Feature

The Trees Have Eyes

 

“Gather ‘round, no sense in sullenly staring into your mugs when there’s a tale to hear and wisdom to be imparted!

Now, even the most sheltered nobles will  have heard tales of the Bramble Creepers that stalk the woodlands of Zyathé, but few have seen the wicked monstrosities for themselves. Or so they think! If you’ve ever encountered one of the monstrous Creepers, you know there’s no telling them from the surrounding branches and briers until they start moving and open those wicked, glowing eyes. Now, with the hateful fury that usually defines a Bramble Creeper attack, you would imagine that they are prolific hunters, and the relative scarcity of their assaults is due to a commensurate scarcity in Creepers.

This is decidedly not the case! In fact, Bramble Creepers spend most of their time hibernating, remaining perfectly still in a torpor. While in such a state, even the most devout follower of Verdaus could not distinguish one Creeper in ten from the surrounding foliage. Their bodies are indistinguishable from the bark of most trees, and their clawed limbs bear the most uncanny resemblance to dead branches. The unmistakable conclusion is that for every such beast reported, there must be countless more slumbering nearby. You there, have you ever gathered wood for a fire? Have you ever rested in the shade beneath the boughs of a large tree after a long day? Then it’s a certainty that you have been mere feet from death on at least one occasion, without even knowing it!

Nor is their camouflage appearance their only trickery! Experienced travelers such as myself know not to trust the sounds of lost children crying for help or beautiful maidens singing in a forest glade. However, for the less seasoned wayfarers among you, such imploring and alluring sounds are, more often than not, the work of cunning mimicry by foul monsters. The Bramble Creepers are no exception! They are among the most devious of such mocking beasts. So if you ever hear a call for aid, if there’s any woodland nearby, you can safely walk on your way with a clear conscious, knowing that you were clever enough to avoid the trap set by a Bramble Creeper. Assuredly, if you had gone to investigate, you would have been torn and mutilated in just a few moments by the creature’s jagged claws and horrid teeth!

What’s that? Have I ever actually seen a Bramble Creeper? Well, er, no. Rather, that is, like anyone, I have seen many a recently-fed Bramble Creeper disguised as fallen branches and dead shrubs. I could not tell a single one from a regular piece of timber, which just goes to prove my point! I am just fortunate that none of them awakened and attempted to attack me, though they surely would have failed against such a seasoned adventurer as myself. Nor have I fallen for any of their attempts at pantomime: ‘Help, we’re being attacked by brigands!’ ‘Please, my child has fallen in the well!’ ‘By the gods, how can you just stroll by, man, help!’ Indeed! They’re crafty beasts, but I’m too smart by half to be duped by such transparent chicanery! Could I see the people calling out? Of course, that’s how they get you! Now, you all be careful out there, I won’t always be there to look out for you against these dangers!”

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