|The Great Tree|
Designed by Faltrannir, Vryce & Highlander
Lifespan: 11 minutes
Medium Groups: 5-12
Large Groups: 5-9
The two pixies standing side by side were a study in contrasts. One was male, old and wrinkled. The other was a lovely young girl, fair of form and face. The only real similarity between them was that they both stared at the dark patch on the tree wall with looks of consternation.
The female pixie broke the silence by blurting out, "It is growing so fast you can almost see it!"
The male pixie nodded his head. "Aye, m'lass, I fear the end draws near. The Tree has stood for many years, but an end must come to all things. 'Tis the cycle of life. We must prepare, and find a new home."
"But grandpa, you can't say this is natural! The rot is spreading too quickly for that! It must be some foul being causing it!"
"Yes, I suspect you're right, Sherillai. But even such beings are part of nature. When you're as old as I, you'll understand."
Sherillai grasped the old pixie's shirt as she pleaded with him, "But if it is some horrible, evil, icky thing, can't we get a hero to kill it? Enough of them used our magic clouds in times past!"
Slowly and tenderly, the pixie disentangled her hands from his shirt, and patted them reassuringly. "I fear that isn't possible, because of the magics I laid down, trying to protect the Tree."
Sherillai looked confused at this. "But how do your protective magics work against us now?"
The old pixie sighed, weariness overcoming him. "Long ago, I enchanted the base of the tree so that those of great power could not enter. I sought to protect the lifegiving roots from great beings that would do them harm. Alas, that means that now those that could save us cannot enter."
"But then how did this nasty creature get down there to cause this?" Sherillai pointed to the black spot, which was noticably larger now.
"I know not, dear. Perhaps it snuck in when it was weak, and grew and drew power as it ate away at the source of life below. Such is the way of rot and decay."
"Well, if you cast the spell, then get rid of it then!"
Another sigh escaped the grandfather's frail body. "I fear my pixie magic is not what it used to be. I no longer have the strength to work such mighty magics. And before you ask, you are too inexperienced and weak for me to teach them to you."
"Is there nothing we can do? Think of all the birds, squirrels, and other animals that live here. This goes beyond just us, others depend on the Tree too!"
"There is nothing. Unless.... no. Forget I mentioned it."
Sherillai pounced on his words. "Please, tell me. If there is the slightest chance, we must take it."
"It is too dangerous, too risky. Far better to just let this home die, and find another."
"I think the rot has spread farther than we thought," Sherillai spoke in a huff. "I think that your brain has started to rot! We need to fight for what we have, not run away and cower somewhere else!"
"Do you really believe that?"
"Well, then we shall do it your way." Out of a pocket, the old pixie pulled an acorn. "I shall put what remains of my magic into this acorn. With it, the entrance to the root chambers can be opened. Find some inexperienced adventurers, and give the acorn to them. My magical barrier will let them through, as it will not consider them a threat. I fear the rot demon will be too strong for a single such adventurer. But perhaps, as a group, they will be able to stop the spread of disease and restore the Tree to what it was."
"I'll do it, Grandpa. You can count on me."
The old man gave his granddaughter a hug. "Stand back for a second." He clasped the acorn between his hands, closed his eyes, and concentrated. A glowing nimbus surrounded his form, and for just a moment he seemed youthful and strong again. Then, the aura about him jumped up into the air, and was whisked into the acorn. After this, the elderly pixie collapsed.
Sherillai ran to his sprawled form. "Grandpa, are you all right?"
He gave a tender smile towards her. Softly, he whispered, "Nay, lass. I said I would put all my magic into the acorn, and I did. We are magical beings, we can't survive without it."
Tears welled up in her eyes. "Oh grandpa, I didn't mean for your to do that!"
The old mans breath was short, as he gasped out "My time was short, anyway. 'Tis the cycle of life...." With a final sigh, he passed away.
For a long time, Sherillai held his corpse, sobbing. When at last she arose, it was with grim purpose in her eyes. She would not let her grandfather's sacrifice be in vain.
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