3. The Forest King

When the heroes emerged from the Primal Ruins, they found themselves surrounded by Halfling Warriors of the Thunderclap Tribe, who collected their weapons and took them to their encampment. In their stone and clay homes built into a protected cliff side, the Halflings explained that they had found the heroes through the visions of their Shaman, Garog. The Shaman claimed that he saw visions of their Tribal Leader, Andiron, become a great king over all Halfling Tribes. These desires fueled Andiron's imagination, so much so that he betrothed his only daughter to Garog. The party also learned that the Artifact had transported them nearly three weeks ride south of Dago Town.

Over the course of the day, the party learned that Garog had acquired a strange fruit which Brock sensed was evil. When a village girl accidentally consumed the fruit, she was driven mad by visions of a Forest King who would envelope the world. Confronting Garog before the chief, he admitted his treachery and fled under an invisibility spell. Tracking him through the stables, where he had been poisoning animals to sneak through unobstructed at night, the party found a small tunnel that led into the Mountains.

Through the tunnel, the party came to a great grove of Ancient Trees, with one larger than the others. The ground was littered with ancient corpses. Soon the largest tree came to life, with the Shaman proclaiming him the Forest King, a great living evil tree with visions to cover the world in a Great Forest. Corpses rose from the dead and the party battled the tree with the help of Luco, a Halfing hunter. Defeated and set on fire, the forest grotto burned as the Shaman was crushed under the falling Forest King.

Back in the village, with Garog's lies unraveled, Sonee the local loremaster told the heroes of legends of an ancient human kindgom that had once had a terrible collapse in these lands. Legends of their ruins led the Thunderclap to claim their current encampment, while other stories told of a massive slaughter, with corpses dumped into a sinkhole, presumably the grotto. Though perhaps once a good and noble spirit, the Forest King had been corrupted by feeding off of the dead for so many years, and had been driven mad. Using his cursed fruit, he influenced the mind of Garog to serve him. Most recently, it desired the Primal Artifact that the heroes carry.

Equipped with horses and fresh supplies, the party headed out into the desert, on their way to the Tormaline Valley.



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