A – Z April: N

Abriel looked into the tree. It was said the outside had been protecting a hollow core for centuries, but few ever dared to look and see what was there. Those who did would stay in the village for a little longer, putting right all the wrongs, and giving closure to loved ones, before venturing out into the plains to the east. Every time it was to the plains to the east, though they would never say why. One women followed her husband who braved the tree, but three days later she returned, having forgotten why she ever left. But those were all legends, warnings why one did not climb the tree in the center of town to peek into the small hole at the top.

Mothers and fathers would slap their children silly until they fell from the tree, incapable of climbing again. Guards remained at night to fend off the foolish. Every myth and legend was started somewhere, and it was assumed there was truth in this tree.

Abriel saw the two guards, though both were friends of his. Tasaden was a childhood friend, and Abriel was still able to best him in combat. Mariud was an older man, strong and filled with cunning, though he had lost a few steps. He was still more than a match for Abriel.

However, both had a weakness for the lasses, and the lasses had a weakness for Abriel. Three women came out of the shadows, swaying thick hips and heaving breasts of varied sizes. They giggled, pouted, and exposed themselves, and soon the old man and young man guarding the tree had left.

It wasn’t a dare for Abriel to see what rested within the trunk. It was a voice and restlessness. It called to him every night, glowing in his dreams, begging for him to gaze upon its wonders, and then all the truth would be known. When Elder Kasus heard of the dream, she told Abriel those dreams were quite normal, a power of the tree as it was quite apt at communication in all of its forms. Not even the gifted were capable of communicating through dreams so clearly. But many received those dreams, and only a fool would act on them.

However, Abriel had nothing holding him back. His parents were aging, and while he loved them there were other siblings to care for them. He had no wife, and being well past the age of marrying, there was little hope a similarly aged woman would wander into town in search of a pairing. He loved his brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews, but there was no particular draw to them, not like there was to the tree.

Bark bit into his hand, leaving deep marks. He was careful to avoid slivers, but it didn’t matter, the wood would find a way through the soft hands. He was halfway up when someone spotted him, shouting that Abriel shouldn’t be up there, that it wasn’t safe, and that his parents would be devastated. However, the man was too late.

Abriel finally reached the knot which was a hole looking into the tree’s soul, and there he saw a knot, glowing yellow, almost like a tangled ball of yarn, pulsing like a heart. One of the strings reached out, and before Abriel could react, it clung to his head. Then he saw it, off in the distance. There was a thick cord of the yarn from the tree off into the plains, and in the distance, well beyond the hills and mountains which were visible, there was a glowing yellow light.

Thousands of voices in unison chanted, “Join us.” So Abriel started his journey, walking towards the yellow light.

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