9th Marpenoth, the Star Walkers Return (Continued)

We left the next morning by boat again, leaving behind the acursed town of Nonar’s Hold behind us in our wake, continuing down the Dessarin River due East. It was a quiet day of sailing until late in the day, where we found the river blocked. Roots and tree branches blocked the way, yet the river clearly continued on. The blockage seemed artificial, but somehow it was hard to see how the trees could grow to block the river so. We had reached the edge of The High Forest, with trees towering mightily above us and the foilage stretching as far as the eye could see in each direction.

John was unperturbed by this, however, and with him raising his Emerald Enclave insignia to the trees, they moved apart thunderously, allowing us to pass. As we passed through the treeline, it was like the entire world changed. Inside the tree canopy, the trees stretched up and above us, curving over the river. The sunlight seemed warmer both in heat and how the colours radiated off the forest canopy, despite the canopy cover. The sounds of the outside world seemed to melt away, replaced by the sounds of nature, birds, game, and just silence. Even the river seemed to calm down to a calm gurgle.

It was almost like the forest was a large protective cocoon, protecting all within from the outside world.

We disembarked where we could find a clearing and headed further into the forest. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves feeling comfortable and safe, not checking over our shoulders for threats constantly. A place like this could be dangerous for an adventures senses, but the stress of the world seemed to melt of John as soon as we entered the threshold of the forest.

After some travel, we came into an area surrounded by a wall of trees, nigh 70 feet high. A cathedral stood mightily in the middle of it, with the trees of the forest curving over the top of it to create an artificial cavern. We heard the satry first before we saw the strange creature, singing songs of love lost. It is a half goat, half human being that called itself Greenwhistle.

He was not threatening and was more than willing to converse, but was not particularly helpful. We explained that we were in search of Turlang, the ancient treant Lifferlas had mentioned to us back at Goldenfields. Lifferlas indicated that his creator, the druid Areglas had left in search of Turlang in his pilgrimage to Shadowtop Cathedral, making the ancient treant Turlang our best bet to find the old druid.

Greenwhistle was not forthcoming on Turlang’s location and after some debate we got John to send a sparrow out to search for Turlang. We have no idea how long this will take, so I’m getting this down whilst I have a chance. As I glance around I can see Lilli absorbed in her spell book, Luke checking his belongings almost obsessively, Cykellion teaching Greenwhistle some rowdy bar songs, and John resorted to baking pies to pass the time. It seemed to calm John even more than he seemed in this mighty forest, and I must admit the pies were ruddy delicious!

I’m not sure I can stay here for long. I can’t shake the feeling of revulsion from the events at Nonar’s Hold. I can feel it following me like the spirits are sidling through the forest around us.

10th Marpenoth, the Star Walkers Return

The day consisted of searching the skies for a solitary sparrow bringing us news of the ancient treant, but none came.

Lilli got a message from Naxene regarding the movements of the loose bugbear and the rudding orc captain. They’ve arrived at Grudd Haug which is know known to be a fortress dam across a river, fifty miles from Womford and another fifty from Beliard. Lilli scribbled some more words and sent back to Naxene, presumably to keep her up to date on our activities

During the day during scavenging, we noted the strangest thing. We had been foraging for supplies in the interim during our wait, and I could have sworn the higher branches were moving downward to offer us easier access to the fruit. Surely it must have been wind, despite a distinct lack of the wind in this dense forest. Even the fruit seemed tastier in this region.

11th Marpenoth, the Star Walkers Return

The others began to get restless at not hearing back from the sparrow in the afternoon and decided to light a signal fire to signal Turlang to return. It wasn’t long after the fire was started that the sparrow returned and indicated that she had informed Turlang of our presence and he was on his way back to meet us but was furious about a fire in the area. Waiting for a treant was a waiting man’s business, so we put out the fire quickly and prepared to wait some more.

It was a few hours more before we heard the stompin of Turlang approaching and even more still before he burst into the clearing suddenly, furious about the fire. He was accompanied by an elven woman who we would find out later was named Tharra. It took some quick talking from Cykellion before we managed to calm him enough to talk to him. Turlang stood even taller than Lifferlas, towering above us, but with bark somewhat rougher and greyer than his.

It wasn’t long before Turlag warmed up to John on account of the affiliation with the Emerald Enclave. But even still, it took John some time to find out anything about Areglas. It seems that Areglas knew his time was nearing so he would have set out for the Grandfather tree within the forest to fulfil his destiny. Turlang finally agreed to let us passage to the Grandfather tree to pursue information on him, despite the fact Turlangs perception of time for us mortals seemed arbitrary. Areglas could have died moons ago or left yesterday it would seem.

