Slightbough with Numandil and Naerdil in Fangorn

Middle-earth time is:
Late Morning on Sunday, Day 26 of December.
Real time is: 17:21:51 MST on Tue Apr 04 2000.

South Bank of Limlight
Clouds scutter across the Winter sky...
Your freezing breath turns to smoke in the air.
The wind whispers gently, a counterpoint to the sounds of the Limlight River to the north. The trail here passes close by the south bank of the Limlight. Beyond the river stretches a great expanse of plains; the beginnings of Parth Celebrant. Southwards, the land rises gently into the rolling hills of the Wold which fall off rather steeply on their southern sides. There are no trees to be seen anywhere, only short grasses and low scrub brush.

Numandil strides in from the southeast
Numandil has arrived.

When looking at this man you the first thing of note that you see is his clothing, for he is swathed in white and gold, the purest white, and the most lustrous sheen of gold so that at once you may tell that this man is unlike others in terms of wealth, bearing or fate. Upon closer inspection, you can see his eyes, dark as the shadows of Mindolluin and raven-like hair shorn neatly, but loosely so that it falls upon his shoulders in freedom. He is also girt with a blade, kept in a silver lined hilt so that only the ivory handle is seen. Upon his fingers, rings of emerald, perhaps three of them. His ensignias are two, first a pendant of the White Tree of Minas Anor shining under the moon, but most notable is the symbol emblazoned upon his chest: A White Ram snorting at the dawn on the peak of Mindolluin with many of the Runes of Daeron set about it.

Naerdil strides in from the southeast
Naerdil has arrived.

You see before you a tall, lithe man, with cold grey eyes that penetrate with a chilling probe. Raven locks flows past his broad, muscular shoulders, neatly bound with a silken ribbon. His face is smooth, handsomely hard, as if chiseled in marble. A stern look, which is deceptively aging, makes it difficult to place an age upon his face at first glance. Only when a rare smile flits across his face , revealing a younger, carefree expression, do you see his true age of twenty and one years.
Graceful and proud, he carries the full bearing of his bloodline with a dignity befitting one of the House Nimothan. An alabaster tunic tightly molds his chest, a dangling necklace of gold holds a glittering jewel that shimmers against the snowy background. Fawn coloured breeches and a matching long coat are of the finest leather, kid soft and well tailored to fit snugly as they taper into the top of his highly polished boots. Thrown across his shoulders in an elegant, if haphazard manner is a cloak of sable, held by a glittering jeweled brooch, matching the ring on his left hand.

"Most likely naught but trees," replies Numandil as they stride on.

The Great Hound next to them continues to move on and here at the outskirts he sniffs some of scrub brush. Then Numandil begins to sing, his voice taking on a wandering chant:

Oh by the river deep and dark,
I saw a willow tree,
Its hands were lifted high to greet the lark,
Far from the sunlit sea,
Oh leaf and branch and grass and root,
What home shall I call thee?
When far from journey's end we stride beneath the green roof.

Far along the aisles deep,
The trees sing their song,
Of endless days 'neath the sun,
All the moon lit year long,
What do I seek save to see,
What wonder comes to me?
Oh pass away, through forest and fen,
Behold the willow tree.

Then Numandil grows silent again as he rides on slowly.

The river here meanders lasily among the vast featureless plains on both sides. The wind gathers a great strenght here, as there is nothing to slow it down for miles, no matter where you look. Its chilly breath makes the bitter cold even more biting.
As the Limlight finds its way between the low rolling hills, it passes under what looks almost like a tunnel: rows of great weeping willows stand there on both sides of the river, and their long graceful boughs meet high above the water. Shadows lie heavy under this trellis of willow branches, and even the strongest of the wings becomes barely a whisper by the time it sneaks in.

Numandil points ahead, "There seems to be a path thither. What think you Naerdil?"

Silent long after the song of Numandil has finished, Naerdil gives slack to the reins of his horse. Slowly does the horse meander through the rows of weeping willows, a sense of peace pervades the air as all seems silent in this place. Nodding his head and almost whispering, 'Aye. It doth appear to be a path of some sort." Reaching out one gloved hand he allows a weeping branch to grace his palm in passing.
"Then let us pass through the gates of Fangorn at least for a time my nephew," says Numandil. "I would see more of this place ere we must continue our journey."

Numandil tramps away to the west.
Numandil has left.

Naerdil tramps away to the west.
Naerdil has left.

