I know you have been waiting for this. Chapter 3!

I know you have been waiting for this. Chapter 3!

Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 4:29 pm

August 31st, 2001, 5:52 pm #1

The Dark Woods, were, well, dark. We emerged from the cave close to yet another camp of Fallen. Before I could even say anything, Talltree had charged. Stupid stupid man. One day, I fear he will get himself killed.

I had warned him of the guardian of this wood, a great brute by the name of Treehead. At one time, he had been a peaceful and kind guardian. However, now, from the stories I had heard, he had been corrupted to the forces of evil. My campanion had been consumed by what ever it was that drove him. He shrugged off my warning with a wave of his hand.

There were many battles in between the trees of the wood. The ever present Fallen, my cursed Sisters, and the oddly dangerous quill rats. Talltree took a beating like few men ever could. Wounds that would have been mortal to most men, he causually shrugged them off and continued cracking skulls with his sad looking little club. He took no rest, stopped for no breather. Once every foe had been slain, he hurried off to find what we were looking for. My legs ached, my arms were numb, my many wounds itched and burned. I begged him to slow down, to rest, and his only responce was to pick up the pace. I had been trained for endurance, but, this was pushing my body to it's very limits.

And at last, he stopped. Ahead of us stood the Sage Tree. The tree who's name I could not say. As Talltree breathed a sigh of relief, a loud grunt startled us. We both turned, and before I could even shout a warning, Treehead had charged us.

A massive beast, easily 9 feet tall and all muscle. And he was charging for me. I started to move, and that quiet still voice in the back of my mind told me I would never make it. I froze in fear, and prepared to face what ever life awaited for me in the great beyond.

And suddenly Talltree was there. With a speed that defied imagination, and belied his clumsiness, he had charged Treehead. Now Talltree, while birdlike and thin, was not a weak man. He stood a good seven foot tall himself, and I already knew just how solid he could be. I flinched, not knowing the outcome.

The two of them collided. One very large, very enraged brute, one very large and very solid man. The sound of them smashing into one another was indescribable, but, it was almost like two boulders crashing together. Two more brutes emerged from the bushes around the tree, and I carefully took aim and began firing.

The battle was the stuff of legends, myths, and lies. I alone was there to witness this, and nobody would ever believe me if I told the story. Boulders flew as the enraged earth defended Talltree. Boulder after boulder smashed into Treehead, stunning him, knocking him back. His companions lay dead, slain by my hand. One of Talltree's arms hung limp at his side, and he limped on one of his legs. A huge gash had opened in his forehead, and great gouts of blood poured out. With a grunt, Talltree brought his club down on Treehead's skull. The great brute stood for a moment, and then with a gasp, he fell over and ceased to move.

Talltree looked at me. I could only see one eye, the other covered by the flap of skin peeled from his scalp. He had a sad look, and somehow, I knew what he was feeling. He had killed the guardian, a great forest spirit, and it had pained him in a way I could not conceive. He took a shakey step towards me, and then pitched face forward into the muddy bloody earth.

I screamed out a cry for help, then realized nobody could hear me. I knelt down and rolled him over. His eye was cloudy and vacant, and his skin was pale. He felt cold. He was dying. Panic took over. With a lump in my throat, I rummaged through his pack. My hands were trembling as I fumbled, looking for anything that might help. I found a small scroll. With trembling fingers, I cracked open the wax seal. A portal opened. The blue glow gave everything an eerie light. Knowing that Kashya would flay me if I failed at my task, I dragged his body through the portal.

Akara, the amazing healer that she was, had patched him up. His scalp had been stitched back into place, and many elixers were used to repair his body. I sat by the fire, feeling a misery I had never known. My body was tired, and screamed for sleep. I could not. Kashya came over, and sat down on the log besided me.

"What happened?" She asked.

I opened my mouth, but, no words would come forth. Kashya, with an unusual look on her face, got up, and went to her tent. She returned a moment latter with a small flask.

"Drink this." I could tell by the tone in her voice that this was an order, not a suggestion. I took the flask and downed a swallow.

And the fire consumed me. It burned in my mouth, and scorched my throat. I could feel what felt like burning coal oil in my belly. To late, I knew what this stuff was. It was Barbarian Brew. Far to the North, the Barbarians brewed this noxious brew, and sold it to unsuspecting visitors. My senses reeled, and the burning had spread to my arms and legs. The aches, the pain, the strained muscled stopped complaining. I felt limp. Kashya placed her hand next to her mouth, and acted like she was tipping back a drink. With my lips pursed, I took another swallow. I stood up, and could not feel my legs. Hell, I could not feel anything below my neck anymore. I started to tell Kashya what had happened, when suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet me. The last thing I felt was Kashya's strong calloused hands catching me. As blackness consumed me, I heard Kashya's voice. "Sleep now, dear sister. Of all my Rogues, you have earned your rest this day."

I awoke with a headache. Birds were chirping, and the sound echoed in my hollow aching head. I opened my eyes, and with out a seconds hesitation, clinched them shut. The light felt like a million white hot needles stabbing my eyeballs. I cautiously peeped open a single eye, cringing at the pain. I jumped, startled. Talltree was sitting by my cot in a crude wooden chair. He was sleeping. Kashya stood, a dark shadow in the light streaming through the tent opening.

"He got up in the middle of the night. He could barely walk. Yet he insisted in watching over you as you slept. He was afraid that you might have nightmares. Just what happened yesterday?" Kashya looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "Never mind. I don't want to know. It would probably cause me to have nightmares." She walked away, not saying another word.

Quietly, so not to disturb the sleeping giant, I got up and went over to the small table. I poured out water, and quietly washed my face. I looked up in the mirror, and with a startled gasp, I noticed that my stark auburn hair now had a shimmering white streak running through it. No wonder Kashya did not want to know.

The Sage Tree stood before us. Talltree quietly limped up to it, and then touched it with his hands. He stood silent. He was concentrating. I could see it by the look on his face. Nothing seemed to happen.

"Please, I am begging you. Help us, and save your self. Save this world. Save your woods" Talltree pleaded out loud. I had no idea what he was talking about, but, it had to be a conversation with the tree. The tree looked ill. It had no leaves left, and the bark was pale and sickly. Black sap seeped from many cracks in the bark, looking like dried blood on old wounds. A vine on the ground begin to wrap it self around my leg, and I let out a shriek. Talltree grabbed me and covered my mouth with his hand. "Quiet" he whispered in my ear. "The tree is going to test us"

When it was over, the vine stayed close to Talltree. It moved, slithered, and seemed to dig around in the ground on it's own. The great tree shuddered, I could see the branches swaying with out wind. And then it died. A spirit floated up from the tree. It was pale and whispy, and gave off a faint orange glow. I felt stronger somehow. Not physically stronger, but, something deep inside of me felt a strength. Like my life had been given a new birth. I felt younger, yet, somehow older at the same time. A single piece of bark peeled from the tree, and landed at my feet. Talltree picked it up, and stuffed it into his pack.

"We have been found worthy." He said solemnly. "The vine contains powerful magic and will grow over time to assist us. The Tree's spirit has agreed to inhabit our bodies untill a more suitable tree has been found after this mess is over with."

"You mean to tell me I have been possessed by a tree?" I asked. He nodded. What could I say? I had seen and heard of some strange things, but, who would ever believe that a person could be possessed by a tree?

