Malcolmsfort #18 – Big Tree

Following is another report from the trident-wielding warrior, Novak. Details, such as names or the distinction between elf and half-elf are largely lost on the barely-literate Novak. More learned comrades of his might relate a more coherent narrative. The following account was the best history preserves.

Many months passed after the Battle of Untala. Hailed as a hero and soon known as Orcslayer, Novak settled into a leisurely life. His friends did the same, though they encountered more trouble than he did, most of them spending time in jail. Owing to a health distrust of elves, the sheriff followed a path of persecution that drove the ranger off into the woods from which he never returned. The sticky-fingered mage endured, partly due to Novak’s endorsement. The halfling took up a new career in art, about which Novak had little interest.

Passing the Summer

Enthusiastic acclaim inspired several offers of marriage. Novak gladly accepted the hand of Avelyn, daughter of the artisan Thurber, primarily for the considerable dowry of 4,700 pieces of gold. He moved into their household to live with them and his mother-in-law, Fern. Now becoming a respectable citizen of Untala, Novak became friendly with Rarius Crow, a wealth landowner who advocated for his knighthood. From then he was call Sir Novak Orcslayer.

Flush with wealth, but needing amusement, the savage orc-fighter signed on with the town militia, rising in rank swiftly. He encouraged his henchman, Glomar, to join as well. They made friends with four others (Barksdale, August, Sawyer & Brian), with whom they could often be found drinking until early hours at The Shattered Plate. It was there, while quaffing ale, that some undocumented trouble arose. Under the stupor of drink, Novak recalled nothing but waking in a cell the next morning. Despite a short stay and the threat of losing his employment, he was rehired immediately upon release, quickly followed by a promotion. By the end of Summer, he was considered second in command and hired on permanently.

First Mission

Novak’s first mission as a regular militiaman was to find the hobgoblin lair. He gathered his former party to assist and walked northward into the forest. Maps gathered months before indicated a point of interest in a valley north of the river, but deep water forced them to walk upstream for several miles to cross at a ford.

The ford was in fact four feet of fast-moving water. By chance, they lingered at the crossing to watch and soon noticed a creature in the water. Identification was impossible, but simply knowing about the threat avoided surprise. Novak waded out into the waist-deep water. A gargantuan pike dashed towards him. Into the scale-covered flesh bit Novak’s trident, holding the massive fish in place while the cleric and the henchman beat it senseless. Presently, the fish was dragged on the opposite shore. They roasted healthy chunks over a lunchtime campfire.

Now across the river, they headed south. Twice foul frogs the size of mastiffs leaped from the river only to be cut down. The camped at the river’s edge before heading back into the forest. Not long after, a giant hawk swooped down, clutching the diminutive halfling, but the elf mage stuck the hawk in web-like goo. A few stabs killed the wild animal with ease.

A Pool and a Tree

They knew something of interest lay hidden in the valley below, as they looked down from a ridge. It was choked with thick forest, revealing nothing more to the naked eye. So, they headed down, taking care to walk a straight line until they read the opposite side, then they turned to cross the valley again. They were making a careful survey.

Soon they came to a creek which they followed up in to a canyon to find a tree growing around an ancient building, its roots reaching down into a natural pool out of which flowed the creek. Roots partially blocked a doorway into the building, through which only the halfling could fit. She reported about a the effects of a dwelling for people smaller than herself. She also noticed a vase, perhaps magical. They left the home undisturbed and waited without event for the rest of the day.

Meanwhile, the halfling could not resist drinking from the pool and found it produced stunning results. She grew in size, nearly ruining her armor as she quickly doffed it. After a few drinks from the pool, she was the size of a human and stark naked, which no clothes to fit her new form.

They camped overnight without event and in the morning found the halfling returned to normal size but still imbued with a measure of additional strength. Looking in the tree house again, she noticed the vase had turned from white to red. It was then that a deep, slow voice came down from above warning them not trespass.

Novak spoke to the tree in calming tones, for the charm of careful words was a natural talent. Soon they made friends with the tree who was found to be a living, sentient being called a treant. He told them about the three pixies who lived in the tree, about a forgotten god of strength who’s temple he grew around here, and a people called Tabashi who disappeared more than a thousand years before.

Before long, the pixies arrived. At first they were disturbed to find visitors but soon calmed down given the endorsement of the talking tree. The pixies, too, enjoy the water of the pool. Evidently it increases their size and that of the tree. Dismissing concern, Novak and the others drank deeply. “The power of Saint Kosis is good for a warrior like me,” thought Novak to himself. His arms swelled with new strength.

They stayed yet another day in the glade with the pixies, exchanging some information about the area and where hobgoblins might keep a lair. The pixies could provide clues to where the hobgoblins were, which Novak hoped would help complete his mission.

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