Building and GrowingEdit
Returning from the Misgivings, Twitch left his companions after crossing the Soggy River, preferring to return to his farm rather than with them to Sandpoint. He was finding more and more that he was happier out on the land than in town, and spending the day in the damp, dark, and bleak manor certainly did nothing to make him feel like more time indoors.
Inspecting the farmland and garden he had previously completed he was pleased to see both growing well, and reflected that growing things was one of the most rewarding experiences it was possible to have. Sitting for a time among the plants he decided that it was time to base himself here permanently rather than staying at the Rusty Dragon which, while pleasant as far as such placed went, particularly in light of Ameiko’s kindness toward them, was beginning to make him feel a little too contained.
Decision made, Twitch walked the land, deciding on the best place for his new home. He considered rebuilding where the previous farmstead had been, near to the crops he was growing, but decided that this was too flat and well-tamed for his liking. The Ashen Rise was probably as close as he would get to his homeland on the Storval Plateau but nearer the road than he would like, and a little bleak. Instead he headed to the south of the land where it ended at the Soggy River. Here the hills rose to the east, and there was a view across the river to the Whisperwood in the distance. He would prefer to be closer to the wood, but had an idea that may help that to happen down the track. Perhaps, however, as a remnant of the wood before it had been cleared back there were several large, old trees in varying states of life on this part of the land.
Looking more closely, he saw one particularly large tree part way up the hill slope on a small flattened area, before the hill rose sharply as a steep, rocky cliff behind. He smiled to himself- he could build his home within the branches of the tree, and while it would support only a small dwelling, it would afford great views over his land, and across the river to the Whisperwood. Inspecting the tree closely, determining how he could use his connection with nature to bend boughs where he needed, and curve timber around the existing structure in other locations, he began planning his design.
Using his druid powers would allow hTwitch to shape wood without damaging the tree, but he would still need timber outside of the tree itself to complete his structure. He did not wish to support the timber-cutting industry or put gold in the pocket of Titus Scarnetti, so he determined he would collect fallen timber from the Whisperwood and weave this together to make the structure, and use the same to craft his furnishings using both his art and more mundane skills.
Before starting this, however, he would make a trip into Sandpoint. He would collect what few items he still had in his room at the rusty dragon, and thank Ameiko for her hospitality. He would also speak to the woman about acquiring some glass- he was keen now that his garden was growing well to plant some more exotic species, and that would need a greenhouse in this climate.
Twitch sought out Ameiko, thanking her for her hospitality and explaining that he would be leaving to build his own abode on the land. When asking about purchasing the glass, Ameiko became a little downcast.
“I am still having difficulty getting the glassworks running well,” she admitted “I doubt I can produce the large sheets you need- all I have tried so far have cracked into two or three large segments, and the consistency of the glass has also not been prefect.”
Twitch smiled as he reassured her. “As long as light passes through the glass doesn’t have to be flawless. And the shape really doesn’t matter- I can easily curve the frame to match the glass. If anything it will have a more natural look. I am happy to pay for it still.”
“I think you have done enough already in helping me to salvage much of the product that was damaged in the goblin occupation to earn a few pieces of broken glass.” The woman replied.
“I will need more than a few.” The druid replied “I will let you know what I need, you deduct what you feel is fair from the normal price, and I will be happy to pay the rest.”
Before returning to the farm, Twitch approached some local boys about helping him to collect fallen branches from the Whisperwood in exchange from good from his farm and garden they could sell. This would allow him to focus on crafting the home, greenhouse, and furnishings with the steady supply of wood they would bring. Given the perceived danger of the “haunted” wood he had to pay more than he would have liked, and even then if it were not for the natural bluster of teenage boys everywhere he likely would have struggled to find anyone to aid him. On his way back to the farm he visited the other farmers in the region, inviting them to a meeting in two weeks to discuss the impact of recent events.
Two weeks later Twitch observed his new home happily. The modest dwelling, consisting of only a bedroom and lavatory, sat proudly among the branches of the tree, the walls and roof formed of branches woven together using his powers blending nicely with the tree that housed it. Just to the southwest at the base of the hills his greenhouse sparkled in the sun, the imperfections in the glass throwing colours across its surface, and the irregularly shaped glass giving it a much more natural feel than would be the case with standard rectangular panels. It would take a few more days fro the new plants to establish well, and he was still waiting on a few items that were beyond his ability to craft to complete the mechanism to allow easy access to the landing in the tree (mostly he would probably fly in, but he needed a backup lest he found himself needing to access it when he had drained himself too much to change again in a day, or for that matter in the unlikely event that he needed to entertain guests).
