Continuing the D&D adventure from Day 65.
Aymer recognizes the flutter from his life in the woods, telling the party they are currently being watched by pixies. He tries to communicate with them, asking for help in looking for Alyn. The flutter of wings leads them to a break in the foliage, bent and twisted bushes indicating something was dragged this way.
The party follows the trail, the flutter of wings seeming to come from all around them. After walking for about 15 minutes, the fauna once again begins to change, shriveling and decaying. Ahead, they see a large, black tree with red leaves. The branches are twisted and shriveled, jutting out of the bent trunk at unnatural angles. Looking closely, Elzeni points out what might be blood smeared across its trunk.
Gantar, leery of the tree, sends three scorching rays at its trunk. The tree seems to move in some way, shifting from the impact, before one of the branches slams down onto Gantar. Surprised, the rest of the party springs into action, Aymer and Elzeni firing arrows into the trunk of the tree while Storm takes cover out of sight, preparing for a sneak attack.
As our adventurers attack the tree, the unseen pixies attempt to aid them, binding a couple branches to keep them from hitting anyone. During the fight, Aymer falls, a giant branch crushing him into the ground. Elzeni manages to revive him quickly while Gantar hits the tree with all the flame spells he can muster. Storm, hidden in the sparse foliage, picks away at the tree with his crossbow, chipping at the thick layer of bark.
Just as the party is feeling defeated, Elzeni fires a bolt of radiant fire, strengthened by her god Bahamut. The light flows up through the tree as it shrieks out in that same language the vine creatures used. The trunk bursts into a contained flame, blue-white licking at the bark until nothing is left but ash. In the ash, our party sees three bodies.
A closer look reveals that two of the bodies are dead. Elzeni revives the lone survivor, his eyes bleary and confused as they open.
“Where am I? Who are you? Where are Han and Vic?”
The party apologizes for the death of his friends, showing him their bodies. They wait as he prays over them, muttering in a language they don’t understand. When finished, he turns to them, telling his tale as they walk toward the camp.
“Thank you for saving me. Me and the lads were waiting here for our friend Rafe. He was supposed to meet us two days ago, but he never showed. Damn fool probably got lost even with a map.”
Storm shows him the map the party found in Ethel’s cave, and the man takes a step back.
“That’s Rafe’s map. Where did you get it?”
“We found it in a hag’s cave.”
“Was there a body? Did she kill Rafe?”
“I… don’t think there was a body.”
The man sighs, continuing with his tale.
“Last night, just as we were settling into bed, two vine things appeared out of nowhere. It happened so fast. One minute we were laughing and the next, Han had a vine around his neck and was being dragged into the brush. Vic was grabbed next, vines wrapping around his legs. I tried to fight them off. Vic was screaming, the poor bastard. I rushed at him with my sword, but… One of them hit me in the head. I don’t remember anything after that.”
He’s quiet for a moment, then shakes his head.
“I want to thank you for saving my life. I don’t have much; spent all my money getting gear for this fucking trip. I want you to take what we managed to collect before… Anyway, they’re rare herbs. I’ve no fucking clue what, but I’m sure you can get some coin for them at an alchemist.”
He hands the party a small sack filled with strange herbs. He collects his gear, neatly stowing it away and hoisting the pack onto his back. With a glance and sigh at the equipment of his friends, he turns one last time to the party.
“Not to be rude, but if it’s all the same to you, I’ll be getting the fuck out of this marsh. I’m heading back to Tereod to work the docks. Never should have left in the first place. If you ever come to Tereod, look me up. Ask for Kevros at the docks and I’ll see if I can repay you for what you’ve done today.”
Kevros leaves the oasis, sword out and torch held high. The party watches as the light from his torch disappears into the marsh beyond. As they watch, a small voice comes from behind them.
Aymer, understanding the language of the fey, relays the message to the party. They turn to see two small humanoid figures, about 10 inches tall with tan skin and delicate wings on their backs. They’re about 15 feet away, hovering 5 feet above the ground.
“Um, we usually don’t come out like this, but we wanted to thank you for destroying the Gulthias tree and saving our oasis. I’m Gwen and this is my brother Gwil. Say hi, Gwil.”
Gwil doesn’t say anything, hiding a bit more behind his sister. The party stares for a moment, waiting for Aymer to translate. They tell Aymer to ask them if they’ve seen anyone fitting Alyn’s description.
“Have you seen a man in the swamp, carrying a greatsword and muttering to himself? This happened a few months ago.”
Gwen looks at her brother before replying.
“Do you mean Alyn?”
“Yes! When did you last see him?”
“Um, a couple days ago now, I guess.”
“Would you be willing to take us to him?”
“Okay but you have to promise not to hurt him. Maybe you can help him.”
The party agrees that they won’t hurt him so long as he doesn’t attack them. Gwen seems satisfied with their response.
“We can take you to him tomorrow. Tonight, we’ll keep watch while you sleep. We’re not great fighters, but we can at least warn you of any danger.”
They lead the party to a small clearing where Gwil has placed a rather large pile of nuts and berries, enough food for probably 9 humans. The party eats, chatting quietly about their plan for tomorrow, before drifting off into dreamless sleep.
To be continued after the next session!