The Old Oak Funeral

The Old Oak Funeral


Bella stood alone before the Andorth Forest. Black dreadlocks cascaded down her right shoulder like vines. Bright sapphire eyes shimmered above rosy cheeks opalescent freckles kissed across a complexion of rich earthen tones like dew-kissed peat. Ashen finger paint in three lines starting at the bottom lip descended her throat, about which hung beaded necklaces, one for each of her nineteen years. The first was tight and high around her throat and each got slightly larger until the bottom-most hung loosely about her collar and bustline, with the combined effect of holding her head high and poised. From beneath them, the ashen paint spread across her shoulders and bare breasts like a cloak of winding tree roots. Her nipples were pierced with small bones, like those of a bird. A woven sarong of hemp and moss was tied about her hips and as she shifted her weight a long bare leg decorated with ashen lines down the thigh and shin was revealed.

The overcast skies rolled ominously over her head as she stood at the edge of the darkening forest, scrunching her toes in the mossy ground with trepidation. She already missed the warm waters of Harmony Polder that now lay fifteen days behind her; though she longed to return home to her mother and her little farm, the warm breeze at her back urged her forward. She tested the shaded ground beneath the trees with her staff, took a deep breath of determination, and stepped from the grass clearing. 

The air beneath the forest canopy was warm and thick with petrichor, and the ground was moist and soft, like the Polder; in less than a mile, she felt at peace among the rustling leaves. She traveled for close to ten miles, listening to the song of the forest and humming along as occasional raindrops fell through the forest canopy. Even here Bella Donna felt the warmth of the sun, Tephes, nearly at her Zenith. She rested her weight against an old vine-covered tree to avoid slipping on wet rocks, and felt the tree move slightly, and creak with age.

"Oh, dear!" She stopped, clutching the trunk, and closed her eyes. She took a long deep breath, feeling the tree sigh back. "Oh you poor thing, Let me help." She gently clasped a small cluster of leaves from the vines clinging about the Old Oak. "It's time to let him go." She said calmly and quietly. The leaves wilted ever so slightly, in a way few would have noticed. "I know, but it's time."

Bella stepped away from the old Oak as the vines released their hold on him and fell softly away. A soft breeze blew through the forest like a calming breath and there was a moment of unearthly quiet before the old oak creaked. With a soft cracking, he leaned back and fell through the canopy. The younger, greener trees about the Old oak, his friends and family, slowed his descent with strong boughs and lay him gently in the underbrush. Once he had settled and was comfortable Bella approached him and rested a hand on his trunk. Released from the forest's root system, she could feel the last of his nutrients quickly being consumed. Between her toes, the vine on the ground tickled her feet.

"Oh of course! I will join you." She said and sat on the ground, leaning back against the old oak. The vines crept around her shoulders, holding the old oak close in a final embrace. Thunder bawled in the distance as the surrounding trees and underbrush hung heavy with morning, their leaves dripping down upon Bella. They sat together in quiet reflection as the birds sang to the memory of his greatness, the wind and leaves occasionally adding harmonies of their own. Bella enjoyed a lunch of fresh berries, nuts, and mushrooms she'd been foraging along the way before finally saying a final goodbye and continuing her journey.


Bella Donna jumped from the four-foot rocky outcropping, her soft landing stirring up a cloud of ash and dust. The swiftly setting sun of Tephes urged her forward, sprinting through the char and soot toward the stout stone chapel in the center of the clearing. Behind her, she could hear the creatures crashing through the treeline after her. As she ran, Bella allowed the end of her staff to drag.


"Entangle," she said, almost to herself, and behind her, emerging from the point where her staff touched the dirt and soot, grasping weeds and vines sprouted from the blackened ground and spread out 20-feet, nipping at her heels. She leaned into her sprint and made for a tree that was scorched but standing. A sound followed her, like boars or bears, or somehow both. She reached the tree and used it for cover. Looking back, she saw two huge pig-like demons struggling to get through her lush trap. 

