After dismissing a few… impractical ideas, the party’s attempt at stealth to reach the large, spotted eggs was sadly met with very limited success. One of the great feathered owlbears spots them as they move through the underbrush. Deciding to face the beasts head-on, rather than relying on guile and misdirection, the battle was joined. The huge beasts swing with raking claws, snapped with sharp beaks, and let out hooting howls that deafened and stunned those too close. However, Arjhan’s subtle magics played against the raging Fey beasts, and protected his allies from the worst wounds.
With the beasts slain, the party could gather the eggs at their leisure. Two were taken to give to the satyr elder. One was taken by Lasheous, packed away in his backpack for protection (though, with a shell that thick, his backpack would be torn to shreds by anything that would even have a hope of denting the egg itself). Koteth, using his knowledge of nature studies the last egg for a while, then picks it up and stashes it. One imagines that the two elves, from two very different backgrounds, have two very different plans for these eggs.
The look upon the satyr’s faces upon the party’s return gives the distinct impression that the goat-legged humanoids did not expect to see the adventurers alive, let alone successful. None the less, the elder and his three children finish preparing the feast for the guardian, pack it up, and lead the party further north into the deepest part of the valley.
The Goldenwood Tree lives up to its name. Each leaf is a pure, glowing golden color, which flashes and sparkles in the sunlight as the wind caresses the branches. The wood of the tree itself is a rich, deep polished bronze. Seated in a throne grown in the tree’s trunk is the guardian of the Goldenwood Valley, flanked by horse-sized black-furred Fey beasts, resembling huge cats. The guardian herself appears to be a regal wood elf, with branches woven into a complex headdress. She greets the party, exchanging pleasantries, while her muscled Fey beasts snore contentedly at her side.
With subtle and less-than-subtle questioning, the heroes discover that the guardian and the town of Pieymond have had an accord since the town’s founding; the woodcutters of Pieymond could take wood from any other tree in the Goldenwood Valley and sell it, as long as the guardian received half the gold. Pieymond earned a reputation for having the finest wood available, and the guardian always got her fair share of the money. Yet the latest mayor succumbed to greed, keeping a very lucrative deal from an Andalonan merchant a secret from the guardian. Or so he thought. Thus the guardian visited a terrible vengeance on the whole town. Her satyr pipers would play the haunting, mind-muddling musics day and night, while the night-time Wisps would shine their bewitching lights in their dreams. They were driven insane. One does not anger the Fey realm.
The guardian had another accord, one that she shared with any brave enough to seek her Goldenwood Tree. She would play a game with that person and their allies. They would take a branch from the tree, and they would simply need to leave the valley with it before the sun set. Glancing up at the golden rays of the sun, lancing through the leaves of her beloved tree, she warns the heroes that they have less than three hours. After the sun sets on the Goldenwood Valley, the passage to the world is shut until the following morning, trapping the heroes in the Fey Realm of Night (which, she chuckles, is not nearly as pleasant as the Fey Realm of Day).
“One more thing” the guardian says, stretching her arms, rolling her shoulders, craning her neck. “I will be hunting you, as you flee. Should I catch you, I shall take a prize from you, as you have taken a prize from my tree. A foot, perhaps. Maybe an eye, or a hand.” The stretching continues, her form bulking out, glossy scales replacing smooth elven skin. The emerald-scaled Fey Dragon rears up to full height, unfurling huge wings, heavy tail uncoiling. “I suggest you start running.”