The Court of Seasons

"The Elves are a sneaky bunch, all magic and trickery. Unhanded. Sissy. Never trust an Elf! But even more than that; should ye find ye'self in their accursed realm, never trust yer eyes."
Ogren, Dwarf of Stonehill

Part I: Elvandar

Greenhollow, outer settlement of Elvandar

The massive white boughs are stained yellow from the sap oozing from the vast trees, and beneath their feet browning leaves crumble. The sun burns down from the sky, and nearby a pair of foxes pick over the rotting carcass of a deer. The once bubbling river next to the path is barely a trickle, and that trickle a brown sickly stream. The pain on the Elven scout's face was clear as he crumbled a leaf between his pale lithe fingers. "The forest is sick…"

[The search for the Exarchs]
The Elven scout Woodrow leads the group into the heart of the Elven forest, and they become increasingly aware that something was very wrong. It is unseasonably warm, even for the heart of Summer, and the Elves become more and more uncomfortable as they get deeper into the Elven realm. They pass through plants rotting away without cause, and evidence of wildfires. The Elven waterfall monument 'Veiled Lady' is barely a trickle, and clawed footprints are found nearby. Eventually the party reaches the outskirts of Elvandar, where a vast wall of trees blocks access to the interior of the city. They enter an outer town, named 'Greenhollow' that is built into the very roots and trees of the outer wall. The town is made up of mostly Elves, but humans, Halflings and Dwarves walk among the grassy streets. The party takes up rooms at the Arrow in Flight, an inn mostly compromised of travellers waiting to gain access to the city-proper. Punchcat spits as the group enters the town, disgusted by so many trees and elves. He takes his leave, storming out of the town and agreeing to meet the party when they are "done with this elfy-welfy nonsense".

In the common room of the Arrow in Flight a group of dirty human rangers argue. The leader, a man with a long face and a black cloak storms out, leaving a bearded and filthy man behind. Sitting with the remaining man Albrecht slips the man a gold, introducing himself and asking that he keep an eye on Stevie J while they were in town. The man, Pierce, dons his mud-stained cloak and makes out to keep watch on the Halfling. Pierce agrees to take the employment, still annoyed at his last employer Adderyan's lack of payment. The common room is filled with rumours of raided outposts and wild beasts ranging through the forest with impunity. But most of the folk seem to be discussing the unrest in the Elven court. The elven council is called the Court of Seasons, and rumour holds that the Lord-Consort has many factions politicking and working against him. As the Court of Seasons gains its power from the forest its illness is sapping the power it holds. The Queen, ruler of Elvandar, has gone into reclusion within the Oak of Ages, holy tree of the Elves. As night falls over Greenhollow a high pitched horn blows around the area, echoing between the vast trees. Within seconds the town becomes a hive of activity, the Elves forming up and taking armaments from a nearby rack of weapons and donning armour bearing the golden tree sigil of Elvandar. A cry goes out, promising any mercenaries who aid in defending the town free room and board for a week. Greenhollow was under attack.

As the militia and hired mercenaries rush to protect the other approaches to Greenhollow the Heroes form up to protect the Arrow in Flight. Stevie and Pierce rush to the roof while Clarence and Albrecht form up outside. From the forest comes a wave of inhuman beasts. Black furred hounds with glowing eyes leave smoke wherever their claws hit the forest floor. Behind them run massive men with the heads of wild animals, swinging whips that drive the dogs forward. Pierce draws his longbow and begins to sink arrows into the hounds as they advance, but the creatures seem unnaturally resistant to even his well aimed shots. The hounds run forward through patches of unnatural darkness cast by the massive trees, and Albrecht leads a group of mercenaries forward to meet the charge of the hounds. As they approach many of mercenaries flee, but Albrecht meets them with his blade. The silver-sword cuts through their daemonic resistance, and spills their acid blood upon the forest floor. Moving past the melee the beastmen rush towards the town and are met by the rest of the group. Stevie leaps from the roof of the Arrow in Flight, smashing down upon a group and laying them low with flurried punches. Pierce puts arrows through eyes and hearts as they approach, and running short of arrows draws his shortswords to engage. A group of beasts round on Clarence, cutting him apart with their rusted blades. As Clarence's illusion turns to dust the beasts are ripped asunder, hands of shadow reaching from the darkness to pull the beasts apart. Standing back in the inn, Clarence chuckles to himself, his bait-and-switch having worked perfectly.

As the last of the beasts flee into the darkness of the forest a group of horsemen ride into Greenhollow. Half a dozen or so Elves wearing armour that shimmers like pearls ride on the back of silver-gold steeds. Each knight wears a banner, showing his personal sigil and past honours. The leader of the group rides up to the group and dismounts, taking off a helmet worked with gold and bearing the symbol of a horse on a field of silver. Woodrow explains in a hushed voice that this is Perevell, key knight of the Court of Seasons. Perevell demands the group turn over the Elven artefacts, and at the point of his knights lances they reluctantly agree. In a small ceremony Perevell removes his own armour and a team of squires rush forward to put the Elven artefact armour on him. The armour is magnificent, but Perevell grows angry as the squires complete the process. He turns to Woodrow and shouts at him, belittling him for returning the wrong armour. Perevell remounts, and gallops back towards the vast gates of Elvandar. One of his knights remains, introducing himself as Malfeas and apologising for his masters behaviour. He informs them that Perevell is only upset because the armour won't "respond" to him, not granting him the "Autarch powers" it contains. The group is unsure what this means, but remains silent as Malfeas leads them through the gates and into Elvandar.

The wall of trees is almost a mile across, and the group rides in silence through the long dark tunnel that leads into the city-proper. Within the group beholds a city of trees, silver leaves falling as a cool breeze passing through them. Crystal buildings sit amongst the highest trees, and Elves walk along branches and pathways between them. Malfeas takes his leave, and the group makes contact with a slight and tall Elven woman wearing robes of pure white. She walks barefoot through the long grass towards them and introduces herself simple as 'a Handmaiden'. She says that the group has shown their bravery, and asks that they perform a task for her. She is a servant of the Queen, but knows the Lord-Consorts forces have their hands tied by the political unrest in the Court of Seasons. The Handmaiden explains the Queen is weakened by the Consort's inability to protect the realm, and that the Lord-Consort's strength comes from his four Exarchs. These champions each represent and are empowered by one season. They normally live at shrines each placed within the forest at an epicentre of magic, and they are sworn to answer the summons of the Lord-Consort. When he called them in a month passed they didn't respond, and the Handmaiden wishes to send the party out to check the Shrines. With a small gesture she casts a truth spell upon the party, and has them swear an Oath to check the shrines for the Queen, and not to act against the interests of Elvandar. Back outside the city in Greenhollow the group meets up with Adderyan, Pierce's previous employer, who had made another arrangement with the Lords of Elvandar. In return for the party helping to defend Adderyan's town he would lead them to the four seasonal shrines.

