Things are not always as they are described.
The Woman of the Woods
he woods were the remains of the great forest that covered most of the area between the Razorback mountains and the river Blue. Five people stood at the trailhead that led into the dense copse of fir and ash trees. One stood apart, holding a lantern and gestured at the trailhead.
“This is the only way in for a couple of leagues in either direction. I bid you good luck and godspeed,” the man with the lantern said as he turned to go.
“I thought you worshiped ...” a small, voluptuous woman wearing a thin robe that hid little of her charms. She had a tiara on her brow with a blood-red gemstone in it and a leather-wrapped wand with a blue gemstone in one end in her hand.
“Aye. Don’t mean I wanna meet her,” he said over his shoulder as he walked briskly back the way they’d come.
“We gotta do this, right?” asked a young man in green garb, a longbow in his hand and a large quiver of arrows over his shoulder.
“Yup, Darren,” replied a very tall woman wearing strategically placed armor. She had a short sword at each hip and the handle of a war ax showing over her shoulder. Her breast bulged as much as her muscles.
“Keena is right. We have to get a vial of blood from her so we can trade it for the Gem of Remathrasis. We then can use that to open the gate of Lorta and get the great battle horn of Gental. Once we have that we can … we can … crud I forgot,” said a thin man with wisps of a beard in a colorful robe that fell shy of his curly toed shoes. He had a plain wooden staff with iron-bound ends in his left hand. His right was buried in a pocket of the robe.
“It’s OK, Justin. Darren, what should we expect in the woods?” asked the small woman.
“Let me think,” the man in green said, paused, then continued. “Wild boar, leopards, Wyverns (small ones), dire wolves, goblins and treemen, Laura.”
“Treemen?” Keena asks.
“Yeah. Some kind of intelligent, belligerent (of course), semi-ambulatory tree,” Justin replied with a shrug.
“Let me get us some light,” Laura said, pointing her wand up. She said, “Lumenus estrellus,” followed immediately by, “Oh crap.”
A ball of bluish light shot out of the end of her want and up into the sky for about 100 yards. It then exploded into a bright bluish light.
“Well, that should give them fair warning we are coming, I think,” Keena said sarcastically, then asked. “How long we have?”
“About an hour, I think,” Laura answered.
“Let's get to it,” Keena said, drew her short swords and lead the way into the forest.
Two hours later they stepped, warily, into a clearing. There were enough fallen trees that they could all sit. They all looked exhausted and each had several minor wounds as they more or less collapsed on to the logs. Laura sat only for a moment then got up and walked to each tending their wounds.
“What even was that?” Keena asked.
“I don’t know. I want to say a manticore but,” Justin said, shook his head then just stopped talking for a moment. He then added, “Crud, I am down to 4 arrows.”
“Yeah, I got 3 good charges on my staff,” Darren said.
“I think my left arm is broke. Hurts a lot,” Keena said wincing as Laura gently ran her hands over the arm.
“Yep, definitely busted. I can splint it up here but I don’t have enough mana to do much more than that,” Laura said.
They heard from the other end of the clearing a loud crack then cursing. They leaped to their feet and at first nothing could be seen but the cursing could be heard. Then a medium height blond woman with an hour-glass figure in a thin white wrap stood up, staggered from behind a bush and, after straightening up, said, “You have come far traveler just to fail!” She ended with a loud belch.
To her left the trees rustled and a short figure that looked like a midget wearing parts of a tree came to a staggering stop next to the woman. He wobbled a bit then hiccupped.
The foursome cautiously approached the woman and treeman. When they got close enough to detect the reek of alcohol they stopped and looked at each other.
“You know why we are here?” Justin asked.
“Yeah,” the woman said.
“Hic,” said the treeman.
“So … ah … guys how do we do this?” Justin asked.
“Hey, is that a cabinet over there?” Darren asked, pointing to a small wooden cabinet between two trees behind and to the left of the inebriated duo.
“Don lookatthat! Fightme! Get ‘em, treeman!” the woman snarled, belched, farted and waved a hand in their general direction.
The little man wearing tree parts charged at the foursome, tripped and fell on his face, grunted and laid still.
“Oh no, you’ve killed treeman! I have no cho … ice but to give you a vial of my precious blood so you can get the whatsit and do the thing,” she waved a hand toward the cabinet, sat down abruptly and started weeping, repeating “poor poor treeman” over and over.
Laura walked over to the cabinet, opened and found several small vials with red liquid in them. She plucked one from the cabinet and returned to her friends.
“Well that was a bit anti-climatic,” Darren said after he took the vial and put it into a pocket in his robes.
“My arm hurts. I’ll take this, let's get out of here,” Keena said.
Treeman rolled over and mumbled, “I kill you. I kill you all. Save my Woman of the Woods from you all.”
Justin, Laura, and Darren followed Keena out of the clearing and back down the trail they’d come.