[Story] Story a Week 43

[[ Prompt: A retelling of a recent Hollywood movie

I hardly ever watch movies, so I ended up choosing not a recent one, but a famous one all the same. I think you’ll be able to figure it out! ]]

Risarra awoke in a place she didn’t recognize. She wasn’t in her cot in the sentinel quarters, inside their barracks. She was in the center of a lush field sprinkled with flowers, the grass soft as fur beneath her. “That’s odd,” she said to herself, looking around for her bow. She couldn’t find that either. “I don’t remember being here before.” Without her bow, she was anxious and vulnerable, but at the same time, this place didn’t seem to hold any danger. It was so vibrant, so beautiful, while at the same time strange to her. Could it be the Dream? Risarra was no druid, so how was that possible? A spiraling pattern grew among the grass, starting from where she was now sitting. It continued into a path that led into some trees.

“I might as well follow it,” Risarra told herself, “And see where it goes.”

If it was the Dream, she saw no other elves here, no druids or even sisters. There were ordinary animals, though. Rabbits nibbled at the tender grass, and she could hear the chorus of birds overhead. As she approached the treeline, a deer watched her warily. Then, as she stepped into the cool shadows of the forest, she heard the rustle of leaves. There was no breeze; perhaps it had been another animal moving nearby.

“Hello,” said a voice, and Risarra blinked in surprise. She could still see no one around. She felt a twig brush her shoulder.

It was a treant — a very small one, but a treant all the same. It looked like the ones she’d seen when she went to Darnassus.

“Oh, pardon me,” Risarra said, flustered. “I didn’t see you — wait, you can talk?”

The treant’s stick arms moved in something like a shrug. “I suppose I can,” it said. “I’m talking now.”

Having never spoken with a treant before, Risarra wasn’t sure what to say. “I’m Risarra,” she offered.

“I’m Treant.”

“That isn’t a name,” Risarra pointed out.

“Yes it is,” the Treant replied indignantly. Well, she wasn’t going to argue. If it wanted to be called Treant, that was fine with her. “Where are you going?”

Risarra frowned, glancing around at the forest. “I’m not sure exactly. I’m trying to get back home. Do you know where this path leads?”

“No,” said Treant, far too enthusiastically she thought. “But I’ll go with you, if you want.”

She looked down at its roots. Sure enough, they were free from the ground. “Sure,” Risarra said. Some company couldn’t hurt.

She wasn’t sure how far they walked. The forest was new to her, so she didn’t know the landmarks, but she followed the path that wound through. It had to lead somewhere, if someone had made it. She just hoped it would be back to Ashenvale. The Treant didn’t know much about the forest, or much of anything really. But it was cheerful, and Risarra supposed it was better than being alone if she should run into any danger. Most treants were able to heal with druidic magic.

“Hey, what’s this?” Treant said, shaking its branch arm at something beside the path.

Risarra came to see. Sunlight glinted from something metal, obscured by the long grass. Carefully, she stepped off the trail to see what it was. She pulled back the grass and tugged loose some vines and leaves.

“Oh!” she gasped, as she heard something whir inside the metal thing. “What is that?”

It was shaped like a person, except not really — it was far too round and far too short, and of course it was entirely made of metal, every bit of it. It had huge eyes that were some kind of lamps, and Risarra could see a faint light within them. Was this thing… alive?

With Treant’s help, she hauled the metal thing up onto the path, where the grass was shorter. Dirt and rust had seized many of the thing’s joints. From helping with the glaives, she knew water would only make it worse. They needed some sort of oil — but of course she didn’t have any here in the middle of this strange forest. Treant shuffled over to the spot where the metal person had lay. Sure enough, there was a small can of oil hidden in the grass. If it had been right there, why hadn’t it used it on itself? Risarra didn’t know, but she poured the oil carefully into the joints and rubbed some of the dirt away with a corner of her shirt.

A series of loud beeps and whirs startled her, and Risarra backed away from it. Maybe it was broken?

“Activation complete,” said the small metal person. “Unit B10 operational.”

Risarra glanced at Treant, but it didn’t seem to have any idea either.

The metal person stared intently at Treant. “Beginning bio-scan.”

She — nor any of the sentinels — had ever seen anything like this in the forest before. The orc and goblin machines were huge, sharp, and loud. This seemed more like gnome technology, though she’d never seen it firsthand herself. She didn’t have any idea how to talk to a metal person any more than she did a Treant.