Supplies are loaded into the Admiral's wagon as the group readies themselves for travel through the forest. Pierce takes Stevie J to meet with Hegra, Huntmistress of Elvandar, to purchase a bow. Hegra is absent, departed on an unknown hunt, but Stevie purchases a fine elven shortbow from her worried assistant. Albrecht purchases an Elven warhorse from a farrier recommended by Malfeas, and riding out behind Adderyan the group makes their way into the forest. Moving East towards the shrine of Autumn, the group makes their way through the brown and orange paths of the forest. Some days out they find their paths interweaving with that of a group of humans wearing tabards bearing an orange sun motif. Albrecht and Clarence approach the group, and discover they are soldiers of the 'Brilliant Circle' led by a Paladin named Srevni. He had been ordered by a "Father Helder" in Crydee to travel into the forest in search of witches. The group are roughly aware of the Brilliant Circle as a group of zealots who ignore the rules of men, and instantly suspicious. They have a group of women kept in cages on the edge of their camp, their captured witches from earlier hunts. Albrecht manages to convince them to take the women south to Crydee, and Clarence and Albrecht spend the night in the safety of their camp. Awakening the next day the Paladins are shocked to find the captured witches gone, their shackles removed and cage broken upon during the night. Pierce and Stevie had snuck in during the night, releasing the captives and setting them free in the forest. The Paladins ride off into the forest enraged, while the group meets up back on the road. The group rides for a few more days, the unnatural heat beating down upon them even through the heavy canopy of the forest. The Admiral struggles on the thin forest paths, but eventually the group reaches Midtower, Adderyan's home town. The town is surrounded by a wooden palisade, and a single stone tower ruin stands on the outskirts. Approaching, the group sees smoke rising from the buildings within, and the smashed apart front gate…

Part II: A Mother's Love

The tunnels below Midtower

The shadow moved towards them from behind the swarm of undead. Ducking mining picks and pushing off grasping hands they saw it slowly approaching the swirling melee. Darkness made flesh, the shadows deepened where it stepped. Undead bats dived and swooped around it, forming a hurricane of wings that further hid the nature of the shadow. The shade walked closer, and the zombies attacked with increased vigour. Barely holding on against the growing horde, the heroes began to realise that coming here alone was a mistake…

[The Myster of Midtower]
As the group approaches arrows begin raining down upon them a burnt out watchtower some mile out of Midtower. Groups of Goblins and Orcs come out of hiding and begin to move towards the group, carrying rusted swords and axes. To their credit, the creatures stand and fight as Albrecht barrels into them on his warhorse, smashing them aside and slaughtering the greenskins. The survivors are harried by Stevie J, who leaps from the back of Albrecht's horse. The archers amidst the ruin are dispatched by flames and arrows and the rest of the creatures flee back into the forest, leaving the approach to Midtower open. Pierce sneaks ahead of the group, rubbing mud over himself and sticking leaves to the drying mud to slink forward, and finds another guardhouse outside of the walled off town. Within he hears goblins discussing their leader "Garool", who had gone east to visit the 'Temple of Gruumpsh', apparently a holy place for the foul orcish god. The Hobgoblin "Captain Boomer" had been left in to guard Midtower, charged with holding the position while Garool went to the temple to remove what he perceived to be a curse on the orcs. Pierce draws the goblins out of the guardhouse, and they are immediately set upon by a charging Albrecht. Swinging his silver sword and shouting challenges he slays the creatures, while arrows fly into their flanks from Pierce. Eventually a red-skinned Hobgoblin stumbles from the guardhouse, clad in black and spiked plate armour and carrying a wickedly curved two handed axe. He rushed towards Pierce, and the ranger is forced to draw his short-swords to fend him off. Eventually Pierce manages to disarm the hobgoblin, and drawing a knife from his boot slits the creatures throat. He rejoins Albrecht, bleeding heavily from half a dozen wounds from the goblins, and they call the wagon down to meet them.

In the guardhouse they find remnants of goblins living here for some time, and a single goblins still asleep despite the racket. Amidst the rotten food and general horribleness of the goblin camp they question the terrified goblin about his former comrades. He confirms what Pierce had overheard about Garool and Gruumpsh, and reveals that the orc and goblin tribes had been worried for some time, as the forest was sick around them as well. Bad weather had troubled the tribe, and they had come to this town to get human sacrifices to bequeath to Gruumpsh to right the weather. But upon arriving they had discovered the local humans were zombies, and despite their attempts they could not sacrifice them to Gruumpsh. Leaving the goblin tied in the guardhouse the group moves in Midtower through the shattered gate. The town had long since been looted by the goblins, with windows smashed in, doors ajar and all food and liquor consumed. But even beyond this the town had a sense of eerie discomfort. The trees that once lined the town square stand skeletal, and the ground is covered in brown leaves that rot where they fell. The ten or so houses in the town also show signs of decay, as if many years had passed since they were tended. The central tower after which the town was name is the only sign of occupation, with lights flickering from within its gargoyle decorated dark stone walls. As the others settle in to rest Albrecht and Pierce go to investigate the lights, and soon find themselves set upon by the undead residents of the town.

Fleeing into a cellar near the tower the pair find themselves harassed by a few dozen zombie villagers, and are forced to barricade the door behind them. With the sound of the zombies hammering on the door behind them Pierce and Albrecht move further into the cellar, and climb stairs to find themselves within the stone tower. They rush to block the door, trapping the zombies outside. Within the tower they find what appears to be evidence of villagers living a normal life. Supplies are stacked and bedrolls laid out on the floor. In one corner they find a bow belonging to the ranger Adderyan, and realise he must have snuck in ahead of them. Moving further down into the tower they come across a group of zombies who appear to be stirring pots, and set about dispatching them. Moving past the strange smelling brews, with Pierce showing a bruise where a ladle made contact with his face, they find a tunnel cut from the walls of what was once the towers basement. The crudely cut tunnel looks fresh, and leads far into the earth below Midtower. Within a large natural cavern they find the miners, shambling undead carrying picks and mining tools. The creatures attack immediately, a vast wave of creatures running towards the interlopers. In their hast some fall into the vast dark holes that spot the cavern, while others are slain once they reach Pierce and Albrecht. The creatures seem to keep coming, the entire town brought to life and attacking the pair. Behind the creatures walks a figure that seems to be cloaked in darkness, surrounded by a cloud of undead bats. From high above Stevie J appears, climbing down the side of an old well that had collapsed from above. Leaping into combat with the dark figure, he is wounded as the shade reaches out and touches him, sapping his lifeforce. But summoning his Ki from deep with Stevie lets loose a rain of blows that eventually slays the strange shadow beast, turning it to ash.

Reunited the group moves further into the tunnels recently carved by the zombified miners. Further down they find another cavern, this one filled with wounded and sick humans. Very few can stand, and others show signs of various plagues and diseases. The few that can speak cry out, claiming the "mother" is healing them of their illness. When questioned they call the mother "Lady Adderyan", furthering the growing suspicions the group holds about their ranger ally. Rough-hewn stairs downwards bring the group past the sick villagers and into a massive underground cave. At the edge of the cave lies a lake with dark still water. At the edge of the water, on the black sand, sits a white tent and four figures. Moving closer the group recognises one as Adderyan, while two others stand nearby. A woman in the white robes of a cleric kneels over the prone form of a young child, while a massively fat man in peasants garb waits patiently behind her. Approaching the lady moves forward to talk to them. She explains that the townsfolk were sick, and that she was simply using the waters to heal them. She reveals that the lake was a runoff of the water used at the Autumn Shrine, and she wished to use the Elvish power to heal her people. When questions about the undead she looks abashed, and admits she had not yet finished her remedy, and was testing the unfinished product on the townsfolk. She gestures to the boy on the ground, her son, and with a smile says that once she is finished the remedy she would feed it to her son to make him better. When asked about the weather outside she grows cold, asking the group to leave. They push her further, and with a glance at her son she snaps, screeching that they "would not stop her work" before gesturing to the fat man behind her.

