From the journal of Zil, Windling Elementalist of the 4th circle.
A while ago some people discovered a strange grove in the Servos jungle (Hex 40,14) where much of the plants and wildlife is strangely metal infused. they have called it Ironbark Grove. Aethryllia Redwing, a Windling Beastmaster, seeks to understand the strange evolution of the grove. She hired Jael, Norg, Karl Thompson, and myself to escort and protect her while she does her investigations. The trip out went smoothly. Redwing is a vivacious lady and a charming conversationalist. She gave me lessons in riding her zoak.
When we arrived at the Grove, we saw much wildlife weirdly affected: squirrels with metal teeth, and deer with metallic antlers, trees with iron bark, Etc Deep within the water of a pool we could see the glint of what appeared to be an exposed vein of metal. I found a quiet place to listen to the world, and gradually became aware of Elemental voices. Two of them. I listened and discovered that one was speaking the tongue of Elemental Wood, railing against an interloper. The other was screaming in the tongue of Elemental Earth that it needed help!.
I was moving around trying to determine which movements made the different voices louder or more faint, when three Ogres came along, apparently with the goal of filling up their empty gourds with water. There was an awkward pause, and then they attacked. I was the closest and got smashed to the ground by a huge club which left me dazed and unable to think of very much useful to do. The others knocked all three unconscious within seconds. We decided that as soon as Miss Redwing returned from a quick gathering expedition she had embarked upon, that we would simply move our camp and let the Ogres recover and leave if they were so inclined. While we waited for Aethryllia to return, I performed a Fire heal ritual in our campfire.
By the time I completed the Fire Heal, Aethryllia was overdue, so we went out looking for her. We spotted her, her zoak, and her blood ravin struggling with something unseen. As we hurried towards them, all of us except our two riding goats at the last second detected some almost invisible webs in front of us. The goats were trapped, just likeAethryllia and her animals, in the webs. We were attacked by 4 very large spiders of various species(the smallest had legs 4 feet across) . I think the beastmasters referred to one as a Leafy Weaver Spider, and another as a Giant Weaver spider. Anyway, aside from their sticky webs, they also spit poison, and have nasty bites. It was a tough battle, with several of our fighters suffering from debilitating poisons.. I did little in the battle, mostly trying and failing to sooth the venom affecting Jael, who killed the last spider just before succumbing to it's paralytic poison. One had run away, so the area has not been made safe.
While waiting for the poison to wear off, we looked around the area some more. There was a huge tree with an opening into/under it big enough for even an Obsidiman to climb down. There were unending lines of largish ants (about 3 inches long) carrying flecks of metal away from the tree. The voices of the two spirits I had heard earlier were very loud here. The wood one was still bemoaning an interloper, the metallic one begging for help against an attacker. After resting for a few hours, we discussed whether we wanted to go into the tree immediately, or wait for morning. We decided to go in immediately. We descended pretty far, and came to a ledge above a deep chasm.
Before us we saw two manifested spirits. One was a metallic Earth spirit, partially emerged from a spike of iron, the other was a wood spirit. The wood spirit was holding a spear of wood that had been thrust through the Earth spirit. Also present were some very large insects (several feet long) that were gnawing on the metal, trying to wear it away. I used Elemental Tongues to speak with the spirits, and a confusing situation became clearer.
It looked as if an underground river was causing erosion, which had exposed part of what we had been mistaking to be a vein of pure iron, but we quickly learned that it was not a vein of naturally pure metal, but rather part of a construction that had been erected within the ground - a hidden Kaer! The Earth spirit was bound to the kaer's defense. The water had exposed it, and the plants, sensing something that should not be there, were attempting to eat it, which in turn was poisoning them. Rather than just not eating the metal, the plant based ecosystem seems to have made up what passes for it's collective mind to try eating all the metal really, really fast. for some reason the regions insect population also decided to cooperate. As a physician, I can state that this is not a good response to finding a poison in your diet, but what can you expect from Wood? I would have at least expected the insects to be smarter than that though.
So anyway, I suggested that we open up the Kaer and get the people out. Then the Earth spirit could depart. Then maybe hopefully the regions wood spirits could be persuaded to just decide to stop eating the metal. We might have to get some Questors of Jaspree and/or Purifiers in to talk sense to the Wood spirits, though obviously I am willing to give it a try. Maybe we could get some workers in to start dismantling the Kear from the inside (it seems to have been constructed with what must be a fortune of True Earth metals). Anyway, everybody agreed to a temporary truce, though the Wood Elemental demanded that I personally would owe him a great favor for the truce. I agreed and the Earth Elemental was let free. He lead us back to the surface, and then down into a well hidden cave where the entrance to the Kaer is. We had hoped to open it immediately, but looking at the door we recognized that to open from the outside it required specific ritual supplies that we did not have with us.
So we returned to Throal to obtain the specific ritual supplies that will allow us to open the door. While in Throal I also intend to inquire of Questors of Jaspree, Purifiers, and more senior Elementalists as to how to convince all the regions Wood Elementals, to convince all the plants in the area, and all the insects and other wildlike in the area, to stop eating True Earth metals. I mean the Wood Spirits at least seem to recognize that it is poisonous. But it seems as if everything is unwilling to stop eating it. The Wood Elementals seem to want to eat it as fast as they possibly can.