Rote-ay-ip Aruthala's Journal in Reverie
At the mouth of the Green River is a human village; The locals call it Silk's Crossing. Gwen and I entered the town, walking among tents and temporary buildings. The only permanent structures we saw were newly constructed or still being erected. It was apparent that this town was recovering from cataclysmic events, not unlike the events in Xylan one year ago.
Looking for drink and information, we were directed to a tent tavern calling itself the Brief Respite. It was mid-morning, and few people were seated inside. I whispered to Gwen that she should ask about the town, about what form of cataclysm had happened here.
While Gwen talked to the proprietress, I looked around. One or two mortals were sipping beers, and one elf was sitting by himself. He was the first elf I had seen since Gwen and I left Xylan. I learned his name -- Andon -- and despite his prissy attire and soft looks, I couldn't help feeling....
But no; He would be just like all the other pretty people. Smile to your face, then tear you down when your back was turned. Andon would be no different. I decided to ignore him.
My musings were interrupted by a loud noise from outside. I went to look, Gwen came with me, and so did the others from the tent. The proprietress -- Mara -- rushed forward to where her men were digging a well. Thirty feet down, the bottom had fallen out. Two men had fallen into a chamber below. Andon did something with a rock, it started to glow, and he dropped it into the hole. So now I knew he was a shaman like my grandmother Ashalla.
Mara sent a man down the well, but something down there was dragging off the two who had fallen. The new man was attacked and dragged off as well. Something had to be done soon, if any of the men were to be saved.
I like a challenge, so I volunteered to go down the well to help. In the chamber below, I found strange tracks: Two sets of tracks from some eight legged monster, and drag marks where the men had been pulled down stairs to a deeper chamber.
Gwen soon joined me, and so did Mara and Andon. With my ha-bashe at my back, I started down the steps. In the chamber below was a dresser and a bed; a moldering corpse was tucked into the bed. I would investigate that later.
The tracks led across the room and down a trap door to an even deeper chamber. The others soon joined me, including another human -- Mado the fisherman. Mado had been in the Brief Respite, but gone for help when the accident happened. The others started to search the room, while I listened at the trap for signs of life from below.
I missed it, but others saw a spider thing climb up from below and scurry under the bed. I strode forward and flipped the bed over. It was clinging to the bottom of the bed, an unnaturally clear spider of unusual size. We killed it before it could harm anyone.
As we prepared our decent to the half flooded room below, four more clear spiders came up through the trap. I killed two, and my companions killed the other two. Mara was bitten a paralyzing bite, and my sister tended her wound to mitigate the poison's affect.
Wasting no more time, I jumped down to the room below. Gwen and the others followed. There were two spider creatures, larger than ones we had seen, and the three wounded humans were partially cocooned to the walls.
I threw caution to the wind. I unleashed the wild rage learned from the my Jumaji ne-bashe. I charged. In two attacks I had killed one spider. My companions killed the other. I am proud of Gwen, for she was most responsible for slaying the other spider. Only Gwen and I were hurt in this last fight, but the damage was tolerable and would heal in a few days.
Working together we rescued the wounded humans. Gwen wished to rescue the animals (mostly dolphins) that were also paralyzed and cocooned to the walls. She is my ha-bashe, but sometimes she displays an embarrassing empathy for a few creatures at the expense of others. We rescued two dolphins, and I called them Glom and Glomp after two of the humans we had rescued.
While we rescued dolphins, our humans companions (and Andon) looted the bedroom on the second level. One of the treasures found was a 30 lb. sphere of black stone. When moved from light back to darkness, the black stone had a noticeable glow.
Afterwards, the owner of the Brief Respite -- a mortal named Herzog Vaughan -- presented us with a reward for saving his workers. He identified the underground complex as a buried lighthouse, and seemed very interested in it. He seemed to think it would help him find the ruins of the city of Dar's End, the city that was here before the cataclysms.
