Someone asked “why does the Dryad wear a blindfold?” in a recent stream. This is what came to me. A short story of the Forest of Thorns. Hope you enjoy!!
From the Journals of Thrafgig, knight of Broken Spire, Arch-Daemon of the Windrunners.
Concerning the ecology of the denizens of the Forest of Thorns.
Upon receiving the command from my Lord Infernus I prepared my troops to travel to the east, over the Whitecap mountains and enter the foreboding Forest of Thorns. Certain inhabitants of this greensward possessed the properties of both plant and animal, and my Lord wished to know more about these strange creatures. He commanded me to study them, discover their desires and their strengths as well as any vulnerabilities they might have. I made my preparations and set out the next day.
After traveling many leagues through the rocky passes of the White Cap mountains, we descended into the valley of the Forest of Thorns. My troop entered the western edge of the forest and were at once beset upon by Fae beasts and their elven kin. The forest itself seemed to come to life, offended at our boldness to enter their realm uninvited. The elven kin of this place lived in complete harmony with nature, striving with the forest to spread it’s verdant tendrils far, wide and deep into the very earth. At first we were attacked by ferocious beasts, Owlbears and Hippogryphs but soon we felt the sting of the arrows of the Glade Wardens and heard the susurration that was the war cries of the Treants and their Thorn Knight allies.
We struck about us mighty blows and I called upon the great fire magic I had learned under the tutelage of Lord Infernus. My axe bit deep into the unnaturally hard wood of the Treants, and my allies unleashed a hellish torrent of flames in the hopes of driving the defenders off. After struggling for many desperate hours with our foes we came face to face with Sylvanimora, the Forest Dragon. I was forced to I call upon the great lava dragon Sheggra to aid us in our mission lest we succumbed to the power of the green beast. Sheggra descended from a tremendous billow of cinder and smoke and did bring fiery doom to those who dares oppose the will of Infernus, High Lord of Broken Spire and after a intense battle, Sylvanimora and her minions routed back into their deepest dens.
We treated our wounded and set to examining the bodies of our slain foes. The elves were as they appeared, lithe, graceful warriors wielding weapons of the finest craftsmanship, silver steel blades both light and viciously sharp, the same metal tipped the living shafts of the arrows loosed at us by their Wardens. The Druids wielded powerful magic’s drawn from nature itself, causing them to grow both in stature and inner power. Theirs is a healing most potent.
Three of the strangest beings we vanquished that day at first appeared to be life elementals, strange humanoid shapes made out of the very wood of the forest. Upon closer examination we discovered that they had the same size and appearance of elven females. We turned to a more intensive investigation of these beings seeking to discover their true nature. As the inhabitants of the forest were sworn enemies to us, we departed that place, traveling first north and then to the west to avoid the Knights of Whitehelm and made our way to Adana, the kingdom of great machines.
The scholars of Adana are famous for their inventiveness and their total thoroughness in documenting everything they study. Upon gaining entrance to the city I made my way to the Royal Academy where the engineers and mechanists of Adana are trained. I sought to gain access to the library of the Royal Academy, knowing that if I was to find any information on the strange beings of the Forest of Thorns, it would be there. Our entrance was blocked by a strutting minor functionary who was flanked by several powerful Clockwork Knights, giving me pause in deciding how to best win my way in. A lowly human such as he would have been short and satisfying work for me to simply dispatch, which I normally would if one spoke to me in the manner he chose. Alas, the Clockwork Knights of Adana are renowned for the heavy swords they wield and the almost impervious nature of their armor.
As is the case with humans, the guardian of the library lobby was partial to gold and, upon being giving several ingots of the yellow metal, his bearing changed, and we were welcomed into the building as honored guests. Humans are such pathetic creatures, sacrificing their duties for money seems to be second nature. Honorless creatures, I do hold most of them in contempt. My companions and I went to work with vigor. We were impressed with the meticulous precision and organization of the library. It appears that accuracy and consistency are pervasive throughout the society of Adana, and not just in the mechanical wonders they build.
We found the section of tomes containing many hundreds of pages of information regarding the creatures of the Forest of Thorns. Some of the books were newly made by the machine scribes of Adana, others were antique hand crafted manuscripts. What we learned from perusing this treasure trove of knowledge was both surprising and disturbing.
The elves of the Forest of Thorns are so closely tied to the natural world that some of them eventually become suffused with the power of nature and they begin to morph into hybrid beings of both flesh and wood. The journey is long, painful and often fatal for the being concerned. The first steps are those elves who are natural conduits of the green force of life. They ascend to the rank of Arch Druid, several of whom we encountered. After that, their ties to the land grow deeper and they begin to transform into a strange hybrid of elf and tree, taking on the characteristics of both and are called Green Seers. These Seers serve as intermediaries between the elven people and the nature spirits of the forest, the vision they develop allows them to perceive the spirit plane. Some of these Seers will form a spiritual bond with a Treant, animate trees who house the nature spirits of the forest itself, becoming forever entwined with the life elemental.
Upon forming this bond the Seer continues her transformation and becomes a plant creature known as a Dryad. The former elven Druids are no longer of the world of flesh and blood, they are standing astride the boundary of plant and animal now being equal parts of both. Their mystical abilities grow rapidly as well making them into Seers most perceptive. It is said that they can divine the entirety of the nature of any living being simply by gazing upon them but such is the completeness of their sight that they can be driven quite mad if they are to gaze upon a being who is aligned with the dark forces of the Daemonic or in league with Elder Gods. Thus they bind their eyes to shroud their sight and protect their spirits from possible corruption.
In this I may have found a weakness that Lord Infernus might exploit. I made haste to codify this information and we departed Adana and made our way south and west to return to Broken Spire to complete my mission. For what need Lord Infernus has of the information I brought him I have no knowledge but I ask no question as my Lord does not tolerate any such frivolities from his servants.
It is good to be home once again.
Thanks for reading!