The Heart of the Nearwood

The midnight hour comes and goes with the warlock tied to the tree. Thinking that perhaps the bait is not sweet enough to tempt the unicorn, Tanule slams his scaly fist into Sabellia’s nose. Bloodied and thrashing wildly against her ropes, the infuriated warlock’s display certainly becomes more convincing than before.

Still, hours pass without event and the party’s attention begins to wane. They begin to make preparations for camp and watch assignments, but the wary eyes of one of the elves catches sight of something in the ravine.

“That rock… was it so close, before?”

Suddenly, the ‘rock’ stands and reveals itself to be a mud-caked hobgoblin who has managed to sneak close enough to ambush to party! The tenacious creature lets several arrows fly before retreating back into the ravine.

Wisely, the elves duck into cover behind the tree, but Tanule and Avaris brashly pursue the hobgoblin and learn the difficult way that it has lined the ravine with traps for them. Through the course of pursuing the creature, both Avaris and Tanule are wounded, but at last the dragonborn cuts through the daggerthorn briars and passes the treacherous mud slicks that the hobgoblin has laid in his path.

Before Tanule can slay the hobgoblin, a look of horror crosses the creature’s eyes and it fires an arrow into its own throat, refusing to be taken alive. One final trap crashes and booms throughout the ravine with the hobgoblin’s death, and several elementals are awakened by the clamor. In the ensuing battle, Avaris is slain by an earth elemental who drowns him in the treacherous mud.

No sooner do the elves make their way to their wounded comrades than the unicorn finally appears. Torn between confusion and rage, it is soon placated by the heroes when they offer it gifts of the golden apple and silver bridle. With its healing horn, it staves off Avaris’ death and leads the heroes to the center of the Nearwood where Leafwind can be found.

The fog-walled place of gnarled, bark-stripped trees is known in legends as the Hagwood, and the party finds only reinforcement of this dire turn of events when they enter the glade. They find an assortment of elves, druids and hobgoblins, encamped together. A strange charm has taken place in their hearts and its subtle enthrallment is found on their every word. They speak reverently of one named ‘Lurielle.’

The heroes mingle and investigate, learning rumors of Lurielle, and notice a storm brewing overhead where no storm should be. They find that a ritual is being cast this very moment by the elf-maidens Lurielle has summoned to the center of her grove.

With no time to waste, the party tries a desperate ploy to raise a mob from the addle-minded denizens of the glade. In the commotion, Avaris streaks past the hobgoblin guards and disrupts Lurielle’s ritual by throwing a shuriken into her mirror-like reflecting pond.

In the aftermath, the party is rounded up by the glade’s enthralled hobgoblin guards, and the very elf the party seeks, Leafwind Autumnbough, comes to say that Lurielle desires to hold audience with them.



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