Location: the Laekenala Jungles of Halganath
Date: Trilan 12th of 1333 Avard
The group was under attack from two directions, as ettercaps and giant spiders and a swarm of smaller spiders attempted to ambush and eat them all.
Ghorza's paladin armor, Urzoth and Karvana's druidic powers, and Valanthe's bow turned the tide, killing spiders everywhere they could. Urzoth's skeleton and zombie, powered by fungal magic, also helped beat them back. One ettercap died, one already dead, and the remaining ettercap fled. The mop up of the larger spiders either drove them back or finished them off. The smaller spiders died in droves with the help of Valenthe's sprite partner, Poppy – and powerful druidic magic that burned away the smaller arachnids.
They took a few minutes to catch their breath, keeping a wary eye on the two possible means of attack. Once they felt they had caught their breath in the dark tunnels beneath the earth, the moved on. Karvana's spirit companion, a fiery rabbit-like creature, hopped about and melted away much of the webbing.
The tunnels led to a giant chamber beneath the earth, filled with webbing. Farther down the chamber, water flowed sluggishly through, diverted, perhaps, from the tributary nearby. Holding up the webbing were two trees, both long dead.
Urzoth borrowed a light crystal from Valanthe and explored the chamber. Beneath the water, she saw recently deceased bodies – and a hollow within the tree that spoke of magics. The hollow was the exact size of a box that had held emblems upon its surface, the tree apparently growing around the box. Before Urzoth could explore the hollow better, the dead tree attacked.
Valanthe was familiar with such creatures. They were undead treants. The Fey Wilds had seen them infiltrate the mysterious dead zones that had appeared in the last 14-18 years. Whatever their source, Valanthe respected their danger.
Ghorza and Karvana attacked with blades and fire, while Urzoth attacked the treant with claws and rage.
Valanthe attacked the remaining giant spiders, her arrows next to useless against the might of an enraged giant tree – a dead enraged giant tree.
Several times, the tree would drop its attackers into the water and try to drown them beneath its moving roots, but fire and flame and axes and claws finally brought the tree down.
The group rested together, more respectful of one another through shared trials. They were confused by the slightly burnt hollow and its strange box impression, and it worried them. They went through the rest of the ruins, finding an enchanted trident and splint-mail armor of an unearthly material. Urzoth even found an old medallion to Mazripos, which she claimed as her own.
The group felt tired, after the battle. Exhausted, even.
Ghorza's mount, the giant blue-tailed grelska called Muk, warned her urgently of danger.
The exhaustion was not from battle or a long day's slog. The exhaustion was from a spell effect, draining the primal power of the land. Branches fell from trees, dead. Leaves fell as though the trees of the jungle had just encountered autumn for the first time. Insects fell dead out of the air. Birds fluttered to the ground, lay down, and stopped breathing.
The weapon Ghorza and Karvana had been sent to find, had already been taken by someone else. The box-like hollow had held the weapon. The weapon had been activated, and then its spell powers held like a warding glyph, until someone came to investigate. The weapon would drain the primal power and life magics of the land, and then… Poppy worried that so much power had to go somewhere.
Ghorza and Urzoth mounted up on Muk. Karvana urged them to go ahead and flee, and then she wild shaped into the form of a horse. Valanthe mounted up, bareback, and then they fled the ruins as quickly as they could.
They raced ahead with everything they had. They used every spell and trick they could to finally get ahead of the expanding dead zone.
Just when they thought they could rest for a moment, there was a blinding light from the direction of the ruins. Lightning and then the thunder. The light was tremendous, enough to blind people. The thunder would be worse.
Muk instinctively found a small ridge to hide in, diving his enormous body and his riders in.
Karvana wild shaped back into her human form, startling Valanthe, both hitting the ground rolling. They found a small dip in the land to crawl into.
The blast wave of arcane energy that was unleashed toppled trees for miles. Valanthe narrowly escaped a tree falling on her, and Karvana would be deaf for hours.
They rested where they were, exhausted, the two parts of the group separated by several miles in their mad dash to escape destruction.
When night fell, their respective fires were easy enough to see, and so they reunited, Urzoth's sense of smell guiding her as Valanthe's eyes guided her.
They knew, then, that someone else was looking for the same ancient weapons – and that someone else had already found one of them.
DM's Notes: We took a break for a moment, as I inadvertently tipped my hand. I had let the players choose three common, two uncommon, and one rare item for the campaign, since they were starting at 5th level. One of those items prevented the party from being surprised (like, ever). Great choice! Unfortunately, I had already rolled 12d6 poison damage from the necrotic treant – and it would have dropped Valenthe to 0HP in one shot. This left Saige in a not happy place, mentally. Then we degenerated into a discussion on why treants spoke the Sylvan language, what worked a storyline in this world, and how that affected the team's ability to interact with the treant. Saige's character, not speaking Common nor any of the orcish tongues, felt that taking away Sylvan from the treants was an attack of sorts on her, while Caileb felt that there was no good reason for a treant (alive or undead) to speak Sylvan. We took a break for an hour or so to work things out, before getting back to the battle. We did our best not to metagame the undead treant's poison breath attack, rerolled damage, and went on from there. It wasn't pretty, but I think we answered all the questions well enough.
FYI, Celestial in this world is the ancestral tongue, still spoken by the gods and their divine minions. The churches still speak Celestial – although the layman does not. Thus, Druidic and Sylvan and many other languages are derivatives of Celestial. Sylvan is the language of the treants, and Druidic is the language of the druids (passed down from generation to generation, or from heirophant to student). The language of the ancient druids derived from Druidic, transforming over human generations into Karatikan, and over even more generations into Common, per the Languages page: languages.
None to date.