When Herzog wished for a map to locate the city relative to the buried lighthouse, Mado revealed a packet of charts he had found on the second level. Herzog was happy and interested. He said he had friends who could help excavate the ruins, when we found them. I am not sure I like this news, since his friends sound like members of some dark, earth dwelling race; Maybe dwarves or goblins; Races that cannot be trusted.
We would see.
It felt good to leave that town: to get away from the squaller humans call civilization. The trail up the Green River was clear, although seldom used. First we traveled though scattered farms, and then into a denser forest of tall trees. I was in the lead, then Gwen, and the others followed.
There were the usual tracks through the woods around us. There were also tracks of an unusually large species of bird. Among the reeds, by the bank of the river, I found a nest. In the nest were three very large eggs. We took two; They would make a good breakfast on the marrow.
Only hours later, one of the eggs started to hatch. Mado, who had carried the eggs thus far, rolled them to the ground, and out of one came a small snake's head. As the hatching broke free, the rest of its feathered body was revealed.
My ha-bashe, who has an almost unnatural interest in nature, examined the creature. It had the body of a bird, a land runner or forest jumper, and the head of a snake, a viper with pre-emergent fangs. I think that Gwen though it was cute, because she wanted to keep it as a pet. So be it. At least there was still one egg for tomorrow's breakfast.
We continued on until early evening. The snake-bird -- now called Nibbler -- rode in Gwen's backpack. I think Mara was trying to entice Nibbler away from Gwen, since she kept tossing it little nibbles of meat. But birds (and most snakes) are stupid creatures. In my experience, only a talent like Gwen's druidic animal empathy could train such a creature.
Then we saw another snake-bird, up in a tree, guarding its nest. It attacked. It raked me with its claws, and moved too fast for me to hit it. So while I drew its attacks, the others sliced and stabbed it and Andon shot it with his sorcerous spells. After it was dead, we carved up its body for meat, and climbed the tree to get the snake headed chicks from the nest. We would eat well that night.
That night, a pack of wolves approached. Gwen woke me, and we threw the wolves some meat and built up the fire. The rest of the party slept on undisturbed.
After seven days on the trail, we were nearing our destination. Then something strange happened. The sky darkened and the stars came out, but the day was not done, and should have lasted several more hours. Inside this magical night we found a party of dwarves; literally a party. There were inhabitants of a logging village in the throws of a drunken bash. But they had been struck by a spell, and had all succumbed to a deep, magical sleep.
We investigated the village and the stout dwarven cabins. While inside one cabin, Mado saw and almost caught one of the village's assailants: a small sprite with butterfly wings, who escaped into the air. In it's haste to escape, the sprite dropped a diminutive crystal glass, which Mado caught in its place. This glass, magically filled with a bubbly liquor, was likely the source of the dwarves slumber.
Inside the cabins, beside a slumbering dwarf, we found a psychedelic mushroom. The toadstool was a foot tall, with colorful spots and a pale blue glow. We took the mushroom.
Thinking it to be the source of the darkness, we took the mushroom away from the village. But although we emerged back into daylight, the village remained under its sable enchantment.
Next we rescued several dwarves by unceremoniously dragging their unconscious, but heavy bodies to the edge of the darkness. Still thinking themselves in the midst of their binge drinking festival, the stupid creatures invariably asked for more beer and staggered back into the enchanted area. They promptly fell back asleep.
While Mado, Mara, and myself dragged dwarves to the edge of the enchantment, Gwen drew several of the sprites into conversation. Your average sprite is not very bright, and these were no exception. They said they put the dwarves to sleep because a dwarf had broken their house -- they probably meant the toadstool. The sprites were now guarding the dwarves from further harm until dawn, when the spell would wear off on its own. They did not seem to realize that day had come and gone several times, while the village remained under a magical night.
Getting nowhere with our attempts to save the dwarves or in our negotiations with the sprites, I decided to find the center of the enchantment and confront whatever was there. By measuring the edges of the enchanted area, I determined that the center was further North. Tracks of oxen, once belonging to the dwarves, also led in that direction.
