A Place To Call Home
The lodging I was given was very lavish. The tree itself was fifty paces wide at the base of the trunk. The Elf that grew this homemade a spiral staircase that wrapped around the tree and covered itself with the bark. None of which was carved and even the bark grew thicker on each of the stairs so that it would not wear down with the walking up and down that daily traffic would require. Small branches with budding flowers hung at perfect intervals to decorate the stairwell. Upon reaching the top you came to a branch widened into a porch with a small single doorway with a window to it’s left.
The interior was molded in similar care. The entryway had a twisting lattice of branches that you could hang garments and house footwear. A grouping of flowers sat inside of the window to match those that hung in the stairwell. The living room was next and it had a raised table with a small water feature in the center. It was a small spring that provided a steady babbling. It ran down a small trough and into a diminutive puddle surrounded by twelve polished stones of varying colors. The water was crystal clear and the basin that it sat in was very decorative. In the center was a mosaic of a tree. Even though the water was continuously flowing into the basin and there was no apparent drain, it never changed its level.
There were chairs for four around the table. Each had a pattern carved over them that was highly stylized to symbolize the four elements, or at least I assumed. Surrounding them were shelves upon shelves where books could be stored but have long since been emptied. Three rooms were off the living room. A kitchen with a pantry, a small bathing room, and the bedroom. The bedroom is where I headed and I laid upon the bed. I would not have guessed by its appearance, a large half log, cut and placed to rock freely and covered in green moss. Slowly I wobbled into its center and laid as it settled back into its resting position. I had never been so comfortable. As the soft moss reacted to me laying atop of it. It enveloped me in a fresh wave of warmth that covered my limbs and left my chest and face exposed. The sensation was an interesting one. I did not feel dirty or any itch of the plant, just a warm presence, and a fresh scent. I was asleep within moments.
It only felt like more seconds had passed, but sure enough, the first light of day was beginning to shine through my windows. I did not awake from the light creeping into my eyes though. A soft hand laid on to my shoulder.
“Cinredi, it is time that me make our journey.” Morgul whispered. I nodded and we headed down to the base of my house where we were greeted by two horses.
“You know I would prefer to ride Aroinix instead of a normal horse.” I contested.
“Ah yes, of course you would, but then how do you explain the disappearing horse to the guards at the garrison?” The old Elf quipped and laughed as he mounted his steed. “This is Snowmane,” he said motioning to his horse. “And your’s would be Felaróf.” Both of the horses gave a huff at the introduction, to which I introduced myself.
“I am Cinredi, the light of Uther in this world. I pray that you will show us the meaning of haste on our journey. For if you do I promise that each of you will feast only the finest oats and apples that exist for the rest of your lives.” I swore. Both horses were white as snow with white flowing hair. Their eyes showed a strange level of intelligence and intensity. They were indeed beautiful horses. But they were not Aronix.
We set off at a decent gallop, the earth passing quickly beneath us. We dashed through the woods that were sparsely illuminated but the village torches and the very beginning of dawns first light. The sun was above the treeline by the time we passed the swarm of undead that patrolled the boundary of the forest. Their mindless shambling was comforting in a way. Seeing the sheer number of them was awe-inspiring, to say the least. Hundreds of the dead dotted the field around the forest.
“Morgul?” I questioned. “Do all of these undead head to your call?”
“Well you see, it is a complex series of spells that allow them to remain animated freely without attacking freely. They are bound to the forest and if someone or something were to wander into their field of vision, the trees will tell them to attack. The oaks are rather lofty, but the maples usually voice their distaste of strangers before too much time passes.” Morgul explained and continued to explain as we road. He had quite a bit to say about the subject and it made the time pass. Eventually, he tired of yelling over the galloping of the horses and the rest of the morning went by silently.