Happy that he had done all he could for now, he made ready for his meeting with the farmers.
Twitch stood on a table at one end of the barn, surveying his audience nervously. When he had called for a meeting of all the farmers in the Sandpoint area to discuss recent events, he had not expected that nearly all would arrive. He had approached Farmer Grump, the old man they had met on the road, and asked to use his farm to make his address; Grump was far better known than he in the community, and he felt a more neutral venue than his own farm would be better to speak to the men (and a few women) here. That, and there were no complete building on his own property, and the nights were turning chilly. Of course, there was also the benefit of there being signs here still of the ghoul attacks, the better to make his point.
Twitch cleared his throat, then addressed the crowd.
“I have called you all here today, in light of recent events, to urge all those who have farms south of the Soggy River to move away from that area for their own good, and that we work to regrow the Whisperwood over that land to the river. I will of course help. Thank you.”
The druid stepped down from the table and made to leave, but was greeted by a chorus of shouts from the farmers. It was hard to make them all out, but calls of “Who the hell are you?”, “Why should we leave?”, “You called us all for that?” and a few expletives directed his way seemed common.
Twitch frowned in confusion- it seemed a pretty obvious course of action to him, and hadn’t he put it quite succinctly.
He was about to leave when Grump grabbed his arm and directed him back to the table.
“You might want to start with what you know and why we should listen to you rather than your end point.” He said, before calling for quiet as Twitch reluctantly climbed back onto the table.
Public speaking, and dealing with people in general for that matter, was really not an area of strength for him. He was starting to wish he had brought, well, any one of his recent companions to address the group. Too late now.
“Uh, okay.” The druid hesitantly began “I’ll try to explain a bit better.”
Seeing the now dubious looks among his audience did little to increase his confidence.
“I don’t know most of you. I haven’t really been here that long. Maybe a few of you know me, I’m not sure. I came here about a year ago as I was sent to investigate rumours of strange things happening near Sandpoint.”
“Sent by who?” came a call from the audience.
“The druids’ council.” He replied, then continued “Upon arriving here the only thing I found was strange activity around the Whisperwood- mists, lights, some said hauntings.” Okay, so a little lie, he had in fact found nothing out of the ordinary at all, and begun the above himself to deter further deforestation. “At first I thought it a minor occurrence, but now in with the attacks on the farms it is apparent that it is far more.”
“The attacks came from the Whisperwood?” someone called.
“It’s cursed- attacking us for making our living near it!” came another voice.
“Burn it down!” came a third, with a rumble of assent building.
“What?” Twitch said, realising that somehow they were going in the opposite direction to that he desired. “No!” after a great deal of yelling he managed to calm everyone enough to listen once more.
“I believe the activity in the Whisperwood is a response to darker forces- it is nature trying to fight back against dark, sorcerous activity.”
“Or nature attacking us!” someone yelled again.
“Those things that attacked looked more like sorcery than nature to me!” yelled someone else, as Twitch felt buoyed by finally hearing a little support.
“The darkest of sorcery!” he yelled, then as they quieted again whispered “Necromancy!”
“It’s true!” Grump yelled, one of those scarecrows looked just like Jim, and he’d been killed by ‘em just a day earlier!”
Twitch waited for the grumbling to again die down, then nodded as he continued.
“Grump is right. Those that fell to the creatures became like them in turn. If it had not been stopped, this army of the dead would have continued to grow, and perhaps none of you would be here now.
“Fortunately, some companions and myself, thrown together initially in response to the recent goblin attacks, which I might add are likely connected in some way, were able to destroy these creatures and trace them back to their source.”
“So the threat’s over?”
“What source? I heard there was a sorcerer in town, wears a leather coat even when it’s warm.”
“Aye, because he’s so cold, being dead himself!”
“Burn him down!”
Another call for calm before he could continue.
“The source seems to be the old manor to the west, The Misgivings I have been told it is called. It is no coincidence that Crambley’s farm, closest to the accursed place, was hardest hit. And the threat is, I fear, not over.” Twitch said, shaking his head sadly.”
“It’s cursed, has been forever!”
“Burn it down!” came a familiar voice. Twitch was beginning to wonder if there was a pyromaniac amongst them.
“One of my companions tried to do so, but with no impact. The curse, it seems, runs too deep for mundane solutions. This is one reason I feel the threat is not done, as evil continues to emanate from this source. Also, we found a man, or at least what used to be a man, within the manor. He proved to be the perpetrator of the recent gruesome murders in town, that you may have heard about. Again, we destroyed him, but there was evidence there that he would not be the last.”
