Trees are coming back to live here, old trees, wild trees. The Watchwood we will call it. Not a squirrel will go
here, but I shall know of it. Leave it to Ents!
Welcome to the Treegarth of Orthanc! the old land once enclosed by a ringed circle of stone. The strong stone tower still exists in the center, but the rest is covered by wild trees, planted ages ago by the victorious Ents.
(OOC: We welcome one and all to use this thread how you like - to RP in the region of the Treegarth, and to our Wizard friends who may wish to explore the tower of Orthanc that no one has set foot in for many a long year....)
After some time of travelling she came near the old tower Orthanc. Great stories can be told here, much memories stuck in stone.
Morning settled over the lands and the sunlight barely kissed the mossy undergrowth on the woodland floor. A crimson brown doe just shy of two years cautiously entering the woodlands. Her orbs, golden in color, were alert and with each step she took, she glanced into the shadowy depths for predators that hunted in these lands. She had no choice, she had to get to the other side to the clearing where her herd was settling for the night or face the fact she might have to sleep in this place alone. Her head lifted at that thought and she sighed, knowing that the journey was going to be a big one. Why did they have to pick this place? Could they not have stayed in their lands where the grass was tender and the plains were vast? Instead, their leader had decided that it was best to move for the safety of the herd but she has always known it was a lie. He just didn’t want to fight the Buck, Alvian for the leadership of the herd and in leaving the plains, he is nothing but a weak leader in her eyes.
The Interlocking branches of a sturdy beech formed a thick canopy above her head and she glanced up, searching for any sign of life but the silence was down right creepy. Since when did a forest not have any creatures in it? Hell she would be grateful for the familiar chattering sound of a simple-minded bird but with each passing moment, she was getting more and more worried. It wasn’t meant to be like this right? Her daggers pressed into the mossy ground underneath her and she paused, lowering her nose and sniffed at it. She needed to rest, to take a few minutes to catch a breather and maybe have something to eat.
Two days of traveling, no stopping to even have a nap and she was getting to the point of collapsing in exhaustion. 'Well… a few nibbles won’t do me any harm' She thought, her brown orbs focusing on the moss at the base of the beech tree as she tenderly plucked at it with her ivories and lowered herself into a more comfortable position. Since the forest was quiet, she naturally assumed that there was no danger here, there wasn't but she wasn't alone either.
Rosylvatica was lulled into a deep slumber. A slumber that she has remained in for quite some time. Enough time for her branches to become tangled, her roots deep, reaching and her canopy to be variegated in patterns of pink, white and green. However, despite this slumber, something was nibbling at her bark. Annoyingly consistent enough to arise her from her slumbered state.
A lone bird was approaching and landed close to her ear, singing the song of its people. A song, that was distracting her from her current problem. 'Will..you...be...quiet' She snapped, flicking one of the low hanging limbs towards the creature only to... accidently make contact and the bird, that was nestled quiet comfortable on her, was now flung across the air in a far greater speed then what he would be in flight. 'Well my bad' She thought, focusing her round eyes from the flying speck that was the bird to the doe that was nestled beneath her.
At this point the wind decided to be as unhelpful as possible, filled her cloak like a balloon and ripped her off the building, carrying her off toward Fangorn like a galleon in full sail. It was probably not the moment to be concentrating on the fact that she'd left both hat and staff in the tower, but it's all she could think of - well, and the rapidly approaching treetops.
The rapidly approaching treetops were, close up, quite uncomfortable and pointy-looking. Not a good landing spot, in fact... quite some way up from the ground.
The wind, evidently taking pity on her unwilling aerial gymnastics, dramatically changed direction and reduced in velocity, deciding to blow vertically up her cloak so that it billowed out like the skirt of a large bell, which had the side-effect of slowing her down. She spent some moments in brief contemplation of stepping gently down onto a larger branch, and climbing down carefully, untouched by the mishap. As it happened, she wildly misjudged the angle and speed of descent and panicked, grabbing at anything which might have slowed her fall. She passed the treetops at speed, the long thin fingers of the topmost branches the equivalent of whips, resulting in no few lacerations to hands, forearms, neck and face, a mouthful of leaves and a punch in the solar plexus from a heavy bellyflop onto a largish forked branch.
"Nnnnnnnggh," she groaned weakly, about two minutes later when she remembered how to breathe. She slowly turned herself lengthwise onto the branch instead of hanging over it like a limp sock and lay there. She was done. No, really. She might have cracked a rib of two there, and she still was some yards from the ground ... climbing down could wait, she shut her eyes again and hoped it would all be over when she opened them.
He brushed aside another thick branch, and suddenly the tower, the Treegarth, came into view. A magnificent sight, unlike any other on Middle-earth. He knew he had to reach it. He hoped he would not go tree-ish himself in the process. Who or what might be inside?
Green was the dominating color out there, a vibrant one, but deep and dark in many places as well. It was a beautiful view. Ducky munched on a sandwich he had packed. There was probably some food stored in the tower too though. He was pretty sure he remembered where the salted meats were stored, as well as the snacks. He wanted to go exploring soon and see what was left.
