Episode 37. The Finale. Druids are Crunchy.

Often, when you’re being told a story by a storyteller (or perhaps retold the account of one) that was actually there, you’re aware that the storyteller survives. I mean… They must survive right? Because you’re hearing the story.

Tak the Bard had taken great pains throughout his adventures to ensure that each section of his tale was sent back to his home tavern, ready to be compiled upon his return. Thus ensuring, that even should he fall, his tale would live on. Perhaps just missing the last part. Because he travelled with mighty heroes, it’s a fairly safe bet that his story would be told, regardless of him living through the final fight.

For, this is what this chapter is, the tale of the final fight against Corsinar. Now the question remains, did Tak make it? Or are the following words those of his companions retelling his tale?

We’d just fought Flower & his tree-friends. Everyone looked drained, and hardly ready to carry on fighting, but being so close to our destination, Dovin seemed to be vibrating and desperate to reach the stone. Izkin had burnt through his most powerful spells, and whilst I’d been careful, I had still wasted my most powerful on the cage for the druid. We huddled up to discuss what came next, and whilst there was talk of separating out to scout, we decided that the area was too dangerous for this, so instead Tak II scouted whilst Bunny II carried me alongside my friends.

Walking ahead as Tak II was an odd experience. I made no noise, which clearly meant I was near-on imperceptible. I decided to relish in this, by dancing along to an internal tune. I really was enjoying this. Rounding a corner, I spotted a circle of standing stones. In the centre, a single stone stood, surrounded by 4 figures. 3 seemed to match the druids we’d fought previously. The 4th stood in wood armour with a shield emblazoned with a tree. I had a sneaky suspicion this was a bad guy. He wasn’t twirling his moustache or anything, nor did he release a booming ‘mwah hahaha’. Instead, he just twisted his hand in the air, and suddenly Tak II was gone.

Rats. I quite liked Tak II. He reminded me of me.
A quick huddle later, and we were unsure of our action. A voice boomed from the stone circle.

“You can come out now, we know you’re there!”

I answered before engaging my brain “Yeah, hang on a sec moany, we’re just having a chat!”

Now was time for a plan… I looked around blankly, and went with the old adage of “Throw out a stupid idea, and people will step up with a better idea”. “How about we walk in and have a chat. If we don’t like what he has to say, we can always kill him! Dovin can hide as a mouse in Izkins pocket, and Izkin can sneak him to the stone.”

Around me everyone nodded. This was supposed to be the foolish idea to kick off the planning, and we were going with it.

Gah.

So, with me leading the way, we walked into Corsinars camp.
As we reached the edge of the camp, he shouted for us to stop, and walk no further.

I was curious at this point, so I asked “Are you Corsinar? I thought you’d be bigger!”

To be fair, he was a good six foot tall, clad in platemail, armed with a sword and shield. Nature magic crackled from his fingers, and three druids stood behind him. Perched on the standing stones two vultures looked down. Either these were also Druids, or a portent as to what was coming next.
He scoffed at my comment and replied with “I thought you’d be stronger!”

“Corsinar, I must ask. Why are you doing this? Why are you destroying the people and the land? Why the blight?” I hadn’t really thought much beyond this point. Perhaps we could make friends? He’d realise the error of his ways, and we could joke about it over a pint.

Yeah, that was unlikely, but if you don’t try, you don’t know!

“You think I’m hurting the land? You think my goal is to kill the forest? No, this is what the forest wants. Too long have the farmers cut away at the forest to domesticate it. The Forest wants this. The forest controls the blight. We will allow the druid past. He can take on the power of forest warden, and then seed this power to me. This is the wishes of the Forest.”

I’ll be honest, that didn’t really sound right to me, but I’m not a druid. So I turned to Tia, because she is. “What do you think Tia? Is he as full of crap as he sounds?”

Tia nodded.

“I have a counter offer for you Corsinar. You can pop off back home, take your druids with you, and we’ll get Dovin to take care of the forest instead? It’s not an order really, it’s more of a suggestion.”
Wording on these things is always important, and on uttering the word suggestion I twirled my fingers, wiggled my eyebrows, and cast the spell.

He nodded thoughtfully, and turned to instruct his followers to heed my words. Wow. It worked… It really worked! Then his brow furrowed, and he shook off the effect.

GAH!

He turned towards us, and summoned a mote of light. This is one I’ve seen before, and it bloody hurts. I wasn’t going to allow this. I grasped at the arcane light yelling “COUNTERSPELL!” Technically, I don’t have to yell Counterspell, but it always seems like the right thing to do. The arcane nature started to unravel, but one of the Druids closest to him reached out in a similar manner and undid my spell.

