Adventurers from far and wide were invited by Lady Katerine De La Ray, Warden of East Derwentshire, to travel to the area for the celebrations of the completion of the King’s new road between the town of Ashfield and the halfling settlement of the Shire on the edge of the mighty Sharwood. With such an occasion it seemed unlikely that anything could threaten the festivities.
How mistaken could they be …
Thank you to those who planned, organised, ran, crewed, made props, cooked, first aided and turned up for Springfest. Without all the hard work, story telling and wild hijinks the event would not have been as fun as it was! If you turned up and have not been named (or named incorrectly) below, please comment below or send a message to wolfish dot written dot author at g mail dot com.
The adventurers that traveled to the Sharnwood for the festivities were:
- Guild Enforcer Jack, Ranger James Blanchard, Percy Thrower, Solstice, Five, [paul], and two members of the White Hart Company of the Scouts Guild;
- Lexi Dove of the Mercenaries Guild;
- Huntsman Richard Black;
- Guildmistress Candy Floss, Mistress Ember, Aoife Murphy, Damon Sunspear and Auraleigh ‘Cookie’ Potts of the Guild of Alchemists;
- Dave McGowan, Jon Bourbon and Roger of the Guild of Blacksmiths;
- Guild Protector Glenice Payton, Dr Leofric Llew Kyle, Dr Tristan, Dr Seax Lindsen, George, Ronald Partridge and Polly Botts of the Guild of Physicians;
- Schoolmaster Malabayn Bogaert, Morgan Corvidae and Draco Thrall of the School of Demonology; Mistress Baelfire Blanchard, Master Mortimer Lowe, Jeff and Matthias Voke of the School of Necromancy; Master Mustrum Ridcully, Jerusalem Cain and Lysandus Tathadiir of the School of Enchantment; Caldwell Ward of the School of Thaumaturgy; Ashley Pugh and Gauld of the Guild of Mages;
- Dame Ravenna Corvidae, Head of the Knightly Black Order, Sir Tiberius Erastes Vorenus of the Axirian Black Order, and Squire Evelyn Ingram of the Knightly Black Order; Sir Sturm Sommerholt and Errant Bernadette De Bastonne of the Knightly Grey Order; Sir Stafford Du Bayard and Sir Anthony Rothwell of the Knightly Griffin Order; Brother Penitence of the Knightly Templar Order; Sir Dro of Mourn and the Goresfield and Errant Vincent Savage of the Feudal Order;
- High Mother Anne Turner, Defender Archie, Lone Fox and two members of the Twisted Fang of Longstor; Chaplain Greyson Kelly, Father Brandt and Bann Fea of Crowa; High Father Andre and Father Slappy of Rolbor; Defender Elenor McGrath of Tralda; Mother Arianna Dawnbreaker of Sidhe; Sister Yasineyra Musici of Vleybor; Novice Johan Ärnsson of Kharach;
The adventurers travelled to the area separately – some travelling in groups or via friends or colleagues scattered around the area. When the Berwickshire cohort arrived the gathering was already under attack by people stumbling out of the Sharnwood with tendrils of vines crawling out of their bodies. A dark oak tree near the encampment whispered to Ravenna as she approached, tortured mutters of the souls ensnared within. Attempts had already been made to send the souls to Kharach’s Halls but the piercing shrieks of the dead had caused those of Kharachian faith or magical inclination towards such souls to writhe in agony.
As it got dark the whispering got worse, and the wood came alive. Trees uprooted and lumbered into the adventurers, female figures in bird masks slipped from the treeline and bewitched the mind or cast fear amongst those who turned to face them, and the shambling figures festooned in ivy kept coming. There came a cry for aid from a local merchant whose caravan had been attacked. A group of adventurers set out to go to their aid and a group remained to guard the encampment. Little happened that early evening save for a strange glowing orb that flitted around the camp and eventually led some curious individuals onto the road where they found their friends and comrades badly injured and beset by the forest.
After patching themselves up and regrouping, the adventurers settled into camp for the night, watchful eyes on the darkness. The whispering of the tree echoed across the glade and the night came alive. From the darkness came a pair of deep blue eyes and with a roar the Sharnoak demanded the interlopers leave. Gathered around him were other denizens of the forest – uprooted trees that stood like an honour guard, an elegant woman with a crown of antlers, lithe warriors in masks, a marshy creature in a coat of summer grasses and people with ivy pieces clinging to their skin. The Sharnoak raged at the mortals damaging its woods, killing its children with their axes and saws, and vowed vengeance upon the living. And its forces surged into the scattered line of adventurers. Many tried to reason with the creature, Ember yelling at it from it’s knee, High Mother Anne trying to reason with a creation of her Lord – to no avail. Somehow, after the borrowed shield was cloven in twain and Ravenna found herself hung on reaching branches of the undergrowth she was able to snatch at the spirit’s attention when she asked what they could do to undo the wrong done to it. Standing, armour rent and torn, two long scratches on her face from one of the roots of the tree people, she stared up into those sorrowful blue eyes and found her voice. When she had its attention she tried to find a diplomatic solution, eventually disarming to prove she intended the spirit no harm and a ceasefire was called so that terms could be discussed. If the adventurers were gone by dawn and were three leagues hence the creature would not lash out at the people now living and farming on the edge of its diminished realm, and Ravenna agreed to pass these terms to the one who commanded the group. Satisfied by her honesty and her vulnerability, the creature called its force together and retreated to the woodland, to leave the company unmolested the rest of the evening. Straightways Ravenna found Lady Candy Floss, the Mayor of Norham, and filled her in on the terms before discussing them with the senior knights. The terms would not be met – there was something wrong here and the adventurers, being adventurers, were going to try and set it right.
