More Than One Way Out
In the middle of the Forest Ridge, the party was surrounded by Halfling warriors who demanded they surrender. Knowing the fate that would likely await them, none of the hero’s wanted to surrender and they prepared for a fight. The halflings, knowing the adventurer’s must be powerful to survive the tomb, were reluctant to fight and a compromise was reached, whereby the adventurers were blindfolded and lead to the halfling village. Vinara’s innate capabilities with the Way allowed her to track their course, unbeknownst to the halflings.
When the long march ended, the heroes had their blindfolds removed found themselves in what appeared to be a ruined temple. A few remains of prior guests of the halflings were visible around a blood-soaked altar. The smell of fresh cooked meat made their stomach’s churn. Distant conversations were heard in the language of the halflings and although what was being said was unknown, the party quickly realized they were near a larger halfling settlement.
Negotiating with the Halfling Elder
Before long a large procession of halflings arrived at the temple. The elder of the Halfling tribe demanded to know why the party had intruded into their sacred forests. The Gwyn told their tale of being pursued by the obsidian storm and their encounters with the elemental spirits of earth, water and fire. The Halfling Elder was delighted with their tale and believed that they could help bring about a new Green Age for Athas.
The elder explained that if they were to pursue their goal, they would need to master the many powers of the world: mental, primal and arcane as well as have sufficient physical prowess to survive the many dangerous encounters that they would face. Their lack of training in the Way would need to be compensated for if they were to have any hope of success.
The halfling elder told the heroes of how the Deposers of Kalak had sought their aid and were gifted with a magical spear they used to help defeat the sorcerer-king Kalak. This spear was crafted from the sacred Tree of Life and could not be made again, unless another tree were found. They also learned how the Dwarves of old were able to resist the sorcerer-kings longer than many others, as evident by their survival of the Cleansing Wars. Finally they told how the sorcerer-kings were on the path to become Dragons and suggested that a powerful preserver could aspire to such powers as well.
As a gift, the heroes were inked with tattoos resembling flame wreathed heart representing their friendship with the halflings and to provide them with assistance in times of need. Gwyn took a particular interest in the tattoos and the process for enchanting them.
Hacking the Thick
The heroes left the halfling village and headed north toward the less treacherous western approaches of the Ringing Mountains. Within the Forest Ridge, the group felt rather odd, as if they were walking through two lands at once. They felt like they were moving between one land with firm earth and another atop clouds of mist. None in the group, including Morg, had ever seen such lush and thick trees with broad leaves. None had ever felt such cool and moist air. Hacking through the forest was difficult and they needed to rest often.
One of their short rests was interrupted by exotic screeching sounds and the underbrush erupted and a large group of Zairtail, vicious reptiles, emerged. The party was stunned by the gaze of a larger lizard, while swarms set upon Vinara and Morg. With some effort Morg cleaved through the swarm to attack the gazer, while Vinara was attacked by anther larger creature who latched on to her leg. Gwyn used her magic to summon flames that consumed a second swarm. Just as the party was gaining control of the fight, a large beast with orange and black stripped fur emerged from the jungle and began to attack Gwyn.
The party eventually defeated their attackers, but suffered serious wounds. Eager to reach Tyr, they only took a short rest to bind their wounds and recover a bit of their strength. With Vinara guiding them, they continued on through the forest.