[II.III] Finale

echoing's picture


“Remember—if it dies, it can regenerate. If it gets too hurt, it’s going to run. Make sure it doesn’t do any of that. I don’t know if we’ll get another chance.”

She pauses.

“Thank you all. For helping. I—I don’t think I could have done this alone.”


“And…I’m sorry.”
She doesn’t say what the apology is for. She can’t find the words to admit what she knows some may suspect. She hopes it’s good for something anyway.

She turns away to watch the tear for the return of the lures.


If the walls were too thin
You would break in


Irene and Honeythorn burst through the tear. Hlin starts and draws back, looking at the child and the elegant black doe.
“Did you—”
She doesn’t need an answer.
Brother is right behind them. The creature’s many heads tear through the rip like a terrible birth.

If the walls were too thin

You would break right in





Ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, ah


She doesn’t have time to react. The creature lunges at her, its eyes blazing with fury, and swipes her into a tree. She staggers



and falls.


She struggles to get to her feet as the creature draws closer. The terror pounds in her chest. The creature is upon her --
Then Ashira is there, dragging her off to the side and away. She tries to protest, but can’t speak the words. She lets her friend pull her away.
In the distance, she hears the fight beginning. Hlin looks up, watching as a black wolf launches herself at Brother’s throat.
She watches and waits for her opportunity.

Out in the thunder
Opens my eyes wide


Back and forth. A giraffe darts in—there are giraffes in this forest, she realizes, but loses sight of the creature in the fray. She watches a raptor-like creature, a small blue buck, a reddish stag, even a cat dart in to rip chunks from the creature. She loses track of them all. For every hit they take, she flinches for them. She knows none of their names, but they’re fighting for her cause.

They’re fighting to protect what they love.

For the first time in a long time,
she feels hope.

A massive beast rushes in, her sinuous movements catching Hlin’s eye. She bares her teeth and digs them deep into the creature’s throat, dragging Brother to their knees. They bellow in fury, their eyes darting between their attacker, the black wolf on their back and the blue buck in front of their eyes.

It’s time.

There is sound in my mind
Keeps me up all night



Hlin stands.

She’s unsteady on her feet, her eyes blurring. The creature senses her movement and turns towards her, raising its head to let out a long bugle. She flinches. She refuses to run.


Her voice is quiet at first.
“Deadwood.”
It comes out as a whisper, catching in her throat.

Ooh, when the window
Lets in hot whips of light


The creature flinches in turn. In its many-mouthed tongue, it hisses:
What was that
vulture?

Silence.

Before I feel it's time
To control my mind


No. She will not be silent.
No. She will not flinch away from them.

“No.”

She is done hiding.

Leaning heavily against a tree, she raises her voice and screams:




“D E A D W O O D! FUCK OFF!”


Ah, ah, ah, ah
Ah, ah, ah, ah


They scream for so long Hlin fears they might never stop. They rip themself free of the attackers’ grasp and fight like their life—lives—depend on it. They are weakened now, stripped of its protection.

And they know it.




The fight that ensues long and bloody. The creature tries to escape, but the name has worked as she hoped--it's been stripped of magic. She forces herself not to look away, even as the creature threatens to trample her once more.

She watches it run.

She watches as it grows weaker and weaker.

She watches as Deadwood finally falls to their knees, pulled down by Belphegor, then their side. They hiss a curse at the creature who fells them, its long maw and sharp teeth deep in their neck, but do not move to stand again. Blood seeps from them in a thick puddle, christening the fighters.

Hlin approaches cautiously. The creature breathes out, then catches her eyes. She wishes there was malice there, or hate. There is only a deep sadness.



Whose blood will you spill now that I am gone?, it whispers.
It breathes out one last time, then falls still and silent.


Hlin waits for them to move again.

They don’t.

From their corpse, a breath of poppies blooms.

