Chapter 4, Part 1: The Laughing Forest

After using the key on an archway further into the forest, they step through the doorway into a large clearing where only a single massive tree stands, it's roots stretching in every direction around it.

You enter through the archway and step into a hollowed out tree. The floor of the tree is covered with soft, warm sand, and off to the left you see a set of stairs leading up to another level where a door, clad in the brightest shimmer yet, is set into the wood. You don't see any handle or markings or way to open it, however. Beside the door is a short stone pedestal. On the edge of the pedestal is an engraving in elvish: "Take these and leave His name."

With a few rounds of trial and error, the party realized that the only thing that kept indents in the sand was their footprints. They then took a few footsteps and left the name of "Twee" in the sand, which triggered the keyhole at the top of the tree platform to open.

The door opens up into absolute calamity. You see what you imagine was a city once sweeping with grace and centuries of cultivated natural beauty cloaked in smoke and flames and ruin. You see buildings that could have grown with the first seedlings of the forest itself dashed into splinters. Despite the chaos, it is strangely quiet except for the tolling of a bell in a clocktower off to the northeast that chimes the fourth hour. There is no one around you on the streets, no songs or laughter or shouting. And in front of you, impossible to miss, is a craggy scar in the center of the city. Jagged rocks have burst from the ground in an imperfect circle, towering over the village like giant clawed hands. In the center, you can see the tops of one of the few intact structures: the grand arches and towers of what must have been the Citadel of the Elder. The rocks have created steep cliffs which has displaced the citadel hundreds of feet into the air, and all around it is a thick bubble of shimmering iridescent energy, crackling with entropy.

Stepping into the destroyed town, the party remembered a similar sight they had experienced during their trip to Frostwanes past. The vision that The Ghost of Frostwane Yet-To-Come had showed them replayed in their minds, and they realized that the home they were visiting in during the predictive explosion was one in this village, in approximately one hour.

They asked Arken if she knew who lived in a house numbered 114 nearby a library. She was able to tell them that the address and house the party described likely belonged to Sinclair, which was where they would likely find any information on the man that could help them learn his weaknesses. She also directed them to the Artisan's guild, which seemed to be one of the few large structures that remained standing.

Corky had Stefano stay with Arken as she explored some of the ruins of the city, and the party went off to the Artisan's guild to check for survivors. Inside, they found a collection of about a dozen citizens who were doing their best to continue to survive. They had a dwindling food and water supply, and were incredibly grateful to the party when Airmed provided the crew with a supply of goodberries.

The survivors explained that Sinclair was watching them, and if they weren't careful outside of the shelters, they would be attacked by him from the Citadel in the center of the city.

The party quickly and carefully developed a gameplan: Chief Paws would try and locate an easy way up to the Citadel and Corky would try and look for clues in the library, since it was a prominent figure in their visions. After that, they would go to Sinclair's home and look for as much information as they could on the man before charging his castle.

Chief Paws, on his way to investigate the rocky structure, noted a collection of roots spreading out across the ground of the city. When he stepped on one, a bolt of lightning shot from the Citadel at the spot where he had just been. With his quick reflexes, he was able to dodge the bolt, and continue on his mission. He located a lever quickly that revealed a narrow spiral stairway upwards into the cliffs toward the citadel.

Corky stepped on a few roots on his way to the library, but did not notice the causal relationship between the roots and the lightening that hit him for a chunk of damage. After making it to the ruins of the library, he was able to find a single useful book: a history book of the city with a map of the citadel.

Once both party members returned to the Artisan's guild with their recognizance -- Chief Paws also making sure to fill the party in on the roots that created a lightening attack-- the Easy Marx then carefully made their way to Sinclair's house. On the way, Corky reached out to Arken through Stefano, and told her to meet them at the northwest side of the rocky formation under the citadel after the 5th chime struck.

Corky picked the lock on the front door of Sinclair's house, and Gyome made sure to put a chair in front of the door to keep it from closing and locking them inside. They then split up, knowing they had a limited amount of time to investigate Sinclair's home.

Corky searched the main room, finding a trap door under the bearskin rug. Airmed and Chief Paws searched the bedroom, finding a bunch of notebooks with some beautiful charcoal drawings of natural scenery as well as a calendar that tracked the lunar cycle. They also found a few tools that would be used for maintenance work. Gyome searched the kitchen, finding a potion that Artem was later able to identify as an Oxylycan potion, which is a treatment for the pain associated with voluntary and involuntary shapeshifting.