We followed the oxen's trail. Soon we found the oxen, arrayed in a circle around a ring of glowing toadstools, like the one we had found in the village. Shortly after Andon left to retrieve the mushroom from the village, a few of the oxen turned and began to lumber toward us. Luckily, Gwen's empathy with beasts was enough to stop all but one of them from attacking.
One ox was not swayed by Gwen's charms. It was driven by a spiteful sprite, riding its neck, just behind the horns. This sprite was different, darker, scaly, and with a generally evil aspect. It drove the ox to attack our party again and again. Gwen was hit, and so was Mado. Finally, with the combined efforts of all our party (except Andon who was still returning with the mushroom) we drove the evil sprite away.
With the evil sprite gone, and Andon returned, the glowing ring started to glow more brightly. Within the ring emerged a larger, regal, and beautiful faerie princess. Princess Adriana, as she named herself, immediately recognized the mischief her brother -- Thistle -- had caused, and removed the sorcerous night he had conjured.
The faerie princess told us she was grateful for our help, but also warned us to watch for Thistle's mischief in the future. We had interfered with his plans, and he would likely trouble us again. For our help this time, Adriana gave us gifts: five lacy velvet bags, one for each of us. In each bag was something strange and different, and they were all magic.
Being challenged by so much witchcraft finally decided me. I would learn more of the mystic power that had come again to our world. The remembered teachings of my grandmother -- Rote-ay Ashalla -- would form the basis of my knowledge. From a strange eye talisman found in a mortal grave, I would learn much more. I was already beginning to understand a few of the strange symbols that swam in its depths.
The eye would show me other things as well. Since we had found the lighthouse keeper's corpse under Silks Crossing, I had seen things others had not. But I am not yet ready to remember those things. In time, and in other contexts of this story still to be told, perhaps I will remember. Perhaps then, I will write about them in this private journal of my resting mind.
Dwarves are dumb. I have to keep reminding myself that we need them for their talent at digging, dubious as it may be. As we travel, one of them is still so inebriated that he has yet to wake up. The rest move so slowly that I walk while they ride, and still I move twice as fast as they do.
I should back up and describe our situation; It is just so frustrating to travel with these blockheads that I....
Let me start again. After we saved the town of Farstone from the spritely menace, Mara negotiated with Cromulunt D'Garnikle to hire some diggers. Some workmen were available in Farstone, but for the rest we would have to travel to another town at the far end of a metal track.
So the dwarves loaded up supplies for the ten day journey into a wheeled cart that rode on the metal tracks. Once oxen were harnessed to the front of the cart, we started out at a slow pace. It never got any faster. Eight days of travel and still no faster.
After eight days we finally found something worth the trip. But save that for later.
Having made up my mind to learn about spells and magic before the trip, I used my nightly watch as time to practice my new skills. The eye gem showed me the words and workings of a few simple tricks, and I used them to aid in foraging. One spell was especially useful, for it makes bow hunting almost infallible; I practiced that spell a lot, and we had fresh meat for breakfast every morning.
On day two of the trip, the second chicken snake egg hatched. It was my impression (and my hope) that we were bringing the egg along as food. But it was not to be. Mado, who had been carrying the egg -- it was in his sack -- wanted to keep it. Now we have two of the stupid things. Maybe Mado will get tired of his, and save me the trouble of hunting one evening.
On day three of our journey, Gwen found another pet. A wounded bear cub had wondered onto the track. Gwen healed it, and then tried to set it free. It did not want to go free. Gwen tried burying it partway in dirt, to slow it down while we moved away. That might of worked, but my ha-bashe changed her mind. She went back, dug him out, and decided to keep him. Now the bear's name is Boris, although Gwen also calls him Smokey, like she can't make up her mind.