He was expecting a visitor though. At least one. He wouldn't venture inside the tower until his potential apprentice caught up to him.
”Hrumm…” said Quagomar as he lifted, slowly, from the riverbed and continued on his way. Behind, trees rustled, branches shifted — and here or there a root might even be seen, pulling free from the soil and slithering across the land before burying itself again as the herd traveled slowly on. They had gone greatly out of their way, to tell the truth, and Quagomar was glad to have found the trickling creek which was once the mighty Isen. This here… ”Hoooomhruu” murmured Crowhome, searching for the word. This was the runoff, what little water was released each day from the great lake of the Isendale.
The herd was sparse, though soon it would not matter. The Watchwood was strong, and Crowhome’s herd would mingle with others. He had gone far out of his way in search of the wing-herd, the flock, long delayed in returning after their migration. Now they roosted in his hair and along his shoulders, not to mention in the many branches of his slowly shifting herd and raised such a noise that it was a wonder the ent could stand it.
Still, he loved the birds — they had defended him in the hard days, when their cousins the crebain had come suddenly into the service of the Tree-hewer. Few would sing the songs of the Battles of the Birds, and few would remember the valor of Broa son of Droa and Enn son of Fenn, but Crowhome would.
The oakish ent smiled softly as he passed through the Treegarth, and sent out a great hrummmm of greeting which would thrum through the wood and alert his fellows to his presence. And here, indeed, was the the great lake of the Isendale — though Quagomar had been long in the coming indeed, and it was less a lake now and more a boggy field through which the river struggled to push.
”Hrmmm.” murmured the ent thoughtfully. Perhaps something could be done about that. It would not do to clog the river too badly, if the time had come for it to flow again.
But here! What was this? Fire flashed in the heart of the oaken-ent, and the memory of biting axes, and of sharp beaks and the brave sacrifice of Enn son of Fenn. Fury! The Tree-cutter, the Land-killer himself—there, on the stair of the tower—A wizard!
It was good that Crowhome was not a hasty ent, or he might have done something rash in that moment. As it were, he halted within the boundaries of the wood and watched and, when it became clear that the wizard was not moving, Crowhome whispered and sent bold Broa son of Droa soaring upward on the wing to spy out this wizard and determine his intentions.
Could Saruman truly have returned?
(OOC: @KingODuckingham I have no idea if you're still watching / interested in this thread, but here -- I've given you a bird to play with)
Though the tales tell that dwarf-women seldom walk abroad except at great need, there are always exceptions. Some dwarf-women desire no husband and enjoy their independence. Most dwarf- men are to fully engrossed in their crafts or, their food and ale. Drifa had no patience for such single-mindedness. She enjoyed walking abroad. She was a wander at heart. Mind you, she never refused the help of some love-sick dwarf when it came to heavy lifting and such.
She had heard rumours that the Rowan trees in the Treegarth of Orthanc, were heavy with berries. She was so very excited to pick a few sacks full. She had perfected the best jam ever from her last year's pickings. It went splendidly with her afternoon toddy.
Arriving at her destination, she removed her sacks and began harvesting the berries. No axe did she carry.
From high up in his eyrie in the Misty Mountains, Gwaihir watched the dawn sun peel over the eastern edge of the world. A blaze of red, pink and orange light bathed the sky in rich hues. He perched still and silent with his head held high. For he was a great eagle. The warm light shone upon his golden-brown plumage, carefully preened as if his life depended on it.
The sun rose higher in the sky and finally a crisp blue sky was unveiled, clean and pale, and it warmed his golden-brown plumage. As the day rose, the creatures who dwelt upon the ground below began to stir. Only then did he unfurl his great wings, set his claws on the edge of his eyrie and take flight.
It felt good to stretch his wings. The trees below were a great green swath across the land and the snow atop the mountain peaks glistened white while their western flanks were cast deep in shadow.
After a short flight south, Gwaihir saw the dark tower of Orthanc piercing the sky. The place had changed since he plucked Gandalf from its clutches but he spied a few robed figures about the place. Wizards? How unexpected. There was one in a tree (Earane) and another sitting on the tower’s steps (Ducky). It seemed there may be Ents about, too, though they were harder to notice because they moved so slow. And there was a dwarf (Drifa) harvesting berries of all things.
He swirled among the thermals high above the strangers for a time just to keep an eye on things.
(OOC - anyone feel free to engage (or try to engage...) Gwaihir while he's here. otherwise he'll just sit and watch cause that's what eagles do! )
In the stuffy warmth of the shepherded wood, Crowhome was standing and enjoying the sounds of the wood. There was a stream trickling somewhere nearby. It made him sleepy.
Broa, son of Droa
Far overhead, Broa was on the wing. It was good to get above the canopy--and he tried to, as often as he ought. Crowhome was, well, his home--but there was no need to stay shut in all the time. The sun was on his feathers... The wizard could wait. From here, Broa could see that he was no Saruman, who they had last been seen nearly crawling from the tower, a beggar in the valley he had ruled. And rightly so. Rightly so.
