Saturday 7 October 2023

Hex Crawl 23 #265: Arraqa Heights and Three Notable Trees

 Five hexes northwest, eight north of Alakran.


These wooded highlands and lowlands are covered at their thickest with pines, while tough scrub oaks and chaparral constitute the scrublands. Woodcutters found here hail from Armakhu-Lallu; as they work, their cheerful songs ring out through the trunks. They are just as likely to be found tending the undergrowth, clearing firebreaks, or picking the rare fungi that lurk under the loam, as actually felling trees - an activity which they regulate out of care not to strip the forest. 

Local people know the location of these three trees of legend within the woods, each with a power or secret.

1. The Parliament of Owls

A half-dead twenty-foot pine in whose decaying wood twelve tawny owls have made nests. Those who can speak with them will find them possessed of uncommon wisdom, but they will only give up their facts for knowledge of equal rarity and importance.

2. The Arms of Eset

Lightning clove this short hemlock's trunk in two, and in its recovery the halves grew out, curving separately to resemble embracing arms. It is said that whosoever stands between the arms is safe from lightning, and even that a pinecone of this tree will absorb the force* of any lightning strike.

3. The Signpost of Treasure

An eccentric in the last generation is said to have turned this dead pine trunk, still standing but only half its twenty-foot former height, into a signpost to a great treasure, but no markings can be seen on it. In actuality, he broke four branches from it whose stumps can still be seen on the trunk. These he used as rafters of his house, now occupied by a family who fled from Dulsharna. Inside the house, the rafters can be seen, each carved with notches: 10, 24, 32, and 25, referring to paces (the "10" rafter has a measure of the man's pace carved in it to avoid error). If the rafters' ends are matched to the stumps, and the paces and compass direction of each stump are paced out in order from bottom to top, the treasure spot will be reached. Buried three feet deep in a lead casket (avoiding magical detection) are:

  •  A pair of "lucky" bone dice with a 5% extra chance of winning, but also a 1% chance per game of making suspicious giggling noises
  •  A black domino mask that, if gazed through, detects invisible undead
  • 60 gold pieces in a neck-rag
  • A large irregular chunk of lapis lazuli carved with an eye on each side -- not magical but worth 100 gp to the curious

* Out of any number carried, one cone burns up and absorbs one die, or 5 points if no dice are involved, of the lightning damage.

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