[Undertake a dangerous journey (as a Delve) +wits: strong hit, mark progress, Find an opportunity, +1 momentum from Wayfinder]
[Find an opportunity: the terrain favors you, or you find a hidden path, +1 to follow up move]
Haf strikes north and east until he hits the tainted creek, then follows its bank east until he reaches the junction with the clear watered stream. He crosses a short distance upstream and makes his way northeast, hoping to avoid the polluted waters. The land becomes increasingly rocky and rises, steeply in places. Realising that if he can find a spot where the rock rises above the water he may be able to cross safely, he makes a sweeping survey of the land trying to guess the possible flow of any waterway.
[Undertake a journey +wits: strong hit, mark progress, Find an opportunity, +1 momentum from Wayfinder, +1 momentum from previous Find an opportunity]
[Find an opportunity: an aspect of the history or nature of this place is revealed, +1 momentum]
Haf’s guess bears fruit: after reaching a rise in the rock a half-mile to the north he spies a narrow gorge where the water flows below and he is able to leap over, safely crossing the corrupted waters. He then makes good speed northward, hoping to stay outside the boundary of the corruption expanding from the towers. By midday of the next day he is fairly sure he is clear of the corruption until he senses his connection to the spirit of the Wilds diminishing. He stops and reaches out with the sight. He can make out a tendril of Wratha pushing forth, spreading from tree to tree. The progress is slow, but the Wyrhta embodied in the surrounding trees provides no resistance. He should be able to keep ahead of the growing taint but it seems inevitable that it will continue to grow without intervention. He resumes his travel and picks up his pace.
[Undertake a journey +edge: weak hit, mark progress, -1 supply, Reveal a danger]
[Reveal a danger: you lose your way or are delayed]
Haf sets a strong pace and heads as directly as he can in the direction he senses the concentration of Wyrhta that marks the grove of the Elder Mystics. Over the coming days he makes good progress and begins climbing the great plateau. However his reliance on the sight to navigate leads him to a dead end. He ends up in an area that becomes increasingly steep and rocky until he can navigate it no further. As the raven flies he is a days travel from the grove, but will have to backtrack and take a more circuitous route. Haf chides himself for not relying on his woodcraft and slows his pace, assessing his route more clearly as he travels.
[Secure an advantage +wits: strong hit, +1 to follow up move, +2 momentum, +1 momentum from Wayfinder]
[Undertake a journey +wits: miss, burn momentum —> weak hit, mark progress and Find an opportunity]
[Find an opportunity: this area provides an opportunity to scavenge, forage, or hunt]
[Reach your destination: strong hit with a match, +1 to follow up move]
Drawing on both his traveling experience and his connection to the Wilds, Haf is able to recover lost time well and makes the top of the plateau by days end. As he travels towards the grove the next day he makes a strong connection to the Wilds and they respond in kind, providing easy forage as he travels [+1 supply].
When at last he reaches the towering trunks of the grove he is again awestruck and hesitant to go further, remembering the sheer overwhelming presence of the Elder Mystics. He realises there is little choice now though, the corruption is spreading apace and travelling to one of the lakes abundant in Wyrhta would take weeks from here. Travelling to the grove of the Elder Mystics was the obvious choice, unfortunately now that he is here he has to follow through with his plan.
Haf walks into the great circle. He allows his gaze to linger on the majesty of the grove but does his best to remain calm and focused, making his way to the direct centre and seating himself. As he sits and waits he picks out the forms of the Mystics in the shadows of the great tress. Whilst they are seated silently as last time, something about their posture, or perhaps the flows of energy within the grove is different. The Mystics seem more than just distant, they are oblivious to him. Haf engages in the mental exercises Etana has taught him and stills his mind before allowing his awareness to expand out and embrace the fullness of the spirit of the Wilds in this place. The sheer presence of the Wilds is rapturous and the flows of power he can detect are dizzying. Haf sits and watches, immersing himself as time ebbs past and loses meaning.
[Gather information: strong hit, +2 momentum, +1 momentum from Sighted]
[Oracles – Disposition: wanting, Activity: distracting, Major plot twist: unexpected powers or abilities are revealed]
As Haf watches he realises that something is different to the last time he sat before the Elder Mystics. Whilst he did not have the words to describe it, last time the grove was abundant in Wyrhta. Now he also detects Wielda and Wratha. The Mystics draw vast power into themselves, granting them the far seeing of the Wilds as they slowly transform into divinity. Their appetite has become greater and indiscriminate, they now siphon the power of the Tree of False Life and the Wratha it generates in the Wilds. Their power has grown rapidly but their attention has been drawn inwards to keep the corruption of the power at bay. Haf suspects they will not aid him, whether due to desire or capacity. However he sits in a place of great power, if he can draw enough of the raw Wyrhta that flows through this place maybe it will be enough for him to defeat the artifact in the towers. Haf loses himself again in the sight, watching the flows of power. He gazes around him occasionally at the resplendent natural beauty to keep himself anchored to the material world. Doing so he notices that the shadows have deepened around the bases of the great trees but the open space he sits in is bathed in a column of sunlight. He looks up: it is midday. Realisation dawns on him. Etana intended him to use his newly learned ritual to capture the essence of sunlight whilst in a place of power.