After visiting the camp, we returned to the great stone circle, and Talltree inscribed signs on them in a certian order with his finger. The sky blackened. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed. With a deafening ringing sound, a glaring red portal opened.

Tristram awaited.
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Joined: August 26th, 2001, 1:19 am

August 31st, 2001, 9:09 pm #2

I like how the story is (for once) based around a hireling and not those glory hogging PC characters

Keep up the great work!
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Joined: April 6th, 2001, 2:45 pm

August 31st, 2001, 11:22 pm #3

The Dark Woods, were, well, dark. We emerged from the cave close to yet another camp of Fallen. Before I could even say anything, Talltree had charged. Stupid stupid man. One day, I fear he will get himself killed.

I had warned him of the guardian of this wood, a great brute by the name of Treehead. At one time, he had been a peaceful and kind guardian. However, now, from the stories I had heard, he had been corrupted to the forces of evil. My campanion had been consumed by what ever it was that drove him. He shrugged off my warning with a wave of his hand.

There were many battles in between the trees of the wood. The ever present Fallen, my cursed Sisters, and the oddly dangerous quill rats. Talltree took a beating like few men ever could. Wounds that would have been mortal to most men, he causually shrugged them off and continued cracking skulls with his sad looking little club. He took no rest, stopped for no breather. Once every foe had been slain, he hurried off to find what we were looking for. My legs ached, my arms were numb, my many wounds itched and burned. I begged him to slow down, to rest, and his only responce was to pick up the pace. I had been trained for endurance, but, this was pushing my body to it's very limits.

And at last, he stopped. Ahead of us stood the Sage Tree. The tree who's name I could not say. As Talltree breathed a sigh of relief, a loud grunt startled us. We both turned, and before I could even shout a warning, Treehead had charged us.

A massive beast, easily 9 feet tall and all muscle. And he was charging for me. I started to move, and that quiet still voice in the back of my mind told me I would never make it. I froze in fear, and prepared to face what ever life awaited for me in the great beyond.

And suddenly Talltree was there. With a speed that defied imagination, and belied his clumsiness, he had charged Treehead. Now Talltree, while birdlike and thin, was not a weak man. He stood a good seven foot tall himself, and I already knew just how solid he could be. I flinched, not knowing the outcome.

The two of them collided. One very large, very enraged brute, one very large and very solid man. The sound of them smashing into one another was indescribable, but, it was almost like two boulders crashing together. Two more brutes emerged from the bushes around the tree, and I carefully took aim and began firing.

The battle was the stuff of legends, myths, and lies. I alone was there to witness this, and nobody would ever believe me if I told the story. Boulders flew as the enraged earth defended Talltree. Boulder after boulder smashed into Treehead, stunning him, knocking him back. His companions lay dead, slain by my hand. One of Talltree's arms hung limp at his side, and he limped on one of his legs. A huge gash had opened in his forehead, and great gouts of blood poured out. With a grunt, Talltree brought his club down on Treehead's skull. The great brute stood for a moment, and then with a gasp, he fell over and ceased to move.

Talltree looked at me. I could only see one eye, the other covered by the flap of skin peeled from his scalp. He had a sad look, and somehow, I knew what he was feeling. He had killed the guardian, a great forest spirit, and it had pained him in a way I could not conceive. He took a shakey step towards me, and then pitched face forward into the muddy bloody earth.

I screamed out a cry for help, then realized nobody could hear me. I knelt down and rolled him over. His eye was cloudy and vacant, and his skin was pale. He felt cold. He was dying. Panic took over. With a lump in my throat, I rummaged through his pack. My hands were trembling as I fumbled, looking for anything that might help. I found a small scroll. With trembling fingers, I cracked open the wax seal. A portal opened. The blue glow gave everything an eerie light. Knowing that Kashya would flay me if I failed at my task, I dragged his body through the portal.

Akara, the amazing healer that she was, had patched him up. His scalp had been stitched back into place, and many elixers were used to repair his body. I sat by the fire, feeling a misery I had never known. My body was tired, and screamed for sleep. I could not. Kashya came over, and sat down on the log besided me.

"What happened?" She asked.

I opened my mouth, but, no words would come forth. Kashya, with an unusual look on her face, got up, and went to her tent. She returned a moment latter with a small flask.

"Drink this." I could tell by the tone in her voice that this was an order, not a suggestion. I took the flask and downed a swallow.

And the fire consumed me. It burned in my mouth, and scorched my throat. I could feel what felt like burning coal oil in my belly. To late, I knew what this stuff was. It was Barbarian Brew. Far to the North, the Barbarians brewed this noxious brew, and sold it to unsuspecting visitors. My senses reeled, and the burning had spread to my arms and legs. The aches, the pain, the strained muscled stopped complaining. I felt limp. Kashya placed her hand next to her mouth, and acted like she was tipping back a drink. With my lips pursed, I took another swallow. I stood up, and could not feel my legs. Hell, I could not feel anything below my neck anymore. I started to tell Kashya what had happened, when suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet me. The last thing I felt was Kashya's strong calloused hands catching me. As blackness consumed me, I heard Kashya's voice. "Sleep now, dear sister. Of all my Rogues, you have earned your rest this day."

I awoke with a headache. Birds were chirping, and the sound echoed in my hollow aching head. I opened my eyes, and with out a seconds hesitation, clinched them shut. The light felt like a million white hot needles stabbing my eyeballs. I cautiously peeped open a single eye, cringing at the pain. I jumped, startled. Talltree was sitting by my cot in a crude wooden chair. He was sleeping. Kashya stood, a dark shadow in the light streaming through the tent opening.

"He got up in the middle of the night. He could barely walk. Yet he insisted in watching over you as you slept. He was afraid that you might have nightmares. Just what happened yesterday?" Kashya looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "Never mind. I don't want to know. It would probably cause me to have nightmares." She walked away, not saying another word.

Quietly, so not to disturb the sleeping giant, I got up and went over to the small table. I poured out water, and quietly washed my face. I looked up in the mirror, and with a startled gasp, I noticed that my stark auburn hair now had a shimmering white streak running through it. No wonder Kashya did not want to know.

The Sage Tree stood before us. Talltree quietly limped up to it, and then touched it with his hands. He stood silent. He was concentrating. I could see it by the look on his face. Nothing seemed to happen.

"Please, I am begging you. Help us, and save your self. Save this world. Save your woods" Talltree pleaded out loud. I had no idea what he was talking about, but, it had to be a conversation with the tree. The tree looked ill. It had no leaves left, and the bark was pale and sickly. Black sap seeped from many cracks in the bark, looking like dried blood on old wounds. A vine on the ground begin to wrap it self around my leg, and I let out a shriek. Talltree grabbed me and covered my mouth with his hand. "Quiet" he whispered in my ear. "The tree is going to test us"

When it was over, the vine stayed close to Talltree. It moved, slithered, and seemed to dig around in the ground on it's own. The great tree shuddered, I could see the branches swaying with out wind. And then it died. A spirit floated up from the tree. It was pale and whispy, and gave off a faint orange glow. I felt stronger somehow. Not physically stronger, but, something deep inside of me felt a strength. Like my life had been given a new birth. I felt younger, yet, somehow older at the same time. A single piece of bark peeled from the tree, and landed at my feet. Talltree picked it up, and stuffed it into his pack.

