Adventure 5 & 6 – The conclusion of Wyrd of the Wild Wood
The peaceful chirping of the morning birds drifted through the mists of the Wild Wood. The sun was just beginning to rise, casting the village of Alamede and the surrounding forest in a deep green-gold hue. It was a simple delicate moment as the beasts of the night surrendered the realm to those of the day. Vaelen finished watching night turn into day before turning back to Alamain’s tower where the villagers and his other companions took refuge in the night before. The last of the marching treants had departed the area hours ago and it was time the party set out again on their journey to New Port.
It was not long before Jasmind, Gillian and Tycho had all their supplies gathered. The villagers thanked them again for saving their village and said their tearful goodbyes. Fully stocked with provisions, the party headed north to the small dirt path beyond Alamede that would take them to the road to New Port. It was not long though that they discovered the path was destroyed by the treants and vine creatures that had marched through the area the night before. Where the marching treants had stepped, plants began sprouting. Overnight those plants had grown into a wall of thorns. At the center of the wall was a large glowing piece of crystal. As the party approached they witnessed plants mutating into horrific shapes as the contagion spread even wider. With their way blocked the party started on the slow task of navigating around the thorn wall.
It was Jasmind who first noticed the shadow trailing behind them a few yards back. At first she thought it was a simple branch twisting with the wind, but then he spotted the gloved hand underneath the dusky cloak. She went to draw her sword when Vaelen’s hand gently held her at bay. “Why don’t we ask questions first before attacking?” He whispered before turning towards the shadow. “Who goes there? Show yourself.”
From the tangle of thorns and trees a figure emerged shrouded in a cloak that emulated the colors of the forest around him. It seemed to be a dusky brown, vibrant green, and dirty gray all at once. The figure was dressed entirely in green leathers and moved like an elf. A bow was slung across his back and with their trained eyes the party noticed the bulge of weapons under his cloak. A broach on his cloak had a symbol of an animal paw print upon it. Though his face was mostly obscure from his cloak, the party could see the stranger’s eyes flicker from them to the large mass of crystals on the thorn wall and back again. After determining that the party was not contaminated by the crystals the figure peeled back his hood to reveal the face of a dark elf wearing a green bandanna. “My name is Dermak. I am a member of the Green Shadows and slayer of abominations.”
Tycho, Vaelen and Gillian had never heard of the Green Shadows and their eyes fell on Jasmind. Drawing on her knowledge of the Wild Wood, Jasmind explained. “The Green Shadows are rangers and protectors of the Wild Wood. They are not seen by outsiders unless they wish to be.” Jasmind looked at Dermak and bowed her head in respect. Warden of the Wild Wood was a prestigious position, one that granted her great respect among elven folk. But the Green Shadows were legends. More often than not they were described as myths more than a real organization. “We greet you in peace, Dermak. If you ask anything of us, we will offer whatever aid we can.”
“Whoa who whoa, why are we helping the creepy stalker with the dirty cloak for free?” The objection came of course from Tycho. The Halfling fighter glared at Jasmind. The wood elf might know a lot about these woods, but lately she had a bad habit of forgetting he was in charge. “Nothing is free.”
If Dermak took any disrespect he did not show it. “Indeed I am in need of aid. The corruption from the crystals grows rampant. The Green Shadows seek to find the cause this corruption and put an end to it. If action is not taken the horrors of the Green Realm will be upon us all. Your party is not native to these lands. If you aid me I will see to it that the Green Shadows will help you find the New Road so that you may exit these woods. I warn you though, the forest is changing rapidly. I will not be responsible for your safety.”
Vaelen shoulder his massive warhammer. “We can take care of ourselves. What is the Green Realm?” The cleric has spent a lot of time in his youth studying the world and holy scripture at the Cathedral, but he had never heard of this Green Realm. The cleric looked back to Jasmind, but the wood elf paladin did not seem to recognize the term. Gillian’s knowledge in arcane magic also seemed to fail her at the moment.
Dermak considered for a moment then answered the question. “The Green Realm is another place where there is no death, only life. It is not a set location, but coexists around us at all times in another universe. Without the presence of death to temper it the Green Realm is a chaos of unrestrained growth. If you were to ever find yourself there you would only find pain. Something has caused an unbalance between our worlds. The Green Realm now leaks into our own, bringing with it mutations that disrupt the delicate balance of nature. Too much damage has already been done. It cannot be allowed to continue.”
