needs you. And I need you all.’
He picked up his staff and started back towards the forest.
– ‘And see what you can find out about this horrible corruption. It seems to resist the earth’s cleansing quite well.’
As he passed the small tree growing from the stump he spoke to it shortly.
– ‘I only did what was necessary. I’m sorry it caused you such pain…’, he said shaking his head. ‘I’ll be back to check on you soon. Until then; grow well!’
And with that he was off into the forest.
– ‘Ho ho! This is getting interesting!’
This was originally posted on Eurobricks here.
Read the other chapters here –
Chapter I: The Tranquil Meadow
Chapter II: Old Bagshaw’s Residence
Chapter III: The Poacher
Chapter IV: Making Camp
Chapter V: Solitary Council
Chapter VI: Escaping Home
Chapter VII: Waylaid
Chapter VIII: Archery Practice
Chapter IX: Honour the Fallen