"I told you not t' go in those woods." The middle aged man scolded as he pulled the tiny girl behind him by her hand.
Emily continued her protest, "But I—had—to talk to the forest spirit! She could—"
"She can't bring your da back. He's gone with Lord Oswin and the rest o' them." The man let out a heavy sigh, "And only Oswin can send him home."
"That's not fair!" tears were flowing down the girls face now as she ripped her hand from her captor "I want him home. She could have made him come home!"
Hendel knelt down and looked her in the eyes "The forest spirit protects us from the wood. She don't want us t' be bothering her with our own troubles Emily; she wants to be left alone."
Emily shook her grandfather's piercing gaze and glared at the ground. Her free flowing tears splattering on the moss laden path. Seldom used, but seemingly never overgrown; as if some unnatural force kept it groomed. Sobbing she continued pleading "I want him home! I told him not to go!"
Hendel cupped his granddaughters chin with his hand, wrinkled and callused from years of farmwork, forcing her to lock eyes with him once more. He spoke slowly and with great care, "Your da will come home. Gods be good they'll all come home. But 'till then we'll just have to make do; ain't helpin' no one by runnin' off into the wood like that."
Emily sniffled. The tears beginning to slow as she stared into his caring eyes. Silence permeated the air, the forest itself seemed to be holding its breath. Watching. Waiting.
"How 'bout we head back to the farm Em," Hendel seemed to notice the change in the wood as he glanced around. Wrapping his arm around Emily he pulled her into a nurturing hug, "we can light the candles at Vlantor's shrine and give him our prayers."
Emily buried her face into her grandfathers chest "Will he bring da home?" she asked softly.
"I don't know Em" Hendel adopted a quiet and gentle tone, "the gods have their own plans. But if you have faith they may listen."
"Okay," the word was almost lost it was uttered so softly from the girls lips.
Hendel wrapped his other arm around Emily and scooped her up as he stood up, grunting softly with the amount of effort it took, "Let's go home Em."