The letter was unaddressed, written in a mechanical turbine opaque black, to Samantha. The letter read:
“The creek at the bend, by the overflow, under the highway, where the birds sing an odd tune, interpreting the roar of machines. At the bottom of the creek bed, within the Catfish hole, you will find the “presence root,” in which you may use to grow an arm.”
Samantha or, “Sam,” as she preferred to be called looked up from the letter while touching the stub of what remained of her left arm, caressing it gently, her eyes squint as the sun gazes down and groans at her. At this point she looks despondently at her shoes then mumbles, “I need boots.” She puts the magically engrossed letter into her back pocket then proceeds up the steps of the porch at her Grandmother’s house, where she resides. When she walks into the house her grandmother looks at her, but doesn’t say a word, yet smiles feverishly. She enters her room, which is plastered with typical teenage girl iconography; the idols she worships are perfect in every sense - long luscious flowing hair, voices like angels and no flaws. She digs through her closet, throwing clothes this way and that way, burrowing like a mole in the night, trying to locate her “adventure boots.” As she is tossing her clothes throughout her room she notices a reeking smell of three day old canned tuna, she frowns and curls her lip as she gags trying not to puke, she grabs the can of tuna, which is partially opened and tosses it for the open window, as she does this her troll scurries from under her bed and jumps up for the can of tuna, he grabs it with both hands and scuttles back under her bed.
“Get out from under that bed, now!”
The troll named Karl peeks his head out from underneath the bed with gristle of tuna remnants dripping down his face and gives her a smirk. He knows he shouldn’t have eaten the three day old tuna, because tuna usually doesn’t sit well on his stomach. He runs up to Sam and gives her leg a hug in an attempt to apologize, Sam looks down at him trying to give him a scolding eye, she breaks and starts laughing at the little guy. Karl runs over to the closet and grabs her boots and drags them over to her, she puts them on and grabs her bag then fills it with the essentials: a canteen of water, crackers and extra rope. She grabs Karl and puts him in the bag, the troll is a woodly-garden troll, a miniature troll which is not to be confused with the ferocious mountain trolls of Nannyboot. Sam heads for the front door, her grandma looks up at her and drools as Sam tells her goodbye and kisses her on the forehead. Thus begins the adventure for Sam’s left arm.
Sam begins her descent through the Wicker hills of Sagglin, the romantic seaside town, home to humans mostly. She makes the educated assumption that the letter is written with the blackest of ink, which is only available to the wealthy, The Kingdom on the Hill, is the nearest castle with a rich King and is about a three day hike on foot, at this point in the adventure she is excited, yet unwary of what she might encounter, a fourteen year old who is as adventurous as Sam may lose an arm or two by the time she is eighteen. As she walks, the sun cascades down the hill top and frowns, as the moon lassos the night sky and pulls itself up it winks at Sam, even though Sam is afraid of the night, her troll Karl hands light up to create enough light to keep the basking flies of Evergreen away. The basking flies of Evergreen, come from the southernmost point of Wakkenshire, the land of fiends and goblins. A place which is dark and cold, not kind to travelers, especially fourteen year old travelers. She keeps on trudging through the mud caused by the slime worms that drip mass amounts of mucus down tree trunks in order to keep the soil free of snagger beetles, ferocious little buggers that enjoy the taste of bark. As the mud gets thicker she decides to stop for a second and grab a swig of water from her canteen, the water drips down her chin and Karl snatches the droplets with his frog-like tongue, as he does this she caresses her nub once again, then she pictures being able to draw and write once again, this makes her mind flow back in time to the nightmare night she lost her arm, a night not like the one tonight, it was during her last adventure on the night of the second twill, a night much more fierce than any other. She suddenly is awakened from her hazy-dream state with a rustling in the leaves. Sam continues towards the leaves as a human sized Jackling Rabbit hops from the brush, she runs towards the Rabbit with a magnificent smile and arms wide open, the Rabbit catches a glimpse and responds with the same effect.
“CHANCE!” screams Sam.
The rabbit named Chance, a dear friend of Sam’s grandmother, back when Sam was just a child, Chance made a pact with Sam’s grandmother to protect Sam when she fell Ill. Well, that was already nine years ago. Chance was there when Sam lost her drawing arm, but could only protect her so long as Chance had to fall back as his voice was taken by the same ones who took Sam’s arm, the Renegades of the South, a group of hobgoblins and witches who snatch body parts and senses from unsuspecting travelers. These hobgoblins and witches sell whatever they steal to the “Wretched bearers,” a group of Warlocks who have the ability to give limbs and senses to those who can afford it, they usually sell the limbs to Kings and Queens who are looking for an extra hand or two in combat against other castles throughout the land. Chance joins Sam in the walk towards the castle on the Hill, just past the horizon, another night’s travel. As they walk a pebble with a note attached hits Sam in the head. A hawk soars and screams over head as it heads towards the horizon. Chance picks up the pebble and unravels the note which he gives to Sam.
In order to retrieve the root, you must slay and feed the first born child of the king on the Hill, to the Catfish who protects the entrance to the hole, which holds the Presence Root, this will be the only way to please the Catfish enough to let you in.
Suddenly this adventure just got a little more difficult than Sam had thought. She looks at Chance as he reads the letter to himself, he gives Sam a confused look and Sam responds with a head nod, as they continue walking into the day light. Sam, Chance and Karl reach the walls of the Castle on the Hill, this is the castle of the King of the Hill, otherwise known as King Tantis. The king has two children, both are boys and Sam knows the first born is twelve years old as the younger child is only five. As she is contemplating how she will go about luring the first born to come with her, she is interrupted by the whistling of a bark flute, she immediately tenses up, Chance’s ears flicker and tighten straight up. The bark flute is the sound of the Renegades of the South. Chance motions to Sam to run and as she does so a giant net grapples Chance, he claws and winces as the net tightens, Sam looks back at Chance as Chance makes eye contact with Sam, she knows Chance wants her to run. Sam sprints as fast as she can to the nearest tall Oak with a buried out badger hole. Sam can hear the hobgoblins and witches cheer as they caught Chance, Sam closes her eyes tightly and hopes he will be okay. There isn’t much she can do at this point but sit and wait. Night falls once again as she wakes from her slumber to notice the sounds of the bark flute to have disappeared as well as the smell of the hobgoblins, who have a very distinct smell, much like the smell of dirty garbage water. Sam comes out of the badger hole beneath the tall oak and heads towards the East side wall of the castle, the place Chance was taken. As she gets closer she notices Chance laying silently and calmly. She yells for him, but he doesn’t move, she gets to him, she immediately falls to her knees and starts to cry. The Renegades of the South took Chance’s heart, the heart of a Jackling rabbit is the strongest and most courageous heart in all the land. She looks up to the sky and notices the moon frowning as she cries in agony, her protector lay slain in front of her and there is nothing she could do about it.