Location: Rakoran Forest, foot of the Rakanus Mountains
Date: Summer, 1333 Avard
The team decided to move up through the small valley along the stream bed. There were fish and animals within the stream's water, but only plants elsewhere in the valley. There was brittle brush along the stream's edge, as though there a drought and no water flowed in the stream. There was no new growth; no grass, no saplings, no herbs growing in the breaks of the trees.
While investigating the corpses of a small family of bats near the bole of a tree, they were ambushed by thorny vines that crawled onto them and tried to suck their blood. The bats' bodies were desiccated with dozens of tiny holes through which the vampire thorns had pulled all their bodily fluids. The thorny vines very nearly did the same thing to Leucis. Kethra and Tullia rushed forward to save him, while Enialis threw arcane acid on the thorns.
After resting in the stream for an hour, tending wounds and thinking, they noticed that the great elm could move independently. It shifted its stance as though it were a treant, one of the great thinking and moving trees that druids used to create during the long ago Storm Wars.
Having battled the thorny vines, they developed a good fighting strategy, and also realized that the vines stayed well away from the water. Once the area around the giant elm was cleared of the vines, slowly but carefully, they investigated more closely, cautiously, well aware of how dangerous such a tree could be.
Enialis said, “If only I had studied Sylvan at the academy.”
Kethra asked, “Why? I speak Sylvan.”
Enialis responded, “Treants speak Sylvan!”
The great elm responded to Kethra entreaty. It was, indeed, a treant – but one for whom speech came slowly. The elm was reduced to almost one word replies, but answered their questions to the best of its ability. Time and the warping magic of the valley had made life difficult for the elm, as had the chain keeping the elm locked in position.
Long ago, a druid had assigned the elm treant to clean the valley of the dangerous magics left in the aftermath of the Storm Wars. The transmutational magics made life difficult for animals and plants alike, but the thorny vines had been changed into something dangerous. Some centuries before, someone else had entered the valley, and bound the elm with chains to keep it from preventing their plunder of the valley.
Leucis broke the enchanted block holding the great chains, and the treant could more freely move about the valley. In its half a millennium of work, it had concentrated the dangerous magics into a large orb that was too dangerous for anyone but the elm to touch. With the help of the team, the elm brought the large ball of magic to some stone ruins that were a bit further up the valley. Using the elm's strength and their building talents, they constructed a stone box within a stone box and then used a slab of building stone to make a lid for the magics. The elm, in turn, would begin concentrating the magics anew from a new location, speeding the recovering the valley.
The team spent several weeks with the elm, slowly but surely whittling down the the populace of the vampire thorns and combing the plundered ruins.
Kethra found four blue quartz crystals easily worth a hundred silver each. She also found a game set made of rare white onyx that collectors would likely pay some 5000 silver for.
Enialis found the remains of an alchemist's shop in the ruins. While the shop had been plundered, its contents had been altered over time by the aura of transmutation in the valley. What had once been vials of healing ungents or smelling salts had become something more. Careful analysis revealed a potion of mind reading and a potion of healing.
Leucis used an old burgler's trick, that of looking for the hearth purse. Many people would, when building a hearth, use an unmortered stone to create a hiding place somewhere in the hearth to place their purses or valuables. After searching through quite a many hearths, some of them already plundered, he was able to find several hearth purses. In total, he found three platinum pieces, 70 gold pieces, 525 silver pieces, and 394 copper pieces, as well as a ring of filigreed white gold with an opal as the center stone (likely worth just over twelve hundred silver).
Tullia searched through the old 'temples', if one could call them that. The Karatikan Druids worshiped nature, and their groves of trees, their gardens, and their enclosed yards were places of worship for most of them. Like Enialis, she found places where the transmutation magics of the valley had altered things. A small stoppered urn left beside a broken fountain yielded a potion of climbing. An almost crumbling leather pouch made from a bull's scrotum had some liquid still left inside, and when the liquid dribbled through cracks in the dried leather, it altered and rippled the scrotal leather. The liquid inside had become a potion of frost giant's strength over the course of time.
DM's Notes: We played a game of Trains at our place with Lynn and David while waiting on Mike to arrive. The fractious nature of the characters learning to work together seemed to iron itself out after only a few combats. David's use of a thick, heavy German accent lends Leucis a wonderful air – especially when neither players nor characters can sometimes understand the accent. The team's willingness to go the extra mile and try to clean the valley out of the vampiric thorns was a nice touch. They earned their second level, and so when next we play, they'll be Level Two – with a few neat surprises.
Enialis: “Okay, those vine things were weird, but OMG.. like, that super magic relic the treant was guarding is totally in my field of study!”
Mike: and they'll never let you play with it.
None to date.