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 1 
 on: August 10, 2017, 03:04:56 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
There are 8 more pieces from the original manual left to post.

Sad to know that.  So few pictures remaining. 

 2 
 on: August 10, 2017, 12:27:18 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by WyrmMaster
There are 8 more pieces from the original manual left to post.

 3 
 on: July 28, 2017, 04:23:15 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by Kaijugod
I like it.

 4 
 on: July 24, 2017, 08:55:48 PM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Yes, I know this topic has been dormant ,aka dead, for a long time.  Seems only appropriate to bring it to the forefront now that more classic artwork is being released.  Anyone care to comment on the latest works?

 5 
 on: July 17, 2017, 04:16:14 PM 
Started by WyrmMaster - Last post by WyrmMaster
Today I launched a Kickstarter funding drive for my second 5th Edition D&D module entitled Befouled Maze of the Demi-Lich. In this adventure a party of 6 to 8 characters of 10th to 12th level attempts to rescue the beloved companion of a demigoddess that was kidnapped by the lich Ulsus Malachite and held in a bewitched hedge maze. Can the adventurers overcome the dangerous monsters and devious traps placed between themselves and the goal? And what does the lich gain by this scheme? So many mysteries...

Here is the cover illustration, drawn by Ed Lacabanne, the current artist on the Inherit the Earth webcomic.



Please check it out! And tell your friends and acquaintances about it!

 6 
 on: May 24, 2017, 04:44:59 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Plezwerk dashed across the road, his boots leaving deep impressions in the snow.  Heavy snowflakes fell from the night sky driven by a fierce wind.  That wind lifted the hood of his winter jacket sending the snow down his back.  The fur on his face turned wet as  icy crystals lashed him. 

He put on a burst of speed determined to escape this storm.  Plezwerk jumped from the path to the middle step and allowed his momentum to carry him onto the inn's porch.  Thanks to the porch roof, the snow and ice no longer pelted him.  He scraped the snow off his boots, removed his winter jacket, and gave it a flick of his wrist.  With much of the snow removed, he pushed through the doors and into the dry warmth of the inn.

A step to his left brought Plezwerk to a stool where he removed his boots.  He crossed the hall to a closet guarded by a young porcupine.  He exchanged his wet coat and boots for a colored token and a pair of soft slippers.  In an exaggerated motion, he looked left, than right, and left again.  Plezwerk placed a piece of hard candy on the counter and the child popped it into his mouth.

What a change from my first visit.  The Common Room stood vacant of guests, only the bartender, a serving girl, and several members of the porcupine clan occupied the place.  Not surprising considering both the season and the weather.  If some desperate traveler joined them, he would double the number of guest staying at the inn this night.

Activity at the inn turned frantic with the first winter storm.  One day of snow left the ground looking like a multicolored drop cloth splattered with patches of white.  All porcupines not needed for their guests attended to the last of their crops, gleaning whatever could be stored.  Guests snatched supplies and took to the road, determined to reach home before the next storm.

The second storm left a thin blanket of snow that disappeared after a week of sunlight.  While this snow melted, the last scheduled raft tied up to the dock.  Several ringtails mentioned hard freezes that covered the lakes with a thin layer of ice at night, which explained their late arrival.  The crew offloaded passengers and moved several crates to the appropriate warehouse.  Instead of the usual relaxing overnight stay, the crew loaded the raft with the last of their consigned cargo and turned homeward within the hour.

Plezwerk didn't think this third storm's snowfall would melt before spring, it fell that heavy.  Day and night turned into a grey void filled with snowflakes.  When the storm started, the snowflakes were marvels to enjoy.  On day four the winter storm turned ugly.  A wind drove the snow and dainty snowflakes turning them into icy pellets.  That was almost a full week ago and the blizzard continued.  Snow accumulated and buried the world he remembered.