Gillian’s eyes widened at the implications. “The crystals…”
Dermak nodded. “Yes. We suspect they are the cause of the imbalance. The Green Shadows have been scouting the forest trying to contain them, though this has proven difficult. The crystals are wide spread and although it pains me to admit it we are too few. Come, I will take you to our camp. It is not safe here.”
As if on cue a vine wrapped around Tycho’s leg and with a sudden yank pulled the halfling deep into the forest. With her quick wood elf reflexes Jasmind was the first to react, but when she turned to run after Tycho a wall of thorn covered vines grew rapidly in front of her path. Hissing poisons dripped from the thorns. She swung at the vines with her sword, but for every one she chopped down three more covered its place. The paladin was so focused on her task that she did not notice that the forest was beginning to close around all of them. Dermak ran over and grabbed her arm. “We will find your companion later. We must go. Now!”
Vaelen wrestled a thorn away from himself, “Not without destroying the mass of crystals on this thorn wall! If they are causing this letting such a mass behind is too dangerous!”
Dermak helped Jasmind retreat from the expanding wall of thorns, “I know the way back to the cluster.” He slashed a short sword at an attacking vine. “Once that cluster is destroyed, we can rendezvous with my companions and destroy the remaining corruption. Follow me!” With that, the dark elf raced through the undergrowth leading the adventurers behind. What had been arduous terrain earlier now seemed much easier to traverse with Dermak guiding them. If Gillian did not know better, she could have sworn parts of the forest were melding to Dermak’s intended path. It was not too long before they found themselves staring at a mass of crystals within the center of the thorn wall. The area here had turned even more horrific since they had seen it earlier this morning. Some trees were had mouths frozen into screams. An impossibly large snake slithered away between two bushes. Pulsating vines were everywhere, leaking emerald fluid onto the trees that they wrapped around.
As Vaelen and Gillian moved closer to the crystal cluster, they noticed that small portals had formed in between some of the crystal growth. Through the portals they could see hazy glimpses of vibrant green growth and flickers of shadows. Thinking it over, Vaelen concluded that he could produce a ritual with an element of death in order to destroy the crystal cluster. While death normally seemed like something a cleric would oppose, Vaelen had spent many years traveling with the Crusader’s armies. The Crusader had taught him plenty on the subject when it came to attacking demons and Vaelen taught he might be able to transform that knowledge into a ritual to suit their needs. Dermak warned that death could not enter the Green Realm, but perhaps it could harm the crystals. Gathering some reagents quickly Vaelen got to work with assistance from Gillian.
The entire thicket shrieked and groaned as Vaelen channeled the energy from the ritual magic straight into the heart of the crystal. The beam of energy built upon itself until it was a torrent of chaotic power. In a brilliant flash of purple and green light the crystal exploded outward. In that moment the party felt the energy of the forest around them breathe life back into the forest. Vaelen felt the natural healing effects of the forest energy and knew that any heals in this area would fully repair even the gravest of wounds. It was just the help they needed. For as the light from the explosion faded the party found themselves staring at two horrific looking green dragons made out of living plants. The dragons were flanked by five plant creatures, wild growths that had taken a shape of their own.
The two plant dragons charged in, flanking Gillian and Vaelen, covering them in claw made of thorns and poisonous breath. Jasmind ran forward to protect her allies, but was cut off as a group of wild growths stepped in her path. Dermak shuffled backward a few paces and let loose some arrows at the living dragons. Not comfortable in close combat Gillian disengaged the dragons so she could start drawing power at a safe range. As a battle hardened melee cleric, Vaelen stood his ground. He found out though that may not have been the wisest choice as the roots around his feet grasped at him and before he knew it another wild growth sprouted from the ground next to him. A quick look at the ground found that the roots beneath Gillian’s feet had also started coming to life, but with nothing to grasp onto they could not take form. Understanding the dangers that spawned around that Vaelen raised his voice to warn the others, “Keep moving! Watch your feet!”
