The Storm giant towered over a lone obscured figure, battling on the edge of the cliff top. The epic battle waged back and forth. Finally the obscured figure was revealed, as Okkam the Second grabbed the Giant and hurled it over the precipace, but not before it could grab him in return to pull him down with it. He called out “Son, take my blade. For it can defeat the Shadow.” I lost much this day. I lost a loving Father, Mentor, Friend, and Confidant. He was all I had left in WaterDeep, and were it not for my newfound friends, and perhaps the Dark Fang clan, nothing left in the world. I’m now the disposessed. My only purpose, lies in working with my friends to get to the bottom of these malevolent machinations. I make this vow to you Father, I will wield your blade, and I will defeat the Shadow. I will go on to defeat any and all I find to have acted against us.
As Jaelyn strolls along the tranquil streets of Goldenfields, he finds himself simply amazed… and somewhat humbled, at the depth of natural balance that this Atani enclave has accomplished. Here in a place dedicated to the Atani goddess Chauntea, whom has at times been associated with Earthmother Jannath, Jaelyn freely admits to himself that perhaps it was wrong to judge the Atani’s lack of appreciation for natural order solely by such places as Waterdeep.
To find even that the Enydiir, Treants as they are called here, working beside the Atani almost left Jaelyn speechless! The Cheysuli are a primal people, and their aspect of Earthmother Jannath is one of aggressive environmentalism, more akin to the Elhedel’s Silvanus rather than Chauntea. That an Enydiir of this place has called upon him for a service is a great honor, and as that service is to seek out a powerful Elhedel druid makes this hunt even more exciting!
In thinking about his conversation with the Enydiir, Jaelyn notices again the slight tingling in his ear, and is reminded of another thing the Enydiir mentioned… that he could no longer commune with the trees of Ardeep, for a darkness has taken root there. This only confirms his suspicions that the Ilythiiri, the dark elves as others call them, are about some foul business within those woods. Perhaps it was fate that they indeed did show their hand by injuring but not killing him, for they do not understand the meaning Cheysuli place in their bloodstone oaths. There will come a time when Jaelyn will return to hunt down and collect that stone, and he will answer with the spilling of blood as well against those who have brought silence to the forest and its true keepers.
Jaelyn’s thoughts of the forest soon turn to Nightstone, as he considers the circumstantial balance of a town that loses its defenders to giants and goblins, just to find new life infused by the arrival of the Atani Wolf Clan. Even the tribe and its wolf companions are a far cry from the relationship of Wolf Cheysu and their Liren, they nonetheless made him feel a bit homesick. He truly empathized with their tragedy, and was impressed with their courage and commitment to their values. The tribe chieftain even offered his daughter in marriage to Ghent, as a show if his commitment! Jaelyn hopes the tribe will be wise and safe until the time when they too will be invited to take their vengeance upon those in the forest that so harshly wronged them.
As his own mood turns a bit melancholy, Jaelyn thinks about his friend Okkam…Son of Okkam. While he has indeed looked forward to meeting the family of his trusted friend, the tragedy of the brief meeting will remain always in his thoughts. Truly an exceptional warrior was Okkam…Father of Okkam to face down and defeat in single combat a mighty frost giant warrior! Although Okkam-son now embraces the grief of witnessing his sire’s passing, it is hoped that time will ease that pain, but leave the triumph of witnessing his father’s great victory intact. This again seems one of the “fated times” as that strangely smoking blade has now been passed from father to son, along with a warning against something of the shadows. Whatever this warning portends, Jaelyn intends to be there to assist his friend in overcoming it.
But for now there remains a pile of elven leather to challenge his meager armor crafting skills, and a hope that possibly an elven leatherworker might be found here within Goldenfields that might further his training in shaping it into forms suitable for Cheysuli to use.
And there is also the matter of tending to his damage ear, something he is hoping that one of the priests or resident druids can attend to with a healing spell.
Camped outside the city now. There’s been a lot of yelling back and forth. The wolf-clan chieftain is pleading for entry, the people in the city are understandably worried. The chieftain is not exactly eloquent, but earnest in his pleading. Was starting to think I’d have to step in and resolve the situation, locked eyes on one of the people in the towers who seemed to be in charge, and was getting ready for a bit of magical persuasion. Didn’t have to, it was that moment that the people in the city agreed to lower the gate and let them in.