‘What can we do?” came several calls.
“I noticed near The Misgivings there few plants. Those that were, were stunted, twisted, barely alive. But alive they were, and digging their roots in to try to soak up the necromantic energy seeping out from the house. Clearly they are not enough. I believe that a buffer of bigger, stronger plants could help to block the influence of the manor- the undead attacks, the disease, the toxic influence increasing the goblin aggression. Nature is doing its best to contain the threat, but is no longer up to the task with the clearing of much of the Whisperwood. We need to regrow the Whisperwood to the river.”
“Why to the river?”
“A good question.” Twitch responded. “The natural world cannot answer this threat with flowers and butterflies. It will be the darker side of nature that will be spawned to counter this threat- carnivorous plants, dire beasts, natural environmental hazards. I am confident that these measures will not cross the river- they have no need to, they will be directed westward. But anyone left south of the river will be in a very dangerous battleground, susceptible not just to the threat from The Misgivings, but also at risk the beasts of the forest, which will not discriminate when prowling the land. The recent strange activities in the Whisperwood are, I believe, a precursor to what may come forward from there. I fear for anyone dwelling between the wood and the Misgivings.”
“Sounds like your nature is just as bad.”
“I said the natural responses will not cross the river- all north of that will be safe. The evil from the Misgivings will not, has not, stopped at the river. Who here north of the river was attacked or subject to disease?”
A few hands reluctantly rose.
“Eugini and Iconu were from just north of the river, and they’re dead!”
“Exactly,” Twitch nodded sadly “And I fear these tragedies will continue to spread further north if the contamination from the Misgivings is left unchecked.
“So, back to my original statement. I think it best that everyone south of the river moves north, and I will use my connection with the natural world to help the Whisperwood regrow to protect you all.”
Twitch was pleased to note many nods in the audience, and felt he had won his argument. But of course, there was always a dissenter.
“Hang on,” one man spoke up “You said yourself you came from those druids. Everyone knows that lot would happily destroy our farms and kill us all to keep a few forests. You could just be making this all up to get us off our land!”
Using recent events to justify the bits I’m making up would be more accurate, Twitch thought to himself.
“I’m not making up the ghouls. Or the disease, the goblins, the stirrings in the Whisperwood. You all know this. And druids do not want to kill you and take your land, we simply believe that all things need to exist in balance in nature. I do not expect you to understand my views of the world. Would you be more comfortable if you heard this from a representative of one of your gods?”
A few murmurs and nods supported the view that this was indeed true.
“Perhaps, then, consider that Father Zantus himself asked me to speak on to his congregation about my beliefs. I see several faces here that were there that day. Would he have done so if he found my theories false?”
“I don’t really want to stay.” A man speaks up “But what else can I do? My whole life is in my farm. Without it I have nothing.”
“ I propose only a move across the river to the Whisperwood Moor. As far as I am aware there are only six farms south of the river including Crambley’s, and if any of you go there I am sure you will agree that it is best not occupied.”
“Burn it down!”
“I agree that is probably best.” Twtich replies, stifling a smile “But perhaps someone should harvest his crops first so they don’t go to waste.
“I do not know how many others are lost, but I imagine there are only three or four of you left on farms south of the river. By contrast, there are thirty farms north of the river if we exclude that of the deceased brothers. I am sure those of you to the north will be prepared to aid those from the south in relocating, making the small sacrifice of some of your time and effort for those who are aiding in keeping you safe.”
“And what about you? What are you doing to help?”
“My skills lie elsewhere. I will use my command over nature to boost the output of everyone’s crops north of the river. I will work to restore the Whisperwood and encourage its growth against the necromantic sorcery. And I will aid in what small financial way I can for those who have been displaced.”
The druid lifts a pouch from his belt and drops it on the table, tipping out a few gold coins for all to see.
“I place this here to be divided among those who move. Anyone who stays will have no share, nor will this offer be repeated. If any of you do stay I will do what I can to blunt both the necromancy and natural forces that threaten you, but to do so will be at the expense of every other man here and their families.
“I go now to Magnimar to continue investigating these horrible attacks. I will leave you to make your decisions.”
Twitch stepped off the table and walked from the building, confident that most if not all would move (under pressure from their peers if nothing else), and belatedly wondering if leaving the gold on the table was likely to end in a mass farmers’ brawl. Ah well, if so it may free up some more farms to relocate people to.