Raftambo lead the party through the treetop passageways to the heart of the forest, and Tane Mahuta, the large tree in the center of Vanara. They made their way through throngs of curious citizens to the hut in the highest branches. There they met the elderly Vanaran Damreto, leader of his people. He was initially very dubious of their claims to journey towards the roots at the forest floor, but at the mention of figures in dreams talked with the group in private. He explained the guardians, Vanarans who had been taken in service by the tree, kept the roots in their watch.
Despite his assurance they would not return, the party followed the trunk of the tree into the darkness below. As they descended through the branches, they spotted more and more ruined Vanaran watching them but not making any move to attack. Exploring the forest floor they found an uncharacteristically obvious entrance to their destination. Within the trunk of the tree was a cavern of roots and vines, and the mysterious figures were waiting for them.
Their conversation was as difficult to interpret as ever, but this place seemed different from the other ruins. This was a strange trial of sorts, and they seemed intent on some form of dangerous test.
Without warning, heavily altered Vanaran dropped down from the vines above and assaulted the party. A fierce battle ensued. The burly foes rippling with muscle tried to pin in the adventureres while gaunt figures in the rear used strange magics. Therran fell to a mental command and slept through the fight, but Milvin’s mixed blood was able to shrug off the spell. Maarus let fly with bullet after bullet from his revolver, repeatedly filling the cavern with its holy rapport. Waeslyn counted his shots carefully and with magical boons gathered from his travels put down a foe with frightful eyes. Woomera fiercely stabbed and thrust until a command from one briefly froze her in place. Calder’s go to idea of summoning an ally backfired when the control was wrest from him as soon as the archon appeared.
Despite the mental and physical onslaught, the party eventually prevailed, and confronted the reappeared dream figures. Irate to say the least, they loudly chastised them for the ordeal, the dream figures seemingly unconcerned with their emotions. They departed after reminding them they were close to fulfilling their purpose and Calder collected the third crystal. Fitting it into the pendant revealed the final location, a glyph of what appeared to be a tortoise slowly moving across the plains.
Before they left the cavern, an avatar of the tree itself formed from the many entangled vines, roots and branches. It was too primal to communicate with the party, but they received the distinct impression that it was grateful for the expulsion of the dream figures and wished to reward them. It produced strange fruit that they collected for later.
Leaving the tree a curious assortment of personal items had been strewn about the forest floor in front of them, although they could not see anyone in the area to have left them. They returned to the city above much to the shock of the people present. To their memory no guardian had ever returned once offering themselves in service to the tree. Whatever they had done below, new life had begun to emanate from the tree. The vanarans wished to properly reward the service to their people, and they said they would send their thanks to the small village with Raftambo.
When the party returned to the hut they had stashed their mounts at, Raftambo greeted them in his recognizable broken common. The mounts appeared to have endured mild shenanigans in the party’s absence but nothing to damaging or irreparable. When they walked into the hut, they heard the distinctive wailing of an infant from the floors above.