Belluae

Between Two Trees

Standing before the towering silver treant, the group was humbled. The treant opened her eyes, silver pools of warmth and kindess, and looked down upon the heroes. Her voice was gentle like a breeze through hollow reeds, with a soft echo. She sincerely thanked each member in turn, grateful for saving her life and preventing the foul undead from stealing her gifts. The primordial treant confirmed any questions posed to her, that she had once met someone named Graypaw who also sought to steal her gifts, and that the story had been passed along to a traveler a short while ago.

She offered her gifts freely to the champions from Eberron- the choice of accepting one of her magical silver acorns or her moonlight blessing, the true blessing that Barzuln mistakenly thought he could steal.

Mosh, Alarin, Raxys and Korrazah ultimately accepted the acorns after much deliberation. Etalman decided to take the Moonlight Blessing. The treant reached a long branch up into the boughs that were like the tresses of her hair, pulling out and handful of large silver acorns and giving them to the party. To Etalman, she touched the archer's brow with the end of her branch as he was surrounded by beams of moonlight that were shining throughout the valley. Etalman's form shimmered and he appeared to be made of pure fluid silver. After a few moments, the half-elf's body shook again and Etalman resumed his previous appearance.

Not entirely certain of what the treant's gifts could mean or do, the group further inquired as to the nature of the story of Graypaw and rumors of a cure for vampirism. The silver treant told them that as she had the gifts of moonlight and the ability to heal those afflicted with lycanthropy or curse them with it, that her brother had sway over the gifts of sunlight, and she believed he could cure undead and return them to their natural state. She confessed that her brother was far across the realm, but she had a way to reach him in a swift manner though she could not take the route herself.

The forest guardian took another of her acorns and dropped it into the still waters of the lake in front of her. The reflection of the glade rippled and changed to that of a similar grove but in a sunlight part of the forest. Thanking the group again, the treant encouraged the brave adventurers to dive into the pool to travel across the expanse of Lamannia to beseech aid from her brother.

 

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For Blood and Silver

In the valley below, Barzuln the Frigid had assembled his pack of dark hearted kin- Dire wolves, rats, and bats under his command as well as shifters and lycanthropes who heeded his malevolent call. The party also saw Barzuln's companion, and now they could see that the wikkawak Mosh had identified was long dead, its fur held on in patches- a corpse reanimated under Barzuln's vampiric control.

The lumbering bugbear zombie had a coffin lashed to its back- no doubt the way their quarry had continued throughout the days and gained his lead.

After taking a moment to assess the situation, the party descended into the valley below using spells and forms of flight to reach the valley floor, to face off against the threat.

Some of the Night Pack seemed surprised by the intrusion, but the dwarf did not even turn around, his attention focused on the silver tree before them. Although outnumbered, the party worked better together than the loose knit pack of their dark-hearted foes. Empowered by the spirit of Lamannia, and gifted with the blessing of Vvaraak the party unleashed their acidic breath upon the shifters and lycanthropes surrounding them, streams of green viscous acid that burned through flesh and fur and bone.

Korrazah's weapons danced, cracking bone after bone, while Etalman's arrows found their mark time and time again. Alarin used blade and spell as Mosh brought his enemies low with his blessed spear. Raxys used the cover of invisibility to step between his allies and end several of the Pack with Journey.

Their morale shaken, the surviving members of the Night Pack abandoned the outlandish vampire and fled back to the wilds of Lamannia from whence they hailed. Barzuln's zombie ally was quickly undone by the wrath of the group, and they were ready to face Kionna's creator. Korrazah sundered the coffin the wikkawak carried, preventing the vampire's escape. Barzuln was a strong adversary, but his focus was upon wresting the fabeled prize from the tree. Barzuln's bones began to shift and crack, his white hair and beard spreading across his entire body as his form grew. Everyone quickly realized that not only was Barzuln a vampire, but he was also a weretiger of the North.

Coordinating all of their attacks against the hybrid beast, the party landed blow after blow- noticing that their weapons glanced off the thick hide of Barzuln if they were not blessed. Fortunately the preparations the party had made to fight a vampire paid off and the holy enchantments ensorcelled into their blades and bows cut deep into the unnatural dwarf.