The fat man's body extends and with a horrid squelching reveals himself to be not a man, but a dozen corpses morphed together by foul magic into one being. Lady Adderyan's hair flows back as she magically animates the monster, before she turns and begins fleeing up the beach. Her run is promptly cut short by an arrow to the knee from Pierce, and her pained whimpering is soon drowned out by the sounds of battle. The corpse-beast lumbers forward, losing an arm to Albrecht's sword before swallowing him whole. Stevie's fists seem to have no effect on the massive flesh monster, and soon his body also joins the writhing mass. Pierce, seeing the futility of attacking the creature from the front, begins to run back towards the entrance of the cave. When Adderyan runs at him he knocks his former employer out with a single punch, before continuing to flee from the beast. Laying arrow after arrow into the massive corpse monster he runs around the cavern, making sure to keep the lumbering monster just out of reach. Eventually, pierced by almost 100 arrows, the creature falls to the ground, and a puffing Pierce can pull Albrecht and Stevie out of the mass of flesh.

Adderyan pleads for the lives of his wife and child, and unable to bring themselves to kill the family they are shackled and taken above. Searching the tower the group finds ancient items, long hidden away by the original occupants of the tower. Setting up the sick villagers in the burnt out inn they load the prisoners into the cart to await the justice of the Autumn Knight. The remaining zombie bodies are piled and burned when the collapse during the day, and the tunnel down to the lake is collapsed with picks and Clarence's magic. From Midtower the group makes their way east through the mountains, intent on destroying the Temple of Gruumpsh and slaying the orcs before they reach the Autumn Shrine. Intent on protecting the shrine the shaman of Garool's clan summons rock elementals to waylay the group, and Stevie is nearly crushed to death by one as he walks upside down along a mountain tunnel. He only survives when the constructs are shattered by the magically charged arrows of Pierce, and spends the day recovering in the cart from his wounds. On the third day of travelling through the mountains they happen upon Barrett, finally arrived from Crydee. Finished with his work in the city he had rode here, seeing in a dream that he would meet the group at a tree shaped like a man praising the sun. The others do not see the resemblance in any of the nearby trees, but are glad to be rejoined by the Golden Paladin.

Part III: Roots of the World

The Amber Hills

A small snowstorm had whipped up, unseasonable to the point of bizarre in the midst of summer. Howling winds buffeted the group as they hiked through the snows, pushing past the brown and yellow autumnal trees of the Amber Hills. Through the white haze the party could see lumbering shapes approaching along the narrow path. Larger than any man, the creatures were coated in a thick layer of white fur, and howled as they approached. The wind seemed to respond to their howls, growing colder and more fierce. The snow trolls start bounding forward, intent on consuming those who had been foolish enough to fall into their trap…

[The secrets of the mountains]
Barrett's arrival raised the spirits of the group, and around the campfire he tells them what he knows about Gruumpsh, the god of the Orcs. God of conquering and strength, Gruumpsh is seen to watch over outcasts. Moving further into the Amber Hills, the group eventually finds the Temple of Gruumpsh, and realise the magnitude of their self-appointed task. Thousands or Orcs and Goblins camp in the valley below the temple, a milling mass of tents and campfires. Larger shapes walk among them, trolls and giants sworn to serve the warchief Garool. High above rests a castle of black stone, covered in spikes and circled by carrion birds. The "Temple" of Gruumpsh, true to its god, more of a fortress than a chapel. Stevie sneaks into the Orc camp, and finds out that Garool had taken a small group of bodyguards to the temple to pray. Barrett spots a goat path further up the mountain, and seeing an opportunity to cut the head off the snake the group splits in two. Barrett, Albrecht and Stevie move up the goat path, to find and kill Garool in the temple, while Pierce leads Clarence and the Admiral around the long way to the Autumn Shrine. The cart is not suited to the rocky roads of the mountain, and the group hopes they can slip past the Orcs and onto the Shrine unnoticed.

The goat path is small and winding, growing colder as the group climbs higher up the mountain. The mossy hills are coated with a light coating of snow, unseasonal and evidence of the strange weather effects across the region. Walking through a small mountain pass the group is set upon by a group of yehtis, snow trolls that live in the cold depths of mountains. Their presence is strange, but the broken iron collars around their necks shows them to be escaped slaves from Garool's army. They are led by a hulking two-headed ogre, standing three times the size of a man and swinging a massive tree trunk as a weapon. Stevie leads many of the trolls off by clambering up a nearby cliff face, the beasts clawing up behind him, while Barrett engages the trolls that do not chase the halfling. The ogre is left to Albrecht. Slashing at its legs, Albrecht waits out its uncoordinated swings as his allies keep the snow trolls away from him. Eventually the Giant tires, and with a swift swing of his sword Albrecht lops one of its two heads from its shoulders. Barrett chases down the remaining yehtis as they flee, slaughtering them with his sword Brightwood. Atop a rocky outcrop Stevie fights a pair of the creatures, dashing between them with expert speed amidst the howling winds of the snowstorm. Eventually the creatures lie far below, their bodies broken, and the group pushes further on to find shelter from the storm.

Resting in a cave high on the mountaintop the groups rest is interrupted as a nearby pile of stones animates and begins talking to Barrett. It's name is 'Galebdhur', a guardian spirit put in this cave thousands of years ago to guard the entrance to an Elven tunnel. The stone elemental is friendly, and seem to have grown lonely in his long centuries of isolation. The group shares stories with him and plays some games, and in return he grants them information. They discover that there is a corruption at the Temple of Gruumpsh which drew the Orcs here, but that it is not Gruumpsh. It is the residue of a being long since gone from the world. A feared being known only in whispers as "Bahl". Discovering that the group intends to cleanse the temple, and enjoying their newfound friendship, Galbdhur agrees to allow them access to the 'Roots of the World', a series of ancient tunnels built by the Elves in the time before history to travel quickly between their settlements. He says that he guards the 'Autumn Door', the door leading to the Autumn Shrine as well as the Temple of Gruumpsh, and that there are doors across the Elven lands. Realising these doors may allow them to travel unimpeded across Elvandar the group gratefully accepts his offer, and say their farewells, promising to return to visit him once their mission is completed.

The tunnels begin as rocky, but soon become filled with plants and moss. The walls seem to be made of wood, and an ecosystem thrives amongst the swampy tunnels. The group moves through the small trees and planets with ease, at times wading through dark water or climbing into branching tunnels that seem to defy logic. After a few hours travel they come across a group of troglodites, scaled and slimey fey creatures that are notorious vicious to outsiders. Stevie attempts to crawl along the ceiling to get a drop on them from above, but is quickly attacked by a group of vicious lizard-men that seems to be in liege with the troglodites. Fleeing back to the group he climbs a nearby tree and begins to fire his bow at the swarm of incoming creatures. Barrett and Albrecht rush forward, meeting the beasts rock and bone clubs with their finely wrought steel. The creatures at the back are picked off by arrows as they try to charge through. Pushing through his smaller minions a massive fish-creature comes to the fore, snarling head adorned with a messy crown of rocks and fish teeth. The fish-king raises his massive bone club and lays Albrecht low with a single blow, the knight cast down bleeding into the muddy ground. The smaller creatures redouble their efforts against Barrett and despite slaying many, he is unable to reach his companion, high above Stevie looks on in horror as his quiver runs dry. The lizard-king looms over Albrecht, intent on making the killing blow. As he raises his club he falls limp, his eye pierced by the small rusted arrows of his fishmen minions. Stevie, fired upon by creatures further up the tunnel, had caught one of the arrows and in desperation flung it at the creature. Their leader dead, the rest of the beasts flee back up the tunnel and disappear into its murky depths. Barrett rushes to Albrecht's side and laying his hands upon him calls on the Father to heal his wounds.

