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Post by Wraithwriter »

Places where travelers meet and trade news in passing never stopping for a longer stay. Maybe it is because they are anxious to hurry on their way, after all time is money for a merchant and wasted moments for others; or could it be the latent instinct to avoid unpleasant realities. Either way no one wants to be caught in the vicinity once the sun falls.

To be fair who could blame them for not wanting to linger. Who wants to hear the ghostly wails and agonizing groans of those who spent their last moments swinging at the end of a rope or dangling in a cage. If one listened carefully you could almost still make out the grating cries of the ravenous crows. Fortunately, most crossroads hold no such horrific psychic records; however, one such place is known to all as Stone Tree Crossing.

Stone Tree Crossing gets its name from a massive petrified willow. Its trunk as wide as two men tall and its long drooping branches forever encased in stone. How such an unusual sight came to exist was a mystery, but many tales abound.

One such tale involves a Druid, as many tales about trees do, who fell in love with a dryad.

As most spirits of nature, the dryad only had enough attention for two things: her tree and her own selfish desires. The idea of love never even crossed her mind, and if it had no mortal being, even a Druid, could survive long. His affections repeatedly rebuffed, or plainly ignored, the Druid grew bitter. Then came the day when bitterness ignited in rage.

On that ominous day the Druid arrived at the dryad's willow only find her in the arms of another. Enraged past all reason he called upon Diecus, the daughter of Vat and goddess of disasters and disease, to punish the dryad. In an instant the nature spirit and her lover were forcefully sucked into the willow as it began turning to stone. However, the curse did not end there.

The Druid having forsaken his bond with Vat, god of nature, by calling on Diecus was left open to the dryad's vengeful wrath. Like striking vipers branches shot out to wrap around the Druid and slammed him against tree's trunk just before it turned to stone. So it was that the Druid became part of the stone tree. To this day what appears to be human torso and face stick out from the tree's trunk.

However, that is only legend and the truth is much more unsettling. An entire village set to flame while men, women, and children scream in the light of the blaze. Tied to a tree and forced to watch as all those he loves were impaled alive, a valiant defender cried out with rage.

Having had their fun the raiders left the defender there in a macabre forest of impaled companions. Only half alive and at the mercy of the crows, the defender slumped against the willow trunk defeated. It was the sound of strange voices that pulled him out of his depressed self-loathing.

"Alive this one still is," cawed the first.

"Yes, and just smell that rage," replied another. "This one is not yet ready."

"Agreed," said the first. "Though we dare not leave it, to dangerous. We must call the Elder." Shortly a third voice joined the other two.

"You were right in bringing this to my attention," cawed the new voice. "This one shall be preserved for his true time has not yet come."

For over a thousand years the stone tree has stood marking the location of a village lost to all memory. However, the horror of that night is not so easily erased by times passage. Nor is the seething rage of the fallen Hero of Demon's Fall.

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