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The Untimely Demise of Babs Barella

TFC:
While wandering around near Darkmoons Jungle killing mobs and planning my next PezQuest, I came upon a small blood stained diary on the corpse of a monkey. The cover of the diary read:
"Property of Babs Barella, Innocent Forest Girl."
Now, I had heard of this young girl often enough, but never had the opportunity to meet her. I knew she was a level 30 Ranger, the only one in the land, and that her hometown was Harpers. I also knew that she was not overly fond of me. Friends told me how she thought me to be annoying, perverted, arrogant, and conceited. I never quite understood how she formed this opinion since we had never met, but I must assume that my reputation precedes me.

Anyway, seeing the blood on the diary I became quite concerned. I was not at all curious to see what she had written about me in the diary. My only thoughts were for her safety. So, as unscrupulous as it is to read someone's personal diary, I felt it my solemn duty to find out what may have happened to Babs. Little was I prepared for the shock I was about to receive, for there in the final few pages, Babs had written an account of her last day in this world in her own blood. It is a most horrible tale that still haunts my dreams. In order to cleanse myself of these tormenting images I feel it best that I share with you Babs Barella's final diary entry:
Dear Diary,
I am not sure what day or even what time it is. It feels like years since I have seen the sun or even felt a breeze upon my cheek. I write to you now from an unknown cavern, where the only light to aid me in my task comes from a few phosphorescent lichens that dot the walls and ceiling around me.

This will undoubtedly be my final diary entry, as there seems little hope that I will survive for very much longer. I am badly injured, and am even now bleeding profusely from countless wounds. I have lost complete use of my legs and only barely managed to drag myself behind some large rocks for protection. I must write quickly for I have but a few hours before I slip away. Even less if my assailant who put me in this deathly pall returns. I pray that I will finish in time...
Since it has been a long time since my last diary entry let me begin by writing a brief bit about how I came to arrive in this sorry state. It began innocently enough with the quaffing of a recall potion. While I had heard that lately these potions had lost some of their effectiveness, I never imagined that I would be besieged by such bad luck. Instead of being magically transported to the Guild I ended up in a dark jungle knee deep in quicksand. Around me monkeys were chittering in the trees, and as I slowly began to sink into the mire insects alit on my cheeks, stinging and biting me until I felt like screaming. I quickly realized that any attempts to brush off the insects only served to increase my rate of descent, so I was left with no choice other than to endure the painful assault on my face and limbs.

I still had one recall potion in my backpack that I managed to retrieve. This was my final chance! I opened the stopper and brought the liquid to my lips. Then, just as I was about to take the first swallow, I felt a tug on my leg jerking me downward with such force that the recall potion fell from my grasp into the quicksand. I cried out in despair, scrabbling for the bottle, which I could see still contained some of the potion. My fingers grasped the lip of the bottle just as I was again yanked downward into the muck. This time there was no recovering and I lost grip of the bottle just as my face was dragged under.
I was falling through the quicksand, my breath quickly running out. I felt the cold pressing against my chest. Then, just as I was about to black out, I found myself tumbling out of the quicksand and into the grips of a giant man-eating plant. Looking up I could see the tentacles of the plant entrenched in the quicksand above which was somehow magically suspended in the ceiling. I was becoming more and more entangled in the plant as it slowly brought me down towards its huge fanged mouth. I reacted quickly, drawing my enchanted sword from its scabbard and slicing through the plant like a scythe through foot high grass. Obviously this creature was used to smaller prey because in no time I managed to dispatch the plant and free myself from its clutches.
There I was, covered in drying quicksand and reeking of plant sap. I quickly took in my surroundings. I was in a small underground room with a clear stream running down its middle. To the right the stream gurgled into the room from a crack in the solid wall. To the left the stream had carved a tunnel large enough to crawl through. Since there was no going back up through the quicksand, this was my only choice.

I crawled for what seemed like hours down the small tunnel, my hands and knees under water in the frigid stream. After a while my hands became numb from the cold, and my knees were bleeding from having scraped them against the streambed.

Where was I headed? Would the stream simply dip into a crevice in the cavern floor, trapping me forever? I was near exhaustion and did not think I could carry on much longer. Despair had taken hold and I was on the very edge of panic. I thought I could never be more frightened as I was at that moment. Oh how wrong I turned out to be...

As I continued on I perceived a widening of the tunnel in the distance. This was my escape, I was sure of it! My pace quickened as I put all my energy into reaching the end of the tunnel. Finally, with one final leap I fell headlong into a dark underground pool. I could not touch the bottom, so swam to the edge and pulled myself up.

Looking around I was flabbergasted by my surroundings. Here was a cavern whose walls were covered in glittering jewels of all shapes and sizes. Fist sized diamonds and rubies littered the floor, and emeralds shone with translucence that simply eclipses any possible description. I was still trapped underground and near exhaustion but giddy with delight at the same time. If I were to escape, there would be no doubt that I would be rich beyond my wildest imaginations. Just one of these jewels would buy me anything my heart desired. I also quickly noticed a large tunnel leading out of this room, and I was suddenly filled with hope that I might someday feel the open air again.