A shadow passed over Broa and he dove, on instinct--but no, it was no great hawk diving for him, but a bird flying higher, much higher in the air. A great bird-- Could it be that the King-Race of High-Mountain-Roosts had come, to speak with the the Shepherd-Lords of the Valley-Garth?
Broa shook the thoughts from his head. It had been long since he had talked to any but those who roosted on Crowhome, and the kindly old Ent's way of speaking was infective, in some degree. The unusual dialect would never fit a King-Raced-Bird of--No, an eagle. They were called eagles in the common way of speaking.
So Crowhome soared up--up, up, and let out as he approached the high-circling bird a raucous cry. "Hail King-Raced-rauc" That was wrong. "Hail Eagle, of Northern Peaks. What news from the frost-feathe-hrauc- From the stony northern heights, I mean. What brings you here to ride the warm winds of the Gap?"
It pleased the eagle to see the expanse of trees growing and unfurling their leaves around the rough hewn stone of the tower. The land appeared to be healing from the terrible scours and scars left by the White Wizard who had once sought to deceive all and that was good news.
Gwaihir was uncertain what to make of these new wizards. It would require more careful observation and there were none more suited to the task than he. Some wizards were poisoned with malice, like Saruman, but Gandalf had been true and loyal and blessed by the Valar themselves. So Gwaihir held him in high esteem.
He gave his wings a lazy flap and circled again. At least the wizards appeared still, unmoving, not destroying anything. As his gaze scanned further, he spied a very small feathered creature (Broa) taking to the air. The bird flew up, his wings pumping furiously, growing closer and closer to the height which Gwaihir now soared.
He blinked a golden eye at the bird who spoke in a strange dialect. There were many kinds of speech among the kelvar and Gwaihir did not presume to know them all but the crow became easier to understand the more he spoke.
“Naught has summoned me here but the need to stretch my wings and set my gaze upon lands not visited of late, young crow. In the northern peaks, the snow melts as it does every year and the rivers flow forth and all things are at peace save when orcs emerge and must be hunted,” he told Broa. “I flew south and thought to see many trees and naught else. Yet here I see a thing most unexpected. Wizards! What can you tell me of such a sight, crowling? Have you lived in this place for long?”
The elf was traveling the lands exploring after the filth of Saruman had been washed away she road calmly up to the edge of the Treegarth, from afar she could see an eagle circling high above and gave a wave knowing she'd been seen by the eagle, though she had no way of greeting the noble bird any further than that. She sat at the edge of the forest, looking at the trees a smile on her face just enjoying the look of these new trees unfurling leaves and branches skyward. She slipped off of the back of her horse and gave it a pat knowing Gwaihir would leave the steed be, and slipped into the new and beautiful woods.
She headed for the massive tower that raised from the center to see how the forest was doing, she knew there would be huorns and ents about but was shocked to see other foot prints in the woods and she headed to see who was in these woods. She slipped around quietly noting that there were berry trees stripped of their riper berries with only the young ones left and she figured it was a rider of Rohan come to pluck berries though she hadn't seen any other horse or hoof prints. She laughed at herself when she saw it was in fact a dwarf (Drifa). "Is the the harvest going well?"
Sereg a Dîn
Last harvest, she made an amazing discovery. Having spent the day stomping about on the berries - her boots off due to the warmth of the day - she had collected all she could carry and began preparing herself for the journey home. Sitting down on a nearby rock, she took a empty hemp sack from her bag that she had been carrying along with her, and began to clean the berry skins and juice from her feet. She scrubbed with the sack until she had most of the berry off. When she finished, her feet felt surprisingly silky smooth with only a slightly pink color from the rubbing and the berry juice. The stain would come off when she was near water and soap, she assumed, and put on her boots.
A fortnight later, having made it back to her halls, she was surprise to find her feet still smooth and silky; with nary a callous to be found. She had always suffered from dry and calloused feet because of the rock floors in her Mountain home, and the heavy boots she wore. But now, her feet were silky smooth, like a pink sapphire to the touch. She came to the conclusion that it must have been the combination of berry and hemp, a natural exfoliator. And so, she spent the next months leading up to the following years harvest, scrubbing her feet every new moon with a few saved berries (that had not gone into the jam pot) and a hemp cloth. Her conclusions had been 'berry on'. Her visits to the rowan grove were now a two-fold adventure which she amusingly called her, Toe-jam Adventure.
And here she was, a year later, stomping about the place. It was not as warm this year, but not to cold that she could not take off her boots. The rowan's were laden with berries, and as the saying went - “The more berries on a rowan tree, the more severe winter will be.” This did not concern her overly. She spent most of her winters in her warm halls. But it would be a long winter if the old saying held true. So she picked a little more fruit than usual. She was also gathering rowan twigs from the ground and placing them in a pile near the sitting rock. She had heard from a traveler she had met on the road that burning rowan wood (or mountain ash as some called it) and spreading the ash it created on the threshold of your abode, could potentially ward off, werewolves. She had heard many an eerie howl on her trip to the grove. Some making her beard stick straight out. One could never be too careful. It may be that it was all superstition, but she would have a long winter to get through, if the prophesy came true, and every little distraction helped.