Jasmind cut through three of the wild growths that stood in her way. Just went she thought they were dead the vines covering the growths bulged outward rapidly and exploded. The paladin barely had enough time to raise her shield to cover herself as green ichor and thorns rained around her. Another wild growth shambled toward Gillian and exploded sending sticky sap everywhere. The battle was a brutal one, but thanks to the healing energies from the forest the party was able to withstand even the worst of the blows. With Vaelen’s warning to keep moving they were able to avoid any more wild growths spawning and focus most of their attacks on the horrific green plant dragons. With Dermak guiding their blows the party fought their way to victory.
When the plant dragons had been defeated Dermak sheathed his bow behind him and moved forward to investigate the scorched ruin of the crystals. As the party tried their best to clean the sticky sap off their armor, the Green Shadow agent surveyed the surrounding area, “Your magic was dark, but effective. There is no more trace of the crystal here. I wish I could say the same of all of the Wild Wood.” He sighed and looked off to the north, muttering something into the breeze. “Perhaps you are more valuable than I first thought. Let us be off to the Green Shadow camp. We will look for your companion along the way.” The party told Dermak to lead on.
The thorn wall seemed to be withering away as they traveled. Dermak explained that the crystals were stronger when they were clustered together and caused more direct links to the Green Realm. “Without the focused clusters, the wild expansion should die down and become more manageable. While the cluster we destroyed should slow it down, I fear the corruption runs far deeper. Our camp is not too far from here. We’ll be there soon.” When they reached the camp Gillian thought it was generous to consider it as such. It seemed that the only touch of civilization was a handful of bedrolls made of moss and leather satchels. The Green Shadows definitely lived off the land.
Another elf wearing a cloak identical to Dermak’s approached the party. He hurriedly whispered a few words of Elven into Dermak’s ear. The two of them spoke in hushed voices for a moment before turning to the party. The newcomer spoke first, “I am Alistad, first of my rangers here. Dermak sent word through the winds that you destroyed one of the clusters to the south. I fear before we can look for your companion we have a more urgent matter at hand. A crystal mass has begun corrupting a sacred place of the forest nearby. We must deal with it immediately or the whole forest could be lost. Hurry, there is no time.”
Alistad quickly lead them all to a deep secluded part of the woods. They reached a circle of great Sequoia trees, rising high in to the canopy above. The trees formed a near complete circular wall surrounding a faintly pulsing green and purple living orb. As Vaelen looked upon it, he swore he could feel some kind of ancient presence within. Gillian felt power here as well, unlike anything she had felt before. Jasmind put her hand to her heart in reverence – They were looking at the heart of the forest.
Their awe quickly turned to horror as they noticed a crystal shard embedded into the heart of the forest. From the crystal poured out roots covered in veins that were leaking brown ichor onto the forest floor. Dermak and Alistad moved into the circle of trees, their faces full of despair from the sight in front of them. The party moved to join the Green Shadows, but was stopped by a crashing noise behind them. Turning, they saw a large vine dragging none other than Tycho along the forest floor. The Halfling was cussing loudly and slashing wildly at his captor with his great sword. Just as Tycho was pulled into the clearing his sword connected, sending him tumbling into Vaelen’s legs. As Tycho stood up, the pulsing heart shifted to a purple color identical to the crystals. Rapidly, crystals grew around it to encase the heart. As they did so, vines and creepers along the floor snaked out toward the adventurers. The sequoia trees around them shifted to completely trap them within. There was no time to celebrate being reunited with their companion. The forest heart under the corruption of the crystals was on the attack.
Tycho had just regained his footing when sharp roots burst through from the ground next to him, threatening to pierce his feet. Still cussing the Halfling fought back, hacking at the roots with his great sword as his nimbly danced away. Vaelen invoked the gods of strength, letting their might bolster his companions. Inspired by the divine presence, the cleric brought his warhammer to bear against the crystals. Jasmind found herself surrounded by phasing tentacles. Eyes grew out of the tentacles and focused on her with a look that would drive anyone to the brink of insanity. Yet the eyes found Jasmind implacable and she shook off their confusion before she could raise her blade against her allies. Drawing upon her connection with the Great Gold Wyrm, Jasmind unleashed a powerful Smite against the tentacles. She would do everything in her power to strike them down before they could confuse anyone else.
