The last of Drayden’s footfalls were muted by a carpet of pine needles, soft and silencing, lending a spring to his step that mirrored the carefully contained excitement that he felt every time he neared the grove. He broke cover from the ferns, climbing up a steep and sudden incline of earth and rock, beyond which his sanctuary stood.
Wind whispered overhead, telling tales of clouds unseen, carrying the familiar scent of oncoming rain. The branches passed the message along, and Drayden listened. Steady drops fell by the time he had arrived at the entrance. There, at the peak of the mound between two ancient pines, he stood and surveyed the view. Rows of tall trees stood as straight as pillars, their trunks piercing the stone underneath, creating a hall. Ahead, a green rock shelf could be likened to an altar.
Whether the place had been built, or nature had constructed it, Drayden did not care. What mattered was its safety. Reverently, he strode forward.
To his dismay, a gasp of awe sounded behind him.