On day eight we met something more challenging. (This is not the interesting part; I'll get to that later.) An animate, burrowing tree like creature lured Mara into its grasp. It had pushed up a mound of dirt under the tracks, breaking them, and exposed a daisy like flower as a lure. Mara tried to pick the flower (stupid human). When the creature started to swallow her whole, I rushed forward and attacked, as did the rest our party (but not the dwarves; stubborn dwarves). Mara was badly hurt, but we rescued her and killed the creature before it could burrow away.
So went our slow, slow trip, until later on the eighth day.
We found an elven city! A towering tree city, greater even than the trees of Xylan. But in these times my race is cursed, for no elf yet lived, and the forest and city tree were turned to black glass. Some battle long ago had ended in this terrible enchantment: both the elves and their foe were caught in the enchantment. Through the eye gem I could see the tormented spirits of elves and their enemies, reliving their final moments for all time.
But the elves' tragedy was not finished. When we came close enough to see the city tree, we also found new invaders. An ogre leading kobold workers were actively desecrating the tree. They were trying to melt its petrified form by building a raging fire at its base. The kobolds would leave the enchanted forest of glass, cut down a tree, and drag it back to the fire, while the ogre watched and commanded their actions.
I knew what we had to do: Attack! I believe that Andon -- surely as enraged by the scene as I was -- was squeamish about attacking the ogre from ambush. I had no such inhibitions. With my bashe's help, we sent missiles at the ogre from two hundred feet away. One feathered shaft found its way between the chinks in the ogre's armor, thanks to my new magic skills. Another shaft hit it as it turned to seek us out.
The ogre saw us, and charged. I stepped forward to meet it. My plan was to cast another spell, but it attacked first. I was hit, and hurt bad. I remember what happened next like moving through a dream, a dream of fury and hate.
I hit it again and again with my scythe. It hit me. I only had enough presence of mind to pause, so my bashe could heal me, then I closed with the ogre again. I think some of the others were also there, fighting the ogre.
Soon it was all over, and we were victorious. I remember standing over the crumpled form and screaming "neil est Kabala" -- roughly translated as "kneel before death". And then I passed out briefly from my wounds.
I should explain my words. Although uttered spontaneously in the heat of battle, they are words I had though about for some time. They follow a vision of myself that I wished to make real.
In ancient elven, the words are "ni'el esta Kabali", or "kneel before the Kabal" in common. Pronounced, untranslated, in dracon, the words are more sinister and forceful: Neil est Kabala.
Kabali is the ancient Xylan word for a quorum of the Council of Abydos, the leaders of the death mages, the protectors of the dead. With so many of my people now dead, I may be the only living necromancer of my race. By naming myself Kabala, I was saying that I control the Council of Abydos, I am the elven master of death.
It was a pleasant conceit. It was something to sooth my rages. One day, so I thought, it may even be the truth.
When I awoke, only moments after the battle. There was still much to do. After acquiring more healing from Gwen, I lead the effort to pull some of the fuel from the fire under the great tree. We removed one long tree from the fire. It was all we could do. Hopefully it would be enough to save the city, even though the city was already dead.
The next task was to find the ogre's kobold assistants. I lead the party into the woods, following the freshest of the kobolds' tracks. Soon we heard them arguing nearby.
We lured the kobolds to us by masquerading as the ogre. I told Mara the words to say, and she imitated the ogre's voice. It was not a good imitation, but it was enough. When the kobolds came into view I sighted down an arrow and commanded them to surrender. They did, and we took all twelve of them prisoner.
Mara, Andon, and I interrogated our prisoners, after returning to the city tree. Their knowledge was scanty. They knew only that the ogre had taken over leadership of their village, brought some of them to this place, and were using fire in an attempt to break into the tree's upper levels.
These were pathetic creatures, and we had no wish to kill them. After the interrogation, we released all but two of them. The two most experienced we kept, to interrogate further at our leisure.
We departed soon after. We had left the dwarves several miles away, still plodding along their iron tracks. With luck, we would reach them before dark, or just after. The fire under the elven tree would burn for at least three more days. In three days we would be returning with our dwarven workers, and could then investigate this marvel more completely.