Humming to herself, as she stomped and gathered, she suddenly heard laughter from the trees. Turning she saw an elf (Fuin) standing looking at her. The elf appeared friendly and ask her how the harvesting was going. Brushing some leaves from her beard, she bowed low and said.
Greetings! Drifa at your service! The harvest is proceeding wonderfully, good elf. I have picked enough fruit for both the jam and my feet, and enough twigs to ward of a pack or more of werewolves. What brings you to the grove?"
She looked at the pack of twigs, she had not seen werewolves in a very long time and the last time she had seen them had been in the first age and had been absolutely terrifying. Those werewolfs would not have been stopped by some sprinkled ash, but she felt that Drifa was perhaps doing it more to keep her mind busy? At least the elf hoped so. She had heard wolves, which were frightening enough but they were not weres.
The last week of her traveling she had heard a few wolf calls but nothing that had overly worried about them they had not been coming near and she did have her bow on her so she was sure she'd be able to defend herself especially since her mount was a war steed not a trail horse for children. "I figured I'd travel through here and perhaps Fangorn itself and a few other forests. After all I have not had a chance to travel since the war and now things are beginning to be green and good again so I felt it would be good to remind myself as to why I wanted to stay in Arda rather than travel the straight road to the West."
Sereg a Dîn
"Naught has summoned me here..." said the great-king-raced-high-dweller (Gwaihir), and went on to speak with the authority of the peak-dwellers, who roam, Broa knew, the misty-world-spine from the far north to these southern valleys. At the mention of the wizard, Broa dipped his wing subtly and turned, continuing to circle the Eagle while surveying the foot of the stair below.
"Indeed!" cried Broa "We did not think to see Wizards here, either-- We being my murder and I, the dwellers of the herd of the great-twisted-shepherd-of-the-motley-floc-hrauc! Pardon me, of the Tree-Herd called Quagomar, called Crowhome in this tongue. My murder and I, we have only come here recently, traveling with the herd of this ent from the depths of Fangorn-wood to the East, where long we dwelt in fear of this place. Rauc! But now we are here, and the Nest-guider, as we call him when speaking hastily, he sent me to seek out the very same wizard whom you espy there on the steps, and to determine his interest in the valley, and to confirm that it is not, as we feared, the old master of this Valley returned. But, no--there are wizards in the woods, and wizards on the steps, but none of them seem to be the cruel-robed-long-bearded-rauc to be Curunir, as he was called."
Broa dipped again, doing his best to incline his body in reverence and apology to the Great Eagle. "I hope you will forgive my stumbling tongue, Great Master of Northern Eyries. It is long since I held converse with any winged folk besides my murder-cousins, and we are long adjusted to the unhasty speech of the Tree-herds."
“Indeed I, too, am glad it is not Curunir returned to bring back more malice and destruction.” He released a sudden cry: screeching, shrill and piercing to express his disdain for the one called Curunir who had cruelly kept Gandalf captive in that very tower. “You must forgive me now, little crow. That was not aimed at you but at the memory of the one who stains the name wizard.”
“Crowhome, did you say?” Gwaihir asked Broa. It reminded him of a name once given to Gandalf. Stormcrow. The eagle knew it was intended as an insult but did not understand the particulars of crude Man-names. Stormcrow seemed a nice enough name but no one asked the Windlord what he thought about it.
“That sounds like a Tree-Herder I ought to meet. You will lead me to him. Tell me what you are called while we descend. I am called Gwaihir, the Windlord.” He flicked the feathers at the ends of his wings as if to beckon the smaller bird along and began to descend lower and lower in slow circles until at last he alighted on the topmost branches of a large tree with very strong branches. There were few trees here strong enough for such a great eagle to perch in so he had chosen this one with a careful, discerning eye.
"Then meet him you shall, Gwaihir, Lord of Winds." He dipped then, descending beside the mighty eagle toward the clearing dominated by it's perch-worthy tree. Then Broa croaked, calling in the language of the crows--And there, some distance away through the thick and tangled wood, his murder called back, rising up from a grove of ancient trees in a dark cloud...
The birds were calling to each other, in their own language. Crowhome listened, carefully as he could, but could catch only scraps as they all shrieked over each other. Confoundedly hasty birds, they were -- and their dialect was muddled enough with Quagomar's own that he could not say for certain what he heard and what he only thought he heard. Lord-king and Great-winder--perhaps a storm, then? A maker of great winds? But -- no, the confoundable declinations of the language of birds...