Being the sole guest had its advantages.  The serving girls knew his preferences and didn't need to visit his table.  He also had the opportunity to talk with his hosts.  These porcupines knew much of the Known Lands and did not mind sharing such information with their guest.

Morph tribes had individual cultures and customs.  Dogs, like his tribe, had a hereditary leader.  Wolves engaged in ritualistic combat to determine leadership.  Bruins conducted a wrestling contest between the eight largest males.  Rats selected their leaders through a contest of riddles. 

Porcupines had a corporate structure.  The leader of any inn was the innkeeper.  He selected officers to run general operations, such as the stores, housekeeping, procurement, and farming.  All the other porcupines were workers assigned to whichever officer needed help.  When necessary, the innkeepers elected a leader of their clan.  The selected porcupine held the title of chairman, or in this case, chairwoman.  As the clan's absolute leader, she had the final say on any tribal matter and was known to all morphs as the Last Arbitrator.

Chairwoman Goldenspike entered the Common Room.  Her fur resembled wheat in color, though up close it had an almost transparent look due to her advanced age.  She now used a cane as the recent cold weather made her joints sore.  Every porcupine within the room stood and gave a modest head bob in her direction.  A wave of her paw and all returned to whatever interested them before her arrival.

Goldenspike hobbled across the room, her destination obvious.  Plezwerk moved to the back of his selected booth, which gave the old lady her choice of sides.  She took the one to his right, placing her cane on the bench behind her.  Neither spoke as she arranged her quills.  A grunt or two sounded as she made herself comfortable.  A paw in the air and two raised fingers sent the serving girl scurrying.  Two mugs appeared on their table.

"Cider with cinnamon warms the body and calms the soul, child.  Lockvor paid good coin to see that all your needs were met this winter.  Word has come to me that you are not happy and I am here to resolve any problem," she said.

"My time here has not earned me the right to a name?"

"Forgive me, child . . . Plezwerk.  As tribe leader, all within my clan are called child, no disrespect intended.  I honor you with that word but understand the need for what is yours."

Plezwerk sipped his cider and complimented her choice of beverage.  He voiced his pleasure at both her company and the hospitality of the Inn.  Her expression remained neutral.

"I am deeper into winter than any here and it gives me sight to see the unseen and ears for what is not spoken."  Goldenspike drained her mug.  "Speak.  Consider that a polite request."

"Failure, all that I touch turns to failure."  Plezwerk stared into his tankard.

"Than yours is the most glorious of failures.  You are a rock cast into a still pond, there and gone.  Let me show you the ripples your failures have caused."  Her laughter came across as genuine and not the condescending one Plezwerk anticipated.  "I must bring another to our table before I continue."

A quick wave of her paw had the bartender rush to the booth.  He than darted into the kitchen and another female appeared.  She hastened to their table.  Goldenspike introduced Sharpie and ordered her to join them.  Plezwerk didn't mind her presence.  Since his return to the inn, he considered her one of his closest friends among the porcupines.

Once the girl sat, Goldenspike spoke of the rats.  Her words dashed his hopes.  They had no intention of taking him to either dig site come spring.  Their generosity had another purpose, the creation of an obligation.  They desired a look at the cavern Plezwerk's clan used during the winter.  If they couldn't gain access, the rats would consider returning with his books and the maps inside a treasure beyond measure.

His influence did not stop there.  The squirrel tribe heard of him and many of the ladies intended a sexual partnership without obligations.  As an outsider, any offspring added value to their tribe.  The squirrel leaders wanted Plezwerk to take them to his former tribe.  If they convinced a lost tribe to return to these lands, it increased their influence among other morphs.  Even if they failed, having a tribe in the Northern Wastelands increased the perceived power, influence, and reach of their tribe.

Prince, leader of the dog tribe feared what he represented.  Until Plezwerk's arrival, they alone guarded the sole route between the Known Lands and the Northern Wastelands.  Goldenspike spoke of his suspected mental state and how she sought assurances from the most influential lady of his court, Annabelle.  Even she wondered how far Prince might go if this tunnel granted free access to the Wastelands.  If it became common knowledge that these lands supported crops, Prince might see a mass migration through a route he didn't control.

