81st Turn, Seventh Year, Fifteenth Cycle, Skalday
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From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim

With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library

Skalday, 15th Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn

Fifteenth Day in the Trees

I have gotten lost, somehow. The path must have branched at some point, and I took the wrong turning. I have gone back down the path, but I do not recognize where I am now. I am still among the trees with green needles, but these are giants, larger than any others I have seen so far. Their bark is red-brown, in contrast to the gray of the other needle trees I saw1. They are more than three times as thick as I am tall. They grow apart from each other, as though these giants did not want to crowd each other. Some trees grow in between, but not many. The light is dim, blocked by the massive branches above us. I have seen wind-broken branches that could crush a person as thin as paper.

With the branches so high above, and the great spaces between the trees, I feel as though as though I were an ant, crawling in some giant's home. There are fewer birds here, and often there is silence, as though the forest stands in prayer. Only Souja breaks the silence, crying to be fed.

I should go back, so I do not lose my way, but I worry about getting even more lost. I will continue onward for now. After all, I cannot go home until I complete my quest. If I manage to find what I am looking for, then I will worry about finding my way. For now, my way is wherever the path takes me.

I found something interesting by the path. There was a cleared area, where few trees had grown. There were stones piled up in a wall around the clearing, and in the center, a stove. The stones were old and weathered, and the bricks of the stove were crumbling. The stove surrounded by bushes, like a very strange piece of statuary in a garden.

I soon realized that I was seeing a ruin, even older than the one I had seen before. There had been a house there once, and it had crumbled entirely. The wall and the stove were all that had stood up to time and the elements. Everything else had rotted away or been scattered. Soon, the wall would be gone, and so too would the stove. Already there were gaps in the wall where falling branches or other misfortunes had broken it.

Will I ever find a person I can speak to in these woods? Perhaps they have all left, or maybe they fell to disease.

No, that is ridiculous. Even if I ignore the strange creature I encountered, someone must maintain this path, as well as the bridge I crossed. And there was also the intruder. It was no animal that left us these strange "gifts." I simply have not yet encountered anyone who wishes to speak. In time, I will find the inhabitants of these woods, and I will speak with them.

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