Finding a dry alcove the group rests and prepares for their assault on the temple. The tunnels grow dry again, and soon turn to stone as they come up into the base of the Temple of Gruumpsh. The fortress seems to be half ruined, filled with skeletons and strange mushrooms larger than Stevie J is tall. Moving into the ruin they find a torturers chamber, where a pair of red-skinned hobgoblins have a strange winged creature bound to a torture table. Whips and torture devices bouncing off their armour the group easily slay the goblins and free the creature. He is a golden skinned thing with the feathers, wings and beak of an eagle. Stevie calls him a "Birdman", apparently a legend amongst the halflings. The creature speaks with a booming voice, thanking the group for saving him and asking them for his help. He was the leader of a small group of his people sent by the 'Winged Dukes' to save the Autumn Exarch. The Autumn Exarch has long been a friend to his people, and wields one of their holy weapons; Wind, a magical spear. The group had come to check on the Exarch, but had been captured by the minions of Garool. He asks the group to save his friends, captured further into the fortress, and promises his assistance in the fight against Garool if they could do so.

The group moves further into the Temple of Gruumpsh, passing stairs upwards that lead to Garool and an idol room where a dozen black plate-armoured Orcs stand chanting around a statue representing their god. Sneaking past these rooms the groups breaks into the dungeon, where a pair of shackled birdmen are held at the bottom of a pit. As the group enters the magic wards are activated, and a group of stone statues of dogs jump to life. The hellhounds run at the group, but are cut down, their magical resistance ignored by the weapons of the group. Distracted by battle however the group fails to see the real threat animating in the corner of the room. What seemed at first to be a suit of black plate armour slowly rises, hefting a massive stone axe. The blows of the group are rained upon the Wight but he shrugs them off, swinging his axe and cutting deeply into those foolish enough to go near him. Eventually Barrett draws his hammer Lightbringer, and fills it with holy light. Bringing it down upon the construct he shatters it into a thousand pieces with a thunderous booming. As the creature turns to ash the thunderclap echoes throughout the halls of the Temple…

Part IV: Gruumsh & Garool

Atop the Temple of Gruumpsh

A thousand Orcs chant above the howling wind of the localised storm. Pink clouds swirl above the peak of the Temple of Gruumpsh as the armoured Orcs, Goblins and Trolls bellow the name of their new God. He stands far above them atop a statue of Gruumpsh. Behind him his personal bodyguard, Black Orcs all, raise a new statue. Garool stands high above, inheritor of the throne of Gruumpsh.
In a cave not far away the Heroes watch the display. Wounded and bloodied from hours of hard fighting they watch the Orc who would be a God take up his mantle. Pierce, ever the pragmatist, was the only one who spoke.
"We could just…leave…"

[Confronting Garool]
As the boom echoes throughout the Temple the sound of armoured feet against stone can be heard, the Orcs and Goblins from above rushing to check the disturbance. The Birdman 'Korvale' goes below with Stevie J to free his friends, discovering there the bound forms of Clarence and Pierce. They had been captured trying to pass through the mountains, and had been at the hands of the Goblin torturers for some hours now. The prison area is muddy and covered in bones, many dead or dying prisoners manacled to its stone walls. Among them are Adderyan, his wife, and son, captured by the Orcs during their raid on the wagon. Above Albrecht bars the door with a large axe, and pulls out a spear to skewer the first goblins to reach the gate. Below a series of shapes stir in the shadows, creatures of the castle kept alive by the flesh of the prisoners. Grey skinned and with coal red eyes, boney protrusions cover their skeletal bodies. The vampire thralls rush at the group, but are forced to recoil as Barrett brings forth his holy mace Lightbringer. While Stevie and Pierce deal with the horde of Ghouls the vampires had brought with them Barrett smites the unholy beasts with his mace, calling on the power of the Lord of Light and turning the vampires into dust.

Above the goblins had brought bows to bear and Albrecht was forced to retreat, joining his fellows in the murky darkness below. They free Adderyan and his family, noticing bite marks on their necks and thighs. Albrecht considers killing the infected, but Barrett claims he has the ability to cure them of their vampirism the following daybreak. As the discussion goes on Clarence is drawn towards a large pile of bones on the edge of the prison cavern. As he approaches the pile of bones talks to him, and with a shudder he recalls that there is a large and terrifying presence beneath the bone pit. Unwilling to fight the creature Clarence feeds it the bodies of the Ghouls and dead prisoners, and the sense of palpable dread in the room abates for a time. Taking a dark tunnel out of the dungeon they move upwards through winding dark tunnels, led only by Clarences faint memory of their capture. Warm water flows down the tunnels, and soon the group find themselves back in the Temple, in the room where the Black Orcs had been seen earlier.

Korvale is glad to have rescued his allies, and offers to lead the remaining Orcs in the temple off as bait as repayment. He suggests that the party make their way to the fortress brewing chamber, where the Orc One-Eye Shamans had been making healing draughts to supply the army in the valley below. They make their farewells, promising to circle above and help in the fight against Garool if needs be. They give Stevie a small silver whistle with which to call their aid. The group moves through the now empty corridors of the Temple with a new sense of urgency, hearing sounds of movement far above. In the brewing chamber they find alchemical equipment making healing draughts, and Orcs waiting to ambush the party when they enter. Stevie and Pierce circumvent their trap, coming upon the Orcs from behind and slaughtering them with fist and arrow. The group drinks eagerly of the Orc healing draught, although Albrecht turns up his nose at the disgusting taste. Hoping to deny the army their healing if they fail to kill Garool they burn the rest, the alcoholic brew going up in flames and beginning to clog the halls of the temple with smoke. Now healed, the group prepares themselves and move further up the Temple of Gruumpsh and out onto the mountain above. Walking up the endless stairs towards the temple proper they hear a booming voice, and the ground beneath them shakes with every word.

Emerging far above the group sees Garool standing on the mountaintop, shouting with a magically enhanced voice down to his assembled armies. Behind him a group of Black Orcs pull down the statue of Gruumpsh, the mighty black stone figure smashing on the rocks far below. In its place they raise a statue of Garool, winged and fearsome. Garool himself is a huge black Orc in plate armour. His cloak is stitched of human banners and he carries a curved war-axe the size of a man. As the group emerges he finishes his speech, and with a simple gesture of his hand sends his bodyguards towards the group. As he walks up the stairs to the top of the mountain the black orcs form up to attack, shields interlocking and forming a wall of black steel that rushes towards the party. As the beasts rush closer Clarence pulls from his cloak an ancient scroll, written in a dark and ancient tongue. His mouth forming sounds no man was meant to hear the scroll turns to ash and from Clarence's outstretched hands a ball of black fire bursts forth. The ball explodes amongst the gathered orcs, throwing charred and burning corpses down the mountainside in a blossom of fire and flesh. The group rushes in to engage the Orcs that remain, slaughtering many as the recoil in shock from Clarence's display of power. Pierced by arrows and blades the orcs fall, those few who venture out of their ranks skewered by the spears of the Birdmen as the swoop in from above. The final foe, Garool's personal Shaman of Gruumpsh, is bludgeoned to death by Stevie as he tries to cower behind the new statue of his master.