I didn't hesitate. I yanked open my waist pouch and began filling it with jewels. I filled my pockets with them until they were bulging. I even removed my socks and filled them as well, then tied them together and slung them over my shoulder.

It was just as I was taking a break, trying to find a way to take more jewels that I heard the sound of birds coming from the large tunnel. This was it then! Surely the jungle was just through that tunnel. I would still be lost when I reached the jungle, but I was sure I could find my way home. I would also remember this cavern and hopefully find my way back here to claim its riches.

I gathered my things together and began the ascent through the tunnel. I became more and more certain of my escape since in the distance I could hear the jungle quite clearly. The monkeys were easily heard, chittering away in the trees like giant summer locusts. I must be just a few meters underground at this point!

I began to whistle with anticipation and daydreamed about all the things I would buy when I again reached my hometown of Harpers. Oh what a day that would be! I would buy the entire town and rename it "Barellaville".

Suddenly though, my daydreaming came to an abrupt end as I stepped from the tunnel into another cavernous room. I gasped with horror! Somehow the sounds of the jungle were being funneled from above into this empty room! I could clearly hear the rustle of the trees and the sounds of birds all around me, and yet here was nothing but an empty rock walled room, and the only exit was the tunnel I had just come from! I began to cry in despair. Was I going mad? There was no escape from this hell, and I would die here of hunger. All hope had left me and I collapsed to the ground in tears.

I don't remember how long I sat there, but slowly a new idea began to dawn on me. Perhaps there was an underwater exit beneath the large pool in the jewel room. I was sure of it! The water had to have somewhere to escape to, or it would have certainly filled all these rooms long ago! I endeavored to walk back and find that exit, or die trying.

I brought myself to my feet, dusted myself off, and prepared to proceed back down the tunnel. Suddenly without warning I was knocked from my feet by a blow to my left side. I landed hard, but recovered quickly, drawing my sword and twirling around to see my attacker. There, completely filling the tunnel entrance was the strangest creature I had ever seen. It had the head of a giant Praying Mantis, and the body of a smooth skinned lizard. Its eyes were white, and bore into me with a malevolence I have rarely seen. The creature was dripping with water and I suddenly became convinced that an exit existed beneath the waters of the pool in the jewel room.

The lizard mantis began stalking towards me, its jaws snapping with anticipation of the kill. I must get past it through the tunnel, I thought.
Deciding that the best defense was offense, I let out a mighty scream and leapt at the creature, my sword slicing in a great arc towards its massive head. My sword landed a glancing blow, the blade sinking into the creatures' shoulder blade. Jewels fell from my pockets as I parried its counter attack and then leapt back to regain an even footing. The lizard mantis was acting strangely, not attacking, but still guarding the tunnel entrance. It bent its head down and sniffed the jewels and then looked up again at me with renewed hunger. Could it be the jewels the creature was after? I acted quickly, removing all the jewels from my body and scattering them on the ground. Still the lizard mantis advanced on me.

Again I attacked, thrusting with my sword at the creatures' glistening underbelly. I was sure that this would put this vile thing away for good and overextended my attack, trying to make the kill. Suddenly I felt my legs fall from under me in a crushing blow. The creatures tail had whipped with lightning speed around its body and into my legs, breaking them both with the force of an anvil. I was in agonizing pain but I managed to claw my way around a small boulder. Peering over the boulder I watched as the creature began swallowing the jewels on the ground. Why was it not coming in for the kill? What use could it possibly have for these strange jewels?

The creature swallowed all but a few of the jewels on the ground. I could have sworn the look on its face was one of disappointment at not being able to take all of them. Heavily it turned around and began lumbering its way down the tunnel back to its lair.
That was an hour ago. Here I sit, my back against this damp boulder, my legs no longer throbbing. In fact I can feel nothing below my waist. I will die here soon and my own greediness is at fault. I now realize the true purpose of the jewels. Only a few minutes after the lizard mantis left, one of the jewels on the ground began to quiver. Fascinated I watched as it split open in a cloud of acrid blue smoke. From the jewel emerged a tiny baby lizard mantis, its eyes white as its mothers. It crawled around blindly on the hard rock of the cavern floor and then collapsed. It died within moments, apparently needing immediate sustenance from its mother.

I know that the lizard mantis will return and it will finish me off. How can it not blame me for the death of its young? It was I who removed these eggs from their resting place. Soon the lizard mantis will be returning up the tunnel and she will find me here and kill me.

I write this last goodbye in the hopes that one day my diary will be found and people will know what became of me. To Tripper and the Tigers, I give you my everlasting love and thanks for all you have done for me over the years. I pray that you flourish in this strange and dangerous world.

I must finish now, for I see the lizard mantis entering the tunnel. I can feel an awkward lump behind me against the boulder and I fear that I must have sat on one of the jewel-eggs. I am too badly injured to try to remove it and there is no doubt the creature will kill me to get at it. Goodbye TFC. Please remember me. It has been an immense joy walking your roads…
Babs Barella
That's all there is. How the monkey managed to find this diary I do not know. I can only speculate that Babs was closer to the jungle than she realized. Perhaps behind another boulder was a way out of the tunnel which is why she heard the jungle sounds so clearly. I suppose we will never know…
Pez, Guvnah

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