The fire was starting to get low and Chloe watched the glowing red embers as the cold wind fanned them.
She placed three more dry branches on the embers and sat watching as they first smoked a little then began to catch fire.
She began to wonder if the trees missed these branches and minded at all if they were burnt.
She left the fireside and move toward the end of the path where trees ended. Putting her head forwards she listened keeping perfectly still.
For a long while there was nothing and then she asked,”Do you mind if take and burn the old branches?”
The trees suddenly moved in the cold breeze, though more than before, and she listened and she heard their voices
murmur and she recalled their few words.
In a moment it flashed in her head such a scene, the trees holding out a lake with setting sun. The cold wind blew across it but the image engraved itself into her mind. Such a change from the darkness.
“Now recall”, said a tree, “Remember our words…..the way is long….there’s danger ahead…….but you can only……go on.” There was a pause and murmuring then a tree spoke again, “Find the red stone at the feet of Askel the great oak.”
“Follow the path….find the sun…..and green trees….deep into Gorm the valley deep….and up the steep slope of Shadenwell the forgotten mountain lost in the hills Tildon the great hills…….”.
The trees fell silent nothing more to say as if perhaps they had already said too much. Chloe scrambled to write what she could hold the fading light torch of her mobile. She wrote all she could recall.
Keith had not mentioned it to anyone, nor had he taken any notice of it. Hunger and tiredness had blurred his mind and nothing seemed that strange to him anymore.
It was at the place where the tree covered pathway joined the exposed level area from off which lay the cave’s entrance. The trees for a short length of the pathway grew less densely and it was here Keith thought he saw something moving in the tree close branches. It appeared best in his peripheral vision and seemed to vanish if he directly at it.
For a moment Keith saw it there and it appeared like the darkness had been replaced with light. Just for a moment and in that moment he saw it was a bird. One of the birds maybe that they had heard singing in the darkness. Not it chirped a familiar song. Then without a hesitation turned to face Keith and said, “Beware of the cave and now this. All must enter the cave but none can go back until they reach the end. ” The bird chirped a little more as if clearing its throat and then continued, “Beware of the cave and now this, you will never be alone in there but often wish you were alone.”
Keith for a moment could not believe what he saw and heard but also in another moment parked it and allowed his thoughts to go with those of the others now glad to be free of the trees and finding the cave.
Keith now wondered what he had heard and a little bird told him.
The trees whispered to the five travellers, though only Rowan had ears to hear. Far from the fear of threat heightened by the dark night and overbearing trees and their shadows. Rowan told the others to be quiet and let her hear and soon she could make out the words.
The trees creaked and cracked and their leaves and small twigs rustled in the unfelt breeze. Rowan posed to listen and it did seem to her that the trees were saying something, but nothing made sense. She heard, ‘forwards’ then ‘dang’ that she thought was ‘danger’ but there was no discernable pattern to it.
The trees were indeed speaking, and no ones for excessive talk, they kept their words few.