Deposition delivered to Henri the Faun, detailing good faith negotiations between citizen representatives of the village of Chuton (who in the context of this deposition are named as The Lion – Lawyer and Watchman, Henri the Faun – and Owen - Blacksmith. Be it noted that Ryla, an orc child mentioned in this deposition, is discounted as a citizen representative of these negotiations being under-age but may be called to give witness to the events recounted with the provision of adult council) and Redleaf, representing the new fey administration of the village of Ashborne. .
I (name redacted) otherwise known these 27 years as The Lion, swear upon the Old Gods and the New that the following is a true account of the events of (date).
Upon approval of the mayor and citizens of Chuton, it was given to myself, Owen the Blacksmith and Henri the Scribe to travel to Ashborne in pursuit of a courier who had been seen dealing with Rusty, former owner of the Rusty Crown. This shady figure in black slouch hat with his face covered completely by a black mask spoke in a raspy, broken voice. When he was described, it reminded me of those who work in the mill town of Ashborne and must breath in the harsh dust laden air of that place. They cover their mouths with dust masks. As Henri and I were about to depart, Owen indicated his interest and an offer of the protection of his hammer. We were already on the road through the forest towards Ashborne when we became aware of a filthy orc child scampering through the undergrowth, trailing us. Ryla had, when much younger, at times clambered onto my back as the other children do – which I suffer but do not enjoy AND you may write that down, Henri! Owen, Henri and I didn't feel right about leaving her unsupervised in the forest. I'm told orc children grow up much quicker and how her parents raise her is their affair while in Chuton but on the road as the shadows grew, I for one wasn't about to chase her off, so she joined us. I learned later that she's certainly able to defend herself, is formidable even, but she is never-the-less a minor, and we the adults here.
We experienced some difficulty approaching Ashborne, for the bridge had been removed. Not destroyed but dismantled with care, by what means we couldn't ascertain. Ryla made the crossing with cunning and a child's abandon that would have given me a heart-attack if I still possessed a heart, flinging herself into the river, disappearing under the water then bounding out and up the embankment with great agility. We crossed by means of a rope, but I caution that the bridge remains dismantled and there is no easy access to Ashborne now.
At the entrance to Ashborne the Mayor was in the process of organising the final evacuation of all living inhabitants of Ashborne. They stood outside of the town itself, well packed and equipped with wagons. Night had fallen by now, lights and camp fires burning among the refugees but nary a one in the town itself. We approached with caution and introduced ourselves to Mayor Suzanna who was leading the evacuation. This is what she recounted as I recollect it:
Some days ago, the entire town of Ashborne began to have visions of destruction. These visions were a warning from a fey entity who claimed the land the town sits on and all the woods around it by right of prior-settlement. This fey had been recalled by the sounding of the bells, those we all heard in Chuton. The entire town was under notice of eviction, given sufficient time to pack and leave. When the town hesitated, destruction was wrought. Houses were crushed by large, strangling vines that penetrated the bricks and timbers, crushing them in vice-like grip until inevitably the weakened structures collapsed. The refugees camped outside only awaited the Mayor's word and she only waited for the return of one man, a Mr Atwood, the owner of the town's mill and source of the town's riches. Once he was with the townsfolk again, they would leave, raise a militia using his funding, and return to re-take Ashborne. Mr Atwood, however, had been chosen as the fey-entity's emissary and was still within Ashborne, at the mill.
At this point, with the approval of Owen and Henri, I negotiated an agreement with the Mayor that we would enter Ashborne and speak with Mr Atwood, encouraging him to leave the town with us. We would protect him if possible.
Time being pressing we went into Ashborne at once. Ryla accompanied us, showing herself a resourceful child, very aware of scents and the natural environment. Nature had asserted itself over Ashborne most violently. Every house and businesses in the town had suffered under the strangle and crush of enormous crimson vines, many still in the process of collapse. The creak and crack of timbers and tumbling of bricks and mortar were extremely unnerving, especially considering there was not a single light in the town. Nothing made any approach or attack upon us, however and we arrived at the mill situated on the river in the center of Ashborne.
An enormous crimson tree had split the mill wheel and was visibly in the process of growing and branching. The mill house doors collapsed alarmingly as we approached, providing a yawning dark entrance into the building. I switched on the night-watch lantern I have internal to my design and played it slowly within the the building. It was quite dramatic, actually. Yes, I know that's irrelevant, Henri, but nevertheless true. I heard you gasp. So did Oswin and Ryla snarled.
My light showed the trunk of the crimson tree penetrating the back interior wall of the mill. The trunk was split, forming a hollow, very throne-like. Upon that throne was Mr Atwood, the very same darkly clad figure that Rusty had spoken with a few days ago, before the attacks upon Chuton. With caution, I asked permission to approach and Mr Atwood beckoned us to do so. This was alarming, his limbs loose and his body slumped against the wooden throne. As we got closer we saw his pallid face, devoid of emotion, or even life, and the huge thorn that thrust from the tree, through the back of his head and his open mouth. I don't mean to shock or disgust but these are the facts. The crimson tree had made a puppet of Mr Atwood, it's "emissary".
I have read of the Fey and that they are arrogant, tricky, immensely powerful. We were three townsfolk and only Owen, with his well muscled arms, of any use with a weapon. And we had a child with us. Quick consultation agreed that there was no way we could successfully attack this creature. We approached as mediators instead, between the Mayor of Ashborne and this returning Fey landlord, keen to evict unwanted tenants.
Through a mix of glib-tongue, gross-flattery, great tact and care and the exchange of contractual agreements, we learned a great deal.The fey's common name was Redleaf. Redleaf knows a lot about dealings in what he/she sees as its domain. He/she didn't know why Chuton had been attacked, had only observed it. A woman of power with a great deal of luggage was the instigator of the attacks upon Chuton. I do, in fact, suspect that Redleaf did more than this, delivering sproutlings to Rusty via his/her emissary, Mr Attwood. Redleaf was not behind the removal of the bridge into Ashborne. There is some other information too long to be detailed in this deposition, which can be delivered to Mayor Izzy and other town representatives of Chuton. I'd also advise the deposition of Owen and Henri and of the child Ryla (with appropriate council.)
There may be some that believe our actions ignoble or cowardly. No, we did not attack nor antagonize Redleaf, being utterly convinced that it was not within our power nor within Chuton's interest to interfere in the disagreement between Ashborne's current occupant and it's former. Does the ant take issue with the foot about to step on it or instead swiftly move aside? We departed the town (rather, we were permitted to leave by Redleaf). My feeling is we left on amicable terms, with Mr Attwood's corpse. This we burned.
Ashborne and the seizure by Redleaf of the woodlands and connecting roads remains of great concern and will impact enormously upon Chuton. Currently, our new neighbour is ….passive, perhaps is the best word. Disinterested or otherwise engaged in reclaiming lost possessions. We will need to decide what to do when Redleaf deigns to notice Chuton.