Emerald Enclave Portals
By Jeff Quick
Forest is dense with nothingness. Unprepared wanderers can travel for
days without finding a friendly face, or even an unfriendly one. Because
of its forbidding reputation, people who don't know how to treat nature
responsibly tend to stay out, minimizing the danger to the local ecology.
result, the Caretakers of the Emerald Enclave are more concerned about
internal threats to the forest than external threats. There are sufficient
external threats, true. But as balance-loving worshipers of nature can
tell you, evil entities are not the only threat to nature.
than a year ago, the Emerald Enclave began discussions with Turlang, a
great treant and de facto ruler of most of the High Forest. The Chosen
of Eldath and Mielikki requested that they be allowed to send representatives
to the wood to see if they could be of any assistance. Since the High
Forest is said to be under the direct protection of these two gods, Turlang
gladly accepted representatives in their name.
Caretakers constructed a portal from Ilghon to a cave mouth near one of
Turlang's homes and sent two Caretakers to assess threats to the forest:
Kressna Pisacar (LN female human Drd9) and Naeva Waterborn (N male moon
elf Drd5/Brd5). After several months of travel and observation through
the High Forest, the two druids came to a sobering conclusion: The chief
threat to the High Forest's long-term safety is Turlang himself.
has spent the last 400 years pushing the boundary of the forest north,
toward the Nether Mountains. While druids would normally applaud arboreal
expansion, it must be done with an eye toward long-term consequences.
After some study, Kressna and Naeva have come to believe that pushing
the High Forest north creates more problems than it solves, borrowing
trouble the forest wouldn't have otherwise. The treant's expansionism
has become a threat to the entire wood.
instance of this threat is Turlang's behavior around Hellgate Keep. Having
pushed the treeline past the Hellgate Keep crater, the treant claims to
have sealed off the area. The Caretakers believe that this so-called "sealing"
has made both the treant and his protectorate a target. If the High Forest
did not cover Hellgate Keep, the baatezu trapped within would be less
of an issue and easier to keep out. Instead, they're already in it and
not shy about recklessly using fire magic.
Turlang has become fixated on destroying the baatezu and tieflings he
has contained in a long, slow siege. He takes his fight against the Hellgate
Keep fiends personally and as an affront to all he has created, while
forgetting other problems -- mainly the pillaging orcs streaming off the
Spine of the World mountains.
one does not simply tell a treant that he is mistaken and then carry on,
especially one who takes his duties so seriously as Turlang does. Using
all their diplomacy and reasoning, Kressna and Naeva are attempting to
redirect their ally as a vine up a trellis. They tell Turlang tales of
the wood to the west and south, toward the Dessarin and Larch Hills, where
they believe expansion would be simpler and less troublesome. They also
discuss with him the malignancy of war and how it affects surrounding
nature. They hope that with enough indirect cues, Turlang will allow them
to take over the "war effort" in the north, and go back to planting
trees in safer areas.
however, is fixated on his current plans and will not be swayed by pleasant
alternatives. Further, he has suspicions that the Enclave druids who come
in the name of Eldath and Mielikki are trying to steer him away from where
he is most needed in the High Forest -- away from the trees he has worked
so hard to plant and nurture.
is not quite tense, but not as cordial as when the druids first arrived.
As diplomatic entrappings drop away and both sides' true positions become
clearer, residents of the forest are beginning to pick favorites. Turlang
and the Caretakers probably will not come to blows over the matter, but
the repercussions of a conflict between the forces could be as damaging
as a natural disaster.
might push it over the edge is the portal the druids use to travel
between the High Forest and their home island. The portal is situated
squarely within territory controlled by Turlang and is guarded by some
of Turlang's best agents. Originally this was done to honor his esteemed
guests, but with Turlang's increasing suspicion about the Caretakers'
motives, his agents eavesdrop as much as they guard.
themselves know that they have increasingly less freedom to speak openly
in the High Forest, but they must remain to continue the delicate negotiations
with the treant while helping the fight against pressing forces within
the wood. They hope that they can get through to the treant before his
shortsightedness brings trouble none of them can contain.
to Incorporate the High Forest Portal Into Your Campaign
situation is just waiting for a catalyst to set things in motion. If the
PCs so much as set foot in northern parts of the High Forest, they're
likely to run into somebody who knows about the difficulties.
- Player characters
who are known to be impartial or friends of the High Forest might be
called in to arbitrate the situation.
- Spies from cities
in the North report that orcs have been massing just north of the High
Forest. The orcs seem to think it's a good time to attack, and no one
knows if anyone in the High Forest is paying attention. The PCs are
asked to check on that.
- The situation is
further exacerbated by an erinyes who escaped from Hellgate Keep. She
thinks the perfect getaway from the High Forest would be through the
portal. Though the portal is well within Turlong's territory,
the Caretakers and the treant might be too busy with their own smoldering
conflict to keep a close eye on other matters.
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