The Hollow Tree – Part 2
This is the conclusion to WTF’s story. If you haven’t read part 1, you can find it here.
The Lunar Celebration was upon us, and tonight was the night I would approach the Hollow Tree. I was lost in thought as I was mixing my sleeping draught, crushing the fine herbs into a creamy paste. I corked the glass vial I put the mixture in, and set it on my wooden counter with a sigh. Anxiety was creeping up on me, if I got caught somehow it would mean my death, and if I succeeded in gaining magic powers, how would I hide it? I shook my head and focused on the task at hand.
I buttoned up my pearl colored gown that resembles moonlight, and adorned my deep blue cloak that resembles the night sky. I plaited my hair to keep it out of my face, then pushed it behind me to fall down my back. I grabbed the glass vial and slipped into the pouch at my hip, I was ready.
Night was just beginning to fall as I made my way to the celebration. All the citizens in the town were wearing their pearl gowns and night cloaks, I blended in seamlessly. A great blue bonfire was the meeting place, many were already gathering around. Children ran around lighting off small blue and silver firecrackers, giggling as they watched the sparks fly. Small glasses of sparkling blue liquid were being brought around on trays for the adults, a light alcoholic beverage for the celebration. I pondered how to not be seen slipping my draught into the ceremonial chalice as I grabbed a glass and took a small sip.
Soon the beating of drums began, and larger fireworks exploded in the sky above. All the towns folk began to dance around the fire, clapping their hands to the rhythm of the drums and swinging their hips. The chalice was unguarded, everyone’s attention on the fire and dancing at hand. I pretended to dance to the rhythm, and slipped the vial out of my pouch, I danced around the chalice and with a flick of my wrist poured the draught into the gleaming silver chalice. I continued to dance my way towards the bonfire, glancing around to see if anyone noticed, but they did not.
I waited as more alcohol was consumed, and the townsfolk were singing and dancing until the time had come.
“Alas, it is time!” One of the elders of our town proclaimed “We shall now drink from the ceremonial chalice and be visited by the spirits of the past!”
Applause erupted, and I joined in, now brimming with excitement as my plan was unfolding. The moon glowed brightly, shining its light directly onto the chalice as the elder lifted it above her head, continuing to sing along with the rest. The elder took the first swig, grinned, and began to pass it along to the next waiting person. Soon it was in my hands, I looked down into the dark swirling liquid, and smiled to myself as I took a gulp. I nodded at the next person, handing them the chalice, they took a sip greedily and passed it along. Once everyone had taken a drink, the chalice was returned to its resting place.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was truly only minutes, drunk and happy citizens softly fell to the earth below in a deep slumber until I was the only conscious. I glanced around for a moment, making sure all were asleep, then made my way to the Hollow Tree. As if the Tree was anticipating my arrival, its runes were glowing brighter than I had ever witnessed. I took a deep breath and approached the Hollow Tree. I placed both of my hands on the cool wood, and could feel the pulsing of the runes. I closed my eyes, exhaled, and put forward all of my thoughts and desires.
“I’ve been waiting for you little one” the Tree spoke in my mind, I was slightly shocked to hear a voice. “I see all, and I knew one day you would approach me.”
I should not have been surprised, the Hollow Tree was older than any of us knew, and clearly had power unfathomable, but I was still shocked at the depth of its awareness.
“You seek magical powers, young one, do you not?”
I inhaled and responded as confidently as I could. “I do, Hollow Tree, I desire nothing more.”
“I know that, I wanted to hear it directly from you.” I could have sworn I felt the Tree smile.
“I also see that you are pure of heart. For the good of all and the harm of none I will grant you the magic you wish, I see you will use it wisely to help your people.”
Then a tome appeared in my hands, large, and clearly ancient, with the Hollow Tree runes glowing on the pages.
“Now you will be filled with the knowledge all have long sought.” The Hollow Tree boomed in my mind, then suddenly my vision was taken elsewhere, images flying past me of elder times. My head felt heavy, and my mind changed. When my vision came back to normal and I was again standing in front of the Hollow Tree, I knew the runes that hummed.
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