South Bank of Limlight
A freezing mist is falling gently from the overcast sky.
Your breath clouds the air in front of your face.
The whispering sound of flowing water comes to your ears from the north. The sound of the wind sighs over the downs from the south and the plains to the north, and no rustling of leaves is heard. Beyond the river Limlight, the plains stretch away to the horizon, the verdant grasses waving in the breeze, while to the south stretch the low hills of the downs sloping gently toward you, innocent of any trees.


The great hound of the pair sniffs the ground carefully. He then lifts up his great head and perks his ear for the briefest of moments.

The whispering sound of flowing water barely reaches the ears of Naerdil, conscious of every sound and movement, as his silvery grey eyes capture the beauty of this place. Calling to his uncle in the lead he asks, "And this is thought to be a place where evil dwelleth? I find it hard to believe of such a serene forest of such beauty."

A path lies ahead indeed, a gap between the tree trunks here, a branch raises just a bit higher there. Wide enough for one horse to ride throuhg, and even then the twigs and branches brush against its sides from time to time. As you go in, the sounds of the wind fade, walled of by the trees, and soon there is only the silvery voice of the water to keep you company in the silence of the wood. That, and an occasional whisper passing from tree to tree overhead.

"We have not entered the forest yet Naerdil," says Numandil. "Yet who knows what may lurk in the heart of the forest or what secrets we may find there. I ponder how the Mirkwood may differ from this place when we come to it at last."

Numandil strolls away to the west.
Numandil has left.

Tiar Forod, at Limlight River
The great forest of Fangorn lies just to the west. Across a small bridge to the north, one can see that the forest ends, and a vast grassy plain stretches out off to the horizon and beyond. To the south a road stretches away.

Naerdil strolls in from the east.
Naerdil has arrived.

Numandil glances to the west and then says, "A bridge. I wonder who made it?"

The creak of leather sounds as Naerdil turns in his saddle, cocking his head to one side, face intent as he listens to the sounds of the forest. An odd smile of bemusement curves his lips as his head shakes, "Tis an odd place indeed uncle. The tales that could be told of the travelers that have passed through these ancient woods.'

"Maybe," says Numandil, "But we must do our part as Men of Gondor would, nor would I deprive us any longer of this sight despite the weariness of the long road. Like unto Rauros, let us go over yon bridge and see what there lies. Come Naerdil. Huan: Lead the way."

With that the great hound leaps forth onto the bridge and crosses.

Numandil strolls along the river to the west.
Numandil has left.

Limlight River
The river Limlight runs across the plain here, from the dark forest of fangorn in the distant west, eastwards across the plains until it forms up with the river Anduin in the area known as the Wold. The water of the river is clear and cold as it rushes swiftly from the west.

Naerdil strolls in along the river from the east.
Naerdil has arrived.

You look upon a willow tree. Old it seems, ancient indeed, and yet slight and graceful in its own way. Massive thick trunk raises from the ground, covered in grey and brown bark with patches of lichen, then branches into many drooping long limbs, swaying gently in the wind. Green moss cascades from the upper branches, clinging to the weathered bark.
Somehow you start to get the feeling of being watched. Perhaps, someone is hiding nearby, may be even in this same tree. Its ample bough could very well hide a pair of watchful eyes.

"Well, well..." says Numandil, "This place feels as old as the White Tower!"

To the north, just across the bridge, the plains continue as far as the eye can see, but to the west, your stare is met by a dark wall of the forest, so suddenly it raises from the ground just few steps away from the riverbank. No more than a few trees can you make up, and then your eye is powerless before the shadows.

The hound sniffs about the edge of the forest looking for a place to mark his territory.

Glancing west Numandil rubs his chin, "Quite different from any forest in Gondor."

For once, the talkative young man is at a loss for words as he beholds the dark wall of the forest. A snort of sorts is heard as he says, "Tis very different, to say the least. The darkness doth surprise me over much."

There is a whisper passing from tree to tree as they sway under a cold hand of the river breeze. It sounds almost like a held back laughter.

"Yes," says Numandil, "Let us go under that willow tree. The wind is cool, but not so much as before." He then stops for a moment. Pausing to listen, then he steps forth toward the willow.

The hound follows slowly, staying near the horses...

Moving forward as bade by his kinsman, Naerdil eases his stallion nearer to yon willow tree. The steps of the stallion making only a whisper of a sound as he moves through the grasses. The gentle sounds on the breeze cause the young man to sit up straighter and peer to the right, "The sounds of silence sometimes make the strangest noises, do they not?"

