When morning comes the Squad find themselves still within the frigid city of Kirasanct… Much to their regret. The dreary, hostile place bears down upon them heavily, necessitating excessive drinking from even the stronger willed to stave off depression… which is to say nothing of the nature of its inhabitants. Though not the most welcoming of cities there is one thing the Fiends DO know well and that is warming food. As they avail themselves of this, Nathanew begins to pack for the journey to come- somewhat disgruntles at having been left out of proceedings the Squad confronts him for more information about their purpose in the ice-locked city though the Fiend remains tight lipped.
Explaining that the village is too distant to reach by walking and cut off from portal connection, Nathanew instead tells them that he will cast a spell to help them arrive faster. No one relishes the thought of footslogging across endless miles of tundery quagmire and scree- least of all the dragon, who has shown to be quite vulnerable to the chilly conditions. The nature of Nathanew’s spell? Spectral horses; the spirit forms of creatures that have been unknown to all save the paleo-zoologists and archivists in Aradoth for well over an age. Alva is delighted with the apparations and takes to her ghostly mount with the grace of a forest-born elf; Melanth however has no small amount of trepidation, professing that he would rather eat the creature than ride it. He is promptly catapulted out of the saddle by the force of its accelleration.
Though a smug Nathanew and somewhat unnerved Melanth manage good time, they are forced to pause frequently to allow Alva to catch up with her somewhat slower wolf companion. Though distant, their magically summoned mounts carry them to the village with little event; by evening the three reign in their disturbingly incorporeal mounts at the small collection of log huts. The mining village is filled with introverted and superstitious folk; the exotic newcomers find themselves somewhat alone, greeted only by distrusting stares as they dismount and watch Nathanew carefully searching for what he came for.
Their reverie is shattered by the sounds of raucous argument. A pair of crows cackle and scuffle amidst a cloud of their own black feathers. At the appearance of the distinctively blue-skinned Fiend they cease their boisterous commotion, greeting him in grackled croaks punctuated with oaths; Pernunculus, familiar of Nathanew, it transpires is the much abused brother to these crows. And the crows themselves are subjects of a certain skilled animal handler…
Boris Michaelson. A man of soft words and a softer heart, made virtual outcast in his own village by its intollerant population. Brother of Nathanew.
Distracting themselves away from the murder of bickering birds, the party greets Boris enthusiastically. Much removed from his brother’s sarcastic and smarmy demure, Boris it transpires has also had prior dealings with Melanth- and become one of the few bipeds to be safe from the dragon’s scorn. Inviting them into his home, the group talks to Boris at length; it transpires between the friendly cajouling and catching-up that Boris’ mother (and by extension, Nathanew’s mother) has been afflicted with a lingering illness, and the Fiend was asked to bring medicines to alleviate her illness. It also seems that the village has fallen upon harder times; a group of Treants have moved into the forest nearby and are injuring villagers who attempt to reach the mine. Offering their assistance in healing the ungrateful villagers, the Squad also decides to help clear the treant nuicanse; Alva’s new bow requires components sourced from Treant roots, providing an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.
Spending the night in an unoccupied hut, the Squad sets out on their animated tree hunt early the next day. It doesn’t take long to find the treants; being an order of magnitude larger than the Squad (or the surrounding trees for that matter) means they are easily picked out of the surrounding vegitation. Arranging themselves in a loose combat formation, the party of battle-hardened mercenaties allow Nathanew to fire the opening shot; somewhat predictively a fireball. That succeeds in slaying a treant with a single hit. And incinerating its roots. And setting the surrounding forest on fire.
Making mental notes to hit the Fiend with something heavy later, the rest of the squad gets stuck into the remaining two treants. The larger of the two balks beneath a hail of arrow from Alva, whilst the smaller makes the mistake of tangling with Melanth and Lorn in close quaters and is reduced to a smouldering pile of ash. Nathanew shows little abashment for his error in judgement, conjouring a thick hail of ice shards that pelt a wide area aroun the largest Treant, stripping away foliage and smaller branches in great sheets of greenery. Hathril, attaching himself firmly to Alva’s antlers seeks to quench the errant fire with a druidic spell- the squirrel less than impressed with the Fiend’s reckless destruction of nature. No sooner has the second Treant fallen however than the ground shakes beneath their feet, trees being pushed aside as a fourth treant, larger by another order of magnitude than its fellows, rises from the canopy of needled fir trees.
Years of practice swing into motion as the Party immediately re-positions itself to meet this new threat; Alva attempts to call upon the powers of nature to entangle the Mother of All Treants, but the creature is too strong to be trapped by the grasping vines she coaxes from the earth and smashes throuh them with impunity. Melanth barely manages to avoid being plastered across the landscape, the agile dragon dodging aside and causing the massive newcomer to smash one of its wooden arms upon a sheer cliff face. Nathanew, who by now seems to be working his way throuh the elements, conjours a bolt of intense lightning that arcs between the two tree-beasts- scorching and sizzling their bark, filling the clearing with the scent of a well prepared bonfire. Hathril, with more success than Alva’s attempt, conjours an Anti-Plant Field to help preventthe party being overrun by the sheer size and strength of the creatures before them; though he manages to contain their efforts to break it, maintaining the field saps his strength and requires his absolute concentration.
in the next round Alva and Melanth find their attacks to be less effectual; barely managing to dent their respective targets, whilst their targets in turn largely fail to do much damage. Nathanew is caught by a vicious whip-like appendage, though not before casting a second bolt of lighting after the first. The third treant curls in upon itself as a writhing pillar of smoke and licking flame, collapsing to the ground thoroughly dead, but the jolt seems only to anger the largest one. Thrashing and smashing with all of its might, the creature cannot break the field of Hathril’s conjouring. Severely weakened, Melanth finished it with a flurry of slashes- only just barely avoiding incinerating it with the Fang.
Largely unmolested, the Party celebrates their success by gathering components from their defeated foes. As well as mundane wood, Alva manages to obtain one of the roots that she requires for her bow. In addition to this the head of the World’s Largest Treant remains intact, and by malenth’s reckoning would make a fine trophy for the guildhall. Rolling it back to the village, the Party goes to report their success to Boris, feeling much happier for having killed something.