"We have been found worthy." He said solemnly. "The vine contains powerful magic and will grow over time to assist us. The Tree's spirit has agreed to inhabit our bodies untill a more suitable tree has been found after this mess is over with."

"You mean to tell me I have been possessed by a tree?" I asked. He nodded. What could I say? I had seen and heard of some strange things, but, who would ever believe that a person could be possessed by a tree?

After visiting the camp, we returned to the great stone circle, and Talltree inscribed signs on them in a certian order with his finger. The sky blackened. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed. With a deafening ringing sound, a glaring red portal opened.

Tristram awaited.
nt = nickle trombone?

May the wind pick up your heels and your sword strike true.

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May the wind pick up your heels and your sword strike true.
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Rage_Blade
Rage_Blade

September 1st, 2001, 10:12 am #4

The Dark Woods, were, well, dark. We emerged from the cave close to yet another camp of Fallen. Before I could even say anything, Talltree had charged. Stupid stupid man. One day, I fear he will get himself killed.

I had warned him of the guardian of this wood, a great brute by the name of Treehead. At one time, he had been a peaceful and kind guardian. However, now, from the stories I had heard, he had been corrupted to the forces of evil. My campanion had been consumed by what ever it was that drove him. He shrugged off my warning with a wave of his hand.

There were many battles in between the trees of the wood. The ever present Fallen, my cursed Sisters, and the oddly dangerous quill rats. Talltree took a beating like few men ever could. Wounds that would have been mortal to most men, he causually shrugged them off and continued cracking skulls with his sad looking little club. He took no rest, stopped for no breather. Once every foe had been slain, he hurried off to find what we were looking for. My legs ached, my arms were numb, my many wounds itched and burned. I begged him to slow down, to rest, and his only responce was to pick up the pace. I had been trained for endurance, but, this was pushing my body to it's very limits.

And at last, he stopped. Ahead of us stood the Sage Tree. The tree who's name I could not say. As Talltree breathed a sigh of relief, a loud grunt startled us. We both turned, and before I could even shout a warning, Treehead had charged us.

A massive beast, easily 9 feet tall and all muscle. And he was charging for me. I started to move, and that quiet still voice in the back of my mind told me I would never make it. I froze in fear, and prepared to face what ever life awaited for me in the great beyond.

And suddenly Talltree was there. With a speed that defied imagination, and belied his clumsiness, he had charged Treehead. Now Talltree, while birdlike and thin, was not a weak man. He stood a good seven foot tall himself, and I already knew just how solid he could be. I flinched, not knowing the outcome.

The two of them collided. One very large, very enraged brute, one very large and very solid man. The sound of them smashing into one another was indescribable, but, it was almost like two boulders crashing together. Two more brutes emerged from the bushes around the tree, and I carefully took aim and began firing.

The battle was the stuff of legends, myths, and lies. I alone was there to witness this, and nobody would ever believe me if I told the story. Boulders flew as the enraged earth defended Talltree. Boulder after boulder smashed into Treehead, stunning him, knocking him back. His companions lay dead, slain by my hand. One of Talltree's arms hung limp at his side, and he limped on one of his legs. A huge gash had opened in his forehead, and great gouts of blood poured out. With a grunt, Talltree brought his club down on Treehead's skull. The great brute stood for a moment, and then with a gasp, he fell over and ceased to move.

Talltree looked at me. I could only see one eye, the other covered by the flap of skin peeled from his scalp. He had a sad look, and somehow, I knew what he was feeling. He had killed the guardian, a great forest spirit, and it had pained him in a way I could not conceive. He took a shakey step towards me, and then pitched face forward into the muddy bloody earth.

I screamed out a cry for help, then realized nobody could hear me. I knelt down and rolled him over. His eye was cloudy and vacant, and his skin was pale. He felt cold. He was dying. Panic took over. With a lump in my throat, I rummaged through his pack. My hands were trembling as I fumbled, looking for anything that might help. I found a small scroll. With trembling fingers, I cracked open the wax seal. A portal opened. The blue glow gave everything an eerie light. Knowing that Kashya would flay me if I failed at my task, I dragged his body through the portal.

Akara, the amazing healer that she was, had patched him up. His scalp had been stitched back into place, and many elixers were used to repair his body. I sat by the fire, feeling a misery I had never known. My body was tired, and screamed for sleep. I could not. Kashya came over, and sat down on the log besided me.

"What happened?" She asked.

I opened my mouth, but, no words would come forth. Kashya, with an unusual look on her face, got up, and went to her tent. She returned a moment latter with a small flask.

"Drink this." I could tell by the tone in her voice that this was an order, not a suggestion. I took the flask and downed a swallow.

And the fire consumed me. It burned in my mouth, and scorched my throat. I could feel what felt like burning coal oil in my belly. To late, I knew what this stuff was. It was Barbarian Brew. Far to the North, the Barbarians brewed this noxious brew, and sold it to unsuspecting visitors. My senses reeled, and the burning had spread to my arms and legs. The aches, the pain, the strained muscled stopped complaining. I felt limp. Kashya placed her hand next to her mouth, and acted like she was tipping back a drink. With my lips pursed, I took another swallow. I stood up, and could not feel my legs. Hell, I could not feel anything below my neck anymore. I started to tell Kashya what had happened, when suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet me. The last thing I felt was Kashya's strong calloused hands catching me. As blackness consumed me, I heard Kashya's voice. "Sleep now, dear sister. Of all my Rogues, you have earned your rest this day."

I awoke with a headache. Birds were chirping, and the sound echoed in my hollow aching head. I opened my eyes, and with out a seconds hesitation, clinched them shut. The light felt like a million white hot needles stabbing my eyeballs. I cautiously peeped open a single eye, cringing at the pain. I jumped, startled. Talltree was sitting by my cot in a crude wooden chair. He was sleeping. Kashya stood, a dark shadow in the light streaming through the tent opening.

"He got up in the middle of the night. He could barely walk. Yet he insisted in watching over you as you slept. He was afraid that you might have nightmares. Just what happened yesterday?" Kashya looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "Never mind. I don't want to know. It would probably cause me to have nightmares." She walked away, not saying another word.

Quietly, so not to disturb the sleeping giant, I got up and went over to the small table. I poured out water, and quietly washed my face. I looked up in the mirror, and with a startled gasp, I noticed that my stark auburn hair now had a shimmering white streak running through it. No wonder Kashya did not want to know.

The Sage Tree stood before us. Talltree quietly limped up to it, and then touched it with his hands. He stood silent. He was concentrating. I could see it by the look on his face. Nothing seemed to happen.

"Please, I am begging you. Help us, and save your self. Save this world. Save your woods" Talltree pleaded out loud. I had no idea what he was talking about, but, it had to be a conversation with the tree. The tree looked ill. It had no leaves left, and the bark was pale and sickly. Black sap seeped from many cracks in the bark, looking like dried blood on old wounds. A vine on the ground begin to wrap it self around my leg, and I let out a shriek. Talltree grabbed me and covered my mouth with his hand. "Quiet" he whispered in my ear. "The tree is going to test us"

When it was over, the vine stayed close to Talltree. It moved, slithered, and seemed to dig around in the ground on it's own. The great tree shuddered, I could see the branches swaying with out wind. And then it died. A spirit floated up from the tree. It was pale and whispy, and gave off a faint orange glow. I felt stronger somehow. Not physically stronger, but, something deep inside of me felt a strength. Like my life had been given a new birth. I felt younger, yet, somehow older at the same time. A single piece of bark peeled from the tree, and landed at my feet. Talltree picked it up, and stuffed it into his pack.

