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Sarell Brockskin
by Dale Sharak

Sarell Brockskin never meant to have an adventure. In fact, he knew very little of what exactly an adventure was, as he spent the most of his days tucked away in his comfy old house, set in the trunk of an elden, birch tree.

The birch, had been there for a very, very long time, as his leaves had long since taken upon that reddish tinge that all such trees of that age normally do, though his limbs were still as strong as ever, more then strong enough to snap poor little Sarell in half if it ever came into the birch's mind. It just so happened, though, that this certain tree had long since passed his days of wondering about and kept himself rooted firmly in one spot, which was quite alright with Sarell, as it is very uncanny to feel one's home uproot itself and begin to walk.

Now Sarell, he had come upon the home long before he could remember, tucked away where it could not be seen by such folks as he did not wish to (hags and such). It had been an old squirrel's den once, though its former owner had long since passed on to wherever squirrels go when they die. He liked his home very much. The old birch had been relieved to have its old owner move out and had put up a great fuss when Sarell had proposed that he take the old squirrel's place.

Sarell spent his days in and about his old, comfy birch, save for when a thirst for walking struck him, and he went wandering about the woods in which his birch had taken root. Oft times he would even stop to play a trick or two upon those troublesome woodcutters who insisted on tramping noisily about his home, even attempting to put an axe blade to the birch's old trunk (though this proved a large mistake for no few woodcutters). Yet never, never in his life had he left his safe forest, never had much to do with other creatures then himself and his kindly, gruff, elden birch.

And it was on one of these rare occasions that a want for a nice, long walk, overtook him that he came upon the Wizard. Now, even in those rustic days, Wizards were always great meddlers, though their power and wit has diminished in these, sad, magic-less days.

This particular Wizard was just in the act of meddling about with an old, felled oak tree (a very, very foolish thing to do, as the oak's Oakmen were particular nasty and oft took the company of witches). The Wizard, a bent wizened old gaffer, was dressed in a dirty, ragged, cloak, a bent, crushed, broad-brimmed hat upon his tangled mop of white hair (or would have been white if he had taken the time to wash it, which he rarely did). He sat on his knees, his face bent very close to the oak's trunk, muttering odd little enchantments to himself, his ash staff leaned nearby.

Sarell, clad in his best, a jerkin of elm-leaves and hose, with his little hat of woven bulrushes set atop his head, watched with some interest as the Wizard took a little knife (iron, he saw with some dismay) and cut a piece of moss from the trunk. He was beginning to wonder what this Wizard was up to when one of the Oakmen emerged from his dwelling within the tree. This one, Sarell knew well, as his name was Flintlock, the nastiest of the lot, looked as though he was a collection of twigs and rubbish bount together with a bit of string.

The Oakman set himself down, directly over the Wizard, and watched suspiciously as he continued his work, cuttinng more and more moss from the trunk. When Flinlock deemed the old man had his share of the stuff called out in his gruff little voice, "Ho! Wizardling, you've had your fill, go do what you will, lest we run you off, we needn't have your types wandering 'round these woods. Be off!"

The Wizard only looked at the Oakman, long and hard from beneath his shaggy brows. "No, I haven't now please be on your way, little stick man, lest I turn you into a little old frog, and use you in my brews!"

Flintlock flew into a veritable rage, dancing this way and that. Then, gathering himself together, he leaped down into his hole in the tree, calling out, "Ho! Wizardling, 'ware I'll be back with my brothers, then you'll be a-fearin'!"

Quickly, before Flintlock or his kin had a chance to emerge from their home, the Wizard gathered his things, took up his staff, and hurried off. Now Sarell, his attention piqued followed close after, hiding himself in the folds of the Wizard's cloak.

For a long time they bounced and jounced along, all the while the Wizard muttering angry curses in his beastly Man-tongue. Sarell's patience soon faded and he decided to abandon this odd, meddling Wizard to his own machinations.

When he tried to climb free of the Wizard's cloak, he found his feet and arms, well and truly....stuck. It was as though they had been pasted to the old man's clothing. He struggled, twitching this way and that, yet he could not escape this trap, which held him firmly as a spider's web.

And the Wizard plucked him from the folds of his cloak, holding him daintily with two fingers. He was hoisted high in the air, eye-to-eye with his captor.

"Well, well, ho hum, what have we here? A nice little wood spirit, what shall we do with you?" the Wizard chuckled to himself, dropping poor little Sarell into the knap-sack at his belt.

The bouncing and jouncing began again and they carried on for a very long time, or so it seemed to Sarell. Pulling his stone-knife from his belt, he set about working his way free. He cut a hole a small hole in the side, small enough not to be noticed, he dearly hoped. Hopping free, he found the way down to be much farther then he had thought.

When he finally managed to gather his wits about himself he found he was well and truly lost.

Night had fallen, the moon risen. He sat alone an a grassy gnoll, very, very confused. "Now how could I have managed to get into such a mess?" he asked himself. The land stretched out 'round him, mysterious and unknown.

His beloved woods were nowhere in sight.

For a long while he sat upon his little hillock, feeling quite lost and sorry for himself, until the sun roused himself from his bed and began make his ascent into the sky. Little by little, as he sat there, there came a grumbling in his belly, quite small at first, though it grew. Soon it felt as though an angry badger had taken up residence there.

"Well, I shan't get breakfast sitting here on this old hill," and off he went.

And his adventures truly began.

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