Our Heroes journey into the blighted wilderness to confront the Unseelie Black Annie and recover the Heart of the Woods.
Stormfury 14 – 15th, in the 1523rd year since Founding
Peleus attempted to collect some form of payment for the the efforts of the party, first from Barbarus and again from the Lycanon front at Ludo’s but was left still wanting.
Even more concerning was Deitrich of Baeduex having left at first light to the chapter house across the lake. With hours of a head start there was little that could be done at this time.
With the nose compass in hand, Hilda led the party past the old hag of the woods (who appeared to still have no recall of the previous encounter). To the relief of all, the nose compass still pointed further afield.
The oppressive silence of the forest grew deeper still as the party pressed further on, but the alternative proved far worse. The forest itself rose up in wrathful assualt as blight warriors and minions besieged the party. The evening passed uneventfully but the morning showed signs of observation as tiny foot prints were discovered near the camp site, met with gleeful expectations of brownies and wee folk.
Shortly thereafter there was heard the plaintiff calls for help. The source proved to be an alchemist’s apprentice (Maurice), tied down slightly removed from the rough path. As they tried to cut Maurice loose, the trap was sprung and the wild cries of the mysterious bluish-purple boggarts (unseelie brownies) armed with tained spears of despair. Being only three apples tall, the threat to the ankles was minor at worst, but the viscous clouds of clawing and biting spriggans (unseelie sprites) quickly ripped through Gartok before Serena and Hilda’s arcane arts bug zapped them into fried heaps.
With a terrified Maurice in tow, the party plunged deep into an enormous briar patch emenating dread and despair. In the dark heart of the briar patch they emerged into a clearing. There they found a shadow version of the stoen circle, bone like stones froming henges and at the centre a black fir of enourmous size (and signs of precious skeletonized victims caught within its bark), reaching the canopy above. At the far end of the circle emerged Black Annie, the blight witch herself, flanked by two enormous hounds of living wood. She spoke briefly, bragging of her accomplishments and taunting the intruders before the battle was joined.
The hounds were dispatched quickly but the witch fled into the black fir and proceeded to bash at the attackers as they hacked at the trunk. Having woken the tree, Black Annie again emerged from one of the henges to snipe at the heroes. As they struggled through the overgrowth, Annie phased across the circle, fleeing attacks and peppering the hated druid with a necrotic evil eye. The tree then finally toppled, but not before Gartok and Serena had fallen themselves. With relentless determination, Peleus continued to launch spear and sword after the blight witch, achieving the killing blow and being showered with hideous viscera of Blind Annie’s spontaneous explosion.
The foul fir toppled, the sought after Heart of the Forest was revealed. In addition to recoving the Heart, they also discovered the apprentice Hannah and a pile of goods from previous adventurers. Most of the pile was long past worth, but many unique items were found and bagged. Returning to the broken circle, they turned the Heart over the hag. As she touched the heart, clarity returned to her eyes and her posture straightened. With deliberate purpose she approached the broken circle. The malevolent spirits knealt before her as she returned the Heart to the withered stump. Within moments a slender sapling sprung forth. Likewise the hag’s features began to smooth and her features sharpenend. She announced herself as the true guardian of the Circle, long waiting for heroes to restore her and the Circle. In gratitude she awarded Hilda the reward of a Bowl of Goodberries.
To the party’s fortune, when asked about an elven funeral, the Guardian of the Stone Circle replied that it was part of her duties to the elder folk to act as a Speaker to the Dead. After a long hike to retrieve Fletcher’s body, the Guardian thanked the party again and took the body away.
A quest complete, the party returned to the Tin Tankard for a long desereved rest.
Maurice’s Tale: Apprenticed to Alchemist Gustave along with Hannah and Geofrey, the three of them sent deep into the woods in search of rare flora before stumbling upon the mushroom village of the boggarts. Awakening to being tied down and fattened, Maurice had all but given up hope when he was discovered by the party. Though terrified during the experience of confronting Black Annie, his acquisition of