2: Tree of Wailing Souls
by Eric L. Boyd
Moonsilver is one of the legendary bards of the Forgotten Realms, and
tales of his adventures have long been recounted around hearthfires
across the North in musical, poetic, and narrative forms. Transcribed
in Silverymoon's Vault of the Sages by the Keeper of the Vault, Mintiper's
Chapbook is a compilation of the Lonely Harpist's ballads, poems, and
tales. Selected pages of this chapbook have been annotated and passed
into this chronicler's hands and shall be revealed here in a periodic
of Wailing Souls
making their way across the hinterlands of the North, Lunargent and
his five companions chose to make camp atop a nearby tor crowned by
a massive, gnarled oak tree. Although the hills summit was easily
defended against orcs and other monsters, the night that followed was
one of nightmarish horror, for the band had lain down to sleep in the
bower of a monster.
was the first to realize that something was wrong, for he awoke with
a start in the middle of the night to realize that no one had woken
him up for his shift on guard duty. Near the edge of the firelight lay
one of his companions apparently dozing against the trunk of the great
oak instead of standing watch on his shift.
he made his way over to the slumbering form of his friend, Lunargent
tripped over a rock that had not been there when he lay down to sleep.
Bending down to examine the stone, Lunargent realized with dawning horror
that it was the severed head of his friend, apparently torn off the
rest of his body by a bloody tree root that lay twitching on the ground
nearby. A mad cackle from the base of the tree drew his gaze to his
friends body. The twin head that had lain atop its shoulders rose
into air while ranting insanely, revealing that it was affixed to the
end of a thick branch.
later the hill erupted with roots that sought to ensnare the interlopers.
The great oaks branches swung back and forth, bludgeoning the
companions as they awoke. A dozen heads at the end of branches danced
to and fro above the fray, spitting curses and spells on the combatants
below. In response, the companions unleashed gouts of spellflame, but
to no avail, for the Tree of Wailing Souls refused to burn.
desperate haste, Lunargent and his companions fled down the steep-sided
slope dodging the grasping thicket of roots that erupted wherever they
stepped. With Tymoras favor, four survived, including Lunargent,
but the mad shrieks of their dead companions never ceased to echo in
attributed to Mintiper Moonsilver
Year of the Moonfall (1344 DR)
tale of the Tree of Wailing Souls is one of the more popular "ghost
stories" recounted by bards across the North to audiences ensconced
in front of a warm fire with a full tankard in hand and the door firmly
barred. As with many such stories attributed to Mintiper, the hero of
this tale bears the name Lunargent, an obvious alias for "Moonsilver."
However, it is never clear in such tales whether or not the events recounted
actually happened and, in cases where there is some kernel of truth
to the tale, whether or not the hero is Mintiper himself or someone
else whose tale he is retelling. 
the many such stories attributed to Mintiper, sages such as myself have
long been curious about the Tree of Wailing Souls in particular. The
supposed location of this unholy entity is never twice the same when
the tale is recounted, however, a detailed examination of Mintipers
known travels coupled with a pattern of similar accounts of by other
travelers suggests a probable location atop Turlangtor. 
Moreover, the existence of such a massive tree atop that peak might
account for both the hills common name and the disappearance of
more than one group of misguided seekers of the only recently rediscovered
Grandfather Tree. 
it does exist and is as old as I suspect, the Tree of Wailing Souls
represents both a grave threat to the region  and
an opportunity to learn more of the legacies of Ammarindar, Delzoun,
Eaerlann, Sharrven, Siluvanede, and even Aryvandor. Its alleged power
to trap souls suggests that it might contain the trapped sentiences
of beings who lived during the height of these ancient empires. Might
one be able to contact or even free such spirits and learn more of the
Norths ancient heritage and magical lore? 
The tale of the Tree of Wailing Souls is in large part true, based
on a nightmarish night spent by Mintiper Moonsilver and the five other
survivors of the Battle of Turnstone Pass, just before they entered
the northern High Forest. Although Lunargent has become so popular a
character that he appears in many tales that did not originate with
Mintiper, most, if not all, of those authored by the Lonely Harpist
are actually first-hand accounts. It is simply beyond the imagination
of most individuals that even the legendary Lonely Harpist could have
had so many adventures, accounting for the skepticism in the Keepers
annotations and similar commentary by other sages.