"We have been found worthy." He said solemnly. "The vine contains powerful magic and will grow over time to assist us. The Tree's spirit has agreed to inhabit our bodies untill a more suitable tree has been found after this mess is over with."

"You mean to tell me I have been possessed by a tree?" I asked. He nodded. What could I say? I had seen and heard of some strange things, but, who would ever believe that a person could be possessed by a tree?

After visiting the camp, we returned to the great stone circle, and Talltree inscribed signs on them in a certian order with his finger. The sky blackened. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed. With a deafening ringing sound, a glaring red portal opened.

Tristram awaited.
And I have to say,I'm VERY impressed good job!
You should become a writer of diablo 2 "The True Story"
or something,well done!
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Charis
Charis

September 1st, 2001, 3:12 pm #5

The Dark Woods, were, well, dark. We emerged from the cave close to yet another camp of Fallen. Before I could even say anything, Talltree had charged. Stupid stupid man. One day, I fear he will get himself killed.

I had warned him of the guardian of this wood, a great brute by the name of Treehead. At one time, he had been a peaceful and kind guardian. However, now, from the stories I had heard, he had been corrupted to the forces of evil. My campanion had been consumed by what ever it was that drove him. He shrugged off my warning with a wave of his hand.

There were many battles in between the trees of the wood. The ever present Fallen, my cursed Sisters, and the oddly dangerous quill rats. Talltree took a beating like few men ever could. Wounds that would have been mortal to most men, he causually shrugged them off and continued cracking skulls with his sad looking little club. He took no rest, stopped for no breather. Once every foe had been slain, he hurried off to find what we were looking for. My legs ached, my arms were numb, my many wounds itched and burned. I begged him to slow down, to rest, and his only responce was to pick up the pace. I had been trained for endurance, but, this was pushing my body to it's very limits.

And at last, he stopped. Ahead of us stood the Sage Tree. The tree who's name I could not say. As Talltree breathed a sigh of relief, a loud grunt startled us. We both turned, and before I could even shout a warning, Treehead had charged us.

A massive beast, easily 9 feet tall and all muscle. And he was charging for me. I started to move, and that quiet still voice in the back of my mind told me I would never make it. I froze in fear, and prepared to face what ever life awaited for me in the great beyond.

And suddenly Talltree was there. With a speed that defied imagination, and belied his clumsiness, he had charged Treehead. Now Talltree, while birdlike and thin, was not a weak man. He stood a good seven foot tall himself, and I already knew just how solid he could be. I flinched, not knowing the outcome.

The two of them collided. One very large, very enraged brute, one very large and very solid man. The sound of them smashing into one another was indescribable, but, it was almost like two boulders crashing together. Two more brutes emerged from the bushes around the tree, and I carefully took aim and began firing.

The battle was the stuff of legends, myths, and lies. I alone was there to witness this, and nobody would ever believe me if I told the story. Boulders flew as the enraged earth defended Talltree. Boulder after boulder smashed into Treehead, stunning him, knocking him back. His companions lay dead, slain by my hand. One of Talltree's arms hung limp at his side, and he limped on one of his legs. A huge gash had opened in his forehead, and great gouts of blood poured out. With a grunt, Talltree brought his club down on Treehead's skull. The great brute stood for a moment, and then with a gasp, he fell over and ceased to move.

Talltree looked at me. I could only see one eye, the other covered by the flap of skin peeled from his scalp. He had a sad look, and somehow, I knew what he was feeling. He had killed the guardian, a great forest spirit, and it had pained him in a way I could not conceive. He took a shakey step towards me, and then pitched face forward into the muddy bloody earth.

I screamed out a cry for help, then realized nobody could hear me. I knelt down and rolled him over. His eye was cloudy and vacant, and his skin was pale. He felt cold. He was dying. Panic took over. With a lump in my throat, I rummaged through his pack. My hands were trembling as I fumbled, looking for anything that might help. I found a small scroll. With trembling fingers, I cracked open the wax seal. A portal opened. The blue glow gave everything an eerie light. Knowing that Kashya would flay me if I failed at my task, I dragged his body through the portal.

Akara, the amazing healer that she was, had patched him up. His scalp had been stitched back into place, and many elixers were used to repair his body. I sat by the fire, feeling a misery I had never known. My body was tired, and screamed for sleep. I could not. Kashya came over, and sat down on the log besided me.

"What happened?" She asked.

I opened my mouth, but, no words would come forth. Kashya, with an unusual look on her face, got up, and went to her tent. She returned a moment latter with a small flask.

"Drink this." I could tell by the tone in her voice that this was an order, not a suggestion. I took the flask and downed a swallow.

And the fire consumed me. It burned in my mouth, and scorched my throat. I could feel what felt like burning coal oil in my belly. To late, I knew what this stuff was. It was Barbarian Brew. Far to the North, the Barbarians brewed this noxious brew, and sold it to unsuspecting visitors. My senses reeled, and the burning had spread to my arms and legs. The aches, the pain, the strained muscled stopped complaining. I felt limp. Kashya placed her hand next to her mouth, and acted like she was tipping back a drink. With my lips pursed, I took another swallow. I stood up, and could not feel my legs. Hell, I could not feel anything below my neck anymore. I started to tell Kashya what had happened, when suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet me. The last thing I felt was Kashya's strong calloused hands catching me. As blackness consumed me, I heard Kashya's voice. "Sleep now, dear sister. Of all my Rogues, you have earned your rest this day."

I awoke with a headache. Birds were chirping, and the sound echoed in my hollow aching head. I opened my eyes, and with out a seconds hesitation, clinched them shut. The light felt like a million white hot needles stabbing my eyeballs. I cautiously peeped open a single eye, cringing at the pain. I jumped, startled. Talltree was sitting by my cot in a crude wooden chair. He was sleeping. Kashya stood, a dark shadow in the light streaming through the tent opening.

"He got up in the middle of the night. He could barely walk. Yet he insisted in watching over you as you slept. He was afraid that you might have nightmares. Just what happened yesterday?" Kashya looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "Never mind. I don't want to know. It would probably cause me to have nightmares." She walked away, not saying another word.

Quietly, so not to disturb the sleeping giant, I got up and went over to the small table. I poured out water, and quietly washed my face. I looked up in the mirror, and with a startled gasp, I noticed that my stark auburn hair now had a shimmering white streak running through it. No wonder Kashya did not want to know.

The Sage Tree stood before us. Talltree quietly limped up to it, and then touched it with his hands. He stood silent. He was concentrating. I could see it by the look on his face. Nothing seemed to happen.

"Please, I am begging you. Help us, and save your self. Save this world. Save your woods" Talltree pleaded out loud. I had no idea what he was talking about, but, it had to be a conversation with the tree. The tree looked ill. It had no leaves left, and the bark was pale and sickly. Black sap seeped from many cracks in the bark, looking like dried blood on old wounds. A vine on the ground begin to wrap it self around my leg, and I let out a shriek. Talltree grabbed me and covered my mouth with his hand. "Quiet" he whispered in my ear. "The tree is going to test us"

When it was over, the vine stayed close to Talltree. It moved, slithered, and seemed to dig around in the ground on it's own. The great tree shuddered, I could see the branches swaying with out wind. And then it died. A spirit floated up from the tree. It was pale and whispy, and gave off a faint orange glow. I felt stronger somehow. Not physically stronger, but, something deep inside of me felt a strength. Like my life had been given a new birth. I felt younger, yet, somehow older at the same time. A single piece of bark peeled from the tree, and landed at my feet. Talltree picked it up, and stuffed it into his pack.

