“Take us there Failin, or your debt to Lana will be paid back in flesh!” Demanded Garrison as Failin rolled his eyes at the idea of taking the 3 adventures through the Mournlands to the Whitehearth Facility.
“No. You cant threaten me, when without me you couldn’t even get back to Rhukaan Draahl without ending up as gobli-stew”. Failin spit out as he pushed through Garrison and Deerdal to continue working on loading his cart. “However”, he continued ”...since I may have a small debt to Lana, I can take you to edge of the ‘Dead Grey Mist’...For a price of course”
So with a bit more of haggling, resting and gearing up Garrison, Lana and Deerdal boarded Failin’s cart towards the edge of the Mournlands.
After a few hours humming along on the cart Deerdal spotted something on the horizon. Slight and unclear at first, but slowly he came to realize , as did the others, what they were seeing. Spanning as far left and as right as the eye could see, and as high up as the clouds rose a thick and somewhat undefined wall of pure greyness.
“The Dead Grey Mist” Deerdal whispered to himself louder than he realized, as Failin’s cart pulled up the walls edge and abruptly came to a stop.
“End of the line. Hurry get off.” Failin yelled as he stood up in the cart and started giving the adventurers a look of impatience and pity.
And just as quickly as the stopped and unboarded, Failing was gone, without even a word.
“So what next?” Deerdal questioned as he walked slowly up to the Mist and squinted his eyes as he tried to see his best through it. “Strange” muttered Lana, as she waved her hand in and out of the mist. ”...its as though its magical, but not. When i place my hand through it, I can make out the outlines of it, but I feel as though I can no longer believe I have a hand.”
“We go through.” Garrison finally answered as he checked all his gear and checked the sharpness of his blade along his thumb.
“Good idea. Ok, Ill go ahead and see if i can get through. Give me the map we found from Rose Quarry and I will try to find us a way to there. Hmmm…” he paused. “Lets setup some codes, I trust this Mist less than the Evoker here.”
“When you hear a long whistle that means to come and find me. In fact, if you dont hear for me, for 5 minutes, come find me.”
So Deerdal, with map hand, entered the Mist. And as though he walked through a curtin of water, he was gone.
After the time was up, Garrison looked at Lana and said “I have to go find him. You stay here and wait for us.” and he started packing his gear.
“No, I said I will help you out and I will.” Lana flatly protested. “Besides, I must studied this Mist first hand.”
“Ok then.” Garrison conceded. “But we will tie a rope to each other so we do not separate.”
And off into the deadness they traveled. Tied together, and resilient to whatever was ahead of them.
Silence. Deadness. Distance. Absence.
None of those words could quantify what Lana and Garrison felt in the Mist. It was as though no sound or feeling existed. And any sounds the duo did make felt at once both close and far away.
For hours it felt like the two walked and stayed close, trying to listen for the long whistle of Deerdal.
Then it came. Slight at first, but steady. The long whistle they had been waiting for. So Garrison and Lana and hurried towards the source where they found Deerdal at the end of.
After a happy but quick reuniting Garrison tied the remaining rope to Deerdal and they continued.
Finally they broke through the Mist and entered what was once Cyre. However, this was not the Cyre they once knew. Once known as “the jewel of Galifar’s crown”, Cyrne was a place a beauty, arts and wealth. Now it was little more than a wasteland. A barren horrible place filled with the aftermath of war and destruction.
However, this war looked as though it just happened yesterday, not 4 years ago. The bodies and damage they passed looked fresh and recent. The group experienced a sense of time that seemed not to move.
They pressed on.
And after about an hour of quiet walking while they took in the strange mix of recent carnage and desolation the newly reunited party came across a scene where one of the battles must have been heavy because of the amount of dead bodies and machines.
As they approached the battle scene Lana noticed a movement among the dead bodies. As she realized what they were, or at least what they used to be, she yelled out “wolves!” and Garrison and Deerdal jumped into action.