Other tribes learned about the possible existence of kin beyond their border.  Tensions between some tribes, such as the elk and boars, might escalate if perceived wrongs in these new lands became fodder for future conflicts.  Ferret leaders consulted the Builder's Orb in secret meetings, researching how to repair and maintain a tunnel.  Rumors had them investigating the construction of fortifications at either end.  Unsubstantiated stories said the High Priestess Elara or her sister Alamma entertained the idea of controlling the tunnel.

Even the most minor of tribes felt his ripples.  Goldenspike explained how all believed the lands east of the road poisoned.  Legends said such lands supported plant life but crops grown there proved poisonous to any morph during the Dark Times.  None challenged that perception until his presence disproved those stories.  In less than a year, the known world more than doubled in size.  So much unclaimed lands must lead to conflicts and inevitable bloodshed.

"Come spring, every tribe will be seeking a stake in these new lands," said Goldenspike.  "Our clan intends scouting these new territories and building at least three travel lodges and a new haven inn with the hope of maintaining peace.  I intend naming Sharpie our clan's fourth Haven Innkeeper.  Until construction is finished, consider Sharpie your concubine."

"I will not accept such an abomination," shouted a distressed Plezwerk.

"Her relationship is not sexual, but she must know you better than a mate.  You need an advisor who understands you better than yourself.  She shall act as the liaison other morphs can trust.  My blessing will give her that power with all who migrate to these new lands.  She must earn both the respect and trust of those already residing there when she mediates any dispute."

Goldenspike took her leave.  She walked across the Common room and left without a backward glance.  Sharpie's expression said she still felt the initial shock over her new status.   Neither spoke for several moments, each lost in their own thoughts.  The lady porcupine placed her paw on his arm, demanding his attention. 

"We are about to change what was into what can be.  Let's make it something wondrous."

 7 
 on: May 24, 2017, 04:43:43 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Today, 5/24/17, marks the final installment to the story.  I will continue to answer any and all questions posed.  A special thanks to all who followed and to any who have read my tale.

 8 
 on: May 22, 2017, 05:06:27 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Anticipation trumped a restful night.  The four attempted to sleep but the thought of some human marvel had them tossing about in their bedrolls.  The one morph benefitting from such expectations was whoever had guard duty.  The night dragged on for what seemed an eternity.  Dawn didn't help.  Each of them jumped up eager to finish the morning meal.

Since Plezwerk knew the location of the oddity, he lead.  With expectations running high, none wanted to be left behind on this first day.  A short walk through the trees brought them to the bushes.  From ground level, none noticed the uniformity of the plants nor the orderly rows and files. 

If not for his scouting the area yesterday from a higher vantage point, the others would walk by these bushes never realizing they might hide a treasure.  Lockvor accepted the squirrel's report and proceeded to measure the first bush.  While the two rats performed their preliminary survey, Plezwerk and Grizzon attacked one corner of the plant.

It took a good hour before either noticed any progress.  The plant turned out to be more clinging vine than bush.  The thing held onto whatever it covered with a tenaciousness that defied the short blades they used.  Grizzon wanted an ax while Plezwerk preferred a machete.  The expedition's leader turned both of them down, insisting on the smaller paw held blades.  He wanted the structure preserved.

By the time the rats finished their exterior measurements, the others cleared an area that came up to their knees.  Both workers needed a rest but pointed at their discovery.  One corner consisted of some hard rock that withstood all these seasons since the time of humans.  A white shell rested atop this rock, which laid hidden beneath the vines.  Just a paw's width of this shell had been exposed but it appeared undamaged by either time, the weather, or these clinging plant.

