Chapter Six of Under the Goblin Trees
Campaign adaptation by Thomas Kelly
I latched the door of my bedchamber behind me and opened my psalter, praying fervently to the Lady of Ever-Changing Seasons for protection through the night. I laid down, still fearful. As drowsiness closed my eyes, a soft knock at my door startled me to full consciousness. I got up and lifted the latch cautiously. Cirilli entered with a candle, and Myron trailed behind her.
“What’s all this?” I asked.
“You need to hear what she has to tell,” Myron said.
Cirilli sat herself down on the edge of my bed and began her tale. “Last night, after the household had fallen quiet, I spoke with the baroness. She stealthily sent word to me by the hand of her maidservant, inviting me to meet her atop the tower. I went as she requested, and in the privacy of the night air, she told me her tale. I have spent much of the day today in her company as well. No elf-lady nor one of olven blood, but rather, she is a nobleborn of the forest, queen of oaks, stolen away from her great tree which grows not far from this place. She is no willing wife to the baron, either. He has brought her here by force, and he keeps her imprisoned at his side in this house. She dares not flee nor resist, for he holds her life in his hands. The false-hearted baron has made a hostage of the great oak to which her soul is tethered, and he has left strong axmen to guard it, ever ready to strike. They keep the blades of their axes sharp, and they are prepared to drop the tree if she should resist the lord baron or flee from this place. And here is the treacherous design he has devised. Each day, he sends a certain messenger to the axmen who dwell within a tower that rings about her sacred tree. The messenger instructs the axmen to let the tree stand for another day. If on any day this messenger should fail to arrive at the tower by the designated time, the axmen have been instructed to fell that mighty oak, and she will perish from the earth.”
“A horrid arrangement,” I muttered.
“Yes,” Cirilli agreed. “But there is more to the story. The lord baron is not as he seems, nor is he a loyal nobleman of the March, but he himself is a lord of werewolves. Not only he, but all the men and women of the house as well. Except the lady Nyssa’s maidservant, who is herself a nymphmaid from the forest, all the servants and court are under the curse. From the lowest washerwoman to the noblest knight, they are vile werewolves within, and they are all under the control of Baron Wulurich. Moreover, the lord baron is the very one who set that same curse upon the village Roanwood, and he alone can lift the curse. All these matters I learned from the solemn-eyed baroness, the lady Nyssa, who is most cruelly imprisoned here against her will.” Tears of empathy moistened Cirilli’s eyes, and she choked upon a stifled sob.Continue reading “The Dryad”