What would you do if the fate of another is in your hands, but you are being asked to do something foul? Do you give in to the demands of the villain or do you put the life of the hostage at risk? It is a question that I never had to answer, and if Mielikki is willing, I never will.
Daughter of Talanthe Truesilver
Year of Rogue Dragons
Nuial Treestrider, one of the bards living here in Loudwater, was composing his latest ballad. Nuial is a half-elf Scion of the Green Regent and carries Mielikki's mark on her forehead. Although I love the dear boy, that's not the only way he's touched in the head. Nuial is a bit vapid and tends to lose himself in his music. So it was that the Jade Blade heard his song carried to them on a magical breeze.
The High Forest was their home.
They flee, they fly, they roam.
The orcs, the orcs are everywhere
And soon they'll all be living here.
Away you go into the wood
To find out why, as if you could.
Do you know what you'll find there?
Pain, confusion, and despair.
As I explained in my tale of the Gray Hunt, hundreds, maybe thousands, of orcs were fleeing the High Forest and no one knew why. Their migrations through the Delimbiyr Crescent were upsetting the delicate peace in the vale. The Zhentarim were pressing the orcs into slavery and using them in their schemes. High Lord Kalahar Twohands of Loudwater took the opposite approach and allowed them into the town to prevent aggression and friction.
Shortly after hearing Nuial's song, a sun elf named Jymnal approached the Jade Blade and asked them to follow up on the mystery of the orc migrations. Jymnal did this on behalf of an organization with some influence in Loudwater, but as he did not reveal his loyalties to them at this point, I won't mention his affiliation just yet.
The encouragement of Nuial and Jymnal had its desired effect, and the Jade Blade headed north into the High Forest to discover what was driving the orcs forth. The High Forest is a vast place. It is larger than the entire nation of Combyr and probably Sembia. Even though the freeswords were just exploring a small section of it, the search took days.
The jade blade was beginning to make progress when they were ambushed by drow. The dark elves snuck close in the night and sprang upon the adventurers while they were bedded down. The fight was chaotic as the drow hid behind the trees and used the darkness and their sleep poison to their advantage. It was a close fight, but the Jade Blade defeated the drow attackers.
The combat drew the attention of another resident of the forest. Thornbriar the Treant was hunting the same drow that attacked the adventurers. Through a protracted conversation, the treant revealed that he did not know why the orcs were leaving the High Forest but would help the Jade Blade in their investigations if they would help him. The drow that attacked them were a scouting party for a much larger group that had taken control of a grove sacred to the fey. Thornbriar asked our heroes to purge the drow from the grove.
The Jade Blade followed Thornbriar's directions. Now the High Forest is filled with all sorts of danger. Wortlings attacked adventurers while they were crossing a stream. Wortlings are plant creatures that resemble orcs. They are mobile and exist to serve and feed the orcwort tree. The wortlings really should have chosen their prey more carefully, as the adventurers swiftly trimmed them down to size. Having dispatched the malignant vegetation, the Jade Blade discovered that the wortlings had a prisoner they were taking to their tree.
The prisoner was a satyr named Ver'syth. He had managed to escape the drow, but was weakened by their poison when he ran afoul of the wortlings. He warned the freeswords that the drow had set up traps around the grove. He even gave them enchanted black berries that would protect them from the drow sleep poison.
After leaving Ver'syth, the Jade Blade reached the sacred grove where they found that the drow had befouled the fey wood. A wall of webbing surrounded two sides of a mushroom ring which the drow had hacked to pieces. Suspended in the webs were scores of pixies. Unfortunately, the drow had seen the adventurers approach and were ready for them. They ordered our heroes to back off or they would set the webbing aflame, burning the trapped fey to a crisp.
The Jade Blade had a choice to make and not much time to think about it. The drow were insistent that the adventurers leave immediately. Any delay would lead to the death of the pixies caught in the webbing.
To this day, I don't know how they did it. They are either amazingly good or amazingly lucky. The Jade Blade took the battle to the drow and struck hard and fast. Their cleric summoned water to extinguish the flames. The drow were overwhelmed before they could carry through their threat. Some of the pixies were badly burned but none of them died.
Thornbriar arrived at the grove shortly after the drow were slain. True to his word, he told our heroes all he knew about the orc migrations, but it was not all that much. Some powerful magic was shielding the cause from his sight. He gave them a magical acorn, which would notify them when he had more information.
The Jade Blade took what information they had learned and reported back to Jymnal in Loudwater. He asked them to keep him appraised of anything else they learned when Thornbriar sent his signal. And Thornbriar did send his signal, but that is another tale.