"Grizzon, we will need the wagon and the tools we loaded.  The three of us will find a way to get the tools here.  Plezwerk, you keep clearing this side of the building."

Plezwerk grumbled at the assignment but admitted he wanted to clear this building first.  Whatever these plants were, they existed no other place.  He saw many species of clinging plants in the forest back home, at the inn, and at the excavation site, but none held onto their support with such tenacity.  These plants should have conquered the entire forest, maybe the known world, but they extended no further than the immediate area. 

His knife probed for any space between the structure and the plant.  Once he found such an opening, he switched to a short, serrated blade.  It still galled him using tools intended for a paw when he wanted something bigger but those tools were in the wagon.  Plezwerk also missed Grizzon's strength.  Pulling the severed piece took great strength, which he didn't have.  His mind fixated on the task and the unexpected voice jarred him.

"Didn't mean to scare you, but we're back and with better tools." said Lockvor.

Now the four attacked the plant as a team.  Calator crawled under the structure with a lamp and a spear in case any non-morph animal inhabited the underside.  Lockvor attacked the base of the plant with a shovel seeking any root system.  Plezwerk used a saw and machete to slice through the harden vines.  Grizzon yanked the loosened vine from its base and dragged it to the clearing.

The midday meal remained a quiet event.  The rush of excitement from their initial discovery faltered as the work intensified.  The plant had a root system like a living curtain.  Anywhere the vine touched the ground it anchored itself.  Lockvor worked in a trench that came up to his waist in order to get below these roots and still they held with a tenacious grip.

"You're right about one think Plezwerk," Lockvor said.  "These plants do cover a human building.  My preliminary findings would support more structures, but there are gaps in the layout.  Some must be missing, perhaps destroyed over the years."

"How do you know some are gone," asked Plezwerk.

"Humans prefer order and uniformity.  As I anticipated, each plant, every open space, and all external dimensions match.  You were right when you said nothing in nature is that organized.  When we find the door, we will have a base line for locating other human constructs in future explorations."

"Don't you mean if we find the door?"  Plezwerk wondered about the reasoning behind the rat's logic.

"We have an excellent chance since humans place doors on the shortest sides of a small structure like this one.  That short extension near the middle should be a porch, which is what humans used to enter elevated structures like this one.  The other end has no such protrusion.  Like I said, our makers were highly regimented in their actions.  They preferred uniformity."

Such confidence inspired the others.  Until the sun settled low enough that all laid in shadow, they worked at clearing the one side.  Lockvor expressed elation when they uncovered a door near the middle of the short side.  His expectation that a porch extended under the structure's door proved correct.  Like the building itself, the landing consisted of the same material, which made removing the vines difficult. 

Once they cleared the landing, the four morphs could approach the last barrier standing between them and whatever marvels existed within.  Three of them wanted to force the entryway open and examine the interior in spite of the growing darkness.  Lockvor objected.  He expressed caution and insisted they clear the one wall before considering the interior.  With their goal in sight and a firm commitment to breaching the door, all attacked the vines until the night forced them to withdraw.

If the prior night proved restless, this one made that seem like hibernation.  The sun's first rays were yet to show and the explorers stood ready.  Food they consumed because they needed their strength, though all resented the time lost.  They marched off, confident that today they would discover some great marvel from the time of their Makers.

Their first discovery came when they reached the pile of discarded vines.  In less than one day, the plant remnants resembled a forest in late autumn.  Leaves displayed shades of gold and red while the vines turned brown.  Both were dried out and brittle to the touch.  A wayward spark from their lantern turned the mulch pile into instant cinders.

"This explains why the plant hasn't spread.  They must need something from the actual building to survive.  Once separated, it dies."  Calator strutted when none contradicted his observation.

"Think that amazing?  Here's another observation.  These plants do not consume whatever element they need, otherwise both would no longer exist," said Plezwerk.

