“And that, gentlemen, is how I came to befriend Fangorn the Talking Tree!” The odd procession made its way up the winding staircase of the wizards tower. Valthrun led the way, speaking ahead of himself in the certainty that all others would be listening.
Behind him a lanky creature made of gnarled oak climbed slowly, doubled at the trunk like an old man yet its powerful limbs of knotted branches taking several steps in a stride. It dragged behind it roots from it’s broad feet, while the spindly twigs that might be taken for hair scraped the close walls of the winding staircase, leaving chalky trails.
Fangorn rumbled and creaked appreciatively as the wizard recounted the tale of ten years past. Behind it, a red haired tiefling who had been listening intently brushed back his mane.
“A walking, talking tree (if I may be so bold), a magical garden that grows in a cave (a wondrous one at that (that is not to say that a magical garden that grows in a cave is not as of itself entirely un-wondrous)), and a ‘Heartstone’ which contains the very essence of life itself to be used for good or for evil (as the bearer of the Heartstone should be inclined (by volition as much as by accident (as much of inclination is unless I am much mistaken))). I must confess I find this all simply intriguing.”
The wizard was pleased. He stopped at a solid looking door that barred the way to the seldom seen ‘middle layer’ of his tower.
“And you will no doubt be intrigued further to learn that, finally, I have learned to harness the power of the Heartstone once again.” Valthron folded his arms, leaving his words a moment to descend upon the ears of those who were below him.
Reaching the landing, the tiefling joined the wizard as they sheltered momentarily under Fangorn’s boughs. Finally appeared the scrawny figure of the warlock, who didnt seem to have been paying attention. Instead he was engrossed in the movements of a spider that crossed his palm and the back of his hand in turn as he turned it this way and that.
“Fangorn my old friend prepare yourself, and you two… just don’t touch anything.” Valthron turned a key in the door and it swung open.
Before them lay a tangled flora filled grotto of fey-like wonder. Creepers criss-crossed the walls speckled with brightly coloured fruits, spikey leafed shrubbery jostled for space, some with leaves like blades, others with leaves like spades, others still with leaves like maids with spades, and where there were no creepers nor lethal-leaved shrubs grew toadstools of near infinite varieties from the ground, the walls, even down from the ceiling. From somewhere within the melee could be heard, although not seen, a babbling brook, and in mid-air was suspended a faintly glowing transluscent stone.
“Well bless my blackberries,” remarked Fangorn “Haven’t the Rhodadaffodildrums done well!”
The group slowly entered the chamber. The warlock squatted beside a patch of toadstools, setting the spider down upon a spotted cap. The funghi trembled slighlty and a moment later the cap quickly curled upwards, engulfing the tiny creature. With a final gulp, the cap unfurled once more and the spider was nowhere to be seen.
“This is the most beautiful garden I have ever beheld.” murmured the unhealthy looking warlock from behind a long veil of matted hair.
Fangorn stepped with gentle and surprising grace amongst the foliage, pausing to stroke a sapling that had drooped and twisted into the shape of a noose. The wizard studied his visitors reactions one by one.
“Am I to believe (as I believe I am) that this fantastical floral foray is the product of that suspendant stone there, the Heartstone?” inquired the curious tiefling.
“And no small investment of painstaking yet inspired research!” improved the wizard. “It is with no small degree of pride that I invite you all here this morning, and yet, as joyful as I am to see my old friend Fangorn once more, your return troubles me greatly. It troubles me for it confirms my suspiscions that all is not well in the land.”
The tiefling turned to the wizard. “I couldnt help noticing (for my senses are (if I may humbly offer) attuned to such matters) that there is (infact) unrest in the town this very morn, as if (and please do conceed me (if you will) poetic licence) dark clouds had gathered upon the metaphorical horizon. It is (if you will allow) an observation (and (I must profer) no more than that (at least at this point)) which strikes me as…. curiouser still, it being the case that (as is indeed the case) the town (and the lands around) have recently been rid of (what I might suggest be termed as) ‘a menace of goblins’. Is this indeed the ill to which you refer?”
“It is indeed.” replied Valthron, “It can only mean that a dark force has once again awoken. The rift is opening, slowly, but this is how these things happen: signs and portents, shifts in the aether, flux within the ordered states of energies, and then before you know it it’s too late.” warned the wizard ominously.
Valthrun paused, beckoning his guests to gather beside the Rhodadaffodildrums. “I have seen that you are curious and capable adventurers.” he began in a hushed voice, “It is time that Fangorn and I shared with you the tragic tale of the Keep on The Shadowfell…”