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A Reluctant Terrarian

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Lying there in the dirt, he wasn’t sure what he hated more; the pain coursing through his limbs from falling, or the barely contained amusement the guy leaning over him was wearing on his face. Taking an inventory, he realized that aside from his clothing, he had nothing of value on him.

"You look lost," the smug and otherwise unremarkable guy standing over him eventually said in a cold and oddly distant voice.

"No, I just like lying out in the dirt in the middle of…" trailing off, he realized he didn’t have anything to finish that with. Deciding that he was at the least, done lying in the dirt, he took the strangers proffered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet.

"Sooo…" looking around, he realized that not only wasn’t he sure where he was… but he wasn’t too sure where he’d come from. The last thing he could recall was getting dressed… "where…"

"Terraria," the stranger offered, a smile just barely concealed in his almost tangibly piercing gaze.

"Terrawhere?" he replied, having just realized that last thought must have been out loud, "and who are you anyway?" he added.

"Terraria, and I am here to guide you… for now," the stranger answered unhelpfully.

Looking around, he could see that there were quite a few trees in every direction, and the ground seemed to rise and fall erratically, as if this area had been hewn by the hands of a rather large excited child. From their vantage, he could just make out the tips of some mountain range through the thinner upper branches to the north.

"Well okay Guide, which way takes me home… wherever that was…" he asked, not liking the realization that he really had no idea where he called home.

The smile returning to his lips, the stranger tossed him a copper bladed axe that, moments before, was nowhere to be seen. Instinctively catching it, he was both surprised at his reflex, and uncomfortable with the weapon’s sudden appearance.

"That, is entirely up to you," the stranger said, by way of an answer.

"I don’t get it," he replied. "Am I going to need this for protection?"

"It will suffice for that as well. However, one typically uses an axe to fell trees, such as those surrounding us in the clearing," the stranger answered him. "I imagine that there are enough around us for home to be wherever you desire."

Giving the stranger an incredulous look, he replied, "There is a lot wrong with what you’ve just said. First off, I’m no lumber jack. I don’t know the first thing about cutting down trees… not that I imagine it’s too awfully difficult. Secondly, what am I supposed to do with an entire freaking tree once I’ve managed to fell it. I may be rather strong for my frame, but that’s pushing things just a mite don’t you think? Finally, and actually most importantly, I have absolutely no interest in home being anywhere other than where it already is. I’m not a carpenter either, and the thought of building a home way out here in the middle of nowhere doesn’t really appeal to me."

Seemingly unmoved by his words, the infuriating smile still skirting the corners of his lips, the stranger only replied, "Home, Hole, it doesn’t really matter. You’ll need somewhere to hide once night arises."

"And what do you mean by that?" he yelled, beginning to lose his patience with this guy’s sideways speech.

"There are dangers at night for the unprepared, and for the immediate future, that includes you. To address your carrying concerns, take this as well..." the stranger replied, still unfazed, as he undid the belt of pouches he wore at his waist before tossing it to him.

Wearing what had to be a look of absolute disbelief, he caught the belt and just stood there looking at the stranger anew. Perhaps that piercing look he’d noticed before was merely madness, and this stranger was simply out of his mind. That would explain his near nonsensical answers… though; he looked too clean to be a mad man wandering alone in the woods… so it had to be something else…

"Listen, I don’t know what you’re talking about, and I’m not interested in finding out. Why don’t you just point me towards the nearest city, village, town, mud hut, what have you, and I’ll figure it out from there," he responded impatiently, slowly lowering the belt, not sure if he wanted to put it on or not.

It wasn’t madness… the look he received was too keen, too… something else, to be madness. The nearly surreal pearly violet of the stranger’s eyes was almost "too" present… and there was something else… something that settled just beyond his awareness and menaced him from there. All in all, he was quickly becoming less comfortable in the stranger’s presence… until…

"Look… let me help you out…" the stranger said, his whole countenance seeming to fall in on itself causing him to look weary and travel worn. The keenness had completely left his gaze, and the menacing "Presence" was lifted. It was almost as if he’d just up and become an entirely different person right before his eyes.

"I’m sorry…" the stranger began, "I’ve been here for far longer than I’d wish on anyone, and sometimes… the place just gets to me. I’m sorry for coming across so cold. Let me show you something…" he finished, walking over to one of the nearer trees, "Oh, and put that belt on. You’ll see why in a few minutes."

