Everybody on Quest Forgot to Bring Toilet Paper
Mere hours after our heroes departed on their quest to slay a dragon and save the Realm from destruction (or something or other), they realized with dismay that not a single one of them had brought toilet paper.
“Oy, who brought the TP?” asked the dwarf as they gathered around the campfire, weary from their first day of travels. “I need to smelt some ore, if ye know what I mean.”
“I do believe it was the knight’s turn to bring it,” said the elf.
“Me? Nay, sire,” said the knight. “Ye dwarves shyte more than a bonnacon at a cheese tasting. ‘Twas the dwarf’s turn to bring the toilet paper.”
“A curse upon thy family name, sir!” said the dwarf. “I brought the wineskins and the extra battle axes. Elf, check the list.”
Thusly the elf pulled the packing list from his elf-satchel to verify the responsible party.
“Let’s see here:
Quiver repair kit, check
Amulet of Fortitude, check
Phial of griffon’s blood, check
Extra greaves, check
I don’t see toilet paper on the list at all,” said the elf. “Personally, methinks it not such a big deal.”
“Easy for you to say,” said the dwarf. “Ye elves shyte diamonds that smell of ginger and waterfalls.”
“Not fair, dwarf,” said the elf. “Do you have any idea how bad those things hurt coming out?”
The group then turned to the wizard, who was at the moment more concerned with his pipe.
“Hark, wizard,” said the knight, “what are the chances ye can conjure us some TP? Even napkins would be fine at this point.”
But the wizard wasn’t listening. He had already smoked three pipes and was muttering incantations to himself in the Olde Tongue and gazing uneasily at the stars. Presently he passed out with his pipe in his mouth. The group knew better than to try and wake a wizard from his pipe slumber.
“Looks like we shall be wiping with leaves,” the knight said. “I suppose I’ve wiped with worse.”
“In the Great Mines of Malmdír they wipe with a pair of bellows,” said the dwarf.
“Ye mean one of those things you squeeze to blow air into a fire?”
“Indeed,” said the dwarf. “No idea how it actually gets the job done, but it does.”
“If ye shall be wiping with leaves, be careful which leaves ye choose to clear thy mineshaft with,” said the elf. “There be many Treefellows in this forest, and they don’t take kindly to those who use their fallen leaves to clean their nates. It’s kind of like wiping with someone’s hair after they’ve had a haircut. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to me, but ‘tis quite taboo in tree culture.”
The dwarf thus departed into the dark wood on this great quest-within-a-quest. Not much is known of what transpired in the forest that night, but it is known that next morning our heroes had to make a hasty escape from a band of angry Treefellows.
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Addendum: Tree Fellows
There’s something about tree creatures I’ve always liked. The Ents are some of my favorite characters in The Lord of the Rings, and anthropomorphic trees in general tend to have a mysterious and wise quality about them. Any time a character walks into a dark, spooky forest I’m just hoping the trees will start moving and/or talking to them.
Treefolk in fantasy and legend tend to vary widely in appearance and abilities. Some can talk and walk, some can just talk, some are sort of somewhere between fairy and tree, still others are horrific abominations with human faces growing on their branches. Here’s some tree creatures and tree deities from different myths or fantasy universes.
Ents. Probably the most famous of all treefolk, Ents appear in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. They are ancient and wise. They’re also among the most humanoid of the treefolk, as they can think, talk, walk, and even go to war when provoked. Ents are the gold standard of tree creatures.
Leshy. An ancient Slavic forest god, the Leshy is typically depicted as a shapeshifting, usually malicious being that protects the forest and inflicts pain upon anyone who disrespects it. In the Netflix series The Witcher, the Leshy is depicted as a powerful, evil tree monster that can turn you into a Leshy if he cuts you with one if his razor sharp Stretch Armstrong branches. The Witcher is based on books by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski, so it makes sense that he’s familiar with the legend of the Leshy, although the one in the TV series doesn’t bear much resemblance to the one of legend. The Leshy of lore is more known for suckling milk from people’s cows without their permission, tickling hunters to death, marrying peasant maidens, gambling, and getting drunk.1
Dryads and Hamadryads. These are tree nymphs from ancient Greek mythology. They’re associated with trees in general, but especially with oak trees. There are also nymphs for apple trees, laurel, and mountain ash. They were classically depicted as beautiful young women, although modern artists’ interpretations tend to depict them as scantily-clad, sexy tree-lady hybrids.
Jinmenju. A legendary Japanese and Chinese tree that blooms fruit that look like human heads. The heads are constantly laughing. My favorite thing about the Jinmenju comes from this Wikipedia entry, which is given with no other context or citation:
The Pokémon Exeggutor is based on the jinmenju.
Trevenant. On the topic of Pokémon, Trevenant is a ghost tree Pokémon that can use its roots to control other trees. It traps and curses people who harm its forest or cut down trees, but it’s kind to forest creatures. In this way it is similar to a Leshy. The slightly less cool Pokémon it evolves from is called Phantump, which is sort of like a flying tree stump possessed by a spirit.
The Great Deku Tree. He’s not really ancient or mythological because he first appeared in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998. But he’s still badass, and he’s probably the first tree-being that attracted me to talking tree culture. To my knowledge, the scantily-clad, sexy version of the Great Deku Tree has not been released yet.
Ralston, W. R. S. (1872). The Songs of the Russian People: As Illustrative of Slavonic Mythology and Russian Social Life. United Kingdom: Ellis & Green, pp 153-160.