The Tree of Wailing Souls does indeed lie atop Turlangtor, the westernmost
peak of the rocky heights that lie to the south of the River Rauvin
and run east to Turnstone Pass and so named for its proximity to the
Woods of Turlang. The trees taproot descends deep into the heart
of the bedrock that forms the core of the hill, and its roots entwine
nearly every boulder and pocket of dirt in the tors mantle. Every
attempt to kill the Tree of Wailing Souls, whether by burning or other
means, has failed, for the tree never fails to regrow to an even greater
size from the roots that remain unscathed. In all probability, the Tree
of Wailing Souls can only be permanently killed by ripping the tor apart
down to its base, a feat beyond the ken of all those who have tried.
Even that might not be enough though, for the trees tenacious
hold on life may well be attributable to the lingering energies of warped
elven High Magic from ages past. However, those seeking merely to escape
the trees clutches can prevail if they inflict sufficient damage
to destroy that part of the plant that grows above ground. Although
ultimately hollow, such a victory effectively deprives the Tree of Wailing
Souls of the ability to attack for days or even weeks thereafter.
Turlang the Thoughtful is the aeons-old treant who leads the Wood
Rulers (treants) of the High Forest.
Grandfather Tree is an Uthgardt ancestor mound unlike any other that
lies in the depths of the High Forest, east of the Lost Peaks. This
massive oak tree was lost long ago when the Blue Bear tribe was driven
away by its guardian spirits, and it was only recently rediscovered
on Shieldmeet in the Year of the Banner (1368 DR). The Tree Ghosts,
a tribe that split off from the Blue Bear tribe many years ago with
the advent of Tanta Hagaras corruption and whose members had
long sought their original ancestor mound, now dwell near the Grandfather
Tree, working to preserve it and the surrounding forest.
years past, more than one seeker of the Grandfather Tree mistook the
Tree of Wailing Souls for the legendary ancestor mound of the Blue
Bear tribe. Such mistakes are understandable in hindsight, although
no less fatal, for both trees are of monstrous proportions and tower
above their surroundings. One consequence of such ill-fated pilgrimages
is that many relics and other items of magic have been lost upon the
slopes of Turlangtor. Whether the Tree of Wailing Souls draws such
items down into the hill or whether they are recovered by later travelers
is unknown, but only a few lost items of magic have been recovered
in the trees immediately vicinity. Among those items still believed
lost are the Meerschaum Eye of the Covey, the Sacred
Bundle of Ursas Blueclaw, and the Stoneblade of Athalantar.
Travelers in the region are advised to be careful should they chance
upon such items on the slopes of a steep-sided hill, for it may not
be Tymoras fortune that smiles upon them, but the leering heads
of the Tree of Wailing Souls.
In appearance, the Tree of Wailing Souls is somewhat akin to a cross
between a red oak tree and a deaths head tree, as detailed in
the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium: Appendix III: Creatures
of Darkness, but it has a unique set of powers unlike any other
found in the Realms.
over 100 feet in height with a trunk over 20 feet in diameter at its
base, the Tree of Wailing Souls has literally thousands of branches
and roots. The Tree of Wailing Souls has 30 Hit Dice and a THAC0 of
1. The trunk of the tree has 150 hit points and an Armor Class of
3 (from the toughness of the bark). It takes 1d8 points of damage
to sever a limb or root, each of which is considered to be AC 5, but
such damage does not count against the trunks total. The Tree
of Wailing Souls is largely resistant to magic (75% Magic Resistance)
and wholly immune to magical and nonmagical fire.
Tree of Wailing Souls can physically attack anyone standing atop or
flying near the slopes of Turlangtor with its branches and roots.
Anyone within 30 yards of the summit of Turlangtor or the trunk of
the tree is subject to 1d8 bludgeoning attacks by the trees
branches, each of which inflicts 1d12 points of damage. Anyone standing
anywhere on the slopes of Turlangtor must make a successful saving
throw vs. breath weapon every round or be enmeshed in the trees
roots. (This is equivalent to a nonmagical entangle spell of
unlimited duration. The victim or his or her allies must sever 3d4
roots to release him from the trees ensnaring roots. If not
rescued, those trapped by the roots will eventually starve to death,
and their souls will be drawn into the tree.)
Tree of Wailing Souls can manifest as many as a dozen heads at a time
at the tips of its branches. Each head is identical to that of a past
victim and retains the spellcasting abilities, innate magical abilities,
and psionic powers it had in life at the time of its death, as well
as a fragmentary collection of memories. Spells are regained twenty-four
hours after being cast, and spell-like abilities and psionic powers
return at the rate they would have at the time of death. The Tree
of Wailing Souls contains literally hundreds of trapped spirits, and
it can vary which heads it manifests as it pleases, withdrawing or
manifesting at most one head per round. Curiously, the Tree does not
seem to select which heads it manifests based on the attendant powers
it can employ, but rather choosing heads most likely to horrify whomever
(if anyone) currently stands atop Turlangtor.
