It was a quiet month that followed as the Scourge of Nature held firmly, not a single sighting of mushrooms reported or rotten whiff caught. Still, tension and uncertainty hung in the air after Estarra the Eternal Herself had proclaimed the influence to be of Soulless origin. Without knowing the underlying cause, could the infestation truly be over?
Sure enough, the foul presence returned with a vengeance, shrouding Avechna’s Peak in thick green clouds that polluted the heavens in their wake. The Seal of Nature struggled against the invader with a renewed power but yielded eventually, overtaken by necrotic mushrooms. The people of the Basin responded immediately, rushing to the Cave of Nature only to find the mushrooms had now evolved into trees, their entire lengths befouled with rot. No single worms sprouted from these but rather entire writhing masses of them that proved a challenge even for the hardiest of demigods.
The trees spread along the length of Avechna’s Peak and crept into the communes, twisting the flora in their path. Slowly but surely, the spores also took root in the cities, bursting through flagstones and crystal. Axes were put to the trunks to little effect, except to entice a worm-ridden assault; fire, druidry, elemental rituals – all failed to elicit a response, let alone curb the spread.
As the rotten infestation continued to sate itself on the purity of the lands, unchecked during the following month, a fight broke out in Faethorn. Preceded by Queen Maeve calling upon the Covens of Moon and Night to attend her as she sensed a disturbance within her kingdom, a host of maddened brownies stormed the Ethereal Plane. No longer simply struck ill, the brownies engaged both the knights of the Court and the residents of the Court alike in a scuffle, no amount of verbal pacification ceasing their onslaught as they muttered about doing their mistress’ bidding. Suprisingly enough, it was a Serenwilder who first struck at the attacking brownies, refusing to stand down in spite of the knight’s insistence. The Queen shared her worry over the brownie’s wellbeing with the gathered members of the communes, and together, they deliberated upon a suitable course of action.
Meanwhile, the Illuminati had snuck in a ribbachi to spy on the proceedings whilst Magnagorans, at the Earth Lady Gravynia’s behest, sought to infiltrate Faethorn in their own manner. Hallifax’s Overmind uttered its own warnings whilst the Celestians heeded the words of the Water Lord of High Tide, Skerriagh, to follow in the communes’ footsteps in dealing with what had been occuring of late. Both the Earth and Water Lords warned against meddling with Ethereal using Elemental forces, especially not when a blight had been spreading throughout Nature.
Eventually, the Queen beseeched the Tree of Trees to aid them for, indeed, Nature was threatened as had become all too obvious. And so it was that the maddened brownies were brought, and an acorn was awarded by the Tree to all those who brought them back into its cleansing embrace. No explanations were necessary; the communes seized upon the acorns and turned their power against the unyielding rotten trees that have been polluting the Prime Plane. Hesitantly, the cities followed suit, heeding the warnings that to use other resources might be folly. Some fought through the brownies’ haze with words of empowerment that earned their trust, others slew them and brought back to life through the Well of Souls, while yet others utilised their unique tools to entice the fae to follow them to the Tree – such as the Queen Nifilhema’s shackles or Lady Raziela’s sun-kissed locks of hair.
Hope returned as a means of fighting the quiet, unnamed menace was finally discovered. It was no easy battle, for as many trees were being destroyed, equally many continued to sprout elsewhere in their stead, carrying masses of worms ready to spring on unwary passers-by. The struggle continued for a time until the host of trees was all but obliterated, prompting new visitors to appear in their protection. Unheard of for centuries, spriggans came to the defence of the trees, snarling and smashing at the ground at any bystander. The bloodthirsty fae also invaded Faethorn which prompted Queen Maeve to take action.
Once she revealed that the spriggans had been banished and imprisoned for their cruelty, she imbued a clover with both shadow and silvery essence and used that to peer into where they were now. Her sight was blocked by something, that part of Ethereal unreachable, and so the communes set out to scout for the reflection of that place upon the Prime Plane – knowing that the two planes not only overlaid one another, but mirrored as well. A day’s worth of searching later, a blocked tunnel in the Razines revealed an entrance into a long-forgotten serene valley cradled between the upper peaks of the Razines – the place where, just beyond, the spriggans frolicked.