The Tale of the Twisted Oak
The forests of the Harrowmark are endless, though the touch of human change can be seen here and there. The woods are pockmarked with villages and levelled where meagre farms scratch out a living. Evil and monstrous creatures thrive in such a place, lurking underneath the forest’s canopy. Wolves, ghouls, bandits, and worse. There is a sense of horror there, or more accurately, a sense of encroaching dreadful melancholy, an all-consuming sense of loneliness. A perpetual Autumn settled across the region, so long ago that not even the Graveroot Sylvaneth could remember when the woods were young. For time immemorial, the trees stood not growing nor dying and not a single sapling could be seen by those brave or foolish enough to venture deep in the woods.
But then, the Necroquake came and in its wake the raging wild magic of the Arcanum Optimar. Weather- and battle-worn Spellhunters came, hunting for rogue Endless Spells. Few returned from the deepest woods. But those that did, reported things unheard-of in the Shyishian underworld of the Harrowmark.
They claimed that somewhere deep in the abyssal woodland of dead trees and tangled undergrowth, a Tree is born and growing, feeding on a knot of sorcerous energy seeping up from the soil below. On flying ships and through Realmgates, the rumour is spreading and both the learned and the fool, from far and wide, speculate on the origin of such energy.
Some say it leaks from the hundreds of graves that permeate the Shyishian soil, thousands of souls flowing into the Tree’s heartwood.
Others claim it comes from a hidden Stormvault, long forgotten beneath the dead forests.
Yet others claim the Tree is twisted and corrupted by Chaos magic and is attracting all manner of dark creatures, who venerate and worship it as an altar to the Dark Gods.
Some even theorise that the energy of the Necroquake itself is trapped forever in the dead wood.
The servants of Nurgle whisper the Tree is one of Horticulus Slimux’s dreaded Black Oaks. When it will bear fruit, they say, Rotigus Rainfather will come back to aid Nurgle’s favoured Gardener in his feud with the Lord of Death.
Then there are those telling that the Tree grows over the burial site of a great Spellhunter, his weapons and arcane devices poking out of the twisted wood.
For others, a powerful sorceress was cursed and turned into the Tree, her soul-stuff raging to be free.
As the rumours spread, the mad and the brave once again dare sailing the stormy skies above the Harrowmark and tread its abyssal gloom. Who can say what they want and what they will find? How many of them will be lost forever?
~ 🕱 ~
We are planning to embark on a new adventure in the Harrowmark early in the New Year. Warbands will venture into the unknown, yet familiar, dark of the endless forests. We will be using Warcry this time, with a few house rules - mostly around Campaign Quests that will be tailored for warbands exploring the Harrowmark, instead of the Bloodwind Spoil.