S23: Standing Stones, Fallen Tree
DM Notes: Morning in the Svalich Woods
After meeting and defeating the treant, the party moves fro the roan into the bog. Spying lights in the night they adjust their course to a rising hillock deep in the mire.
An earthen mount rises from the muck. Tall, twisted standing stones form a ring on the center of the mound, like some misshapen stone claw. e mysterious rocks encircle an ancient stone altar of black rock carved with strange, barely discernible symbols. A mirror shard lies on the altar’s surface.
A palpable feeling of evil and dark magic radiates from the entire area and the black altar in particular.
Vessh Ossk, the serpent creature, said that the Dusk Queen awaits the return of the shards in her tower at the center of the woods. She also gave the party the location of the remaining shards. Vessh offered that the spectres and hands do not ascend the mound at night.
One rests at the bottom of a dark pool
One is embedded in the trunk of the Hanging Tree
One lies beneath a mound of smooth, black stones
One has fallen into a deep pit of shadows (dragon’s den- recovered)
One is on the altar of long memories (recovered
Player Account by Jason / Erdan
The group emerged from the cave into rainy, but peaceful forest. They headed over to the site where Olwen had buried the dragon, but the dragon had been dug up and its parts were missing. While investigating the site, they managed to find a bit of a trail which appeared to be the prints of the swarm of hands heading back off in a northern direction. The group headed out in the direction in hopes to find more clues.
The further they got, the ground became softer due to the weather. Shoopin noticed a path parallel to theirs that seemed to provide more solid footing. Oddly enough the new path was also devoid of any debris. The path was too clean for a natural forest… Erdan asked Shoopin to float up and cut down a limb from a nearby tree. While cutting the limb, Shoopin noticed that his blade had a reaction to the sap… Almost as if the sap was acidic. Erdan tossed the limb onto the group, and initially nothing happened. Once the group rounded the next corner, a large tree creature stood in the path. The creature briefly conversed with the group and once it determined that the group was against the Dusk Queen, it attacked.
The tree creature grabbed a large chunk of dirt and rocks and hurled it at Erdan, striking him soundly. Olwen took this opportunity to rush in and slam the creature with her hammer, causing sap from the creature to burn at her. Geist summoned the clouds around them to call lightning down upon the tree. Shoopin attempted to cast a spell at the creature to make it laugh, but it did not seem to have an effect. Meanwhile, Erdan cast a haste spell on Olwen and then entered his Bladesong fighting stance. The tree monster focused its attacks upon Olwen as the rest of the group stayed out of its grasp. Geist continued to bring down the lightning and Erdan added a bolt of his own. Shoopin cast fear upon it forcing the creature to flee, but it’s attempt to flee was thwarted by Olwen blocking its path, and then she felled the tree with a final blow from her hammer.
Immediately after the battle, Geist noticed an encroaching sound, the sound of a swarm approaching quickly. The swarm bounced off Olwen’s shield and began to fly away, but Shoopin managed to stab one of the flying creatures with his rapier. With the swarm gone, and the tree creature dead, the group inspected him corpse, but found no clues or anything else of interest.
The group continued on the path northward and the further north they travelled, the more gnarled the trees became. The path ended and before them the land was swampier than they had previously seen. A stench was emanating from the direction the group was heading, but it was also getting late, so the group decided to camp. Erdan took several minutes and used his ritual casting to produce a tiny hut of force energy that would hopefully protect the group from the environment for the night.
During the night, the group took turns for watch and first up was Olwen and Shoopin. The hut they rested it was unusual for the group. They could see out of it just fine, was able to watch the happenings of the land around them while being unseen by what was outside. Olwen and Shoopin see purplish apparitions swirling about along with flashes of light and sound. Later into their watch the saw the mists roll in along with the undead hands crawling up and over the dome like hut. Geist took the next watch and this time the spirits were closer to the hut, close enough that they occasionally bumped into the hut. Geist noticed that when they bumped into the hut that their visage briefly changed to possibly show what or who they were in their previous life. During Erdan’s watch he saw the mist and hands return, this time the hands are carrying various body parts. Witnessing this, Erdan was able to determine the direction the hands were headed and it appeared to be in the same direction where the lights appeared to be emitting from.
The group packed up and resumed their trek in direction where the lights were coming from. The terrain was difficult to traverse, but Olwen noticed beavers that had created dam like structures. The beavers appeared to be going underneath, but the group determined that they could walk on top of the structure to avoid a bit of the swampy terrain. The group could see a hill in the distance with what seemed to be standing stones. Once the dam path ended the group had to traverse the swamp again on their way to the hill. A gas erupted from the swamp, poisoning Shoopin and Erdan. Once the group made it to the hill, they opted to take a short rest to allow Shoopin and Erdan to clear the poison from their system.
After their brief rest, the group climbed the hill. Geist felt a hum of power emitting from the hill, and it got stronger the further up they got. At the top of the hill was a twisted set of standing stones surrounding an altar in the middle. Erdan approached the altar, seeing a single mirror shard lying on top. Erdan inspected the altar, and upon touching it felt a dark energy flow through him, but it seemingly did not have an effect. At this moment, a creature appeared from behind one of the stones. The creature had the head of a humanoid woman, but the body of a snake. She introduced herself as Vessh and explained that the shard is a piece from the Dusk Queen’s mirror and that she should not obtain the mirror pieces. Vessh suggested that the mirror shards may be able to be destroyed, but did not offer a solution. Erdan, placed the shard on the ground and attempted to strike it with a Booming Blade spell. This caused all the shards, near and far to let out a booming echo. This did not destroy the shard, but did reveal the location of the other shards.
The group continued to converse with Vessh and she informed them of the Dusk Queen’s tower in the center of the woods and even provided information regarding the locations of the other shards. Two of the shards have been recovered with three pieces remaining. Vessh informed the group that the spectres, mist and undead hands do not climb the hill at night.