The Citadel

Eleventh Mission (22)

The Elder Tree

After heavy deliberation, it was decided that the group who had instigated our possible conflict with the forest would be the same one to resolve it. In Schem Grevhton’s own words: “If they go out there and get killed, at least they’ll be the ones who have it coming.”

However, we had nothing to go off of. Communication with the forest itself was rare, and we had to dig through the archives to find out when it had last occurred. By “we” I of course am entirely referring to myself. Sleep is a luxury for the lazy.

Anyway, I found several instances of Slayers interacting with an “Elder Tree”, supposedly the leader of treants. When referring to “The Forest”, we are primarily referring to the treants, and this being that controls them.

With this lead, but nothing else, I dug up the best information I could on where the tree was. Unfortunately, what I managed to find was “in the east”. We were shooting in the dark again, but it was necessary.

So with little direction, a group comprised of Julius, Jorge, Ulfgar, and Zayn was sent to the forest.

In the beginning, their only objective was to find the tree. However, things became more complicated with the knowledge that the forest would soon turn against them. Only a few days into their journey, they discovered a creature known as a Bearhound, one of the guardians of the forest. Though initially threatening, the Bearhound was won over by the group through offers of magical items, and the ambush that it had prepared was called off.

The party made a deal with the creature that, having given it a potion, it would lead them through what it had previously described to them as an infinite maze surrounding the Elder Tree, that mortals had no way of getting through. For a time, it became their traveling companion, and they developed a strange fondness for the creature.

A wall of mountains bordered the enchanted forest, and as the group climbed them they were attacked by a swarm of Murderhawks. Though the Slayers were experienced enough to be able to handle them by this point, the creatures were of a large number and attacked together. Several among the group were almost carried off. Thankfully, however, the birds were killed, and treasure was found amongst their nest, as well as Murderhawk chicks. Chances of their survival left alone were slim, and one less future Murderhawk probably meant many more living Slabi, Scouts, and Slayers, so the babies were killed.

Beneath the mountains was the endless forest, an area supposedly impossible to cross for mortals, yet as long as the Slayers followed the Bearhound they would be able to get through it. Shortly after entering the forest, night broke, and the group decided to make camp. When they awoke in the morning, seven Treants entered their camp, and told them they knew why they were here. They offered to bring them the rest of the way to the Elder Tree. Here, the Bearhound departed, sensing that it was no longer needed, and the group thanked it.

The Slayers were then introduced to the Elder Tree, a mind-bogglingly massive being that would take up half of The Citadel’s courtyard, with so many leaves and branches that it could speak with the sounds of the wind blowing through them. The group introduced themselves and told the Tree why they were there, what they were trying to accomplish, and the Tree told them that their debt could be repaid if they returned a group of Treant seeds that had been taken by The Citadel. When asked, however, when these seeds had been taken, the Tree informed them that it had been ‘only’ hundreds of years ago. They asked if there was anything else they could do, but there was nothing.

Just then, a partially destroyed Treant ran into the Elder Tree’s clearing, and informed it that a human creature was destroying the forest. The Elder Tree did not need this information to be told to it, however, as it could feel pieces of the forest being destroyed, and cried out in pain. The Slayers quickly formed a new deal with the Tree, that they would stop the intruder if it would redeem The Citadel. With this established, a treant led the group to where the forest-killer was. Unfortunately, a fire had started in the area, and the pure heat damaged the group. A frantic fight began in which the Slayers were trying to penetrate a wall of fire to hit a target they could not see. In the end, they managed to dispatch the monstrous human…only to find that it was a Citadel Slayer.

With this horrid realization made, the group still did not hesitate to chop off his head, and, when this was done, to bring it to the Elder Tree. The tree knew enough to understand that what the Slayers had done was frowned upon in their society, and that they faced a hard fate. There was nothing that could be done.

With this message passed to them, the group began to leave the forest.

On their way out, however, they ran into the Verdant Prince. He expressed his deepest condolences and informed them that he may be able to do something about their situation. The members of the group who had made deals with him before said no almost instantaneously. However, Julius was receptive. He was offered to revive upon potential death if he only brought the Verdant Prince a Slabym, and he accepted this deal. Despite encouragement and even bribery from the other slayers, Julius managed to go back to Suthertree and find a human willing to make a deal with the Prince. In return, he was granted the power of potential resurrection. Deals with the Verdant Prince are dangerous, and I have no idea what the future will hold for this one.

The Slayers succeeded on their mission with few problems. Especially since the Slayer that they killed was decided to be “of no consequence”. However, something is wrong. A High Priest was murdered recently, and there is a general air of disturbance. The Citadel has felt safe for a long time, but something about it doesn’t feel quite that way anymore.

Perhaps it is just a feeling, but I can’t simply attribute it to that. The behavior of everyone around me seems strange, and is becoming stranger by the day. There is something being set into motion, and whatever it is, it probably isn’t good.

-High Priest, Novy Poradie

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