And out from the bodies appeared 3 of what once were wolves but were now little more than than skeletons.
Garrison was the first to react. He took the lead as only natural to his fighter ways. With a quick but certain slash he took the closest skeleton/wolf down. Being inspired by this attack, Deerdal made a sprint from behind Garrison to the wolves with the plan all mapped out in his head. He would run, jump then roll through Garrison’s legs and give a quick but sure stab to the wolf on Garrison right.
However, he didnt plan on the ground being so uncertain and Garrisons legs closing just a bit. So half way through his jump while he was coming down to roll, Deerdal noticed the inevitable. He slipped on the earth and banged into the back of Garrison’s legs with a brain-numbing thud.
But luckily this didnt phase Lana, she was already in the middle of casting a powerful Magic Missle spell and let her hands reign fury upon the skeletal body of one of the wolfs.
It collapsed in a singed and broken state of death.
The last wolf put up a small, but quick fight and after a few melees, was returned to whatever demon possessed it.
After a quick surveying of the land they continued.
The trio passed through lands and scenery that would be hard to report back about it. From large spikes of Glass shards to half destroyed bodies that seemed to be still alive, or at least filled with souls. Finally after what seemed like hours, but garnered no change in light they came across what was known as The Stagnation
The stagnation, was as they always had heard, a lake with a beach of complete desolation.
The trio passed in silence as the air was thick and the smells were almost overpowering. They all hoped it would be a quick passage through here.
On the cusp of the “beach” and land they noticed that another patch of mist was ahead of them. So the adventures stopped, uncertain what was ahead of them, and continued.
In the same order as before they pressed through this patch of mist. Which this time seemed to be quick. However, as they broke through the mist, it felt as though days and nights had passed.
And they all saw what they didnt expect.
Life. Trees. New. A forrest.
Taken aback by this new site, especially after seeing what seemed like an eternity of death, the adventurers slowly approached this lively glade.
As Deerdal readied his weapons and approached the edge of the glade, he realized what was familiar to him about the trees. These trees ahead of him were made of pure Ironwood. It was a whole forest of them. And they seemed to be alive and growing.
“Strange” he whispered out loud. “These trees are ironwood. Why is there an ironwood forrest in the middle of all this desolation?” He pondered.
“Wait here. Im going to go through and investigate. I feel as though something is in here that we may not know of.”
So Deerdal continued on his own and stepped through this forest. He noticed at his feet was grass and foliage. Things he had almost had forgotten had existed in his short stay in Mournlands.
Deerdal froze in his tracks. He knew the sound of battle from anywhere. Slowly he posed on a tree an observed a skirmish between a few strange figures.
So he ran back and informed the others. They all decided it was best to slowly approach and observe. So they did.
After a quick walk they all heard the sounds then with a few more minutes, they saw it.
A moving skeleton in full armor, a warforge and a strange animal all locked in combat. Neither giving way to the other.
“Karnath” Garrison said under his breath. “What?” questioned Lana.
“Thats a Karnathian uniform the skelton has on. And it looks like a Karnathian skeleton warrior that fought next to us in the Last War.”
“Why are they here?” he wondered.
“No time to think on that. they spotted us.” Deerdall yelled as he rushed in on the combat.
Garrison and Lana, as though without thought, followed their fellow into battle, unknowing and uncaring of what dangers they faced.
The trio attacked all, as they were unsure who are what was going on. And after some smart hits and attacks they fell the skeleton and the warforge.
Lana’s spell of “Sphere of Flame” engulfed the remaining animal-like figure as it turned towards them.
In a quick, and unexpected move, as the flames were dying down around the figured it made a hard but solid grab for Deerdals throat and started to life him from the ground.
As Garrison and Lana ran towards the pair to help out Deerdal, Garrison almost stopped in his tracks as he watch Deerdal’s feet leave the ground and the animal figure change from a 4-legged beast to some human-like form.
