"I don't know what you were expecting," the half-man said. "This is a forest. Not much around to live in but trees.
"Yes, but - " I swallowed. "Did you have to make it so high?"
"Fire goblins have enemies. There's a lot more going on in the world than your kind has the courage to face."
I looked up. The oak tree was certainly tall, and the grass hut at the top would be hard to reach and easy to defend. I didn't even know if I could make it up.
"Is there a ladder, or something?"
"Not a climber?" the goblin smirked. "Don't worry. These trees would fling you from their branches the moment you tried. You won't be coming in. We're just here to get something."
The half-man rummaged in his backpack as I stood there, wondering what such a person could possibly have to get.
My life was now utterly outside my control, I reflected. I had intended to end it all this morning. Now I was wrapped up in something I barely even understood. Did my parents know there was a world like this, so close to the village? All they ever did was tend to the cows.
"A ha!" the half-man held up a small golden whistle and gave it two sharp notes.
"Belinda!" he shouted. "I've come home!"
At first, I thought nothing had happened. Then I saw it - a tiny flash of light, flickering and fluttering around the edges of the treetop canopy. It was no bigger than a mosquito.
The light swooped down to join us, and up close it was a pinpoint, so bright I had to avert my eyes. I heard it laughing at me, a tinkle of tiny bells in the wind.
"It's so precious!" the pinpoint said. It swooped and darted around me until my head spun. "Where did you get it?"
"Pack up your things," the half-man said. "The old wars have begun again, and this one's right at the center of it."
"Pack up?" It was just a ball of light, but somehow it still looked worried. "Where are we going?"
The half-man smiled grimly. "We're going to take this boy, and throw him off the edge of the world."