For Part One see here
The trees in this forest are huge. Its like they were given a challenge to block out the sun and when they did that they just kept going. I've just been walking and walking, it seems like its been days, but really its probably been just a few hours. Back at the pavilion I had stood there admiring my new attire wondering what to do next when the voice intoned, "You would do well to go West. There you will find the first of the tools and weapons you will need on your quest. You will find strength you didn't realize you possessed. Start in the heart of the forest, but this is only the beginning. You would do well to go West."
"Anything else I should know?", I asked, but the voice had gone silent. I started to walk towards the tree that lined the horizon.
And now it seems as if I've always been trekking through this forest. I tried to check my watch a while back only to remember that I threw it away on the beach after I washed ashore. It had not been as water-proof as advertised. As I mentioned earlier, the tree canopy blocks out most of the sunlight. Now you might be wondering, "Don't the plants which make up the underbrush need sunlight too?" Well, you would think, but they seem to be doing just fine in its absence. What I was more concerned with was, if there's not sunlight, how does everything seem to have a shadow? To create a shadow, the principle component is light! That source of light usually shines in a particular direction leaving a demarcated area of shade at an angle equivalent to the light. So then usually if all the shadows in an area are trailing to the West, then it would be logical to guess the sun is in the East.
That rousing description of the theory of how a shadow should function didn't fit with what I was currently observing: I stood in a small clearing and all the shadows were drawn towards the center of the clearing. The canopy above was completely covered. In retrospect I really should have gotten my butt out of the clearing. I should have just kept walking and ignored this strange oddity. You see, at that moment the shadows began to move, they began to spin in fact. They went around the tree like little cyclones. Each shadow spun faster and faster, form blurring until each shadow began to rise up off the ground and spin in the air. While this was happening, a few feet in front of each tree a glowing lantern materialized. With a "pop" each shadow took form and grasped their corresponding lantern. They now looked like floating ghouls, hanging just above the ground, they wore tattered capes and shawls, the hoods drawn over there heads letting only their gleaming eyes shining.
"Voice?", I whispered, trying my best not to draw their attention, "I could use a little help, if you have any to give!" Before I heard a reply the first ghoul darted swiftly toards me. I took a few small steps backward then did a backwards somer-sault to evade the encroaching ghoul. For half a second I was impressed with my new gymnastic skills, but it was short lived as I then collided head first into a tree with a loud "CRACK". Luckily the "CRACK" was not my skull breaking, but rather a large portion of the bark being split straight off the tree. There was a knog in the back perfect for a handhold, I grasped the bark and held it aloft.
"Good, you found yourself a tool. You may use the magically imbued bark as a shield to defend yourself. They are the Po, forgotten spirits that lie waiting restlessly for waylorn travelers. Be careful, they can suck the spirits of the living. Beware of their lanterns, they will use them to confuse and misdirect you. Either exit the clearing as quickly as possible or defeat all of the Po."
The voice finished advising me and the last vestiges of light vanished from the clearing. The only glow in the darkness came from the Po's lanterns. I closed my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Just a shield to defeat all of them? I began to hyperventilate but stopped myself, if my mysterious guide believed I could do this with just a magic shield, then I would believe in myself as well. I opened my eyes, they were beginning to circle me like a spectral pack of wolves.
Two of the Po dart at me while cackling, I lunge to the right, bring the shield up to my left. One of the two sinks its shadow clowas into the bark-shield. It shrieks as it realizes it is stuck in the bark. I take a hard step backward, and spin. The Po is sent flying into one of the surrounding trees, there is another "pop"and he stays in place, now nothing more than a shadow. Sweet! One down, this might not be so bad. The Po look a little wary now that they realize that I'm not just some way-lorn traveler. Three more shadowy ghouls dart towards me with fantastic speed. I execute a spinning shield defense without thinking, crying out "KIYYAAAH!" in the process. All three lamps are extinguished and the ghouls themselves are flung into trees. "Pop", "Pop", "Pop" they go, each reverting to shadows.
Only a few more left. I decide to take the offensive by dashing forward and leaping shield out onto the next unsuspecting Po. He or It thrashes wildly, raking claws extended at my shield, he is caught just like the first one. But my guard is down fighting the Po in front of me, leaving another to strike from behind, slashing down my back. I cry out in pain into the night of the forest. Then I whip the caught Po into the one behind me and run them both into a large tree. Again two audible "Pop"s as they disintegrate into dark shadows. I look around panting, they are gone. Are they? Can they be? They are! I made it! Looking around the clearing one last time I see one of the Po's lantern's didn't extinguish itself. I walk over and pick it up, another tool to aid me on the way. I continue on.