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Sunday, September 03, 2006 Temperance Saves the Fool (Part 1)

It’s a dark, dense forest. The forest seems different than the Lumien Forest in Lore. The trees are much bigger, and grow in very tight formations, only leaving narrow passages and gaps between them. And it’s of course darker there than Lumien, as the sunlight is more shaded. It’s darker now that it’s almost evening, and one should wish to find himself a good and secure shelter before he can’t see a thing around him at night.

So, the one who dares to tread in the dark forest full of wild animals and savage monsters alone, without sufficient equipments, provisions and even a torch is indeed foolish. And the one who’s foolish enough to do so is Christopher. It’s been three days since he left Robert and his friends in Ingvhus.

Chris is wondering why he came into this place. He had followed the map carefully: walk due south from Borgia, and then as you find a dense forest below the mountains, walk due West, following the mountains. As Chris can’t see the sun in the dense forest and he doesn’t have a compass (Carolyn’s magic staff and Chiel can also function as a magical compass), he should’ve found himself a guide and not relying on the map alone. So, at the end of the day, Chris realizes that he’s lost. He sees the sun sets, but not in front of him, but on his right. So all day he only walk farther south, not west.

Now he’s real frustrated. His rations are depleted, he’s too fatigued he can’t hunt, the trees are too high and large to reach by his sword – they are not fruit trees anyway. Soon he will only depend on leaves, worms and dew to live on. Here he is in the middle of nowhere, penniless, hungry, alone, and pretty much helpless.

Chris is too exhausted, so he sits on a gigantic root of a very large tree, drinking what’s left in his water bottle – and grunts because of unquenched thirst. He wishes he is somewhere else, in a place of comfort and love, a place he can call home rather than this maze of trees full of uncertainty and danger.

Darn, I’m lost, Christopher thinks. I don’t know where to go from here. It all looks the same everywhere. He leans against the big tree and closes his eyes with gritted teeth. Chris, you’re doomed.

Chris tries to take a rest, while he is still deep in regret and distress. He is quite unaware of anything around him, particularly several blinking eyes watching him in the darkness, under the bushes, on top of the trees and in the darker parts of the forest. As Chris closes his eyes for a while, the watchers think that he’s fast asleep and they spring out from their hiding places.

Apparently, the watchers are forest imps, monkey-like monsters with odd-shaped faces and ears, large mouth, sharp fangs, and abnormally long tails and tongues. Their tails are extremely useful to hang on trees, catch their preys and strangle them to death, and move from a tree to another. They’re carnivorous and very savage. They prey on anything or anyone as long as it’s fleshy, and tend to be cannibals when food is very scarce. There are about 30-40 of them, moving silently from above and under the trees and past the bushes towards Chris.

As they loom closer, they bare their fangs, ready to deliver a deadly surprise. A second later, nearly in unison, they scream – a deafening, eerie scream – that means food for them and death for the others.

Chris is startled and terror-struck to see such multitude. He draws his sword Wyrthal as quickly as he can, but he barely swipes it as the imps jump on him from every direction, scratching, and biting. Lucikly their teeth cannot pierce into Chris’ armor, but now they’re aiming for the unprotected parts of Chris’ body – the head and the neck.

Chris swipes his Wyrthal in every direction, and manages to cut an imp’s tail strangling his neck. Under such pressure, he forgets to use his newly trained defensive move, Whirlwind Slash against them. Then suddenly one imp leaps towards Chris right in front of his face, baring its fangs as though is going to swallow Chris’ head as a whole.

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