Saturday, March 13, 2021

Forest of Wyrd Session #36 - Of Towers and Witches


Ranza (Changeling 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 5) 
Thrax (Fighter 3)

The party found a way across the valley and river, and arrived just as the sun was dipping below the line of the hills and more or less dry-shod, at the base of the southernmost tower. The tower itself was  non-descript. It stood about 60' tall and 20' in diameter; about two-thirds of the way up was a series of tall narrow windows and the top was ringed by crenellations. Curiously, it looked to be in excellent condition, as if it has been built just yesterday. Even the wooden door showed no sign of weathering and use. After knocking and hallooing elicited  no response, Thrax and Gnarl headed inside. The door opened easily on well oiled hinges, to revel a largely bare interior. That said, there were 6 comfortable beds tucked in under the buttresses, as well as a table in the center of the room with 6 chairs, and in the corner, a pile of hay.  A narrow stair circled up to a platform just below the windows, and thence to a hatch leading to the roof. There being no apparent danger, the rest of the party joined the duo. On the table Hobbs found a folded table cloth. When he spread it out, it suddenly sprouted a feast of food and drink of each persons favorite meal. After some trepidation, they sat down to eat and were wonderfully refreshed. Though still somewhat worried about just how perfect the tower was for them, they decided that at this point they had no choice but to settle in and rest while they could. 

The night passed without event (except Thrax and Gnarl once more slept poorly, plagued by even more terrifying and gruesome versions of their respective cursed nightmares). Taking stock, the wood gnome and the fighter convinced the others that a visit to the witch was really a necessity. They had no idea how long they could survive their curses, and wanted to seek the witches help in lifting them. Ranza, traumatized by her previous witch encounters and still quite battered and wounded, opted to remain in the tower while Thrax, Gnarl and Hobbs climbed up the hillside to where they'd observed the fire on their first night in the valley. Looping around, they climbed up above the spot to approach from the high ground. As they got close, Thrax and Gnarl noted something hanging from branches nearby. Close examination showed them to be human eyes which eerily seemed to watch them. This prompted Thrax to dig out the Quilt of Augury and ask if the witch could help them; no point in walking into a strange situation if they didn't have to. Receiving a positive answer, the trio decided to continue on, creepy eyes or no. 

They shortly came out  into a clearing overlooking the valley. The remnants of a bonfire stood next to a pile of wood ready for the next blaze; and at the other end of the clearing was a dark cave opening. Gnarl called out, and a few moments latter a woman emerged from the darkness. She appeared as a rather plain middle aged woman, dark of hair and pale of skin. But with pupil-less eyes of otherworldly black. The party opened up a friendly banter, and learned she was Ygrite, a servant of Samnuha the Watcher. Yes, she could help with the curse, and answer questions about the valley. For a price. And so the party dug deep for trinkets and coins. She grasped Gnarl by the sides of his head, pressing her thumbs hard into his eyes. She pressed harder as she chanted some unknown tongue, then released the wood gnome with a jolt and a push. When he got over the stars flashing in his eyes, the wood gnome felt the curse had lifted from him. Thrax, however, would have to return on the morrow as she could call on Samnuha to do such magic once per day. 

Feeling reassured by the non-creepy interaction, the party plied Ygrite with treasure and questions. They learned many foul things flew in the valley air, giant ravens and birds and other darker things. Asked about the skinchangers, she explained they did indeed draw their power from the Dark Mother. The Dark Mother, mistress of earth and darkness, complemented  the other great wood god, the Green Man, whose power lay in tree and sky. And around them were all the other spirits of the wood, Samnuha among them. Describing the strange wooden stature they'd found in Wickerwood Keep, she confirmed it too was a representation of the Dark Mother. Asked about Fortress Iacarta, she let slip that many factions inhabited the place, including among them the Raven Queen. Asked if any of these factions could help them, she laughed and said that depends entirely on what they wanted and how the party approached them. Asked now if there was anything she would ask of them, Ygrite indicated she longed greatly for the Book of Seven Souls. A magical tomb of some sort, she said it was now held by a fey lord who dwelt in the northernmost tower of the valley. Recover it, and she would call on Samnuha to answer any three questions they desired. 

Having run out of questions (and silver for now), they returned to the tower for the night. Once more taking advantage of the magical feast and comfortable beds, they still set watches just in case. Which was good, for on Hobbs second watch they had a visitor. Or an attempted visitor at least. Something large landed on the roof and tried clawing through the stone, and then the unsecured trap door. Hobbs roused the party and everyone rushed up the stairs to find a way to bar shut the trapdoor. But oddly enough, even though they could see and hear the attempts to pen the door, it did not budge. After some time, whatever it was gave up and took off. Rushing to the roof, the party observed an indistinct but large flying shape heading north, giving the colossus tower it passed along the way a wide berth.

The rest of the night passed without incident, and next day Thrax, Gnarl and Hobbs headed back to see the witch to have Thrax's curse lifted. They also took the opportunity to ask about the colossus tower  (for a price of course), learning that it was home to some large flying creature.  They then took their leave, and headed back to pick up Ranza before heading north towards the colossus. They stayed above the troll-infested valley and followed the edge of the hill, approaching the giant tower from the rear. The statue/tower was carved out of the living rock, in the form of an Imperium legionnaire nearly 200' tall. At the base was a massive rock fall, burying the statue up to mid-calf in large boulders. Which was too bad, as based on how the old road approached from the valley floor, the entrance to the tower/statue was somewhere below that tumbled rock. And a few hours digging soon proved the futility of trying to reach the entrance that way. There were some opportunities higher up however. The statues eyes were openings, and the chest had been burst open somehow, allowing entry via that route as well. Mindful of the witches warning, they waited through the day to see if any great flying beast emerged. When none did, Gnarl went looking for bats, charming and speaking to one, sending it into the openings to explore. It retuned swiftly, to report some large bird a prey thing (but not an owl) nested in the head, while the opening in the centre was empty. 

It now being too dark to proceed further, the party set up camp in a hollow in the rubble. Their rest was disturbed by three spectral creatures that approached them from the north. Gnarl, on watch, took the first blow. The chill touch drained his strength away. The wood gnome yelled everyone else awake though, and in short order the three incorporeal being were dispersed, but only buy use of their magic weapons. 



3 Shadows


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