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Thread: Hide and seek.

  1. #1 kongming's Avatar
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    Hide and seek.

    Okay here are the rules for this one:
    700 words Max, no minimum but a complete thought would be polite. I'm posting 2 entries first b/c the first post sets up the plot and the second sets up the characters. If you want to make suggestions, you can but make them in a
    spoiler quote
    Last edited by kongming; March 19th, 2005 at 01:39 AM.

  2. #2 kongming's Avatar
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    In the Kingdom of Nabadon the eastern Loth river forms a natural border with the Alzedoth Forest. The people of the eastern villages are hearty men and women who toil for the eastern dukes. The Loth passes through the fiefs of two of the Dukes. In the south there is Nongminster and in the north there is Longsmith. In the fief of Nongminster the people for the most part spend their days farming, herding and fishing. The vast plains of Nongminster are long and green. From time to time when wood is needed the people gather from the smaller woods amongst the plains rather than Alzedoth Forest: many are the tales of Daemons and changelings and all sorts of other creatures that steal children. In the fief of Longsmith the people are hale and hearty and for the most part they toil in the mines among the numerous hills and valley at the base of Lotherun Mountain. When wood is needed sometimes the people will gather from Alzedoth Forest but never alone. The children of Longsmith will unwisely defy their parents and play near the wood. One such child was Kemmen Suville, nephew of the Duke. Kemmen had been missing for two days; his playmates were unable to explain his disappearance. They saw nothing and heard nothing. At first they claimed they saw a Dragon swoop in and take him away. The Dragon became a Roc; the Roc became a Griffon; the Griffon became an Eagle and the Eagle an Owlbear. When no Owlbear tracks were found the children claimed that they heard the Owlbear growling and Kemmen was screaming. But none of these stories were true. Kemmen simply disappeared; no one saw or heard anything. Janin Suville, also the Duke's nephew and older brother of Kemmen, is inconsolable. Kemmen was very dear to him; almost of an age to be his own son and with the passing of his father last year, the closest family Janin had left. The Duke Edrin Longsmith has sent three adventurers to find Kemmen; he does not believe that Kemmen will be found but needs to placate his very passionate nephew. Some folk have passed along a rumour that the Duke of Nongminster’s servant the Lord Norvale has his eye Janin’s holdings. The conspiracy follows along the following logic: By the Treaty of the Midwood there are several holdings that remain contested between Nongminster and Longsmith. Those holdings are split between Janin’s family and that of Lord Norvale’s. These holdings can only pass to the heir of those families. If there is no heir for the Suville family then their holdings pass to the Norvale family and vice versa. Janin is already gathering his allies among the other Longsmith Lords and the Duke Longsmith himself fears that he will be unable to prevent war between north and south. Already the King has sent several strongly worded messages to the Duke indicating the need to contain the problem or his nephew. The Duke is torn between honour and duty. So the three adventurers are an appeasement to his nephew, he only hopes they buy him enough time, or that they miraculously find Kemmen. The three adventurers’ names follow in order of age: Pendrill Ket a Master Ranger, Norma Cone a Creature Hunter, and Mala Ongi a Sorceress.
    Last edited by kongming; April 4th, 2005 at 08:23 PM.

  3. #3 kongming's Avatar
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    chapter 1: into the thick

    The Loth is a mighty river: its white foam often flows over its banks. Without a bridge it would be difficult to cross. A boat would help but the boatman would have to be very skilled. The boatmen who do toil this river are a very different breed of men. This far south the Loth is not as wild, but all the same most people avoid it.

    On this cheerful day three adventurers were crossing the river along the South Dale Bridge. On the west bank of the river, they were leaving the vast plains and rolling hills of Suville. On the east bank of the river, they stopped. The grass in the dale was long, unkempt but a deep rich green. Not far from them was the great forest. Each of them set their packs down and began to organize them.

    Pendrill turned to Norma and smiled. “You know that I have read about you young miss?”

    Norma, not looking at him groaned. “Lord me, all the lads have.”

    Pendrill’s grin deepened as he sat on his pack. “They have, that is true; but I’m a lad? Why thank you young miss!”

    Norma chuckled. “From what I’ve heard greybeard, you still have a sling-shot.”

