We finally managed to get everything set up for another D&D session. Big piece of paper for mapping. Lots of dice for rolling. Painted miniatures for representing the characters, pencils to record hit points and erasers to erase wounds.
As we had left our intrepid duo, The-Oldest, playing an ogre, lay dying. There was nothing that could be done to save him. An evil goblin arrow had pierced his chest. His lungs filled with blood. He and his brother (playing a ranger who has no need of money) had come to the forest to investigate a missing caravan. They’d found it looted on the main road with lots of blood, but no bodies. Not a one. Even the looting was only half-assed and if anyone knew anything about goblins, they were all about the full-assed looting.
Being a ranger, though, The-Youngest found tracks that led them to goblins, that led to a fight, that led to The-Oldest becoming a living bowling ball and knocking the goblins down, that led to them being quite annoyed and not a little confused, that let to him getting shot. A lot. And that led to his near-death state.
However, as he lay dying, darkness creeping into his vision, the very trees of the forest parted and an old man approached them. He told The-Oldest he’d seen what they’d done in defense of the forest and that the he had the power to heal him, but it would come at a terrible price. He would have to give himself to the forest. Blood and bone and soul.
The-Youngest, after trying in vain to heal the ogre, came up with a novel approach to this news. He climbed on the old man.
I have no idea why, but this is D&D and it’s the ultimate sandbox game. You want to climb on an old druid, go right ahead, it’s ok.
So the conversation went like this.
Druid – There is no shame in death, Ogre, as a warrior, to die in battle… there can be no better… wait, why are you climbing onto my back? Who are you?
The-Youngest – (who is not a hobbit, but a full-grown man), says – don’t mind me. Go on.
Druid – Very well. Hurmph. Uhm. Where was I? Oh yes, warrior… battle death… no better way to die, yes… so, should you choose to live, you must live as a creature of the forest lives, live to protect the acorn and the oak, live… will you stop pulling on my hair!
The-Youngest – I want to be on your shoulders.
Druid – for the love of the Allmother, how old are you?
The-Youngest – 26, but 9 in real life
Druid – Oh, this explains much.
However, The-Oldest decided he not only wanted to serve the forest, but was destined to serve it. He agreed to the Druid’s terms and was buried in the ground for his efforts cuz that’s how you heal people when you’re all about nature. No bandages, just mud and roots and berries.
FYI, it’s why the druids died out.
Anyway, the earth felt cozy and comforting as roots twined around his body, into his body, filling him with peace. Pain left him. The darkness left him. There was only the warm embrace of the ground, of the Allmother.
When he emerged, he was a new ogre. A druidic ogre. Gone were his warrior ways, replaced by magic connected to all things living. Over-joyed, The-Youngest immediately began to climb him.
The druid then told them that he’d sent out his friend, a treant scout, to find the goblin hideout, but Redleaf had not returned. Immediately, The-Oldest offered to find Redleaf if it meant serving nature’s needs and off they went.
“Do that, my big friend, and I will teach you about the magic of the forest.”
In time they found the scout, but something was wrong with him. His bark was greyish and chipped, like an old tree that had fallen in the forest. His leaves were dull and dry, his eyes leaking white sap.
“Do not come near,” he rasped. “Dark magic has… am… dying… and yet, not dy… wait, why are you climbing on me?”
The-Youngest, of course, had decided the best way to hear this story would be in the treant’s branches. For his efforts, he got to watch magic transform the treant up close, and when the treant lost control, the treant tossed him 50 feet into a tree. D6 damage.
“Nooo,” the treant screamed, “I cannot stop it, it consumes me.” He fell to the ground. Dead.
Then the treant rose, making all sorts of horror monster sounds.
Now, if there’s one thing nature-loving, sandal-wearing, man-braid tree-hugging ogres hate, it’s the undead (and corporations, but they tend to be pretty scarce in D&D). So, with a roar, the ogre hurled himself into battle against the undead treant, while The-Youngest, with his amazing archery skills, shot the heck of it from far away.
But it was a battle they couldn’t win. A treant is a terrible foe and they could barely scratch it. Then they hit on the idea that fire and wood just don’t mix. Like those who like the Phantom Menace and those who think George Lucas committed a war crime.
Anyway, they lit the undead monstrosity up, The-Youngest as a ranger using arrows, The-Oldest as a druid, using a flaming club lit with magical fire.
They had won, but had to go back to the old druid and give him the bad news. His friend was dead.
Oddly, The-Youngest did not climb on the druid, who wept upon hearing the news. But when the druid learned that the treant had been transformed into one of the undead, his grief turned to anger and shock. Such a thing should not be possible. Somehow, something had magic more powerful than that of the Allmother who protected the forest. Such magic could bring ruin to the world.
They had to stop it!
“Redleaf must have found something,” the old druid said. “I must gather our strength. I must call a warmoot.”
“A what?” The-Oldest asked.
“A moot, for war.”
“What’s a moot?”
“Oh, why not say meeting?”
“Very well, I will call a warmeeting of the druidic orders and we will… oh for the love of leaf and bough, will you tell your friend to stop climbing on me. Thank you. Now, follow Redleaf’s tracks. Find out what he had seen, but be careful. This is dark, dark magic that has been used.” He shuddered. “If it is used against you…”
He left the terrible thought unfinished.
And off they went.
Who knows what they would find?