"We have been found worthy." He said solemnly. "The vine contains powerful magic and will grow over time to assist us. The Tree's spirit has agreed to inhabit our bodies untill a more suitable tree has been found after this mess is over with."

"You mean to tell me I have been possessed by a tree?" I asked. He nodded. What could I say? I had seen and heard of some strange things, but, who would ever believe that a person could be possessed by a tree?

After visiting the camp, we returned to the great stone circle, and Talltree inscribed signs on them in a certian order with his finger. The sky blackened. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed. With a deafening ringing sound, a glaring red portal opened.

Tristram awaited.
Another chapter well done...

Although from the rules described in the later post... it shall be a fun ride but one which may end quite abruptly. If you need to be hit I hope that you don't run into a Conviction Spectral Hit boss

gl
Charis
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 4:29 pm

September 1st, 2001, 3:54 pm #6

The Dark Woods, were, well, dark. We emerged from the cave close to yet another camp of Fallen. Before I could even say anything, Talltree had charged. Stupid stupid man. One day, I fear he will get himself killed.

I had warned him of the guardian of this wood, a great brute by the name of Treehead. At one time, he had been a peaceful and kind guardian. However, now, from the stories I had heard, he had been corrupted to the forces of evil. My campanion had been consumed by what ever it was that drove him. He shrugged off my warning with a wave of his hand.

There were many battles in between the trees of the wood. The ever present Fallen, my cursed Sisters, and the oddly dangerous quill rats. Talltree took a beating like few men ever could. Wounds that would have been mortal to most men, he causually shrugged them off and continued cracking skulls with his sad looking little club. He took no rest, stopped for no breather. Once every foe had been slain, he hurried off to find what we were looking for. My legs ached, my arms were numb, my many wounds itched and burned. I begged him to slow down, to rest, and his only responce was to pick up the pace. I had been trained for endurance, but, this was pushing my body to it's very limits.

And at last, he stopped. Ahead of us stood the Sage Tree. The tree who's name I could not say. As Talltree breathed a sigh of relief, a loud grunt startled us. We both turned, and before I could even shout a warning, Treehead had charged us.

A massive beast, easily 9 feet tall and all muscle. And he was charging for me. I started to move, and that quiet still voice in the back of my mind told me I would never make it. I froze in fear, and prepared to face what ever life awaited for me in the great beyond.

And suddenly Talltree was there. With a speed that defied imagination, and belied his clumsiness, he had charged Treehead. Now Talltree, while birdlike and thin, was not a weak man. He stood a good seven foot tall himself, and I already knew just how solid he could be. I flinched, not knowing the outcome.

The two of them collided. One very large, very enraged brute, one very large and very solid man. The sound of them smashing into one another was indescribable, but, it was almost like two boulders crashing together. Two more brutes emerged from the bushes around the tree, and I carefully took aim and began firing.

The battle was the stuff of legends, myths, and lies. I alone was there to witness this, and nobody would ever believe me if I told the story. Boulders flew as the enraged earth defended Talltree. Boulder after boulder smashed into Treehead, stunning him, knocking him back. His companions lay dead, slain by my hand. One of Talltree's arms hung limp at his side, and he limped on one of his legs. A huge gash had opened in his forehead, and great gouts of blood poured out. With a grunt, Talltree brought his club down on Treehead's skull. The great brute stood for a moment, and then with a gasp, he fell over and ceased to move.

Talltree looked at me. I could only see one eye, the other covered by the flap of skin peeled from his scalp. He had a sad look, and somehow, I knew what he was feeling. He had killed the guardian, a great forest spirit, and it had pained him in a way I could not conceive. He took a shakey step towards me, and then pitched face forward into the muddy bloody earth.

I screamed out a cry for help, then realized nobody could hear me. I knelt down and rolled him over. His eye was cloudy and vacant, and his skin was pale. He felt cold. He was dying. Panic took over. With a lump in my throat, I rummaged through his pack. My hands were trembling as I fumbled, looking for anything that might help. I found a small scroll. With trembling fingers, I cracked open the wax seal. A portal opened. The blue glow gave everything an eerie light. Knowing that Kashya would flay me if I failed at my task, I dragged his body through the portal.

Akara, the amazing healer that she was, had patched him up. His scalp had been stitched back into place, and many elixers were used to repair his body. I sat by the fire, feeling a misery I had never known. My body was tired, and screamed for sleep. I could not. Kashya came over, and sat down on the log besided me.

"What happened?" She asked.

I opened my mouth, but, no words would come forth. Kashya, with an unusual look on her face, got up, and went to her tent. She returned a moment latter with a small flask.

"Drink this." I could tell by the tone in her voice that this was an order, not a suggestion. I took the flask and downed a swallow.

And the fire consumed me. It burned in my mouth, and scorched my throat. I could feel what felt like burning coal oil in my belly. To late, I knew what this stuff was. It was Barbarian Brew. Far to the North, the Barbarians brewed this noxious brew, and sold it to unsuspecting visitors. My senses reeled, and the burning had spread to my arms and legs. The aches, the pain, the strained muscled stopped complaining. I felt limp. Kashya placed her hand next to her mouth, and acted like she was tipping back a drink. With my lips pursed, I took another swallow. I stood up, and could not feel my legs. Hell, I could not feel anything below my neck anymore. I started to tell Kashya what had happened, when suddenly the ground was rushing up to meet me. The last thing I felt was Kashya's strong calloused hands catching me. As blackness consumed me, I heard Kashya's voice. "Sleep now, dear sister. Of all my Rogues, you have earned your rest this day."

I awoke with a headache. Birds were chirping, and the sound echoed in my hollow aching head. I opened my eyes, and with out a seconds hesitation, clinched them shut. The light felt like a million white hot needles stabbing my eyeballs. I cautiously peeped open a single eye, cringing at the pain. I jumped, startled. Talltree was sitting by my cot in a crude wooden chair. He was sleeping. Kashya stood, a dark shadow in the light streaming through the tent opening.

"He got up in the middle of the night. He could barely walk. Yet he insisted in watching over you as you slept. He was afraid that you might have nightmares. Just what happened yesterday?" Kashya looked at me in a way I had never seen before. "Never mind. I don't want to know. It would probably cause me to have nightmares." She walked away, not saying another word.

Quietly, so not to disturb the sleeping giant, I got up and went over to the small table. I poured out water, and quietly washed my face. I looked up in the mirror, and with a startled gasp, I noticed that my stark auburn hair now had a shimmering white streak running through it. No wonder Kashya did not want to know.

The Sage Tree stood before us. Talltree quietly limped up to it, and then touched it with his hands. He stood silent. He was concentrating. I could see it by the look on his face. Nothing seemed to happen.

