X. Adamina

Part II: A New Quest

Since the disappearance of Treesong, Elves, Dryads, Ents, and Satyrs alike have looked for him. The magicians set out, before finishing their training, for after all, if the ritual to renew the wards could not be completed, Our world would face evil once more.
When I set out looking for Treesong, I never suspected that my journeys would lead me to another world. The whole day long I had had nightmarish daydreams about shadows with red faces. I could not determine the source of these visions, but I was wary. Suddenly, I found myself in another vision, where shadows approached me. A vision, perhaps, but it all felt real to me. I took out my book of spells, and tried to flee. A flash of light, a thundering blow...

And suddenly people were around me, all fleeing, all scared but one. The red-faced shadows seemed to have disappeared. The person who was not scared, was also a magician, introducing himself as Joral of Tesk, battlemage of Hawkspire. I remained cautious, but followed him and the other people to the village, and Joral explained that we were transported to this world by an anomaly they could not at this moment counter nor reverse.

I wandered around the black-charred village a bit, and tried to determine the source of some powers I felt. I asked Joral about it, and he said somebody else knew more about it. He took me to the hillside of the village, and introduced me. "Lady, this is Treesong, he knows ...." but the rest did not really register.
"Treesong?" I asked, in awe and confused.
"Yes. Do I know you?"
"I came looking for you. Does the name Ironbark mean anything to you?" There was a look of pain in his eyes, and he answered curtly. "We have much to talk about." Excusing us to Joral, he, his companion and I walked a short while trough the undergrowth, until we came upon a green mossy meadow with flowers, herbs and plants. I sensed this was a strong place.
"Enter." said Treesong. "We have much to talk about."

Treesong introduced me to Thentro o Prosechtikos, his companion and also fellow ritualist. I introduced myself, and spoke to them about the troubles. That his help was needed at home, that the evil in Ironbark would break free without his help, and that we had to return.
"We can't return. The magicians don't have the knowledge any more. And I can't return because I am bound to these lands."
Dazed and shocked we sat silently for a while. Then, Treesong took me to the magicians' guild, where he enrolled me. In private, he told me to keep an eye out for what they were doing. After I emerged from the magician's guild, and copied a prophecy that was recited to the village, Thentro, Treesong and I returned to the grove, where we had a bonding ritual, allowing me to enter and leave the grove at will, and declaring our frienship and companionship.

Cries of "Undead!" and "Orcs!" disturbed our peace, and we went down to the village to have a look. If orcs were to rampage the village, see how much we don't care, but a different thing it is altogether when they come for the grove. But we soon found out that this time the undead were after something entirely different. They presented us a 'gift'. Treesong immediately called for a counter ritual, and Thentro ran to the grove to get the water bowl. Treesong laid the stones out and I lit a candle to represent fire. In all haste, we did a ritual to counter whatever the gift was, but we don't know whether it worked or not. The candle I lit for fire extuingished when we completed the ritual and an enourmous shockwave formed, but the candle in the middle of the 'gift' never lit.

We then approached the gift, being four torches in a square, and a fifth in the center. Treesong tried to pour water on one of the candles, causing an enourmous shockwave, knocking over villagers and undead (who were now fighting) alike. I called upon the element earth and tried to shatter the torch by a spell, but that too caused an enourmous shockwave. Creating a circle around it had no effect, besides the erasing of the circle as soon as it was formed.
Thentro tried to knock one torch over with his staff, but that caused him to be blown away. We helped Thentro up, and then gave up. There appeared to be nothing we could do, and it had been a long night.

I spent most of the next morning talking to and studying in the Magician's Guild. The head mage handed me a book on Earth Elementals, and I read interesting bits of it. But when I tried to ask questions I was surprised he could hardly answer my questions. He admitted that there was little real information in the magician's guild, and that I was the only magician trying to study the earth kind of magic. That kind of disappointed me.
When I emerged from the guild house which is mostly underground, I ran into someone who said that Treesong had been poisened. I immediately ran into the forest with her, and tried to find him. After a long walk, and no sign of him anywhere, we returned to the village. There, I ran into Thentro, and ran with him to the grove. We tried all sorts of things, but Treesong did not regain consciousness until a magician tried a counter-spell. A lot of time was lost, and we had plans enough.

Back in the grove, we prepared ourselves for a big ritual. With the elements water, fire, air, and earth surrounding the heart of the grove, we all sacrificed a bit of our blood into the ritual to create a guardian spirit for the grove. We felt our strength draining into the ritual (c'mon, using all four of my ritualist mana points is TIRING!) and after a while Treesong asked: "Guardian Spirit, are you here?"
After waiting a few moments, we heard a voice. "Yes. I am here."
The guardian spirit told us to build him a house in the form of a totem. Then he sank into the ground and slept, waiting for us to perform this task for him.