    “Handy tool.”

    She stood and then sat on her pack. “So what have you read about me?”

    “Well…” He ripped a blade of grass out of the ground and started to chew the tip “One account is that you took on a whole pack of Umber Hulks yourself.”

    “Well that’s an exaggeration.”

    “What I thought. But there’s always a taint of truth in a great story right?”

    “Yes I suppose there is.” She stood, slung her pack on her back and headed to the forest.

    Mala raised her brow. “She’s not what you thought, eh?”

    Pendrill grinned and nodded as he slung on his pack and followed Norma. “Better!”

    Mala chuckled and followed the pair.

    They entered the forest with Pendrill in the van and Norma taking up the rear. The forest was so thick that only small strands of light poured in from the canopy. Vines and brambles were everywhere but for the most part Pendrill was able to clear a good path. He cut through the vegetation with a machete on the rare occasion that it became too thick to be brushed aside. He marked their progress with the machete, on a branch or rock; in one hand he swung the black blade, in the other he held his pipe. From time to time he stopped the progress, almost intrinsically knowing that the others needed a break. It was during one of these times that the adventurers found themselves sitting on a knoll by a brook, with Pendrill stretched out on the ground.

    Norma peeled the soft bark from a small branch. “You know, you’re pretty lazy for a Master Ranger.”

    Pendrill rolled over and propped his head up with his hand. “You expect me to be up in a tree listening to the sounds of the forest?”

    “Well you could at least be standing, or heaven forbid: crouching.”

    “I can hear fine down here. What do you know about my work and why do you care?”

    “I know a little about tracking… But that’s not the point; we don’t have all the time in the world to find this child.”

    He rolled onto his back. “What’s that on your shoulder?”

    “Which? What?” She looked around.

    He gestured lazily. “That one.”

    She picked a thin strip of red cotton off her tunic. “What is it?”

    “A piece of the little lord’s jammies no doubt. You’ve had it on you for an hour, it was annoying.” He then stood, stretched, grabbed his pack and took off. “You coming?”

    Mala grinned. “He’s not what you expected is he?”

    Norma pouted, grabbed her pack and stalked off. “Worse!”
    Last edited by kongming; April 4th, 2005 at 08:43 PM.

  4. #4
    Diaskeaus Phantasticus seeberger's Avatar
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    Chapter Two: Death of a Dryden

    Perhaps it was the wind.

    Or perhaps not.

    Time had come and gone for him, the idle marching of the wood a mere pleasantry, something the chicks and the bees could have wayward banter, but to him, the dryden of the forest, the spirit of the glade, time had become expensive, and he had watched as his skin aged thickly green, the barnacles of elementals growing closed upon his fingers, the sensuous fragrance of immortality slowly coating herself around each strand of the hair of his head, over his eyelids, wrapping herself tightly about his arms, forcing each step of his to be with much less abandon than he had when he first arose out of the womb of the great world tree.

    He was a marching yet silent monster, a monolith of time. Every footfall of his caused springs to erupt from the ground, and his breath swept pollon across the branches of the wood. This strange old wood, with the river called Loth (by the magic ape-men), held his life as surely as he knew he existed. Without him, the forest would wither and die away - but with him, it would live until the great darkness.

    He felt a great stirring within his quiet soul. The stirring felt like a brush of fate, as if a storm approached his wood on the herald of a crow who knew the end of the world was near. He felt the dark shadow fly by, but he could not trace it. It was strange, that feeling, a feeding darkness, like a glittering blade cutting through his mind.

    And then as soon as it passed, there was a gap, a pit of nothing. The dryden breathed in, but there was nothing to breath but a thick sap. He coughed, spat out the sickly sap, but it had begun already. He spasmed, clutching his throat, and fell to the ground. His eyes bled, if a spirit could bleed, and he felt his life force slip away. He felt the moan of the wood, the cry of the animals, and a great scurrying of tiny feet as the creatures became unsettled, awake in terror.

    There were men in the forest. Some sleeping within it, some sleeping on the borders of it. There was a miller on the river Loth, who awoke from his dreams, sweat beading on his brow. He knew something had happened, and he ran to his daughter's room. She was safe, sleeping in the light of the moon.

