Chapter Thirteen

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Waiting Game

Trees and houses stretched out before her. Alex couldn't really tell if the houses were made of trees, or if the trees were made of the houses. It was strange and beautiful. She had never seen anything like it. To her right a line of tree houses went on down the path as far as she could see. There was barely any space between them and they all seemed to grow together.

They formed a wall of sorts and though they looked like small individual houses smashed right up next to each other, she wondered if they connected on the inside as well. She pictured herself starting at one end, walking through house after house, and reaching the other side.

The houses did not look like pieces of wood nailed together. They looked as if they grew right out of the ground that way. Another row of tree houses sat above the ones on the ground and looked the same. Quite a few feet separated the buildings, connected only by the staircases between them.

Alex saw many elves coming and going, the greeted her warmly enough, but she could sense that they were not entirely pleased about something. Whether it was their presence or something else, she could not be sure. She looked to her left and was in awe once again. Instead of homes, there were workshops and buildings, each one different and unique in its own way.

Some of them grew out of the trees to form simple open stall like structures with three walls and a roof. Some were grand buildings with windows and doors. She noted a manor of things sold, or rather bartered, such as vegetables, meats, weapons, clothing, etc. There was even a small pub. It had more space around it than any of the other buildings did.

She supposed that was because many people probably visited the establishment at once. They walked on for what seemed like at least a mile when they finally approached a building that sat across the path they were walking. Where the rest of the houses and buildings had flowed alongside the path, it sat the opposite way and was the last stop along the path.

It was very large and beautiful. She could only see the front entrance. The first thing she noticed was the large ornate door. It stood twice as tall as she did and was decoratively carved with different plants and animals as well as what must have been elfin ruins. The entire front of the building that surrounded the door seemed to be weaved of dark leafy vines.

Two massive trees formed the sides and came together at the top, twisting in a way that she had never seen before, as if they were dancing together and froze in time. It reminded her of the way the plants moved underwater. The dirt path turned to stone as they approached the door.

No one had spoken as they traveled through the city, so it startled her a bit when Alta spoke right next to her.

"This is the Great Hall of our Clans. It is where we feast in celebration and mourn those we have lost. It is where we keep record of things that are known and all that has been forgotten. You have been invited into our city as our guest. Tonight we will have a feast in your honor, for it is great work that you do, even if you do not know it yet. For now you will be taken to the guest rooms to rest and freshen yourselves."

Another elf came forward and introduced himself as Fello.

He took them to a building that was to the right of the Great Hall and smiled as he showed them to their rooms. They were small and interconnected. Decorative fabric draped across the doorway for privacy. Evangeline and Ryhan stayed the same house as her but they took Thad off somewhere else.

When the three of them were alone Ryhan was the first to speak, "This place is so strange."

"I think it wonderful. Mysterious would be more accurate than strange." Alex responded.

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