Pierce leads the group upwards towards Garool, having magically marked him. The sky overheard is filled with strange storms with a pinkish hue, and a gale blows down upon the group as the take a spiral staircase to the top of the mountain. Behind a rocky outcrop the group comes upon Garool seated on a massive throne made of the skulls of hundreds if not thousands of his enemies. By his side stands a tall armoured Elf, recognisable to the group as Malfeas, knight of Elvandar. With shock they confront him about his betrayal, and with glowing pink eyes he explains that he would do anything to save the forest. Chanting aloud he summons a small purple portal in the ground in front of him, and with a nod to Garool steps through. Garool raises from his throne and with a booming voice begins to talk. He berates the group for interfering with his plans, and mourns the time it took him to breed and train his black orc bodyguards. As the group moves to engage him he raises his hands above, and all but Albrecht find themselves frozen with fear. With a sickening crunch and a burst of magical energy Garool's form begins to change ripped asunder from within as he transforms into a hulking brown dragon. Hide peppered with skulls and armour plates and breath noxious he roars at the group, announcing himself the new god of the orcs. Albrecht, still charging the now massive form, pushes his blade deep within the belly of the dragon Garool. Almost dismissively Garool vomits a foul acid down upon the proud knight, his screams as his armour and flesh melt snapping his shocked allies into action. As the ready weapons and move towards the creature Garool uses his claws to break Albrechts bloody form in two, consuming both halves in a mist of blood and bones.

Arrows and spells ping off the dragons thick plates as it rushes to meet its attackers. Having consumed their ally the brown dragon swoops upwards upon corrupt wings, breathing more acid upon Pierce and send him leaping back into cover to avoid the onslaught. Clarence brings forth another unholy scroll and sends a beam of lightning towards the dragon, but even his formidable magic bounces off Garool's scales. Barrett rushes the beast and is cast aside with a blow of its claws, his proud form sent sprawling into the throne of bones. As the beast nears him Stevie leaps into the portal, more willing to face the uncertainty of the magic than the beast slaying his allies. Nearing on Clarence beams and bursts of magic bounce off the unholy form of Garool. It begins to laugh, slowing its walk towards Clarence and mocking the attempts of the party to stop him. As it reaches Clarence and draws back a claw to finish the job it recoils in pain, the shadowy form of Stevie reveal amongst its shoulder blades. Returned from the portal, Stevie had plunged both his daggers into the spine of the creature. As it writhed and wriggled to free the halfling from its back Clarence took careful aim and with the last of his magic sent a bolt of pure energy into the open mouth of the creature. Garool's skull is burst from the back of its head, and its magic dispelled shrivels back into the form of the Orc Warchief.

Casting restorative magic upon his allies Clarence manages to save the lives of Pierce and Barrett, but the half eaten form of Albrecht is far beyond even his power. The group takes his body with him, and Barrett pulls the plate armour from Garool's sizzling corpse before tossing it from the top of the peak. As their master falls down the mountainside the army below begins to break up. Minor warlords turn on those above them, and long feuding Orcs and Goblins clans slay each other in a frenzy only held in check by the presence of Garool. Watching the madness below the group limps back to Garool's throne and, with nowhere else to go, step into the glowing portal…

Sir Albrecht of Blackwell, Knight of the Duchy con Doin, slain by the dragon Garool upon the Peak of Gruumsh.

Part V: The Autumn Shrine

The Autumn Shrine

"…and we give you now unto the Lord". The group finished the prayer, for many shakey or half-remembered. Barrett led the statement with glowing eyes and a hand on his sword hilt. He knew it was his failing that the knight had fallen. He had taken it upon himself to guide the young man, and now he was sending his soul back to the Lord of Light.
The last of the kindling is placed upon the pyre, and with a flick of his fingers Clarence sent it up in flames. A small spark of light in the dark forest night. It seemed a turning point. A longtime comrade had fallen, the false-god Garool thrown down.
And yet there was more work to be done.

[A humbling]
The portal leads back to the Roots of the World, where the party regroups and prepares to move onwards to the Autumn Shrine. Finding an exit, they stop to burn Albrecht's body and Pierce takes his leave. During the fight on the mount Adderyan and his family, now infected with vampirism, had escaped and Pierce had taken it upon themselves to track them down. Clarence takes this moment to ask Barrett to heal him of his own vampire bite, and the party makes their way once more into the twisted tunnels of the Roots. Chittering echoes bounce around the tunnels, and a fell wind blows that chills the group to their very bones. Within the tunnels they find the body of a dead human, but with no distinguishable markings they leave him where he fell. Eventually they arrive at the Autumn Shrine, a carved wooden door set with red and orange leaves. Exiting the Roots they find themselves at the bottom of the hill on which the shrine is set. Amidst a small stone gazebo reclaimed by vines and undergrowth they find an armoured dwarf, kneeling in meditation amidst a localised storm. The dwarf rises, introduces himself as Lorgar, a priest of the Dwarven god Stormlord. He had come to the temple to try and right the problem with the weather in the name of his god, but had been unable to progress. Stopping to pray for guidance he had come upon the party, and now saw them as a sign from on high that he was meant to purge the Shrine. Eager for a new ally the group agrees to accompany him upwards to the village beneath the Autumn Shrine.

The village is abandoned, and signs of a quick exit are visible as the group moves through. Barrett's sharp eyes spot a group of Kobolds hiding amidst the wooden buildings, waiting to ambush the party as they move up to the Shrine. Stevie and the newcomer Lorgar have a disagreement as to how to deal with the hidden enemies, and taking advantage of their delay the Kobolds attack. Wielding rusty shields and clubs a dozen of the beasts run towards the group. As they do so lightning begins to strike from within their numbers, as Lorgar pulls down energy from the storm-clouds above. Although the Shamans leading the group attempt to slow down Barrett by superheating his armour and grappling him with vines he breaks through, and smashes one of the creatures down. The other transforms into a massive reptile in his panic, but is no match for the flurry of blows from Stevie. Moving further up into the temple proper they come into the base of the massive stone structure, where a series of pillar covered in red vines hold up a rickety stone roof. Amongst the pillars sit golden leaved trees that seem to burst to life as the group moves within the temple. The trees are revealed to be Dryads, part Elf and part fey spirit they lash out with wooden weapons that are part of their very forms. As they rush the party with mindless fury they are blasted apart by lightning and dark fire, and cut to pieces with Brightwood glowing in Barretts hand. Stevie J jumps from pillar to pillar firing his bow between acrobatic flips. The creatures turn to ash as they fall, and upon the last guardians slaying the Shrine itself seems to groan in pain.

Poking through the remains of the dryads Barrett muses that the creatures had not attacked him, and voices his suspicions that the creatures were the original guardians of the Shrine, corrupted by the energy that was harming the temple. Weary of more natural defences the group ascends a winding stone staircase to the temple-proper. The trees flanking the path bleed red-sap that looks like blood, and their leaves rot on the ground where they fall. Within the temple the group comes across a vast group of corpses. Mostly elves, they wear the garb of druids. As the group stop to inspect the bodies there is a wet ripping sound, and a wall at the back of the room suddenly emits red light. A hole is ripped in the wall, through which a mirrored version of the room is visible. From within the mirrored room shadows of the dead elves claw their way out, swooping towards the group with cries of pain. The lead creature is blasted apart by a focused beam of light from Barrett, while the others are ripped to shreds by Stevie's magical fists. The shadows cast down, a white spirit rises from amongst the dead elves. The deceased elf has a sad face, and speaks to the group of its last moments taking a drink from the healing well. She warns the group of the dangers ahead, of the corruption of the Exarch and of the fate that might befall them if they go into the inner chamber of the Shrine.