While Gyome and Chief Paws climbed down into the trap door, Airmed prepared a divination ritual on the floor above. Gyome and Chief Paws noticed an icebox and a well-worn bow with a quiver of arrows hung on the wall. Inside of the icebox was a large assortment of well-prepared game meat.

On their way out, they noticed, just in time, a collection of dark roots on the floor of the cellar that matched the roots along the ground throughout the city. They dodged the roots and made their way back up into the house. Corky searched the bookshelf in the living room and found nothing of note, and Chief Paws searched the area around the couch while Airmed finished up his ritual. Chief Paws found a letter from the office of the elder that alerted Sinclair of an issue with the well in the north of town, and requested that he fix it ASAP. The date on the letter, Corky realized, was exactly one day before Sinclair instigated the coup and killed the elder of Everness.

His ritual complete, Airmed sent a question out to the god, Twee: "What is the easiest thing we could do in order to make sure that everyone in this town, including Sinclair, gets out of this safely?" After a moment of thought, the recovering god responded, "By trusting those who have earned your trust, and only those who have earned it."

The party then had a conversation about what that could mean, but the "one-who-listens" had left the room briefly and so there is no record of this conversation to be transcribed.

party then met up with Arken and Stefano and relayed to her the information they had discovered. The party believed, with the evidence they had discovered that Sinclair was a werewolf. They also told her that they suspected that the well was ground zero for this strange event, as Sinclair has been asked to investigate and fix an issue regarding it a day before he was corrupted by magic. Corky, with keen eyes and ears, watched how Arken responded to this information. He recognized that there was some information that the woman was hearing for the first time, but also some that she knew before they had told her.

She admitted, on their way to the well, that she remembered their being an issue with the well before all of this happened, but that in all of the chaos, she had completely forgotten about it. That it felt like a lifetime ago that the only problem they had to worry about was water pressure.

As they reached the well, they noted a large epicenter of damage around the well, the rock wall surrounding it reduced to rubble as well as the homes in the vicinity. A single look into the hole was all it took to see the source of the issue: A huge crystalline vein twisted into an ugly knot of blacks and purples and blues, looking like the shivering rainbow at the center of a puddle of black oil.

As was par for the course, the group tied a rope around Stefano Romano and sent him down into the well with the magical coal/crystal in his hand to try and collect the magic leaking out of the vein at the bottom of the well.

Airmed created a collection of 9 pixies, al invisible, and used two of them to help hold Stefano up and keep him from falling. The rest of the group, including Arken, held the rope to anchor Stefano. The closer he got to the knot, the more it began to pulse and shudder. As he reached out the crystal toward it, he could see the magic beginning to pull from the vein toward the coal, but, too large and too powerful to be contained in the tiny vessel, it snapped back like it was made of rubber.

Magic pulsed up through Stefano and through the group holding the rope, but they were able to hold tight. The burst of magic that started at Stefano created a strange effect, doubling his hat which slipped over his eyes and made him lose grip on the crystal. Airmed's pixie let go of Stefano and gripped the crystal in time to keep it from tumbling into the well.

They all pulled Stefano back up, and when he arrived back on solid ground, Arken asked what they were doing with the crystal, and what it all meant. Chief Paws quickly said not to worry about it and that they just acted on impulse regarding the crystal, but that it didn't seem to work.

but also not willing to push, Arken followed the group back to the stairs leading up to the citadel, ready to try and take back her city from the corruption holding it hostage.


Occurrences of Note:

  • Entered Everness for the first time; city in crisis.
  • Party recalled flashback from A Song of Frostwane.
  • Party discovered survivors.
  • Party assisted in escape of survivors from Everness
  • Party learns of roots that cause damage if disturbed.
  • Discovery of Sinclair's Home.
  • Discovery of all pieces of evidence in Sinclair's home: .
  • Best Possible Outcome achieved in 'Sinclair's Home' puzzle: Home does not explode/cause chain reaction.
  • Divine Intervention: advice received from Twee.
  • Discovery of source of snarl in north well.

Completed: March 2023