Thank you to all the participants!
Lures
Honeythorn (Starsets)
Irene (Echosong)

Vira, Ross (Echosong)
Abisme, Maggot, Harvestman (Shakra)
Leviathan (Rav)
Ephire (Apeldille)
Verve (Mis)
Sky-sight (sleepything)
Sabbath, Belphegor (RihannaFenty)
Sindile (ShrinkingRose)
'Y' (Kallonate)
Ashira, Greitai (Wind)
Adoette (Crossboxes)
Sedirea, Rohit (Aivilo)
Hati (Kimi)

Watchers
Hildegard (Hildegard)
Severon (Collado)
Everly (Rav)

Post-fight
Rica (11dollarbills)
Starless, Elijah (Vee)
Easca (Sleepything)
Howlan (Novaqi)

And thank you to ShrinkingRose for the screenshots!

echoing's picture

Epilogue The tear does not

Epilogue

The tear does not close. Hlin takes up her post beside it. It’s a penance, she thinks. She does not acknowledge that she is just as curious as she ever was. Foolish, perhaps, but a fearful home is still a home. She can’t give up on it yet. She won’t.

Instead, she reads the notes The Priest left and the other books she recovers. She finds that forest script comes naturally to her. A relief—and a fear, but one she doesn’t voice.

This time, though, she looks the fear in the face. It flinches first.

There. The record is set.
I have no illusions that I will die here, but do not think that I died entirely hopeless. My faith in divinity may be shaken, but my faith in others is not. Is this strange to say, for someone dying so far from home? I suppose. But in my time I have loved and been loved in return. Though there is evil in these woods—and sometimes I think it grows by the hour—so too is there goodness. Perhaps more than the evil.
So I choose to believe in others. Whatever their motives, I am certain my duty will eventually be completed. Perhaps even yet, someone comes to my aid. To those I loved, I hope you know that my love for you persists even now. I hope the forest is kind to you, and to those you care for in turn.


---

You solved the facts in 11 days.
You solved the first puzzles in 1 day.
You uncovered the runes in 25 days.
You gave 66% of your items to Hlin and 64% to Brother.

You chose destruction over dissolution.

All the component beings that made up the Deadwood, including Brother, have expired.
The Tear remains open.
The Reaches remain whole, though their treasures have vanished. They have stabilized for now.
Entering the Reaches will always bring you to a quieter, more surreal version of the Forest, with much more space to explore. Rare herbs may be found here, many useful for healing. It is rare to encounter another being if you didn’t take them with you in the first place.
However, staying too long in the Reaches may alter your character.

This setting is now an open setting, which means may be used by anyone for any purpose save complete destruction of The Reaches. You do not have to ask for my permission.

You did not uncover the following facts:
Brother is composed of 12 other beings…
1. to harness enough power to escape and take them with it.
2. The beings were cast offs, the lonely, the abandoned--those who sought something better.
3. Many of the beings are not who or what they say they are.
4. The Reaches have twisted the beings in much less obvious ways than weaving their bodies into one creature.
5. The Reaches have a way of doing that to everything that enters them.


78 characters and 33 players participated or watched.
Thank you all for tracking, DMing me, interacting in forest and participating in the plot in whatever way you chose.
You made this a lot of fun.



Hub
Kaoori's picture

This was amazing! Thank you

This was amazing!
Thank you for letting me participate even though I couldn’t make it in game ♥

Thank you so much for running

Thank you so much for running this plot! The events were so fun to participate in and I loved how varied they were, and the different possible endings. This was so much fun, I had a total blast participating ♥ Thanks for letting my ocs participate even though I couldn't be in forest, I loved reading their little shout outs.

Signature by Terabetha
Mis's picture

This was SUCH a cool plot!!

This was SUCH a cool plot!! Thank you for entertaining my adventurers and for the fun in-game event. We mostly watched but it was still very exciting!!
11dollarbills's picture

LATE but thank you so much

LATE but thank you so much for doing this, Wurm! Created so many fun scenarios and I'm excited for the possibilities this leaves open from here, too.




and this is just. my favorite.
look out, kid.