Chapter 34: Radcliffe’s Family Tree
The adventure starts at the top of the nameless spire, where Aron the Awesome has returned from a jaunt to retrieve a cleric to raise Radcliffe, who was killed by the Ice Dragon Ymril [Iced Urf]. However, Aron instead returns with Bezrin, Radcliffe’s Uncle, who was in Tyn on a diplomatic mission and was quite concerned to learn of his nephews death.
As Bezrin and his assistants (including the sorceress Jendril, (a veteran of the battle of Honeycomb, among others [The Flawed Tactics of Field Marshal Spidertung]) prepare to use an elven teleportation ring to return with Radcliffe’s body to the Home Tree, Lady Hillibrand manages to convince the diplomat to allow the rest of the party to join him. As an aside, Livinia implores the party to try to stay in Benrin’s good graces, as Elven assistance will be desperately needed in a final encounter with the Baron’s forces. She has tried to warn Bezrin of Baron Rottli’s dupliciousness but Bezrin believes the Baron would be insane to attack the elves, dragging them into a war.
Teleporting to the Home Tree, Bezrin excuses his confrontational behavior, explaining that he promised Radcliffe’s deceased mother that he would guard the young elf and protect him from ‘forces that would use and take advantage of his unique gifts’. He invites the party to stay and watch the Ceremony of Rebirth.
It is explained to the party that the elven sorcerer class of Brennevin are bound to the Home Tree, from which their power flows, and through a special ceremony, the clerics and sorcerers of Brennevin can use their power to restore a dead sorcerer to life and full vitality. This ceremony takes several hours and can only be done at certain time of the month, and the participants must stay in contact with the tree.
After several days of preparation, during which the elven archer Sazarac re-introduces himself to the team [Steal Heart], and after Livinia Hillibrand rejoins the group, the ceremony commences. However, several hours in, reports emerge of a coordinated attack at the Briarbridge leading into the village. Most of the guards protecting the home tree are dispatched to protect the Briarbridge, while the party and a coterie of archers and elves remain to protect the tree at the center of the village.
Meanwhile, Radcliffe starts to revive, but caught between life and death, a shadowy demonic force taunts him for donning the Coral Crown, asserting a link that allows the dark force access to all of Radcliffes memories before he donned the crown [The Blood Enclave]. The force blocks his revival until an elven cleric casts a protection ward on his body.
As soon as he is revived, still attached to the tree, a meteorite falls from the sky and impacts near the tree. The guardians prepare for an attach as the meteorite reveals itself to be a metal golem with a cannon attached. The guards battle the golem as it shoots cannon at the tree and guardians alike.
Simultaneously, a covey of familiar witches attack, including Meg O’ The Bog and Black Nan [The Rule of Three] (wearing Loya Jurga’s hag eye and riding in a flying balloon) and a new burrowing witch, Cacklin’ Rosie, who has an Umber Hulk companion.
A pitched battle ensues, in which:
- Clockwork automatons are lowered from the sky via cables to join the battle.
- many elven clerics and archers are killed
- Radcliffe manages to stay attached to the tree to regain his vitality while protecting his comatose uncle and the lead cleric
- Clinton spots a shadowy figure with True Seeing that eventually steals the coral crown from Porkins while the halfling is engaged with Cacklin Rosie
- Porkins manages to kill Cackin Rosie and the Umber Hulk
- Sazarac is killed by the golem
- Livinia mounts Brother Darkness until she is grieviously wounded by the golem
- Radcliffe uses telekenis to knock an automaton off the tree onto Black Nan, who explodes in a fiery blast.
- Livinia, at the verge of consciousness, passes the GOLDEN SHIELD to Porkins and asserts the she has let the shield down by betraying the elves
- Pat squares off against the cannon golem and chips away at it with a sickle of meteoric iron
Near the end of the battle Clinton is retrieving the Silver Spear from an automaton that stole it and was reeled back to the sky, he finds that an airship with cannon is flying overhead, piloted by Count Umbridge [The Bridge of Horrors], which proceeds to strafe the tree before flying away.
The shadowy figure that Clinton saw reveals itself to be the Rakshasa, Rahu [Rahu!] who taunts Radcliffe before the elf knocks him off the tree also before Rahu uses a dimension door to escape.
Finally, the party is victorious in protecting Radcliffe and the Home Tree but many elves have died and they have lost the Coral Crown.
After the battle, Livinia talks to Porkins and asserts that she is no longer able to bear the Golden Shield, as she actually knew several of the details of the impending attack due to a contact from the Vermese heirarchy, but she needed to keep her contact secret. In addition, she knew an attack on the elves would draw them into the war, which was needed. However, her priorities have meant that she believes the Shield no longer favors her, so she has passed it to the noble Porkins.
After being pressed, Livinia reveals her Vermese contact to be Lady Ashwind, and outlines a plan to use this contact for leverage in a final battle to destroy the Baron.
In an epilogue, Radcliffe realizes that his connection to the Coral Crown allowed the forces of evil to penetrate into Brennevin territory, and theorizes that the connection can be used in the other direction. With the aid of Aron the Awesome and Maximillian, they are able to use this connection to allow everyone to see through Loya Jurga’s Hag Eye for a brief period of time. During this time, they witness a gathering by the Baron Himself, including his generals such as Count Umbridge, the hags, and others and Rahu that presents the crown to the Baron in exchange for future rulership of territories including Lakewood.