Wow, so that’s how that feels.

The beam of light summoned by Corsinar struck Maeb, Tia and Arn. All three were temporarily blinded, and a number of spell effects whizzed back and forth between us. Izkin tried a fireball, they cut the spell off. One of the druids changed shape into a massive corrupted Elephant.

But Tak, I hear you say, when have you seen an Elephant before? Truth be told, I’ve not. But not many creatures can pick things up with their nose. It’s not something that impedes research into animal names.

Bunny darted across, and started to bite and scratch at Corsinar. Sil’vari and Tia’Vari attacked the Elephant, Sil’vari bathing it again and again in frost. This didn’t seem massively effective, but Sil’Vari took a tusk to her side. She seemed a little out of it.

We needed to do something big to pull the druids away from the stone. Something big and stupid.

Nothing says big and stupid like a Takosaurus Rex. To be fair though, Bunny was much better situated than I, so Bunnysaurus Rex was born. Corsinar, and the Druid closest to Bunnysaurus were caught a little off guard. Bunnysaurus bit down hard on Corsinar, shaking him from side to side like a hound with a ragdoll. Her tail swung round, clouting the second Druid.

Arn snuck in an attack, hitting Corsinar squarely in the spine. I swear I could hear the crack from where I stood. Corsinar dropped the solar beam spell he’d been using, and screamed in pain.

Good. Serve him right. Shoulda gone home when we gave him the chance.

Then, Corsinar came up with a cunning plan. This plan was so cunning, it rivals most of mine!

Corsinar shifted shape into a small bird, thus no longer being held tightly by Bunnysaurus’s mouth.

“Oh no!” I hear you say, he’s going to escape!

Bunny snapped her mouth closed. The small bird was still inside. Bunnysaurus swallowed.

And that was the tale of how we defeated the dread druid Corsinar. We had a t-rex swallow him.

Yeah, only druids are tricksy.

Around Bunny, the druids were engaged in close combat with Maeb, Arn and Drax. Tia and Sil fought the Elephant, and I scouted around, tracking all our enemies locations.

“Izkin! It’s clear! Go!”

Izkin raised his cloak to cover his face, and blinked out of existence. He reappeared next to the stone, and dropped a small mouse next to it. He slipped into the shadows, and reappeared elsewhere.

From his new position, he threw a fell spells out to harass the druids.

Drax cast his Guardian spirit again, tasking it with protecting Dovin, and returned to exchanging blows with the Druids.
Bunnysaurus turned on the next Druid. Then, her eyes took on a slight glaze, and her stomach started to rumble. There was an odd sound, which rumbled louder and louder, and with a large noise Bunny crossed her eyes and a puff of green gas escaped from her behind.

The poor creature had the decency to look embarrassed. The green cloud formed up, and coalesced into the shape of Corsinar.

Further displays of Counterspell took place, with both the druids and ourselves getting ever more frustrated at the loss of power each time. Eventually though, a blow from Arn felled Corsinar, and Bunny picked him up in her mouth. We swiftly dealt with the other druids, including the two disguised as vultures! (See, I knew that would happen) and suddenly it was time to celebrate. Corsinar was dead, and Dovin had nearly finished his casting.

Sickly green light began to form around his body, and a moment later, Corsinar freed himself from bunny’s grasp, and leapt to the top of the nearest standing stone.

A window crackled in the air below us, showing a familiar bedroom in the Boss-hut. This was the room holding the Princess. His voice boomed out.

“You will all lay down your arms. Do so, and she lives. Carry on, and she dies.”

If you’d ever had tea with a Tyrannosaurus rex, and had chance to chat over biscuits, you’d know one thing. If you mention arms around them, no matter how innocently, they assume you’re taking the mickey out of their little arms.

Now, Bunny wasn’t a true T-Rex, no, she was a Fey, disguised as a Griffin, disguised as a T-Rex. But some things are built in.

Bunny bit him again, holding him firmly in her mouth. Drax stepped up, casting forth a spell of contagion. This caused slimy sores to appear on his skin. Izkin blasted him again with another bolt of chaotic energy.

I glanced at the portal. Perhaps we’d caught him in time. Maybe the Princess lived?

She did not, she lay unmoving where she was bound. We’d not caught him in time.

Dovin’s head fell, but he carried on with his casting. A blue corona formed around the centre stone. It leapt out, surrounding Dovin. He stepped towards Corsinar.

Corsinar was once more held in Bunny’s mouth. His ragdoll like body being shook back and forth. Dovin nodded.

“Hold him there, don’t let him loose. “ He stepped in front of the floating portal, and cast an unfamiliar spell.