A second revelation didn't come as a pleasant one.  In the course of the one night, several vines produced trailers that extended down the side they cleared yesterday.  Over three paw's width from every edge had a green covering.  If the plant expanded at this rate unchecked, the cleared surface would be hidden within a month.  Fortunately, the newer vines lacked the toughness of the established growth and came off with ease.

"It's time we force that door open."  Lockvor rubbed his paws together in anticipation.

Forcing the door open proved anticlimactic.  A simple twist of the bulb freed it.  Grizzon applied his strength and with a loud protest, pulled the door open.  Even his exceptional power couldn't overcome a millennium of rust.   Still, it was enough that any one of them could squeeze themselves inside.  All wanted to rush inside, but Lockvor called them back.  In the end, weight determined who entered the building while those outside gawked at the interior.

Calator weighed less than any of them.  It made him the luck morph who got to explore the interior.  If the young rat thought he need do nothing more than stroll inside, he was mistaken.  While Plezwerk and the bruin scanned the interior, their leader established the rules.  His continual emphasis regarding the inherent dangers of entering an unexplored ancient place finally penetrated the young rat's confidence.

The rat used two wide wooden pallets to distribute his weight over an untested floor.  He moved across one, relocated the second, and repeated the process until he reached the nearest item in the room.  Along one wall, a series of metal bars stood in formation.  The structure supported two similar platforms, one above the other.  Calator sketched the object and made his measurements, being careful not to touch the object.

The rat found no way of scaling the metal piping to the upper platform.  This puzzled the rat and after shouting instructions or suggestions back and forth, came up with a possible means of ascending it.  The rat placed his foot on the lower platform intending to use the extra height as leverage to gain the top.  As soon as he transferred his weight to the metal pipes, it collapsed. 

Lockvor had the younger rat toss a pipe to him.  A poor toss had Calator repeating the process.  Those errant pipes shattered like raw eggs on a kitchen floor but persistence paid off when Lockvor caught one that stayed intact.  Time and the elements may not have affected the exterior but it did change everything inside it.  The metal had changed into brittle rust.  Calator confirmed the deteriorated condition of the remaining pipes and they abandoned any further examination of the other metal structures.

Two metal boxes sat at the interior end of these pipe platforms.  Lockvor decided they would remove one and examine its contents.  A tossed rope and a quick knot on the handle was all it took.  When Grizzon pulled, the handle snapped off the box.  So much for the easy way.

Their second attempt took much longer.  An incline plane placed at one end and the entire box secured by the rope moved it far enough that Calator could place a marble under it.  He guided the box to the doorway while the others maintained tension on the rope.  The rat placed a second marble under the box before the first one rolled free.  By making certain at least one marble rested under the box, he could guide it towards the doorway. 

Everyone celebrated the extraction of the chest.  First thing done was sketching and measuring the box.  Thanks to the daylight, they made out the faded writing stenciled across the lid, "US Footlocker."  Despite Lockvor's caution, lifting the clasp removed the lid and the box shattered. 

"That lid doesn't make sense.  A letter must be missing.  It must have read 'Use Footlocker," Plezwerk speculated.

They found rotting cloth within the box.  Even the light summer breeze shredded the ancient material.  Lockvor poked at the cloth, sifting through the debris.  His efforts revealed a pair of shoes still intact and standing upright.  Unlike their open footwear, this one resembled foul weather gear as it seemed designed to fully enclose the foot.  Instead of a solid look like their boots, the humans appeared to secure them via thin ropes.  When Lockvor attempted to move one boot, the upper portion on both boots crumbled away, leaving two soles made of some unknown material intact. Lockvor moved these aside.

Lockvor continued sifting through the trash the box held.  At the very bottom, they found a metallic stick with strange markings on either edge.  Lockvor cried at the sight.  With a gentle push, he freed it.  It sat flat on the porch, which made the older rat cry even harder.  He took a deep breath and lifted the object.  It did not break.

"A human measuring stick, and it isn't warped!  This will be the greatest discovery since we first found that human city." 

