Jake didn't even have to do anything to get his answer. Besides the corpses and the tunnel entrance, there was only one thing out of place in this goblin camp:
This young tree was not very tall, about his height, and its trunk was not wider than his own neck, which all things considered was not actually that narrow. The bark was still a little green, but dull and crumbly as if the sapling was dying. Its wilted auburn leaves supported this statement.
If he had any doubt, several amber sap seeped out slowly from several gaps dotting the trunk and Jake finally found out where the sweet scent was coming from.
A quick scan told him the rest.
[Fyekrant Sapling: A plant life form that has evolved to the point of awakening its own Soul and subsequently forming its own humanoid avatar (the Dryad). Is currently in a critical state, the tree and its Spirit Body having been severely damaged. Because of its severe injuries, the tree was forced to devolve into this juvenile form to survive. In the absence of proper sunlight and soil, it will soon die.]
Under other circ.u.mstances, Jake might have missed out, but Crunch and the Orange Turkey made it so it wouldn't happen. These two guys had a way of slipping out of sight in times of danger, but always reappeared when they were not needed at all.
While Jake was still wondering why this sapling looked so familiar to him, Crunch had already pounced on it and was in the process of clawing at its young trunk. The Orange Turkey that was perched on his head had jumped onto one of the branches and had also begun to p.r.i.c.k the trunk with its beak in the manner of a woodp.e.c.k.e.r, although this was closer to a jackhammer given the savagery of the action.
'Do you hate trees that much ?' Jake facepalmed as he saw the sheer relentlessness he was putting on this shrub that had done nothing to deserve it.
He was about to snap at them to make them stop when the shrub suddenly came to life, its flexible trunk suddenly spinning on itself to deliver a resounding slap to the turkey perched on one of its branches.
The pecking Orange Turkey lost his balance as the trunk gave way under his beak, and then was picked off in the face by one of the few remaining leafy branches. Jake followed the turkey's parabolic flight with utter indifference, then scowled at his cat.
Crunch immediately stopped clawing, but subconsciously raised one of his legs to relieve his bladder. The result was another resounding branching slap, the crack of which was akin to a whipping.
To Jake's great regret, however, Crunch was too heavy and the sapling too delicate to dislodge him from his position. His steel-roughened fur took the impact like a thick, impenetrable mattress, and the black cat swaggered away once the deed done.
'I've got to discipline this cat when I get back or he's only going to cause me trouble in the future.' Jake promised himself inward
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