Anyway, they were rising up. There was something there, in that glade some distance off. Crowhome roused himself and trod slowly after them, humming and then singing softly to himself as he went. "Hroa, loa, hrum-dey-doa, in the Valley grow in the Sun we know... Hrao, hao, hroo-dey-dao... Grow green and fair in the Valley..." It was a hasty little rhyme, not proper Ent-speech, but Crowhome thought it made for good singing, and the trees seemed to like it. They rustled softly as he passed, and creaked with the creaking of his knees -- but all in all, the ent could move quietly when he wished to move quietly, and it was quietly that he came up upon the clearing and the great tree. Then he stopped, and thrummmed with joy, and cried out:
"Hail, light-bearer, hail, King of Mountain Peak. Eagle in the eyrie, ox in pasture-- 'great-winder' indeed. Now I understand, at least a little of my friends' foolish chatter." Crowhome did his best to bow, moving stiffly at the waist -- more like a tall tree bending gently in the wind than any man or elf. "Welcome to the hateful-valley-regrown-in-Fangorn-sple--hrooom, welcome to the Treegarth, I ought to say. Welcome to the Vale of Orthanc. I am Crowhome to men, though the elves call be Quagomar. I do not know what language you prefer--It is long since I have held discourse with the winged-messengers of Sulimo."
The crow (Broa) spoke in the language of Gwaihir’s distant brethren and a beautiful flurry of black feathers rose up from the trees and into the sky. The eagle watched the murder of crows move together as though with a single mind.
Content on his perch with his wings folded up and the sun pleasantly warming his feathers, Gwaihir was in no hurry to meet the Tree-Herder. When Crowhome appeared and bowed to him, the eagle inclined his head with much respect. “Crowhome, Quagomar, honorable Tree-Shepherd,” Gwaihir greeted him, "thank you for welcoming me to your home. The language of Men will do as long as it is not too abrasive for you to speak in,” he offered.
“Many seasons have passed since I last visited this land and much has changed since then. It gladdens me to meet you, one who cares for the trees and who also cares for the crows. They are often unjustly vilified and they, too, deserve a place to nest. But though I appreciate your actions, I have come to ask - what you know of the wizards hereabouts if you do know anything? Is all well in this valley of trees?”
"Roohm, hoom..." murmured Crowhome to himself. It took some thinking over, these questions of the Eagle's. The Wizards.. The Wizards... Did I know ought of the Wizards? A season ago, perhaps, or ten seasons, he had sat in a glade many leagues from here, in converse with the... speckled-root-and-tree, scent-earth-and-earth-dyed... the brown wizard, Radagast. But, Crowhome you fool-- that was not what the Windlord desired. It was hard a-times, in these modern hasty days, to recall that folks were not asking when they were asking, as the line went, but merely...
Ah, but an answer. The Windlord desired an answer. "All is peaceable in the valley, or seems to be... At least, it has been since I came, though I was late in the coming. My herd is a ragged bunch, as prone to wandering as I am to sleep... Yet, yes, there is a wizard on the step and a wizard in the wood, and perhaps two children, one eldest and one shortest, if you'll pardon the joke.
Indeed! The valley blossoms with life, and the children are a part of that blossoming. They have their place, and so long as they do not overfill it I do not fear them, though I am curious... But then, we live in curious times, as you surely know, great Master of the Winds."
Broa, son of Droa
As if to prove Crowhome's point, Broa and his kin rose up in a great cawing cloud, sure to be seen for miles around.
While he awaited the Ent’s answers, Gwaihir cast his golden eyes across the forest and spied the dwarf he had seen while flying above. The berry-gatherer was now accompanied by one of the Firstborn. It was a somewhat unusual pair to see, certainly, but the Eagle did not give them much heed. He could see from afar they were having an amicable conversation.
The Ent reported no trouble in the valley and that the land was blossoming. There was a freshness to the air and the Winds here were welcoming. Gwaihir could feel this peace Crowhome spoke of in his very bones.
“I see the eldest and shortest and they seem as peaceful as this valley. Those are glad tidings indeed and welcome ones.” With a flurry of feathers, Gwaihir shook out and ruffled his wings. “You speak true words of wisdom, Crowhome. All things have their place in this world and it is not for me to interfere save when a great need calls.”
It was not so long ago that the Eagle had interfered. When shadows grew in the East and War scarred the trees, the valleys, the mountains and all the beasts and beings calling these places home. He recalled still the Battle at the Black Gate where he fought claw and beak against the foul wraiths upon their terrible winged beasts. In the storm of fire and darkness, the ash burned his every breath that day when darkness threatened to destroy all. Still, he had flown ever onward in search of those noble Halflings who so bravely and selflessly wrought the The Enemy’s defeat.
“I, too, am ever curious and thus I roam the skies to see what may be discovered.” His voice lowered and took on a warning tone. “But fell deeds may go unnoticed even by keen eyes.” The eagle shifted his claws upon the branch and snapped his beak as if agitated at his own words before he resettled once more.