But where to start?
Then late that night a pair of elves came to the camp and answered the adventurers questions. In short it seemed that the dwarves in charge of constructing the road had accidentally damaged a waystone that formed part of an ancient elven spell which had laid the spirit of the wood and his “court” to a long slumber through the ages after the friendship with elves and mortals had degraded as the “younger” races sought to expand and farm and thrive. With a focal point damaged the spell was beginning to unravel and it was up to the adventurers to set it right else the ancient forest would awaken and take its long held vengeance upon the world of mortals. The mages set to investigating the broken crystal they had bought off a trader earlier in the day, the military minded folk tried to come up with a plan (the Kharachian Church wanted to visit a tomb marked on a map because tombs hold information … right?) but they were at a loss at the enormity of their task. Ancient spell, that the current Eldenshay elves could just about recall, broken stones, souls trapped in trees …
At the mention of a library a party set off into the darkness where they fought their way through dark elves and demons to carry off what they could find for further study in the daylight.
The next morning two groups set off – one to find the previous location of the focus of the great spell (and locating another stone that was damaged and about to explode) and another who found pieces of the keystone. The second group fought through tree folk ambushes, played catch with a stone golem (and got away with a crystal), traded with a cyclops that fancied a snack, and learnt of the ancient rituals of the land that had brought the bounty of the forest on the farms. They skirted a great tangled hedge that tried to ensnare the unwary – nearly taking Chaplain Greyson – before they came upon a fae clearing. A group of forest creatures seemed to be negotiating for a piece of the waystone with a powerful fae. Mother Arianna, Brother Penitence, Chaplain Greyson and Sister Yasineyra ended up discussing a trade with the fae as the Scouts Percy, Solsitce and [paul] stood watch with Tristan. Mother Arianna ended up proving herself to the fae through combat and agreed to spend 10 minutes in the realm of fae for the piece of the keystone. She was taken away to the distress and anger of members of her party, who stood watch awaiting her return. Members of the adventuring community, worried they had not returned, prepared a rescue mission but all were eventually returned to the encampment – though who knows what horrors Mother Arianna has endured to see their objective succeed.
Ravenna set upon a task to try and stop the Yew-witch, the antlered advisor to the Sharnoak, from awakening a twisted forest spirit from his slumber with the intent of infecting the forest and turning it against the mortals in the realm. They fought through waves of forest denziens, before taking the “short cut” through a tangled barrier of thorns – time being of the utmost urgency. The mages were able to break the magic temporarily upon the barrier – enough for the party to rush through – some of the fighters holding back the clawing thorns long enough for everyone to get through. The woodland came alive, rushing at them with more of the ivy crowned people from the local area and Novice Johan asked Ravenna as to the deep cuts on her face. Dismissing them for scabs she ignored him until Baelfire asked a similar question, attracting the attention of High Mother Anne. A cleansing never goes amiss, right?
Wrong. Kneeling in acceptance of Lord Longstor’s touch Ravenna found herself wracked with pain as she writhed screaming on the floor as the holy water touched her, to writhe again as High Mother Anne sought to remove the corruption that was upon the knight. Dr Glenice tried to get a closer look, but time was against them and the group had to get moving. Spiders tried to ensnare members of the group but were beaten back twice through the combined efforts of mages and warriors before Dr Glenice took a closer look at the cuts – cuts that seemed to be covered in a fibrous mat of green tendrils. After trying to pry the scabs back (and risking paralysing Ravenna’s face) they agreed to look at her later that evening.
The party were attacked by undead and a Crystal Ogre with its demon controller, before they came upon another group of undead and a large blood-oak with the souls crying out in terror and pain. Removing another Crystal Ogre and laying the souls to rest (granting Ravenna and Vorenus a vision of a white face marked with red) they were able to turn their attentions upon the tree. As the rest of the company drew up a battle line to keep the undead off their backs, the Kharachians attempted to lay it to rest (earning the Novice and Sir Vorenus bleeding ears). Mortimer Lowe was able to draw the souls to him, allowing the Kharachians the peace of mind to continue their rituals relatively undisturbed. Ravenna guarded the two Kharachians as they set about laying the tree to rest, before pinning Mortimer at the foot of the tree so he could not wander off as the rite was completed. Stepping out of the ritual circle just in time, Ravenna felt the release of the trapped spirits and saw the bright glow that encompassed her church members and the dirty smudge that clung to Mortimer before the lights winked out and the tree was silent.
