[Story] The Grovesworn

Farandil pressed the soil gently around the base of the seedling. It was important that it not be too tightly packed, or the fragile plant would not take root and grow. His fingers searched the basket that he had brought, but he had planted the last one. By this late in the summer, the seedlings were strong and tall, and he hoped that they would thrive here so close to the city. As he’d told the healer, people often didn’t look where they walked, and could easily tread on a young plant. It’s not that they meant to do any harm, they were simply careless. From what she had said, not many people came to this part of the wall, however. The place where Farandil now stood was in the scar, he could tell that from the smell, and the consistency of the soil. It had an unpleasant smell, faint though it was, but he knew that seedlings had taken root in the grove and they likely would here as well. If not, he could try again next spring. He’d gather nuts and acorns from the trees in the fall and save them through the winter, as he always did.

It had actually been the healer’s idea to plant them here. Normally he didn’t travel so far, and he was worried about finding his way. To his relief, the roads had not changed, aside from some small streams and rocks that sometimes blocked the way. If the healer had sent a ranger to guide him, they hadn’t arrived yet. Farandil understood that the rangers were important to the forest’s safety. They would both keep the scourge away, and make others feel safe enough to come here. But at the same time, he didn’t want them interfering with his work, and he definitely did not want them tromping around the grove in their boots. The healer — Lanithriel was her name — assured him that they would be careful of any seedlings. He wasn’t certain how she could promise such a thing. The building he met her in was new — he could still smell the sap of the boards and the fresh paint. She said that her husband worked there too. The people in town hadn’t mentioned that. Still, she told Farandil that he could come every few days to get food from the mage school. He could listen to her voice then. And she did have a point, he wasn’t eating as well as he should, but what choice did he have, really? The small garden behind his house had provided vegetables, and some days he was able to catch a fish from the river. Rarely, someone in town took pity on him and gave him a few coins, or some stale bread, but that wasn’t often. It was embarrassing when it did, but he accepted it all the same. Lanithriel said that a better died could help his vision recover. Farandil had his doubts about that, but he would certainly not turn down the offer.

Farandil felt the sun on the left side of his face, to the west. It would be setting in a few hours. He gathered up his things and began the long walk to the south.


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