Still not sure he quite trusted this stranger, and very uneasy about what he’d just witnessed, he still decided that it "Probably" wouldn’t be dangerous to humor the guy for a little bit anyway. He was completely lost physically, and grasping at straws mentally, so in the hope that his compliance would lead to something he could be sure of, even if that something was how little he should trust the stranger, he decided to play along. At the least, he wasn’t inexplicably unsettled just being near to him.

"What is your name anyway?" he asked again as he put the belt on and made his way over to the tree.

"Heh, what did you call me earlier, Guile? That’s as good a name as any," the stranger answered, undoubtedly more tired than it would have seemed possible moments before.

Not wanting to argue, he just accepted this odd response and gave Guile a look as to say "Now What?"…

"Now just take a few blows at the tree with that axe and try not to be alarmed," Guile said before stepping back from the tree in question.

Not sure what he should expect, he looked up at the tree for a moment before he began. They were certainly an odd sort of growth. Mostly trunk, with the odd few limbs and "Bobs" of leaves primarily closer to the top. Taking a deep breath, he drew back the axe and swung at the tree with all his might. This succeeded, in the blade glancing of the trunk and almost lodging itself into his leg. Dropping the axe due to the violent vibrations coursing through it and jumping back he turned on Guile ready to ask him what the big deal was, only to have his rage elevated by the laughter of his "Guide".

"You… you’re… hahaha… you’re thinking about it too hard..." he managed to get out between his breaths.

"What the heck are you talking about!?" he hollered back, "What does that have to do with the tool not being sufficient for the task at hand?!" he yelled.

"The tool is just fine," Guile responded, mostly composed. "You aren’t from around here, so trust me when I say you’re thinking about it too hard. I know it’s kind of hard to wrap your mind around, but you don’t need to understand it, you just need to work with it."

"What it do I need to work with to cut down a blamed tree?!" he replied, still yelling.

"This world is a deeply magical place. I don’t know where you came from, but I can assure you that here… Everything is touched by the power of our world. If you don’t work with that power, you’re working against it… and," his countenance darkened briefly, and for a moment that "Presence" was almost back, "that takes more than you have within your fleshy little frame…" he answered his voice once more distant, and empty, before returning to his previous demeanor, weary and travel worn, all trace of humor gone.

Chilled once more by this obvious change, he composed himself, and considered Guile’s words. "So… how do I do that?"

"Trust your tool, and not your strength," his now somber guide answered him. "Here, the quality of your tools makes all the difference. You need not wear yourself out trying to make your tools work. Once assembled, your tools will work for you."

This sounded like borderline nonsense, but he decided that it couldn’t hurt… hopefully… to give it a try. If this didn’t pan out though, he was going to chalk Guile’s ramblings up to insanity, of an uncertain kind, and find his own way. "So how do I Trust my Tool?"

"Just swing your axe at the tree. Don’t force it at the tree, just swing it, and know that it will cut it."

Feeling absolutely ridiculous, he picked the axe back up, took a deep breath, and just swung it at the tree. Not trying to put his force behind the swing, he couldn’t imagine what he was supposed to be accomplishing.

The axe made a rather satisfying *Whump* and dug visibly into the bark.

A seemingly genuine smile crossed Guile’s lips and he motioned for him to continue his assault on the tree.

He wasn’t sure what had him more unbalanced. His lack of understanding his overall situation, the man who was more than he seemed, or the fact that merely swinging an axe without regard was enough to solidly dig into a tree that moments before had repelled his best effort. He wasn’t sure, and for the next few moments he didn’t care. There was something almost therapeutic about the steady *Whump* *Whump* *Whump* the axe made as it dug into the tree.

His few moments of respite were soon taken from him however when his world erupted into a shower of wood.

Having lost himself in the steady rhythm of the axe, he was completely ill prepared for the tree’s sudden explosion. Having already been through quite enough, he reacted as any reasonable person in an increasingly psychologically strenuous situation would have. He threw the axe with no regard to its landing place and ran screaming for cover.

With no destination, no idea where he was, and really, not enough sense to consider any of that at the moment, he charged headlong into the misshapen lightly wooded hills.