On they went, heading for the location where the corrupted spirit slumbered but they were too late, as the trees around them awoke to his presence and began to creak and groan. A pair of red eyes opened up ahead and the party were flung once more into pitched battle. The Yew-witch was able to escape though wounded by the ferocity of those who attacked her but Baelfire Blanchard, in her attempt to cleanse the lay lines of the corruption upon it, was caught in the torrent of energy that she drew out of the land and burned up with a scream. All that was left was ash and dust and the necromancer was gone.
Her family returned grieving to inform her betrothed of her death, and the adventurers set about making sense of what they had learnt that day. The pieces of the keystone were put together through the hard work of the mages guild (with some unforseen side effects) and more glowing lights came to taunt the adventurers, but Ravenna and the Physicians were unaware of what occurred. Having examined the cuts, Dr Glenice became concerned that if the tendrils were not removed Ravenna would lose her life to the plants. So the four doctors and George prepared for surgery and Ravenna underwent open heart and brain surgery.
Two hours later, having fought the plant every step of the way, her heart having stopped several times, the plant having fought back against the drugs they pumped through her system, and digging the last grasping tendrils out of her body, the physicians were able to breathe easier as Dame Ravenna Corvidae lay on the table whole once more. They had burnt through most of Tristan’s supplies, concocted a vast range of curatives and mixes to help her withstand the surgery, heal and to poison the vine, as well as stimulants to keep her heart going. During the surgery demons attacked the camp and a member of the Blacksmiths guild was slain when he went to repair a shield, which meant Ravenna was woken to the sound of an argument over the safety of a soul and the strict instruction of no combat and rest from Tristan.
The elf returned to speak with members of the adventurers and tell them of what they needed to complete the reworking of the great spell, and Ravenna called it a night – the stitches on her face and chest pulling somewhat uncomfortably.
The next morning Ravenna and Stafford split their company between two objectives – one to go speak with the Sharnoak in the hope of reaching a diplomatic solution, one to go to the Tomb of Heroes seeking the final information on the Great Spell. Ravenna called together her Order and Novice Johan, determined to see if the Tomb could shed light on the blood-oaks and the whimpering souls. Then they were off, heading through the angry woodland towards the elven tomb following the path a priest had walked the night before. Upon reaching the tomb the elven members of the company had to escort each member of the company in through a barrier that crossed their path. A feeling of taint and uneasy souls rested upon the Kharachians and it was no surprise to them when they faced undead. Within the tomb were three statues of great heroes – a master crafter, a healer and a warrior, that sought proof of the skills of the company. Dave, George (with the help of Five, a treasurer hunter by trade) and Dame Ravenna and Sir Vorenus accepted the challenges set – Dave showing his smithing skills, George healing a wound inflicted by the statue, and Dame Ravenna and Sir Vorenus fighting a duel to the death against the statue to uncover an ancient scroll and some relics of ancient times. The scrolls spoke of what the hero did as part of the Great Spell – giving up something of worth to themselves which held the clues for the ritual. George also chose to take an item from an ancient table littered with cups, bottles, offerings and treasure – taking up the cup of life and a vial of liquid which would likely be needed.
Returning to the camp the information was passed to the others who set out to complete the Great Spell and defend the site from all who would oppose them. They were set upon by many denziens of the wood, many who were no longer under the control of the Sharnoak but instead belonged heart, body and soul to the Yew-witch, and as the rite was undertaken it soon became clear to the adventurers that the Sharnoak was being decieved. Four individuals gave up something precious to them to power the keystone, the mages imbued it with magic and at the last the Yew-witch was locked away in a long sleep as the Sharnoak had suffered before her. Satisfied the spirit called to its children and they slipped away into the woods, the bargain struck by the Griffin and Longstorians to its satisfaction.
The road would be reclaimed by the forest, the farmland and people safe again from the wrath of the ancient spirit. The accord with the elves of Eldenshay was once more upheld and the adventurers were able to rest easy upon the final night, to celebrate a different festivity. But all was not at peace and the spirit of Baelfire returned crying out in distress at the rending of her soul. She was able to say her last farewells, the missing pieces of her being reunited in one whole and Novice Johan was asked by the family to send her onto the Halls where she would be reunited with her family and loved ones in due course. And a soul whose skin seemed to glimmer like stars came out of the darkness and spoke with some gathered there. And someone tried to kill a delegate from the Mages Guild who had gathered to discuss urgent matters with the adventuring members of the Guild. But, hearing screams out in the darkness, two of the knights and others went to the aid of the Princess of Guidon and she was saved from a terrible death.
Whilst the merchants in Derwentshire are not pleased with the work of the adventurers, many others are and that little corner of Ithron may be able to find some peace in the days ahead.