Gwaihir nodded his head at the Ent. “I hope you will watch over this place and its denizens with care in the years to come, Crowhome. If ever the peace in this valley fades, send one of your crows to me and my kindred in the mountains. The crow who brought me hither seems both sharp of mind and strong of wing. He would make a fine messenger. For now, I will bid you farewell, Crowhome, great Tree-Herder, Nest-guider and bird-friend.”
With that, he inclined his head and breast in a deep bow of respect for the Ent before he spread his wings and took to the air where he met with the crows and Broa once more.
“It seems there is naught to be troubled about in your wood,” he cried out to the crow. “I will bid you and your murder farewell for now until we meet again.” He blinked his eyes at Broa in a gesture of friendship before he soared up, up, away above the sea of green with effortless grace.
As he circled the Treegarth one last time, the Eagle felt renewed lightness and vigor in his wings knowing that all was well in this verdant and green valley lush with life and rebirth. This was the way of the world. Gwaihir released a shrill cry of joy which echoed over the valley for all to hear before the great Eagle disappeared once more into the endless blue to the north.
Beneath a bright sun, Elmwhisper stood in a grove of tall trees. The bark was a dark mahogany brown and it peeled away in pulpy layers from the trunk and branches. The waxy leaves gleamed bright green in the sunlight; they were tough, strong little things. In the spring, white blossoms dappled green boughs and birds mated and raised their young in this place of plenty. This was Elmwhisper’s herd and each tree, each leaf, each blossom brought him great joy.
But it was only a dream...
He awoke from a deep sleep feeling forlorn, wistful for a time and place long vanished. His herd, he had failed them, every one, and now there were none left of his old trees. It had been so long he no longer recalled their name. Not in Entish or any other language. His heart thrummed with a deep longing. He had not acted soon enough to save them. Still he remembered the very last tree. It was one thing he would never forget in all his years. Elmwhisper had stood by her side, watched her leaves fall, one by one until none remained and her life ended, fading away like fog beneath a burning sun.
He reached up and wiped a single tear from his face. He allowed himself a moment to feel his sorrow. The moment turned into many by more hasty folks' measure. The sun rose higher and pierced the canopy of his sheltered home when he finally rose and helped himself to a morning draught.
Refreshed and rejuvenated, the tall Ent made a move at last and left his home behind. He took slow, measured steps and observed the forest around him. The waters of the Limlight sang to him a neverending song and what leaves had fallen under autumn’s touch crunched underfoot.
When he reached the grove of trees they called the Watchwood, the Treegarth, he spied a great eagle flying overhead before the winged one disappeared into northern skies. He wondered at it but did not give it much thought. Elmwhisper was here to tend to the trees, to heal the land scarred by the crooked hands of a wizard.
Ah, but what was that he spied with green eyes glowing? Faint curiosity stirred somewhere deep within as he studied the Firstborn (@Fuin Elda ) and the dwarf (@Drifa ). He was not one to be too hasty, no, he would watch first and learn what he could before he approached them with caution. They looked friendly enough but one could never be too careful.
I am at home among trees
'That is a fine bow you have there. If I was a werewolf, which I am not!' she added hastily.
She was a dwarf after all with an abundance of hair and whiskers. And with her boots off and her skort hitched up to prevent it from being soiled by the berries, her bare legs did show more dark, downy, hair. Hairiness was after all a characteristic of one afflicted with lycanthropy and a dwarf had to be careful.
'Ai, IF I were, I would be wary of you and your bow,' she said with a grin. A wide grin that showed her straight white teeth with nary a canine tooth in site.
Her sack now full to bust with berries and with enough twigs in the bundle to carry, she made her way to the sitting stone and sat herself down. As she took the burlap cloth from her sack, she remarked on the Elf's horse.
''That is a fine looking horse too, although, I am not an admirer of horses and no judge of what is really a fine horse or not. But it looks quite healthy, and clean!' she exclaimed with enthusiasm as she began to scrub her feet with the cloth.
'I like clean! Even though I do spend a good part of my time cleaning, I like it. You wouldn't believe the dirt that dwarf boots carry into the halls of my Mountain home. Especially 'male' dwarf boots. And of course there are so few of us women-folk that, the cleaning jobs seem to be a perpetual chore. But like I said, I like it.' Shaking the cloth to dislodge any berry pieces, she looked up at the Elf and suddenly said in a lower voice.
'Have you had a feeling like someone is watching us? I have not said anything because I was not quite sure but now, I really feel like we are being observed." She raised an all-knowing eyebrow at Fuin, then looked around. In a shaded corner of the glade she was sure she saw (@Lailyn) green eyes aglow. Surprised, she sat up straighter, alert. Turning quietly to the Elf, she nodded her head in the direction from which she saw the eyes, and whispered.
"Hahah yes werewolves learned to fear this bow many ages ago, though I was not the one to wield it though I did eventually carry that on." She said with a laugh. "They learned plenty to fear Dwarven axes plenty as well." Fuin for her part was happy to look about the woods and take in the sight of the light filtering through the leaves as the dwarf sat down and cleaned off her feet before she brought the elves attention back to the dwarf. She glanced at her horse he had wandered in after her and she shook her head.
