81st Turn, Seventh Year, Fourteenth Cycle, Tresday
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From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim

With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library

Tresday, 14th Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn

Ninth Day in the Trees

Today, I found a structure. I hesitate to call it a building. While it once had a roof, it does not look like any building I have ever seen. Rather than being box-like, or round, it was a shapeless mass covered in dirt1. If rotting logs were not exposed, I might have thought it was a hillock. My first clue was that what appeared at first to be bushes cresting the mound had leaves like those on one of the nearby trees. I realized quickly that it was a tree growing from much lower down than the top.

After going around it several times, I felt certain I had located a doorway. It was half-buried, and overgrown with bushes, but I managed to clear it out. I squeezed through the small opening and looked around. The sunshine streaking through a tree grown up in the structure showed a place that had been long abandoned. I could see pieces of wrought wood, but they were so weathered and broken that I could not tell if they had been part of a table, a chair, or any recognizable piece of furniture. The most intact item I found was a metal desk. It was badly rusted, and one leg had been twisted off and thrown to the side. The exposed metal of the rip gleamed brightly, with hardly any rust. Experimentally, I tried to pull off one of the other legs, but it proved too strong, even rusted as it was. Clearly, whatever pulled off the leg was stronger than I was.

Thinking I might spend the night in the place, I explored further, and soon exposed several smaller rooms. One held what may once have been a statue made of dark stone. It had been broken into many smaller pieces. The only identifiable part was an arm, small and with a strangely smooth, scaleless, furless hand, reaching out as though to touch me. I cannot say why, but I found myself afraid of the thing, and could not bring myself to touch it. Souja would not enter the room.

Another room held a hive of bees, which buzzed warningly at me, until I backed away. I had no mind to have them swarm me, and possibly sting my eyes or nostrils.

The final room I found was half-hidden behind the trunk of the tree. There had been a door once, I think, but it had been torn out of the walls. Clawmarks scarred the floors, and there were animal bones littering the floors. Some of them looked disturbingly fresh, with bits of meat still sticking to them. The toothmarks on them looked very deep2.

I am now in a camp several miles away, in a cave protecting Souja and myself on three sides. I have piled up thorny plants in the front of the cave, and I am keeping the fire built up high. I am reminded what the great hunter Telenar Sandtracker once told me. One does not need to be impossible for predators to catch, only harder than convenient. I hope this will discourage whatever was in that room.

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