Haf attends to the flows of power all around him and sifts out those that stem from or are attuned to the light streaming down on him. He breathes deeply then makes the chants of the ritual, attempting to draw upon the power surrounding him.
[Secure an advantage +wits: weak hit, take +1 on move when next using Lightbearer]
The power surrounding Haf is vast and he struggles to focus his ritual on the Wyrhta around him in addition to the light of the sun. However he manages to capture a sliver of the sun’s special presence in this place of power. The ritual completed Haf looks around anxiously – have the Mystics noticed him drawing from the power flowing into them and how will they react? Looking around they are unchanged and he realises that compared to them the power he has drawn upon is meaningless. Unnerved, he leaves quickly and commences his journey to the towers.
[Undertake a dangerous journey (as a Delve) +wits: strong hit, mark progress, Find an opportunity, +1 momentum from Wayfinder]
[Find an opportunity: you are alerted to a potential threat]
The travel to the southern edge of the plateau is pleasant for Haf except for the foreboding task ahead of him. Before commencing the descent Haf draws on the close connection to the spirit of the Wilds here and is able to sense the presence of Wratha and how it maps into the terrain before him. Whilst he realises that the corruption is continuing to spread he hopes he can guide his passage so he passes through the smallest zone of it as possible.
[Undertake a journey +wits: weak hit, mark progress, -1 supply, Reveal a danger, +1 momentum from previous Find an opportunity]
[Reveal a danger: you encounter a hostile denizen – Blightborn Gaunt]
Haf takes an indirect route to avoid the most prominent incursion of Wratha towards the plateau. Even though he has not yet reached the zone of corruption the woods here are ominously quiet. No opportunities present themselves for hunting whilst travelling and he begins eating into his supplies as he makes the winding descent.
Before he even reaches the tainted section of woods Haf senses a disturbance in the Wilds and pauses, listening intently. There is sudden movement and the heavy sound of galloping before a black horse-like beast bursts through the underbrush just before him…
[Enter the fray (formidable) +wits: strong hit, you have initiative, +2 momentum]
…Haf leaps safely out the creature’s path and is quickly on his feet, pulling out his bow and rapidly stringing it whilst the beast pulls up and turns. Haf draws an arrow and lines up a shot as the creature sizes him up from a short charge away. It has the vague aspect of a horse, but shorter and almost skeletally lean. Haf’s friend Delkash has told him of beasts the Elves use as mounts and he assumes this is what he is facing. However the creature is clearly blighted, his sight can see the presence of Wratha and the reek of decay wafts off the beast. After a drawn out instant the creature puts its head down and charges directly at Haf. He steadies his aim and releases…
[Strike +edge: strong hit, inflict 3 harm, retain initiative]
…Haf’s arrow strikes the Gaunt in its breast and it rears in pain, almost falling. Before it can resume its charge Haf swiftly releases a volley of arrows…
[Strike +edge: miss, burn momentum —> weak hit, inflict 2 harm, lose initiative]
…two arrows thud into the Gaunt’s flank as it moves towards Haf. It closes and rears up, kicking out with cloven hooves and Haf dives to the side…
[Face danger +edge: miss with a match, take 3 harm]
[Endure harm: strong hit, -1 momentum and +1 health]
…the creature moves with grace and speed and Haf is kicked before he can dodge. He is knocked to the ground but quickly rolls to his feet, ready to react. However, both his bow and staff are now at the Gaunt’s hooves and he feels a chill of fear shoot up his spine. whilst the creature is fast Haf gambles that it will struggle to wheel and tries to dart around it…
[Face danger +edge: strong hit, +1 momentum]
…Haf’s guess is correct and he is able to run behind the beast. It wheels, snapping hungrily at him with misshapen teeth, but Haf is able to circle completely around, snatching his staff of the ground and turning to face it before it is facing him. He fakes to move right and when the Gaunt surges to intercept he steps back to the left and jams his staff forward between its legs attempting to trip it…
[Secure an advantage +edge: strong hit, +1 to next move, +2 momentum, +1 momentum from Long-arm]
…the blighted animal is caught of guard and its forelegs collapse, leaving it momentarily vulnerable…
[Strike +edge: strong hit, inflict 2 harm, +1 momentum from Long-arm]
[End the fight: miss]
…Haf drives the butt of the staff into the Gaunt’s skull, cracking a deep rent into it. However the creature does not die. It looks at Haf with what he can only describe as malice, and vomits forth a torrent of black bile into his face before finally slumping to the ground. Haf himself falls to his knees choking and spitting up the filth that threatens to both choke and corrupt him. As darkness invades him he experiences a wave of nausea overwhelms him and he gasps for breath through his burning throat. [suffer 5 stress]
[Endure stress: strong hit, -1 momentum, +1 spirit]
Minutes pass like hours in pain and blackness before Haf finally comes to his senses. His throat is raw and he feels exhausted and bleak, but is grateful to be alive. He staggers to his feet and continues his journey, stumbling onwards in desperation to get away from the scene of battle and horror. He travels the remaining hours of the day, making limited progress but the activity helps him shake off and distract himself from the worst of the shock and pain. He has not yet reached the corrupted region of the woods and decides to set a proper camp with blazing campfire to warm his bones and spirits.
