After defeating Uggabaa, the Bloody Cleaver, an abyssal brute of remarkable strength, a thratchen, some ratzin and the ritual master Fervan ki Krasaros, Erdan goes about the bodies of the childer and demon to collect some fresh exotic reagents for future use, they then secure the perimeter and Malen and Erdan pour over the manuscripts and scrolls in order to discover how to deactivate the summoning circle and the portal, without causing a backlash. The facts that the magical construct is part of an old Druidic Loci, slowly corrupting it and that it’s a very different arcane theory (Thaumaturgy versus Sorcery and Channelling), is the main reason for the difficulties encountered.
Also, Erdan finds a letter that is apparently written in his brother’s handwriting. It tells about his new vocation as an Acolyte of Ceyrana and the research he performed for the ritual, its location and time, as well as the true name of the Abyssal brute. He even goes by a new name; Agoskus ki Seberzarna.
Vandien decides to split the squad in two, due to the urgent news that other childer and demons as well as Kal forces, are heading towards the village of Greensway again. Erdan and Malen will try to close the circle/portal (Dramatic Task) and Toji and the three junior Rangers will remain to protect them. Vandien takes Vanessa, Horak, and the lumberjacks in an attempt to save the villagers.
Thru the ‘’heat-haze’ kind of effect that the circle emanates, both Erdan and Malen occasionally see the trees beyond the Stones, burning. A foreshadowing of their possible failure. With this grim thought, they bend their will and mind towards quickly but safely close the portal.
As soon as the spell-casters begin tampering with the circle, the War-Priest Traszany Arolya feels the effect somehow. She orders her subordinate acolytes to keep going towards the village, along with the ratzin, minotaurs and horde fiends. And she doubles back with her own group of followers to deal with the troublesome Rangers.
After what seems like an hour or so but is actually no more than a dozen minutes, the energy of the bloodied essence fight Malen and Erdan’s combined efforts and opens a rift and summons half a dozen ratzin. In a stroke of good fortune, Malen and Erdan re-establish the connection to the forest, and the offending childer are quickly dispatched.
And while the struggle at the Standing Stones is taking place, Vandien’s group encounter a returning force of Kalinesh that includes Traszany, as well as her Battle-Leader Kellef ki Felsoalva, 6 Kal warriors and the Minotaur battle master she summoned personally. A small stream separates the two groups. They maneuver the terrain in order to engage in combat. Fire blasts are felt, arrows fly and eventually, metal clashes against metal. At one point, Traszany burns the dwarf lumberjack, and impales him on her bloodsteel blade.
The Minotaur charges in a blood rage, across the stream, bellowing loudly in an effort to frighten the enemies, but from out of nowhere, a thick branch hits him in the face, making him stagger and look rather foolish rather than intimidating.
At one point, Vandien sees his chance and leaps on a nearby rock and slices at the hairy beasts neck, cutting it open, blood sprays all over him as he rides the monster down as its body falls like a felled tree.
Soon after all the Kall soldiers lay dead, and Traszany attemps to flee. Vandien, Vanessa and Horak give chase (Chase scene) thru the woods. Serpents of fire and arrows are launched, as well as the occasional sword stroke. The combined efforts of the Rangers eventually gets the better of the War-Priest. She is incapacitated.
Bound and gagged, they return her to the Standing Stones, tired, battered and bruised themselves. As they reunite, they are joined by Ents, but Oakhorn is missing. They tell of how he gave the last of his life force to help return the Standing Stones to their original state. They are saddened but thankful for the Rangers’ assistance.
They find some wagons, horses and gear near the Stones, which they commandeer and return to Greensway as quickly as possible. At the village they see the people slowly returning, tired and bruised as well, but mostly alive. They see Cecilia, the village reeve, standing with a rolling pin in her hand, next to three beaten, hogtied Acolytes.
Cecilia tells the Rangers that they were trying to flee as fast as possible when they were beset by more childer, demons and these three Priests. Just as they thought they were all going to die, the summoned monsters disappeared, leaving the bewildered and now outnumbered Priests, who quickly surrendered.
As the villagers return to their homes or to what shelter their neighbors offer. Celicia thanks the Rangers and offers lodgings in her own home/inn. Plans are already discussed for rebuilding the village and for the funeral ceremonies for their fallen friends.
They don’t have much to offer the Rangers as a reward, but their heartfelt thanks and gratitude. They will always have a place to call home here if they wish it (Renown card played; +1 CHA if recognized, 50% chance).
The following day, after much needed rest, Malen heads into the forest, towards the Standing Stones. Once there Malen pays his proper respects to them for their loss. “I knew Oakhorn, not all that well, but enough to know him as a being worthy of much respect, and it was my honor to call him a friend. He shall be missed. Let us not mourn his passing, rather let us celebrate his life, honor and courage.”
“I wanted to ask a boon of you here. My friend and fellow ranger Toji is a good person and deserves a weapon worthy of his heart and dedication. I have commissioned a bowyer to make a bow for him. In order to complete it I need Everwood and Ironwood. I wonder if you could help me realize this gift for my companion. I understand I am asking a lot and am willing to owe you a favour in exchange.”
At this point Malen sits down and quietly await their answer. Eventually the druid hears the creaking of branches and the rustle of leaves that he hopes is Entish.
Hours pass and he falls asleep, but when he awakens refreshed he finds a few long branches of wood. Some are the familiar silver and gold veined ones, and the others are mostly blueish-grey which are likely ironwood. As Malen leaves, he thanks the forest and its residents for all of its gifts and heads back to Greensway.
Malen also notices that his oakhorn staff seems different. A quick Detect Arcane spell reveals that it’s now linked more strongly with the forest and the Standing Stones. Of course he doesn’t quite know what this stronger link with the woods may mean or what consequences it could have. Perhaps with great power comes great responsibilities. While he ponders these implications, he realizes that what took almost two hours to reach the Stones, now only took a quarter of the time. Very peculiar!
(On the body of the Minotaur Battle Master, Horak finds an item that looks to be of goblinesh make, wrapped around its belt. Once he cleans it, he recognizes it as a Mantle of the Fierce Beast; once the dire wolf pelt is wrapped around his shoulders and the buckles fastened, he knows that this helps one of goblinesh blood to resist fear (+1) and possibly enhance his fighting skills (boost trait: Fight, Throw or Shoot only; 5 essence)
(Erdan is given a sprig of everwood that was once part of Oakhorn the elder Ent. Once he takes it in his hand, it twists and moves towards his ironwood staff, entwining itself around and into the weapon’s structure giving it a light and dark marbled texture. Ever curious, Erdan spends his time analyzing it. It seems that he can tap into the staff’s reserve of Essence (10 points, usable for his Sorcery principles). There seems to be more, but for now it’s keeping its secrets under a tight guard, perhaps more research and time will reveal them)