The stately man took each paw in his and bowed low, “We will forever owe you our gratitude for what you have done for our daughter.”
His wife, Tasia, standing next to him, with tears in her eyes said, “Let us know your needs while you are here. I thank you for what you have sacrificed for Nonna.”
“Please come with us and we will take you where you can have warm food and a bed.” added the priest.
The Forest Beings did not know what warm food was, but any food sounded wonderful to them. Their supplies were running thin over the course of the journey. They walked after their host and hostess winding their way along a path with tall trees on all sides. “These are fruit trees of various kinds,” Nonna said. “The Farmer Man gave us small seedlings to start and look what they have become!”
“The Farmer Man is here now. The Narflbots destroyed his farm,“ the priest said.
“How very sad,” Nonna cried. “Was I responsible for that?” She asked with tears in her eyes.
“It was a matter of time, I think. The Narflbots were visiting that area often, looking for their infernal machines. It was bound to happen. Do not blame yourself Nonna,” comforted Tasia, her mother.
The Forest Beings looked at one another in understanding, as they were all too familiar with the destruction that Narflbots brought with them. Following the path, they began to observe unfamiliar leafless trees. Abruptly the way began to dip down into a valley of bright green. They were startled by its brilliant color, as the weather even here in the East was not warm. Thick bladed grass grew for a good distance on either side. A tall bird pulling a small cart piled high with dried grasses moved to the side of the road. The Wilding in walking alongside, bowed low, and swept his hat to the ground. He greeted Far Mitrophan and his wife. ‘Bless Far,’ he said with a bow, holding his hands out to them. The priest stopped and made the sign of the One into his open hands and beamed at him. The farmer respectfully waited until they passed and then climbed up into the tall wagon and continued down the path.
“Here we have a branch in the path that takes us to the Hall of the One. Come this way dear friends,” Far Mitrophan directed. They turned down a path that fell again into a yet deeper valley at the bottom of which they saw a tall building, such as they had never seen, with large doorways, immeasurably tall walls, spires and domes on the top in shiny gold. Under each golden dome and pointed spire ran designs which were varied. Plant like patterns, of brilliant colors surprised them. At the very top was the secret sign itself made from golden material. The pathway branched yet again, and the Forest Beings found themselves walking along rows of little cottages with grass covered roofs pitched steeply toward the sky. The homes that lined the pathway had brilliant patterning around the doorways and windows and along the tops of wall next to the roofline.
Hoopy whispered to Pata-Pikki, “These beings must feel safe to have their homes so exposed. Clearly the Narflbots must not be able to find them!” Pata-Pikki nodded in agreement.
The group stopped in front of small house at the end of the homes. “This home will be a place of rest for you.”
The Forest Beings looked at each other in concern. Pata-Pikki stepped forward shyly. “Please our dear host, Far Mitrophan, there beyond is a forest. We find that a more familiar place. If we might stay there, it would be to our liking. Not that this wonderful home is not, it is just not our way of being.”
Far Mitrophan, paused as if he was listening, and then looked at the forest that lay outside of the small village, “Yes, I see of course. That would be the way that the One has created you to live. We are different creatures in many ways. Both your homes and your place of worship of the One, are in the forest. There are no Forest Beings in our valley. We have animals of course that are close relatives of yours, but not the same. You have been loved deeply in your far past and have become more than an animal and have higher understandings. Please forgive us for our lack in your needs. Find places for yourselves within the forest here. Dig and burrow anywhere that it seems good to do so. Nonna, go into the house and get the raw vegetables and fruits. I think the forest will provide the other foods you will need.”
Nonna went into the house and soon came back with a bulging bag and handed it to Bar-Thur who stood nearby. Flur-Ella gave a small woof of pleasure at the Priest’s understanding of their situation.
“We have a gathering this evening for the One. Perhaps you will join us afterwards and partake of the Feast. I think there are things that you will find good. Samul will come to fetch you here at nightfall.”
Flur-Ella bowed low and woofed, “It will be our great pleasure!” The other Forest Beings nodded in affirmation.
“I thank you my dear friends for the help and service you have shown me. I would not be here now if you had not risked yourselves for my safety.” Nonna came and hugged each one of them in turn. Far Mitrophan, held up his hand in the sign of the One and blessed them. They felt the grace that the priest bestowed as if it were a warm blanket cast around them. Turning they departed for the forest.