Travok, is in a forest. The ground is lush green, vibrant and covered with dead bark. You see long trails of damp moss that seem to cover everything, and tiny insect life that scurries about. Unseen until you stop and look. The trees around have moss growing up their sides, then stop about 3 feet up the trunks. It turns to mushrooms at that point, like a tiny mushroom forest line on a mountain.
The trees are all around you, taller than the highest walls of Candlekeep, wider than the roaming desert elephants of Anauroch, the sun only visible in select holes of the trees canopy. A mist like fog covers the ground, only high enough for toads, and other small animals to move around in stealth.
You smell the damp air, it smells like moist wood and fertilized dirt. The air is cool on your skin, a light breeze that is always flowing through the forest. Most would call you crazy, but the short time that you have spent here you understand the wind patterns around the trees. You know when a smell is upwind and downwind of you.
This forest is not your home but you have settled here for the time being. Until it is time to run again. You have spent hours getting to know it inside and out. You know which tree is the tallest so you can watch the sun set over the Nether Mountains. You know where to hide when the Orcs of Yurtrus make their way through the forest. You know where the warm caves are to take shelter when it rains and the ground becomes muddy and wet. You know how to escape when… they.. come.
You walk silently watching, waiting, your ears up listening, your eyes glancing side to side. Every step you make deliberately place, minimizing footprints and snapping twigs. You place a hand on one of the many great trees of Arn Forest and feel what seems like a sigh coming from them. They are creatures to you, protectors of this home, and you protectors of them.
You hear something. It is soft at first. You stop. Have the Gnolls of Hellgate Dell finally tracked you down? You listen. It is only one, and you know the gnolls like to hunt their prey in packs. Plus you are excellent of tracking them. Perhaps one of the trees or plants have become possessed again? You push the self doubt from your mind. No this was something else. You get low to the ground, squatting, your fingertips touching the soul. Knowing the skills in the art of magic to help you stay undetected you mutter under your breathe the spell to cast “Pass without a Trace”. You feel an energy inside you spread to your fingertips and into the ground. Your watch as your footsteps behind you fill with soil and disappear behind you. The heat from your body becomes cool like the earth, cloaking you in a shadow, protecting you from being seen by anything coming. Every step you take leaves you undetectable now.
You see it now, movement. It doesn’t seem to see you. It is moving towards something. You had already set up a trap earlier, but to get another rabbit on the fire would really help the hunger pangs. You aren’t sure why but you have had much difficulty catching anything lately. You haven’t eaten in days. It is 60 feet in front of you. Your mouth salivates at the thought of food. It never gets easier, the weight on your chest begins to grow as you get closer, your mind is torn between wanting the creature to be caught so you can eat and wanting it to escape. Killing animals often bought sadness to you, especially if death was not quick, you don't want them to suffer, but, you know this is a tough world and the innate instinct to survive pushes you every time to hunt.
You hear an owl hoot somewhere above you. The owls of the forest seemed to be most active when you were hunting, perhaps to cheer you on or maybe to warn other creatures? You did not know. The movement in front of you stops. You stop. It starts running away.
Panic raises inside you, you can’t let it get away, you run after it, trees flying pass, you see it jumping from the bases of each tree like a jackrabbit, long leaps, you are able to keep up and slowly start gaining ground, your heart pounding in your chest. Then your hear something, almost like a voice, but its too soft. Suddenly a deep fog from nowhere envelops you, clouding your vision.
You hear what you are almost positive is giggling. It isn’t the first time you have heard it either. You begin to question if you are losing your mind. You calm yourself and using your other instincts finally break through the fog around you.
You have lost the creature, but your skills as a tracker and hunter lead you to know where it is going. A dead end with 20 foot high walls. It will have no way out and you will surely be victorious.
You slowly make your way to the cliff. You draw your bow, bring it up, ready to aim and fire, your hand drawing the arrow back to your ear. You are careful not to get your long red beard in the way. You made that mistake only once before, allowing it to get tangled in the arrow and ripping off a nice chunk of red hair. It had taken you years to regrow the bald spot from the accident. You finally make it to the clearing, you are ready, as soon as you see the target you will cast “Hunter’s Mark” ensuring that your arrow will end its life quickly. You hold your breath. As you step out into the clearing, you know that if you miss this target you may miss your dinner, but if the shot lands true, you won't have to worry about food for days.
You hold the arrow back, seek your target, and your eyes land on it.
You stop. The bow and arrow drop by your side. The realization of the last few weeks alone in these woods dawning on you. You were never in fact alone.
Standing before you in the clearing is a the tiniest gnome you have ever seen, slightly less than 3 feet tall, its light tan skin almost completely covered by a dark green and brown dress. No wonder you had never seen her. Her deep brown eyes are wide and playful, and a large grin on her face. She has a mountain of dirty blonde curls piled on top of her head, with one small sprig of curls hanging down which she blows out of her face as your eyes meet.
In her hands she holds the rabbit you were hoping to catch for dinner, almost larger than she is. She pets it calmly. All this time you thought your traps were failing you, and it turns out you were being hoodwinked by a playful forest gnome. It explained the mornings you woke up after a single Dwauglers Deep Dwarven Ale the night before, to find your ale barrels empty and strewn about. You had chalked it up to things getting a little out of hand, but always wondered why you never had a hangover.
"Have you met my friend" she asks and points to something behind you. You turn quickly, expecting an onslaught of gnomes but only find the same gnome, less than 5 feet away from you. You are surprised seeing this clone, but quickly the new gnome vanishes, and you swing around, realizing it was another trick and upset that you fell for the illusion.
As you turn back to the gnome with the rabbit you feel three quick playful taps on your nose.
"Bonk, bonk, bonk!" the gnome squeels tapping you lightly on the nose as if to say "got you!"
She then shouts "MISTY STEP" and then suddenly disappears.
You wake up in the Tavern of the Rowdy Room drenched in sweat.
"Meri...." you whisper.
You look around recalling the gnome now. The tricks she pulled on you in the forest almost driving you insane. The smile she had every time she fooled you, stole your dinner, drank all your ale, hid your socks and trinkets. You never knew why back then, why she tortured you so and you never knew her name. You never knew her name, so you started calling her Meribonk, Meri because she was always smiling and laughing at you, unaware of the headache she had caused, and bonk because it was the only thing she seemed to say and took pleasure in surprising you with the word when you least expected it.
You remember walking back to the trap you laid, defeated, confused, your first time ever seeing a forest gnome. You are hungry, you haven’t eaten in weeks because all your traps were empty. You finally arrive at your trap. It had been disabled now, but there placed in a circle around it was enough carrots for soup.