City looks like it had been attacked recently. Buildings with boulder-sized holes in them, recently dug graves, and a lot fewer people than I’d expect in a town this size. Word is that the local ruler was killed in the attack. I spotted a fellow who seemed to have taken some sort of command. Okkam III was his name, and you know when someone’s name includes a number he must be someone important, or at least want people to think he is. Tall fellow, half-orc by the looks of it, with a very shiny sword and armor that must have cost a fortune. Spoke with him a bit. Seems to have a decent head on his shoulders despite first appearances.
He told me quite a story, about giants in a flying castle (!!!) who had attacked this town, and stolen something the locals called a “Nightstone” from the center of the town. They’d actually named the town after it. (Wonder if they’ll have to rename the town now?) You hear about this happening from time to time, a town finds a rock that looks like a face or an interestingly-shaped tree stump and names the town after it for lack of anything better. Don’t usually hear about giants in a flying castle stealing it, though, so this rock might have been something unusual after all.
I had a look at where the stone used to be. I gave them my professional opinion as a witch that there was indeed once a thing there, and that thing isn’t there anymore. If they want me to say what the thing was, they’re going to have to get it back so I can look at it, not just where it was.
The wolf-clan are fitting in well. There’s a lot of room for them in this town, even before the giants attacked this place was hardly crowded. The city fold may look down on these barbarians, but they’re quite willing to do the hard work of tilling fields and building houses that needs to be done if they’re going to live here. I’m hoping this community will survive, maybe even prosper if those damn elves keep their distance.
There’s going to be a wedding! The cheiftain had offered up his daughter for marriage for entry to the city. Well, the local ruler was dead, so there was nobody official to marry her, and I think they may have been a bit disappointed that their brave offer was going for nothing. Today a friend of Okkam III (musn’t forget the number, it’s important to him) offered to marry her. Human fellow named Ghent. White hair, but he’s no witch. A bit much swagger to him, I don’t think I like him much. But, a wedding is a happy and sacred event, and a nice change after all the death lately.
Another one of Okkam III’s friends, an elf named Jaelyn, went out to try and talk to the elves of the Ardeep forest. Jaelyn’s not from the local forest at all, and not of the same clan as the Ardeep elves. Has a beautiful huge white she-lion he takes with him. Lovely creature, though it scares my little Squeekums something terribly. Jaelyn and his lion went out into the forest, and came back a while late with a grumpy disposition and a fresh notch in his ear.
I had a look at the wound. Couldn’t get it to heal properly, even with my abilities. The last time I saw a wound like that, it had been done by a Drow weapon. But Drow don’t bother firing warning shots, and wouldn’t have let Jaelyn come back alive. Jaelyn was furious at them for turning him back and shooting at him, claiming that the Ardeep elves had no honor. I could have told him that. It doesn’t take very many maimed children to tell you about the character of the people who maimed them.
Back to the wedding – there was some argument about who would perform the ceremony. The wolf-clan chieftain wanted it to be done according to the town’s customs, so we had to find a local magistrate who could do it. If all else failed I could have officiated, but my wedding speeches tend to be a bit short and to the point for most people’s tastes. “Do you? Do You? Fine, let’s eat”. Really don’t see why people insist on much more than that, but there you go.
I had a talk with the chieftain’s daughter before the wedding. Just making sure she knows what she’s getting into, and that she’s completely willing in this. She is, and she seems to be able to take care of herself. I also offered my services as a midwife when the time comes, and assistance with any other medical issues she might have, and she said she was happy to have my help. It’s nice to meet people who actually respect the work a hedgewitch does.
We’re heading off to Waterdeep. Not one of my favorite places. Too many people, too crowded and noisy, but Okkam III and his friends want to find out if they can determine anything more about this Nightstone or any of the other nonsense that’s been going on. There’s also some talk about letting the noble families know that the ruler of Town-That-Used-To-Be-Called-Nightstone is dead. I’m not sure what for. The wolf clan is doing a great job of running that town, if they tell the nobles that there’s no official noble there now, they’re just going to send a new one, and then there will be all sorts of fuss and bother.
My work in the town is done for now. A hedge witch goes where she’s needed, and I think I’ll be needed along this quest. So the five of us – Okkam III, another half-orc named Janus, Ghent, Jaelyn (and his lioness), and myself, set out upon the road. I asked if Ghent’s new wife wouldn’t be coming along, but apparently it’s some wolf-clan custom for the wife to stay home while the husband goes out on journeys. She’ll make sure there’s a waiting home for him when he returns.
This has been a terrible journey, though I suppose it would have been terrible even had we not taken the trip.
