The Sycamore Tree
Cloverberry Manor is probably the highest esteemed place in this town, maybe even all of Bryder. For one, it's where the Royal Parliament meets. All our continent's decisions are made there. Also, Gnorme of Thornewood, built and currently lives in it. Gnorme is an ancient descendant of the gods, Jedikiah Brine's second, the most powerful sorcerer (he taught Queen Redbird everything she knows) in the world...the list goes on. And as a result people flock to Cloverberry Manor.
For one large reason besides Gnorme-the giant sycamore tree outside.
It truly is a beautiful tree. The trunk is twisted, there are tons of branches. Historians and scholars and everyone in between agree that it has probably been standing for over five hundred years. The splendor of Gnorme's architecture is almost completely hidden by the tree.
Thankfully, Gnorme is kind and considerate. People flock to the small garden around the tree. I myself spend hours on end there, studying. Children climb in the trees welcoming branches. Everything is perfect, and there, it's as if time has stopped.
I sit there, on a park bench, legs crossed. It's Saturday afternoon, and people all around are happy. Couples walk hand-in-hand, parents smile at their children up in the trees boughs, people have picnics, scholars study. A butterfly flies lazily by, and birds sing. The sun comes down. Life is peaceful.
At least, for now. I have an inexplicable feeling that something's going to change.
I have my journal open, quill and ink in hand, writing my latest article. I'm a scholar, see, and until I get my certificate, I'm stuck writing articles to prove my worth and intelligence. I work part-time at the library, as well, to pay my rent.
I'm a scholar of the fundamentals of magic. I don't practice much magic-past the simple levitation spell if I'm carrying to many books-but it interests me. I like to learn, especially about all the different kinds of it; spells, enchantments, charms, curses, the elusive and hard-to-master Ender magic...it never ends. And I like it that way. Right now I'm penning an article on what Dark magic does to your brain, over extensive use; one of my favorite subjects. What magic does to people. It's intriguing.
I take a break from my furious cursive, looking up at the tree. In the noonday sun the sycamore is looming, creating shade for the people who don't like sun. I stay in the middle, where I could lean forwards and be in shade, but I lean back into the warmth. Even in the perpetual winter we have here it was a pleasant temperature, not requiring a cloak, more in the long-sleeved-tunic-and-leggings range. I wear the scholar's red and gold, which gets strange looks from people. Scholars aren't appreciated as much as we should be. But when I get my certificate, I'm going to change that.
I go back to my writing, and the next time I look up, it's evening. I sign off on my paper, finished for the day.
Thankfully the local tavern has reasonably priced delicious food. I drop a few coins on a good mutton stew and fresh bread, along with a mug of tea, and I wolf it down.
I drop my bag off in my small house, then decide to go back to the garden. After all, the sun is set, and there wouldn't be many people there. I could read my tomes in peace.
Books in hand, I stroll there, enjoying the crisp air. The sycamore's leaves are a nice shade of green. There are simple everburning lamps around. Surprisingly, there are no people except me, and so I make a decision-I'm going to climb it. After all, the aerial view of the city at night will be amazing, and it'll be clear and fresh air, and completely silent, to read. I cast a simple levitation spell on the books so that they trail after me as I climb, getting sap on my hands, and not caring.
Of course I won't make it to the top. The thing is miles high. But I get up pretty far, yet the core trunk is still thick.
I sit on a branch, keeping my books levitated. But instead of breathing, I look out, and my breath is immediately whisked out of me.
The view is perfect. Absolutely perfect. I can see everything, for miles around; absolutely everything. People walking about, people switching lights off in their homes, Trees and ponds and gardens, the whole bit. I smile.
Then I stop, because behind me is a voice.
It sounded human, like a very, very old man. "Hello," Was simply all it said. I frantically look around, for the source of the word. It chuckles. "Do not fear me. I am here to bear a prophecy." "W-who are you?" It chuckles, yet again. "I am the sycamore tree. The Ancient One." I search in my memory for something about a tree called the Ancient One. A legend, from a while ago, of an ancient sycamore tree. I understand now. "Oh. But I'm not worthy of a prophecy." "Everyone thinks that, but after all, everyone is worthy. Everyone is the main character in their own lives." It pauses. "Listen to me. You take the next train West. You find the old woman Vera in Modwell Grove. Ask her for an Onyx stone in the shape of a dove. You are destined to make peace between two warring countries in Helenia, so you will have to find your way there." "But how do I do that? I'm just a scholar! And I don't understand! What do I do with the dove?" "You will know. You can do it." "But-" "That is all I can tell you. I am sorry. Fulfill your destiny." And then it felt like something was gone, a presence. I suppose the Ancient One decided to go back to where he was. Probably sleeping.
I practically fall down the tree I climb so fast. My levitated books can hardly keep up. I run back home, too, to think. I only get about three hours sleep.
But in the morning, I buy the first train ticket heading West.