Cornelius was searching for the ancient Ruins of Alhadra and several mystical writings said to be contained there, accompanied by Ashe whom he’d commissioned as a local guide and bodyguard. The first step, however, as finding its location within The Forbidden Forest. Centuries ago, by ancient compact, the forest had been declared off-limits as the territory of the winged kobolds who lived there.
These kobolds had been violating the truce recently by robbing frontier farms and ranches. These raids were normally nonviolent, but they defended themselves with force when anyone tried to apprehend the thieves. This was of particular interest to Cornelius not only because of their activities, but because several of the stone blocks they dropped on their pursuers were in fact bricks bearing guild marks from the kilns of Ancient Alhadra.
Our heroes eventually deduced that the raids were actually following a migratory pattern. They headed the kobolds off at the next farm that would have been hit, at which point instead of a battle, they managed to parley with the kobolds’ leader, Frido. Frido told the heroes that the kobold would happily return to their village and cease raiding if the “trees” would stop attacking them. He revealed that much of the vegetation had animated and begun attacking the kobolds in the night.
He also revealed that there were some human hostages still caged in the village, and that while some of the winged kobolds had been dropping food to them, none of them were willing to risk themselves to free them from their cages and secure their escape from the bloodthirsty plants. A s a payment for their efforts on the kobolds’ behalf, Frido gave them his Robe of Eyes so that they could see the spirits haunting the forest.
Thus equipped and intrigued, our heroes set off. They fought their way through the kobold village, evading traps and battling animated weapons and armor, skeletons, and blights. The presence of the blights, plus the odd aberrant vegetation in the forest and encroaching on the local farms, were all the information Cornelius needed to guess that they were dealing with an infestation precipitated by a Gulthias Tree, a magical tree that spawns such corruption, created when a tree is contaminated by a restless or undead spirit, usually when its roots encounter a buried corpse.
While they camped in the village, they also encountered, rescued, and shared their camp with Deekin and Meepo, two elderly kobolds who had not managed to escape the village and had been forced into hiding. The heroes gave the two elders enough food to survive until the blight could be ended, and then advised them to barricade themselves in the old building they’d sheltered in.
Eventually they found the tree of a dryad and very nearly had to fight her, as she was bound to defend the Gulthias Tree. After some quick diplomacy, the heroes learned that the dryad had been bound there by the hag Lettie Worm-Fingers and even got directions to her lair, and promised to depart the dryad’s grove rather than press on.
They then circumnavigated the dryad and carefully approached the Gulthias Tree, only to have it animate itself and attack them. Ashe was nearly killed, but Cornelius managed to prevail after her fall with frantic shoot-and-run tactics. As soon as the tree was destroyed, Cornelius was able to see the wicked spirit depart the tree thanks to his robe, and they then dug up the unsanctified bones Lettie had buried beneath it to be properly interred.
The heroes wasted no time telling Frido that the blight had ended, though their village was still in shambles, and attempting to broker a new peace between Lord Fieron and the kobolds. After setting those events in motion, they then set out to hunt down the hag who caused this whole mess.