Meanwhile, Gillian launched bolt after bolt of scorching flame into the forest’s heart, hoping to burn the Green Realm roots away. With Dermak and Alistad there to help them, the party was able to fight the root and tentacles back. Finally a well-place blow from Vaelen knocked the rest of the corrupted growth off the heart of the forest. The crystal was all that was left before them to fix the heart.
The next action they took would change the entire fate of the Wild Wood. Walking away would certainly mean the High Druid’s realm would fall apart. Even though some of them shared no love for the High Druid, there was no telling what effects the crystals would have on the entire empire if left alone. Always one to grab a chance at being more powerful, Tycho reached up and grabbed the crystal. A spark of purple energy zapped the Halfling fighter and the Green Shadows tensed. Jasmind quickly yanked the Halfling back and the crystal was pulled back with him. Dazed by the power he felt within the crystal Tycho dropped it to the ground. His mind made up, Vaelen stepped forward and shattered it with his hammer. The heart of the forest glowed in a soft green light, free from the corruption.
Alistad looked relieved, but Dermak had his bow drawn and pointed at Tycho. Jasmind positioned herself in front of the Halfling fighter and dropped her sword. “Hold! He meant no harm. He was just trying to pull the crystal free from the heart… right, Tycho?”
“…yea….what else would I be doing?” Tycho muttered, hiding the fact that he could feel part of the crystal’s energy now pulsed through his blood. The next time he was in battle he would have one helluva good time.
Dermak slowly lowered his bow. Alistad tended to the party’s wounds, using a store of herbs and poultices. When the party was all patched up, Alistad removed the cloak from his shoulders and handed it to Jasmind. “Long ago the Wardens and the Green Shadow fought side by side to protect the woods. Let us today reignite that old friendship. Take my cloak as thanks.” Honored beyond words, Jasmind smiled and draped the cloak of leaves around her shoulders. Dermak took off the bandanna around his head and handed it to Gillian. The sorcerer felt magic within the bandanna and bowed her head in thanks.
The Green Shadows let them sleep at their camp in the evening. The following day, Alistad personally lead them north through the woods. What would have taken them several days was accomplished before sunset with Allistad leading the way. He seemed to know the wood better than he knew himself. If the Green Shadow was not there to guide them they could have easily found themselves facing owlbears or worse. When they reached the New Road Alistad halted them with a gesture, “This is as far as I can take you. My duties are to safeguard against the Green Realm and I must return deeper into the wood. Take this road north; you will be in New Port by sundown tomorrow night.” With a last nod, the ranger disappeared into the forest.
— End Part 5 —
The night passed without incident. It appeared that they had gone past the worst parts of the Wild Wood. In the morning, they woke to the gentle sounds of a quiet wood. It was eerie after the horrible attacks they had suffered just days ago. After they gathered their gear, they set out on the road north. After a few hours they saw a gigantic crystalline structure ahead of them. The crystal was roughly the size of a large boulder and had a large crack running through its face. As they walked around the crystal and continued north, they found themselves again at the crystal, the identical cracking still there. After several repetitions of this, Gillian had had enough. “We are stuck somehow. It looks like there is no way around it. The crystal must be destroyed.”
The declaration seemed to brighten Tycho’s mood. A whole morning had gone by without a fight and he was in need of some destruction. Unsheathing his sword, he went to hack away at the large crystal. When his blade connected with the surface, he was flung far backward. A symbol flared up on its surface and Gillian recognized it as a rune the Diabolist frequently used. “If the diabolist had been tinkering with this crystal, then it surely must be destroyed. Vaelen, I am going to summon all the strength I have. Keep me standing.” As the young sorceress pulled together all the energy she could from every fiber of her being, she unleashed the strongest stream of pure arcane energy she would probably ever handle. As her legs buckled under her, Vaelen fortified her with healing. The stream of energy carved deep into the crystal, shattering the entire structure in pieces, wild magic pulsing outward knocking them all off their feet. It was by the grace of the Icons that watched over them that they were not destroyed with the crystal.