    There was a rogue, tired and old, retired, sitting on a rock by the rolling rapids of the Loth. He felt a shiver slip through his body, and he knew the end of the world was nigh.

    The whole forest shook when the dryden died. The branches of the trees were loosed from their bondage, and the evil stirring in the hearts of the untamed let loose.

    The dryden felt himself go - a horrible, unseemly thing. He felt his body waste away, and could taste the depth of death in his mouth. He felt himself slip away, into the unknown depths of the earth.

    I'm playing around with your characters, ya. The basic reason I justified for doing this was that some evil had taken place in stealing the child, although I don't know what it is yet, nevertheless, as the evil took place, it passed over the dryden of the wood, and for whatever reason, he died. The dryden was the spiritual protector of the wood, and so when he died, the whole forest (small as it is) became evil - haunted, etc. The animals go crazy, the trees lose their sense of proprietary kindness, and now it's pretty dangerous woods to cross through.

    It might help also if you cut up the paragraphs by spacing. I know most of the forum is pretty much without spaces, but even so, that makes it pretty difficult to read. Anyways, that would help a lot. I don't mean to sound picky.

  5. #5 kongming's Avatar
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    *update reply*

    Quote Originally Posted by kongming
    No actually I think I like the direction you took it. At first I thought you were doing a LOTR Treant thing/Princess Mononoke thing. I was gonna mention that it could be interesting as long as we avoid the human industry vs nature angle, but you killed of the spirit of the forest, which was cool (maybe not nice or good for the characters). Yeah I do want to explore this evil thing that shifted the woods. The people always thought the Forest was evil, but I like the fact that thanks to you they're about to find out how wrong they were! heh heh. Also I want to note that I visualize this Forest as HUGE, like almost continental. So there can be ALOT of things inside even a couple of nations, but I do want the pacing to be rather slow for the adventurers so that they aren't jumping all over the forest but moving through it at a human pace and discovering it, also it may be necessary to get them lost so they don't go back to the Duke too quickly because I think I want the civil war to occur, whether that's b/c they don't find the kid or b/c the kid returns but he's "different". Anyway I'll try to write some more tonight but it MIGHT not be posted till the a.m. Cheers
    Quote Originally Posted by seeberger
    I'm playing around with your characters, ya. The basic reason I justified for doing this was that some evil had taken place in stealing the child, although I don't know what it is yet, nevertheless, as the evil took place, it passed over the dryden of the wood, and for whatever reason, he died. The dryden was the spiritual protector of the wood, and so when he died, the whole forest (small as it is) became evil - haunted, etc. The animals go crazy, the trees lose their sense of proprietary kindness, and now it's pretty dangerous woods to cross through.

    It might help also if you cut up the paragraphs by spacing. I know most of the forum is pretty much without spaces, but even so, that makes it pretty difficult to read. Anyways, that would help a lot. I don't mean to sound picky.
    Last edited by kongming; March 19th, 2005 at 08:19 PM.

  6. #6 kongming's Avatar
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    Chapter Three: Dark Tides.

    The thin bands of sunlight slipping into the forest began to contract. They became hair-thin tendrils, waspish beams that only served to lengthen shadows. At first this retreat sent a chill through the wood. Gradually, though, the air became thick, moist and warm. So warm and moist that it was difficult to see through the haze. Each leaf dripped and every vine oozed. The adventurers’ progress slowed considerably. Pendrill’s arm moved like a badger through amber. Sweat dripped from his salt and pepper beard.

    After one last thrust through the reeds, Pendrill stopped and sat. “That’s enough.”

    Mala wiped her brow with a pink kerchief and then sat. “It gets pretty hot in here for spring.”

    “It ain’t right.”

    Norma stopped beside Mala and sat. “You think?”

    Pendrill drank from his water bottle, water sprayed from his mouth as he spoke. “I mean it’s unnatural. This is too hot. It ain’t that sunny and even if it were, not much is getting in.”

    Norma turned to Mala. “Do you know what he’s getting at?”

    Mala nodded. “I think he’s superstitious.”

    “I felt the shiver of a wraith come over me last night.”

    Norma shook her head. “Yeah, really superstitious.”

    “C’mon sorceress, you telling me that you didn’t feel something… primal?”