Tharra wants to guide us there, and Turlang insists we go with companions. Out of the ground, two smaller treants appear and get ready to accompany us and it’s not long before were on our way.

We camped a few hours later as the light became too poor to proceed so we camped the night in the forest. Somehow, despite our weariness, a pie-off was called after Lilli boasted to Tharra about her pie-eating skills. I wearily agreed to watch the fool’s game, but I was intrigued enough to see the little gnome defend her claim that I did bet with Andrew on Lilli’s success.

With Johns supply of pies, Luke, Lilli, Tharra and John begin their contest.

John and Tharra are too exhausted to even finish one pie, but Luke and Lilli eat pie after pie before Luke bests Lilli around pie 6. With the excitement of the contest ended a long rest ensued for all.

12th Marpenoth, the Star Walkers Return

We were getting up and getting ready to pack up the next day when I decided it was time to try and extend my connection with Lathander. From the books I loaned from Renald before setting out from Waterdeep, I was certain that I was ready to call upon a spirit extension of Lathander.

After some time of praying, a growl was heard across the clearing from a patch of grass. The padding of soft yet firm paws and crackling shrubs ensued before a giant golden lion plodded out of the bushes, with a flowing silvery mane. It padded up to me with the rest of our group dumbfounded, and I ran my fingers through its ethereal mane before it lazily sat next to me and yawned.

I knew as soon as I touched the beast it would be called Morning, in respect with Lathander’s title of Morninglord. It was a strong beast but without ferocity. The look in its eyes betrayed an intelligence beyond that of a natural creature, one which I instantly knew would be loyal to the bitter end, just and true.

Before settling in for the day’s hike to the Grandfather tree we went for a quick run, brought on by John and Tharra shapeshifting into dire wolves. Lilli being so small jumped onto John and we went for a ride at breakneck pace through the forest. It took some time to settle in on Mornings back as he darted this way and that at speed, pouncing over obstacles and under branches with ease. The wolves kept up with us and we took turns taking the lead, in and off trails and following the scents only the beasts could sense.

Before long, however, we rejoined the group as we closed the distance to the Grandfather Tree. A few more hours saw us into a clearing, with a giant tree reaching into the sky at least three hundred and fifty feet and with a trunk of easily 50-foot diameter. It was surrounded by 2 round rings of raised earth and with an innermost set of 4 oak trees.

After taking in this awe-inspiring sight, John was the first to move. Moving with respect toward the tree, he was confronted quickly bu a dryad that came out of the tree itself. With reverence, John introduced himself to the silvery woman but notably called himself ‘Mindartis’, a name we have never heard him say even in his sleep. He went on to ask about Aerglas and was saddened to hear that he had passed just on one hundred and twenty seasons ago, his bones having joined the others buried around the Grandfather Tree.

Slowly, John then went up and gently touched the tree. He was there for some time, clearly, a unspoken bond being shared between them. Something in the air changed during the time, not a single person spoke. Thinking back, I think even the forest went quiet during the time that our druid and the tree shared whatever it was that they did. Not even the sound of leaves rustling in the wind or underfoot of any animals could be heard.

And then, abruptly, sound returned to the forest and the spell was broken. John returned to us wordlessly, but with gifts, the Grandfather Tree shared with him. Some of Areglas’ possessions from his time in this mortal coil.

Before leaving, Lilli sent a few messages off to Naxene so Lifferlas would know what fate had met his creator, fulfilling his destiny so many years past. She had found out that the Vonindod was a massive dragon slaying construct, news that sent a chill down our collective spine. If the Giants were trying to rebuild a device capable of defeating a dragon - well it didn’t bear the thought. How could our ragtag group of adventures pose a threat to a force like that?

We left later in the afternoon and camped out amongst the stars for another uneventful night. After some discussion, it seemed that Everlund would be the next best place to head, in light of the fact it was closest to our current location once we exited the grand forest, and our direction seemed to be taking us on the Northern path to Silvermoon and beyond.

Once Lilli started her detect magic ritual it was clear she was trying to shield her eyes from a cornicopia that John was given as part of his gift. Lilli was almost reverent in her inspection of the bounty, a wicker cornucopia that could provide ample food out of nothing for our group daily. With this and the Decanter of Endless water we acquired from Zi’s gear so many moons ago, we would never go hungry or thirsty.

This is great news. An army marches on its stomach.