As they stood, they could see remnants of the crystal everywhere. Where the structure had been they found corpses of several cultists. It seems they were encased in crystal immediately and suffocated. Vaelen checked each corpse and noticed the Diabolist’s mark on their wrists. The cleric found a large tome in the hands of one of the corpses. Opening it, he scanned the pages, “It seems like these cultists had been the first to tamper with the crystals. Their log here shows they smuggled themselves aboard Darkskye to lure the Red there… It was her, the entire time.”
Gillian shakily got to her feet and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “It makes sense. Chaos is her specialty after all.” The young sorceress shuffled over to the corpses. “Thank the gods we were able to triumph here. I do not want to know what else she would have done with the power of the Green Realm at her disposal.”
Jasmind and Tycho had to help Gillian travel as they resumed their march. Her spell had taken quite a lot out of her. Vaelen was left to keep watch on point. They were on high alert after seeing the crystal from earlier. Just then a tiny winged creature flew out from the forest trees and found itself face to face with Jasmind. The little tree sprite gasped in horror that it had been discovered and attempted to fly away, but instead crashed into Tycho’s head and knocked itself unconscious. Reacting on instinct, Vaelen brought him warhammer down and crushed the tree sprite in one swift fatal blow.
Now it was Jasmind’s turn to gasp in horror. “VAELEN! You just…. That… That was a tree sprite! The poor thing was scared half to death!” The wood elf paladin looked away as the cleric wiped his hammer clean.
“The blasted thing crashed into Tycho! Besides, you should never trust the frey. What is done is done. We need to keep moving.” Shouldering his hammer the human cleric walked on up the New Road. The others followed behind.
Farther up the road they heard a thunderous crash and the groaning of wood under impact. As they rounded the corner, they saw a bridge that was constructed high above a roaring white river. It was under bombardment of large boulders thrown by a rampaging earth elemental. The smallest glimmer of amethyst glinted out from its eye, hinting at crystal corruption. The bridge was the only way across the gap. The elemental needed to be stopped. With a savage cry, Tycho rushed forward to meet the earth elemental in combat. Before the others could join him they heard a loud buzzing behind them.
Jasmind turned just in time to see a rushing swarm of angered tree sprites pour out of the forest toward the party. They swarmed the party, shocking them with jolts of negative energy. Most of the tree sprites swarmed around Vaelen, angered that he had killed one of their own. As the party struggled to handle the tree sprites the earth elemental charged across the bridge at them. As the earth elemental was about to crash down into Tycho its whole form melted to mud and slid underneath the halfling’s feet. Reforming before Jasmind, it hammered its fists down onto the paladin’s shield. Gillian launched numerous flaming bolts at the tree sprites, keeping them at bay with Jasmind at her side. One of the tree sprites flew over the edge of the bridge to escape the sorcerer’s fire. Not about to let an opponent escape, Tycho leapt off the bridge. He sliced the tree sprite in two before disappearing over the edge.
“TYCHO!” Gillian shouted as she saw the Halfling jump off the bridge. It was suicide! If the fall did not kill him, the river surely would. Just then Tycho teleported directly above the earth elemental and brought his great sword down upon the creature’s head. Gillian had only ever known High Elves to have such an ability until she remembered how Tycho grabbed the crystal embedded in the heart of the forest. So the Halfling did draw power from the crystal and had been hiding it all this time!
Tycho was cackling like a mad man as he teleported around the battle field, striking blow after blow to the earth elemental as the rest of the party dealt with the remaining tree sprites. When the tree sprites had been struck down Jasmind and Vaelen helped Tycho dispatch the earth elemental. Still eager to flaunt his new power Tycho tried showing off by teleporting across the bridge, but nothing happened. Whatever power he had drawn from the crystal had now left him. Based on the look the others were giving him, he had some explaining to do.
After Gillian gave Tycho a stern warning about the danger of the crystal power, the party made their way across the bridge. Further up the New Road they came upon a broken caravan. Two of the carts were turned on their side, wheels shattered. Dozens of crates, bags and loose items were strewn about the ground. The third cart still looked operational, but the horses looked spooked. They had good reason too. Surrounding the broken caravan was half a dozen dead bodies. Three men are sifting through the wreckage and cargo. When they spot the adventurers they stand upright suddenly. The nearest of them addressed Jasmind, “Thank the gods you are here! Dire Wolves attacked us last night. We were on our way to New Port.”
