Episode 5 – Tales Trees Tell
Halvin Graingle sat uncomfortably in his run down hovel. He had been sending letters to the elven village of Greenhall. Some ridiculous system of birds, wooden whistles, and boxes on trees…he didn't know what was going on with it, but he sent several letters and received many acorns in return. He didn't really know what to make of it, but he had a mission and he wanted to fulfill it. He had places to go. After all, he had been sent on this special mission by the Cult of the Dragon, and that was a sign of confidence. He asked Pipyap again why he shouldn't just go into the forest and call out for what he wanted. Pipyap stated that not all ancient and evil things are as harmless as Imps, and that Halvin should wait for a response from the creatures within. Halvin spoke the words to dismiss the imp back to his holding area, closed his eyes, and imagined what it would be like to be leader in the cult someday.
The Bollocks arrived in the farming village of Kabel's Hill on a rainy afternoon. The town appeared quiet, no one was on the streets. The Bollocks found the majority of the citizen gathered in the Leaky Bucket, the local tavern. The Bollocks were welcomed by the villagers who explained that they were in the middle of a meeting to decide a course of action. Halvin Graingle, a stranger to the village had moved to a ramshackle hut near the edge of the Quivering Forest several months ago. approximately 20 days ago, he disappeared. His abode was searched by the locals and evidence that he had gone into the forest had been found. The villagers feared the worst as violating the borders of the forest meant that an ancient pact between the fey of the forest and Phlan and the surrounding villages may be in jeopardy. The nature of the pact was poorly understood by the villagers, but they seemed to believe that extreme danger awaited them due to the breaking of the pact. Their fear overcame them and they sent a rescue party into the Quivering Forest to try and find Halvin and make peace with the fey residing there. They pleaded with the Bollocks to go into the forest and find out what had happened to Halvin and their search party.
The Bollocks agreed to go and took the evening to rest. In the middle of dinner a scream of terror from outside alerted the village and they ran to the town square. They found a member of the search party with his eyes removed and tongue cut out lashed to the post where notices were hung. He was pierced through with a 12-inch long hairpin made of bone and silver. The wounded villager was taken down and treated. The Bollocks set out the next day.
The Bollocks searched Halvin's abode for clues. They found that he was a member of the Cult of the Dragon who had been attempting to renegotiate the treaty between the fey and Phlan. He wanted the fey to stand down as the Cult of the Dragon took over Phlan. While searching they also encountered an Imp named Pipyap. He stated that Halvin was a wizard who worked for the cult, but he had no idea what his plans were. Pipyap advised against going into the forest and stayed behind when Halvin embarked on his journey. Pipyap accompanied the party on their trip. Next stop was at the house of an elven ranger named, Sariel. She gave the Bollocks the info she had regarding the pact. The Bollocks showed her the bone hairpin they had and Sariel was repelled by the object. She noted that the pin was a scrying device and that the hag who owned it, Jeny Greenteeth, had heard everything the Bollocks had said to this point. A sudden thump on the door of Sariel's cottage announced the arrival of an animated scarecrow and several Needle blights, that attacked the party. Sariel was wounded by the Blights, but the creatures were otherwise swiftly dealt with.
Halvin could not believe what he was hearing. He had made a strong case and presented all of the facts for why the Cult of the Dragon would be triumphant, but this old fey bitch, this hag, she wouldn't budge on the pact. He couldn't understand why she wouldn't just stand aside. The people of Phlan were doomed. The Cult was already in the process of taking Phlan. He had received word from Spernik recently that stated the plan was moving along as expected. This spurred Halvin to make one more attempt at convincing the hag to see reason. He thought that the letter from Spernik would help to sway her, so he bent to retrieve it from his pack. He never saw the 12 inch bone hairpin that pierced the back of his neck and exited at his throat, but he saw the old woman transform into a monstrous visage, and he knew, at last that he was dealing with a real Hag.
The Bollocks and Sariel headed for the elven village in the forest, Greenhall. They arrived at Greenhall and were greeted with hostility. The villagers had visited the village and asked for assistance, which the elves reluctantly offered. They had not seen Halvin. They did not want to deal with the Bollocks, but due to some diplomacy from Sariel, they managed to not be attacked and to obtain direction to Jeny's lair in the forest.
