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The Adventures of Larson and Garrett - The Sleeping Tree By AaronDennis Characters: 4676

Updated: 2017-12-28 12:04


"Yes?"

"Where's your da', " a man's gravelly voice asked.

"Half Pine on business, " Largo replied. "Why?"

There was silence for a moment and Larson capitalized; he slunk to the stairs and peaked. Whoever was at the door was mostly blocked by his brother's stature. Besides, it was dark and only two candles illuminated the common area, which made it impossible for the boy to distinguish their guest's features.

"There's some strange happenins' goin' on, " the man said in a tremulous tone. "I need to speak with your da'."

"Well, I told you, he ain't here."

They grew silent again, and Larson skulked down two steps, but one creaked, and Largo turned. He winced at his brother then gave a barely perceptible gesture with his head; it was an order to go back upstairs. Larson frowned and sat down instead.

"Children been disappearin', " the man said.

"What's that got to do with da'?"

"Don't be glib, boy, " the man grunted then checked himself. "Sorry, but we both know your da's a retired soldier…he ain't some half-drunk farmer like the rest of us here born an' bred in Flotsam."

That bit of news made Larson jump, and he stood, making the stair squeak again. Once more, Largo turned except that time he snapped his fingers at his brother.

"Go upstairs, boy, " Largo howled.

Larson grumbled for a second. Since his brother didn't turn away, he had no other alternative and went just far up enough to hear without being seen.

"Alright, " Largo conceded. "Let's talk outside."

The boy heard the door shut and no more voices. He figured the two were speaking outside, so he snuck all the way to the window and pressed his ear against the shutters.

"Your da' teach you the sword, right, " the man asked.

Suddenly, Larson recognized the voice. It was Mr. Thatcher from town. He was an old man whose son had died years back, even before Larson was born.

"Yes, " Largo answered, "but I'm not about to go out and hunt whoever is takin' children. I got my brother to worry over, hear?"

"Well that's why I'm here…but…you know, " Thatcher trailed off.

"Look, if you're worried about this, put the word out. There ain't so many people in town that bringin' this to light don't solve the problem."

"Well that's just it, " Thatcher said. "I don't think it's any of us."

"Who'd it be the

n?"

"I don't know. Word is, these kids wandered into the forest an' vanished. Hunters gathered at Fletcher's yester eve an' went out as a party, but they didn't find nothin'."

"And you wanted Da' to lend a hand?"

"Aye, but you could in his stead."

"No, I couldn't, " Largo replied. "Sorry."

With that, the young man came back inside. There wasn't any place for Larson to hide, so he just stood there, leaned against the shutter with his mouth open, staring at his brother.

"I told you to go upstairs, " Largo chastised.

"You could go on an adventure like George the Dragon Slayer!"

"Don't, " Largo was angry, but the look in the boy's eye made him chuckle. "Don't be stupid. That old paintin' is still up in old woman Graham's schoolhouse, isn't it?"

"I guess, " Larson shrugged.

"There's no dragons and no monsters anymore. They went out with the coming of the Third Age."

"Then, maybe it's a band of goblins, or orcs, or ogres looking to eat young boys, " Larson cheered.

"And, what, you're happy about that?"

"Well, no, I mean, " Larson trailed off and looked at the floor.

"Put your clothes on, and go to bed, " Largo smiled.

"When's dad coming home?"

"Go to bed, " Largo replied, sternly.

Sleeping was the last thing on Larson's mind. While stomping his way back to the steps, he imagined sneaking out to find out what was going on, but Largo slept in the same room, so slipping away in the night was out of the question. Ultimately, he was left with no alternative and lied down to sleep.

After wild fantasies of him, his brother, and dad all fighting off scores of monsters, he fell asleep and dreamt about a tree. It was an odd tree, old, and twisted, and big. There were no leaves on it, and the trunk was dark gray, almost black as charcoal. The tree had a face like an old man, and its two, long limbs were bent like it had elbows. The limbs also ended with gnarled twigs like claws. The thing suddenly lurched right out of the ground, and Larson felt as though he'd been scooped up, but then he was awake.

"Get up for school, " Largo yelled. "Today's the last day then you get two off to be lazy."

Larson looked at his brother, wide-eyed, alarmed. That was the first time he wasn't angry at being awakened for school. By the light of candles, he stared at Largo.

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