After Murad, as a Roc, drops off the group on the shore of the uncharted island, he attempts to use Liveoak to create a minion for himself. In doing so, he notices that someone or something seems to have control over the plant life on the island and is resisting his attempts to control the oak. Murad overcomes the resistance and creates his new treant companion, “Bob”.
Quintin studies the local wildlife and is puzzled to learn that, although the flora seems to be of a standard temperate variety, there appears to be no animal life, not even insects. Rod searches the beach, being careful to avoid the caustic algae that laps up on the shoreline. He finds several pieces of what seems to be flotsam, completely covered in the algae. Rod calls over Quintin, who carefully scrapes off the algae. The flotsam is cut wood, perhaps parts of a sea vessel. Quintin finds that one of the larger pieces is carved in the image of a peacock. Rod searches the beach further and discovers a path leading to the northwest, into the interior of the island.
Quintin uses and Arcane Eye spell to see where the path leads. After about 100 yards, the narrow trail opens up into an approximately 10 foot wide natural pathway. The eye continues following it. It twists and turns, rises and falls, along a mountain ridge line. About one and a half miles along, the floating eye spots movement in the forest to the right of the path. Quintin commands the eye to investigate. It sees a figure, apparently a man, running further into the forest. Quintin tells the eye to stop, rise above the canopy, and agitate itself, in place. He then relays its location to Murad.
Murad, still in Roc form, flies to where he reckons the eye to be. He finds the eye and dives beneath the canopy of trees to find the man. Murad sees the man, dressed in Ashtarean garb, running. He calls out for him, in Ealduran, to stop. Murad offers to help him. The fleeing man stops for a moment and appears to be listening to Murad’s plea when long, grey and white tendrils spring up form the forest floor and entangle the man. Before he can be dragged beneath the earth, Murad casts a Command Plants spell and convinces the creature to let him go. He then commands the plant to show itself. A circle of tendrils, about 30 feet in diameter, sprouts from the ground, waving themselves in the air. The man decides to escape the trap and runs toward Murad.
Murad offers to fly him back to safety. The man reluctantly agrees. He says that his name is Groot. As Groot is about to “board” onto the Roc’s back, Murad sees that there is something odd about him. His skin is quite pale, with an almost jaundiced tone to it. Murad decides to take the man in his claws instead. They fly back to the beach to meet the others.
Murad presents the rescued man to the others and tells the story of how he was found. The group questions him. He says that he came ashore from the crew of The Peacock and several other ships. Some members of the group recall The Peacock to be the name of Eddy Raffin’s ship. Groot says that their ships were soon eaten away by the algae and that they went inland looking for something, he’s not sure what, on Raffin’s orders. They were beset by the tendril creatures and scattered. Many of them were caught, but he managed to get away. He says that he hasn’t eaten in a few days.
They try to get more information from Groot but he is reluctant to continue. Rod surprises him with his sap and knocks the man unconscious. After some initial outrage at Rod’s seemingly rash action, the group debates what to do next. They cut off his baby finger to study it. The “blood” released is a thick, yellowish substance. Arah examines Groot to find that he seems to not be human per se. He looks human, but is made of some strange material. Quintin believes that he is a type of fungal creature, in the likeness of a man. Arah revives him with a Heal spell. They tell him that they believe him to be a type of plant creature. He denies this. As Murad questions him about how he was attacked by the tendril creatures, he takes in a deep breath and beings to exhale in their direction.
Before he can get out his breath, Rod whips out his spring-loaded dagger and slices into his neck. The man slumps to the ground, dead. Quintin dissects the body to confirm that he is a type of fungal creature. As the group discusses the implications of this, someone notices a ship on the horizon to the southeast. Murad takes the rest of the group aloft to investigate. He commands Bob to guard the dead body.
As they close on the ship, they see that she is Starsinger. Murad circles overhead and calls down to her captain, Garret. He warns of the caustic algae surrounding the island and advises him to turn his ship around. Garret accuses Murad of seeking to claim the island’s best treasure for himself. He ignores Murad’s warning and sails on. Murad flies away with the others, but first tells him to take small boats to the island first, if he is intent on going ashore.
Murad and the others fly back to the beach where Bob is waiting. They watch as Garret and his men row two ship’s boats toward the shore. Garret’s boat brings up the rear. As they approach the ring of algae, Murad uses Control WInds to spin the boats around so that Garret’s enters the algae first. One of the crewmen dips a leather glove into the algae-covered water. The algae clings to the hull of the boat. Murad then reverses the wind to blow them back out into the open water. Within minutes, the boat begins to corrode. As it sinks, the men dive into the water to escape. With a curse, Garret abandons his boat last. The second boat rows over to pick up the swimming men. Murad can hear one of them screaming. He flies over to see that his arms are covered in the algae. Murad take shim back to shore to have Arah tend to his wounds. Once he is healed, Murad returns him to Starsinger. Murad gives Garret an “I told you so”. Garret retorts: “Don’t think I’m not still watching you, Murad”!