Lockvor sounded so excited, though none understood why.  No doubt the puzzled expressions jolted the old rat back to the present.  He placed the measuring stick in a box half filled with sand.  Than he filled the box with more sand.  Satisfied that his discovery would suffer no damage during transport, he explained his elation.

"We have a catalogue of human measurements but no accurate means of converting from the scales our Makers used and what morphs have developed since the Dark times,"  Lockvor said.  "Every measuring stick found has been warped or damaged.  Those have been good enough for estimates but useless to anyone who is trying to establish an accurate conversion.  Worse yet, humans used two measurements for the same thing, which is most confusing.  This stick has both scales intact, another incredible find."

"Wonder what we will find tomorrow,"  said Plezwerk.

"Nothing.  Grizzon, close that door.  Tomorrow we return to the dig site."

"Why?  We have over a dozen human structures to explore.  Do you really want to abandon this site?"

Lockvor's voice reminded him of an instructor with a dense student.  "You spent the spring learning how to travel through unexplored territory without becoming lost.  We left the dig on the first day of summer and agreed to return with the first full moon of autumn.  Today is day sixty of our trip.  If we leave now, we might get back by that time if the wagon doesn't break down during our first week.  Not to worry, this place isn't going anywhere."

 9 
 on: May 19, 2017, 04:39:09 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by cairn destop
Plezwerk scaled the highest tree within sight of their campsite, just like he did every morning since they left Eugene Oregon.  For the time it took him to scale the forest sentinel, he experienced a sense of rejuvenation, as if he rediscovered a lost part of himself.  The texture of bark against his bare feet, the smell of running sap, and the rustle of leaves that surrounded him brought back memories of his youth. 

Two-thirds of the way up, he reached the highest branch that supported his weight.  This is when he questioned the wisdom of his Makers.  In the time before humans augmented squirrels, they scampered to the highest branch without fear.  Squirrels gained size, weight, and intelligence without loosing their bond with the forest.  Learning to integrate these gifts destroyed many of their kind before their creators disappeared.  Today, such things are learned in the folly of childhood and tempered with experience.  Regardless of the changes, squirrels loved their bond with living wood.

His feet found purchase on the limb as he shuffled further from the trunk.  A morning breeze made the branch sway.   When their expedition started, his bouncing at the end of a slim branch had his companions worrying  about him taking foolish chances.  After the first week, none doubted his innate sense of balance.  Without any conscience thought, Plezwerk's stance adjusted to compensate.  He stood far enough out that his chest cleared the nearby foliage.

Once the sun cleared the horizon, he checked the area for landmarks.  Instead of a simple compass, he used something Lockvor called an orienteering compass.  He sighted through the two slits as he lined up first one, than a second landmark.  Experience had him check the readings three times for accuracy.  Plezwerk let the compass fall to the end of his neck lanyard as he retrieved a writing stick and paper. 

Such recordings kept track of their progress but presented them with a new set of problems.  Their landmarks became too hard locating after the first week.  Plezwerk learned how to draw a picture of two other mountains along their course.  With these new reference points, their group proceeded.  Satisfied with his numbers, he returned to his anxious companions.

A flick of the wrist sent the notebook flying across the campground to Lockvor, who caught it.  He than handed the compass to Calator who pulled out a copy of the original maps.  The two rats consulted the notebook and triangulated their location.  Satisfied with the readings, they calculated their progress.

Lockvor approached the group gathered around the campfire.  "We're making excellent progress.  If I'm reading the human scale right, we covered between ten and fifteen miles yesterday.  At our current speed, we should reach the outskirts of this military base in another two or three hours.  I'll need a third reference point before leaving for our return trip once we reach our destination."

Their bruin companion transferred the cooked food to each morph's plate.  "Our second axle broke yesterday and our spare wheel cannot take too much more abuse.  The wagon holds one more axle.  Break that and we have to abandon the wagon.  Our progress will slow to a crawl if we must walk with these backpacks."

