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Reaver Woods

The howling wind of the Frostmarch brings a chill that no cooking fire can ease. Three tribes dwelled here, the Riverden, Stonegren, and Woodwen, tapping into ancient primal powers and communing with the spirits of the land. Though the Riverden and Stonegren perished into the mists of history, the Woodwen defied the Imperium, and battled them to a standstill, remaining a free and proud people. In the last decade, they chose to allow Avar settlers on their land, and it was thought an age of peace was at hand. But then came the Gloomfall, and all that remains in this land are echoes of the dead and vicious predators that wear a human shape. They do not hunt to live; they hunt to cause pain, and so they bear the name Reavers. All sentiment has been cut from them, all mercy extinguished. The few humans who have not evacuated the area speak of the Reavers as if they were a death-bringing storm, a nightmare army that kills only to kill.
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Objectives

Phase 1

Gate of the Honor Guard

The gate to the Reavers' camp smells foul, betraying the intentions of its owners. They no longer simply hunt -- tainted by the Gloom, they slaughter without bothering to conceal their scent from future prey. Only desperate animals would get close to this fortress of decay. The Reavers who take up positions here look as if they have nothing better to do than test their mettle against invaders, beasts, or anything that slakes their bloodlust. You gather this is an honored position among them, for they stand ready and enthusiastic rather than shivering in the bitter cold as a common guard might.

Gate of the Honor Guard

Skywatch Tower

This looks to be an old Imperial signal tower designed to alert other Avar in the area. The devastation of the walls suggests that it was taken forcefully. The Reavers have not repaired it much, perhaps indicating that they have other methods of rapid communication in case of invasion.

Skywatch Tower

Ancestor's Tree

This tree, strung with chimes made of bones and beads, was clearly an object of reverence among the Woodwen. According to the Kasuo Codex, the Imperium cut down trees like these early in their conquest... which triggered a wave of merciless retailiation by the Woodwen. The Archon Kasuo ordered the Avar not to disturb these homes of the Woodwen ancestors, and so the practice stopped for a time. It is unclear why the Reavers have yet to destroy or corrupt this tree -- perhaps the spirits have some way of keeping their worldly residence safe.

Ancestor's Tree

Kasuo's Folly

Archon Kasuo was the last Avar commander to attempt to conquer the Frostmarch. When he finally ended his campaign, he insisted on erecting Imperial statuary over sacred sites as boundary markers between Imperial and Woodwen lands. It was while he was supervising this very statue, when, frustrated at the slow pace, he demanded the arcanists tap into the ley lines beneath the statue as a source of power for their stone-shaping work. Arcanic feedback arced through the air, and cracked the face of the stone, dropping a four-hundred-pound chunk onto Kasuo. With his arcanists incapacitated, he could not be revived, and his troops made dark comments about the potency of the Woodwen spirits.

Kasuo's Folly

Portal Woods

The forest here is unusually quiet —even the wind seems as if it is quieter than usual. Animals do not go near the unnatural stone structure in the tree stand, but it does not seem to be of Reaver make. Its strange artistic style suggests it predates the Empire's construction in the Frostmarch, but how old could it be? The local tribes may have stories preserved in their local traditions, but those are now as dead as they are, lost to the horrors of the Gloomfall.

Portal Woods

The Rimetop

This rise is so named because of the icy winds that buffet it, often leaving treacherous, nearly invisible ice on the stones even when there is no snow. In the Avar battles with the Woodwen, it was judged suitable for a fort, but according to the Kasuo Codex the cursed weather exposure made the outpost nearly as hard to defend as it was to attack. It is no wonder that the outpost was destroyed during the Gloomfall, and the neglect here is likewise unsurprising.

The Rimetop

Portent Hill

The lines of power beneath the earth supposedly meet at the top of this hill, home to a curious bell that resembles one in Lower Skylight. Even in the stiffest winds, the bell does not move or ring. The tribes of the area considered it forbidden to try to ring the bell by pushing it, and believed terrible fates would befall those foolhardy enough to try. The mystics of the Woodwen once cast other kinds of auguries here, such as reading the patterns of birds in flight. None are here now, all taken by the Gloom, and the bell here has a baleful glow that is an almost certain sign that some dire Gloom magic will occur the day the bell sounds.

Portent Hill

Bleak Road

It is hard to tell the path through the wood from any other stretch of snow. In theory, there were old Imperial and Woodwen trade routes here, on a trail marked "Bleak Road." After the Gloomfall, you would have thought that the dirt roads would have been reclaimed by vegetation. The fact that the forest floor is so bare makes you wonder if the Gloom has poisoned the soil, yet another potential danger to Skylight. Reavers are bad enough without worrying about a lethal food supply.

Bleak Road

The Frostmarch Megaliths

Histories of this area mention the standing stones erected by the Stonegren people. Their use of elemental power was legendary; not only were these stones shaped and smoothed and positioned with magic, they adhered to the bedrock beneath, so they are nigh-impossible to knock down. The hole in one of the stones is believed to mark the seasons, for the sun shines through it exactly during sunset on the vernal equinox. Some of the megaliths bear scratches, but even the Reavers have yet to find a way to seriously damage these monuments to the long-gone Stonegren.

The Frostmarch Megaliths

Wood of the Lightning Oak

This area is named for a prominent tree, mentioned in the histories as an unusual method of execution. With the tree strengthened by Flora magic and weather exacerbated by the element of Storm, prisoners were bound to the tree in chains, to be executed by the Primal forces themselves by way of a bolt of lightning. The Reavers don't hold to these ancient traditions, prefering a swift and brutal kill to a slow execution.

