The Power of ~*~ Friendship ~*~
“I need your help!”
Dhashi would have helped the pretty dryad no matter what, because helping people in need is the right thing to do, but the compulsion spell convinced Ilkan and Row faster than her puppy-dog eyes would have alone. The three therefore set out to retrieve the magical item which would help Mali the (apparently kind of careless) dryad heal her dying tree. As they walked down the forest path, they passed signs of the tree’s effects; everywhere plants grew brown and stunted, and black pitch oozed down the trunks of many trees. The cute woodland animals who had flocked to Dhashi earlier were nowhere to be seen now, and the only bird calls heard were those of distant crows.
Finally, they reached a set of worn stone stairs which lead to a sparse hilltop. There they found the three intersecting fairy rings, just as the dryad had said, with the rune-covered stones standing in each. The first stone bore the word ‘book’, the second ‘shield’, and the third ‘sword’. Where the circles intersected were three smaller stones, almost like altars. These bore the rune for ‘friendship’. In the center of all three sat an even smaller stone with the rune for ‘flower’.
“So,” Row tapped her staff on the ground as they stared at the stones, “what now?”
“Um…” Dhashi shrugged hesitantly and nodded toward the book stone. “I guess we could try… putting a book on it?” She reached into her pack and produced one of the diaries taken from the followers of Bezos. Standing on her tip toes, she just managed to set it on top of the stone. The runes began to glow faintly. “Okay, progress!” She turned to the next stone and set her shield atop it, but nothing happened. “Maybe it’s a metaphorical shield?” she hazarded. “Something that protects?” Row’s hand went to the pendant of the goddess Selune hanging around her neck. Wordlessly, she removed the necklace and set it on the stone. The runes glowed brighter. Row’s scimatar then lit the runes of the ‘sword’ stone and a possibly magical breeze drifted over the hill. Dhashi clapped and bounced in place. “Yay teamwork! Okay, what’s next?”
The party turned to considering the smaller stones which bore the ‘friendship’ rune. “Maybe they represent us,” Row suggested. “Ilkan, you’re certainly not a book. You could be the friendship of sword and shield. Dhashi, you could be book and shield, and that would make me… book and sword.” Each stepped into their respective intersection; the wind increased and the air tasted of ozone. Dhashi gave a victorious bounce. “Yes! We are so gonna save this forest!”
With six stones down, the final one seemed easy. They gathered mountain wildflowers growing at the edge of the hill and placed them on the middle stone. The magical wind picked up again, but this time to gently blow the flowers off the stone. “Okay,” Dhashi frowned. “Maybe it’s a different kind. Can anyone make a folded paper flower?” Row grimaced but nodded. “I can try…” Dhashi handed her a piece of Hello Kitty themed parchment and the jenasi folded it into a little pink petaled flower. This time the wind didn’t knock it off – a little blue flame burst from the stone and turned the paper flower to ash. Row pursed her lips. “Well fine.” The party returned to considering the fickle stone. And considered. And considered. And considered.
“Bloody hell,” Unable to roll her eyes, Row gestured derisively to emphasize her frustration. “We probably have to hold hands or something disgusting like that.”
“OOH!” Before Row could take it back, Dhashi reached across to grab her companions’ hands in a surprisingly strong grip. “Go on!” she urged. “Hold hands, just try it!” Equally uncomfortable, Ilkan and Row grudgingly took hold of as little of each other’s hands as possible. To Row’s eternal chagrin, the definitely magical wind swirled even faster around the center stone and the three adventurers felt a massive pulse of magic sweep through them. With a burst the pressure and wind died away, leaving in their place a single white jasmine flower laying atop the stone.
“OH MY GOSH. We did it! Our friendship solved the puzzle!” Dhashi pointed to the flower. “I bet that’s what the dryad needs to heal her tree!” As she carefully collected the faintly glowing flower, Row and Ilkan remained silent, each desperately pretending nothing had happened. The endeavor was to be pointless, however, because Dhashi would never let them forget that friendship and teamwork had saved the day.