The party set out from Elventree, having been tasked by Nymarrath to investigate the area. She had been having some of her prophetic visions about disasters, and she had been right about the disasters that befell Phlan and Mulmaster. Now her visions were much closer to home.
Cundall the druid and Zelda the elf ranger were both members of the Emerald Enclave, and Nymarrath was their immediate superior in the organisation. She had sent out her apprentice the half elf Beralt some days before to investigate, but the aged elf believed she needed more eyes on the ground and had requested Cundall and Zelda assist her. Nymarrath also sought aid for her two agents, and Marie Seneforth the wizard originally from Hillsfar, and Minimus the halfling fighter were recruited.
Now they were heading on the road west from Elventree through the Cormanthor Forest, not really sure what they were looking for. Both Cundall and Zelda had known things weren’t right in the Cormanthor Forest. Cundall knew the animals were on edge, and there was an uneasiness amongst the fey. He had heard, but not seen, of some animals being born different, for example they might have six toes, or they might grow to a large size soon after being born and turn aggressive and dangerous. Zelda knew that something had changed of late within the forest Cormanthor, and not for the better. The animal denizens of the wood were fearful, keeping to the edge of the trees – or fleeing all together. Many of the dryads and other tree spirits were uneasy and sense a ‘wrongness’ that they could not identify. Not having the same affinity with nature, Marie and Minimus were oblivious to the distress of the land, although Marie knew that lately the people of Hillsfar had grown restless, lustful and greedy. They clamoured for new spectacles to satiate their hedonistic desires; desires the Red Plumes were only happy to profit from.
They were perhaps an hour from Elventree when a muffled shout burst from a copse of trees off the road, and an old human man wearing torn and bloody clothes staggered into view. The blood on his clothes came from small cuts and scratches rather than any large wound. His charge toward the party was slow, ponderous, and shaky. Before they could even draw weapons or ready spells, he collapsed in the grass. He was still shouting, however, although the words grow fainter and fainter with each passing moment.
The party cautiously approached the man on the grass. They could see he was old but not elderly, injured but not fatally, and appeared to be suffering but for no apparent reason. He kept shouting the same words, like a mantra, over and over. His sentences were long and rambling.
Cundall gave the man a goodberry he had created with a spell earlier, and while this healed a few of his scratches, it had no affect on his overall deteriorating health. Nothing the party could do assuaged the man’s pain or madness, and he suddenly vomited on himself. Cundall looked to see if his goodberry was amongst the vomit. Zelda saw what he was doing and made a face. It wasn’t there anyway, at least not in any retrievable form. The man then died at the feet of the characters after repeating his message several more times.
After doing what any adventurer would do (searched the body), the party found the man carried few belongings nor had any distinguishing features. A Harper pin was found in on the inside of his jacket, an empty sword scabbard at his waist, and a well kept dagger still in it’s sheathe also at his waist belt. They also found a scroll which matched the words he had been repeating, as well as some writing underneath as if the man had been trying to investigate those very words himself. Maire examined the body using detect magic and found a lingering effect of possible infernal magic.
The party buried the man where he had fallen, with Cundall providing words to speed the man’s soul on its way to whatever reward awaited him in the afterlife. He then used his druidcraft cantrip to create the illusion of falling leaves over the man’s grave, and then to make a flower grow over the body. When he was about to burst into singing “The Circle of Life” the party decided that was enough for the unknown man and packed their things to move out. After a brief discussion they decided to alert Elanil Elassidil, the leader of Elventree and senior Harper agent next time they went back to the village about the man on the assumption he was a Harper agent because of the Harper pin.
The scroll had a kind of vague prophecy written on it, and some scribbled notes after each paragraph, as if the writer was investigating the meaning of them.
There is a message from this land’s new master, but it is hidden five-fold.
– new master?
The first is at the place where dandelions rise above and cover the people. The virile and the virulent can be one and the same. The hell-tinged one is lost, and then several are found.
– Fairborough Farm? It must be.
The second runs red with the blood of roots, where an heiress lies and hides her pain in long wooden boxes. She hides more than that though, but only to keep what is hers.
– Beets? Goodroot perhaps?
The third is at the spring of blessed life, where the haunter protects and the protectors haunt. The water runs on, of course, and must be freed for all.
– The Spring of Blessed Life. Rumoured to be haunted.
The fourth holds the great thundering beasts, but the beasts are gone, to give way to a greater thundering beast with death in its eyes. They await at a place of ancient elven evil.
– Rothes? Undead?
The fifth lies where the ancients lie beneath night’s marble, forgotten but not gone. The lost wealth of a forgotten time pays terrible dividends now.
– Temple of Waukeen? Definitely not Tymora.
Cundall knew that the first item on the madman’s prophecy was Fairborough Farm, which was only a mile or so south towards the Cormanthor Forest. They decided to go there first.
To be continued…