Numandil slides off of his horse, "Yes. Naerdil, can you tie the horses to the willow? We shall eat here I suppose."

The great willow stands here, dipping its drooping long branches into the clear water of the Limlight. Few more trees, similar but younger, grow upstream from it, but none looks as old or as mighty as this first one.
As you approach, you notice that the path further into the forest is barred by a great branch of the tree, stretching across the trail just low enough so the horses would not pass, but also not so low as to they could leap over it.

Swinging one long, lanky leg across the horse, Naerdil quickly dismounts and grabs the reins of both steeds. Walking closer to the willow tree his eyes fall upon the path that leads further into the forest, barred by a great branch of one tree. "That should prove to be an interesting path to take from here.", he says over his shoulder as he busies himself wrapping the reins around one low limb of the tree before him.

Numandil smiles, "What a beautiful tree. I wonder how old it is?" He then looks west and says, "Yes, I wonder how the horses will fare in the forest?"

Just then the hound sniffs the base of the tree with interest.

At this point RL struck and the players have taken a 30 min break while the characters enjoy their meal.

Middle-earth time is:
Daytime on Sunday, Day 26 of December.
Real time is: 19:03:51 MST on Tue Apr 04 2000.

The pair sit below the willow, the hound curled up by them. Numandil leans back against the tree and yawns, "That was just right, for a ration."

The hound gets up and wanders behind the tree, perhaps looking for a place to mark his territory...

The fluttering of dark lashes mark the weariness of Naerdil as he leans against the willow tree. The movement of Huan forces his eyes awake with a start as he swats at the hound, "Mark your territory a little further away from me.", he barks out a little gruffly.

The hound then begins to sniff at Naerdil for a moment, he is a display of constant movement.

Meanwhile Numandil says, "Well, I suppose we had best go soon. Perhaps it was the mean but the forest looks perhaps less perilous now."

The trees around you are silent and motionless. The wind have calmed down, and the sun starts to dull the edge of the biting chill. The great tree stretches its limbs above the water, and, as the sun raises, the shadows crawl closer to the trunk, hiding from its light.
The hound wanders off to the other side of the tree, apparently deciding to better heed Naerdil's warning. Only a few seconds pass after the dog disappears behindthe thick bark, and suddenly the silence is shattered by a loud splash. Looking at the edge of the water you see the hound , climbing from the swift and cold flow back onto the shore near you, dripping water all around.

The good nature of Naerdil returns quickly as he reaches to stroke the fur of the hound as he passes back and forth in constant movement. "Huan seems to be either nervous or excited about something. Normally he is resting when we are resting, eager to give his massive paws a few moments rest." Rising gracefully from his spot on the grass, Naerdil wipes a few dried leaves and grass from the dark material and eyes the path with the low limb. "Are we to ride the horses over that or go around?" Laughing as Huan wanders even further away from the pair, but laughter quickly turns to concern as the dripping wet hound emerges from the cold water.

Numandil rises and looks at the hound.

Then the hound Huan shakes his coat and growls slowly at the tree. Numandil steps up to it and touches the smooth bark only after removing a glove.

A loud, booming laugh splits the relative silence of the forest as Huan growls at the tree, "Silly hound, your antics today have given me many pause for laughter." With that Naerdil moves to repack the supplies taken from the steeds.

The great willow remains silent ant still. Its bark is rather smooth for a tree that old, only a few small spots are wrinkled or patched with moss or lichen. Its roots buldge through the ground near the trunk like thick knot-knucked fingers gripping onto the earth. Eerie silence falls again as soon as the echo of Naerdil's booming laughter fades under the shadows of the wood.

"Speak not so of Huan the Hound of Dol-Amroth!" says Numandil grimly, "For he knows the speech of men and has been further afield than you or I." Then silence. At length Numandil speaks again, "Tell me Naerdil, have you seen a tree like this? It is a strange looking willow. Perhaps you should draw a picture of it for the journal?"

Amusement still twinkles from sea grey eyes as they peer at the willow tree, "Forgive me uncle for speaking thusly of Huan. But come, you must admit, it tis a bit odd for him to standing barking at a tree instead of bounding after a hare or other game." Shrugging one shoulder he says, "My amusement doth oft rise at the most inoportune times." Ungloving his right hand he looks more closely at the bark, very gently brushing his fingers over the smoothness. Surprised by the feel of the bark he says naught but rises to pull his journal and charcoal from the saddlebag. His voice is one of serious nature as he says, "This shall be an interesting entry into our journal."

