The Silver Tree

Winter, 33

I walked into the inn, sweat dripping off my face and my stomach grumbling. I haven’t eaten for days, and the path through the desert took up most of the water I had. I sat down at a table, searching through my empty pockets for any hint of coin, but to no avail. I groan a bit, my knees weak from exhaustion.

I stared at the people around me, eating, drinking. The innskeeper finally notices me, and walks over. “Ye off from the path young one?”

“Just walked in good sir.”

“Ye got coin to stay ‘ere?”

“Nay, I lost it all in a cave north of here. Forever lost and forever forgotten.”

The Innskepper looks over towards his wife, she nods back at him and he turns to face me again. “I may ‘ave a jyob for you.”

“A jyob?”

“You want food and drink, yes?”

“And a place to sleep.”

“South of ‘ere, there lays some woods. Haunted I say. But these leaves I be needin’ for the tea.” He goes on to describe the tree, a single silver tree in a grove that stands over a seemingly bottomless pit. He tells me of the dangers, but I shrug them off and walk south, desperate for some good food and good sleep.

I walk to the end of the path, finally noticing the beginning of the grove, or actually the top of it. The bottomless pit I saw, a seemingly deep pit of darkness from which the trees sprang out of. Their branches made for a path, albeit narrow and treacherous. I step softly on one, balancing myself carefully and head off to the center where the silver tree grew.

The journey was quick and uneventful to my enjoyment. An easy way to earn a day’s worth of food and two nights of sleep. A rest from the journeys of my travels and a break in a soft bed. I take some of the leaves, feeling a cold wind rustle by. I walk back, jumping from limb to limb nimbly. Until…

A rustle. One not caused by any wind. Yet the suddenly cold air brought my breath out into mists. I stopped, looking around as if something was out of the ordinary. Cursed the Innskeeper said these woods were. But cursed with what?

I continue to walk back again. But there again was that sound.

A rustle.

In the twilight right underneath the canopy, where I stood on some main branches, I listened intently into the depths of the woods. I hear nothing but a faint rustle. And… A strange… Whiff…

I ducked down, hugging the branch as another branch swung right over me, nearly clipping me over and into the bottomless depths below. I finally figured out what the curse was, these trees were more alive then it seemed. I ran and ran, dodging the branches as they moved back and forth as the path shifted and changed seemingly at random.

I ran until I reached the end, diving onto the solid ground, literally kissing it as I hit it. I stood up, feeling the newly formed scars from the cuts of the near misses. I looked back towards the grove, rubbing my arm where one deep scratch still bled deeply. Yes, a fine dinner and sleep tonight it will be.