The rest of the rooms in the second tree of the Abbey held nothing of interest, and so they made ready to cross to the third and last tree. There were two bough bridges, one difficult to traverse, the other easier and still had the handrails for safety.
“Looks suspicious,” said Cundall. “Why are the handrails still present on this bough bridge?”
In the end they decided to risk it, but still roped themselves together. Partway across a glyph of warding activated, exploding knocking Minimus off the bridge, although the rope stopped him falling too far. The explosion had caused him some damage, but he had avoided the worst of it.
‘Burn it down’ he thought as he drank a greater potion of healing.
The handsome double doors at the entrance to the trunk of the last tree depicted the cyclical phases of the sun: dawn, noon, dusk, midnight. They appeared well maintained, showing none of the signs of neglect they had seen elsewhere. Glowing runes etched into the center of the door crackled with a magical energy that even the uninitiated recognised as a warning and a seal. Precisely etched elven letters declared this the entrance to Fane of the Lastsun.
“More glyphs of warding by the looks,” said Marie, examining the glowing runes.
“Can you dispel them?” asked Zelda.
“No, but they could have a key word to nullify them, or key phrase. I have no idea what that would be.”
The party came up with phrases and words, in elvish and common, but nothing seemed to work on the runes. Finally Marie used a mage hand cantrip from a distance. An explosion ruffled everyone’s hair, but nothing else. The doors were undamaged, and now slightly open. Marie brought out the shade coin. "Time for play-acting!! she said.
The inner temple was designed long ago in the style of an open amphitheater, with tiered rows of curved benches facing a wooden altar. Behind the altar, a huge opening in the trunk of the shadow top looked due west, rising well above the forest canopy below. A female voice echoed in the empty chamber:
“At last, you have come; long has been my vigil, but not in vain.” The spectral form of an elven warrior shimmers into being ten feet above the temple floor; she did not look like a ghost, she was beautiful. If not for her being partially translucent the party might have thought her alive. Her eyes blazed with fury. “I swore to defend this Abbey, and that oath has now come due.” The spirit extended her left hand and seemed to catch hold of a beam of light filtering down through the leaves overhead. As she pulled her hand back, it could be seen that she now grasped a faintly glowing longbow. She cried out in a loud, clear voice, “Defenders! Awaken! The halls are breached! The time has come at last for us to drive the shadows from this place!”
The battle was on! Meira was not alone – elven spirits rose up from the floor, causing supernatural fear as their fair faces changed to something horrible. They also keened, their otherworldly wail so horrifying Minimus could feel his heart nearly stop. But he, like the others, were made of sterner stuff and shook off the effect. Meira’s bow seemed to know where Minimus was going to duck and dodge to, the arrows hit him with a force that nearly knocked him off his feet. He found he had to retreat, leaving Cundall who suddenly found himself facing the elven spirits and Meira. He sank to the ground having been touched with corruption and Meira’s arrows.
“Cundall’s down,” yelled Zelda, continuing to fire at Meira who was flying out of range of melee attack. Meanwhile Minimus downed some potions of healing and Marie cast fly upon him, and he charged through the air towards Meira. Link had been summoned by Zelda and being part of the spirit world himself had no difficulty in tearing – ghost flesh? ectoplasm? Zelda wasn’t sure – from the elven spirits. In the end their teamwork saw them through, Meira wailed as she knew herself defeated, and Cundall was revived from the brink of death.
The spirit of Meira Faerenduil sighed audibly, as if a great weight had been removed from her chest. Lowering her weapons, she looked at the heroes with pale eyes, now clear of the rage that had burned within them.
“You are no agents of shadow, and yet I find myself free at last. I know not what you did, or why, or how, but I know I am in your debt.” Tired from her eternal vigil, she offered Zelda the bow she wielded in both life and death.
“This is Shadowsong, an oathbow. Wield it well, on behalf of the forces of light. I sense your path has occasionally been crossed with darkness, indecisiveness, influence from those minds perhaps less pure of thought of your own.” The ghost’s pale eyes flitted to where Minimus and Cundall were seeing to their wounds.
Meira began to speak of the terrible changes that had seeped into the forest from the Underdark below, drawn up by the deep roots of the trees.
“I will visit with my great granddaughter,” she said, “who set you on this task for no reason other than love and a desire to see things set to rights. I sense greater perils yet remain for the mortals of the world beyond the forest. Perhaps my vigil is not ended, only changed…” She then disappeared from view.
Zelda marvelled at the bow.
“An Oathbow,” she breathed. “I never thought I would hold one, let alone weild it.”
“How much do you think we can sell it for?” asked Cundall. “Kidding, just kidding!” he added when Zelda gave him that look.
The trip back to Elventree was again uneventful. They came across more drow, who they guided to the refugee camps, and saw more evidence of the corruption in Cormanthor – six toed animals, some with two heads, bodies of creatures killed for sport. Nothing serious bothered them though. They were not sure if luck played a role, or if Brightleaf was cleaning up the forest.
Back in Elventree the party were able to rest and recuperate from the last few weeks of adventuring. Elendil was overjoyed at their success, and said she experienced a visit from her ancestor. While her spirit had moved on, Elendil told her that she would return to fight if she were called.
To be continued.