Stopping and healing the group moves into the inner sanctum of the Shrine. They walk through a serene scene with large autumnal trees, set next to a large pond with gently flowing water. It seems lovely, until they see the creature in the middle of he pool. What was once a Treant is now corrupted beyond imagining, its snarling face crying tears of sap-blood and its bark rotting and dark. As the group moves to attack the corrupted Treant snaps its trap shut. The other trees in the area spring to life, pulling boulders from the very ground itself and flinging them at the party. Lorgar is struck down by a massive rock, and Stevie J is smashed as he tries to pull the dwarf into cover. Clarence and Barrett fight to their best, but are no match for the massive trees. They are both smashed into the river, the trees of the Autumn Glade rushing in to finish the job. As the corrupted Treants close in on the party Lorgar pulls in the rest of his energy and summons the water into a vast wave that pushes his unconscious allies back out of the doors of the sanctum and into the hallway. The trees return to their sentry posts as the group lie unconscious only one room away.

Waking some minutes later the group retreats back to the Roots of the World. Totally outmatched by the Treants they feel their chance to purge the Shrine slipping away, as the air becomes noxious and the water runs a muddy red. Resting and recovering in the Roots of the World they find their way back into the Shrine blocked, the corruption having finally reach the entrance of the Roots. Travelling back to Greenhollow the group takes rooms in the Arrow in Flight and mourn their failure. Elvandar had been attacked almost every day in their absence by groups of beastmen and hellhounds, and a small group of mercenaries was threatening locals into enlisting in their organisation. The men go by the name 'The Hounds', and the local militia can do little to stop them. That night while drowning their sorrows the group is set upon by a group of Hounds. Although the group easily see them off they witness first hand the danger of these vigilantes, as locals unwilling to join are beaten in the streets of Greenhollow. Barrett and Lorgar attend the home base of the Hounds the next morning, while Stevie has a local bowsmith make him a fine quality bow. At the Hounds base of operations Barrett is insulted as their leader insists he is not a real paladin. Upon being called corrupt by the bandits Barrett's patience ends, and he smashes down the front door with an audible boom. He takes the leader to jail, and the rest of the Hounds are forced by Lorgar to enlist in the local militia. The following day the group meets with the Handmaiden, who takes their information about Garool and Malfeas with shock. Promising an investigation she asks that the group investigates a strange group who had been noticed in the forest days earlier by Elven scouts.

Couple of days out of town find the evidence of the strange force. Sounds of steel on steel meet their ears, and they find hundreds of foes engaged in a deadly battle. A massive group of beastmen and hellhounds is gathered, surrounding a smaller group of heavily armoured and colourful foes. With a shock many of the group recognise these figures as Surani, the strange humans from another realm who had dominated their dealings with the Duke of Crydee. Although heavily outnumbered Lorgar attempts to engage the larger force, smashing their ranks with bolts of lightning from above. However as a hundred of the beastmen breaks off to attack the party they are forced to retreat back into the forest. The Surani move to investigate this other force and the party pounce upon them, capturing one soldier and sending the rest fleeing into the forest. The captured Surani in tow the group makes their way back to Greenhollow, encounter a wayward group of fey spirits that lashed out angrily at them. Although most of the creatures could barely harm the heavily armoured party one of Stevie J's dogs was ripped apart by the small limbs of the fey plant spirits. Back in Greenhollow the Handmaiden agrees to keep the Surani warrior prisoner for questioning while the group resume their accommodation at the Arrow in Flight. However during the night the Surani manages to slip loose of his bindings, and kills himself by smashing his skull open against the steel door. Disheartened, the group prepares to visit the remaining shrines despite the set backs they had suffered. As they make to leave Greenhollow the Handmaiden and informs them they are summoned before the Court of Seasons.

Part VI: Heart of the Forest

The Huntmistress' Mansion

Stepping up to speak in front of the assembled nobles Stevie was nervous. Many of the adventures he was to recite had ended in drunken nights that had made him forget the earlier adventures, and these elves were always so serious. He straightened his red cloak to cover his normally exposed privates and moved out in front of the golden-clad elves. He would, he had decided, open his speech with a little joke to break the ice. "An Elven maiden walks into a Dwarven bar, with a Tiefling, an Orc and a pitcher of mead…"

[Two final tasks]
The roots of vast white wood trees make chairs for the members of the court, and golden leaves fall from the canopy above. The heroes sit in the corner, quiet and mindful of the powerful figures arranged around them. The full court is assembled, with Elven dignitaries, the Huntsmistress, Handmaidens of the Queen and a single out of place human in armour made to mimic a wild boar. This is Almar, leader of the human mercenary group known as 'the Hounds'. The Warmaster, a tall elf in fine silver leafed plate armour, stands to address the assembled host. He discusses the defence of the city, and notes that the Beastmen seemed to be raiding to cause terror, and not to form a proper assault. To this end he asks the party to speak of their findings at the Seasonal Shrines, and although the knight Pereval protests, and the group find themselves standing before the might of the Elven court. The group stand one by one and deliver their story. They speak of dragons and treants, the roots of the world and the corruption of the shrines and the Elves gasp at the horrors infecting their lands. As they sit the Elves spring into motion, various Lords and Knights leaving to take their men to the lost shrines, while many go to spread the news to their own households. With the majority of the Elves gone Almar of the Hounds stands to speak and a look of terror is cast across Clarence's face.

Even as Clarence shouts a warning Almar shifts and mutates, his skin ripped off as fur grows beneath it. His armour is ripped from his form as he grows into a hulking were-beast! His guards leap forward and transform themselves, their long claws ripping down the lightly armoured Elven guards. From outside the sounds of battle can be heard, as more of the Hounds rush to assault the Court of Seasons. Barrett and Lorgar move to fight the Hounds, smashing them apart with bursts of light and slaying them with holy weapons. Clarence, Stevie and Pierce move to engage Almar, loping towards the Lord Consort in a frenzy. Clarence reaches out telekenetically and grabs Almar, and enraged monster writhes and roars in frustration. Pierce and Stevie draw their bows and sink arrow after arrow into the helpless Almar. He roars and curses them in a guttural tongue, but the two archers have nothing but ice in their eyes, and pepper the beast with arrows until he falls bloodied to the ground. Their leader dead, the rest of the Hounds flee in terror, pursued by the Elven guards.

The Huntmistress and Handmaiden return with their bodyguards, and the Lord Consort returns to the Oak of Ages to tell the Queen what had transpired. The Elven guards move in, and the Huntmistress takes the group back to her Tree-Mansion while the chaos calms down. In her treetop home the group rests and takes nourishment, safe from the hunt going on below. For their help in rescuing the Lord Consort the Huntmistress removes cloaks from her armoury, ancient elven cloaks enchanted with the magic of the forest. She bequeathed these to all but Lorgar, the Dwarf having not yet earned her trust. After the giving of gifts she asks for one last favour of the group. She tells them of the Forest Alpha, a massive magical beast that is king of all the wild creatures within Elvandar. She fears that in the corruption of the forest that the Alpha had also been corrupted and had been tracking it for many days to find its lair. She had meant to slay it herself but with the recent chaos in the capital could not be taken away from it. She gives to Pierce a magically elven bow with which to slay the creature, a hunters weapon of carved wood many centuries old. As they make to leave the Handmaiden of the Queen arrives and makes a request of them as well. The Lord Consort is putting together an army to take back the Spring Shrine, but needs for the Roots of the World there to be activated before he can travel there. She asks the group to travel to the Spring Shrine and activate the dormant Roots, so the Lord Consorts army can make its way through.

