The Endless Forest is a place that in time I'd love for the party to dive into and do their damndest to plumb to the center. I've seriously enjoyed the place the last 2 or 3 times I've had parties try to plumb its depths and expect in time the group will make the same foray.
They also had the pleasure of meeting a local druid, Kahr Konig. I find druids, especially the older ones (8th circle or better) to be fucking odd. Seriously, they are outside the flow of time, more at home away from civilization, have no real need for money/riches, and and after awhile unable to relate to normal people.
Write up follows:
Over the next 2 weeks the party healed, trained, and reequipped themselves with whatever gear had worn out or gotten destroyed. The spring weather grew warmer, planting and spring harvesting were proceeding apace, and there was a good feeling amongst the townsfolk and populace around Shakun. We had even heard from travelers from Timberton and Ferron about the better road conditions since the banditry that had been rife earlier had been cleaned up.
Eventually as the weeks progressed we talked about our contract to go visit Candlewick Keep to the north and west of Shakun, along the former borders of the Endless Forest. We had commissioned to bring back a 4’ tall marble statue of Zeus with blue eyes for the price of 900 crowns. Our factor had assured us that the statue was still there and supposedly that the goblin assault had not overrun the keep during its active and manned time.
We then approached Zarik and spoke the Consul about the possibility or hiring some people to come with us. We went over our lists and needs for a bit and settled on a porter, a linkboy (or torch bearer), and a shieldbearer. As for the porter, Urthar who we had used earlier was very happy to come with us and signed on. For the linkboy, a local merchant’s 13 year old son, Etterig (that the group quickly dubbed as “Link”) was chosen. And finally Zarik was able to get us aligned with a sturdy and stalwart warrior and shieldbearer of some skill who we had shortened his mouthy name to “Ben”.
Equipped, ready, and anxious to get going, the group set off from Shakun on Birthmonth the 18th and travelled west toward the Roaring Treant Inn. We spent the night in some comfort and was off again the following morning where we took our troupe as well as two horses, a pony, and a cart northward into the wilderness. The land rose and fell in slow hills, old battle signs and shattered copses of trees made travel less than optimal. The weather held fair, with only some rain to mar the trip.
We had some knowledge as to where Candlewick Keep actually was and decided that on the morn, we would take the time to search as diligently as possible the trees and plains for the elusive structure. The dawning of Birthmonth the 20th was warm and rainy and we arrived at the green tree-line of the Endless Forest without any issue.
From here we took many hours covering the miles. One of the first things we discovered was an older goblin battle wagon rusting away in the forest. There was numerous goblin fetish markings and from what we could tell by the marks, the battle wagon was some sort of way point for the local travelling greenskin tribes in the area. As for the battle wagon itself, it was some 20’ long and maybe 12’ wide, perhaps 9’ tall at the top and there was a blunted lance that stuck out perhaps 7’ from the upper third of it. And instead of a series of 4 or 8 wheels, there was a complex set of 16 wheels, 8 on each side piled on top of each other, with a metallic belt that ran over and under all of them.
At one point Fist’al went to climb on top of the battle wagon and see if there was anything of interest inside but upon getting on top of the wheel array he grew tired and weary, as if he could feel the weight of his 100+ years on his shoulders. Unnerved he climbed down and a few minutes later the sensation passed. We left the battle wagon behind and pressed on.
We did find a hunter’s cottage at one point, unused for some 3-6 months; various stuffed and mounted trophies inside (including what seemed to be 2 of the largest damned rabbits we had ever seen). During our travel we also came upon a squirrel, but not any normal sized one – perhaps 4 lbs and it looked at us briefly from the tree above before scampering away. We wondered at the larger than normal sized animals in the area and so far we had found no sign of the keep.
It was here that Flimflam called out to Demeter and asked her to allow him to speak to animals. Immediately he attracted the attention of two finches who came down to him, one very wary, the other almost ridiculous in its fawning. He plied the bird with berries one after the other while he asked it about any structures or piles of stone nearby. We did get something about a pile that sticks out of the trees; 3 hours flight north of here, but it was during that time that Flimflam heard another voice talking. It was speaking of the tasty finch, and getting closer, and don’t fly away, and I’m going to eat you.