Numandil nods, "Yes, its old, but the bark is smooth. I wonder how old the willow is?"

As Naerdil rustles through his journal, the wind raises from the river again, and its sturdy, if invisible, hand ruffles the limbs of the willow, and even its great trunk bends slightly, to hang over the man as if peeking over its shoulder. With a sudden wail, the wind rips a page from the journal, and it flutters into the air and dauntingly circles above Naerdil's head, before being carried further up, into the bough of the tree. There it disappears in the web of twigs and thin branches.

Stepping a few paces back, Naerdil turns his head first one way and then the other as his charcoal moves across the parchment pages of the journal, capturing the beauty and unique nature of the willow for their records. "Do you suppose the bark was worn smooth by the constant wind coming in from...", his words stopped short as the wind suddenly rises and rips a page from his book. Reaching for the page as it flies hither and thither, soon disappearing into the bough of the tree. Frowning slightly as one hand rests on his hip he turns to Numandil and stares at him without speaking.

Numandil takes a step back... the horses neigh and then suddenly break loose and suddenly run east!
Watching the horses run Numandil glances back at the willow and says in exasperation and irony, "I hope my dear Willow you can get those horse back!" He then sighs and looks to his nephew.

If the tree hears the small man in its shadows, it surely makes no sign to this end. The wind quiets as suddenly as it started, and, in the little light which makes its way through the dense bough you can see the white blotch - the page from Naerdil's journal, stuck in a twig near the top of the trunk.

"Well," says Numandil. "We must see to the horses."

The sounds of the hooves fade to the east, but, just as you would expect them to be heard no more, they stop moving away. The sound does not become any stronger, but does not fade either, as if the horses are running around in one place.

Naerdil seems focused on the page of his journal near the top of the trunk, silvery grey eyes gleam as they note the branches between where he stands and the page of his journal. Tenatively he tests the strength of the bottom limb and deems it worthy to hold his weight and with that he turns to Numandil."The horses will not go far in the forest, give me a few minutes to retrieve that page from my journal. I cannot easily reconstruct our earlier -first- moments of travel." With that he hoists himself up on the bottom limb and rests booted feet there as he reaches on up to another limb, all the while staying focused on that piece of parchment.'

Numandil waits for a moment, "Well, I still hear the horses. Very well, be careful though, the tree is not high, but it looks slender."

Be it a gentle touch of the wind high in the bough of the willow, so subtle that a man's skin could not feel it, or the tremor sent through the tree by Naerdil's climb, but the page is suddenly dislodged from the twig which was pinching it, and, swaying left and right, falls slowly to the ground until it touches the grass at the very edge of the water.
The sound of the hooves is now growing stronger, and closer.

"Well now, this is something," says Numandil. "Call me a corsair, but this tree seems to have almost a mind of its own. It seems happy in its game with us."

Naerdil pauses his movements as the piece of parchment moves from its spot and begins a gentle fluttering descent to the ground. Gracefully jumping to the ground he quickly retrieves the page and sticks it into the leather bound journal. Nodding his head in agreement with his kinsman's words he says, "If I were not a witness to this day, I dare say I would not believe the written word about it. And yet, what difference is there to see of this tree save the smooth bark? Perhaps our imaginations are overwrought with the excitement of this journey. Ah, listen, our steeds draw nearer."

Numandil turns and listens, "This is indeed strange. I wonder if the tree is trying to dissuade us from entering his home?"

Indeed, the horses appear in sight, scrambling through the sparse underbrush toward their masters. They seem to be in a great hurry, as they gasp for air through the foam on their lips. They gallop with all their strenght and speed until they reach their owners, and only then the animals stop and glance back with their wild bloodshot eyes.

Numandil walks up to the horses and takes the reins, soothing it slowly, "What put a fright into you Rochang? It is just a tree."

The nickering of his stallion draws Naerdil to his side as both steeds scramle back to where the men of House Nimothan stand. His voice is low and gentle and he strokes the horse, "Easy boy....shhhhhhhhhh, easy boy." Naerdil leans forward, almost touching his forward to the side of the horse as he whispers soothing words to his stallion of many years, a gentle clucking of his tongue can barely be heard as his right hand goes up to rub the flank of the stallion. Finally a whinny sounds from his stallion as his breathing returns to normal and he nuzzles the shoulder of the tall man. With that he turns to his uncle and says, "Tis a strange day, for certain."

"So what do you wish to do?" asks Numandil. "Do you wish to explore the wood? Or shall we camp here and then go on our own course on the morrow?"

