The group discovered that the object to be moved was a wooden plinth, carved in the shape of a small tree – and yet clearly not. As it was at least partly embedded in the ground, it could not be tipped over. Runes covered its surface as well, clearly showing (as if the circumstances did not make it obvious enough) that the plinth was clearly magical, although initially the magic seemed to be dormant.
A bargain with the Leansidhe – a favor from Shogarr, she claimed, in exchange for the story – revealed the local legend: Centuries ago, a powerful druid named Cianwen walked the land, quickly becoming known for her ability to speak to all things. In time, she took a lover: the wizard Braeda. Braeda had been locked in among her books all her life, but through Cianwen’s influence she stepped forward into the world and her power blossomed. Braeda was a student of Eresis, the Shining One, whose soul was destroyed by the Emperor of the Western Skies, the Great Wyrm of Sunsets. To restore her teacher, Braeda sought a healing artifact of immense power: so great, that it was almost as if it could reverse time… but only for a year and a day.
Eventually, Braeda’s search led her to a powerful fey, whom she believed to know the whereabouts of the artifact. She was running short on time by then, however, and forced to accept a high gamble for the knowledge – and lost. Her fate was claimed by the fey. Understandably, Cianwen was not pleased with this when she discovered what had occurred – but she did not possess the power to force the fey to release Braeda, and the fey would not accept her fate in exchange for Braeda’s, claiming that Braeda’s was the more valuable. Angered, Cianwen bound the fey as strongly as she could, giving up her own life in the process.
After learning this, the party quickly determined that the Leansidhe was the fey. But to rescue the travelers that they’d set out to save, they had no real option except to accept the challenge. When one of the party attempted to touch the plinth, however, it threw back the offender and its magic came to life. It was then decided to test if the plinth could only repel one person at a time: to test this, everyone touched the plinth at once. But the protective wards clearly didn’t appreciate this, and powerful summoning magic responded to the threat, calling forth magically enlarged spiders and fungi to attack the party, while the sun suddenly grew lower in the sky…
Once the spiders had been beaten off, the party regrouped to examine their options once more. The Leansidhe wandered about, sometimes speaking to the group, sometimes speaking to individuals, offering them bargains. After a time, it became apparent that she kept returning to visit one tree – by far, the oldest in the clearing. Another minor bargain was made, and the Leansidhe revealed that the tree was Braeda: the first tree so formed. Aiowyn, examining the plinth more closely, determined that its wards were tied to Braeda’s tree in a trigger: if the tree was destroyed, then the wards would unravel. It also became apparent that Cianwen’s soul was still present in the plinth, and that she was not so gone as the legend would make her out to be.
This suggestion, however, prompted dismissal from the Leansidhe, who warned the party that she was obligated to protect her trees. Ignoring this warning, Tandem threw fire at Braeda’s tree, singing it, although he didn’t manage to do much harm. The Leansidhe reacted swiftly, showing her own powerful magic overtly for the first time, and transformed Tandem into a tree. The wards on the plinth also did not appreciate this attack on Braeda’s tree, and summoned forth rain, mud, and snakes to bite at the party while the Leansidhe vanished into the forest. Aiowyn, convinced that Braeda’s tree had to be destroyed, left his companions to fend off the snakes and attacked the tree with his dagger. However, the Leansidhe had not gone far, and swiftly reappeared, turning him into a tree as well.
While Caelik, Asandar, and Shogarr fought off the snakes, the Leansidhe whispered of bargains to Aiowyn. He kept silent, believing that the only way he could hurt her was to annoy her by refusing to entertain her. The other three, still free, were successful in fighting off the plinth’s third round of defenses – but the sun dipped lower still in the sky…
Caelik, quite frustrated with the Leansidhe, did attempt to bargain with her to free Aiowyn, but Aiowyn refused to agree to any such bargain – and so Caelik abstained from making a deal that his friend would regret. When the Leansidhe offered, however, he did agree to trade insight into Cianwen’s mind – as a fellow mortal who was frustrated by having a companion turned into a tree – in exchange for the Leansidhe twisting the spell to allow Aiowyn to speak directly to the rest of the group.