"Please, I am begging you. Help us, and save your self. Save this world. Save your woods" Talltree pleaded out loud. I had no idea what he was talking about, but, it had to be a conversation with the tree. The tree looked ill. It had no leaves left, and the bark was pale and sickly. Black sap seeped from many cracks in the bark, looking like dried blood on old wounds. A vine on the ground begin to wrap it self around my leg, and I let out a shriek. Talltree grabbed me and covered my mouth with his hand. "Quiet" he whispered in my ear. "The tree is going to test us"

When it was over, the vine stayed close to Talltree. It moved, slithered, and seemed to dig around in the ground on it's own. The great tree shuddered, I could see the branches swaying with out wind. And then it died. A spirit floated up from the tree. It was pale and whispy, and gave off a faint orange glow. I felt stronger somehow. Not physically stronger, but, something deep inside of me felt a strength. Like my life had been given a new birth. I felt younger, yet, somehow older at the same time. A single piece of bark peeled from the tree, and landed at my feet. Talltree picked it up, and stuffed it into his pack.

"We have been found worthy." He said solemnly. "The vine contains powerful magic and will grow over time to assist us. The Tree's spirit has agreed to inhabit our bodies untill a more suitable tree has been found after this mess is over with."

"You mean to tell me I have been possessed by a tree?" I asked. He nodded. What could I say? I had seen and heard of some strange things, but, who would ever believe that a person could be possessed by a tree?

After visiting the camp, we returned to the great stone circle, and Talltree inscribed signs on them in a certian order with his finger. The sky blackened. Thunder rolled and lightning flashed. With a deafening ringing sound, a glaring red portal opened.

Tristram awaited.
Tristram had fallen. Once, a beautiful city on a prosperous trade route, now, a graveyard. Very little remained of it, the buildings had been set ablaze and all through the hamlet we could hear voices. The gibberings of the undead, the screeching giggles of the Fallen. Just stepping out the portal, we had already attracted some attention. Skeletal archers. I dispatched them with little fuss.

Ducking around the edges of town, there were a few times I gave Talltree's pony tail a good yank to keep him from blowing our cover. I whispered to him that some times, stealth is more deadly than an all out suicide rush. He silently agreed. Maybe butting heads with Treehead had knocked some sense in to him, but, deep inside, I doubted it. Talltree was Talltree. His nature could not be changed, and part of me prayed that it never would. Talltree was what I wished more men to be. Innocent. Inspite of all these horrors, something deep inside in Talltree could not be corrupted. He was kind. He showed respect. But I ramble from my story.

The peculiar vine edged forward, sensing a stray Fallen stagger around drunkenly. I saw the vine brush against it's leg, and then a moment latter the Fallen gagged and fell over dead. Again I was amazed at the forces of nature. I could only guess what had happened, and that was some vile toxin. The vine was dangerous. Another Fallen stumbled over to check on it's fallen comrade, and Talltree reached out of the bushes and grabbed him. With a swift conk to the head, he ended the miserable creature's life.

Talltree sent the vine out as a distraction and we made our move. A large pack of Fallen on the very outskirts of the town. The vine burrowed under ground, and surfaced next to the very surprised shaman. The vine then launched a cloud of green spores into the shaman's face. It fell dead in seconds. The remaining pack scattered, terrified with out their fearless leader. I heard Talltree curse, and somewhere, a bell rang. The alarm had been sounded. With a violent cry, I emerged from cover and began firing. If I was going to die today, I was determined to take everything I could with me.

Boulders flew. Cold winds froze flesh. Arrows pierced. Many died of poison. The tree's spirit made us strong. Nearly god like. Goat men, foul abominations of nature, had joined the fray, and Talltree ignored everything else as he rushed to kill them. And oddly, I knew what it was he was thinking. I don't know how I knew, only, somehow, our minds had been linked. He hated the goat men in a way that dogs hate cats, and light detests darkness. Nature had been corrupted with the creation of the goat men.

Every thing had died before us. Our fury was endless. We were now a team, bound together by what ever forces decided that we should stand together as one. Not a word had been spoken, but, we knew each others plans and actions. It was a surreal experience.

And then I saw an old friend. Griswold. However, this was not Griswold. It had Griswold's body, but, the life was gone from his once merry eyes, and his slow stumbling walk proved one thing. Griswold had been taken and bound by what ever dark force that had destroyed this town. I made an oath to kill whom ever it was that had corrupted such a fine decent man.

I would always remember Griswold. When I came to Tristram, he had taken a liking to me, I was only a little girl. He had told me I still should be playing with toys, not bows and arrows and taking part in blood sport. When the troops had gone down to explore the catacombs below the church, Griswold had looked after me. He was kind, and Kashya claimed he was one of the few men that could be trusted. He had carved a wooden doll for me, and I fondly remember chasing sparks from his forge as he toiled endlessly to make new weapons. Before we had departed, he gave me one last gift, a gift I could never understand at that time. "There will come a time," he had told me, "where you will have to choose between your vows, and your order, and your heart. Always follow your heart. Vows come and go. One day, even the Sisters of the Sightless Eye will fall. But the path of the heart lasts forever." I remember the words, and I remember what he was working on. A grand armor, crown, and scepter. I never did understand those words for a long long time.

Talltree could feel the pain I was feeling. I don't think I will ever understand how we are connected, but, I could feel how my pain affected him. He moved in and with a great sense of grief, engaged Griswold.

Again, the battle was the stuff of legends. Griswold, in life, had been one of the most powerful men in Sanctuary. In death, his power had been magnified. He was strong, and his touch carried a curse. It would not matter. Nature, the ever so quirky master, would not let Talltree fail. Griswold fell and was finally put to rest. A small club hung at his belt. Talltree grabbed it and stuffed it in his pack. We moved to the center of the town.

Cain was in a gibbit in the town square. He called out to us. Cautiously, we moved forward. All was still. Nothing moved. Now, Tristram was truly a ghost town. All signs of life was gone, the evil purged. I fired an arrow with nearly careless aim, and the rope holding the gibbit was cut clean. The wooden cage crashed to the ground and Cain spilled out. He looked up at me, relieved to be free, but, rubbing his backside, irked that he had been dumped out on the ground like some common potato. Talltree opened a portal, and we escorted Cain back to the camp.

"Get me out of here" The voice was small, quiet, and nobody seemed to hear it but Talltree and my self. Talltree looked at me, and then looked at the others. We were sitting around the camp fire, talking of old days, when Tristram was a place of hope, and our order had been true, and all was well in the world. Cain was glad to be free, and was watched by Akara's careful eye. Cain was old and frail, and this experience had left him even older, and weaker. Talltree excused himself from the campfire chat and walked over to his tent. With out saying a word, and getting a strange look from Kashya, I followed him.

"Let me out. It smells funny in here" The voice came from Talltree's backpack. "It smells funny, and there is a lot of useless junk in here. How dare you stuff me in here with useless junk! Shame on you!"

Talltree looked at me, perplexed. He dumped his pack out on his cot. Some small potions, elixers, scrolls, a few charms of different shapes and sizes, and the club we took from Griswold.

"Now you drop me! You dummy... How dare you!" I had to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing. Talltree picked up the club.

"Hey you.... You stinky, smelly, feculent little troll, how dare you touch me with those smelly dirty hands! Whew.... What have you been doing? Groping zombies? Hmm well, no acounting for personal tastes." Talltree dropped the club. He looked at me, stunned disbelief on his face.

The club was silent for a moment. Then it spoke. "Wait. Something not quite right about this. You mean you can hear me?"