“Excuse me, hello?” she asked it. Treant was trying to push it away with its branches. The metal person stopped and looked toward Risarra.

“Voice identification failed,” said the metal person.

“Do you know the way out of this forest?” Risarra asked.

“Invalid command,” said the metal person.

She sighed. “Come on, Treant. I don’t think it’s going to help us.”

But when they began to walk away, they heard the clanking of the metal person following closely behind. It was very loud. If there was anything dangerous here, it was going to hear them now for sure. Still, maybe it could be useful if there was a problem. At the very least, she could take its arm off to use for a club.

They walked for a very long time. Risarra kept looking up to guess the hour, but it seemed that the sun wasn’t moving at all in the sky. Everything about this place felt strange, and that didn’t help. She was hungry, too. She couldn’t remember when she’d last eaten. They were probably serving the afternoon snack now for those who were already awake. Maybe dumplings. Tallstrider and vegetable and spider dumplings, her very favorite. She heard her stomach growl in protest.

Treant had stopped abruptly in front of her. Its branch extended shakily to point at something.

Risarra heard the growl again, but this time she knew it wasn’t her stomach. The path before them was blocked by a very large furbolg.

Ordinarily, furbolgs weren’t dangerous, but this one was much larger than she’d ever seen. It stood at least a head taller than herself — as tall as an elf man — and at least as wide. Its teeth were bared in a snarl.

“Is this your land? We didn’t know,” Risarra explained. Most furbolgs could at least understand, if not speak themselves.

The furbolg roared, spittle dripping from its jaws.

“There’s no need to be rude,” Risarra said. “Just tell us the way out, and we’ll leave.”

It dropped to all fours and made a swipe of its paws toward Treant.

“Stop that!” Risarra said, and smacked the furbolg’s nose. It gave a pitiful yelp and sat down on all fours.

“Well,” she said, checking Treant’s bark. “You didn’t need to do that.” If those claws had connected, Treant would have deep gashes that might not heal. She wasn’t really sure how wounds worked with treants.

The furbolg rubbed its eyes, still whimpering. She hadn’t hit it that hard. “You’re fine,” Risarra said, feeling guilty now. “Let me see it. Oh, you’re not bleeding at all. See?” It sniffled and continued to wail. Maybe the poor thing was hungry too. Risarra hadn’t seen any food at all the whole time they’d been walking. “If you show me the way out, I’ll bring you some dumplings.” It worked for the elves, maybe it would work for a furbolg too.

It perked up its ears and began to lumber quickly down the path. Risarra smiled and hurried after. They were finally getting somewhere!

Deeper in the forest, the light grew dimmer and Risarra no longer saw any animals or heard any birds. Even the trees seemed more ominous, bent and twisted. The ground beneath them looked black and charred, as if a fire had passed through, or — no, not a fire. Demons. She could smell them now, the stink of fel hanging in the air. Her traveling companions were reluctant to follow her, and she could not blame them for being afraid, but she had to get back. Beautiful though this place was, it wasn’t her home.

“Come on,” she urged them. “I need your help.” If there was a demon here, she didn’t want to face it alone and unarmed.

Risarra entered another clearing, charred black and twisted. In the very center stood the demon, each of its four arms holding a sharp blade. The smile on its horrid face widened when it saw Risarra. How was she supposed to fight it? She had no weapon — but she did have the furbolg. And the metal person. And the Treant.

“Will you help me?” she whispered to them.

The furbolg rumbled.

“Yes!” said Treant.

“Combat protocol activated,” said the metal person.

“Get one of the knives,” she urged the furbolg, as the metal person clattered over toward the demon. With one on either side of her, she was distracted, and the furbolg sunk its teeth into one of the arms. Risarra grabbed the knife. She wasn’t well trained in close combat, but she’d watched Sorias a few times, and he’d given her a few tips. Hopefully it would be enough. While she and the furbolg alternated attacks, the metal person assaulted the demon’s legs. Treant mostly ran back and forth at first, but it proved useful when it held the demon in place with roots that sprung up from the ground.

With a final shriek, the demon dissipated into the Nether. In the place she had stood, already small sprouts had begun to grow, covering the burned and ruined ground. There had to be a portal nearby…

When Risarra woke again, it was back in her cot in the sentinel quarters. It was dusk, and the others were preparing for patrol.

“Get up, sleepyhead,” Zhyra teased. “You’re going to miss breakfast.”

Had it all been a dream? She’d never had a dream so intense, so real. But maybe that’s all it was. She began putting on her armor for her patrol.


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