As the group leaves Greenhollow, riding west to the warren of the Alpha, they see the Elvish militia drilling and preparing for the coming war. Wearing armour of bronze and gold they bear banners that declare them the 'Autumnwatch', a new force being mustered to protect the forest in the absence of the Autumnal spirits. With the Admiral left behind in Greenhollow, the group makes their way swiftly through the dark forest. Pierce leads the group as best he can, but even he cannot find a quick path through the brambly mess of the forest. One night the group comes across the body of the Alpha's most recent prey, a majestic unicorn stained with blood and rotting on the forest floor. Barrett cries as he buries the creature, but the following night Stevie J returns to the grave to remove the creatures horn. He returns from the "scouting trip", the others unaware of the fortune sitting in his backpack. As they near the den of the Alpha the forest becomes more and more corrupted, the very trees themselves lashing out at the group to protect their master. As they approach the den they are set upon by hellhounds, wolves corrupted by the Alpha's presence that snarl and spit as the group nears. The beasts lunge towards Barrett's horse, but find themselves blasted apart as bolts of lightning burst forth from the cloudy sky at Lorgar's command. His minions slain, the Alpha emerges from his den.

Hot air bellows from the cave as the creature burst forth, no longer a forest spirit but a fearsome Chimera. Scaled, winged and with three snarling heads the creature bears boils and sores, and acid bile drips from its central wolf head. Closest to the cave Clarence and Lorgar flee, barely escaping the dark brown flames erupting from the Alpha's dragon head. As the others flee Barrett moves to engage it, while Pierce and Stevie clamber atop nearby trees to fire their bows. Blessing himself in an aura of light Barrett raises his shield and takes the brunt of the creatures attacks, as its three heads snap their jaws at his armoured form. As Barrett takes blow after blow the Chimera is lashed from its sides, with magic and arrows smashing into its leathery hide. Eventually it shoots a ball of fire from its mouth that smashes Stevie and Pierce from their vantage points, but Barrett takes this chance to plunge his sword Brightwood through the chest of the beast and straight into its heart.

As the corpse of the creature bubbles and turns to ash the group moves past it into the Winter Shrine. The forest around the shrine is frozen and racked with biting wind, but within the group finds the forest normalising after the slaying of the Alpha. Taking a break in a hot spring they rest and heal their wounds, before making their way through the Winter Door and into the Roots of the World. The Roots are even worse here, the mud beneath their feet frozen and pungent. Moving through the fetted muggy tunnel the groups comes across an Elven wayhouse, a stone structure meant as a resting spot for travellers on the road. But the pool of the wayhouse is now mud, and within it writhes a massive black scaled serpent. Stevie and Pierce takes bets on their ability to shoot the creature with their bows, but are quickly driven off be its massive jaws. The creature is vast and undead, its bones jutting from rotten flesh, and the group quickly flees away from it through the Roots, unwilling to try their lucky against such a deadly beast. Coming up to the Spring Door the group finds a muddy garden with skeletal trees, once a flowering garden the area is now occupied by the skeletons of Beastmen who had tried to make their way through the Roots. Their killers are soon discovered, as a dozen massive centipedes languish in the mud around the door. Slaying the beasts the group moves through the Spring Door and out onto the area surrounding the Spring Shrine…

Part VII: Season Unending

the Battlefield

Guttural growls shuddered in the air, and the wind carried the stink of wet fur. White tabards rippled, armour shone bright; wings arched, cracked; magic seethed in the grass, in the earth, in the threatening clouds. Bowstrings creaked and wolves howled. Hope's host assembled on the staging ground, arrayed against a sea of blackness.
Doric the Effusive, travelling Bard

[The Heroes resurgent]
Out through the parting roots of the Spring Door the group finds themselves assault by the smell and sight of a massive army deployed below them. Beneath a pink light glowing in the sky an army of beastmen and corrupted forest spirits attacks the Spring Shrine, the few Elven defenders barely holding on against the forces arrayed against them. Moving to the Spring Door Clarence inserts the rod given to him by the Huntmistress, and through the portal springs the Elven forces. The Huntmistress Hegra walks before her assembled Autumnwatch, the Elves marching in disciplined ranks with their leaf shaped spears. Nearby Captain Shrevni of the Brilliant Circle leads a group of a dozen paladins in full plate armour, each wielding a two-handed hammer bearing the sun flare sigil of the Lord of Light. Forces flow out of the portal; the Druids of the south walking alongside their own summoned fey spirits, the now armoured Birdman Korvale and his kin, and even the Earth Elemental Galebdhur. Behind them comes Punchcat, his dark plate armour bristling with furs and new bone trophies he leads a pack of wild animals and greets his old allies with a simple nod. The dark forces pull away from the Shrine, while an elf with a glowing pink spear moves through the now shattered gates with a bodyguard of dark furred minoaturs. Marshalling themselves above the Shrine, the forces of light charge towards the darkness arrayed below.

The forces of darkness send forth their towering ice-giants, intent on smashing aside the charge before it reaches their lines. Forming up the elven archers Pierce leads them at firing at the lumbering creatures, and peppered with hundreds of arrows each of the creatures falls with a resounding smash. The last beast, an ancient and evil two-headed giant, falls with only a pair of arrows piercing his flesh. In each of his heads a single eye had been skewered by the expertly aimed arrows of Pierce, and the forces of light charge passed the fallen giants towards their foes.

The beastmen beyond attempt to form up ranks, lowering black iron spears and hefting corrupted wooden shields. They await the charge of the elves with malice, driven by a single will to fight and die for their master. But before the charge could break upon the wall of iron the beasts are flung into the area. Diving from above Korvale and his allies smash the ranks aside with bursts of air, while the dark clouds above rain down blow after blow of lightning into the beastmen. Enchanting far above, Lorgar summons his God's wrath down upon the army and blasts the forces below with thunder and light.

Reeling from their losses the creatures are no match for Barrett and the paladins of the Bright Circle. Projecting a nimbus of light from their glowing weapons the armoured figures make up the wedge in the elven charge, smashing aside the beasts with hammer blows as they chant a prayer to the Lord of Light. Summoning his holy steed Barrett rides through the ranks to the beastmen shamans behind, slashing down the foul creatures with Brightwood and putting an end to their foul magics.

Behind the charge of the paladins the Earth Elemental Galebdhur surges across the rocky ground, summoning up stones and flinging them as he goes. Atop his writhing ever-moving form surfs Stevie, his boots firmly planted on his friends back as he fires arrow after arrow in the fray. Glebdhur and Stevie laugh as they slay, the two friends enjoying the chance to rid the forest of its corruption. As Galebdhur moves across the sheer cliff face of a nearby hill Stevie readjusts, and firing his bow upside down continues to rain death upon the assembled forces.