The dwarves were all asleep in the cart when we got back. We set watches, as normal, and settled in for the night.
Our sleep was interrupted during my watch. I think perhaps we had given some offense to the gods. What else could explain the strange chance that brought a twelve foot monkey toward our camp. I woke up Gwen and the rest of our party, and we prepared to meet this threat. Luckily I was able to frighten the beast away with the aura of the grave; A spell that frightens most living things.
The next day we continued along the track. While scouting the woods beside our trail, Mara found another burrowing plant creature. She seemed to have some mental trauma from her last encounter with such a creature, because she attacked it rather than just passing it by. We all came to her rescue, but it swallowed her before we could slay it. Luckily, Mara was still alive and could be healed.
We saw several more burrowing plant creatures that day. Mara let them pass unmolested.
Another day, and we finally reached the dwarven city -- Stoneroot. It doesn't look much like a city, just an arch into the mountain side. The tracks run right up to the arch.
Moping in the sunlight outside the arch were two dozen dwarves. Cromulunt, our guide, said this was strange behavior for his cousins. We learned the cause when we reached them.
Stoneroot was overrun with fungus. The dwarves told us they milked a kind of fungus for its spores, to make liquor. These milk fungi had mutated, or been supplanted by a more virulent strain. The new strain had infected many dwarves, and only a few of the hundreds who lived in the city had escaped.
This posed a problem. Not that I care for these nasty burrowers (I think they've all got rocks in their heads). But we needed them to dig for us, to help us find Dar's End. Now that I think back on it, why were we so eager to find Dar's End? Wasn't this that mortal's -- Herzog Vaughan's -- ambition. I guess we went along because it was a challenge, and Dar's End might even contain information about the the Fall.
We decided to learn what we could, by capturing an infected dwarf and dragging him into the sunlight. It didn't work. Many hundreds of feet into the mountain the tunnel was blocked by a wall of fungus.
Using an ore cart filled with burning wood, we burned the wall and smashed it down. Beyond, the passage continued. Wispy fungus strands hung from the walls.
We continued on, but not far. Soon the fungus spores had infected Andon, Mara, and me. As we later determined, for Mara the world seemed to taste purple and intoxicating, and Andon believed himself to be covered in flame but not burned. I saw what all of us would become, reduced to skeletons by time. Some of our animals and kobold companions were also affected. Affected thus, we retreated from the cave, back to under the evening sky.
The hallucinations did not fade. They seemed to be growing worse. Finally I looked through the eye gem, and it reveled spiritual connections, like wispy ribbons, connecting all who were infected back to the fungus in the cave.
We tried washing off the spores, with no affect. We tried blocking the tunnel with fire. And although this broke the spiritual connections between us and the fungus in the cave, it did not lessen the infection in us. Somehow Gwen had also become infected; She saw herself covered in plants.
In desperation, we decided to attack the fungus at its source. Pushing the burning ore cart before us, we descended into the tunnel, past the broken fungus wall, and eventually into the dwarven city. Fungus covered everything, including several dwarves, who shambled aimlessly across the floor.
I looked through the eye to see the spirit ribbons connecting the clumps of fungus. There were many strands, but no concentration of fungus greater than any other, no single target for us to attack.
As we stood there looking for an enemy, we started to hear whispered voices in our heads; all except Mado who had so far escaped infection. There was nothing we could do here, and the shambling dwarves were moving toward us.
The flaming ore cart was in front of us on a fifty foot rope. So we retreated to the tunnel, pulling it after us, and trapped one infected dwarf between us and the cart. We then ensnared the dwarf with another rope and dragged him with us, all he way to under the open sky.
Outside the cave, I was becoming desperate. Nothing we tried had worked. In desperation I resolved to throw myself into the fire, to burn away the infection. But the voices in my head would not let me. They were too strong, and I could not resist them. This made me angry. Very angry.
My hate was for the voices: I would kill them. I would make them burn. I jumped into the fire. The pain felt good. The voices were gone. But it was not over. I threw Gwen into the fire, then Andon, then Mara. I think Mara may have fought me, but I cannot remember for certain.