After some discussion, the group decides that, due to its extremely unusual nature, this island is the probable location of the fourth magical node. Murad uses Woodshape to make seats and a shooting platform on Bob. They find their spots on the tree creature and he carries them off down the path. Murad uses Locate Animals and Plants to search for the fungal man creatures. He finds nothing within the 1/2 mile radius of the spell’s range. He also looks for the tendril creatures. Murad is shocked to learn that these creatures or creature are everywhere on this island.
Along the path, Bob creates two tree creatures to help him. After almost 4 miles of travel along the path, near the centre of the island, they see a clearing up ahead. Beyond the clearing is a 50 foot diameter “dome” of tightly woven coniferous trees. Using Locate Animals and Plants, Murad detects about fifty of the fungal man creatures in the surrounding forest. He tells the others this, yet they decide to continue along the path approaching the clearing.
As they near the dome, Murad receives a message on the Crystal of Communication. Strangely, the message is from Navin, aide to the High Archmage, Gralius Kurn. He has ill tidings.
Some two days ago, by some treachery, the entire Leonian fleet was sighted in the Silent Sea, 2 miles to the east of the city. The token naval force left behind to defend Llantry’s waters was easily overwhelmed. The remainder of the Queen’s navy had already sailed to the Bay of the Protector to head off the Leonian fleet.
Coorish troops poured out of the ships and are laying siege to the city now. The south city has already fallen. More than half of the Queen’s army had already marched south, some three days ago, to intercept the Brindish.
During the attack, a massive explosion took place at the High Alchemists’ Laboratory. The laboratory itself and several surrounding buildings were destroyed. He regrets to say that the High Alchemist, Heyrod lost his life in the attack as did many other loyal members. They are still uncertain whether the few remaining shards they have stored in the laboratory are intact.
The High Archmage is certain that it was the work of the Children of Zepha and has sequestered himself in the Tower of Stars. He has given the word that the Tower will soon be under attack. Gralius Kurn has dispatched some of their members to use magic in defense of the capitol but is saving most of their remaining resources for the defence of the Tower. He gives the order for their group to expedite their search for the node – there may be little time left before the Tower of Stars is breached and their plan to stop the falling star is foiled.
He must go now to aid the High Archmage. The group should contact him as soon as the node is secure.
Murad responds with a message to Navin that they are close to locating the node. Murad tells the others the bad news.
Before they reach the dome, the fungal man creatures emerge from the forest, surrounding them. Their leader appears to have been a privateer captain. He welcomes them and asks them what their purpose on this island is. Murad replies that they are looking for a magical node that they want to use to prevent the falling star from striking the planet.
The captain says that they would be willing to help them find this node, but they want something in return. He is aware that they carry items of great power – the Tokens. He and his “people” can use the tokens to power the node, so that they can use it as the group intends. The captain asks that, once their task is complete, Murad and his group give them the tokens. They will use them to feed on. He asks to see the tokens.
Murad and the group find the proposal to be reasonable, but don’t fully trust this creature. Murad, Rod, and Arah, show the captain their respective tokens. He requests that they place them on the ground so that he can examine them. The group is apprehensive, but Murad decides to hand his counterpart his Token of Zaur. The captain looks pleased. He steps forward asking for the other tokens.
At this moment, some members of the party recognize another of the fungal privateers to be Antoine Sebourne, one of Maddy’s ex-captains. When the party refuses to hand over the remaining tokens, the leader commands his men to attack.
Murad casts a spell to cause an explosion of rot to rip through the plant creatures. Quintin tosses acid bombs and Rod throws daggers. Bob crushes Sebourne’s skull with his massive, woody fist. Bertom of Cuford guards Arah, waiting for an attack. The sailors try to breathe spore clouds at the party, but they resist the effects.
Sensing that they are losing this battle, the leader flees into the forest. The sailors hack uselessly at the treants, while patches of white tendrils rise from the ground to ensnare them. At that moment, Quintin notices a small, brown insect crawling up his right leg. It is a type of tropical stick insect. He finds it odd that he is seeing it here on this temperate island. Then, before he can react, Quintin watches as the insect transforms into a man.
The man lands on the shooting platform around Bob’s waist. He starts to cast a spell. Bertom, waiting of an attack, comes down hard on the caster with his bastard sword. He slices into the man’s shoulder, disrupting his spell. Rod gets in on the action. As he stabs away, Rod can see that the man has the same pallour as the other sailors. He and Bertom take him down easily.
Murad transforms into an air elemental and chases after the fleeing captain. He finds him trying to enter the dome of trees, which have parted slightly to allow him passage. Murad prevents the captain from getting through by catching him in a whirlwind. Murad is able to sneak a peak inside the dome – he sees a large light grey mass, that is gently pulsating.
Suddenly, the ground vibrates and the trees of the forest begin to sway, though there is no wind. The line of trees forming the dome in front of the party begins to open. As the tightly woven trees part, a rank cloud of moist air spews forth. As the air clears, a pale grey mass, nearly thirty feet tall and at least as wide, pulsates slowly. You feel a growing sense of dread as a writhing tentacle emerges from behind the dome of trees, moving in your direction.