The room was fully furnished but almost entirely empty. There was a desk, a chair, and shelves. But despite the lack of materials in the room, it succeeded in making one feel as though it was the perfect place to work. And that there was always more work to be done.
The desk was just a simple brown board with four legs. No drawers to hold anything for there was nothing to hold. The top of the desk was entirely clear except for a single scrap of parchment. Behind it was the chair, the only chair in the room. Years of wear had given it the appearance of something that would soon be nothing more than a pile of splinters. Yet for now it stood.
Shelves lined the entire perimeter of the walls, their lengths coated with dust save a few spots where items had recently been moved. One shelf, third from the top, had a larger spot without any dust. As if it had been hastily brushed away. Another, just underneath, had claw marks. And on another, third from the bottom, stood a small pool of blood.
The air in the room was heavy. Comfortably heavy. Like a warm coat of fur on a cold day. It made one feel safe. Not a false sense of security or a promise that no wrong would occur, but a promise that one would be capable of handling anything.
There were no sources of light in the room, archaic, arcane, or otherwise. But there were many holes carved into the walls to create windows of no distinctive shape. They seemed to capture the moonlight just perfectly enough to illuminate whatever needed to be seen. Aldous stood in front of one such window.
He was visibly shaken.
Every few seconds he would begin to shapeshift. A massive paw would form on the end of his arm, feathers would began sprouting all over his body, branches would grow from his horns. But they would just as quickly stop and he would revert to his normal Tauren form. It was hard to tell if Aldous was ready to spring into action to attack a target or if he was more concerned about defending against a potential intruder. Either way, the treants were certain that something was troubling him.
After a few minutes of this, Aldous finally turned from the window, seemingly content that looking out was no longer a necessity.
“You’re probably wondering why I summoned you here this evening.”
His voice rang throughout the room. A surge of emotions ran through the treants. At once, the treants felt more at ease. They felt that they had to go out and get to work, yet they felt as though they could stay in that room forever. They felt as though they held unequaled power and they felt all the more aware of their vulnerabilities.
It was always something about his voice.
“There’s been an attempt on my life. Here. This evening. I don’t know if this was personal or if they were simply looking to procure one of my many artifacts. I can’t stay here with my possessions at all times so I’ve moved them to a safe location until we know more. The human that attacked me was a worthless rogue, clearly just a hired hand. I disposed of him easily. I want to know who hired him.”
Aldous sat in the chair as it buckled slightly under his weight. He ran his hands over the parchment.
“I found this on the assassin. I believe it may be a clue to discovering who wanted me killed.”
He picked up the parchment and reached it out to Grove. As Grove accepted it, he began reading over the written words.
“I don’t know what it means, but I can’t investigate it out of fear that they may be watching me. If I was getting close then they would know instantly. You treants are my only hope. Find whatever this means and bring this scoundrel to justice. The strength of the ancients lies within you. You are a force of nature to be reckoned with. Now go. I won’t be here, but you’ll know where to find me again when the time is right.”
With that, Aldous stood, turned, and jumped out of the window, giving the treants just enough time to see his tail begin to form before he completely left their line of sight.
But his voice continued to echo in their ears. They stood their for a few moments more, still in awe of his presence.
Finally, Grove spoke up.
“Okay team. We’ve got a job to do. And this one’s not just any old job. This one’s for Aldous. Let’s get to work.”