A Tranquil Moment
What just some hours ago was a magnificent old oak atop a tall hill was now little more than a stripped log, waiting for workers to come transport it. But since it was nearing nighttime, no workers would come till morrow. And while the old tree was nary but a memory of its former self, it still offered a great view across the forest: an eternal sea of green canopy beyond. Two dwarves sat on the trunk. They had just finished eating, and were now taking in the sights before the sun completely fell behind the horizon. They wore very simple garb, but were also adorned with necklaces and jewels to signify their wealth and status. Runers, the closest a dwarf could be to a mage. Behind them a palisade was taking shape around a large stone protruding from the earth. The air around them sparkled with magical energies. While the common laborers caroused around a campfire, the runers were silent.
A gentle breeze blew down from the mountains. The, until then, still valley came to life as the wind blew through the leaves, making the green sea sway gently. The last rays of the sun made the sight glow an orange light, adding to the effect. It was in this tranquil moment that one of the dwarves broke the silence.
“Makes me feel like a bloody elf, this forest. Hopefully we find Ak’ Baungr sooner than later.” He had a small wart on the left side of his nose, and his beard was braided into two separate, large braids.
His companion remained silent, and the green sea continued swaying. It was awfully clear that the natural harmony of the moment had been ruined, and the silence between them was not going to bring it back. The wind grew in power. A howling was added into the rustling of leaves. The second dwarf, younger, with a simply combed beard and large brown eyes, listened closely.
“Can you hear that?”
The wart-nosed runer turned to look at his colleague. “What, the wind?”
The younger dwarf had his gaze fixed on the forest. “It talks to us. Can you not hear?”
Wart-nose raised an eyebrow at the comment. “Trees do not speak, boy, even if they are in an ancient, secluded forest. Should I be worried about you? Have you become an elf?”
The young runer didn’t even flinch at the insult, completely transfixed on the forest.
“It is angry. The forest, it does not want us here. The valley does not want us. The mountains do not want us. There is nothing for us here.”
Wart-nose let out a laugh. “What, are the trees going to angrily rustle their leaves if we do not leave? Hah! I told the others you should not be brought here, too young and impulsive. Boy, this is the start of the next dwarven golden age! The forest demons have already shown their weakness, our Grah-Gol expands! Trade is prospering already, newcomers flood in to be here when we finally come through the ancient gates of Ak’ Baungr! The trees are simply afraid for they know that this whole valley will soon be farmlands and villages built from their trunks!” Wart-nose slams his fist on the trunk he is sitting on, cracking the old bark. He then composes himself. “Not that trees can be afraid, of course. They are just trees, after all.”
The younger dwarf paid no attention to his all-of-the-sudden noisy colleague, keeping the same pose even as the fist hit the trunk. An awkward silence passed between them, five seconds that felt like an eternity. Wart-nose then hopped down from the trunk.
“I’m going to sleep now, and recommend you come as well. Maybe sleep will clear that young head of yours."
He then turned around, but before he could take a step away, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head and saw two icy blue eyes stare right through his skull.
“Ak’ Baungr is no more. The valley has nothing but death and suffering remaining. Leave, while you still can. The demons you have faced are nothing to the true terrors of the valley. An ancient evil has already awoken, and will soon make itself known. Leave, while you still can. There is nothing for you here. The Valley. Does. Not. Want. You.”
The young runer released his grasp and hopped down from the trunk. Wart-nose watched as he walked down the hill and into the forest, never to be seen again.