    Mala crossed her arms. “I don’t know what that was. It could have been wood-sprites.”

    Pendrill shot up and stalked off, his words trailing behind him. “At least other mages try to be ominous and obfuscating.”

    “Sorry.” Mala called after him. She turned to Norma. “Should we get going?”

    Norma was cleaning her finger nails with a knife. “Nah, I think he’s just scouting.”

    “What did you feel last night?”


    “That’s it?”

    “What else is there? Great Horrax himself? C’mon now, I thought you were a big girl.” Norma started to walk away. “Okay, now he’s leaving.”

    Mala followed after looking briefly behind her. “Yeah.”

    * * *

    “Zgir don’t like hot. Forest I like cool. Damn, wet.” Zgir buzzed his wings and a thin mist shot from him and drifted behind.

    Ngath walked into that mist and coughed “Watch it cracked web!”

    “Stop walking close.”

    “There yet?”

    “Yeah.” Zgir dropped from the rock out-cropping he had been walking on and glided down to the forest floor, his wings a blur. He stopped outside the mouth of a cave.

    Ngath dropped beside him. “This is it?”

    “Yeah.” Zgir raised his hooked arms into the air. “Hey Bluebear!”

    A low growl came from the forest. “What!?”

    “Come on out!”

    Out of the cave into the light walked Bluebear. He had the body of a bear, but the gait and the face of a man, his fur was a deep blue. He stood over nine feet and held a sword in his paw. “What do you want?”

    “Border men we saw come into the woods. They bring evil!”

    “Did you see them bring evil?”

    “What does it look like?”

    “Never mind. Where are they?”

    “Come.” Zgir and Ngath both hovered in front of Bluebear, leading him east.

    Okay, as far as I'm concerned Bluebear doesn't really think that the adventurers brought evil with them. He's smarter than that. I figure he'll follow them for a while and see what they are up to, when he finds out about the kid he might think there's a connection or not.
    Last edited by kongming; March 20th, 2005 at 02:43 AM.

  7. #7
    Diaskeaus Phantasticus seeberger's Avatar
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    Chapter Four: The Reaper

    He awoke with a start.

    The sounds were off - displaced, discordant. The birds screamed at each other. The deer rushed from tree to tree, afraid of their own shadows. The fish in the great river Loth fought against one another, and in rages not known since the Time of Flame, leapt from the surface of the water, only to be caught in the beaks and claws of animals that only danced upon the earth at night.

    The sun was bright against his eyes. He covered himself with shadow, watching the cool sway of the branches, the soft movement of darkly quilted clouds, listening to the rumble of distant thunder.

    He had had a dream. He dreamt he had died, bled into the earth. He dreamt the world had folded into two, that his body had been ripped apart by fyrnwylds, those doubled beaked eagles of the northern mountains, who slept only during eclipses, prowling among nightmares and dreamtimes like maleficent waking dreams.

    What was his name?

    He sat up against the roots of a heavy, thickly garbed tree. He closed his fists, listening as his bones cracked. He turned his hand over, studying the careful blood lines crossing through his knuckles, winding around his fingers. He saw the aged creases, as if he been alive for many, many moons, and his eye followed those lines until confusion so troubled him, that he closed his eyes against the silent sun, and tried to wade through a memory of darkness. But nothing came. He swam that sea, traversing those paths which remained like a weight upon his neck, refusing to tell him his name.

    His face was scratchy, and his hair long. It was thin, like silk, colored golden brown, like leaves bleached by the forest sun. His skin was smooth, plaster, and his bones brittle. He felt weak, his muscles tender, as if he had never used them before.

    He layed his head down against a bed of soft grass, and heard the silence of a deathly wood, and fell asleep.

    Dryden, awake! Dryden, awake! The Time has come for the redemption of the world!

    I will not accept this responsibility. I am immortal. I am time. Speak not to me of this again! I care not for the affairs of mortals, nor for men, nor for the creatures of the shadoworld, nor for the life of the dreamscape. I have passed, and the world shall receive the blessings it reaps for itself. Mankind is not worth my pain. Speak not to me of this again.

