From 10 miles away the Evertree looked like a sapling, origami at its finest. From a mile away your heartbeat quickened like that of a naughty child about to meet the principal and realized he was way more powerful than you thought he was. At a hundred metres length you had to stop and stare, you were in the shadow of some of its branches. It’s trunk looked like a wall that you’d need three friends to surround. Birds sang from the branches that they called homes and the grass grew thicker more blessed under it.

Seref took off his visor and stared down. It was the only thing you could do in its presence. The ground around it was littered with statues of warriors all in defensive positions.

He sat in the lotus position and focused on the tree. This was stupid but he’d be damned if he didn’t try.

“You call to me?” a croaky voice asked.

“There you are,” Seref said.

“There you are,” the Evertree mocked back.

“You know, some people say you are evil,” Feres said.

“Are you one of them?” The tree asked.

“If I am?”

“What if you are…” the voice chuckled in disdain, “indeed… what if you are.” its voice trailed off.

The warrior in Seref was stirred by the disrespect but patience was something he’d learned in practice.

“I am not one of them,” he said.

“What are you then?”

“I’m a fighter, but a scholar too. It’s said that the statues that surround you are of warriors who tried to fight you and failed. Today I do not come to fight you but understand. Where did you come from Evertree?”

“What do you know about me?”

“The archives say that you appeared when Sanja gathered his troops to go fight in the Unnatural Wars 500 years ago. Neither Sanja nor any of his men were seen ever since, but neither were our tormentors, the Dereheshi.”

“Hmmmm. What happened?” The Evertree asked.

“They say that in a final effort, the Dereheshi cast a spell to vanquish Sanja’s forces but they were countered and you were all that’s left. Now you sit here consuming those who get to close.”

“That sounds quite the story,” the Evertree replied, “It does have a problem though, you. Why haven’t I consumed you yet.”

“I have kept a safe distance,” Sanja responded.

“Have you?” The tree focused on him and he felt its branches twist around him. He struggled but there was a strength in them he would never be able to fight. It lifted him off his feet, swayed him a bit before placing him down. As he found his footing a branch spanked his bottom.

The tree rustled, as he once more found his focus he heard laughter coming from it, “so you could kill me and yet you entertain my questions. Why? This makes no sense, Aren’t these statues the corpses of victims who succumbed to your spells?”

“They are not victims Seref,” the tree started, “they are volunteers.”

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