The white fur of the tiger was soon stained red, dripping with blood from dozens of gashes and arrow wounds. In a panic Barzuln leapt away from the party onto the silver tree. It dawned on them that this was no mere silvered oak tree, but an enormous silver hued treant. Barzuln's claws cut deep into her bark, but Barzuln did not reach his goal. As he neared the acorns of the tree, Etalman's arrows pierced the vampire in quick succession and the weretiger dissipated into a cloud of gas… but his coffin was destroyed so the vampire lord had nowhere to flee and nowhere to lick his wounds. Calling out to the Traveler, Raxys expended a burst of energy normally reserved for healing his friends. The holy light tore through the gaseous vampire as the morning dawn pierces the fog of night. Barzuln the Frigid was no more… and the treant opened her eyes, pools of unending silver, to greet the party.

 

 

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Old Moon Magic

From the canopy descended a small entourage. The party noticed several shifters mounted on enormous bats and ravens, and upon landing one large bat changed back to the form of a female dwarf. Etalman and Korrazah were surrounded by locals at spear and crossbow point. A feathered shifter hailed them in a rough dialect of the Common tongue of Khorvaire.

Unsure as to how to respond, Mosh stepped forward from his hiding place greeting the shifter. The feathered native, introducing himself as Volan, offered his respect to the aged druid.

Alarin followed Mosh stepping forward from hiding. Reluctantly Raxys dropped his invisibilty, and the natives assumed the goblin to be another user of druidic magic. Raxys did not correct Volan for calling him Treefriend, using the misinformation to his advantage.

After introductions, the group relayed to the Lamannians that they were on the hunt, and Volan informed them that Barzuln had sought refuge earlier with some of their more dark-hearted kin. Volan invited the party to their home, offering varying methods of druidic and aerial travel to take them miles below to the forest floor and to their village. Raxys offered to ride behind Volan on his werebat steed to learn more about the plane and its peoples.

As they desceded, Raxys learned more about the Purge orchestrated by the Silver Flame more than a century prior and how many shifters and those touched by Olarune fled to the Twilight Forest. Some lycanthropes and shifters held to the darkness in their hearts, and Barzuln had taken sanctuary with the Midnight Pack, a migrating colony composed of malevolent shifters, werebats, werewolves, and their ilk. Volan and his people belonged to a tribe called the Verdant Shell, a mixed group who made their home on the shell of a colossal turtle called The Archelon.

After minutes of flying, the Archelon came into view, a massive lumbering snapping turtle with an entire village built upon its moss-covered shell.

The community living on the Archelon were cautious of the visitors, but put at ease when Volan explained the party's goals and need.  The Archelon lumbered along the forest floor, foraging from various plant life as it trekked its ancient path.

Upon the turtle's back was a small village of tents and semi-permanent structures. Volan's people and forebears had beseeched the Nature Guardian for aid, and in turn help to protect the Archelon from smaller threats. Mosh noticed the heavy workings of druidic magics tied to the community, everything had an ancient and primal feel to it. A twitch reminded the Gatekeeper that the tracking magic in the Droaamish Compass was fading and they needed to find Barzuln the Frigid soon if they had any chance of wrapping up the mysteries of Wyr.

Volan and his people knew the legends of the fabeled silver tree that Barzuln sought. The shifters invited Mosh and Raxys to commune with them and join in on a ritual to aid their chase. Mosh eagerly agreed, but Raxys cautiously declined, afraid to blow his cover of not being the Tree Friend the Verdant Shell believed him to be. The party gathered around the shaman yarnga- a teepee-like structure filled with aromatic smokes from various holy herbs and incenses. The aging orc sang his magic into the ritual performed by the Verdant Shell folk, and the party was blessed with the ability to step from tree to tree.

Thanking their hosts, the party linked hands, and Mosh led the way with the lasting magic of the troll hand compass. Miles passed in moments as they teleported through a continent sized forest.

Finally the party emerged at the edge of the forest, at a cliff's edge overlooking a valley below. Cradled in the valley was a lake, and at the crown of the lake stood a magnificent silver tree that was beyond breathtaking.

Unfortunately, however, the party also realized that surrounding a figure at the forefront was a pack of nocturnal predators- dire wolves and rats, shifters and werebeasts in animal and hybrid form. Barzuln had brought his guides to ensure he could claim the silver acorn…

 

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Where the wild things are

As the party approached the massive nest, they noticed humongous red feathers scattered about. Raxys, determined to seek aid from those within the perceived house, approached. With a flutter of wings and a shrill cry, a massive young bird peeked over the edge of the nest- which Alarin recognized as a thunderbird. 