The Paladin took another look at corpses around her. The wounds on the corpses did not look like dire wolve attacks – There were no bite marks. In fact, it looked like a mace had been taken to the back of their heads. Looking back at the men the paladin saw a mace strapped to the man’s belt that addressed her. As his hand inched toward the weapon, Jasmind drew hers with lightning reflexes. With her sword pointed at the man’s face she demanded to know what was going on here.
“Prisoners.” Vaelen muttered. He lifted his warhammer and pointed it to the man in the back. “That one is Gareth. The one in front of you is Borack and if I am not mistaken the third is Timuren. Nasty pieces of work with bounties on their head. I never forget a mark.”
Borack moved his hands up into the air in front of him. “All right, all right. This wasn’t our caravan. We escaped from the crash of Darkskye, just as you said. Come now… there’s plenty of supplies here for all of us. Help us get to the next town and we’ll split it… say 50/50?” As Vaelen stomped forward Borack reeled several paces back. “Fine! 30/70 split! No need to cause more trouble now.”
Just as Vaelen was about to reach Borack something grabbed at his left ankle. Looking down the cleric saw one of the corpse had wrapped a hand around his leg. All around them the freshly dead caravan members were rising, ready to unleash their vengeance upon the living. Using this opportunity to get away Borack, Gareth and Timuren dropped the cargo they had been pillaging and ran off the road into the forest. The party had no time to pursue them before the undead attacked.
Battle hardened from all the dangers of the Wild Wood, the party had no difficulty dispatching the angry corpses. When the corpses had all fallen again Vaelen said a prayer to help put their souls at rest. Gillian summoned her magic to set the corpses on fire, burning them all to ash. The only thing that remained was the wagon packed full of treasures and supplied that the trio of prisoners had left behind, and conveniently two horses to pull the wagon for them.
From there onward the road was safe. They even passed a few farm houses, an oddly foreign site after their experiences in the wilds. As the party traveled they shared their future plans with each other. Gillian could not stand the thought of the crystals spreading out of the Wild Wood and was resolved to stay in New Port to monitor anyone trying to smuggle them out. Tycho agreed to stay in New Port, but with more selfish intentions – He figured a port town was a great place to restart his smuggling business. Vaelen and Jasmind both committed themselves to returning to the wood. The Green Shadows could use their help, and they did not want the crystals spreading any further. Besides, Vaelen had a nice tower as a vacation home to return to anytime he wished. Tycho gleefully reminded Vaelen that it was their vacation home and the Halfling would gladly return whenever he had a craving for more owlbear meat. They might even find Kzzmet and Billips frolicking in the forest while they were at it. First though they all had set their minds to notify the Emperor about the one responsible for this mess. Someone would need to make sure the Diabolist answered for her crimes.
The city of New Port appeared in the distance. With smiles on their faces the party moved on to greet it.
GM Notes –
The player behind Tycho had to duck out for a bit during adventure 5, hence his disappearance for a little while. The heart fight was one of the favorite battles during the adventure and I had a lot of fun being creative with the terrain. The heart was actually a glowing puffer ball and the players got a kick out of it when I put it on the table. During part 6 of the adventure the tree sprite is written to be a role-play opportunity, but the player behind Vaelen declared he smashed the tree sprite with his warhammer before I could introduce the NPC. The player’s reaction of “It’s a flying thing, kill it!” had the entire table rolling in laughter. The final fight against the angry corpses seemed to be one of the weaker fights in this adventure, but there was plenty of other fun challenging fights that more than made up for it. Overall, I loved running Wyrd of the Wild Wood. I applaud the writers of the organized play adventure for all the hard work they put into this. It seemed like they really listened to player feedback from Crown of the Lich King and some of the mechanics were changed slightly to run a lot smoother in this adventure. The Wild Wood is one of my favorite locations of the Dragon Empire so I hope one day in future organized play adventures we can return to it. I hope our players bring some of these characters back for higher tier adventures as it was a blast sharing them with you. Liked our adventure recap or have any comments? Please let us know! Thanks for reading!