The next few months were relatively safe and peaceful with easy expansion. The lords quickly claimed Brynskeep in the sunny month of Apati, its good weather putting the citizens in a generally good mood. In Eisadi, the queen of the land bestowed a gift upon one of the kingdom’s champions, a nice way of saying that the lords took money from the treasury to give Bryn mithral full plate in order to improve his battle casting. Thadi was also a good month, except that Galienne and Kalevi had to soothe hurt feelings in their houses. Kal, adopted into House del’Omagia, was trying to stop Kalevi’s father from being a drunken lout in a tavern, but the belligerent human was unwilling to step down. It caused a big commotion, but thankfully caused no further trouble.
On the first of Hanadi, Erramir’s group handed back the map that the group gave them a few months ago. Quick observation told of foul play, as the lines that criss-crossed the map had vanished. Kalevi became curious and started to look further into it. She took Bryn and Darvin to the library to help her find information. Since she was more practical in her use of magic, she needed some more theoretically-minded assistants. Their differing approaches to magic was also deemed useful. Bryn learned the common Elven method of wizardry with personal experimentation playing into learning as much as tomes. Darvin’s people discovered studied magic on their own, establishing a system of wizards and apprentices that kept magic relatively similar in approaches for generations. Before he had left, his father had just started organizing the first human wizard’s college.
The three of them, after a couple hours of searching, discovered that the lines on the map were called leylines. They did not find a full understanding, though, coming across notions of “magical lifelines”, “source of magic”, and “feeding off magic” within the random texts and passing knowledge. When they started postulating on how the leylines could be used, a voice from behind Kalevi suggested, “Maybe you should find out what they are first.”
She turned around, but saw no one. Before anyone else could react, Bryn had cast a spell to blind and reveal invisibility, forgetting the range of the sorcery. Kalevi and Darvin had been blinded from the spell, but the invisible intruder was outlined in glittering dust. He removed his cloak of invisibility, revealing himself to be Palthis, the kingdom’s spymaster. He cursed and started to brush the glitter off of his cloak. “By the bones. There’s only one of these cloaks available in the network.”
Kalevi was initially paranoid about the elf’s sneaking about, but he snarkily reminded her of her job, though he admitted that maybe he should have taken the cloak off first. Palthis knew what they were working on, having already created a copy of one of her maps, and assured her that Erramir and his group did not know of their discovery. He however cannot get information out of Erramir’s encampment. Darvin also takes the opportunity to lecture Bryn on the range of spells, having finally blinked off the rest of the blinding effect and feeling cross about the situation. Kalevi checked on a couple more things with Palthis, including assassination attempts on Eumelia. In all these years, she only had six made against her, although Palthis’ crew had stopped every one before the gnome noticed. Only two of them had been from Dullunar. Since the kingdom is light on imposing rules, Kusnaya’s job in keeping the peace has only gone so far as to enforce rulings made within hamlets and other small towns.
More hours passed as Kalevi and Bryn planned out how to create a spell to detect the leylines since the simple spell of detecting magic was not enough. Darvin had to excuse himself to make tea. They eventually decided to start experimenting in order to gain the spell. Kalevi funded the research for Bryn to gain thorough theoretical understanding of the magic’s intent and create a spell based on the findings. Kalevi was unable to personally benefit, as she was unable to engineer a method of employing the logic at the same time. It took two weeks, but it was worth it.
On the morning of the eleventh, they decided to start by finding the leyline node within their own city. They quickly deduced that it was within the castle itself. They discovered that the leyline node inhabited a full room in area and extended through all the stories of the castle. They decided to start experimenting in the first floor of the basement.
Bryn could see that both leylines possessed all magics, but they were strongly influenced by one over the others. One was strongly abjuration while the other was strongly transmutation. First, Bryn stepped into the abjuration leyline and cast a shielding spell. The shield emanated a stronger aura then disappeared from Bryn. The collision of two strong abjuration effects started to inferfere, causing sparks to fly. Kalevi’s ability to see magic allowed her to see the leyline as a giant shielding spell. They would later learn that the effect extended half a mile in each direction. Bryn was unable to stop the spell but stepped out of the leyline.
The second experiment had Bryn stand in the middle of the two leylines and cast a strength enhancing spell. The spell continued to grow in strength the longer Bryn stood there, exceeding the normal bulk one would gain under its effects. No other magic effected him other than the spell he had just cast. The final worrying condition was when Bryn found out he could no longer move. Kalevi first used her weak servant bot to try to move him, but he would not budge. The clockmaker had a bad feeling that she could not just jump in and grab him herself. She pulled out a tree feather token and threw it at Bryn’s feet.
The tree did its job in pushing Bryn out of the way. It also shot him through three floors of wood, causing damage to both the spellsword and the building. The strength spell also left Bryn. Kalevi climbed up to grab Bryn and move him to a healer. Galienne was away from the capital working on the founding of Autumn River, her city centered on faithful devotion, so Kalevi located Orrik.
Orrik healed Bryn in an inn room a couple blocks away, alternating magic with splinter removal. Unfortunately, Kalevi could see the tree pop out of the castle ceiling and flicker in all the colors of the rainbow. Palthis came in, removing his cloak before speaking this time, and reiterated the chaos the tree was causing.
“Permission to speak freely?” Palthis asked after giving his report. The two lords agreed, not realizing that Palthis’ “free speech” was punching the already injured Bryn in the jaw. The elf expressed his dislike in “his boss making his job harder”. Bryn and Kalevi couldn’t really say anything against that. Kalevi looked out the window and saw that the tree was continuing to grow but the rainbow effect had ceased. She asked for all of them to come with her back to the castle and try to stop the tree. Palthis donned his cloak and went searching for information.
They entered the castle while the help were trying to flee, the floors creaking considerably. They reached the center, the trunk having expanded greatly. Orrik cast a spell to commune with the tree while the rest tried to figure out what was going on. He was able to tell the tree to stop growing. They realized that the tree had been absorbing all the wood it came in contact with in order to continue expanding. Darvin soon joined them, wondering what had happened and telling them that the tree had finally stopped growing. The shielding spell, surprisingly, was hanging onto the tree.
They went downstairs to investigate its roots. They found that the tree had also absorbed the large wood supply for building in one of the basements. The old vault, first discovered by the group shortly after removing the Stag Lord’s threat, was covered in vines similar to the rest of the basements. Upon opening, though, they found that the vault had escaped penetration. While talking to the tree, Orrik appeared quizzical. “Apparently, the tree wants to be called Theo.”
They found out that the tree was intelligent enough to understand their speech but not enough to be called a treant. It was able to take commands from Orrik after some prodding. Theo also felt bad about removing the rooms in the castle, its trunk now eighty feet across and filling the central rooms, so it tried to generate rooms with its trunk. As they stood at the entrance of the central room and tried to explain the concept of a hollow square to Theo, Palthis emerged to see Theo’s recreation of the vault down to the twin-daggered lock. He explained that the top of the tree had now replaced the entire ceiling, its branches extending over the entirety of the castle. He also explained that Erramir’s crew was packing up to leave immediately, its captain rushing to the castle to speak with the lords. While Kalevi and Bryn worried over what to do, Orrik tried to talk Theo into generating staircases.