The magnificence of this roc was not lost on the party, but they feared for their lives, unsure how to face such an enormous foe. As the hatchling ruffled its wings, eyeing the group like catepillars, the massive branch shook violently. Thrown to their backs, they could only look on in helpless awe as a cat larger than most dragons had pounced onto the treebranch and in a single swipe, snatched up the massive bird. The muffled cries of the bird in the cat's mouth were carried away as the colossal feline leaped to a lower branch some thousand feet below. With another leap the cat was out of sight and the party was left in terror as they realized how truly small they were in this world.

Gathering a few of the marvelous feathers before running for their lives, the party soon realized they had nowhere to go and no reliable methods to reach the forest floor from their perch. Knowing that their quarry was fleeing ever faster from them, they puzzled over what to do. In his fear, Raxys made the mistake of getting too close to the edge of the branch, and was washed with the most intense vertigo he had ever known. Shaking, the goblin retreated to the center of the branch where he lay on his back clutching the bark for dear life.

Etalman and Korrazah noticed silhouettes moving through the higher branches and canopy. Raxys cloaked himself in invisibilty, Alarin and Mosh took refuge under the massive oak leaves strewn about, as Korrazah set herself in a battle stance ready for a fight and Etalman looked on confused as to what action to take.

 

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Furthest from home.

Mosh discovers tracks left by their quarry, and identifies the prints of a creature not unlike a bugbear, a wikkawak- a creature of winter and ice. The group isn't quite sure what the wikkawak has to do with the vampire they seek, but being the only trail they have they opt to follow the tracks deeper into the Chanthwood.

Using the rituals known to the Gatekeepers, Mosh attunes a dowsing rod of yew to point towards the nearest portal to other worlds, and so the group follows their course led by druid rite and muddy footprints…

Crunching under Raxys' boot, the goblin discovers a red oak leaf the size of a tower shield as Mosh and Alarin point out a gnarled oak before them with a strange natural opening. Mosh lets the group know that this is the portal to the Twilight Forest. As the heroes debate their next course of action, Korrazah boldy walks into the unknown. Alarin, Mosh, and Raxys have no choice but to follow suit.

Exiting the oak, they find themselves in a marvelous world- a primal world. As they exit, Mosh appears to stand taller like an orc half his age, invigorated by the abundant natural magics of the realm. Once through the doorway, to the dismay of the children of Khorvaire, they turn to find only a knothole in the titantic oak they now stand upon, a branch wider than most rivers. With the door shut behind them, they can only move forward. Raxys sees ahead some sort of dwelling, urging to the others to investigate, although Mosh and Alarin try to convince him it is some kind of nest.

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Who's that I see walkin' in these woods?

25 Vult, 999 YK

Examining the corpse of the courier, the group discovers that the half-elf girl was attacked by a vampire, but she was left to die. Raxys decreed that she was scared to death, most likely by the wisps feeding off of her fear. Her body was abandoned, her parcels untouched by her attacker.

Investigating her satchel the group discovered two letters of interest from Mayor ir'Sykes of Wyr. One addressed to a barrister in Aundair's capital of Fairhaven, named and described each member of the party (save Etalman), explaining that the party had been deputized in an investigation, but that the matter had been resolved and the travelers were free agents again with no bonds to Wyr or the crown of Aundair. The second letter, simpler in fashion, addressed to Warchief Horgun of the Gnarl Valley centaurs, pleading with the warchief to not attack guards she had sent into the Chanthwood (to search for Raxys the night prior).

Deciding to leave the poor khoravar where she lay to avoid future incrimination or suspicion, the group headed deeper into the woods, following Mosh's Droaamish compass. Mosh had discovered at the scene, a heavy set of tracks that seem to belong to a white-furred bugbear burdened by weight, the tracks deep in the muddy earth. The tracks heading in the same course as the troll's hand pointed them…

Deeper into the forest, Mosh gets the feeling that the he and his friends are being watched. Adding to the foreboding sensations, Alarin's Irian crystal spins wildly in his wayfinder. Fading in from the shadows, step seven black-coated dire wolves with red eyes- Shadow Wolves of Mabar.

Raxys draws first blood with Journey on one of the shadowy beasts, and Etalman sinks a few arrows into another of the pack. Mosh attempts to get the pack to back down, but the beasts respond to the druid's empathy with hostility, quickly taking the legs out from him and Etalman.

As Mosh defends himself with his spear, Raxys keeps his foes at bay with stabs and illusions. Korrazah smashes into the wolves with her dancing chain and heavy flail, adding new teeth to her collection, while Alarin illuminates the dark pack with radiant flames. Etalman's sword still bent, he relies upon his bow taking shots at wolves his new companions wound.