The Bollocks were ambushed by displacer beasts in the forest, they managed to drive off the creatures, but Sariel was again, badly wounded and in need of healing magic. The Bollocks traveled a while longer and found the lair of Jeny Greenteeth, an ancient Hag. The glade where she resided was idyllic. Clear sky shone from above and the ever present rain, since the events at the Isle of the Fisher Folk, seemed to shy away from this place. Several old-women were seen working at various tasks around the glade, and a large cook pot was simmering a delightful smelling stew. Jeny greeted the Bollocks and all of the old women in the glade spoke the same words, with the same voice, in unison. It was creepy. The Bollocks engaged in conversation with the Hag and learned that Halvin had been by and made his proposal, but he was rude and summarily killed by Jeny. She also encountered the rescue party of villagers, some of whom were helping to serve dinner, and some of whom were not present. The Bollocks accepted her hospitality, but were cautious of eating the offered stew. They discussed the pact, the villagers, Phlan, and the Cult of the Dragon. Jeny had been unaware of the Cult as active in the modern day, but she spoke of the notions held by Halvin as ludicrous. She believed that summoning Tiamat to the world would be bad for all of Faerun. She noted, however, that the pact had been broken and that such things are inflexible in the world of the fey. The Bollocks spoke further with her and gave their best effort to convince Jeny to restore the pact, but she would not relent. Finally, the Bollocks asked that the villagers be allowed to leave with them. Jeny stated that the still living villagers could go in exchange for telling the villagers to stay out of the forest. The Bollocks agreed and made their way back.
The villagers rejoiced at their returned comrades. They mourned the loss of the fallen. They agreed to stay out of the forest, but wondered what the breaking of the pact meant to them and their families. The Bollocks strongly advised them to stay out of the forest. The villagers offered up a boat passage and the promised reward money, most of the town's savings, and saw the Bollocks off. Hard rain accompanied the Bollocks downstream to Phlan.
They had much to report to Knight Alyed Burral: Dragon Cultists were on the island of the Fisher Folk and in the village of Kabel's Hill. The islanders were some sort of devil worshippers. A pirate ship and storm came from the Nine Hells, and is probably responsible for the constant rain. They left an active, magical dracolich statue on the island, but they do not know what it does. Some kind of ancient pact between Phlan and the fey of the Quivering Forest has been broken; and if Phlan is in trouble, they fey will not assist the city. A Hag killed several villagers, but also, a dragon cultist. And, the Bollocks killed several members of a group called the Gray Patriots, who they heard about from Aleyd, when she was drunk. Aleyd paid them and dismissed them. She was embarrassed and had too much to discuss with the Lord Regent.
The Bollocks took a month off, and the rain never stopped.
Ellison hated that he had had to kill Garda Greenleaf. She had always been so sweet and helpful. Even when he was new, and a stranger to this place, she had always offered to help. She had been happy to take him down into the archives to look for his books this evening, but she became suspicious when she saw the Dragon necklace spill out of his pack while he searched it. He had stammered and panicked a bit, but when she threatened to go to the Black Fist, he acted decisively and ended the issue. "Praise Tiamat and the favored of the Dragon Queen." Ellison quickly went about searching the books they had retrieved for the information related to the Pools of Radiance and excising the necessary pages. He had to get out of here soon, someone would be missing Garda. He had done his research and the deep archives down here exited out to the sewers and he could make his way out of the city in secret. Thankfully he had stolen this Horn of Blasting from Aya Glenmiir earlier. He hoped that he could make the rest of this endeavor cleaner than this part had been. Spernik had sent him that threatening note earlier this week that had spurred him to action. He guessed that the urgency associated with the tasks was due to Rynthrax having a deadline in Scrape, across the Moonsea, to deliver these books and other items for the leadership of the cult. The plots seemed to be escalating quickly at this point. Ellison had been in the city for moths just working as a a scribe before orders to act had been issued. Halvin had received his orders first and departed for the village of Kabel's Hill. Tibeem and Spernik were prompted to act months ago, and Spernik had been acting inside Stojanow's brig ever since he had been arrested. Ellison wished he knew what was going on, but his desire to carry out his mission overrode his curiosity.
He had what he needed. He sounded the Horn and created his exit. He would have to work quickly through the archives if he was to meet Rynthrax tonight, but he felt good about his ability to accomplish this task.