After the defeat of the abhumans, Argent tries to tend to the bear’s wounds as best he can. The fox and gorilla appreciate the effort, but recognize he needs more intensive care—he needs the water of life. The gorilla hefts the large animal and carries him off into the woods.
The party follows, and chats with the duo using
Boregal Kevin as a translator. The duo do not seem to fully understand or trust the party, but are happy for them to follow. Along the way, they come across a Stonehenge-like monument within the woods. In the center is a broken altar. Astro wants to investigate, and after a brief discussion with his cohort, the fox identifies the monument as Kellon’s Altar, and determines it is best the party wait here while the gorilla goes on ahead.
Astro determines the altar and stones around it are Numenara, and appear to be part of some kind of holographic imaging system. She decides to try and fix it, but is beset by madness. Still mired within the workings of the altar, she suddenly declares that she herself is Kellon, and begins to converse with the fox without
Boregal’s Kevin’s aid. Astro Kellon tells the fox that the situation is more dire than they know, and that there is another party in play. The Heart of the Forest must be found quickly. Upon receiving this message, the fox leaves to inform the king, and tells the party to wait at the altar. The king will want to meet with them, but they could cause too much of a stir if they waltz into town.
The party has had a big day. They climbed the beanstalk, found a space station, chased a talking fox, and fought some abhumans. They decide this is a good time to get some rest. Astro decides to continue working on the altar, and Wally decides to “help.”
Hours later, Astro notices Wally half-inside the opened altar, tangled up in wiring. Apparently he got comfortable, as he is fast asleep. Trying to wake him up and move him out of the way, Astro uses some exposed wiring to shock Wally. This backfires, as the current causes Wally’s muscles to sieze, locking Astro into a brotastic bear hug.
Everybody else rests well for the night. Astro gets no sleep at all, and as such, is the first to hear approaching footsteps. She attempts to float away like a balloon, but is unable to escape the iron grasp of Wally. A great lion emerges from the woods, flanked by the fox, gorilla, two wolves, and an entourage of woodland critters.
A conversation is attempted, but the shock that locked up Wally all night had rather deleterious effects on the mind of
Boregal Kevin. The king refuses to speak through an intermediary, and the gorilla informs the party that they will all be taken to the Tree of Life to be baptized.
The tree of Life is the largest tree any of the party have ever seen. Wally and Armen immediately resolve to climb it, only much later coming up with some excuse about investigating the theft of the Heart.
As they enter the town at the base of the gigantic tree, most of the animal inhabitants they see either stare at them in awe or quickly turn and find somewhere else to be. They are led to a circular stream surrounding the base of the great tree. A ceremony is prepared and performed, which culminates in the party being successively drowned in the stream by the elder gorilla.
After the ceremony there is feasting and drinking, but the party awakens in the early morning with no memory of what happened that evening. They do have a new and exciting method of communication which allows them to telepathically “talk” to each other by vocalizing their thoughts to any other party member within earshot. This also allows them to converse with the animal residents of this kingdom.
The king informs them that the Heart of the Forest has been stolen. Without it the water of life is losing its potency, and eventually will cease to flow. The water cures their infirm, gives their children the gift of speech, and allows the carnivores to subsist on plants and fish, without molesting the otherwise prey species of the kingdom. Without the heart, their kingdom will die.
He tasks them with helping to recover the Heart. He knows that the return of the demons (abhumans) began shortly before the Heart’s disappearance, and he has heard rumors that the Avians have been hardest hit by the demonic invasion. He also informs the party that the Reptilians have, for many years now, been requesting more and more of the Water of Life in their regular dispensations. They have attempted to usurp the Tree of Life and control of the kingdom at other points in its history, and the king believes they may have been hoarding the Water in anticipation of cutting off its flow.
The king also tells the party that the demons are believed to have been appearing from the temples, and that there are three known temples: one in Kellon’s Wood (where the party came from), one in the Avian lands, and one in the Reptilian lands. He leaves the party’s course of action to their discretion, so Wally and Armen decide the first thing they will do is climb the Tree of Life, the sacred tree that none shall climb, to “search for clues.”
The king tells the party he will allow the excursion, if they swear an oath to recover the Heart. They do, and Wally, Armen, and Astro climb the gargantuan tree to reach the spherical chamber woven with spiralling branches near the tree’s canopy where the Heart usually resides. They find an empty pair of pliths—one from the floor, and another from the ceiling—from which it appears the heart was removed by force. The good news is that these Numenara devices do not appear to be broken, so if they can recover the Heart intact, they can re-install it.
Not content to leave well enough alone, Wally and Armen attempt to climb to the top of the tree, but are abruptly halted by an invisible barrier within the canopy. Upon further inspection, this barrier is not actually invisible, but its surface is painted with a high-resolution projection of the top of the canopy.
The trio takes the fast way down, and informs the king of what they found, though they keep their discovery of the projected canopy to themselves. They decide their next move will be to foray into the Reptilian lands to investigate..