The tree’s voice was soft and woody, yet it had a light tone in it that drew Brandon’s attention. He settled himself in the bright yellow tree’s cradling roots.
“So, how long have you been here?” Brandon asked.
“When I was just a little sapling, there was a terrible wind storm that pulled me out of the earth and away from my family,” The large tree started. He let out a broken chuckle. “I was lucky to have landed propped up on that rock. (He waved his leafy branches in the direction of the big rock that Hal was sitting on) It took me years to right myself. But, over the many moons that it has taken me to grow this mighty trunk, I have heard the whispers of the weeds. I listen to the birds singing in the highest of my branches. I understand the cries of the crickets.”
Brandon smiled slightly in appreciation. What patience and concentration must be put into a skill like that! “So, what have you heard? Do they talk about the Lourdwarfs?”
The elegant tree grimaced, sending a rain of crumpled, redding leaves. “Yes, well, I usually only hear morning chat and giggles about the Lourdwarfs’ festivals and celebrations. But, the forest practically sounded like a giant pack of cicadas when they found out that the master was sick. It was not long before I heard about his death.”
Brandon shivered and looked over at Hal. They shared the same perturbed look of understanding. “That’s what the Jemons were talking about!” They breathed in unison. The Jemons had talked about their master, Lord Bomsile and how they hurt him. Thought Brandon. But, how did they hurt him?
“Can you give us more information on his d-death, um… sir?” Hal asked.
“Please, call me ray,” Ray said kindly.
“Ray?” Hal asked. “That’s an unusual name for a tree. Is it Ray as in rays of sun?”
Ray laughed, “No, actually it’s a well-known plant name around here. In trees, rays store and transport nutrients through the wood. I was named that when I was little, because my roots were so thin that I could easily be lifted by the wind and… transported to other places.”
Brandon adjusted his position in the immensely large roots that now grew so ample that they stuck out of the ground in places. He couldn’t imagine Ray with tiny, weak roots. “Guys,” he felt bad for interrupting. “The master’s death?”
“Oh, yes,” Ray said. “Lord Bomsile was a good man, a very decent ruler of port Malocum. It was weird. One day he started talking of magic. He said he had more power than he knew. He stopped sleeping at night, convinced that the magic he used could keep him from fatigue. It worked, as did many of his… experiments. He tried healing, growing (which was a good deal less successful), starting a fire, and many more unnatural solutions to things.”
“After a while though, it became too much. We all thought that magic would benefit us and keep us safe, but he started obsessing over it. He became more greedy and selfish. The doves say he had dark circles under his eyes and his hands (what he used to make and practice magic) were bruised and black. Lourdwarfs were never adapted to using magic… we just didn’t think it would turn out to this. He died.”
“And that’s when the forests became quiet?” Brandon asked, straining his ears to hear the rare chirp of a bird. “Like this?”
“No,” Ray said. His dazzling eyes glimmered with sadness. “That’s when Lord Coyote Bomsile began his reign.”