To the west, Tephes set, laying her head beneath the horizon. All about her, the forest beyond the burned-out clearing came alive with the roars of great beasts. Bella bolted for the church steps. The pig-demons reached the scorched tree as Bella ascended the steps to the small church to find the door locked.

"Please, no!" She whimpered, shaking the door handle, she could feel the board at its back. "No!" She cried, pounding on the door with her fists; looking back. As the beasts continued to approach she looked for some other sanctuary, but the landscape was scorched and barren, save trees here or there.

"Fuck." She stepped down into the ash and soot and prepared to stand off against the monsters. With her staff in hand, she raised it across her body and beat her chest. a green glow spread through the body paint from that spot, giving it a three-dimensional effect, like a wooden mantle. The beasts continued to advance.

"Well, this is gonna.., fuck!" She muttered to herself, looking about for resources or anything she might use against these creatures but there was nothing but a twilit wasteland of coal and ash. "Of course!" She closed her eyes, raised her staff high in the air, and slammed it into the charred dirt. "No Trace," She whispered and a cloud of ash swirled about her. The beasts quickly lost sight of her in the growing darkness and, as she'd hoped they separated in an effort to restrict her movement. 

Suddenly flame-like radiance shot from the sky and exploded into the dirt, narrowly missing the closer beast; separating it further from its partner.  Seeing this, Bella made a motion, like snapping her fingers, and a branch cracked a short distance for the other beast. With its attention drawn toward the back of the building, Bella backed toward the steps again.

Another bolt of golden light shot from the clouds, this time slamming into the beast and burning its hide.  Bella used the distraction, drawing her sickle as she rushed forward and carved a gash in the creature's shoulder. It let out a wail and a fart as a cloud of disgusting green gas surrounded the foul creature. It clawed back, returning the favor.

The other pig-beast, continued east, along the building away from the battle. Either it did not hear the cries of its siblings, or it did not care. 

Another blast of golden light slammed through the gas cloud; into the beast. coughing, Bella swung with her sickle and caught the thing in the throat with a tiny cut that bled quickly. The beast collapsed trying to retaliate.

Bella looked to the other pig-demon in time to see another bolt of golden light streak from the sky. It struck the ground right at the creature's snout, startling it back toward her. Bella whistled to get its attention and threw her arms out in challenge as she moved toward the monster. She used the corner of the church to prevent the thing from flanking her.

"Entangle," she commanded again, screwing her staff into the ground.  Again grasping weeds and vines sprouted from the blackened ground and spread out 20 feet before her. "come here you … uh, gross thing!" 

Monster Strength Check - Natuaral 1

The beast snorted and rushed directly into the organic trap. It tripped immediately, diving nose-first into the charred dirt, The vines and weeds grew quickly around and up its snout, restraining it there. It honked and sniffed in panic as the weeds that grew into the beast's mouth intertwined with the vines crawling through its sinuses. 

Another bolt of light shot from the sky and slammed the beast's head further into the dirt, startling Bella. She gave a quick search of the sky and then moved up next to the creature. It flailed, trying to free itself or, perhaps bite her, Bella wasn't sure. 

"Shhhhhh," She pet the creature soothingly as she curled her sickle about its throat. She remained with the creature as it bled out, soothing its passing. In the forest, beyond the burn, she could hear other creatures moving through the brush, in the dark.  She stood when she heard clambering at the door of the church and turn to see a man poke his head out.

"Come on, girl" He looked about nervously as he summoned Bella inside. "They're not alone." 

Once inside, with the door locked and barricaded again the Elven man turned and addressed her. "Are ye daft, girl? What are ye doin' in the Anderth after dusk? Ye could 'ave been killt." He had a common appearance, with red hair and sharp hazel eyes. Over his clerical robes, he wore splint mail. 

"I-I was …" She started, but was quickly interrupted. 

"Yes - yes, later," The Man looked at the wound on her arm, "Let's get these injuries looked after, then you need rest Before they come back."

"Come back?!" Bella questioned as she was led, in a fatherly manner to the heart of the church.

"Oh, Yes dear, " The man said with grave seriousness, "This night is far from over."



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