[Make camp: strong hit, +1 health, +1 spirit]
Come morning Haf is feeling improved but still dispirited and anxious about forging into the Wratha twisted area of forest. He realises he will soon lose his connection to the spirit of the Wilds and takes the chance to commune deeply and gain his bearings.
[Secure an advantage +wits: weak hit with a 1 on action die, take 1 stress, +2 momentum, +1 momentum from sighted]
[Endure stress: miss, -1 momentum]
Haf sits in silence and reaches his mind out to the Wilds. He is aware if the web of Wyrhta surrounding him but also Wratha not far away, spreading over a large and growing area. He is able to guess a best course to reach the towers but his heightened sensitivity to the flows of magic tires and saddens him further. The corruption continues to grow and if he is not able to stop it the whole of the Wilds may be at threat.
Haf gets to his feet with a sigh of resignation before taking a deep breath to steady his resolve. He sets forth, looking ahead intently for the presence of corrupted trees.
[Undertake a journey +wits: miss, burn momentum —> strong hit, mark progress, Find an opportunity, +2 to momentum from Wayfinder]
[Find an opportunity: you locate a secure area, +1 to next move]
Haf senses his connection to the Wilds dwindling and soon comes across signs of corruption in the forest. The trees have turned black, the light gloomy and the smell of rot and death is in the air. The sense of oppressiveness and decay has grown since Haf last passed through this region of the woods, he guesses he is within a days travel of the towers but his nerves are on edge. He travels slowly, trusting to his instincts as much as what he can sense. He regularly pauses for extended periods and backtracks at anything that arouses his suspicions, it despite his sight telling him things are direly wrong he comes under no direct threat. As the dark day draws to a close Haf begins worrying about where he will camp, remembering his encounter with the Husk. He sweeps the surrounding area looking for a campsite that is hidden or at the least defensible when he comes across a narrow opening in an outcropping of rock. When he investigates further he discovers the fissure in the rock extends deep into the rock, climbing down into the earth before finally opening into a large cavern. He lights a torch and investigates. It is dank and musty but mundanely so, the corruption hasn’t seeped into the earth. Haf releases hours of tension and spends a few minutes just breathing deeply. He sets up a crude tripwire alarm near the entrance and decides to chance getting as deep a sleep s he can manage.
[Make camp: strong hit, +1 health, +1 spirit, +1 momentum from previous Find an opportunity]
Haf wakes confused and then initially panicked before he recalls his surroundings. He has slept long and feels fresh physically, if still grim and wary. He emerges from the cave to dim daylight and resolves to reach the towers as soon as he can and get away from this awful place.
[Undertake a journey +wits: strong hit, mark progress, Find an opportunity, +1 momentum from Wayfarer]
[Find an opportunity: A clue offers insight or direction, +1 momentum]
As Haf travels through the dark woods he is struggling to navigate by memory, despite having passed through this region several times before. The twisted trees, dim light and oppressive aura of Wratha makes everything hard to recognise, but then he hits a stroke of luck and sees a distinctive outcropping of rock ahead. He knows exactly where he is and the path to the towers from here. He speeds up his pace, eager to reach his destination.
[Reach your destination: miss with a match]
Within a couple of hours he has reached the location of the towers, but all is not as it was when he was last here. The decay in the surrounding forest has also suffused the ancient stone of the towers and they all lie in rubble, choked with thick vines which have played their part in bringing them down. Haf navigates the site and crouches on his haunches in defeat – there is no obvious way of reaching the Tree of False Life.