At the end of this Octolliard day, the sky started looking like something from one of the great artists' masterpieces. A kaleidoscope of pinks and oranges glistened over the treetops of the forest. Or at least what was left of it… Because for some time now, in this part of the region of Bonta, healthy trees were nothing but a distant memory…

Ron Bush, Tiv Bush, and Ido Bush, three lumberjack brothers with weather-beaten skin as rugged as Treechnid bark, were walking toward the forest, whistling as they went. Their solid, stocky frames seemed to disappear beneath the kilotons of equipment they were carrying. Saws, axes, log splitters, and protective gear of every type imaginable would allow them to accomplish the mission they'd been assigned: chop down no fewer than 20 trees for Nina Richa, who felt a pressing need for new bedroom furniture.

"Grrr! What an idea to send us out at this time!" moaned Tiv.

"What's wrong with you? Scared of the dark, sweetcheeks?"

"Believe me, I'm more scared of your wife than I am of spending the night in the forest!"

"Haha! Don't even get me started…"

Ron gave Tiv a friendly elbow in the ribs and pulled the cap down over his brother's eyes.

"Guys! Can't you just keep it down for five minutes? I'm trying to focus! I haven't got a clue how to find where we are on this darn map…" cried Ido, pushing his glasses up to the bridge of his nose with his index finger.

"What do we even need a map for? Didn't you hear what Ms. Richy-pants Nina told us? The lady wants the best of the best wood! And do you know where we find that?"

"In your…"

Ron landed his brother, Tiv, with a mighty clack on the back of the skull and then continued.

"In the middle of the forest. In the 'heart' – where the trees are much denser and the wood more glossy.  And believe me, we're nowhere near yet!"

Ido, feeling discouraged, let out a sigh.

"Come on, boys. Let's pick up our pace. The quicker we get there, the quicker we can get home to the little women," said Tiv, doing his best to motivate the troops.

The sun was already setting as the three lumberjacks found that they were now starting to get deep into the dark, bleak forest. Little by little, strange noises and signs of nocturnal life started to take over. Every now and again, a scream, a rustling, or a whisper would break the heavy silence of the night. As they walked, the lumberjacks heard the cracking of dead branches underfoot, forming the perfect cacophony… well, a perfectly harrowing cacophony alongside the sinister howling of the wind. A owl hooted suddenly, causing Tiv to jump in fright and grab hold of Ron.

"Oh dearie me, little one? Got spooked, did you?"

Tiv pushed him away and gave him a smack in the chest, trying to save face.

"I… I was just caught off-guard, that's all… And I've never much liked night birds, have I?"

Ron snickered, burying his mustache in his hand. As for Ido, he was busy leaving a trail of stones and other clues so they could fine their way back… The eldest of the trio, with his muscular build but something of a teacher's pet about him, was undeniably the brains of the operation.

"According to my compass, we shouldn't be too far away now," he announced.

After a further ten minutes or so, the three brothers stumbled across a small patch of land where the trees were visibly younger and in much better condition. They were the last survivors of the massive deforestation that had devastated the whole area.

"Okay, boys. This is it. Let's set up camp here. We can't afford to waste any more time. Once night truly sets in, we won't be able to see a thing and I don't really feel like sleeping on a pile of dead leaves full of Arachnees."

"Are you kidding around, Ido? We haven't walked all this way to bunk down for the night! I'm dying to get cracking with this ax! Come on! Let's at least cut down one tree! That one there!"

"Oh yeah, bro'! Look! We'll all chop one down each. No more than that. I don't want to go to bed without at least trying out my new Razor Tooth!" added Tiv, proudly brandishing his shiny new tool.

"You two are a real pain… Do what you want… But I'm warning you that if the camp isn't set up properly by nightfall, I'll be taking 10% of your earnings tomorrow. Each!"

The threat was taken seriously and both lumberjacks did their best to get a move on. They both chose a "victim", then they wholeheartedly set about chopping down their trees with every instrument they had available to them. Meanwhile, Ido thought it better to save his energy so he could be of more use the following day, and preferred to set up camp.

