Nevena’s tracking leads the Trespassers of Evermeet deep into the island’s northern woods. She is following the increasing corruption that has taken root along the protracted tentacle of the ‘Elf Eater’. The forest thickens with moss-covered vines, dense fog, and crooked branches. Oily, black leaves hang above in the still, dead air. The blight of the land combined with the appearance of a dragon should have warned them that perhaps they have wandered onto its land. They do not consider this possibility and instead press on. The fog and forest canopy become thick enough to blot out the sun. Rubbery tentacles, knotted with small twigs reach out from the gloaming ahead. The Trespassers are yanked toward a corrupted tree that has grown a mouth; it harbors a nest of wooden daggers for teeth. A frenetic tug-o-war with the rubbery-branch-tentacles ensues as Eira, Søngberg, and Nevena are repeatedly ensnared and mangled by the abomination. The diseased thing is bashed into a limbless stump until it ceases to fester.
Here the Trespassers rest, exhausted and bitten horribly from their recent melee. They are unaware of how close they have come to Black Rowan itself as they bed down. Each of them is beset by terrible nightmares, scarcely able to sleep in the inky darkness of the silent wood. In the ‘morning’ they will learn ghosts cling to the soil nearby.
Black Rowan is only a few hundred paces from where they slept. The tree is a twisted abomination, tarnished with a sappy, lacquer-like slime, the smell of which is harsh, chemical, and unnatural. Formed into the roots and branches of the terrible plant are naked elves, their bodies elongated and united with the bark of the rowan. Faces of pure agony adorn the heads of the figures and they moan from time to time. Clutched in the ‘hands’ of the tree is a slender, knotted staff of wood topped with a brilliant rock crystal. Lodged into the trunk is a great axe. Generous amounts of the tree’s effluvia have oozed and hardened around the wound from this implement.
Nevena approaches and attempts to speak with the tree, as she had done with Shy Silva. This joins her mind, briefly, with the dark god Malar and his bestial depravities. She is nearly driven insane by this insight before her spell ceases. Søngberg and Eira bravely approach yet further to hack free the staff (which they guess is the Moonglove Twig). A spell leaps out of the staff’s crystal, animating a nearby sycamore; it lumbers forth in defense of the rowan. Elven ghosts, doomed to haunt the scene of their lost bodies, attempt to possess Nevena’s native elven flesh. They would use her to murder her friends—but Nevena’s resolve overmasters their advances twofold. Søngberg calls upon the aid of Tyr to banish the spell upon the sycamore. The uprooted creature is still once again before it can pound the dwarf into the soil. Struggling to extricate the staff from the tree’s grasp, the dwarf and the human change their tack. Søngberg wrests the axe from the wound in the trunk, he hacks at clutching arms while Eira pulls with all her might. Eira’s might is enough to take the staff, but another awakening spell is released before she commandeers it. A second animated tree is lumbering forth while the ghosts of the tree close in.
The Trespassers flee with their prize as a ghost moves in to choke Nevena before they can escape. The ghost is cut down by their magic weapons, allowing them to make their escape from the deadly trees.