The Munch Bunch found themselves in the basement of the bell tower, with a Bronze Warder staring at them. Ansis attempted to gain control over it via his amulet, but found his mind lost as he tried to assert his own will. His comrades were able to slap sense back into him, and he eventually gained full control of it.
Deftly maneuvering their way through the collapsing bell tower’s basement, all four of the adventurers found themselves on the outside, but were unable to get the Bronze Warder out with them on their first try. Ansis struggled to command the Bronze Warder in the art of acrobatics, and ended up plowing through the walls of the temple bell tower, sending the stones showering down around the adventurers. But it had worked, the Bronze Warder was out of the tower. Or at least, what was left of the tower. Which wasn’t much more than a series of stone piles at that point.
After consulting with Alisahn, the Bunch decided that the enormous tree was likely the Feywild crossing, and as such hightailed it back to the clearing, where they found the enormous tree waiting just where they had left it. Faeries still listlessly milling about the meadow, eyes full of malice and mischief.
Wasting no time, the heroes rushed headlong into the meadow, Ansis commanding the Bronze Warder to lead the charge directly at the tree. Swinging its gigantic bronze axe, the Warder brought all it’s wrath down on the tree’s base… and broke the axe head off in the trunk. Leaving the Warder standing there like a giant metal dunce.
As soon as the tree was struck with the Bronze Warder’s axe, the ground began to tremor and shift beneath the Bunch’s feet. The two strange outcroppings jutting from the meadow began to rise from the dirt, shaking and twisting.
Llamers and Keelix shot and slashed down the faeries as their attention was drawn to the tree. Llamers firing bolt after bolt with her tradition of never missing a shot. Keelix a whirlwind of blades and bosoms.
Pujols drew the attention away from the Bronze Warder by holding faeries in place with his taunts and brazen monkeyfaced mockeries. And while the faeries clawed at his eyes, his briarthorn armor skewered them, leaving Pujols with a faerie covered body as their forms hung lifeless and dangling from the thorns.
As Ansis rushed to the Bronze Warder to use his flame powers to weld his weapon back in place, the ground shook even more violently than before. Erupting from the ground was an elk of gigantic proportions. Frothing around the mouth, and with an amber liquid flowing from its eyes, the buck raked its antlers through the outstretched limbs of the tree, sending a torrent of branches raining on everyone beneath its canopy. As the buck did so, the adventurers could hear a frightened shouting from the antlers 30 feet in the air. Upon closer inspection there was a man seated as if on a throne, with something resembling a crown on his head.
Ansis did a quick patch job of the broken axe for the Bronze Warder with his Sacred Flame, and sent him back to whittle away at the tree. But after a few marvelous strokes that scooped the tree open like heavy cream, the large tree-man creature came from the upper reaches of the tree to hold off the Warder. Meanwhile, Ansis was furiously scorching the giant buck with his sacred flames.
Keelix, feeling a kinship with the enormous elk, scampered up the hide, 15 feet in the air, and hanging around his neck tried to calm the beast with soothing words. She noticed that as she did this, the elk would wildly turn from one side to another in the direction of her voice. She used this to lead the elk away from the tree as much as she could. The elk, however, seemed to only go as far as his antlers could still touch the branches in the tree above, scraping and crashing through limbs and leaves and showering the canopy below. While directing the buck, Keelix heard the shouting again from the outstretched splaying antlers, and climbed up to see a man seated in a crook of the antlers. Tied to the antlers by vines and briars, the man was remarkably obese, had his head covered in thistles, and a mouth missing most of his teeth. He was relieved to see Keelix.
The Bronze Warder, commanded by Ansis, would break the grip held by the treeish man, and hack at the tree’s truck, carving deeper into the tree despite the defending monster’s grasping branchlike hands and arms. Each slash revealed a bright yellow glow within the tree that grew stronger as the axe bit deeper into the base. A deep groaning and creaking was beginning to be heard, as the tree began to sway.
As Keelix cut the fat man free, he spewed out thanks and latched himself onto her back as she gymnastically swung down back to the elk’s neck. She landed just in time to see that the elk had continued turning in the same direction she had last led it to, and was now a few feet from crashing into the tree that the bronze warder had been lumberjacking. She whispered to it, and it’s wild eyes focused on her momentarily, and she commanded the fat man to jump from the back of the elk or she’d throw him. He jumped and judging by his cries likely broke both legs in the attempt.
The impact was devastating. The buck had crashed past Llamers, sender her flying, bruised and prostrate. The elk had also stomped directly on the treeish man that Pujols had kept from the Warder as it had worked at the tree’s base. The tree-man was splintered to pieces, as the hoof trampled him. The elk’s antlers and head broke hard into the tree’s side and as the elk’s hooves churned the earth, the tree’s popping and snapping was deafening as it slowly began to topple.
Over the din of the battle, Pujols was able to hear cries rise up from the upper portions of the tree and had a sudden stomach turning realization that there were people tied to the tree, just as they had been the day before during their kidnapping. Jumping into action, Pujols shifted into his monkey form and swung his way to the farside of the falling tree to see who he could save. There he saw Dawney, the halfling, screaming as loud as his small voice would allow. Pujols quickly slashed him free, and flung him as far as he could away from the landing zone. He knew as he climbed back over to the other side that he was leaving a good number of the people on that side of the tree to be crushed to death, but he had to keep moving. On the other side of the tree, he also found the buxom Fanny Tumblesheets from Stonewall. He pulled her free and lept from the tree as it the tree completed its trajectory. Shrieks and shouts rose up from the underside of the tree, as the folk were shredded and crushed.
At the base of the trunk was the flattened portion that the Bronze Warder had cut out. Quickly, Ansis commanded the warder to mount the base, he felt his connection to the Warder severed. It turned, faced them and stood still, and the glow from the inside of the tree softened and then went out entirely.
Keelix slid from the elk’s back, as it lay shuddering and labored to breath. Checking the elk, she found that as the elk had toppled the tree, it had pushed itself onto a jagged shard jutting from the shattered base. It had pierced the elk’s chest, and blood was rushing out of the wound like a fountain. She fixed the big buck’s gaze one last time as it gently closed its eyes. As the blood spread on the meadow grass flowers began to bloom in its wake.
The faeries that remained in the surrounding forest seemed to have scattered at that point, and Alisahn returned. As the adventurers pestered her, she stood dumbfounded, asking for some time to discern what she was seeing as she stared gaping at the elk and the tree. Ansis, Pujols and Llamers gathered up whoever they could find that had been on the tree as it fell, and tended to them as Keelix wept openly for the giant dead elk.