In the bedroom the Princess’s form started to shift. Her skin turning a shade of green, and her shape adjusted. She no longer looked human, but instead seemed of Orkish decent. She opened her eyes, and stood up. The blight no longer covered her, and she gazed in concern at her hands.

Shuddering, he turned back to us. “Will one of you call that irritating god? I’d like a word.”

I looked around. Tia was seeing to Sil’Vari’s wounds. Drax stood watching Bunny chew on Corsinar. Arn stood, blades drawn at his side. Every so often, Corsinar would start to heal, and Bunny would chomp repeatedly until he stopped.

Maeb watched off to one side, bemused.

Taking this as my Cue, and realising that this was to be a moment forever immortalised in history, I struck a heroic pose. Turned my head to the sky, and in my deepest voice yelled…
“Oi, Thistle, get your bum down here!”

I’m well aware that in the retelling, other storytellers will re-write this in an attempt to make it sound more heroic. But this is Thistle, and she doesn’t deserve reverence!

I turned to face Dovin, and she was already standing next to him. He raised his eyes to hers, and said “It’s time. I need you to do this now, as I asked before. I can feel the forest pulling at me now, trying to corrupt the power. Before I had the power, I could feel the forest trying to bend me to its will. If I don’t do this, another will replace Corsinar. He wasn’t the bad guy here, he was just an unfortunate that heeded their call.”

She nodded slightly, and answered.
“Speak the words. I’ll do it.”

Dovin raised his arms from his sides. Punching them firmly into the air. He bellowed at the top of his lungs.
“NO MORE DRUIDS!”

There was a blue flash, and he was gone.

In Bunny’s mouth, the body of Corsinar twitched a few times. Bunny took this as a sign to bite down again, and his spine snapped. Life fled his body, and with a lack of green lights surrounding him now, it became obvious that he wasn’t coming back.

I looked around. Thistle was gone. Dovin was gone. It was only us, and the bodies of those we’d vanquished. The green glowy lights that had dotted the landscape had faded away, and all seemed quiet.

Across from me, Tia stumbled slightly. “I feel weird” she said, “Like somethings missing? Some link that was there is now severed.” She raised her hand, and wiggled her fingers.
Sadness passed over her face. “I can’t do it. My powers as a druid are gone. I can’t manifest the flowers.”

Behind her, Sil’Vari stepped up, “Sister, don’t you see? The magics aren’t different. Not really. The link between Arcane and nature are there, you just need to manipulate it differently. See?”

A small rose climbed its way across Tia’s palm, and her face lit up. The grin was quickly gone as she spotted her audience.

“Time to go home?”
Drax nodded, “Yes, I think it’s time.”

He opened a rift, and on the other side we could see the second floor of our floating tower. Dirt busy cleaning. We stepped through, and we were home.

EPILOGUE
In the weeks following the fall of Corsinar, the land tried to return to normal.

The blight affecting the northern lands slowly started to recede, but its withdrawal stopped at the Great Forest. While the half of the forest occupied by Corsinar lost its air of corruption, the whole forest became more foreboding, the races of the land felt less and less at home under the branches of the trees.

The gnomes and other races slowly left the forest, or just disappeared, the trees continued to stir and the forest inhabitants were no longer welcome beneath their branches.

The Mud-men spreading the pools of filth dropped almost immediately upon Corsinar’s defeat, and the coming rains began to restore the farms. It took a few seasons before crops began to grow again, but through the collective hard work of the farmers and fishermen of the region, actual starvation was kept at bay.

All the druids across the land had lost their powers, with a single exception, the unlikely novice Tia’Vari.

The Order of the Tree were slow to accept this change, the paladins and clerics of their number still held their powers, but the druids were very much diminished. In the coming months they split, a small order with nature powers continue to try and tame the forest, while those with only martial skills formed a guard for the princess in exile.

The children affected by blight woke after a few days. The disease affecting them cleared, and their only recollection of the time was a series of bad dreams featuring nothingness consuming them.

The forces of the South, once bolstered by Corsinar’s strength had taken the seat of power and exiled the Order of the Tree. They hold dominion over the south and claim they will only relinquish it to the rightful heir of the royal line. Of course there are some problems with that, the princess being rather unrecognisable, but maybe that’s a tale for another day.

Tak, having found his story complete, vowed that he should tell his tale far and wide. He travelled across the land, North and South, spreading his tale where it’d be heard. He never did see Thistle again, but he swore every time he passed a statue of her, it winked at him.

Eventually he ended up back home again. The floating tower still floated above the dock. Ownership never completely having been agreed on. It was Tak’s plan to transform the lower deck into a floating tavern, where he could spend the rest of his days telling the locals about the time he travelled with Heroes.