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March 31st, 2005, 05:27 AM
A chill wind flew through the moist leaves of the wood. It bit through leather and wool as Mala shivered. She peered around her shoulders, following the dancing shadow of leaves through moonlight. She placed another log on the fire.

Reaching into her pouch she pulled out a small bag of lynchweed. She muttered to herself and broke up the lynchweed. She nodded her head as she scattered the weed in all directions. Then from her pouch she took and small globe and watched it.
Moments later as the globe began to faintly glow red, she moved slowly to kneel beside Pendrill.

She shook him. "Pendrill wake up."



He was up like a shot, gathering his things and arming himself.

She then shook her other companion. "Norma, danger."

Like the ranger, Norma was quickly awake and readied.

Mala looked around. "I don't know what we're looking for."

Pendrill grunted.

In the distance, sickly green eyes opened. Those green eyes slowly moved forward. Soon the adventurers could see a faint glow surrounding them: they readied themselves, with Norma and Pendrill back to back and Mala between them. A vague hissing laughter passed through the wood followed by a ticking click.

"Well whatever we're waiting for makes a chilling sound." Pendrill raised his bow and knocked an arrow.

The three waited like that in the silent night under the light of the moon for a long moment. The wind whistled through the trees, plucking leaves from branches and throwing them in an arc above. The air seemed to cool even further. Pendrill's breath became misty and Norma's teeth chattered.

At that moment four shapes burst through the brush. Their green eyes glowed malevolently from underneath thin reed-like branches. They were men and women, barely. Their heads had enlarged so that they were now of a size with a small boulder, the green eyes sunken far in. Their bodies were extended and resembled tree trunks with limbs. The limbs were horribly deformed; the toes and fingers were much longer and tipped in spike-like claws. Nearly all the human flesh was covered in and fused with bark. Each of the creatures trudged forward, moaning.

Pendrill fired an arrow. One of the creatures lowered its head, whipping the branches on its head in an arc. The arrow's trajectory changed and whistled past the creature.

Norma charged around from behind him toward the creature. She threw a knife at one and then gripped her sword with both hands as she hacked at another. The sword bit deep and Norma was jarred. As she tried to wrench the sword free the creature lashed at her. One claw caught her on the side of her face as she tried to avoid the blow. The sword was ripped from her hands and she backed away, drawing two knives from her belt.

One creature broke from the pack and charged Pendrill. Mala whispered a few words and touched the tips of his arrows. She passed one to him and as he fired it, the tip burst into flame. As it sped toward the creature it lowered and spun its branches and again the arrow sailed harmlessly past.

Pendrill threw his bow to the ground. "Damn." He drew his sword and batted the creature with the flat.

A horn sounded low. On the ridge Bluebear was blowing gently into the great horn. When he was finished, he threw a giant axe at one creature; it hit the creature, shattering an arm, Bluebear leaped from the ridge to the forest floor, nearly a thirty foot drop. Landing on the creature Bluebear produced a knife and plunged it into each of the creature's eyes, one after the other. The creature howled, grasping its sockets and fell to the ground.

Bluebear growled and grabbed his axe. He turned to Pendrill. "You've got axes and machetes, no? These are Werewillows. Use your head Human." Bluebear pounced on a werewillow and hacked at it, placing his body between it and Norma. Pendrill tossed her the machete. He stepped forward gripping two hand axes.

Mala chanted, throwing mud at one werewillow. It stopped as the mud grew and solidified over a good portion of its body.

Pendrill hacked at a werewillow as Norma slashed its branches. As Bluebear's axe turned his opponent into splinters, Pendrill and Norma finished their werewillow off as well. Mala hacked the prone werewillows with an axe until their thick yellow blood drenched the ground.

Pendrill turned to Bluebear. "What - "

Bluebear held up his hand. "Not now, there will be a fifth, we must find it."

Mala closed her eyes. "To the east."

"How far?"

"I'm not sure."

Bluebear bolted and the others rushed to keep up. They lost him briefly but soon caught up to watch him dispatch another werewillow.