Then, before my rage left me, I tried to pick up the infected dwarf and throw him into the fire. But he released a cloud of spores when I touched him. The spores stunned me. I was knocked to the ground and could not move. And my rage was leaving me.
The others, now free of the fungi's influence, started to help. Mado remembered the gift given him by the faerie princess Adriana, and used it to blow magic bubbles around the infected dwarf and myself. By pushing the floating bubbles over the fire, Mado dropped the two of us into the flaming ore cart, then dragged us out.
I was still stunned, and badly burned, but my mind was my own. Andon was not so lucky. Somehow, his hallucination of burning was partially real. His touch set things ablaze, and he was unaffected by fire. Now he walked back into the burning cart and stood there, unhurt by the flames.
I think Andon still heard voices, and was still controlled by the fungus. He turned, as though listening to something coming from the cave beyond the ore cart. Then he climbed past the cart and into the cave. He disappeared back toward Stoneroot, returning to the fungus mass.
Andon returned in the night, and Mara questioned him. He was still connected psychically to the fungi in the cave, but seemed to be free of their control. He was able to tell us what they wanted, and to act as an intermediary.
Mara questioned Andon, and we learned the fungi's demands: The fungi wanted intelligent creatures to use as hosts. They had subjugated the dwarves of Stoneroot, but found them to be poor hosts because of their fierce resistance. If we could find other, less stubborn hosts, the fungi was willing to free the dwarves in trade for these new hosts.
There was little we could do about the fungi or their demands that night. So we rested. We also rested the next day, to recover from the burns we had suffered while freeing the rest of us from the fungi's influence. We were careful to keep Andon from infecting us again, or from spreading his fungal infection to the remaining dwarves, who kept their distance from us.
In the morning after our day of rest, we were fully recovered and ready to set off. Since we didn't know what to do about the fungus, we decided to return to the Obsidian Forest and learn what we could about the glassified elven city there. Without the dwarves and their rail-car to slow us down, we reached the edges of the Obsidian Forest in one day.
We camped outside the transformed forest. While we rested, kobolds approached our camp from the glass trees. We captured them to learn why their kind still traveled these lands. As it turned out, this was a mistake that would soon get out of control.
Before we could get any information from our captives, The fungus inside Andon infected one of the kobolds. Very quickly, the infection spread to two others. Realizing the danger, we tried to dismiss the un-infected kobolds, and cure the infected ones.
Andon set one infected kobold on fire. I suppose he did it to cure the poor creature, but the attack was enough to frighten all the remaining kobolds. They scattered, running at full speed to safety through the forest. We gave chase.
It was hopeless. I could outrun the kobolds, get ahead of them, and attack as they ran by, but I could not easily tell the infected kobolds from the others at the same time. Andon's connection to the fungus allowed him to track the infected kobolds, but he was soon separated from the rest of us and went off tracking them on his own.
I lost track of the kobolds I was chasing, and returned to our camp. Mado had also been chasing kobolds, and had also returned to camp when they got away from him. Gwen and Mara were in camp, along with two burned, unconscious kobolds. We had all returned to camp, except for Andon, who had gone off alone.
The mention of the second burned kobold reminds me: it was Mara who burned him. It seems she had also acquired some skill in magic. Perhaps her new skills comes from the dagger she caries with her and shows so much interest in.
But the concern of the moment was Andon. What had happened to him. We decided that he must need help, so we gathered all our belongings and set off to track Andon through the forest. I found his trail, and we followed it to the North.
The tracks led to a waterfall that concealed a moss covered door into a hill, the kobolds' lair. Inside we found Andon, unconscious, and lying in a burned and blasted area among several dead kobolds. We dragged him out, without touching him, and set up camp. We would guard him until he woke.
Several kobolds approached us that night: I scared them away. Later, a lone kobold approached, but was not frightened away. He was stoned on some narcotic moss, and carried a large bundle of this moss with him. I eventually disposed of this kobold by throwing him into the river. (We kept the moss.)