Alarin turns to the remaining wolves, and bright rainbow feathers of light envelope them and Mosh, but the old orc had time to shield his eyes from the illusion. Caught by surprise by a spell Alarin has never had knowledge of, he surmises that the coautl-esque feathers of light must be a gift from his time as a celestial host. The wolves of shadow stricken blind by the spell, were easily felled by the combined efforts of the group. As Raxys tends to their wounds, the group has to wonder if the wolves were called by the year-end proximity to darkness during Long Shadows, or if they were set upon them by a vampiric master…

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Into the Woods

25 Vult, 999 YK

As the villagers of Wyr trade for fantastical items from Sora Esma's cart of wonders, the group takes a moment to talk to Boo. The old vintner explains how he had come to the conclusion that his friend had been destroyed by a vampire, having studied the undead for decades. He gifted the party a special arrow from his collection to help bring the murderer to ruin, wishing he could journey with them to avenge his friend, but knowing the wilds are no place for the unprepared.

Into the Chanthwood following the pulsing directions of Mosh's grisly compass, the path quickly becomes overrun by vines and undergrowth as the group must stray from the trodden road. Shadows envelope the forest, much darker than should be for so early in the morning, and with uncertain realization Raxys remembers they they are entering the nights of Long Shadows at year's end- not the optimal time to hunt vampires.

Mosh notices several tracks scattered along their path; hooved animals and birds, and stranger tracks similar to horse and goat- but that Mosh is able to identify as centaur and satyr from their depth into the soil and placement of stride.

The Chanthwood is eerily quiet as they make their way through the forest. Alarin and Raxys attempt to learn more about their new companion, but his answers are guarded.

Strange red light catches their attention, which Mosh and Raxys identify as the lure of the will-o-wisp. Three of the aberrations hover over a fallen body. Immediately the heroes set upon the orbs, Raxys cleaves one in half with a single blow- annihilating the wisp and simultaneously unlocking latent potential of his relic dagger Journey.

Finishing off the remaining wisps, attention turns to their victim, a young khoravar courier.

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The murder of Bakji Cooper

25 Vult, 999 YK

The murder of Bakji Cooper has been solved, but with it comes a greater mystery and even bigger threat to our heroes and the simple people of Wyr.

By her own confession, the kitsune-turned-vampire Kionna tore out the samsaran's throat nearly two weeks ago, but as the party pressed her for information, it became clear that the dark will of her unknown master was forcing her hand. Conflicted upon granting mercy to an unnatural entity, Raxys staked the young boreal fox-kin to her coffin, but could not bring himself to destroy Kionna entirely.

Mosh, Alarin, and Raxys agree to attempt to cure the perfumer of her vampiric curse and stow her coffin away into their extradimensional rucksack to prevent the villagers of Wyr from exacting a mob's revenge. Informing Lt. Darius of their plan, the captain reluctantly agrees to stay his blade, urging the party to chase after the mysterious figure known as Barzuln.

Korazzah insists they reach the Chanthwood by sunset, using the day to their advantage to ready themselves for a battle against an even greater vampire.

Speaking with Fie the Fabler, they learn that the Chanthwood is a mysterious forest that the scholar Talybus believed to have ties to Lamannia- a wild and primal realm. From speaking with Ash, Raxys knows that many shifters and lycanthropes fled to the plane of the Twilight Forest following the Purge by the Silver Flame. This adds weight to the tale of Graypaw that was torn from Bakji's storybook.

Concluding that the story has some truth regarding lycanthropes, the mystery remains why a vampire would kill a shopkeep for such a simple story, and the motives behind Barzuln commanding Kionna to murder Bakji remain clouded.

A familiar sound interrupts their pondering, as the party steps outside the Gold Dragon to see an overloaded cart pulled by a muscular bugbear- the peddler Sora Esma has come to Wyr. On behalf of Mextwizx, Esma gives to Raxys his cauldron, a week before an Orien courier was meant to deliver it. In trading with the hobgoblin crone Raxys, Alarin, and Mosh gain new armaments and trinkets from the mysterious trader. She offers insight to their undead quarry, and asks the party to accept her elven nephew into their company. As the group concludes business, a small crowd of onlookers draws to the old woman's cart, intrigued to see what fantastical wares this outsider has brought to trade…

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The road so far...
Tales of the heroic adventures, set upon a path not of their choosing, but one they are destined to shape.

Guys, this is where I will port over the synapsis so far. Feel free to edit it, add to it, and make new posts, either updating notes or personal journy entries of your characters.

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