Suddenly, he signaled for them to stop with a frantic hand gesture.

"Stop! Did you hear that?"

Ron and Tiv stopped dead in their tracks and listened out for a few long seconds.

"Hmm… I must have imagined it."

The two lumberjacks got straight back to it, casting their brother a disapproving sideways glance.

"Stop! STOP!!! Listen!"

"Right, that's enough now, Ido! You make me laugh, you two! You're just like a couple of real scaredy-cats every time you hear a bird twe…"

Out of nowhere, a thunderous roar interrupted the lumberjack, who dropped his ax in surprise. The ground started to shake with a violent rocking motion, forcing the three brothers to grab hold of nearby tree trunks to steady themselves. Then nothing.

"By Moogrr! What was that!?"

"I told you I couldn't stand all these ungodly creatures! Awful things!" moaned Tiv, his voice trembling. 

"Sorry to have to tell you this, but this is a lot more serious than some little owl…"

"Right… Let's not panic. Let's just start by getting a fire lit and putting up the tents. It was probably just a big Blibli, right?" wondered Ron out loud, reassuringly.

The three lumberjacks got to work. They gathered enough wood to fuel a pretty intimidating looking fire, just in case a monster decided to get that little bit too close… Suddenly, the ground started shaking again. It was as if the World of Twelve was having some sort of fit. To everyone's astonishment, Ron let out a sharp scream.

"Sh…ugar! Please tell me that was just a big Wabbit! I'm far too young to die!"

"Stop with the panicking, Tiv, and switch off your damn Razor Tooth or we'll get noticed!" said Ido, angrily.

"What are you talking about? My Razor Tooth's over the…"

He pointed to where he'd left his equipment, but on closer inspection, the lumberjack could plainly see that it had gone missing. And again, they heard the thunderous noise, but much louder this time. The quakes had started up again… but BIG TIME now… There was a raucous growl and the sound of cracking branches along with a sudden odor of damp wood.

"Ugh! What in the World of Twelve is… AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! Ido, behind you!" shouted Ron.

In the darkness, a giant shadowy figure burst forwards, wielding the missing Razor Tooth. The shadow looked ready to swallow them all whole. It was as if the darkness was about to engulf them. The three brothers were paralyzed with fear. The occasional sparks that crackled from the fire revealed some of their aggressor's features: Never had they ever seen a Treechnid of this size…

"Let's get out of here!" cried Tiv.

The creature let out such a powerful growl that they remained frozen to the spot, terrified, a sudden flurry of bark and rain falling down on them. Ido plunged a branch into the fire to make a torch before the three of them ran for their lives.

They were in far too much of a hurry: Ron slipped on a pile of leaves and tripped head first. WHACK! He'd given up – his eyes said it all.

"Leave me… I'll just slow you down… RUN FOR IT!"

But no sooner had he finished his sentence than an army of Polters came out of nowhere and attacked him. And in mere seconds, his entire body was smothered in flora. It was as if the light had been turned out in his eyes, leaving two dark eyeballs staring out into nothingness…

"It's awful! We can't just leave him like that! We have to help him!"

"There's no point, Tiv! It's too late for that! Come on! We can't stay here! That monster's going to catch up with us!" continued Ido, pulling his brother away by the sleeve.

But just as the remaining two brothers were about to make their getaway, a deafening scream echoed through the forest. By the light of their torch, Tiv and Ido turned around and saw that the Treechnid had also been taken down by the Polters.

"We really can't stay here. It's far too dangerous…" whispered Ido.

Just behind them, a violent thud shook the earth. Something extraordinarily heavy must have hit the ground… This was soon followed by an unbearable wailing. The screams from the creature pierced their eardrums. But there was something rather strange too… a heavy feeling in their hearts… It was a feeling somewhere between incomprehension and pain…

Starting December, discover Soft Oak in a brand new dungeon, the Dark Treechnid (level 126 - 140)!