We were heading into highlands, near a cliff over the river, when we spotted a fight in the distance. Another Giant, fighting some normal-sized person. We couldn’t see who it was, until we got closer. Surprise, it’s Okkam III’s father – Okkam II, if I’m doing my math correctly. Was putting up quite a good fight, managing to hold off his many times larger opponent.
We rushed to get closer, but we weren’t fast enough. The land was uneven, forcing us to detour around cliffs and gullies, so even though we could see the fight we couldn’t intervene. If only I had been able to get a little closer, I might have been able to hit them with a Sleep hex, or a Command spell, and stop the fight. But we were all helpless to watch. Okkam II saw us, called out to his son, something about the sword being useful to fight the darkness, and then went over the cliff with the giant, leaving the sword behind.
I had to stop Okkam III from going over the cliff after him. He wanted to use a rope to climb down and look for his father. I had to be the one to point out that there was nothing he could do, that they were both gone, and besides, his rope wasn’t long enough to even get to the bottom of the cliff. And even if he had, there wasn’t anything they could do. Even if his father was down there, there was no way we’d be able to get him back. No sense in getting one of us killed trying.
I could have sent Squeak down to look, but she’d never get back up here on her own. Squeekums is great at flying down, but not so good at flying up, and that’s a long climb for a little squirrel.
We did take the sword, though. It’s very fancy-looking, just crawling with magic. I’ll have a closer look at it once we reach Waterdeep.
I don’t like big cities. They’re full of people, too many people, and always strange noises going off when you’re trying to think. Right now, I’m sitting in the inn where Okkam III (does he still keep the number after his father is dead?) put us up. Trying to rest and soak my feet, and there’s this annoying ghostly whispering coming and going. It has better stop before I try to sleep, or I’ll hunt it down and exorcise it.
Squeek doesn’t like it here either. No trees for her to climb, no clean water or safe food, and too many stray cats.
Jaelyn went off to commune with the local Druids. It would seem to me that a city like this is the worst place to try and commune with nature, but what would I know? Okkam and Ghent went off to go drown their sorrows in drink. Okkam’s taking his father’s death hard. He’s stoic, but I’ve seen him crying a few times. Poor guy. Can’t have been easy, seeing his father dying in front of him like that, and not even a body to bury afterward. I’ve offered to help him with a funeral, say a few nice words, but I expect he’ll be turning to the local clergy for that. Not much room for a hedge witch’s services in a city with established churches like this.
The next day-
We went by Okkam’s family home. Found it to be completely trashed. Not looted, just trashed. Everything breakable was broken, even the furniture. It was as if an angry giant had been through the place. Yet, despite that, the doors and windows were intact and locked, and the neighbors hadn’t heard anything. We helped Okkam clean up a bit, though it was beyond my magic to actually repair that which was broken.
I also had a look at the sword. It’s a nice sword, quite good at stabbing people and making terrible wounds that someone like me would have to try and mend later on. Fine tool for murder, I suppose. It also has a lot of magic bound up in it, much more than is being expressed at the moment. While we were looking at it, that terrible ghostly whispering came back, clearly enough for a few words to be recognized. That’s when Okkam started talking about where his father came from. Something about another world, similar but different than this one, and he’d crossed over somehow, and the whispering said a name from that other world.
This entire situation has Destiny and Fate written all over it, and no sensible person wants anything to do with that. If I had my druthers, I’d pack up and put as much distance between myself and this mess as possible. But, a Hedge Witch goes where she’s needed, and I expect I’ll be needed here, so here I stay.
We had a nice memorial later. A few dozen people came out to attend it. I said some words, I didn’t know the dead man but this was far from the first memorial I’ve spoken at for someone I never met. Okkam III was broken up over his father, again. Poor kid. I’ll do what I can to comfort him and help him get through this, it’s the least I can do.
We stopped by the noble homes to try and tell them about the noble leader whats-her-face of Nightstone being killed. Complete waste of time, as expected. Then we went to the library to try and find some information on what the Nightstone was. Also a complete waste of time. After some discussion it was decided that we’d need to do more investigation on our own, possibly try and find out why the wolf-clan had been driven out of their homes to the north. The next city to the north of where they were is Goldenfields. Conveniently enough, that’s where I had been headed anyway before that whole mess in Ardeep Forest, so this choice suits me fine.
Goldenfields. Aptly named, beautiful town. A walled town with nearly the entire interior full of fields, orchards, and lakes. Very pleasant place to visit. Nice to finally reach here. I admit that my desire to visit initially was perhaps more selfish than it should have been, there is work for me here but it’s not a place in a pressing need of help. It would have been as close to a vacation as a Hedge Witch gets. But then, I did end up in places and with people where I was needed along the way, so it all worked out.