After dinner, Treesong went into the forest with some of the other mages and fighters. When he returned he handed me a book that was covered in bloody handprints. I tried to read it, but the writing was too small, too scribbly, to decypher. While reading, I felt sicker and sicker, and my stomach was making backflips. I tried to walk to the magician's guild with it, to sell it to the head mage, but before arriving there, I sank to my knees and Thentro could not keep me up. Treesong noticed what was going on and slapped the book from my hands. We tried to destroy the book and called in the help of Joral of Tesk, the fire mage. Burning the book proved difficult, when Joral poured a lot of his mana into a fireblast and only one page burned away. We tried to persuade a fire imp but it refused, and then another magician approached the book. He claimed to feel good when touching the book, and said he could almost read the words in there. Treesong however, wanted the book to be destroyed, and attacked the book with his knife. Slowly, but surely, pages became illegible, while we had to restrain the mage. We distrusted him, and are trying to keep an eye on his progress. In the end though, the book was destroyed, and the head magician spoke to me and excused me for my behaviour 'because I didn't know any better'. I knew perfectly well what I was doing, of course, but chose not to enlighten them.

While Thentro made a bet with the fire imp that goblins did NOT burn (and the imp wanted to prove they did), Treesong and I tried some more things on the 'gift'. Treesong tried to extinguish the fire with sand, but it didn't work. Then, he tried to form a circle with rope but this proved equally fruitless. I found a person willing to help, and prepared a spell. Entwining a twig with rope, I cast an Iron Will on him. I gave him a mission to break through the barrier that surrounded the gift, and broke the twig to initiate the spell. The man ran forward, into the barrier, but bounced back, together with Treesong who tried to push him. The man broke his ankle in the process, but felt his magical powers flow back into him. Thentro spalked his ankle and healed it partially.

We spoke with a man named Shanosh that entered the village. He wanted all druids to accompany him. Treesong vouched for us, and we walked out into the woods once more. First, we encountered a wounded rat-like beast, and Treesong healed him and we let it go it's own way. Then, we ran into a lumberjack, cutting down trees in a non-designated area. We took away his axe and killed him, but Shanosh made a plea and we healed him and sent him back to the village. Then, we ran into somebody making a fire in a very dry area in the woods, and we sent him on his way, asking him to make the fire in a safer spot. Finally, we got to our destination, an old tree, in a grove.

The man Shanosh, told us he had been an apprentice and his master, the Archdruid, was sleeping in the tree. We performed a ritual using strength the Archdruid gave us, to help Shanosh get rest, as he was already dead but still living because of his greed.
After the ritual, the voice of the Archdruid spoke to us, and gave us a mission. He told about the withering of the forest, and the dying, hurt, evil. In my mind I could only think of the evil that had also tried to destroy our world, and how it would break free from Ironbark. Soon, the tears were flowing and I cried my heart out. When the Archdruid went back to sleep in his tree-form, Thentro and Treesong let me cry out, and we returned to the village. Hamish, a druid that had accompanied us, now also was part of our mission. We brought him into the grove and shared our background story. After all these emotional times that cost us a lot of strength, we went to sleep.

The next morning started eventful. An archer shot arrows at a magician from the village, and we went out looking for him. We split up, and when we returned to the grove Treesong had found the man. His name was Beren. He was a kindred spirit, and welcomed him into the grove. I got him some food because he had not eaten for two days, and we talked a bit. Treesong suggested that I'd look in the magician's library for information about the Darangu (spirit of the forest), and after delving through a number of books in the library I was certain that the magicians of this world were virtually stupid. Their knowledge hardly contains anything about the forest, nature, or earth sorcery. I was interrupted in my search by Thentro shouting down the stairs of the guild that Treesong needed my help. I put the book down and ran out. An earth elemental was standing in the middle of the village and though I would have loved to investigate it further, Treesong needed my help on another matter.

The Chosen one, a protector of the village of some sort, had put on a magic belt of which the origin nor effects were clear. Now, he couldn't get it off, and Treesong thought I might help here. I tried to cast a shattering spell on the belt of one of three people who had put it on (and were knocked out in a closed ritual circle), but instead of shattering the belt, the person was in much, much pain. We then decided to move the Chosen One Karantar to the Grove, Treesong's own circle, and perform a ritual. Karantar's wife joined us, and as we prepared the ritual more people stood outside the grove to watch.
During the ritual we found that we weren't strong enough, and before we knew it, more hands joined ours, with at least fifteen people we joined our left or right hand on a pile above Karantar's belt, and prayed to gods or invoked the elements. The belt began to smoke, and then disappeared from the Chosen One's body.

The other two were tricked into untying their belts, and Treesong hid these somewhere in the forest. Thanks to one of the Basken, these two were 'strikedown and forget', so they remembered nothing of the belts, and their yearning for it disappeared as well.

We sat in the grove for a while longer, enjoying the serenity and quiet, but it was not meant to last. The red prince, with his undead, returned, and claimed 10 gold pieces or a child for every man living in the village. Now, we don't live in the village, and were certainly not ready to pay or help, but when the undead attacked we had no choice but to defend ourselves. Master O'Leary, who had been friendly to Treesong and the grove, stepped in to protect me, and when his shield shattered, I mended it for him with my last mana. Alas, as I retreated into the grove to protect the Heart of the Grove, two undead overpowered me, and I lost consciousness.

Treesong re-emerged from the woods, and healed Thentro with his last healing herbs. Thentro healed me, and master O'Leary and a magician who was close by. That was the last of our troubles, for the time being, because the undead ignore the grove, unless you lure them there. The undead in the village were quickly slain, and the red prince disappeared. We then retreated to our grove and let the villagers tend their wounded and bury their dead.

Continue to Part III >>