- Plane Weaver
DEVOTED CITIZENS REQUIRED, BY ORDER OF THE GUILD OF FORESTERS
A recent discovery made by the Order of the Wheel has given cause for an expedition to be undertaken into the Forest itself. Trustworthy and pious citizens are required. Further details will be made available to you once your suitability is assessed.
The Guild will be particularly grateful to those who acquit themselves nobly in service of Rastaban.
The party are ushered into a mortuary within the Forester’s Guild, where they are shown the body of a heavily mutated individual dressed in strange clothing, with the arm of another person stitched onto the stump of their own. This person reportedly staggered out of the Forest, mortally wounded, whispered ‘Rastaban’ and died with a smile on their face. Representatives from the Guild and the Order of the Wheel instruct the party that they will accompany the experienced Forester Marlowe into the Forest itself to determine where this individual came from.
The party set off into the forest with Marlowe and a Rod Paladin, Teros, but things rapidly begin to spiral out of control. Heston recovers a strange silver mask and an amulet from some forest creatures, handing them over to Marlowe. Soon after that, the party encounter a ruptured Ichorwerker, dressed in similar clothes to the recovered body, and several of them begin to act erratically after being exposed to spores floating around the area. Jasine recognises this as an affliction of the Forest, but lacks the skills to do anything about it, and the party push on, before they realise that Marlowe has apparently fled further into the Forest.
Pursuing the Forester, the party find a mound of dead bodies, many of them heavily and incorrectly mutated, and are set upon by Forest creatures in the process of violently fighting off the Ichor. The Forest, adversely reacting against the Ichor, directs a colossal, nigh-unstoppable monster towards the party, forcing them to flee even as Teros is shredded by barbed vines. Fleeing from the paladin’s screams, the party unexpectedly catch up with a fatally-infected Marlowe, overcome by the sheer scale and nature of the Forest. Breaking down physically and mentally, Marlowe begins to spawn strange leafy creatures that begin to mimic the party, before being cut apart by the party. They attempt to reason with the mimics, but the Forest Hulk catches up with them, and they follow an unexpected stranger away from the Hulk into a clearing. While they catch their breath and search for Zosime, who engaged her duplicate in an elaborate game of stealth-based cat and mouse, the party discover that the new arrival is not from Rastaban - he asks how they got so far from ‘The Bastion’ and speaks to Zosime with an almost holy reverence for the ‘Archcommissar’.
Following the scout, the party discover a heavily-fortified castle, protected by a deadly ichor-minefield. The party try to slowly pick their way through the motion-activated mines, but are forced to speed up by the reappearance of the Forest Hulk. The guard on the door refuses to let them in, so Magda and Heston try to lure the Hulk into the mines while Zosime springheels her way over the wall and Jasine phases right through. This ends poorly for them, though, as a multitude of guards disarm and restrain them, before opening the door to do the same to those outside.
The party are escorted to ‘Grandmaster’ Helioq and ‘Mystikon’ Asher Kelvin, the leaders of what they call the Last Bastion. It becomes apparent that, when this castle was separated from Rastaban and thought lost, they believed that the inverse had occurred, and have been under the impression that Rastaban is lost for quite some time. They have been under Helioq’s control since then, transplanting body parts and using mutations from the huge Wellspring of Black Ichor beneath the castle to fend off the Forest as best they can. The party have no luck convincing them that Rastaban exists, and are taken away to a block of cells so they can be made useful. Zosime, who has rendered herself problematic by cutting through all her restraints with bone daggers, is bundled onto a medical table by surgeons intending to use her lungs as a replacement for Kelvin’s own.
Zosime turns incorporeal and reforms away from her captors, while the others escape after a colossal Forest incursion attacks the Bastion. Trying to escape, they are confronted by spores that conjure images that appear to force moral dilemmas on them. To leave the illusion, the party choose sides in each of the cases. There does not appear to be a way to choose ‘incorrectly’ as such, but the party are left with the feeling that the Forest has learned something about them.
Following the bodies through the streets, and looking for Zosime, who has gone on ahead, the party enter the Wellspring tower, now on fire and under attack by the Forest. Hearing screams from the upper floors, the party dash through a gauntlet of Forest enemies, dazed and stunned by the now ever-present spores. Zosime, meanwhile, clambers right up to the top floor, arriving to find Kelvin obsessively working over a group of screaming ‘volunteers’ and a pair of large metal cocoons. Jasine is killed as the party fight up to reach Zosime, and the grief-stricken commissioner attempts a guided mutation to make her heart beat again, while the rest of the party confront Kelvin over her experiments. It transpires that she has been working on the Elect, mutant super-soldiers who she hopes will drive back the Forest.