"He is clean is is a very picky horse when it comes to his tending though he is smart enough to know that he can't be washed and brushed daily when we are on the road though I do keep him brushed." She said giving her horse a look for he was eyeballing the sack of berries that the dwarf had picked, "Also keep an eye on him he is a brat, he may try to eat your berries even though he should know better." She kept looking at her horse and pointed away from the sack of berries until he gave a nicker and moved away to chew on a tree instead.
"I don't doubt it, even elves sometimes bring dirt in on our boots, I suppose it is easier to clean as the wind tends to sweep our floors almost as much as those that do the sweeping." Fuin chuckled. "I am not generally one to do the sweeping I must admit except when I don't have an apprentice to clean the forge I run." She blinked as Drifa spoke softly about being watched.
Fuin paused, she was used to being watched in forests by the trees, though she had almost forgotten that this forest was not part of Fangorn. "Hmm." She said softly and then followed the nod to see some green glowing eyes and she smiled. "Sooth dwarf. 'Tis a shepard" She said softly, "I do not recognize them for I have met a few over the years, but I have never heard of an ent be dangerous especially to those picking berries." She said softly and called a greeting to the ent @Lailyn in elvish, a language that the trees of old hand been taught so she assumed that the ent would know what she was saying.
Hearing the elvish words flow from the Firstborn's tongue was like listening to the stars twinkling in the night sky. The voice was soft and gentle as a breeze and it beckoned him, easing any worries he had about their intentions. Elmwhisper found himself taking measured steps toward the two visitors. The Ent towered over them both and his short spiky hair shone green as the forest leaves in the sunlight. His face was smooth and bare of any beard, almost young for an Ent except for the wisdom and sadness in the depths of his green eyes.
"It is long since I have spoken aloud in your language," he greeted the elf in the Common Tongue, "but I always loved it's rhythm and it gladdens my heart so to hear it. Even so, I should like to speak this tongue so that your friend may understand." He gestured toward the dwarf with a long arm. His six fingers outstretched wide in a friendly way before he bent stiffly at the waist in a little bow of greeting to them. To him, they appeared as old friends, and he lacked knowledge or memory of any feud between elves and dwarves.
"I have had many names but now I am called Elmwhisper. I welcome you to this wood my brethren and I are tasked to watch over. Watch we will and watch I do..." He trailed off for a moment, his eyes unfocused somewhere in the distance or perhaps another time entirely before he gave his head a shake and returned his attention to them. "I see you have found the ah, hoom, what is the name..." He paused. "Those tiny fruits so many creatures like to eat. I hope you find them nourishing." He smiled.
She gave a bow to the ent as he came forward and introduced himself after bowing, happy that the elvish seemed to draw the ent out so that @Drifa could meet the ancient being. Ents and dwarves really met each other especially since Ents that were awake were so rare though with the Cleansing of Isengard had woken a good many of them for a short while. "That is most kind and gracious of you to be so thoughtful of my new friend." She said cheerily. "I thank you very much for being so watchful, it is something that must be done especially now that the forests of the world are sadly diminishing in many places." She said wistfully, being almost as old and full of memories as most ents were, though there were some that were insanely older than she was.
She smiled as Elmwhisper motioned to the berries. "I enjoy them in jam, more so than raw, I am afraid I do not enjoy them raw terribly much myself." She plucked a few more and put them in her pouch. "I will be taking mine home to cook as there is no way I could safely make jam here in this forest a fire here would not be something I feel you or the other trees of this forest would overly enjoy or appreciate."
You could say Snak was a tree orc. She was reared among the great evergreens on the north of the world. She hunted among the great forests of the Ered Mithrin. She had spent three days in a tree hiding from a rival orc clan when she was merely ten. She was home among the pines. And yet she knew better than to enter this wood willy nilly.
She had ritualistically buried her hand ax in plain view of the trees. She could not shake the feeling these arbors had eyes. She made a small smokey ceremonial fire of wet deadwood. The practice of controlled burning for the health of the woods had been observed among her people for centuries. She hoped the trees would see it as a small token of good will. She had ran the sticky sap of this place through her hair until it could have stood up on its own and she wove the twigs of Fangorn into her locks. If she was to survive in this cursed place of supposed living treefold, she knew she must present herself appropriately.
I had been two days since she had seen Vit, her fell-crow. It rarely disappeared for this long unless there was danger on the currents above. Snak wondered whether there was Eagle-kind (@Lailyn ) in this place and shuddered.
A lunatic of a Dwarf shaman @KingODuckingham had sent her here a month back. At the time she had not planned on listening to the crazy old fool. Yet her journey was coming to a hard dead end. If the Treegarth proved to be another dead end, she figured she would have no other choice but to return home and try to reconcile with her folks.
The orc left her ax behind when she entered the Fangorn. But her dirk would remain on her hip. Death was almost certain in this place for her kind. She would not enter the halls of the dead this day without something to defend herself with on the other side.
