Chapter 19: Apples to Apples

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"What are we doing now?" Eve sat beneath the trees she and the descendants of Finwë had set up camp under. She sat between Findaráto and Moryo, chewing on what remained of the second bag of popcorn she'd taken from the track. "What grand adventure?"

Moryo snorted in response to her choice of words. "I am unsure what they plan to do." He gestured to his three older brothers and Findekáno who stood a bit apart. "I am going to the archery contests."

Eve nodded and stood. She walked over to the four elves in question and tapped Findekáno for him to let her into their square. He stepped aside to give her room.

"What's next?" She looked from Finno to Nelyo to Káno to Tyelko and finally back to Finno. Then she folded her arms. "There's got to be something interesting going on. Moryo mentioned archery?"

Findekáno grinned. "We plan to do the archery range tomorrow."

"He is competing in the longest distance," Tyelko explained.

Eve beamed. "Really? Cool!"

Finno smiled back and shrugged. "I have always competed. I have won thrice in the past five festivals, so we shall see who prevails tomorrow."

"You will." Eve didn't even hesitate with her nod of assurance. Then she paused. "Until then what are you doing?"

"We thought to go apple picking," Nelyo told her. "Some of us at least."

"I am joining Moryo with the archery trip," Tyelko clarified. "Káno?"

"I will join in the apple picking," he said, shaking his head.

"Findo!" Findekáno shouted to his blonde cousin. "What is your plan for today?"

The man stood from his seat under the tree and wandered over. He shrugged and glanced around. "I thought to join your brother with the children. Artanis is a handful and my father will likely appreciate the help with Aico and Ango both occupied elsewhere. Especially Ango. He and Eldalótë are always together."

"Then the four of us shall go apple picking." Findekáno nodded. "Good. We should start soon. The orchards are a good walk away."

Nelyo and Káno led the way, Eve trailed a few steps behind next to Finno. Eve didn't say anything. They all followed a well worn dirt trail that led off East. At the edge of sight stood a tremendous orchard with trees as high as twenty feet and bursting with apples. When they reached the trees, it was quieter than Eve had expected. Instead of bustling with activity, it seemed most of the elves had remained behind for the contests being held. The soft breeze blew the scent of the apples their way. To the far edges of the trees, berry bushes offered another harvest experience.

Eve stopped and closed her eyes as they entered the orchard. She allowed the sweet scents to fill her nose and the wind to clear the hair from her face. Findekáno waited for her patiently. When she finally opened her eyes, he nodded.

"Everything is so... alive here," she murmured quietly. "It's so weird. I can feel? Hear? The trees are almost talking. The land is singing..." Eve turned to Findekáno. "Is this what its always like for Elves?"

He nodded and gestured ahead. "Most of the time yes. It is more intense here, so close to Yavanna. Everything she has made sings her praise."

"Is she here?" Eve glanced around.

Finno nodded. "Somewhere, certainly. She would not let us into her orchards unsupervised."

Nelyo and Káno had disappeared while they talked. And so Findekáno led Eve forward, further under the trees. The leaves of the apple trees were darker than Eve remembered them being in her time. But it seemed not unfitting. They cast long shadows on the ground as Laurelin waxed in brightest.

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