Fleeing from Kelvin, the party find Elect across the Bastion, pushing back the Forest but also taking every human they find to be converted at the Wellspring. In their attempts to escape, the party are cornered by Elect, who get halfway through converting Magda and Heston before the party guide them through the hole in the wall that the Forest created.
The group flee into the Forest, pursued by the seemingly unstoppable Elect, and with no real idea where they can really go. Magda and Heston now hear the voices of the Elect chanting in their head as the Ichor slowly begins to spread over their bodies, a mantra of strength, improvement, power, superiority. Heston seems shaken, while Magda now repeatedly chants the mantra. Zosime and Jasine, though unaffected, are beginning to suffer under the strain of what they have seen.
The party are saved from the Elect pursuing them by a group of Changelings, who - to their shock - propose a deal, working with the party to destroy the Elect. The Changelings - including the reborn form of Devout Teros - try to convince the party that the Forest can help, and that unless the Elect are stopped now they will spread to Rastaban and convert everyone they find. The party are not receptive, however - Zosime and Magda are too traumatised and mutated respectively to really listen, while Heston and Jasine refuse outright, though the latter wavers. As the Changelings retreat, however, one of them stabs Jasine seemingly put of sheer spite, and Forest begins to grow from the wound.
The party attempt to cut their way back to Rastaban, but the Forest seems to have total control over their environment, twisting them back so they are endlessly directed back toward the wellspring. The group begin to splinter under the strain, with Heston proposing that they refuse to cooperate with the Forest even if it means their death. Magda is now almost insensible, only repeating the mantra in her head, and though Jasine talks Heston into continuing, the group are clearly shaken.
Marching reluctantly back into the wellspring, the party find a delirious Helioq being converted into an Elect, along with whirlpools of spitting Ichor released from the damaged Wellspring. The resulting fight takes its toll - Zosime flees, pursued by an Elect, while Jasine, Magda and Heston are heavily mutated by exposure to the Ichor. As the Forest strives to help the party, Heston throws down his weapons and allows himself to be converted, buying time for Magda and Jasine to flee. Magda tries to reason with Helioq, but though a tiny bit of humanity shows within the creature, ultimately the Elect programming wins out. The pair flee, meeting up with Zosime on the other side of the Wellspring.
Magda and Jasine, now also undergoing a slow conversion, chant a mantra designed to keep them sane, while Zosime simply sits down and cries. The group watch as Forest creatures try to fight their way into the Wellspring, seeing Elect marching continually out of the building.
Finally, they encounter Kelvin, stood by the wooden supports of the Wellspring with a single Elect. The Elect promises that, now they have the Grandmaster’s memories, they will find their way to Rastaban and make the populace as strong as them. Asher seems onboard with this, until the Elect examines her and proclaims that she is too badly damaged for a full conversion, and will instead be reduced to spare parts. Horrified, Kelvin watches as the party destroy the Elect, alternately exhorting them to destroy the Wellspring and insisting that they save the future that the Elect offer. As the survivors smash the supports, Asher flees into the Forest, insisting that this is not the end, but merely a beginning.
The surviving party members limp back to Rastaban, having deprived the Elect of their only source of Black Ichor.
The party explain all that they have seen to their employers in the Forester’s Guild. Though their story of a lost platoon experimenting with Ichor is a bizarre one, the Guild is able to determine that they are telling the truth, requesting that they keep the knowledge secret, and offering both gratitude and the therapy that they visibly need.
Magda and Jasine visit the commission, who are able to stabilise their mutation before they become full Elect. The commission mention that they would be interested in observing the effects of this mutation.
Zosime brings the last survivor of Bastion station to the Commission, who promise to regrow her limbs after she’s earned the honour through hard work. After verifying her story, Zosime’s father asks her if she has any idea how to produce the Elect, and, though she has a pretty good idea, she insists otherwise.
Jasine is quickly taken into quarantine by the Foresters, who determine that the Forest within her is growing and will shortly convert her into a Changeling. After a few weeks of tireless meditation and the assistance of some very powerful Forest Touched, she is narrowly bought back from the brink, though will forever live with the horrifying knowledge of the sheer scale of the Forest. She also traces the family of one of the Changelings she encountered, discovering that they left Rastaban five years ago.
Everybody: 2 Favour and access to the closest in-universe equivalent of therapy. Owing to the sheer number of mutations obtained by the party in the Wellspring, you may opt to have a number of cosmetic mutations.