Talltree let out a whispered yes. This was madness. Talking trees giving tests, and now, a rather rude talking club. "What, or, who are you?" Talltree inquired.

"I am all that remains of Felloak. The mighty Tree. Guardian of the North. I was destroyed because many druids gained power from me. I was a great source of energy. Dark forces felt the need to remove this power. When I realized I was going to be chopped like the common pine tree, I moved my essence from my trunk and into one of my branches. A druid rescued me, but, he got lost, and then killed, and I went to sleep for a long time hoping to ride out my misfortunes. Now I see my troubles are only beginning. I have been picked up by some gross smelly giant and some common tarty strumpet!"

I started to say something, enraged, but, Talltree cut me off with a wave of his hand.

"Look here you crude piece of wood, you insult Gaile one more time, and I will personally stuff you up a zombie's backside."

The strange piece of wood was silent now. Talltree looked at me, his face contorted into a quizzical expression.

Finally, the odd club spoke. "Please kind sir, what ever you do, please, for the love of all things clean and wholesome, don't do that."

Talltree grunted in response.

"If you can hear me, it means one thing. You have been possessed by a tree. So tell me, oh obnoxiously vile one, why on earth would a tree possess you?"

Talltree explained everything that had happened to the club in quiet whispers. I knew what he was thinking. If people heard us talking to a club, they would think we had goon looney. We sat there for hours, sometimes I would start to doze, and then woke to the sound of a not so quiet whisper as Talltree told of an exciting moment in his quest.

"That tells me a alot." The club was not so mean spirited now. "I am sorry for my remarks. I was rude in an attempt to get you enraged so that you would throw me away and I might get lucky and find peace. However, I was telling the truth when I called you a feculent little troll. Take a bath nature boy!"

Talltree covered his mouth with his hand and stifled a remark.

"Inspite of that, I am bound to aid you. You have been chosen. The North Wind spoke to me one day, saying the one that would restore order has been found. A man so stupid, he did not know what pride was. This man would make a perfect avatar for Nature's wrath. This man was known as the Empty Vessel. A man not consumed by his own needs, but, rather, a man consumed with his love of order, and balance, and harmony with Nature. You, Talltree, are that man that the North Wind spoke to me about. Simple beyond even the most gifted simpletons."

"Well," Talltree interupted. "I don't know if I am flattered or insulted."

"You are a mere mortal. You should feel honored I am even talking to you. You have no idea how old I am. I am ageless. Timeless. I have been many trees, and one day, I will grow into a stately old oak again. Even though you are nothing but a pawn, a very special pawn, you are still nothing more than a slightly gifted mortal. If I seem rude, it is because I have grown tired of your kind. Druids are still men. And men do things like chop down trees, and burn forests, and take more than what they need. Men talk so highly of honor and great deeds. They take great pride in being a hero. Prove to me mortal, your calibre, show me why you are so special that you are chosen. Maybe, one day, your actions will bring back my love of mankind. Probably not, but, you never know. Untill then, I will aid you, but, do not expect me to coddle you. I hold great power, even in this simple blunt chunk of wood. Wield me in battle, and I will smite your foes, and protect you as best I can. I am going back to sleep now. My energies will sustain you. Wake me only when you cleanse this world, and find a suitable meadow to plant me in. I have said my piece to you. Do with it as you will.... However, I am impressed mortal.... You have held up to my tests far better than most.... But the greatest test, the impossible test, still lies ahead of you.... One day, not long from now, but, a long time by your standards, both of you will be tested beyond measure. One day, both of you will be forced to make a choice. And if you make the wrong choice, you will not save the world, you will destroy it."

And then the club was silent. It had gone back to it's slumber. Talltree was also silent, and he looked like a man who carried a great burdon. I had no idea what my role was in this was, but, I could feel a sense of dread in the club's final words. Was I mature enough to make these sorts of choices?
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Hammerskjold
Hammerskjold

September 1st, 2001, 7:49 pm #7


Fan fiction? Bah! This is good fiction, period.
You mentioned in previous post you didn't major in english or so on. Readers don't care if you studied for years in school or not.
What they do care about is the story and the characters. And it seems like you have a knack for both.
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Joined: August 2nd, 2001, 4:29 pm

September 1st, 2001, 9:54 pm #8

My college proffs all hated my writing. Said it was disjointed, scattered, and I used bad form. What ever that means
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mysticgohan42
mysticgohan42

September 1st, 2001, 10:03 pm #9

Another chapter well done...

Although from the rules described in the later post... it shall be a fun ride but one which may end quite abruptly. If you need to be hit I hope that you don't run into a Conviction Spectral Hit boss

gl
Charis
He'll have to meet at least 1. Hephasto the Armorer is automatically Conviction and Spectral Hit. Add in some more painful enchantments in Nightmare and Hell (can you say, Extra Fast?), and that could hurt.
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Joined: August 26th, 2001, 1:19 am

September 1st, 2001, 10:16 pm #10

Tristram had fallen. Once, a beautiful city on a prosperous trade route, now, a graveyard. Very little remained of it, the buildings had been set ablaze and all through the hamlet we could hear voices. The gibberings of the undead, the screeching giggles of the Fallen. Just stepping out the portal, we had already attracted some attention. Skeletal archers. I dispatched them with little fuss.

Ducking around the edges of town, there were a few times I gave Talltree's pony tail a good yank to keep him from blowing our cover. I whispered to him that some times, stealth is more deadly than an all out suicide rush. He silently agreed. Maybe butting heads with Treehead had knocked some sense in to him, but, deep inside, I doubted it. Talltree was Talltree. His nature could not be changed, and part of me prayed that it never would. Talltree was what I wished more men to be. Innocent. Inspite of all these horrors, something deep inside in Talltree could not be corrupted. He was kind. He showed respect. But I ramble from my story.

The peculiar vine edged forward, sensing a stray Fallen stagger around drunkenly. I saw the vine brush against it's leg, and then a moment latter the Fallen gagged and fell over dead. Again I was amazed at the forces of nature. I could only guess what had happened, and that was some vile toxin. The vine was dangerous. Another Fallen stumbled over to check on it's fallen comrade, and Talltree reached out of the bushes and grabbed him. With a swift conk to the head, he ended the miserable creature's life.

Talltree sent the vine out as a distraction and we made our move. A large pack of Fallen on the very outskirts of the town. The vine burrowed under ground, and surfaced next to the very surprised shaman. The vine then launched a cloud of green spores into the shaman's face. It fell dead in seconds. The remaining pack scattered, terrified with out their fearless leader. I heard Talltree curse, and somewhere, a bell rang. The alarm had been sounded. With a violent cry, I emerged from cover and began firing. If I was going to die today, I was determined to take everything I could with me.

Boulders flew. Cold winds froze flesh. Arrows pierced. Many died of poison. The tree's spirit made us strong. Nearly god like. Goat men, foul abominations of nature, had joined the fray, and Talltree ignored everything else as he rushed to kill them. And oddly, I knew what it was he was thinking. I don't know how I knew, only, somehow, our minds had been linked. He hated the goat men in a way that dogs hate cats, and light detests darkness. Nature had been corrupted with the creation of the goat men.

Every thing had died before us. Our fury was endless. We were now a team, bound together by what ever forces decided that we should stand together as one. Not a word had been spoken, but, we knew each others plans and actions. It was a surreal experience.

