13 to 17 Rova, 4730 AR
The Greenlords endure several nights of dread, with citizens throughout Olegstaadt reporting terrible nightmares and restless sleep. Many experience terrifying living nightmares where, similar to Yetar’s ordeal with the black tentacles, they find their dreams continue upon waking. By the time the Greenlords manage to end the persistent nightmares (by directly confronting the giant roc inhabiting each dream), nine residents of Olegstaadt have lost their lives.
With the defeat of the nightmare bloom, the group comes into possession of another trophy, this time a single black roc feather. They decide they can wait no longer, and travel to the ruins of the Castle of Knives in the hopes that they can find a way to stop the First World blooms altogether from there. The arcane mirage of the fully complete Castle of Knives is still in place, and around the structure is an illusory wrought iron gate with a single entrance – an gate formed of a pair of beautiful, identical women holding their hands together in an arch. In their other hand each holds high a sword that bears a striking resemblance to Briar. With the three First World bloom trophies in hand, the group steps through the illusory gate. As they do so, the blooms emit a slight ringing sound, and the swords grasped in the statues’ hands glow with a green light. Briar glows green in response, and the view beyond the gate seems to melt and morph before the Greenlords’ eyes. They each feel as if they momentarily lose consciousness, and when they open their eyes again find themselves to be in some otherworldly place.
The illusory Castle of Knives is no longer visible. In its place is a grassy pathway winding through a twilight forest. The trees rise high on either side of the path, casting flickering shadows in the purple starlight. The utter blackness of the forest is punctuated by occasional points of light – blinking eyes and other mysterious pulsations. Then there are the voices – disembodied cries and distant screams, tortured, helpless cries. Screams that endure for minutes before tapering off into whimpers. Others that end suddenly, as if violently cut-off. Beyond the screams there are other sounds – weeping, singing of children’s rhymes, shouts of anger, feral cries, and howls. This is Nyrissa’s realm of Thousandbreaths.
The Greenlords have little option but to travel along the path. They do so cautiously, scanning the dark forest for threats and seeing them in every flash of movement, hearing them in every deep growl. An indigo-furred, First World cat confronts the group three hours into their trek, but thinks better of it and slinks back into the forest. Four hours after starting on the path, the forest clears, and a broad lake of dark water fills the majority of the resulting glen, leaving a wide path around the lake’s edge. Dozens of black swans glide along the lake’s surface, apparently unimpressed by the immense but silent whirlpool that churns at the lake’s centre. Along the forest edge, most of the trees seem to be dying or dead, their twisted branches drooping and their trunks scarred with disease and burns.
Four paths appear to exit the glen – two rivers that feed into the lake and two more grassy pathways. The Greenlords are attacked by six strange fey-touched treants that are able to harness and use electricity against their foes. The lightning treants fall to the Greenlords greater numbers, and the group pauses to consider its next move, reviewing the sketch of Thousandbreaths in Zuddiger’s Picnic.