lieu of water and sunlight, the Tree of Wailing Souls subsists on
the blood and souls of sentient beings. The tree absorbs any blood
shed on the ground within reach of its roots (i.e. anywhere on the
slopes of Turlangtor). Once a single drop of blood of any creatures
blood is absorbed, that victims fate is thereafter tied to the
tree, unless a remove curse is for some reason cast before
the fated beings death. Upon death (i.e. upon dropping below
0 hit points), the victims soul is drawn into the tree in a
fashion akin to the 8th level wizard spell trap the
soul, no matter how much time has passed or how much distance
lies between the cursed victim and the Tree of Wailing Souls (assuming
the victim is within Realmspace at the time of his death). Once this
occurs, the trapped soul can only be freed by physically severing
its head from the tree and placing it in contact with whatever remains
of his or her mortal form. Fortunately, the trees desire to
terrify usually results in a victims head being manifested while
his or her companions confront the Tree of Wailing Souls from the
slopes of Turlangtor.
It is theoretically possible to contact the trapped sentiences within
the Tree of Wailing Souls, although any such communication will be tinged
with the taint of madness and hindered by fragmentary recollection.
Such communication might be established by means of psionic or magical
telepathy or by necromantic variants of the tongues spell.
As severing a head effectively "kills" the communication channel
with the trapped sentience until the tree manifests chooses to manifest
the beings head once again, all such communication must take place
on the slopes of Turlangtor while simultaneously battling the Tree of
Wailing Souls. If such communication is ever attempted, some of the
spirits that might be reached include King Connar V, one of Ammarindars
later dwarven monarchs, Neldarnoth the Thrice-Cursed, a Netherese refugee
who became one of the most admired Ascalhi archmages ere his disappearance,
Taanyth Vyshaan, once an elder of the ruling clan of Aryvandaar during
the Fifth Crown War, Usunaar Neirdre, a Siluvanedenn dragon-rider who
vanished during the Seven Citadels War, and Valdyr Battlehammer,
clanmaster and legendary runecrafter of Delzoun at the height of the
references to Mintiper Moonsilver are cited in the first column of
of Wailing Souls
Turlangtor is first mentioned and located in Dragon #236, p.
The Woods of Turlang are discussed in The North: The Wilderness,
pp. 52, 68, and in FR5 The Savage Frontier, pp.
The monster known as a "deaths head tree" is detailed
in the Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures
of Darkness, pp. 28-29.
Turlang the Thoughtful is discussed in The North: The Wilderness,
pp. 52, 68, and in FR5 The Savage Frontier, pp.
The Grandfather Tree and the Tree Ghost tribe are discussed in The
North: The Wilderness, pp. 19, 22, 31-32, 54-55, 57, and
in FR5 The Savage Frontier, pp. 25, 52, 54, 64.
The Blue Bear tribe is discussed in The North: The Wilderness,
pp. 11-12, 18, 29, 31-32, 54, and in FR5 The Savage
Frontier, pp. 23-24.
Meerschaum is a type of carvable hardstone resembling bone, as discussed
in Volos Guide to All Things Magical, p. 44. A covey
is a group of three hags, and a hag eye is usually gemstone
through which members of a covey can observe goings-on, no matter
how far away it is borne, as noted in the Monstrous Manual,
Sacred bundles are the holy symbols of shamans of Uthgardt, as detailed
in The North: The Wilderness, p. 32, and Powers &
Pantheons, pp. 69-70. By its name, the Sacred Bundle of Ursas
Blueclaw suggests itself to be a relic of an early shaman of the
Blue Bear tribe.
Ties between the folk of long-fallen Athalantar and the Tree Ghosts
of the current day are noted in Dragon #218, p. 26. Helm Stoneblade
was Athalantars first king after Elminster dethroned the Magelords,
and the name of the Stoneblade of Athalantar suggests that
he or his descendants wielded it.
Details on Aryvandor, Ammarindar, Delzoun, Eaerlann, Sharrven, and
Siluvanede are scattered through a wide variety of sources. The primary
sources are Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves, FR11
Dwarves Deep, Hellgate Keep, and Dragon #218,
King Connar IV is mentioned in Hellgate Keep, p. 16, so King
Connar V is a later monarch. The history of Ascalhorn is discussed
in Hellgate Keep, pp. 4-8. Siluvanede and the Seven Citadels
War are discussed in Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves,
pp. 32-33, and Dragon #218, pp. 34-35. House Neirdre is discussed
in Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves, p. 116. The Vyshaan
clan of Aryvandaar is discussed in Cormanthyr: Empire of
Elves, pp. 21-23, 29-31.
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