81st Turn, Seventh Year, Twenty Fourth Cycle, Chroday
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From the Journal of Aframos Longjourney, Pilgrim

With notes by Avos Torr, Scholar of Rheve Library

Chroday, Twenty-fourth Cycle, Seventh Year, 81st Turn

Ninetieth Day in the Trees

I have been so worried about beasts or monsters finding us that I failed to think of the danger of the trees and plants.

Of course, we have encountered dangerous plants before, though most had some other creature within them. The angry little faces in the oaks, or the ants that lived with the flowers, for example. But the path gave us some distance from plants we needed to avoid, for the most part. Now that we must push through bushes and under trees, it is much more difficult. We are much more likely to blunder into danger without realizing it.

We had made our way through a grove of strange, sickly trees. Their bark was gray and their leaves were white. They did not merely twist like most of the trees here but leaned precariously. They would have fallen if their branches did not reach out and steady themselves on other trees1.

On closer inspection, these branches pierced and sank into the bodies of other trees, which themselves seemed less vibrant for the contact.

But we did not suspect any danger to ourselves, so we pushed through. When we were partway through, we felt the branches trying to curl over us. They were not terribly strong, nor fast, but it was still worrying. It was even moreso when we noticed bones scattered at the bottom of the trees.

We left the trees as quickly as we could and tried to put it out of our minds. However, not long after, we were both beset by a terrible itch. It soon grew into sharp pains.

We looked closely at ourselves and found small, white berries clinging to our bodies where the branches had touched us. They had tendrils that were digging into our skin. The tendrils were turning red before our eyes, a red that swirled into the bodies of the berries themselves. We were able to remove them, thankfully.

I can imagine that an animal unable to reach them would have far more trouble. What would be its ultimate fate? Would the berries fall off after they had their fill? Or would they continue to suck and grow, the tendrils digging deeper?

We will need to be more careful as we continue to stray from the path.

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