Once we were back to Eva's domain, back at the third floor, she took us through a secret path within the hedge maze. When we came out of the maze, we reached a swamp filled with fog.
Among the fog, something colossal, something grotesque awaited for us. It was impossible to ignore. The tree stood eighty meters in height, its diameter was big enough to house thousands of rats. I had to tilt my head and eyes upward to even grasp the scale of this monster. When I did so, its hollow eyes stared back at me with a sinister smile, its mouth foaming with fire and smoke. Who ever the tree had devoured, had gone up in smoke.
"There is nothing to worry," The witch said, "Soon we will be home."
The thick fog dispersed as we got closer to the tree, and under its branches we found a commune of catgirls. The inhabitants were dancing around the colossal monster, their eyes almost in a trance, as if they were worshiping a god. Their hums were in rhythm with the howling of the tree. Until the howling stopped and a dreary silence grew. The Demi-humans returned to their small wooden huts built around the trunk of their otherworldly master.
"Oh, the pie must be ready," The witch said.
The witch then took us to her own hut, which unlike the rest, was two-stories tall. Once we were inside, I noticed that my toes were covered in mud and my outfit had caught a distasteful aroma. Stella was in no better condition than me.
"Don't worry, I'll prepare a bath for you two," Eva said.
She took us to a communal room on the second floor. There was nothing in it other than two rows of beds, twelve beds in total. Some of them had toys and stuffed animals, but no kids were in sight. The place looked like an abandoned infirmary or orphanage.
"Now, if you two sweet darlings could stay here while I prepare the bath."
Once I saw Eva disappear through a door in the hallway, I turned my back to it and faced Stella. The sound of running water towered over the background. In her current state, her toxic-green pigtails and small black horns made her look like a doll. To think that a dark-elf could look so harmless.
"What is going on?" I asked.
"We.... We need to get out of-" Her lavender eyes suddenly bulged in horror.
I felt Eva's hands over my shoulders. "You two will be squeaky clean in no time."
Stella tried to speak again, but only incoherent stuttering came out. Eva took us to the bathroom like an overprotective mother and dipped us in a bathtub filled with warm water and bubbles. Once we were clean, she forced us into kigurumis.
Stella was dressed as a white unicorn. While I was dressed like a frog. The color of our pajamas made us look like siblings, for my hair was blonde-silver while hers was green. Eva said that this was the only set of clothing we needed in her house. She then tucked me and Stella into the same bed, side by side, under the same bedsheets. Even though the other beds were empty.
Stella and I were practically bedridden, since the bedsheets were magically enchanted to make it impossible for Stella or I to lift them. The witch made sure the sheets covered everything down to our bare feet. Except for our heads to allow us to breathe. We were nothing but neatly packed sardines now as we were packed so closely; it was really hard to move.
Once we realized it was pointless to struggle. Eva fed us warm milk from a flask. My weak bladder immediately wanted to unload.
"It's time for a bed-time story," She said. Patting me and Stella. "Then mommy will go eat pie with her friends."
"Wait, no, I need to-"
"Once upon a time there was an old sow with two little piglets," Eva said. As soon as she started, I was mesmerized. My body was overwhelmed with warmth and every muscle in my body relaxed. "and she had not enough to keep them, for they ate too much!"
I only noticed I had fallen asleep after I felt a tingle in my forehead. Eva had kissed goodnight me before turning off the lights. I was unable to keep myself awake. My dignity did not survive till dawn. After that night, Eva made sure I went to the restroom before the bed-time story began.
Every morning Eva would come to our room, not dressed like a witch or floor guardian, but like a lovely and caring mother. She would show up in white slippers, a yellow sundress, and a white apron. Her ginger hair was always tied up in a short ponytail, and her green eyes always met us with a smile which along with her freckles made her look extremely beautiful. She would then take us downstairs and after sitting us neatly at the kitchen table, she would cook bacon and eggs for us.
I didn't really have much of a problem with this, Eva would spend the entire morning bragging about her cooking skills, telling us about where and when she won all of her trophies.
"My specialty is baking pies," She said.
I had no doubt about it, her bacon and eggs were just the best I've ever had. Stella was not as comfortable as I was. She would just stare at the big oven that loomed over everything else in the kitchen. Mother Eva had to force her to eat.
After breakfast we always would get a warm bath and be put back to sleep. We would not wake up until it was time for lunch, in which mother would always feed us milk and cake. Then again, we would find ourselves put back on the bed.
Then at night time, we had donuts, warm milk and more cake. Unlike the rest of the day, mother would now join our kigurumi party by dressing in wolf pajamas. Which was rather cute for a woman in her early thirties to wear. After this we would get a nice warm bath and then again we were in bed for a nighttime story. This same routine repeated for days, but everyday I grew more physically tired, until I would fall asleep while eating. My face would randomly fall onto the eggs or cake.
Mother would only respond with a smile and say, "You need to eat more."
After that day, she never cooked for us anymore. She would instead spend her time cleaning the colossal oven in the kitchen. It was big enough to cook two pigs side by side. Our breakfast, lunch and dinner had become all cake. All day. Every day. I was physically sick.
That night, when mother began her bedtime story, I felt bloated and couldn't sleep, my belly was getting way too fat.
"The first little pig built her house out of straw because she was lazy."
"The second little pig worked a little bit harder, but she was somewhat lazy too and she built his house out of sticks."
"Then they slept and ate all day."
"One night the big bad wolf, who dearly loved to eat fat little piggies, came along and saw the first little pig in her house of straw."
"Then he huffed, and he puffed, and he blew his house in and devoured the little pig."
"Then the wolf found the 2nd piggie and devoured her as well."
I closed my eyes and pretend to be asleep. Eva gave me and Stella a kiss in the forehead and then turned off the light. Before she left, I heard Eva say: "Tomorrow, you two will make mommy and her friends proud."
I was not able to sleep that night.