Clinging to the branch of the tallest tree in the Verno Woods, you can always feel every plant stretching with vigor, hear every insect singing with joy, and see every star flickering with what seems to be life within them.

Yet tonight everything quiets down as if they all know what the glaring light of the fire and the rising smoke in the north of the Moonlight Plains mean. It will not take long until they reach the Verno Woods.

Y’bneth climbs down the tree, and Baldum is treading in the circle of the trunk with his head lowered; he left a shallow trail of footprints on the soil, unaware of the fact that Y’bneth has come down until he almost bumps into him.

“How was it?” Baldum asks worryingly.

“Not ideal. Two days, perhaps.” Y’bneth answers. “They are faster than we’ve anticipated.”

They fell into silence as nobody is willing to speculate the reason why the army of the demons have moved so fast, that perhaps people living on the edge of the plains were quickly defeated and captured, that perhaps despite the fact that Y’bneth and Baldum have already had helpers stationed there, the enemies were too strong for them to fight back.

Y’bneth sits down and rests against the tree, and Baldum follows him.

Y’bneth has known Baldum for a long time now, he also knows what this war means to him. It means to face the monsters and demons who have taken his family and friends away; it means to bathe in blood and tears and the burden of protecting those who need him; it means to take in all the fear and anxiety before the arrival of their attack. That is why Baldum is tensed up right now, not being like his normal self who usually shakes the earth with his laughs.

It is not that Y’bneth is not worried about the war, it is that seeing his best friend like this pains him even more at this moment.

“Everything will turn out to be alright,” Y’bneth says, his voice soothing and calm. “I am willing to give myself into the fate the Tree of Dawn has arranged for us, and I can see it’s a good one.”

Baldum reveals a smile, but it quickly disappears.

An idea suddenly comes to Y’bneth. “I heard that the Tree of Dawn is also very good at giving signs.”

“What do you mean?” Baldum asks and seems intrigued.

“If you pick a twig from a tree—any tree as long as you feel connected to it—the lines and the knots on it will be able to tell your fate.”

“Where did you hear this from?” Baldum seems to be a bit suspicious.

“The Tree itself, when it gave me the branch. It also taught me how to read it.”

A few moments later, Baldum comes back with a small twig. Y’bneth takes it over and pretends to read it very carefully.

“I see…” Y’bneth drags on to give it a little bit of suspense, and the nervous expression on Baldum’s face almost makes Y’bneth feel bad about lying to him at the next moment.

“It says that you have led a rather difficult life, but not long for the time to come, you will be able to meet the other half of your life, who you will share all of your past and future with.”

Baldum was flustered, “I thought you meant my fate in the war!”

“I never said that.” Y’bneth shrugs his shoulder, “Do you think it will be the fairy that you were seeing?”

“I have no ide…”

“Ah shame, she is a very elegant fairy. Or could it be the girl you’ve met the other day?”

“We’ve just met each othe…”

“I see, so no for that either. Do you have someone else on your mind that you did not tell me about?”

When Baldum finally lets out a stifled laugh, Y’bneth feels the forest at night coming back to life again.