The air was heavy in this wood. The trees felt alive. Every hair on Snaks body was electrified. She kept her face low sniffing for trouble. Elf fold or men. Or worse could be lurking around every corner. She ran her hands through trees as she walked. It was a beautiful forest. No rival of the great spruces on the roof of the world. But it had its own charm nontheless. The trees here felt alive in a way Snak had never felt before. She stopped at a particularly old and twisted tree. The knots of hardwood, the snarly bark. She couldnd't shake the feeling that she was looking at something alive and old and... benevolent? Pretty, she though, and moved on.
Her wariness proved wise when she sniffed the she-dwarf @Drifa. And what was that other smell? that was not elf was it? Snak spat.
It's a filthy elf (@Fuin Elda)! What was an elf doing all the way out here in the wilds? Shouldn't it be in a bright hall somewhere eating pheasant with apples or some other rich meal? Snak was a ghost in the pines of the north. She was not confident that she could be just as invisible in this wood to any non-tree eye. But she would try her best. Slowly, Snak crawled through the underbrush like a worm to get a better look at the elf-dwarf pair.
“Indeed, to be watchful is a thing most important and oft-overlooked,” he agreed with Fuin. “I failed to watch carefully enough in the past and too many trees were lost…” A sorrowful look stole over him as he recalled his lost herd and the swaths of bountiful forests that once spread far and wide.
The dwarf had not yet spoken and Elmwhisper hoped he had not made her feel unwelcome. He had no quarrel with the stone-digging folk, nor anyone else, so long as they let his trees be. As far as he observed, Drifa was not here to fell branches but to gather berries.
“Ah, yes, berries! That is the name, thank you.” He chuckled softly at his own forgetfulness. Thousands of years of memories could bury those small details. “Yes...you are right,” he rumbled, a bit on edge at the mention of fire. “I do not want to see fire in this place ever again! That wizard was allowed to burn too much and dig too deep!”
Elmwhisper, being an Ent of a gentle disposition, kept his anger contained. It was in the past and trees grew here again. He reached down and ran his fingers through a bare patch of soil, drawing a handful up and rubbing it between his fingers. It was rich and dark, full of minerals and good things. He inhaled the earthy scent and released a pleasant sigh that sounded like a soft whistle from a woodwind.
“The land is healing,” he said with contentment. “And now it provides berries to you and your friend just as it should. This pleases me.” His eyes shone with pure happiness. “A forest that thrives provides. I intend to see that it does.”
“There is a bountiful grove of chestnuts nearby. There will be fallen nuts this time of year that may or may not be edible, I do not know...if you would like, I will show you the way if you promise to leave some to sprout into new saplings,” he offered them in a show of trust and generosity.
Though the Ent professed watchfulness, the presence of the tree-orc (Snak) hidden among the brush, was as yet, unnoticed by Elmwhisper.
@Drifa @Fuin Elda @Lokktar Ogar
The Ent toward over them (mind you, not 100 feet, but tall enough to a dwarf). She couldn't help but be mesmerized by the depth of the being's deep green eyes ( green eyes, green hair) and smooth skin. What a beautiful being he was. He spoke in elvish then the common tongue. And to her delight, he bowed (although a little stiffly) to her and the elf in greeting and calling himself, Elmwhisper @Lailyn . He enquired about the berries, though at first he was not sure what they were called. As the elf explained about the jam, she shook herself from her enchantment. Any misgivings she might have had were also gone as she remembered her manners. Nodding and bending and bowing and waving her hood before her knees (in proper dwarf fashion), she said.
"Greetings Elmwhisper! Drifa at your service! It is a pleasure to meet you! May I be so bold as to say, you have beautiful eyes! I have never seen the likes of such eyes before. Such depth! Such a magnificent green! Wonderful!" Blushing slightly under her beard at her forwardness, she continued on regardless.
" I personally use the berries for jam and as a foot exfoliant." Looking at the Ent's large feet (trying to count how many toes he had) she wondered if it would do him any good, then continued on.
"I was explaining earlier to Fuin the benefits of rubbing the crush berries on one's feet. It has kept my feet smooth and callous free for a whole season. And that is why I am back to gather more." Remembering her manners she added: "With your permission of course." Blushing once more, she bowed again, took a deep breath and smiled at the Ent and Elf.
Elmwhisper then began to tell them about a grove where the chestnuts may be ready for picking. Drifa had roasted a few nuts in her day finding them quite tasty. But she wondered if she could carry more. She had her bundle of sticks and berries to carry home. "Bah!" she thought. Two handfuls of the nuts she decided, would not be to heavy, and she would not appear overly greedy. Suddenly, she felt, smelt, heard, something foul (@Lokktar Ogar ). She looked at the Ent wondering if such creatures passed wind. Did elves? Nay, it was something else. This was a foul smell that was deep-rooted in Dwarven memory. She looked around the grove. Another premonition, maybe? Hopefully it was a delightful one like the last. But the foulness felt/smelt/sounded, otherwise.