The next day we arrive at the garden – it is beautiful. The snow does not fall in the orchard and the trees are laden with heavy berries that grow in clusters where one berry seems to ripen at a time. Tiny pixie-like creatures gather and summon some kind of earthen protector that I quickly dispatch before jumping into the nearest tree and gathering my first berry. I hear the dwarf say something to the pixies, but I don’t understand his heathen words so I move towards the next berry that I can see. I continue on like this but am unsuccessful and end up smooshing two berries before focusing and gently picking my second berry before I put it in the bag with the first. I slip and fall (gracefully) out of this tree, but see that there is a berry on a low-hanging branch in the next tree. I elegantly flip up onto the branch and gather my third berry and put it in the bag. I see another berry close by and gather that one carefully into my bag. I briefly think that we are finished, then I remember that the bear needed one, too. Well, if the bear gets one, then Buttercup should have one as well. I have trouble seeing more in this tree as a number of inebriated pixies cluster around my face. Through the rainbow of their glowing bodies, I can see more berries in the adjacent tree so I spring onto a low branch, and make an incredibly difficult landing…with no one witnessing my talents. I reach out and grab the fifth berry and succeed. My sixth berry…a flash of red light from the gathering of pixies catches my attention and now there is a massive root…thing towering over the group and the sound of battle grows in fervor. Five will have to suffice. I jump out of the tree and run towards the forest, yelling that it was time to go over my shoulder in the hopes that the idiots I travel with are still alive and hear me.
Ellen has been gravely injured, but she is force fed a potion by the dwarf. We dodge several mounds of earth being flung at us by the massive creature, then begin our uneventful trek back to town. One day we were caught in an intense fog that our gaze was unable to pierce for a good 20 minutes or so. The ferryman charged us a reasonable rate to get across the river and when we get back to the bar we see that there is a cheer to the crowds that was not there before. Liglap tells us that the solstice is upon us and people will be in high spirits during this time. The inn is at capacity and our one room is still available to us. Ellen requests that hot water be brought to the room for a bath and she retires for the evening after having a hot bath. After having a second helping of the tur-duck-en stew, I also head up to the room and move the cot I will be sleeping in to the corner away from the door and go to sleep with Buttercup on my pillow beside me.
In the morning there are omelets (Blokwus’s specialty, so it seems) before we go back to the Pathfinder’s Lodge to receive our paperwork and I hand over the berries and collect the 25 gold pieces for myself. I was the only one to pick the berries, so I get the gold. The dwarf first argues the signing of Orzo’s name instead of simply giving his paw print, then they all…talk. Peacock, do they talk. At one point I mention that my role is to make sure that they don’t all die and the frog quickly pipes up that, so far, it is a full-time job. I stop and really think about that. It’s true. This has become a full-time gig for me as they continue to rush into trouble. Well…admitting it is the first step in recovery? We discuss some possible jobs with the Lodge when he mentions the two that I ran across on my travels – the small red head with the dinosaur and her travelling companion. They had mentioned something about werewolves when we met in my travels away from my dark family. I am lost in my thoughts as they continue to talk.