In the morning, Andon was recovered. We started to investigate the kobolds' lair. Through the eye gem I could see the people who used to live here, and they were elves. A long time ago, this was probably an elven resort. Now it was overrun with filthy kobolds.
Through the eye I could also see the man from the buried lighthouse in Silk's Crossing, the ogre we had killed by the obsidian city tree, and a kobold. The man and the ogre I recognized, since they had been following me for some time. The kobold spirit was new, and looked much like the one I had thrown into the river the night before.
When we opened the moss covered door to look inside the old elven resort complex, Andon detected many fungus infected kobolds. All the kobolds inside had become infected overnight. Now they were preparing to travel to Stoneroot. They would go to the dwarven city, and many dwarves would go free. This was not our original intent, but it would serve our purposes well enough.
The fungus infected kobolds invited Andon inside, to take the kobolds' treasures. They would have no further use for them. Andon soon returned with a significant treasure.
All this available money made me think; perhaps I now had enough material to summon a spirit companion, as the eye stone had taught me. With two small gems for eyes, and gold coins as bait, I called for a raven to accompany me. And I was answered: Nevermore, I call him; Nevin for short. A name from a half remembered poem, associated with terror and death.
Since there was nothing more we could do for the kobolds, we traveled to the petrified elven city in the center of the Obsidian Forest. The fire had gone out since we last visited. The path up to the tree top was open to us, and we ascended.
Everything was glass. Common, everyday things all transformed to black glass. We found nothing spared from this curse, as we ascended to the topmost platform. But at the top, a surprise awaited us.
On the top platform, the curse was gone: The tree was natural wood, the view showed green and living tree tops all around, and a middle aged elf walked along the perimeter nearby. Andon convinced us that he should do the talking, since he possessed the most winning personality.
Andon and the elf -- Glimmer Heartwood -- talked. Glimmer conjured a table, and we all sat down to listen. Strangely, it seemed that Glimmer spoke Ancient Elven (a language that only I, of all the party, understand) but Andon was able to understand Glimmer's speech.
Their conversation was frustrating. Few of the things that I would count as important were mentioned, and Glimmer Heartwood in particular was very unconvincing in the role of a great elven shaman, as I assumed he must be. I was so frustrated, that I left the table to explore the rest of the platform.
Little things didn't add up. Mara has descended to a transformed library on a lower level, and brought back a book. Up here, it appeared to be restored to it natural state. I discovered a part of the platform that Glimmer didn't want me to go towards. Gwen noticed that the view of nature around us was subtly inconsistent.
With all these little clues, I decided to look through the eye stone, and this it what it showed me: The tree was under attack by an army of insectoid creatures. Glimmer Heartwood stood on one side of the platform. A huge, humanoid insect landed upon the other side, near where I was standing. Glimmer held his staff over his head and broke it. And this is where the vision ended.
I probed forward, and felt something sold before me, where the huge humanoid insect should be. But I still couldn't pierce the illusion. So I told my companions what I had seen, all except Andon who still conversed with Glimmer to distract him from our investigations. I then crossed the platform to where I had seen Glimmer Heartwood in the vision. I found another statue there.
The illusionary elf began to object to our explorations, but I persisted, and freed a rapier from the statue's belt. Suddenly the illusion ended, and reality was restored. We were still atop the high platform, but now everything was made of obsidian glass. One one side of the platform was an obsidian statue of the huge insect man, and on the other side was a statue of Glimmer Heartwood. The magic rapier floated in space where I had released it; it didn't fall to the floor as a normal blade would have.
It seemed the only thing that had survived the titanic battle was a intelligent magic rapier. Its power was illusion, and it was lonely. It spoke to us in Ancient Elven, begging us to take it with us. (Somehow Andon could still understand it.) After some debate, I allowed myself to be persuaded to take it. It was too powerful a tool for us to leave it behind.