Enter the Astronomer
Strauss Swifthawk took in the view of what was once the vibrant town of Old Strawn. Where he expected to see the elegant Tower of Corren now stood a great white tree that overshadowed the dust-choked streets. The open squares were now way-points for storing salvageable goods and organizing relief labor. It would appear the calamity he was seeking had already occurred. Very well, he thought to himself as shouldered his pack, nothing to gain mourning bad timing; best to learn what we can.
Following directions from a guard, Strauss made his way to the Barrel and Blessing where an adjutant of Pelor was administering cleanup. After a brief introduction, the adjutant indicated a small band of varied race sitting there at the inn as interview fodder; the crew had apparently been inside the tower prior to its destruction a week earlier. Explaining his ties to diviners as an astronomer, Strauss pressed them each for their own take of events – making note of every possible correlation to his quest.
Rurik and ‘L’ spoke of fighting crabs and a spell-caster, and how once they had defeated the snake-eyed mage the tower exploded, the rubble now overtaken by new growth on the apparently dead Great White Tree. Immeral the wizard explained how the Great Trees were great points of coalescing magic, and that the tower was to be a place of learning. The caster they had defeated was the one who trained Immeral’s master. Anton added a description of the storm that formed around the tower, and the doomed caster’s last words, “You do not know what you have started.”
As fascinating as their story was, there was no conclusive link to be found.
While this exchange went on, the adjutant had been informed of an important development. Seeking to enlist the adventurers again, he explained to them that a strange tunnel had been discovered leading underneath the newly rejuvenated Tree.
The party of now five members agreed that the new development needed to be explored. After a brief equipment check, they began their spelunking. Once inside they encountered and dispatched two separate parts of a small goblin band, sustaining minor injuries well within Anton’s ability to mend. Postulations to the goblins’ presence was furthered when they found a chamber filled with week-old provisions and a collapsed entry way, Rurik’s combat experience suggested that they were looking at stages of an invasion that had been interrupted by the tower’s collapse. Other oddities were found in various chambers as well, such as a scrawling etching written in an ancient Sylvan form and a star chart that depicted a cosmos that preceded anything in memory.
In the final chamber the party alarmed a collection of plant-blights who engaged them in battle. After most of the plants had been incapacitated, the Dryad, Seh-La made herself known – calling for a cessation of hostilities.
Of Ages Past and New Dangers
Seh-La put the party at ease rapidly, calling off her cohorts and charming Rurik for good measure. She explained that the heightened aggressiveness of the plants was intended for the encroaching goblins. After reviving her fallen, she led the adventurers back to the chamber with the Sylvan writing.
She began to speak of the Pylugwyr, that which was responsible for the whole existence of the material plane. This collective works in a cycle, divide among the Pylu and the Gwyr – where the Gwyr took the raw essence of creation and formed it into the known world, the Pylu would destroy and break down that which was formed and return it into the essence it once came, much like beetles and worms breaking down fallen leaves to enrich soil for new growth. The etchings, she continued, were this same story being written by the last Pylu – a great figure standing in that very chamber which the party had mistaken for a large boulder. Where the Pylu appear as great stone, an illusion enhanced by their incredibly slow pace of movement, the Gwyr took the shape of Great White Trees, of which the Tree of Corren was but a sprouting. Included in the etchings was a map of the world, mostly defined by their current location on the east continent; Seh-La indicated 5 markings on the map that represented the Gwyr left to the world.
The five Gwyr have fallen ill, infected by alien crystal shards. These crystal shards are killing the very sustenance of the material plane, without which the world would be utterly lost. Seh-La pleaded with the party to seek out the Gwyr and restore them to save the world. There would be resistance, as these shards were intentional tools of destruction employed by the serpent-demon Orinoc.