Aran, always quick off the mark, got his reply in first.
“My name is Aran Thule, Halfling, ranger, wanderer, adventurer and tale-teller! Let me introduce you to my friends!” As he named each person he gestured towards them enthusiastically. “That there is Elwanen. He’s a Paladin of Pelor, like you said, well spotted, and he’s got a great way with teleporting into combat and laying the smackdown, I like him. Next to him is Valthrun, he’s a Sage, very clever.” Valthrun continued to peer at the Drow quizzically, as if trying to work out a particularly difficult jigsaw puzzle. Elwanen’s hand had strayed to his sword hilt since the newcomer was revealed.
“Now then,” added Aran expansively. “That’s Theron with the blue skin, he’s a Wizard and he makes things go bang. Or occasionally makes people go to sleep. Sabbat Fau is the one with all the hair, if he ever points at you and says ‘Youuuuuuuuu…’ then you’ve done something to upset him, that’s Des, he talks a lot, that’s Cass, she’s very handy with an axe and is looking for her brother and that’s Riam who is another Halfling and very good at helping us to get better organized when we’re fighting bad guys.” The various members of the party nodded as they were pointed out, apart from Sabbat Fau who stood, apparently lost in some sort of reverie.
“So,” continued the irrepressible Halfling. “Who are you and what are you doing inside the trunk of our friend Fangorn?”
“My name is Waylander,” replied the Drow, weakly. “But beyond that, I remember little. There was a Wizard, I think, and I was trying to take something from him? Then he cast some sort of spell and everything went dark and I felt very sleepy for a very long time, and then there was light and all of you. But I can’t remember much more than my name. Waylander. Have any of you heard of me? Might I be famous?” He looked around hopefully but no-one showed any recognition.
“I think I know, or knew, the Wizard that you refer to,” said Valthrun. “Myself and some companions fought him several years ago. He was using this artifact, the Heartstone, to create a magical garden inside a mountain. Some of the plants he grew were…interesting, to say the least. We rescued Fangorn, your, ah, predecessor from that garden. Perhaps I might venture a theory?”
Waylander nodded, still gathering his thoughts and his strength. A small part of his mind was suggesting to him that getting up, grabbing this valuable Heartstone and escaping out the window was a good source of income and an excellent idea, but wiser thoughts said that currently no-one was threatening him and that seemed somehow pleasant and a good thing.
Valthrun continued. “I surmise that when we rescued Fangorn from the garden, we were actually rescuing you. Perhaps that Wizard had used his magic to imprison you within the tree, and over time and with the influence of the Heartstone, the tree attained sentience and became Fangorn, all the while unaware of the living creature within him. And now, with Fangorn’s spirit gone, you have emerged once more to take up your place in the world.”
Waylander sat up slowly. “You said that this Fangorn was dead, is that right?” he asked, holding up one closed hand. “I ask, because I’ve just realized I am carrying this in my hand.” Opening his fist, he revealed a small dark brown seed. Valthrun smiled.
“It seems as though perhaps Fangorn is not entirely lost to us. I shall plant this seed and we shall find out what grows.”
“Well, since that matter seems to be resolved, I would ask the rest of you what you think we should do with this Drow, now he has appeared,” announced Elwanen. “I for one have no particular interest in him, unless,” and he paused for a second. “My friend, how are you with a blade?” Elwanen drew a well-made Eladrin dagger from his belt and tossed it to the Drow, who caught it neatly in one hand.
“That feels…familiar, somehow,” responded Waylander, holding it. He twisted and lunged suddenly, dropping into an attack stance, before relaxing and throwing the blade back to the Eladrin. “I believe I have some skill. I’m wondering, though, if anyone has a crossbow, preferably a small one, that I might borrow?”
Glances were exchanged around the room. It seemed that even though they had lost one friend, they might have gained a new companion just as useful to an adventuring party.