It was getting dark now and Toadstool said it might be a good idea to stop for the night and set up camp. The Dark Forest is even more dangerous at night, so the two of them decided to sleep in two-hour shifts. While one slept, the other kept watching, listening to the wolves howl in the distance. It was going well for a while, but soon Luigi fell asleep during his shift (rolling a 6 on a Survival check).
The next sound Luigi heard was the haunting sound of a wolf. Not in the distance like before, but mere inches away from his face. Luigi jumped up with a start and grabbed his plunger. Looking around, he saw a skeleton wolf growling at him, another one stepping out from behind a boulder, and a third inching toward a sleeping Toadstool.
"Wake up, Toadstool!" he shouted. The short companion's eyes shot open and he let out a yelp as he suddenly noticed the undead beasts in their campsite.
The two heroes began attacking the wolves, but only Luigi's attacks were connecting. Toadstool was still shaking off his sleep, and his grogginess was costing him dearly. The wolves, far more alert and ready to fight, were making short work of the short fighter. In a fit of rage, Luigi swung his plunger hard, hitting two wolves at once, making them collapse into a pile of bones. It wasn't much longer before Luigi finished the third, but it was too late. Toadstool had fallen unconscious from the many bite marks he had sustained.
Thinking quickly, Luigi picked him up and brought him to the campfire. He laid him down and ran to a nearby pond, scooping up some water for his friend to drink. After that, he took out some bandages and dressed Toadstool's wounds. His medicine check was enough to keep him stable, but Toadstool's eyes weren't opening. And now Luigi was alone in the Dark Forest in the middle of the night. He looked around for help, but no one was there. How long did he have until more wolves found them? Or something worse?
"It looks like your friend could use some aid
if you plan to continue this daring crusade."
Luigi turned. He couldn't see the woman who spoke. The voice was coming from the shadows away from the campsite. "Who's there?" the plumber called out timidly.
The figure stepped toward the two heroes, letting the campfire shed light on her. Luigi was shocked. The woman who spoke wasn't a woman. It was... a zebra?!
"You're a... talking zebra?" mouthed a stunned plumber.
"A zebra who can talk is what you see,
but Zecora is what I'd prefer you call me." said the jewelry-covered equine.
"Oh, um, ok. Well, I'm Luigi and this is Toadstool. We were trying to get to Bowser's castle to save Princess Daisy, but these skeleton wolves fought us and now he's really hurt. Did you say you could help us? What do we need to do?"
"Follow me closely and stay in sight.
This forest is quite dangerous at night"
And with that, the trio made their way into the Dark Forest. Before long, a small hut appeared over a hill of bushes and shrubbery. The small house was built into a very large oak tree. Luigi found the design quite impressive, but was completely at awe with what he found when he walked in the door. Hanging from roof from various wooden rafters were all sorts of bottles and jars. The walls were decorated with strange looking masks and banners. Brightly colored potions adorned wooden shelves and a large collection of poorly organized books seemed to be scattered everywhere. In the middle was a large black cauldron that Zecora seemed to have left running. A dark green smoke slithered over the lip of the pot onto the dirty floor.
Seeing the boiling pot, Luigi asked with a whisper, "Do you make magical spells?"
"It's true that magic is something I do,
but that pot is filled with rabbit stew."
Setting Toadstool down gently on a nearby cot, Luigi turned to the zebra. "Thank you so much for letting us stay here. Are you sure we'll be safe?"
"Safety is one thing that I can guarantee
As long as you stay inside my oak tree.
For now, you should rest and let your wounds heal
Tomorrow we'll talk over a nice, warm meal."
And with that, the plumber found some pillows on the floor and made himself as comfortable as he could. Sleep came quickly and the plumber woke up to tasty smells and soft laughter. As he rubbed the sleep from his eyes, he looked over to see Toadstool sharing eggs and toast with Zecora. "Good morning, sleepy head!" called out the short man.
"You're looking much better," said Luigi.
"And feeling it, too," he replied, stuffing more bread into his mouth.
"How can we ever thank you, Zecora?" asked Luigi.
"If thanks is what you'd like to give
for helping you and Toadstool live,
I do have a favor to ask both of you
to retrieve an item for my brew.
The journey is hard and out of your way
You would have to save your princess another day."
Luigi thought about it for a moment and looked at Toadstool, who just shrugged. Princess Daisy needed to be rescued, but they owed Zecora their lives. The least they could do was help her with this ingredient. How long could that take, anyway?
"Of course," he said proudly, "We'll be glad to help. What are we looking for?"
"Far to the east is where you must go
Out of this forest and into the snow.
My special ingredient is full of great power.
Please find me a Windigo Flower!"