“Hold.” The form gasped out as its body straightened more and more and is it rose Deerdall twice his height above the ground.
“Why do you attacked the forest?” it continued. “The forest is here to grow and to survive.”
Confused Garrison yelled “Put him down!”
Thump! As Deerdal hit the ground.
“Oye. that hurt.” Deerbal said as he rubbed his rump and slowly stood up.
“Who are you?” Garrison asked as he moved closer to Garrisona and the finally morphed wood-like figure.
“I am the forest” said the figure in slow, monotone and aloof voice.
“What does that mean?” Deerdal asked.
“I am the forest. Some around here call me the ‘Ironwood walker’.”
“Well what were you doing with those beasts?” Garrison pressed.
“They were destroying us. I protected us.” The wooded figured answered. “The trees informed me. So i came and protected us.”
“And I see that you also protected us.”
“No. Were just passing through. And we must keep going.” Garrison muttered.
“Wait.” Deerdall snapped as he pulled out the map of Whitehearth. ”’Ironwood’ or whatever your name is. Do you know where this is?”
“Yes. I have traveled there. The forest asked me to.”
“Really?” Deerdall said. “Can you take us there?”
“Hmm. Zmmprthh. Yes. The forest said I must. So I will.”
And so the party rested in the grove and learned more about their new companion. From what they could gleam, it was some sort of warforge. But nothing like they had ever seen. Covered mostly of a body made of ironwood and aloof as though it was a leaf falling from slowly a tree limb.
In the morning, or at least what felt like a morning, they regrouped and continued.
Following a strange scouting mix of Deerdal and their new warforge companion, the party trekked along.
The scattered dead bodies and signs of war kept Garrison so deep in thought on their march, so that when Lana, Deerdal and the warforged had stopped he didnt realize why. So he focused more on what was ahead and it took him only a fraction of a second to take it all in. They were now on the edge of what was once a massive battle scene.
Slowly they pushed through. They passed corpses of all shapes and sizes, again looking as though the battle happened yesterday. Most of the soldiers were a mix Brelish infantry and Cyran Archers. And in the middle was what looked like a gigantic siege machine.
They also noticed what looked like signs of a different battle, maybe one more recent. A mix of elves and halfings were closer together. With eachothers arrows and swords in the others bodies. And other strange marks were upon some of the bodies…some kind of giant claw marks.
“There must have been a more recent battle.” Deerdal commented. “And these halflings. They are from the Talenta plains. What are they doing all the way out here?” He asked as he started looking through the bodies.
“Wait.” Lana said in a voice little more than a whisper. “There is something moving. There.” An she pointed to a mound of corpses near the center.
“Mooooovvveee!” She yelled, as the mound of corpses and weapons she pointed to, began to shift. Rising up from the ground on eight crab-like legs, a giant crustacean with four eyeballs rushed at the party looking hungry.
Luckily Lana had seen the beast and the party was able to parry the monsters quick strikes. And Lana, had already readied the words and hand movements of a spell.
From her hands like bright fire flew three bright balls a flames. They all scorched the air intertwining on their way to the target and hit with screeching pain done to the beast.
Deerdal moved in from behind the crustacean and delivered a massive blow to its unprotected rear. While the Ironwood Walker unleashed a power none of the others were ready for.
He ran towards to crab in almost a perfect like motion and as he got closer he started to bend down and use his front arms as another pair of legs as his skin and shape shifted to resemble a horribly strong beast.
This new shape leaped in the air with its newly grown fangs aimed right for the area where the eyes connected and it bit with all its might severing 3 of the 4 eyes from the crabs body.
The noise was almost unbearable. A screeching high-pitched yell emanated from the crab as it swung around confused and spitting blood. After a few spasms it collapsed in death.
“Wow.” was all that Deerdal could say as he watched the Ironwood slowly turn back into his human form.