The Witchwood – Mysterious Missives Part 3

The Witchwood – Mysterious Missives Part 3

As you prepare to face the evil in The Witchwood, it would be wise to arm yourself with knowledge of the key players in this unfolding conflict. Fortunately for you, such knowledge has mysteriously materialized. . . .

The source of the following dossiers is a mystery, and it is uncertain whether you can trust the information contained herein. After all, in these dark times, rumors fly like a murder of crows.

Still, even the slightest knowledge of who’s who could be just the edge you need to survive the curse.

Read on, brave monster hunter.

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Toki, Time-Tinker

Profession: Mage, clock-maker
Hobbies: Irresponsible use of magical technology, déjà vu, boxes that are larger on the inside, leaping, rustless carriages, boxed cats, uncertainty, flat circles, recursion, bargaining with Nozdormu

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Don’t be deceived by this fresh-faced, young gnome—Toki is a powerful mage who possesses an uncanny talent for time magic. Unusually, she often channels her power through arcane devices of her own invention, rather than casting spells. Her unflappable determination and willingness to take inconceivable risks make her a dangerously effective hunter. Somehow, she is always exactly where she needs to be, at the exact moment she needs to be there, and chance events tend to go her way far more often than they should. Unfortunately, her extreme talent is paired with a blithe disregard for the consequences that her magics might have for the fabric of time. She displays a similar cheerful apathy toward both Gilneas and the curse—she appears solely interested in stopping Hagatha from affecting an event in her own future.

It is certain that Toki will play a key role in undoing Hagatha’s work in the Witchwood—no matter how many tries it takes!

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Toki, Time-Tinker

Profession: Mage
Hobbies: Phased plasma rifles in the 40-watt range, string theory, jigsaw puzzles, rabbit masks, the TEC, securing the time stream

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This scarred and grizzled arch-mage is fiendishly powerful, with an incredible and innate control over time magic. There have been frequent sightings of her in the city of late, though only for moments at a time. Startled witnesses have noted that her form flickers in and out of existence— it’s as if she can’t maintain her presence in this timeline for long, and they describe her as seeming haunted, crazed, or obsessed. Bizarrely, she has been showing citizens pictures of herself and asking them if they have “seen this gnome.” She displays a grim disregard for both Gilneas and the curse—she appears solely interested in stopping someone in this city from affecting an event in her own future.

It seems clear that she absolutely will not stop until she finds her quarry. Given her evident power, it’s certain to be a bad day for that unfortunate soul when the time comes.

(We received these conflicting reports about Toki at precisely the same time. Both were delivered by the same agent, who disavowed any knowledge of writing either report.)

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Baku the Mooneater

Profession: Dream serpent, Eater of Moons
Hobbies: Selenography, selenophagy, devouring hopes and dreams, eclipses, smooth jazz

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No being akin to Baku exists in any of our exhaustive records describing serpents, dragonhawks, dragons, and other scaled, magical creatures. Given that this being has not been seen physically by anyone at all—instead observed solely via shared dream visions—our duty to investigate her nature is clear.

Our arcanists’ initial hypothesis is that Baku may in fact be the tormented psyche of a dragon whose physical form is trapped within the bounds of the Witchwood, but outside of physical reality—some kind of dream-dwelling projection of this dragon’s mind, warped and twisted by Hagatha’s own nightmares.

Whatever the Mooneater’s true nature, those who dream of her tend to slowly descend into a fugue state—neither waking nor dreaming—and develop the ability to manifest their will in surprising ways. In brief moments of lucidity, these subjects express a feeling of crushing, unyielding dread, and report seeing a kaleidoscopic serpent coiling and stretching across the horizon, blotting out the sky overhead.

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Shudderwock

Profession: Phantasmagoric aberration
Hobbies: Biting, catching, punk wock, power wocking

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The earliest mentions of this bizarre entity were recorded in nonsensical children’s rhymes. As a result, initial reports of the Shudderwock in the woods were dismissed as the hysterical prattle of an unhinged mind. The poor soul was indeed unhinged, but the Shudderwock lurking in the Witchwood is nonetheless terrifyingly real.

Our arcanists are as puzzled by this entity as they are by Baku the Mooneater. Like Baku, Shudderwock is unique to the Witchwood, and seems to exist somewhere on the edge of reality, defying easy description as well as physical and arcane laws. In fact, it is unclear if this creature is “real” in the way that one generally uses the word, though it certainly exists. Was it always so, or is the Shudderwock yet another testament to Hagatha’s power?

Speculations as to its nature are immaterial; we would be wise to heed the oft-repeated warning to beware the Shudderwock! It is incredibly dangerous, warping reality wherever it walks, leaving those who meet it jabbering wrecks, pale shadows broken by darkest hex. They fail to understand they are out of time, when their speech begins to rhyme. Can they recover from this diminished state? Being devoured would be a kinder fate.

(Note: It seems that there was supposed to be more in this report, but it ends abruptly mid-page. Nor have we had further contact with this agent after the report was delivered. Curiouser and curiouser…)

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Splintergraft

Profession: Vengeful lumber
Hobbies: Scrimshaw, grinding axes, NOT fetch

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No new wood is being cut near Gilneas, and with Crowley’s engineering projects demanding resources, supplies of lumber in the city are dwindling rapidly. Most who venture beyond the gates with axe in hand do not return, and those few brave souls who have spin quite a tale. They tell of roots rippling out of the ground like hungry serpents, and splintered stumps assembling themselves into a jagged, towering monstrosity wielding a woodsman’s axe.

They are no doubt referring to Splintergraft. She is the closest thing we’ve encountered to an undead treant, and her rage-fueled strength is immense. But brute strength is far from her most frightening aspect. Splintergraft can infect other creatures, turning their flesh and blood to wood and sap. The transformation wildly increases her victims’ strength and toughness, but renders them powerless to resist the Witchwood’s commands.

Yearning for vengeance against those who split her trunks in life, Splintergraft is impatient for the day that the roots of the Witchwood make a tomb for Gilneas.

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Lady in White

Profession: Mournful apparition
Hobbies:  Whispering messages to children, hiding small objects, eerie drifting, hitchhiking, pretending to be dust motes in photographs

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While the activity of restless spirits has increased sharply since the curse’s arrival, most seem to be petty, malignant things, content to rage against the living. Not so with the Lady in White, as the citizens of Gilneas have taken to calling her. The Lady has become a symbol of hope and reassurance to the citizens of Gilneas in this dark time.

Who this spirit was in life remains a mystery—if indeed she is a ghost and not something else entirely. The reports surrounding her further cloud the issue. She tends to appear only to those in deepest despair, and to each witness, she resembles a mother, sister, wife, or friend come to offer comfort from beyond the veil. Her dress is always white, though the details here differ as well; she was certainly wearing her wedding dress, claims one witness. “No, it was noblewoman’s gown,” says another. “She was a poor girl in a plain white shift,” reports a third. Regardless, one consistent element among the many accounts we’ve collected: her expression is kind, but achingly sad, and she seems to be searching for something.

Most will never witness the Lady in White, but those who have who have received her blessing have seen their spirits lifted in a most profound way.

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(I believe that the recent developments in the so-called Witchwood near Gilneas may present opportunities for our growing organization. The research has been fascinating thus far. Looking forward to your thoughts on the preceding dossiers.

- R.)

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