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A dwarf checks a ruffled stack of papers, and drops them next to his pack. He runs his hands on the body of the tree, feeling for a familiar cut branch. He pulls out a hatchet, and makes a calculated series of slices. After some time he stands back and admires his work – a branch added to the nub with one single, perfect apple hanging between its leaves.
The Brown Family is known for its long brewer lineage. Dante, married to Heather Brown, is the last in that line.
Born to be a brewer, Dante never found much thrill in the cider his father and grandfather had created. ’Brown’s Hard Oak Cider’ had gained fame from the familiar local-woodsy taste it had gained from being aged in barrels made of trees found in the Oak Forest, but to Dante it tasted like any other cider.
When his father passed, and ownership of the Fallen Oak Inn fell to Dante, he set out to perfect the family’s cider tradition. To Dante, the solution was simple: the apples were aged in local wood, but where did they come from, originally?
“In order to make the perfect apple, one first needs to first grow an apple tree, and graft it with another. But yet, to just make my apples taste good was not enough. I needed them to be perfect, so I took to the woods.”
Dante spent months at a time reaching farther and farther into the woods, collecting branches from the apple trees he found and marking them on hand drawn maps. After years of collection and grafting branches to his own orchard, Dante held aloft the Perfect Apple.
But to grow the perfect apple did not fill the need Dante felt. He was driven to return the apple to the woods that had collectively produced it. For the next year and a half, Dante took back to the woods to graft perfect apples to the wild trees he had taken from earlier. In this effort to give back to the wood what he had received, Dante was gifted an audience with The Mother Tree.