I’ll have to let Squeakerdoodle out to play among the orchards later, once I’m sure there’s no hawks or other dangers that might threaten her. For now, we’re all just enjoying the scenery. Jaelyn is beside himself, as if he never expected to see a human city like this. They’re not all like Waterdeep.
Near the center of the town there’s a mound with a grand old tree-spirit living on it. I suppose this is what is usually referred to as a Treant? I haven’t met many of them. Wonderful old fellow, but of a slow talker but there’s nothing wrong with that. I can appreciate taking a long time to say things that are important.
He has no idea what the Nightstone is, or why it’s important. I have no surprise there. We mention the Ardeep forest and he responds with sorrow. Speaks of a growing darkness there. I just know we’re going to have to head back to that accursed place again. Something nasty is going on in that forest, and someone needs to put an end to it. And a Hedge Witch goes where she’s needed.
But first, the tree-spirit has a request for us, and you don’t refuse a request from a person like that if you know what’s good for you. Not that he’d harm us, but it’s always a good idea to stay on the good side of someone as old and knowledgeable and powerful as this. (Something I’d like people to remember applies to witches, too). Seems a druid friend of his went missing, and he’d like us to go take a look for him. It’s the kind of thing we do, so off we’ll go.
After about two weeks residing in Nightstone, the group of former strangers that had rescued the citizens from the goblins were drawn to the towers and walls protecting the village as screams from the surrounding forest could be heard. In the distance fires and smoke could be seen coming from the wooded area. Shortly after the ruckus a group of people began to exit the forest and gather in the fields just north of Nightstone. At first it was a half dozen or so but more and more of them streamed out of the forest until there were roughly sixty or so including women and children.
As the new arrivals made their way to the drawbridge and entrance to the village from the fields they could be seen wearing wolf pelts and in fact twenty wolves traveled with them. When they got closer all could see that a significant portion of them were wounded, not just the men and wolves but the women and children as well. When they reached the entrance one of the larger men stepped forward and bellowed out for assistance. He claimed to be Gurrash, leader of the Wolf Tooth Clan of the Uthgardt, and offered his peoples’ assistance in protecting and working for the town if they would be allowed to enter and live in Nightstone. In desperation he also offered his daughter for marriage, a young warrior maiden named Gura.
After a brief discussion amongst the group and calming the fears of Morak, the dwarf innkeeper, Okkam ordered the drawbridge to be lowered and the barbarian people were allowed entrance into Nightstone, their wounded people being tended to by all who had such skill.
Over the next few days it was discovered that Gurrash refused to participate in scouting missions for marauding frost giants unlike the majority of his clan so he and those in agreement with him chose exile instead. They departed without issue but the journey within the Ardeep Forest turned violent when they were ambushed by the local elves for reasons unbeknownst. A battle ensued between elf and barbarian within the forest as the Uthgardt moved through the trees looking for succor. Ruthless elven arrows struck not just the men and wolves but the women and children as well. During the fight the Wolf Tooth exiles were able to rescue a witch woman, Alyss, that was a captive of the elves and, thankful for being freed, used her healing skills and magic to save as many of the barbarians as she could. Alyss was with them as they entered Nightstone and claimed she had no idea why the elves imprisoned her beyond merely traveling within the Ardeep. She said the elves accused her of having elemental magic which she truthfully denied but they kept her a prisoner anyway.
Jaelyn seemed the most distraught and confused by the actions of the elves and prudently kept his distance from the members of the Wolf Tooth for a time, not wanting to alarm any of them by seeing another elf kin within the walls of the village. He did however spend some time with the wolves of the tribe discovering the animals to be fiercely loyal to the tribe. Loyalty was displayed by the Wolf Tooth members as well as all of them worked hard to help protect and build their new home within Nightstone over the next couple days. As for Gurrash offering his daughter for marriage, Ghent stepped forward and agreed to marry her if the barbarian chief truly had every intention of giving her away in such a manner. A few days later a marriage ceremony was performed by Hiral Mystrum the priest of Lathander that tended the small shrine in the village.
A couple of days after the arrival of the Wolf Tooth exiles in Nightstone, some elves were observed at the forest edge. Jaelyn decided to pay a visit to the forest depths, stating confidently that they must want to have a conversation or they would not have been seen because they were elves. Unfortunately for him and his white lioness, he was mistaken. The only interaction between him and the elves of Ardeep at this time were arrows being shot dangerously close in his direction. Jaelyn stubbornly did not heed the warning until one of the shots clipped one of his ears leaving him bloodied and, as was later discovered, poisoned by a toxin that resisted healing.