Despite their losses the forces of darkness move to counter attack, creatures moving into the forest to encircle and destroy the elven forces. Corrupted dryads run from the nearby forest and smash into the ranks of the archers, smashing the elves aside with their fearsome claws. Clarence draws up the Druids and forms them into a magical circle, pulling on their powers to strike back against the dryads. He reaches out his hands and dark energy manifests around the dryads. One by one the souls of the tree-creatures are plucked from their bodies, offered by Clarence to his dark patron.

As the hellhounds of the Alpha emerge from the forest to protect their allies they are met by the other creatures of the forest. Led by a bellowing Punchcat the wolves and lions of Elvandar strike back against the corruption. Claws and teeth meet scaly skin as the creatures clash, and moving amongst them Punchcat smash the hellhounds aside with his heavy steel gauntlets.

Smashes aside by the forces of light the creatures of darkness disperse, fleeing into the forest away from the wrath presented before them. Groups of elves and beasts move to pursue them, eager to rid the forest of the darkness once and for all. The group reunites, and moves into the Spring Shrine to pursue Malfeas, the betrayer and instigator of all the death and madness that had been flung against them these last few weeks. The Spring Shrine is built around the rim of an ancient and massive tree, and within the group finds the bodies of the slain elven guardians. Some seem to have been frozen solid, while others pierce by blades or cut into pieces. Within the heart of the shrine they find Malfeas, the lithe elven knight wearing white armour that seems to be made of pure ice. In one hand he wields Wind, the magical spear of the Autumn Shrine and in his other Flame-Prince, the shield of the Summer Shrine. His armour, the Ice-Plate of the Winter Shrine, sends off gusts of cool air that freeze leaves from trees as they lash out around him. As the group approaches his bodyguards, half a dozen hulking dark furred minotaurs, move to protect him. He begins to talk as he gestures his guards to attack: "I would have been consort you know. Lord of the forest. But at least I will take your lives before I am cast down".

The heavily armoured minotaurs run forward, swinging massive two-handed axes, while Malfeas begins to cast magic from atop the throne in the centre of the Shrine. A snowstorm is summoned in the room as the Seasonal Artefacts begin to unleash their magic at random. Lorgar rushes forward, smashing his hands to the ground and sending the minotaurs flying to the sides of the room. While Barrett and Lorgar move to fight Malfeas the others fight the recovering minoaturs. As he approaches Lorgar is cast aside by a beam of ice shot from Malfeas' gauntlet, and lies still on the ground. Pierce pings arrows at his minotaur opponents, easily keeping out of reach of the lumbering beasts. Clarence sends beams of dark energy that incinerate the beasts, and the blows of Stevie J shatter armour and bones alike. Above Barrett duels with Malfeas, the elf ducking his blows as Barrett takes blow after blow from his unnaturally swift golden spear. As Malfeas moves to strike the killing blow he is pushed back, arrows and blasts of magic from below smashing into his form. He struggles to rise, but the missiles slam into him again and again. Finally, exhausted, he falls as an arrow splits through his helmet and takes him in the centre of his skull.

Trees seem to flower on Malfeas' death, as the spirits corrupting the forest are dispelled. The sky outside fades to blue, and the summer sun shines upon Elvandar for the first time in what seems like an age. The assembled elven forces move to retake the Shrine, and the Handmaiden beckons the group accompany her back to Elvandar. There she bestows upon them gifts from the Queen, tokens of her gratitude in saving the forest. She tells them that the Winter and Autumn shrines are corrupted forever, and that the trouble in the court will continue for many years. But this is not their concern, and the party retrieves the ancient elven text that they had come to the forest to retrieve. Resting in Greenhollow for a few days they remount the Admiral and make their way out of the forest.


Atop his warhorse Barrett Bray thumbs at a holy symbol sitting atop his pure white tabard. A golden sunburst, carved from the claws of dragons, it radiates light as he caresses it absent mindedly with his armoured fingers.
Beneath the roof of their battle-worn wagon Clarence turns a ring over and over in his hands, marvelling at how the bone carved flames covering his gift seem to move as the light touches it. Placing it on his gnarled finger he moves to the front of the carriage to speak to the Dwarf.
A newcomer to the group, Lorgar had settled in nicely during his time in the forest. He wears his gift beneath a belt, a sash of sea wyrm scales said to protect him from harm.
Beneath the dark trees two figures walk apart from the group. Stevie J, a sash of midnight blue across his chest, drifts in and out of the shadows, melding with them as his gift from the Queen does its work.
Beside him Pierce walks with typical determination, the pale grey wooden carving in his pocket growling like the wolf it so resembled.
Eventually the dusty path breaks out into the light of a blooming summer sun. Saying final farewells to their elven guides, the group marches back towards the coast, and their next adventure.

Campaign Appendixes

Dramatis Persona:

  • Barrett Bray: Golden haired and fair skinned half-elf Paladin. Worships the Father with utter devotion, and is disdainful of any who breaks his convents. Wanders the land bringing justice to those who have fallen into darkness. Believes himself chosen by the Lord of Light, after an encounter with a Unicorn.
  • Clarence the Wizened: Clarence stands with years of experience swindling and manipulating his betters. A simple forger and con artist Clarence found his true calling through a magical oath to one of the Old Gods. From this Old God he gains powers to defend himself and destroy those who oppose him. As time passes he seems to become more physically able, his youth returned by his dark patron.
  • Stevie Jayleaf: A halfling thief who follows a strict code to keep his body and mind in perfect shape. His training allows him to perform acts beyond others, even those twice his height and bulk. A good hearted trickster by nature, he sometimes gets himself into trouble with pranks and hi-jinx.
  • Albrecht Blackwell: A human noble from nearby Neverwinter, sent into the wilds to prove himself as a warrior. After the events in Cragmore he stayed on with the group, having gained a taste for the adventuring lifestyle. Wields a two-handed dueling blade.
  • Pierce: An urchin from the streets of Karse, who was expelled from the city and made a living as a ranger in the Elven forests surrounding Elvandar. Joined the group as a guide in the forests.
  • Lorgar Thunderheart: Dwarven Cleric of the Stormlord, come to Elvandar to investigate the corrupted weather patterns in the region.

NPCs & Associates:

  • The Admiral: Strong oxen, loyal friend. Originating in Fandolin, this fine beast of burden has pulled his wagon all across the Kingdom.
  • Punchcat: Unique barbarian warrior who fights with armoured fists. Occasionally joins the Heroes as they roam the land. Despite his playful demeanour, he is fierce in defence of his friends.
  • * Doric: Named the effusive, silvertongue or "the handsome", Doric is a bard and storyteller. He is an enigma, dropping in and out of lives just long enough to compose a tale or inspire others to greatness. Has been tailing the party for some time, and now follows them south.
  • The Handmaiden: Representative of the Queen of Elvandar, beautiful and enigmatic Elf.
  • Adderyan: Human ranger from the town of Midtower, come to Elvandar to petition to Queen to save his town.
  • Korvale: Fey warrior of the plane of air. A mythical creature, he has many birdlike elements and rarely visits the material plane.


  • Elvandar: Capital of the Elves, place of mystery and magic.
  • Greenhollow: Human settlement on the very outskirts of Elvandar, set into the roots of the trees that protect the city.
  • Midtower: Human village in the Elven forest, survives only by the grace of the Elves.
  • The Four Shrines: Magical focal points for the Seasonal Shrines of Elvandar, home of the Exarchs.
  • The Temple of Gruumpsh: Orc temple in the mountains to the East of Elvandar.


[The Elven Realm]

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