The fearful glances of the horses are cast eastwards, but as far as yor eye can see there is nothing but plains, with few sparsely growing trees, most of them standing singly, but a few seemingly clumped in a small group, although it appears hardly more than a dark blotch from this distance.
A sound comes from above, a single note, quiet, long, and perhaps even sorrowful, like a wind chime. Almost as soon as the note falls, it is answered by a similar voice from afar in the east. Must be the wind wailing in the tree branches.

Looking back in the direction from whence the horses returned, Naerdil says nothing as there is naught to see save a few sparsely growing trees and plains. With a shrug of his broad shoulders he mounts his stallion and draws the reins against his gloved hand. "Let us move on from this spot Uncle. There is nothing I can put a finger upon, but an eerieness has come upon me and I am eager to be far from here.", a darkness clouds his sea grey eyes as he urges Numandil, "Come, let me be gone from here."

"There are strange voices in the air Naerdil," says Numandil. "Now am I resolved more than ever to go into Fangorn and there witness what wonder or peril that may lie therein." Then suddenly Numandil leaps upon a rock and pushes back his cloak revealing his proud eyes and noble face, "What voices speak to Numandil the Nimothan? What secrets does the wood of old hold? No evil do we wish upon the Fangorn. We wish to see, and to speak, and to listen to the old aisles of the forest where trees yet free grow beyond the girded mansions of Men."

"Hoom, hoom...", a loud, but not unpleasant, booming voice comes from above. Nothing seems to change in the great willow itself, but if you let your imagination run free, you could almost bring yourself to believe that these two great limbs are like hands, branching into many long fingers. The roots do look like gripping toes, and even the trunk looks like it's almost split near the ground. The cascades of green moss could be a beard, hiding most of would be the long face, cut in half by a broad crack - a mouth. "So, hoom, you think the voices speak to you?"

As tall as a tree he is, graceful in his own way, as a weeping willow. Massive thick trunk raises almost straight from the ground, and is clad with raiment of grey and brown bark, wrinkled in places, with patches of lichen. The tall head begins right above the shoulders, for there is hardly any neck. Deep eyes, shot with a green light, are slow and solemn, but their steady gaze is penetrating as he considers you with the same slow care as he had given to countless others.
Bushy long beard falls down in unkempt cascade of green moss, covering most of his long face and almost hiding his broad mouth. His long drooping hair rustles when touched by a gentle hand of the wind, as if whispering a greeting to an old friend. His large arms, a short distance from the trunk, are like two willow limbs, and covered in smooth brown skin-bark, and his hands branch into many knob-knuckled fingers.

Jumping back Numandil reaches down for his sword and then cries aloud. Then he takes a moment to gather his senses and he looks over at Naerdil for a moment. He then looks back at the tree and says, "I do now!"

The stallion beneath Naerdil rears at the sound of stange voice booming through the air. Masterfully he brings the stallion under control, turning around a few times in the process. Breathless and flushed with the exertion of staying seated on the steed his wild eyes glance up at the tree in disbelief. Quickly his eyes shoot to Numandil and then back to the tree, again, his eyes rove the -body- of the willow, this time, it cannot be...a face? In disbelief he shakes he head and closes his eyes for a moment, opening them to discover the same state as before. Quietly he asks, "Whaatt arreee you", stuttering the words in his shock and fright.

"Hoom, well, you are a hasty folk, boom. You called onto the forest to speak to you, and the first one to reply, you want to know what it is." The sound is defineitely coming from the willow, and, as its branches part, you start to make out what would be the two eyes if you finally surrender to the absurd thought that the tree has a face. Like two glowing trays they are, high above among the branches, looking down at you.

Numandil looks into the eyes for a long moment, slowly staring at them. He then says, "Well my dear... tree, I had no idea we would be spoken too so swiftly. We from Gondor like to speak to nothing - for posterity you know. In any event..." He steps forward and bows, "I fear I am rude. I am called Numandil and this is my brother's son, Naerdil."

Realizing his jaw is hanging slack, Naerdil closes it with a snap, a sound of teeth clicking barely perceptible. Sliding from his horse he eyes the tree closer, picking out more of the features as his mind doth allow him the freedom to believe what is before him. A laugh bubbles past his lips as he nods his head and bends from the waist in a noble bow, "Pleased to meet you .....", looking up with a question in his eyes, "Do you have a name or shall I address you as willow tree?" Incredibly enough, a calmness is now about his person as he takes a few more steps closer to admire the beauty of this ancient tree.