"The wagon is a luxury I anticipated abandoning when we reached the human base.  If it last long enough to get us even partway home, consider it a bonus," said a bored Lockvor.

Calator checked the compass, looking through the two slots.  He retrieved their axe and marched up to the tree Plezwerk climbed that morning.  Two quick chops removed a strip of bark and another two chops left two lines in the tree's trunk.  With everything packed, the four of them left camp along the course Calator believed would take them in the right direction. 

Travel proved no easier than the prior days.  The compass provided the course but the forest seldom cooperated with their party.  Trees required circumnavigation as those guiding the wagon hunted for a level path wide enough to accommodate the wagon.  Today, Calator kept to the designated course while the others struggled to go where he led. 

An open field didn't mean easy traveling or a swift passage.  They remained on course but the field often had unexpected hazards.  Several days earlier an open field defied them.  An overlooked rock shattered a wheel.  The stress of the prior days and what all thought an inconsequential rut cracked an axle shaft.  It turned what all though would be an hour's walk into an overnight stay.

Once more an open field stretched before them.  On the other side, another forest beckoned.  But this wide a field offered them a chance to see the nearby mountains.  The rats worked with the compass for several moments before an elated Lockvor made his announcement.

"The forest across this glade is within the human military base.  We have reached our destination.  No more traveling."

Crossing an open field required caution or one wandered to the left or right.  Grizzon, their bruin companion, relayed signals to Calator that kept him on course.  A hundred paces out and Plezwerk passed the rat a long pole.  The rat drove a stake into the ground, removed the stake, and inserted the long pole into the hole.  Now they had a reference point high enough to see above the tall grass.  Two such poles in alignment indicated a straight line.  They continued driving poles into the ground every hundred paces until both reached the first tree.

"You go back to the others," Plezwerk said.  "Lockvor said we will be staying here.  I want an opportunity to do a quick scan before he comes.  Maybe I can find a good place for camping."

"What you mean is you want to find something first.  Don't deny it; I'd do the same thing if I had the chance."

Plezwerk didn't contradict the rat.  His friend read his intent the second he volunteered to carry the poles, a task usually given to Grizzon.  The others would take more than an hour crossing the field as they guided the cart past any hazards the two of them missed.  So much time and yet so little too.

His paw caressed the tree like a lover with his intended.  A gentle touch revealed so much to him.  The forest where his friends stood showed evidence of old growth with most of the trees over a hundred winters old.  A walk along this forest edge confirmed what his paw told him, none of these trees passed that mark.  Most still had more than three decades to go before hitting that milestone.

No huge stumps and no decaying trunks taller than him lying in sight.  That told him the lack of ancient trees wasn't due to fire or torrential rains.  Those fallen trees he did find were no older than those standing.  Something kept the trees from establishing a sufficient base to withstand whatever passed for normal winter weather. 

He discarded his sandals and climbed.  Plezwerk jumped from one tree to another as he probed the surrounding area.  His sudden weight had many of the trees sway more than anticipated.  He shortened his jumps.  By the time his companions summoned him, he explored the immediate area but not much more. 

"Good news," Plezwerk said.  "Something in the soil stops the trees from reaching the century mark.  None of these trees have a deep root system.  It might have something to do with what I found about a hundred yards towards the mountains.  There are a number of huge bushes I've never seen before that are half the height of these trees."

"What makes high bushes such good news?"  Though Lockvor tried to hide it, he too must be curious what made a new plant worth mentioning.

"The bushes are in straight rows and all appear to be the same dimension.  This is despite the fact that there is no evidence of somebody tending to them.  You know of anything in nature that is so uniform?"

 10 
 on: May 17, 2017, 07:39:28 AM 
Started by cairn destop - Last post by Kaijugod
Great story so far. Just a heads up I'll be posting the next chapter of my story very soon.

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