Please make yourself comfortable, while I fetch you a cup of tangleberry tea.
Here you go. Are you sitting well? Then perhaps I should begin by telling you a bit about myself.
My full name is Thuja Occidentalis (pronounced Tooiah Oxidentaalis). Does it sound strange? Well, I was named after the tree under which I was born.
24 years ago, I was found at my mothers breast, by a thoom healer known as The Wanderer. He discovered us beneath the protecting branches of the Ancient Tree of Life, as he toured the Great Grey Forest.
My mother, her flesh torn apart by a pack of great ferals, had died but a few minutes earlier, after barely having managed to give birth to me.
The Wanderer, caring as he was, took upon himself the task of raising me as if I had been his own daughter. He clothed and fed me, and he eventually taught me everything I know about life.
The day came when I was old enough to walk with him on his vast journeys. We travelled through villages, forests, deserts and great cities, while father offered his healing services and told his stories in the town squares. No part of Shan Deral was to remain unseen by our eyes.
One day, in my 17th year, we entered the city of Dunmaen. It quickly became clear to us, that something was not right. The streets were not pulsing with life and joy as they should. Instead, everybody walked slowly around, without purpose, looking down into the ground, and with sad looks on their faces, as if some great sorrow had overcome them.
Well, word of our arrival must have spread, because soon, a runner approaced us with a letter from Lord Gans'aale, the mayor of the city. It so turned out, that the mayor's wife was lying terribly ill. None of the city healers had been able to cure her, so the mayor asked my father to come to his assistance.
Naturally, my father could not turn him down, as he felt that it was his plight to help anyone who asked.
We soon arrived at the mayor's residence in the city center. Lord Gans'aale greeted us in person, and then promptly ordered a servant to lead us to the Lady's bedroom. I noticed a brief moment of horror in father's eyes as he saw the woman. She was surely at the brink of death. She seemed to be nothing but skin and bones, her eyes were sunken deep into her head, and she was senseless from fever.
Father sat down beside her, brought out his moonstone, and laid his hand on her chest. For three days and three and three nights he sat there without ever taking his hand away.
At the end of the third night, the Lady opened her eyes, whispered a word that I could not hear, and then she took her final breath.
Lord Gans'ale was stricken with grief, and then suddenly he exploded in wrath. He screamed the most horrible words at my father, promising that he would come to pay for his inadequacy.
We quickly fled out of town, and just as we thought we had reached safety, a qiant sentinel appeared before us. I watched in disbelief as the sentinel lifted father from the ground, as if he was but a flower being picked. Father just hung there - too weak from his attempt to save the mayor's wife to resist.
I jumped on the sentinel, banging on its armored plate, pleading it to set my father down, only to be thrown along the ground by a swing of its massive arm.
I sensed the darkness overcoming my mind...
I woke up later, in bed. How much time had passed I do not know. My entire body was aching from the wounds the sentinel had thrown upon me. I looked around, only to discover that father was nowhere to be seen. I yelled for him, but he did not respond. So did instead an old dwarwen lady, Suraett, who had taken care of my wounds. She held me in her short arms, comforting me, while I cried out my misfortune through the tears that rolled down my cheeks.
Suraett told me the next day that she had seen the sentinel bring my father back towards Dunmaen. This made me certain that Lord Gans'aale had something to do with it.
I decided find out what he had done with my father, and as soon as I was on my feet, I walked back to Dunmaen. But none of the hundreds I asked had seen or heard anything about my father. Or perhaps they just had no intention of telling me. Many waved me off with a mean grimace, and some even yelled or beat me, blaming my father and I for the loss of their beloved Lady Gans'aale.
At the late afternoon on my fifth day in Dunmaen, I found myself surrounded by soldiers. In a not very polite manner, the lieutenant - all dressed in dark red - asked me to follow them. I thought for one moment, that they would take me to see father, but I would soon come to know differently.
To my dismay, I was thrown into a tiny prisoncell, just four feet wide and six feet long. There were a porly built bed along one side of the cell, and a chamberpot in the corner. About ten feet up on the outer wall, near the ceiling, a little light came in through a window, so small that if I could have reached it, my head would not have been able to go through.
I laid down on the bed, and I cried myself to sleep.
In the morning, I was awakened a guard who brought me a little bread and water. He also handed me a note from Lord Gans'aale. He wrote that I myself could choose my own fate. I could stay in my cell for the rest of my days, or I could come serve him at his residence, provided that I never again spoke a word about my father.
No matter how horrible a lifetime in prison seemed, I could never bear to work for the man who had taken my father away from me. So my choice was obvious.
Almost seven years I spent in my cell, only allowed out into the prison yard for a few hours of exercise every week.
Some time into the seventh year, I, and many other prisoners, were removed from our cells, apparently to make room for some revolting peasants. We were put on wagoons, and taken to the east coast where a great ship awaited us.
As we sailed father and farther east, I begun to get a strange sensation in my body. It became stronger and stonger for every hour that went by. I suddenly realized, that what I sensed was my father's spirit, and that I was getting closer to him. Perhaps he would even greet me when we arrived to whereever the ship was destined.
But no, he was not there at the dock in Puddleby, But I still sense him. He seems closer than he ever was when we were together. I am sure I shall find him here somehow, though he may not be in our plane of existance.
I have heard that other exiles have travelled to uneartly places, where laws of nature are acting in strange ways. I must find out if these stories are true...
Well, enough of my babbeling, I hope you enjoyed your tea. If you would like to take a look around my little house, you shall be most welcome.