After a few thankfully uneventful days on the road heading south, we finally made it to our destination. In the middle of an ancient forest was a human-made structure in terrible disrepair. A decrepit main building with smaller buildings to each side, sat in the center of a brick courtyard. The roof was missing in some parts and the walls were in several stages of ruin. George Unty did not give it a second look or thought as he continued walking towards the back of the shattered center square, past what used to be a well. The silent Lubu, Athena and the rest of the group followed George Unty close behind.
I found the abandoned ruins to look majestic as the forest fought to reclaim the land taken by whomever built this massive mansion. Beautiful wild growth could be seen everywhere. Trees were growing out of what looked like a cellar, parts of the walls crumbled under the weight of branches from other trees, vines traveled around the ruins from walls, to columns, to trees and back to other walls. The well in the middle of the courtyard had an oak growing out of it. All of this under the canopy of the deep-rooted trees from the forest surrounding the structure. A glorious victory of nature over progress was forthcoming and I was there to witness it. For the first time since this adventure began, I was glad to have accepted the invitation from George Unty.
I proudly raised my arms as I stared into this natural canvas to thank Melandru, the goddess of nature, earth, and growth for sharing her creation with me. “Snap out of it Ure!” said Peyton pointing at the last of the group going down some stairs near what must have been the entrance to the forgotten mansion. “Father sent me to get you.” Then she added trying to imitate her father’s voice, “I will be needing your friend soon enough.” I took a quick look at the hypnotic beauty of the place one last time, then hurried after the group into the darkness beneath…