Wood of the Lightning Oak

Ten-Battle Bridge

The Avar histories say that their forays into the Frostmarch were frequently contended by the Woodwen, Stonegren, and Riverden. The Imperium's conventional tactics such as taking bridges to ensure that their logistics could supply their soldiers turned out to be less effective than planned. The local tribes used twinhorns rather than horses, which forded rivers easily, and allowed them to wreak havoc behind the Imperial lines. Nonetheless, the 203rd Legion withstood a legendary ten battles at this bridge, fighting alternately on the north and south sides as needed to face the enemy. In the end they could not hold the bridge, but neither was their unit destroyed, frustrating the finest warriors of the tribes. All this glorious history was swept away by the Gloomfall, the bridge abandoned because it offered no protection from terrors that could fly.

Ten-Battle Bridge

Traitor's Mill

This flamepowder mill was built to support Imperial forces in their early attempts to sieze this region. According to the Kasuo Codex, the Avar spellsmith Rhoto Faun turned against the Empire and used the mill to arm Woodwen insurgents with Imperial firearms. The mill was razed once the Imperial forces were driven from the land, and shunned by the Avar colonists.

Traitor's Mill

Titan's Walk

Legend speaks of a giant who trudged through the mountains here. As he dragged his hammer behind him, it created mountain passes and riverbeds. While this is certainly exaggerated, the presence of an sizeable hammer does make one wonder just how mighty the beings were who walked the earth in the age of myth. A more concerning thought is the possibility that such beings could fall to the Gloom.

Titan's Walk

The Ever-Burning Tree

This enflamed tree is almost too hot to approach, but you feel little danger from it. The surrounding woods do not seem to have caught fire despite a stiff breeze, indicating the flames are magical in nature. You have heard of the phoenix, and the lore that says where it sits will burn but not be consumed as long as the phoenix nests close by. It is an unanswered question whether that is a property of the flamewood trees they choose to roost in, or if the phoenix roosting turns an ordinary tree into flamewood.

The Ever-Burning Tree

Sky Blotter Hill

Imperial records on true dragons are scanty on local lore and long on details of how to eradicate them. Thus, they speak little of Saelorga the Sky Blotter, who allegedly preyed upon the native peoples of the Frostmarch. The Woodwen, however, say that Saelorga spoke directly into the minds of the people, and was bribed with twinhorns in return for protection against the Riverden. It is unclear what changed in this arrangement once the Riverden vanished, but Saelorga became angry at the humans around the time of the Gloomfall and was somehow killed by powerful elemental magic. Its place of death was here, on the hill where it used to recieve tributes from the Woodwen.

Sky Blotter Hill

Archon Point

This hill was where the forces of the Imperium enacted a declaration after a stalemate with the Woodwen. A series of Imperial statues of sword and sun would be built in the Frostmarch, dividing land between those who would serve under Imperial rule and those who would live under Woodwen law. The peace thus brokered was largely considered a success, with the exception of police actions when a lawbreaker would retreat into foreign territory to escape punishment. Since the Gloomfall of course, the treaties are obsolete and there is no point to enforcing them.

Archon Point

Strugglers' End

From a distance, this might be interpreted as a meeting place for Reavers, but you cannot shake the feeling it has a darker purpose. Footprints of all sizes indicate that there were goblins, or worse, children, marched and dragged across the snow into the arena. There are ominous stains in the clearing area, and a smell of viscera that no wind will blow away. The Reavers witness brutal deaths here, no doubt with cheers and shouts.

Strugglers' End

Last Gasp Outpost

This small Imperial fort appears to be nothing special, just another half-destroyed building in the middle of nowhere. But as you creep closer, there are signs. A woodpile, almost completely gone, hints at beseiged occupants who did not dare go outside. Small rooms suggest a skeleton crew tasked with holding the fort. Broken battlements suggested the Reavers got impatient while waiting, and used overwhelming force to collapse walls, all for what? One to four occupants? Their last moments are enough for anyone to say a silent prayer for their spirits.

Last Gasp Outpost

Loc Kaig

This frozen lake is only briefly spoken of in Imperial books. It is said to be home to kaig, legendary fishes who can remove their skin and become beautiful men or women. They attempt to seduce travelers and drag them into the water to be drowned and eaten. But if a traveler can find their skin, they can keep the kaig from being able to transform, and other kaig will turn on them and devour them when they inevitably try to return to the water. The Aurelian monks have never seen a kaig in the flesh, and write that it is likely a cautionary tale told by the local tribes to be on guard when in the forest.

Loc Kaig

The Path of Rage

The Gloom charges the air here like electricity before a storm. Whatever doubts you had about the efficacy of the old, primal ley lines in the ground are gone. Something old is beneath the earth, and its power leaks up to the surface like blood oozing from a wound. Your heartbeat quickens. The Reavers must have felt this too, when they built their camp here. They will channel rage as a weapon.

The Path of Rage

Signs of Agony

The stones here are painted with symbols that are not of the Woodwen. The glyphs are spatters of red, as if in blood, but they have not dried to brown as normal blood might. The likely conclusion is that Reaver captives are subjected to the Gloom, which brings out new properties in their flesh. Studying the Reavers' glyphs makes you wonder -- surely the Gloom has only corrupted the Reavers within the last year or more, not enough time to develop a language. These symbols are either something new or something very old, and the chill in your body tells you that it is definitely not new.

Signs of Agony