Returning to Nightstone in a sullen mood, Jaelyn had his injured ear looked at by the hedge witch Alyss and she determined that the toxin used against him was similar to how dark elf poisons affect wounds. This information caused some consternation amongst most of the members of the group. After another day or two the group, along with Alyss, decided to depart and journey to Waterdeep. Jaelyn, still soured by his experiences with the elves of Ardeep, vowed to rectify whatever issues there were amongst his kin in the forest around NIghtstone.
The trip to the City of Splendors took a little over a day but was very eventful especially for the half-orc warrior Okkam III. It started when some of the party members noticed a large figure on a cliff near the roadside that appeared to be in a fight with someone. As the group got closer, the large figure turned out to be a frost giant wielding a massive battle axe against a human sized individual armed with a greatsword. The fighting between the two was intense and as the travelers moved to help against the giant, Okkam saw that it was his father. Unfortunately before anyone could get near, both the giant and Okkam’s father tumbled over the cliffside to the sea three hundred feet below. Amazingly, Okkam’s father jammed his sword into the rock as he fell, holding on for a moment as he told his son that the weapon would help against the coming shadow and then he was gone, dropping out of sight.
Okkam was understandably distraught over what had just occurred. He claimed his father’s majestic greatsword which swirled with a shadowy magic and then the group continued on to Waterdeep.
Once in the great city Okkam, despite being upset, recommended the group stay at an inn of his choice which was agreed upon, each member of the group garnering their own room. Then they all went there separate ways for the evening. Ghent and Okkam went out to have a few drinks, the former to find some fun and the latter to drown his sorrows. Jaelyn and his lioness made their way to a druid grove within the city walls while Alyss and Janus remained at the inn separately. While the night progressed differently for each member of the travelers each had at least one event in common… An odd whooshing, whispering noise that only they could hear. Dismissing the noise as something random, they continued about their business until all five were gathered the next morning.
It was agreed upon to head to Okkam’s father’s house in the city but when they entered they discovered the premises was completely ransacked. Everything that could be broken was broken in the home but oddly the doors and windows all remained locked. Some of the group helped clean up the place and the neighbors were questioned but nothing was learned. It was at this time that the hedge witch, Alyss, took a closer look at Okkam’s new weapon. She couldn’t discern what the powers of the magical weapon were but as she was looking it over the whispering, whooshing noise returned that only they could hear. There were words in the noise that some of the group, those that were paying attention, could understand. Okkam, deciding the time appropriate, then told the others some information about the half-orc that sired him. It seems Okkam’s father is from a different world or dimension that is similar to this one and the name whispered by the sword is from that other world.
The rest of the time spent in Waterdeep was filled with futility and sorrow. First a visit to a noble of the city with knowledge of Lady Nandar and Nighstone proved to be a waste of time. Then an attempt at the temple of Oghma to learn more about the large dark obelisk that had been stolen from Nightstone by cloud giants resulted in derisive patronizing of Okkam as he attempted to explain the situation to a racist cleric. Finally, a somber memorial was held for Okkam’s father with the warrior still visibly upset at the loss of his father. Afterward it was decided to travel north to Goldenfields, a vast and noteworthy farming settlement devoted to the Great Mother, Chauntea, the goddess of agriculture, farmers, and all things that grow from the earth.
The next morning, the group left the City of Splendors traveling along the roadway to Goldenfields. They reached the walled town without incident and were immediately impressed with how serene and pastoral the settlement was. Once within the walls their amazement continued when they came upon a treant spending time with a group of children. Even Jaelyn was impressed as the half-elf from the Moonshaes immediately spoke to the great tree creature with a modicum of awe in his voice.
The friendly treant spoke to the group, albeit slowly, of how it could no longer communicate with the trees of Ardeep and sensed a darkness there now. Jaelyn seemed assured it was due to the dark elves he believed to be there now. When asked about the NIghtstone by Okkam, the tree monster claimed to have no knowledge of it at all. Finally, before the group could depart, the treant had a request for them which most of the party readily agreed to listen to. Around three decades ago an elven druid of the Emerald Circle and friend of the treant traveled north but was never heard from again. If the group were up for the task, the tree beast would like them to investigate what happened and hopefully help bring his druid friend back if possible. All agreed to help the hulking tree creature except for Ghent. The white haired sorcerer made no decision one way or the other and just smiled, seeming quietly amused by something as he watched the interaction between the treant and his companions.