"Yes," the Dryad said. "That is my name".
"B-but, you look different..." Miss Adventure stumbled.
"Different?" Newly asked."I don't feel different". She approached the group, but stepped back when Gruffydd moved toward her.
"Newly, do you know of village near here? Perhaps up the road?", the dwarf asked pointing up the road, which disappeared in the rain.
She gave the dwarf a questioning look. "Village?"
"Where people live" Gildrid said with a little too much exasperation in his voice.
"Oh!" Newly said excitedly, perhaps understanding now. "I know what those are." But her face grew quickly dark. "They make their places to live from my dead friends...." She began to fade back into her tree.
"Wait!" Gruffydd tried to say as calmly as possible. "We need to know where it is."
"It is, as you said, up the road. Across the river. Be careful. The trees say something up there poisons their roots."
Before she vanished completely, Miss Adventure asked one last question, "Newly, have more people come around here since we visited last?"
"Always. Always someone or something searching... for you...." Then the dryad was gone.
Then, they too, were gone, up the road.
Just before dusk they picked a campsite on one of the rolling hills that covered the landscape. It was decided not to have a fire. First, in this landscape, a fire could be spotted for miles around. It would act like a beacon for any wishing them ill. Second, the rain was still coming down. A lack of any woods nearby, combined with the wet, would have prevented a fire anyway.
So that sat, miserable, eating what cold food they had. It was decided the two Men, Nemon and Laramine, would take the first and last watches, as their lack of night vision could be compensated for by some light at dusk and dawn.
Nemon fell asleep on his first watch. He woke to Miss Aveture beating him over the head with loaf of stale bread.
The rest of the watches came and went without incident until morning. Laramine had taken a moment to simultaneously admire the first dawn in ages without rain, and relieve himself. It was then he noticed something in the mud just outside their camp. Another older campsite they missed in the rain. There were scraps of clothes, bits of crockery, all strew about as if a struggle had happened.
Without waking the others, perhaps foolishly, he followed the trail of refuse to a small ravine. There he found a body.
It was torn and crumpled. It was a Man, at least from the size and shape. The face was gone, and body had been partially eaten by scavengers. The leather armor was ripped in half as if by huge claws. In a bag beside the body Laramine found a few coins and a black hood. He ran back to the others and showed them his discovery.
"Great." was all Gruffydd said.
Another days march, slowed by the mud. The little talk on the road revolved around the body, and the oddities of dryad life cycles. Another camp, but this time the landscape had changed, and there were woods. Which meant a fire.
Nemon fell asleep on watch again.
Miss Adventure woke again with a start. Nightmares again. She saw Nemon asleep and prepared to pummel him once more. Then, she saw a huge pile of fur parked by the fire. Before she could scream, the furs moved, turned to her a said" Hello."
Those Who Quit the Game
38 minutes ago