Thieves: Chapter 14
Pausing for a moment to consider her options, Jovlin finally took the man’s hand. It was a strong, warm, reassuring handshake that comforted her and let Jovlin know that she was safe. As she relaxed, pain suddenly filled her body once more as she finally realized how bruised and broken her fall had left her. Shaking, Jovlin fell into the arms of the young man whose hand she still held.
A deep, kind, reassuring voice attempted to tell her that everything was alright, but Jovlin could not shake the feeling that she must be dead. The lights, the noise, the face she couldn’t quite see, and the impossible haven all seemed too unreal. She could barely focus as she was gently helped into the woods, and into darkness.
When Jovlin awoke, she was again blinded by the light. This time, though, it didn’t take long for her eyes to adjust to the brightness. When she could finally look around, she found herself sitting upright in an elaborately carved wooden chair. The room which she was sitting in was wooden, but filled with light. The white illumination seemed to almost come from the walls themselves.
While the room was not large and seemed somewhat bare, it was not small, either. An elaborate winding staircase led up the room, and its end could not be seen. For a few loops around the room, the walls along the stairs were hollowed into bookshelves that were filled with books of all shapes and sizes. Eventually, the bookshelves were replaced by doors in the wall. Jovlin wondered what so many doors could conceal.
Jovlin stood up after a while, pacing around the room. She walked over to the wall and touched it. It was warm, but not hot. The glowing light surrounded her hand, strangely confirming her thought that the light came from the walls. Where there were items on the wall, shadows were cast on the other side of the room. The only furniture on the ground floor was the chair that she had been sitting in. There was no door leading outside, and Jovlin wondered where she was being held captive.
While pacing the room, debating her options, Jovlin felt something different beneath her feet. Looking down, she realized that there was a trapdoor beneath the rug she was standing on. Pulling on the handle, Jovlin found it nearly impossible to open the door, but she continued trying. As she pulled the handle, it suddenly gave way and swung heavily upwards and into Jovlin. She fell to the ground, stunned, and moved back as quickly as she could.
A dark figure ascended from below, the light silhouetting him so that his features could not be made out. Jovlin immediately recognized him as the man who had offered his hand in the clearing. Stepping up into the room, the man walked over to Jovlin and offered his hand again.
“My name is Brenden.” He said.
Jovlin refused his hand, pushing herself up from the ground. Dusting herself off, Jovlin realized that her clothes were covered in glowing dust. She stepped back and stood awkwardly across from Brenden.
“As you wish.” He said after a moment “I brought you something to drink. We thought you might need something hot to wake you up.”
Taking the glowing mug from Brenden’s hand, Jovlin fingered the wooden handle suspiciously. Lifting it closer to her face, Jovlin sniffed the substance inside. Steam rose from the mug and circled her face as a deliciously sweet aroma filled her senses. Tentatively, Jovlin lifted the cup to her lips and took a sip.
“M’ name’s Jovlin.” She said after another sip.
“Nice to meet you Jovlin.” He offered his hand again.
This time she took it, and returned his smile.
“Am I dead?” she asked.
This response elicited a loud laugh from Brenden, who immediately replied that “heaven is so much better than this place!”
Jovlin resented his laughter, and angrily removed her hand from his. She scowled at him as she took another sip of the drink.
“Sorry,” he said “I really didn’t mean to laugh at you. But, you have to admit that it was kind of ridiculous sounding.”
This statement almost made Jovlin smile. Almost. While she did realize how ridiculous she must have sounded, she still didn’t like being laughed at.
“Where am I?” she asked bluntly, in as even a voice as she could manage.
“Well, you’re in the southern woods.” He replied, with a bit of a grin “We’re in the white wood section.”
“Yeah, but where is that?” Jovlin was really confused “What does all that mean? And,” she paused, “What is this drink?”
“Slow down with all those questions!” Brenden laughed again. “The southern woods are a large forest in the southernmost part of Arandrei. It is divided naturally into three sections. They are the green wood section, the black wood section, and the white wood section. The green wood section is made up of only green trees, or trees that are more like what you’re used to. The white wood section, where we are, is filled with white trees. As you have seen,” Brenden waved his hand at the walls of the room “they are called so because their glow is, well… white!”
“Wait,” Jovlin was still confused “you mean we’re in a tree right now?”
“Indeed.” Brenden clearly seemed to be enjoying this.
“Okay, what about the black woods?”
“Well, to put it simply, white wood gives off white light. Black wood is exactly the opposite. It takes away all light.”
“So, how do you know that if you don’t have any light to see by?”
“Very funny.” Brenden was not quite as amused now. “The white wood light cancels out the dark wood. It doesn’t provide light, but it at least allows light to enter. We’ve made a few trips into the woods, but never more than a few feet in. That’s where the beasts dwell.”
Jovlin shook her head with disbelief before replying. “How about the drink?”
“Chocolate? I’ve read about that, but we don’t have it here.”
“Well,” Brenden smiled “We have our own ways of getting to earth. A few of the workers there supply us with things like this.”
“I have to say,” Jovlin grinned back “You spin a pretty good story.”
“I can’t blame you for not believing me. But, maybe you should take a look outside before you convince yourself that this is impossible.”
“But it is impossible.” Jovlin immediately retorted.