And then I saw an old friend. Griswold. However, this was not Griswold. It had Griswold's body, but, the life was gone from his once merry eyes, and his slow stumbling walk proved one thing. Griswold had been taken and bound by what ever dark force that had destroyed this town. I made an oath to kill whom ever it was that had corrupted such a fine decent man.

I would always remember Griswold. When I came to Tristram, he had taken a liking to me, I was only a little girl. He had told me I still should be playing with toys, not bows and arrows and taking part in blood sport. When the troops had gone down to explore the catacombs below the church, Griswold had looked after me. He was kind, and Kashya claimed he was one of the few men that could be trusted. He had carved a wooden doll for me, and I fondly remember chasing sparks from his forge as he toiled endlessly to make new weapons. Before we had departed, he gave me one last gift, a gift I could never understand at that time. "There will come a time," he had told me, "where you will have to choose between your vows, and your order, and your heart. Always follow your heart. Vows come and go. One day, even the Sisters of the Sightless Eye will fall. But the path of the heart lasts forever." I remember the words, and I remember what he was working on. A grand armor, crown, and scepter. I never did understand those words for a long long time.

Talltree could feel the pain I was feeling. I don't think I will ever understand how we are connected, but, I could feel how my pain affected him. He moved in and with a great sense of grief, engaged Griswold.

Again, the battle was the stuff of legends. Griswold, in life, had been one of the most powerful men in Sanctuary. In death, his power had been magnified. He was strong, and his touch carried a curse. It would not matter. Nature, the ever so quirky master, would not let Talltree fail. Griswold fell and was finally put to rest. A small club hung at his belt. Talltree grabbed it and stuffed it in his pack. We moved to the center of the town.

Cain was in a gibbit in the town square. He called out to us. Cautiously, we moved forward. All was still. Nothing moved. Now, Tristram was truly a ghost town. All signs of life was gone, the evil purged. I fired an arrow with nearly careless aim, and the rope holding the gibbit was cut clean. The wooden cage crashed to the ground and Cain spilled out. He looked up at me, relieved to be free, but, rubbing his backside, irked that he had been dumped out on the ground like some common potato. Talltree opened a portal, and we escorted Cain back to the camp.

"Get me out of here" The voice was small, quiet, and nobody seemed to hear it but Talltree and my self. Talltree looked at me, and then looked at the others. We were sitting around the camp fire, talking of old days, when Tristram was a place of hope, and our order had been true, and all was well in the world. Cain was glad to be free, and was watched by Akara's careful eye. Cain was old and frail, and this experience had left him even older, and weaker. Talltree excused himself from the campfire chat and walked over to his tent. With out saying a word, and getting a strange look from Kashya, I followed him.

"Let me out. It smells funny in here" The voice came from Talltree's backpack. "It smells funny, and there is a lot of useless junk in here. How dare you stuff me in here with useless junk! Shame on you!"

Talltree looked at me, perplexed. He dumped his pack out on his cot. Some small potions, elixers, scrolls, a few charms of different shapes and sizes, and the club we took from Griswold.

"Now you drop me! You dummy... How dare you!" I had to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing. Talltree picked up the club.

"Hey you.... You stinky, smelly, feculent little troll, how dare you touch me with those smelly dirty hands! Whew.... What have you been doing? Groping zombies? Hmm well, no acounting for personal tastes." Talltree dropped the club. He looked at me, stunned disbelief on his face.

The club was silent for a moment. Then it spoke. "Wait. Something not quite right about this. You mean you can hear me?"

Talltree let out a whispered yes. This was madness. Talking trees giving tests, and now, a rather rude talking club. "What, or, who are you?" Talltree inquired.

"I am all that remains of Felloak. The mighty Tree. Guardian of the North. I was destroyed because many druids gained power from me. I was a great source of energy. Dark forces felt the need to remove this power. When I realized I was going to be chopped like the common pine tree, I moved my essence from my trunk and into one of my branches. A druid rescued me, but, he got lost, and then killed, and I went to sleep for a long time hoping to ride out my misfortunes. Now I see my troubles are only beginning. I have been picked up by some gross smelly giant and some common tarty strumpet!"

I started to say something, enraged, but, Talltree cut me off with a wave of his hand.

"Look here you crude piece of wood, you insult Gaile one more time, and I will personally stuff you up a zombie's backside."

The strange piece of wood was silent now. Talltree looked at me, his face contorted into a quizzical expression.

Finally, the odd club spoke. "Please kind sir, what ever you do, please, for the love of all things clean and wholesome, don't do that."

Talltree grunted in response.

"If you can hear me, it means one thing. You have been possessed by a tree. So tell me, oh obnoxiously vile one, why on earth would a tree possess you?"

Talltree explained everything that had happened to the club in quiet whispers. I knew what he was thinking. If people heard us talking to a club, they would think we had goon looney. We sat there for hours, sometimes I would start to doze, and then woke to the sound of a not so quiet whisper as Talltree told of an exciting moment in his quest.

"That tells me a alot." The club was not so mean spirited now. "I am sorry for my remarks. I was rude in an attempt to get you enraged so that you would throw me away and I might get lucky and find peace. However, I was telling the truth when I called you a feculent little troll. Take a bath nature boy!"

Talltree covered his mouth with his hand and stifled a remark.

"Inspite of that, I am bound to aid you. You have been chosen. The North Wind spoke to me one day, saying the one that would restore order has been found. A man so stupid, he did not know what pride was. This man would make a perfect avatar for Nature's wrath. This man was known as the Empty Vessel. A man not consumed by his own needs, but, rather, a man consumed with his love of order, and balance, and harmony with Nature. You, Talltree, are that man that the North Wind spoke to me about. Simple beyond even the most gifted simpletons."

"Well," Talltree interupted. "I don't know if I am flattered or insulted."

"You are a mere mortal. You should feel honored I am even talking to you. You have no idea how old I am. I am ageless. Timeless. I have been many trees, and one day, I will grow into a stately old oak again. Even though you are nothing but a pawn, a very special pawn, you are still nothing more than a slightly gifted mortal. If I seem rude, it is because I have grown tired of your kind. Druids are still men. And men do things like chop down trees, and burn forests, and take more than what they need. Men talk so highly of honor and great deeds. They take great pride in being a hero. Prove to me mortal, your calibre, show me why you are so special that you are chosen. Maybe, one day, your actions will bring back my love of mankind. Probably not, but, you never know. Untill then, I will aid you, but, do not expect me to coddle you. I hold great power, even in this simple blunt chunk of wood. Wield me in battle, and I will smite your foes, and protect you as best I can. I am going back to sleep now. My energies will sustain you. Wake me only when you cleanse this world, and find a suitable meadow to plant me in. I have said my piece to you. Do with it as you will.... However, I am impressed mortal.... You have held up to my tests far better than most.... But the greatest test, the impossible test, still lies ahead of you.... One day, not long from now, but, a long time by your standards, both of you will be tested beyond measure. One day, both of you will be forced to make a choice. And if you make the wrong choice, you will not save the world, you will destroy it."

And then the club was silent. It had gone back to it's slumber. Talltree was also silent, and he looked like a man who carried a great burdon. I had no idea what my role was in this was, but, I could feel a sense of dread in the club's final words. Was I mature enough to make these sorts of choices?
"I have been picked up by some gross smelly giant and some common tarty strumpet!" "

Go go Felloak!

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