Chapter 4, Part 1: The Laughing Forest

Before heading off to the Risorial Woods, the Easy Marx decided they wanted to get a VoxOwls headquarters set up in Thetchery. They convinced Warrek and his friend Ross to join the cause, but alienated a pair of halflings who had been sitting with Warrek at TGIW when the Marx came in to chat with him. The party noticed that the halflings met up with Bertrand, a halfling they didn't quite trust from earlier that week.

They decided, needing one more person to get the headquarters established, to convince Hippo to join up. Their plan detailed buying him a book regarding labor rights to eat before they pitched him to join. Gyome tore and cut up the book to rearrange it on a platter for Hippo, making a char-tome-arie board.

The pitch and the present went over well with Hippo, and the gnome agreed to help set up the small faction in Thetchery with Warrek and Ross. And with three people working to get the headquarters started, the party notified Maggie who told them she would send down someone to help link up the headquarters to the one they had established in Gilding.

Their last stop before heading into the woods was a final chat with SOMEONE who told them that the Guardian of the forest is fond of something called a Winterberry, but that in order to not disturb the forest, they would have to gently prune the branches instead of plucking the berries or twigs off.

They also received two empty magic crystals that Maggie retrieved for them from Goddard's house outside of Gilding.

As you make your way through the trees and towards the Risorial woods, you notice a swirling white fog in the distance. The closer you get, the thicker the fog becomes until you find you are barely able to see a few feet in front of you through the thick mist. You hear the sounds of twigs snap and rocks shift beneath your feet, and the leaves rustle around you. Every so often, you hear a tiny, dissonant giggle echo through the trees.

You do see one thing through the fog. There are these soft multicolored lights emanating through the mist from some point to the north east of you. Everything else is a blanket of white.

As you light the demystifyer, the fog is seemingly physically pushed back by the light as it escapes the lantern. As you move, more fog is pushed away, up to the tree line as a path is revealed before you.

The mist doesn't move too far past the line, even with the demystyfier in front of you, but you can see now the beaks of two birds who are engulfed in blue and green light. Just behind them, a yellow light pulses slowly. The birds look at you with goofy, unfocused eyes, their heads tilting left and right as they try and make sense of you.

Chief Paws spoke to the birds and learned that the magic in the forest was 'wrong.' The birds expressed that whatever was touching them, the light around them, was painful and hurt them a great deal. The party decided to try and remove the magic from the birds by using the empty crystals. By holding the crystals close to the birds, the part was able to extract the magic that was harming them.

They also asked the birds about the yellow light in the fog behind them, and even though they were pretty sure it was an owlbear, they still sent Stefano Romano into the fog to pull the painful magic out of the creature as well. With a surprising amount of stealth, Stefano managed to remove the magic without even waking the owlbear.

Exploring the forest, the party learned that directions didn't work quite the same as they were used to them working. Sometimes, they would go back the way they came, but would wind up somewhere new. Sometimes, paths were hidden, or appeared even if they hadn't been there before. However, with some careful maneuvering, the party arrived in a decaying clearing where a huge centaur-like figure rested.

You notice a large figure in the center of a clearing just past the fog. As you step into this clearing, it becomes apparent very quickly that something is very off. Normally, you can see the lush green leaves at the edge of the fog, signs of a thriving and lush forest. Here, the fog pulls back past the tree line to reveal lifeless trees, desiccated and hollow. The ground is gray and cracked, and crunches with each step like dry leaves. The figure in the center is a gargantuan centaur, who is lying down on the colorless ground, his legs tucked neatly underneath his torso. The humanoid part of the creature is bent forward as if in pain, his hands resting against the dirt. His head, bowed down, is heavy with a large rack of antlers, and instead of hair on his head or his chin, thin twigs and branches grow, creating locks and a beard of leaves.

You notice a handful of bodies on the ground here, wearing armor similar to that of the vanguard member who had arrived at the Elder's home.

Corky set down the collection of Winterberries he had found, and when the creature didn't stir, he began to look around. He noticed a tree just off to the side was shimmering in the way that scary things had been shimmering and when to check it out. As he did, and moved to extract the snarl's web from the tree using the crystal, the being at the center of the clearing began to move.

The creature at the center stirs, his hand balling into a fist on the ground as he looks up at you. As if fighting their way out of a knot in his throat, he chokes out, "Help. Please." before the light in his eyes develops a shimmery glaze and the creature gets to his four hooved feet and stands at his full height and towers high above you like the canopy of the forest where you stand.

The battle was unlike any other that the party had fought in before. They were attacked from all sides by the magic that was caught in the trees surrounding the clearing as well as from attacks from the guardian himself. Each time the party attempted to collect a shimmer from the trees with a crystal, the chaos of the snarl magic passed through them. Sometimes, this did nothing. Other times, it caused damage. And rarer still, there were times when magic became a little strange, causing great or bizarre effects with great unpredictability.

With great effort and skill, and a healthy helping of luck, the party was able to weaken the guardian enough to breach his shield and absorb the blight of magic that had corrupted him.

Coming to, the guardian began to eat quickly of the Winterberries the party had brought. He was restored by them enough to find his words and thanked the party for what they had done, and for removing the corrupted magic from him. He explained that he was Twee, one of the gods of this world and protector of the forests of the Materhawk continent. He explained that his powers had been weakened over the last decade or so, and his connection to the mother was barely felt, so the powers they had experienced from him during this battle was hardly a fraction of what he should be capable of.

He gave them a wooden box that should be opened up into a strange looking six-point star, and told them that this was the key to getting into Everness. Before he left, he too one of the East Marx card's and, oddly, spelled his name for the boys (T-W-E-E) before disappearing through the floor of the forest.

he seems to drop through the ground and continue on, disappearing into the dirt. Around the clearing, grass begins to sprout from the previously dried land. The gray drains from the trunks of the trees and leaves begin to sprout along the edges of the branches. The shimmer is gone from this clearing, and so is Twee.

Airmed casted a spell on the newly re-bloomed plants around him to speak with them and learn of the way to Everness. The plants breezed, informing him that they would show them the way to the city, but that there was someone hiding in the forest that had been locked out of Everness.

The plants showed the way to an area deep in the Risorial Woods where an elven woman was camping out in a small clearing. An obvious hunter, she trained her bow on the party.

You see a young elven woman with long black hair, half pulled back with braids step out of the tent, her bow drawn and pointed at the lot of you. She regards you carefully, her eyes running from your feet to your head.

With skillful charisma, Corky and Chief Paws were able to convince the female elf, named Arken, that they were not a threat and that they were there to help. She explained that her family was killed as they tried to escape Everness during Sinclair's violent attack, and she was locked out of the city with no way to get back in. She told the party that the people in the town were in terrible danger, as Sinclair was horrible and untrustworthy even before he took over with new magic. She also told them that she would do whatever she needed to in order to get back into the city to save the rest of her people, and the party agreed to bring her with them into Everness.


Occurrences of Note:

  • Entered Risorial Woods for the first time; demystyfyer in possession.
  • Three members convinced to join Voxowls and set up Thetchery Headquarters.
  • Hippo Warrek and Ross join Thetchery branch of Voxowls.
  • Party learns of method to contain small/weakened amounts of snarl energy through magic coals/crystals.
  • Discovery of Forest Guardian.
  • Defeat of Forest Guardian, resulting in restoration of his position.
  • Party learns identity of Forest Guardian as Twee, a lesser god under Materhawk.
  • Full party introduction to Arken, elf woman from Everness.
  • Arken joins party.

Completed: February 2023