“Beware Grimwarden Forest, friends.
If half the tales be true,
You’ll meet your most untimely ends
As wolves tear you in two.”
- Nymerian Folk Song
In Squirrel’s Clothing
Glen and Aryn had met up with their comrade in arms, Eight Thundercloud, who arrived on the back of her tamed hippogriff Goldbeak at Glen’s newly acquired castle in Grimwarden Forest. As the trio caught up on their recent adventures, their attention was drawn to a commotion at the edge of the woods. Rushing to investigate, Aryn, Glen, and Eight Thundercloud saw a lanky human boy being pursued by a pack of hungry wolves. To their astonishment, the boy leaped through the air – transforming into a squirrel mid-leap and hastily scrambling up the side of the stone wall surrounding the castle. The trio of adventurers culled the bloodthirsty wolves before addressing the new visitor.
Over the Moonpool and Through the Woods
The squirrel-boy had transformed back into a boy again, and introduced himself as Rigel Greentree. He implored the adventurers for help, explaining that his druid circle in Grimwarden Forest needed the aid of brave adventurers. He implored them to follow him back to his grove and speak with his mother, the leader of the druid circle. The group reluctantly agreed. Trekking eastward through the dense forest, they soon came upon a shimmering pond ringed with tall standing stones. This, Rigel explained, was the Moonpool. It had once held great magical healing properties for those worthy who drank from its waters, but recently those powers had faded. Not even thirsty animals could be seen to drink from the Moonpool as of late. Something sinister was tainting the water. Unable to discover much more from examining the water and the standing stones, the adventurers followed Rigel the rest of the way to the druid encampent in Kala’s Grove.
What Hangs in the Balance
Rigel introduced Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercould to his mother, Kara Greentree. She appeared to be an ancient druid woman creased and wrinkled by the ages. She arrogantly denied that anything was wrong with the Moonpool, but was eager to ask the adventurers for help once they had introduced themselves as the Valiant Crowned. She explained that, for reasons beyond her knowledge, the balance of nature within Grimwarden Forest had become disrupted. The wolves in the forest had always been dangerous, but had recently become more disturbed and vicious than ever. They had even attacked members of the druid grove and had ventured outside the forest to attack nearby settlements or travelers along the roads.
She promised a handsome reward if the adventurers could investigate the cause of this. The numbers of her druid circle had grown smaller and smaller over the years, and they could not spare the manpower for such a mission. Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud agreed to help. Unexpectedly, their ally Ponyhater Skinny, a bugbear, showed up.
Potions for Gemstones
The druid circle at Kala’s Grove was small, yet eclectic. Several different races were represented. There were humans, such as Kara and Rigel, half orcs, goblins, and even a dwarf. The adventurers quickly made the acquaintance of the dwarf, Ben Willowsnap, who was the grove’s resident alchemist and cook. He offered to trade some of his goods – potions, simple wooden weapons, and leather armor – in exchange for gemstones or other gear. While most of the group traded gemstones and goods for the dwarf’s valuable potions, Ponyhater Skinny, who had very little material wealth, tried to offer her body in exchange for a potion. Her allies intervened and convinced the dwarf to cut a deal with her.
That night, they slept soundly in a treehouse above the druid grove. In the morning, Rigel led them toward the location of the wolf den where it was presumed most of the trouble was originating from. Sensing Glen’s hesitation to approach what was obviously the setup for an ambush, Aryn used her newly developing psyonic powers to cause a delusion of gold coins at the mouth of the wolf den to appear inside Glen’s mind. He went sprinting for the entrance to the cave, only to get himself and the rest of the adventuring party caught in an ambush. A druid who had been keeping watch from the limbs of a nearby tree gave a howl, summoning several fierce wolves from the cave. In the ensuing attack, Eight Thundercloud showed off her magical prowess by practically disintegrating most of the attacking wolves, while Ponyhater, Aryn, and Glen took care of the druid.
After the battle outside the mouth of the cave was over, Rigel explained that he had recognized the enemy druid. He had once been of the Circle of the Tree, a peaceful group in Grimwarden Forest. Despite pressure from the adventurers, Rigel decided to part ways with them rather than follow them into the wolf den. He gathered the pelts and meat from the slain wolves and promised to prepare a feast for them when they returned to Kala’s Grove.
In the meantime, Glen, Aryn, and Eight Thundercloud prepared to enter the cavernous wolf den…