My trees are old.
Some were planted by my father before my birth. Others I put in with him. More still, I put them down by myself, fertilizing them as my father had shown me.
The body of an enemy or a fool (more often one and the same) in the sapling’s bed.
I’ve hundreds of apple trees.
Most of them have been fertilized accordingly.
All my trees, I will confess, have the ability to speak. Others never do, but far too many never stop. The dryads do their best to deal with any issues I cannot help with – overactive squirrels and the occasional ghost beneath a tree – and they leave the more difficult issues for me to resolve.
It’s been a month or so now since I returned from the Hollow. The speakers reside on an island deep within Blood Lake, and the Thinker ship plies the water in between. All are happy, and, I confess, so am I. It’s a distinct pleasure to climb aboard Fengbo and travel around the waters. Easier, too, to check in on some of my islands. Occasionally, we pick up a traveler. We keep well away from the border with the Hollow.
Neither Fengbo nor the speakers wish to risk being transported back to their previous homes.
I do not blame them.
I have not thought much about my trees of late and only do so now because Fengbo brought the subject of them up.
We were nearing a dock when the Thinker spoke.
“I have spoken with naiads, Blood.”
“They’re foul creatures at times,” I advised.
The ship chuckled. “I do not doubt it. However, they said you took in trees at times. I do not quite understand.”
“My apple trees,” I explained. “They can speak. I’ve a few others that can as well. A Gallows Tree, a pair of willows near one of my ponds. A handful of others.”
“I’ve never heard of talking trees,” Fengbo stated. “I would enjoy learning more of them.”
“Well, my friend, I shall see what I can do.”
Now, sitting in my private library, I will pull down old journals and see what I have written over the centuries about my trees. It will be a good thing as I’ve forgotten a bit myself. I suspect that I’ll enjoy telling the tales as much as Fengbo will enjoy hearing them.