The young maiden ran her soft delicate hand across the coarse wood of the tree wall, lost in thought for a moment. Today was going to be the biggest day of her life, and with all the pressure of so many guests arriving shortly she craved a short respite from it all, if only for a moment or two. The cool morning breeze brought the sweet fragrances of spring into the room and softly ruffled her straight black hair playfully about the top of her slender neck. Pulling her hand from the wall to fix her hair once again, her almond-shaped dark chestnut eyes gazed upon her face once again in a mirror on the wall. A nasty scar stretched from her forehead to cheekbone on the right side. Her small nose and rosy mouth wrinkled as she let her hand trail down the scar, as she had done so many times before. Impulsively she reached out to compare the rough wood of the wall to that of her blemish. Her face then smoothed and she smiled half-heartedly wondering if her soon-to-be husband had initially imagined a wife with such an imperfection. True he had seen it many times since it had happened, even saying it gave her face character. The young lass bit her lip at the memory of these words. A women’s face didn’t need character she thought to herself! The instant of feminine pique passed as quickly as it arrived, leaving her with the same questions. Did her fiancée truly love her as he claimed? Would he love her forever as he had proclaimed? Or had things changed since they first began their courtship earlier this year?
A sudden pain erupted from her hand as one of her fingers caught a sliver of stray wood, and she quickly pulled her hand away. She squeezed her finger and a small drop of blood appeared from a tiny prick. Quickly she popped the tip between her lips to stem any future droplets. She was wearing a deep shade of red for her wedding, as appropriate for a mage of her training and adhering to the local marital custom. Although the droplet could have easily blended in with the gown, the thought was far too disturbing, let alone her perceived superstitions of spilling blood on one’s own wedding attire. The taste of the blood, the strength of the wood, and the magic of the place they had chosen for their wedding proceeded to lose Jenera in fanciful thoughts about the enormous tree house she was in.
A thick verdant forest surrounded the tree, itself a massive timber of immense proportions, like those around it only of gargantuan size. The base of which was equal in width to that of a small field. It had been hollowed out in various areas to provide living quarters to the former dryads who once laid claim to this ancient forest. More importantly the design, coupled with this tree’s unnatural resistance to fire and most forms of damage, allowed it to easily act as a defensive fortress that forced any attacking army into notably thin stairwells in order to reach the major areas. This provided a small garrison to readily defend against otherwise overwhelming numbers. The most grand of the major areas was the royal reception area where part of the massive timber had been carved away to reveal the sky. This was the room chosen for the upcoming wedding ceremony to be held in. An apt location for her future husband’s wedding, for he was a servant and defender of the forests, a druid. These Druids held all natural life as sacred, and amongst all life trees were deemed most wise by their lengthy years. Branching out from the major reception area were other smaller rooms, which now quartered the bride and groom, to the west and east respectively, and other rooms which would hold the various travel trappings of today’s guests.
As Jenera sucked another drop of blood from her finger, she wondered just how long ago this fortress had been used for its intended purpose? Before she could continue her daydreaming any longer, a voice called to her from a doorway carved into one of the sides of the room. ‘Are we almost ready, Jenny?’ Deshana asked.
A moment later a Grey Elf woman with high cheekbones and a narrow, slightly beak-like, nose entered and stopped abruptly in the middle of the room. She was dressed in the formal robes a Druid, and she moved towards Jenera with an air of motherly concern. Deshana, or Desh as her close friends called her, was in charge of preparing the bride for the ceremony. She was Jenera’s valued friend and fellow adventurer, and although she was a good deal older, her youthfulness in spirit and appearance belied her age. Placing her hands on her hips her long knee-length silver-white hair whisked about her strong and slender body with a life of its own. With a frown on her face she demanded, ‘For the love of the Eilistraee, what did you do to yourself?’ tossing her hands into the air while calling to the good Drow goddess of song and dance. This was quickly followed by a few choice words grumbled under her breath in the Drow tongue, which Jenera was glad she didn’t understand, for she doubted she want to know what they meant. ‘Can’t I leave you alone for a split second? Now let me see what you’ve done to yourself here.’
‘It’s nothing’ Jenera dismissed. ‘Has anyone arrived yet?’ she asked, eager to know which of her guests were arriving first.
‘Aye, one, but it is early yet, and I don’t mean just the morning, but we have some time before the ceremony. Remember, this place is some days journey for most of your...’
Not wanting her to fuss anymore over her or even finish her sentence, Jenera once again tried to change the subject; she pressed ‘Do my robes look alright? What about my hair?’ She stood up and smoothed her crimson garments about her thin young body, waiting for a response.
‘You look beautiful, Jenny. Just a couple of small details and you’ll be all set.’ Deshana narrowed her sea green eyes as she descended upon her longtime friend. Jenera groaned in obvious protest, but that didn’t stop Deshana. ‘Now let me have a look at that finger…’
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