    Dryden, awake! The Scythe of the World is upon the earth. He feeds from passions, from the wayward qualities of the soul of the very planet. He harvests the seeds of evil, and now sets men against one another. You are called from beyond, to return. Dryden, awake, and find the Reaper, who traverses the fields of the sun, and return him to the world he belongs.

    I cannot, and I will not. I have died, and so have you, and so shall the world itself die. The spirits of the earth are only allowed to exist for the time we are allotted by the Great Master, and the time has come for us to depart.

    No! I refuse to accept this! You shall arise again, and you shall find the Reaper, and you shall replant the harvest. If you cannot, then I will curse you, until you will wander the earth a poor, vagrant, eating from the hands of the poor, thirsting forever. Awake Dryden, for you are still yet alive, for a time needed.

    I shall not awake, and you are mistaken. And I shall pass into the realm of the dark, until the time when the world is burned and I return at the proper time.

    Then it shall be so, Dryden, you shall be be cursed.

    No... please...

    Awake, Dryden!

    And so he awoke, again.

    "My name is Dryden," he said. He was naked, alone, and cold. He heard the rumble of creatures, the passing of a foul wind, and the waking of evil.

    "I am cursed."

    You must find the Reaper, Dryden, for only once he is extinguished from this world, can you return to the dark.

    "I must find the Reaper," he said. "Where is the Reaper?"
    Last edited by seeberger; March 20th, 2005 at 04:37 PM.

  8. #8 kongming's Avatar
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    Ngath and Zgir chattered endlessly, their low chitnous voices irritating, like black flies. Bluebear caught himself swiping the side of his head once or twice. The forest was thickening and this bothered him. Some event had precipitated this but he doubt it was caused by the Humans. The mage with them was powerful, but not that powerful and she had a pleasant aura. He watched them for most of the day. The ranger seemed determined and the hunter seemed bored. The mage was very aware of the forest's aura but seemed to almost dismiss it. He thought that once, when they had stopped, she looked frightened in the way that he himself was; but it was a fleeting moment and her face was a mask again. Looking down at their camp from the ridge he stood on, he could tell that they were unnerved this night, even the hunter, however she tried to hide it. His concern was not whether they were the direct cause for the evil eddies he felt, but rather if they were somehow related to it. Not many Humans from the Eastern plains ventured into this forest. They did not seem to trust this forest and Bluebear had never understood why. Until last night this forest was very peaceful and the Humans should have enjoyed it as much as he. But then Humans were confused and suspicious by nature. He sat down and decided to listen and watch the Humans as they went to sleep.

    Down below the three adventurers were setting out their camp. Pendrill was setting wood by the fire and Mala was warming herself by that fire. Norma was cooking a stew opposite Mala.

    Mala gave her a small smile. "I knew I was going to sweat, but I would have taken a second look if I knew it would be this much."

    Norma nodded. "This forest seemed extra cursed just for us."

    "Yes, that seems a fair assessment."

    Pendrill sat beside her. "I thought you said this were just faeries."

    "Well, if it is they would have to be following us. And I don't see any around."

    He grunted. "Then what do you suppose it is?"

    She shrugged. "Like the forest is angry."

    "At us?"

    "Maybe just frightened and sad. Something has definitely happened."

    Norma leaned forward. "Do you think it has to do with the boy?"

    Pendrill snorted. "More like the forest don't like me specifically."

    "You're just paranoid greybeard."

    Mala nodded. "I don't feel this directed at us. When we first came in the forest knew we were here. I felt that it was more amused than anything else. Now though it's like a slowly building... rage?"

    Pendrill held out a bowl that Norma filled with stew, he sat back and sipped the steaming liquid. "That makes me feel better."

    Norma laughed. "Face it, flowers and bunnies wouldn't make you feel better."

    "Probably not."

    Mala chewed on a wire-root. "Are we any closer to young master Suville?"

    Pendrill's face became a slate. "That trail is beginning to thin. I have to backtrack too much for my liking. I'm beginning to think more about foul play and less about a silly lost boy."

    Norma frowned. "I never thought any different."

    "Now who's a suspicious person?"

    Bluebear frowned; he motioned to Ngath. "Go to Totem and find out what she knows about a little boy-lord named Suville."

    "Let's go boyo." Ngath flew off and Zgir followed.

