Both of the men started, turning around to face threat before registering that the voice was a womanâ€™s. But her size raised their hackles again. She stood a head taller than them.
Anything else was hard to see. She stood near the trees, shaded from the moonlight. Peter realized that heâ€™d actually seen her before and mistaken her for a tree. She was a tree woman. In the daylight, he would be able to see the green tint to her skin. If she was older it would be streaked with rougher brown patches of bark wherever things were likely to rub. Except for the skin and height, tree people didnâ€™t actually resemble trees, but theyâ€™d become such spirit kindred to plant-kind that first glances, those visual perceptions devoid of logical analysis, revealed their nature rather than their appearance. If Peter had been searching the trees for something, he would have seen her.
The sound of footsteps splashing through the stream spoke the truth of her words. Was it prophecy or better hearing?
Peter watched the woman, who said nothing else, waiting for Chars to arrive before he asked anything.
Heâ€™d never seen anyone of the tree folk. No one had seen them since theyâ€™d helped push the evil sorcerer and his Uruthwai into the banished valley a hundred years ago. Peter didnâ€™t know any tree folk had ever been in this forest. They were from the woodlands that dressed the great mountains of the east.
The rhythmic sloshing of water became louder and louder, the breath of Chars exertion underscoring it, until finally he stepped onto the bank with an exclamation of surprise.
Another moment of silence held them.
The woman smiled. â€œI startled you all,â€ she said, the skin of her eyes crinkling in her delight.
Peterâ€™s meandering thoughts of legends and honor and which question to ask her first halted. He didnâ€™t know whether to laugh or be irritated, so he acquiesced.
â€œYes, you did.â€
â€œWell, there is a lot to hide,â€ she said, gesturing to the cart, â€œand a lot to speak about, so we need to be moving,â€ she said.
I may write more on this today, I may not. I am in the graspÂ this blasted short story that whisperedÂ the secretÂ ofÂ it’s flaw to me a couple of days ago. I am, BTW, looking for a couple of readers for it. Especially if you’re a doctor. I need to know if my clinicalÂ sorcerer is thinking the way a doctor would.
But what I really should be finishing up is my required reading for Dave’s Workshop.