And then a red fox burst from the underbrush and tried to get the finch which flew easily away. Flimflam turned to the fox and hit it with a Charm Animal spell, calming it down and getting it to stay nearby. We learned its name was Sanford and the gnomish druid spoke to it of stone structures, which it answered the finch was nuts and wrong.
By this time it was late in the day and we headed back to the hunter’s cottage where we set up some snare traps around the area and bedded down for the night, switching off for watch every two hours, and rested the night away with no issue. The next day we awoke and wandered the snares, finding one of them had a large spider in it! (maybe 3’ tall!!). We shot it from a distance and Flimflam and Fist’al tried to get the poison from the arachnid’s glands, but succeeded in only cutting the foul arachnid up.
It was then that we saw the large squirrel again, and this time we followed it. It was some time later that we came upon a tree that had fallen over and someone had carved a home into the side of it. And then other animals came out of the forest, an even larger squirrel, a tremendous wolf, a jaguar, and even an eagle sized falcon. And then came a naked 70 year old looking hair gnarled man who addressed the group in a raspy voice and called himself Kahr Konig.
We spoke to Kahr for a while, learning he was a druid of some skill but very little renown, keeping to the forest and removing himself from the doings of cities and people for many decades. He did tell us of the Candlewick Keep and where it would be, as well as rough estimations of the other nearby keeps. He also told us that the original knights of Candlewick had dealings with him and he even supplied us with a rough map.
He did ask for some of our blood, which we gave, and eventually after much conversation was willing to shorten our journey there via some teleporting involving the local trees. His parting words were that the keep was under some sort of either curse or spell, something cooked up by the Keep’s Hexmaster and the Keep’s Spymaster – as they were the last two left behind and they were setting up a nasty surprise for the goblins (this story goes back some 15 years or so at the start of the goblinwar).
We stepped through the nearest oak and found ourselves just outside the environs of Candlewick. The keep was sound and whole from what we could see, the encroaching trees came up to a moat around the locale and in a few places hung to the wall. There was an outer wall 30’ high, 4 towers (one at each corner), a set of guard houses and a barbican guarded the front entrance where the drawbridge was in the down position. The actual keep itself behind the bailey walls was closed off and according to the map we had gotten from Kahr, there would be a sizable courtyard just inside.
We had Ben, Link (my name is Etterig!!), and Urthar stay behind with the horses and cart while the party crept upon Candlewick. The moat was perhaps 15’ across, sloped earthen sides, and the base of it was filled with a miasmic orange and green sludgy mix that seemed to be a breeding ground for clouds of gnats and mosquitoes. A sort of reddish dust or flakey material was loosely scattered about the ground. We peered through the entrance and saw the rusted remains of a battering ram’s carriage and some chunks of stone work like shattered statuary but nothing else. It was quiet.
We entered with care, taking in the raised portcullis and the fact that they were very rusted in place. If there was anyone in the barbican they would have seen us and been able to raise either an alarm or an easy assault on us. Neither issue happened.
The courtyard was open, easily 30 paces across and over 60 paces running wide. A chapel and priest’s house was on the right and on the left was a stables and farrier. The doors to the keep itself were closed and from where we were we could see sets of stairs going up to the walls and parapet above as well as other doors that would lead into the guardhouses and local towers.
We waved our hirelings in and even with the rumbling the cart made across the drawbridge, nothing came out and nothing seemed to notice our presence. The party made their way to the stables and decided it would be the best place to house the horses and cart for now. The door was hanging on its track, three of the wooden guide wheels had fallen apart due to age and neglect. And when the group made to open the door, they had to bodily lift it and shuffle it open as it did not roll properly and the track itself was in poor repair.
Inside the stables were six stalls with very old and dusty scraps of hay on the bottom. The thatched and shingled roof was in seemingly good repair and there seemed to be a large number of bees along the 6th stall by the back of the stables. We moved the horses in and shuffled the cart around so it took up part of the left side of the entrance way and then took a look at Kahr’s map to best decide where we should look for the statue of Zeus next.