Silver Pool Campaign, Episode 1.3.5
A quick convocation ensues in the clearing. Martelo wants to wade right in with a spear while Aelric thinks a shower of arrows would do the trick. Dan is not convinced that killing the boar is necessary. Faye seems very conflicted with the idea of killing a tethered animal, in any event.
You decide that killing the boar -- while easy to do at this point -- isn't the best course. Instead, you determine to leave the animal where it is for now. It offends your sensibilities (and Faye's) to leave an animal snared in this fashion, but the only alternative you can think of right now is to kill the beast, which strikes you as much worse. Despite the fatigue that everyone is feeling, the party gathers equipment and strikes camp, leaving the anguished dire boar behind in its snare. It's perfunctory squeals fade behind you.
The moon is nearly full, giving some illumination during the trek. Faye and you make good use of your woodland expertise to find the path and make your way through the forest. At times, you stop to hear what might have been movement in the underbrush, but continue on when it turns out to be small nocturnal creatures posing no threat. After another hour, you estimate you've traveled another couple of miles through the forest, the dire boar now far behind.
"Well make camp here," you say, dropping your pack in the center of a small copse of cedar trees just off of the path you've been following. Grunts of approval come in response from your comrades, some of whom have not yet slept. You reconvene your watch, this time keeping spears close at hand. The rest of the night passes uneventfully. Shortly after dawn, you awaken to find a cool fog has settled into the vale where you've chosen your campsite. It muffles the sounds of your party as you eat breakfast and make preparations to head out again.
Within another hour, the sun has burned off the fog and visibility has returned. "It will take us maybe another four hours to cross this vale," says Faye, "Then up the hill and through that notch," she says, pointing at a break in the tree line on the wooded ridge some 7 or 8 miles away. "Once we cross over that, we're in the Glimmerweald. Brother Owen's grove is a few hours' hike into the valley after that."
The trek up across the vale and up the hill passes without event, with only brief pauses to take nourishment. When you reach the top of the ridge, you see the valley spread out before you. Massive oak, hickory and other deciduous trees cloak the valley floor. A glint of the midday sun catches off of what appears to be water a couple of miles away. Small hills rise up periodically, breaking the otherwise flat valley. All around, the Glimmerweald is encircled by ridges, encompassing a valley perhaps 10 miles across and 20 miles long.
As you begin to make your way down the path into the valley, your sharp eyes catch sight of a large dark bird, a raven or a rook, perhaps, perched in an oak tree some 30 feet away from you further up the path. The bird is obviously eyeing your approach. It cants its head to the side querulously. "One of Brother Owen's friends," says Faye. As your party passes the bird, a rook, it takes off from its limb and flies off to the southwest, toward the center of the Weald. "Our herald," Faye chuckles. "Brother Owen will be expecting us."
You press on, passing enormous trees that must be centuries old and undergrowth: witch hazel, hemlock and holly, among others, some of which are new to you. At least once more, you catch sight of a rook. Two hours later, Faye calls for you to stop and take a break. "We wait here," she says. "Brother Owen will send for us when he's ready." You don't have to wait long. Within a few minutes, the rook that has been shadowing you ever since you entered the Glimmerweald flies in and alights on a branch in the tree just above you.
"Pennyroyal tells me we have guests," a mellow baritone voice says, its calmness nevertheless startling you and your comrades. Your attention drawn up to the large black bird, the older man approached right into the center of your group without making a sound at all! Wearing a dusky green cloak, its hood drawn up over his head, all that shows is the man's gnarled hands and wizened face.
Brother Owen smiles at the evident alarm playing over the faces of your party, his ice-blue eyes twinkling mischievously. Faye laughs, sharing a conspiratorial glance at the elder druid. and it then occurs to you that Brother Owen has done this before, to other guests. "Sister Faye," he says warmly as he goes to clasp her in a hug. "It's been two seasons since you were here," he chides. "I'd begun to think you'd forgotten about us. And you know my scouts don't get out as far as Foxglove as much as they used to..."
Faye releases her embrace, resting her hands on Brother Owen's forearms. "Yes, and I'm afraid I bring mixed news from my village, too," she says. "But more of that later. Let me introduce my comrades." She goes around the party and presents each of you, in turn, to her patron. When she introduces you, she takes extra care and the presentation takes on something of a ritualistic tone. You then realize that Brother Owen, as the elder druid in the region, is also your patron, as well.
"I'm very glad to meet you all," he concludes, "and especially a new initiate. You must all come to dine with me and shake the dust from your weary legs. You can tell me everything then. Welcome to the Glimmerweald."