    Bluebear sat back and lit a pipe. He watched the adventurers as two went to sleep and the other watched the fire. Later in the night they switched. Puffing on his pipe he considered the possibility that some opportunist had conspired with the Nandrithi and this boy was somehow involved: yes, this had their markings all over it. He'd have to pay a visit to a Nandrithi temple soon. But for now he would continue to watch the Humans. They were a fountain of information.

    My idea is that the Totem is a wooden creature who travels the forest and other areas of the world. She's immortal and concerns herself with the world. The Nandrithi will be a subteranean species who work with evil spirits. They have their agents above ground and it's possible that those agents took the boy.
    Last edited by kongming; April 4th, 2005 at 10:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Diaskeaus Phantasticus seeberger's Avatar
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    Chapter Six: Dryden the Dark

    There were screams in the forest.

    Countless, horrible, piercing screams.

    One could not imagine a more gruesome scene. The grass stained with blood, tree limbs ripped from their roots, a white death moving across the forest. In its arms was cradled a blade of white fire, and everything that it came upon vanquished in a spray of death.

    It rested, collapsing on the ground, heaving for breath.

    Behind it was a trail of bodies. Hugely muscled bears, graceful elk, rabbits, squirrels, owls, racoons, boars, snakes, wolves - as if they had been drawn, and then dashed to pieces over the rocks. Some of them were still alive - barely, and whimpered to the moon.

    The being cried. Dryden cried, and dragged himself through the bushes, to a quiet place where he could cry until he died. His anguish was tearing him apart.

    Blood coated his arms, his chest, and was spattered on his face. He felt the dark breeze of the evil wood dry the blood on his cheeks, and mold itself across his tears. He only wished for it all to end.

    He looked up, and found he was in a cave. With a start, he blew a speck of fire into a stick lying on the bottom of the cave, and a fire roared into being. He crawled to the back of the cave, into the shadows, and cried himself to sleep, where he dreamed of being free once again.

  10. #10
    Diaskeaus Phantasticus seeberger's Avatar
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    Chapter Seven: The Priestess of Emoranth

    She had been on the road for three days now. She carried a old, brown pack given to her by the priest of her village Wentith, with ordinary staples in it. Bread, some waterskins, some ham and cheeses, as well as a skinning knife, the holy book of Emoranth, the goddess of the moon, and an old sword given to her by her father the night before she departed.

    She was only twenty years old, but was happy to be going. She was ready to leave the village, or so she told her parents and her priest. More than ready, and she was ready to face the trials and perhaps become accepted in the holy order of Emoranth in the city of Tygrane, on the outskirts of the wood.

    But something had happened to the forest. It had grown dark. Junis, the village scout, came back one afternoon and said a storm was brewing up and the animals had grown quiet. The next day, he saw exiles of creatures leaving the wood in familial droves. Birdcalls stopped, and only the howl of a wolf could be heard at night.

    The village gathered to discuss, and it was decided that someone be sent to the larger temple in the village of Guylen, to find out more information. Of course, Annise could not go, as she was only a priestess-in-study, and the roads would be too dangerous for her. And so a runner was sent to Guylen, a strong man named Venya.

    Venya was gone for nearly two weeks. In the time when he was gone, things had gone steadfastly downhill for the village. Wolves had begun to prowl at the village borders, and the gardens had begun to die. This was all happening slowly, however, as if the forest was dying at different intervels. It was impossible to say that it began on a certain night, as one day the trees would lose the sheen of their bark, and a few days later, the grass would die, shrivel up and turn to goldenrod.

    Venya did arrive back at the village. His face was white as death, and he spoke of the village of Guylen being torn apart, and the temple massacred. He gave the priest of Wentith, Annise's village, what was left of the village of Guylen's holy artifacts. A few days deliberation, and Annise was called into the Temple of Wentith.

    And now she was on the road. She had become a priestess early, confirmed by her priest and sent on the road to find a creature called the Totem. She did not know what the priest meant by that, but apparently this creature was known by many who travels the lanes of the wood, and would have an answer for the book the priest had placed in her pack.
    Last edited by seeberger; March 28th, 2005 at 10:30 AM.

  11. #11 kongming's Avatar
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    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.
    Last edited by kongming; April 4th, 2005 at 11:33 PM.

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