The tree bends again, and, if you are not too preoccupied with the two gaping holes high near the top of its trunk, which do look like eyes, you could notice that there is hardly any wind, surely not enough to sway a tree like this. "Hoom, hm, branch and twig... Now what are *you*?" The willow striaghtens again, and its drooping branches hide its "face" from your eyes. The voice continues, however, "Room toom tum, toom rum...". The humming flows into something which resembles a rhyme, and you can even make up some of the words, " room toom ... houses ... doom hoom ... mountains; Man the mortal, master of horses". The humming stops, "Hoom, that would be you".

Numandil glances at his nephew for a moment and says, "Yes, mortal surely, and at times with horses as need arises."

The sun sinks in the sky and falls below the horizon. Nighttime takes over.

Mesmerized by the humming -voice- of the tree, speaking in rhymes, almost in puzzles, Naerdil is silent as the voice continues, but all the while his eyes rove over the tree, committing it to memory. Every branch, twig....each feature of the -face- as the tree allows them a glimpse and then hides it away somehow. Fascinated by this discovery he finally brings voice to words, "How ancient are you old willow tree?" Curiosity long removing any fear he had of this event.

"Boom, well...", murmured the voice, "so many questions so fast. And your names, you do not guard them, hrm.", the eyes become almost piercing with their pale green glow, "but well, I was here when this whole country was just forest, before any men dwelt here, before burarum...", the voice fades into silence, and the eyes close, or the light is extinguished in them so they appear just two darker stains on the bark.

"Well what do you call yourself? Or better, what should we call you?" he pauses as the strange speech of the creature.

The long arm of Naerdil reaches out and then stills as his fingertips just barely touch the smooth bark of the willow. Softly, so very softly does he speak, almost to himself, "Before men dwelt here, before very ancient. What your eyes must have seen with the passing of time." Craning his head back to see where the eyes once where he wonders aloud, "Would you mind if I captured a drawing of you on the parchment?" Suddenly understanding dawns in his eyes as he laughs, "You! You are the one that ripped the page out of my journal earlier. Twas not by chance that a stray wind whistled by and removed it. Oh my! How very rich this is. I shall never forget chancing upon you in the forest -willow tree-."

The eyes do not shine again, and without them, the willow does look rather ordinary, if old. Its face, or what you took for such, is just glimpsed through the bough, and the voice now hangs in the air disembodied, coming from nowhere in particular, "Hoom, well, at any rate, room, I am not going to tell you *my* name." There are whispers woven into the words, strange sounds from all around you, but the voice continues, "For once, it would take you too long. Hoom, all you see, all you doo, hm, all adds to the name. And I have, boom, seen the forest when the only light came from the stars." The voice seems to ignore the request for posing, but then, why would a tree care?

"Oh that is well," says Numandil, "If that is your custom Master Willow. My nephew and I were travelling through and there have always been strange tales about Fangorn. But I must say meeting you exceeds even my wildest dreams."

Quick are the steps of Naerdil as he strides to his stallion. Withdrawing the well worn journal and charcoal, he stands before the tree, scrawling a quick outline of the ancient willow. The scratching noise of him shading in the different nuances of the limbs is heard in the silence...and yet, silence there is not, if you listen closely to the whispers in the wind. A gentle wind lifts the front of his raven hair as he works diligently, trying to capture the essence of this marvel before him. Several of the words spoken by the tree are scribbled alongside the drawing as he finishes. Walking over to where his uncle stands he holds out the book for his viewing, his own eyes drawn back to the mystical tree.

"Hoom, dreams, yes.", The voice is quiet and thoughtful now, "you should be careful with dreams. Elves know that, yes, they do, hoom." The words end, and the silence falls again, disturbed only by the scratching sounds Naerdil extracts from his parchment, and the silvery voice of Limlight.

"You have met elves?" asks Numandil his eyes widening.

"Hoom...", fades the voice into the murmurs of the wood, whispered from one tree to another, " ... Elves ... toom ... old ...", but soon you can no longer make out the words.

The old willow dips its graceful branches into the water, the first and greatest in a row of slender trees, all silent now.

Long does Naerdil stand watching the tree, long after it falls into silence. Sighing deeply in wonderment he retrieves the supplies needed to make camp for the night and sets up the grey tent. The stallions are settled in a grassy area just before the river, both reins tied tightly around the branch of a tree there. Yawning as weariness overtakes him he looks at Numandil and says, "This has been a day of great adventure Uncle and I must rest."