“This world is old. Older than any empire. Older than any ruler. You count your history in thirteen Ages, but each age is lost to you, something even your great Archmage can only steal glimpses of. But this world has mountains older than the gods and seas older than the hells, and they remember it all.
Every Druid draws their strength from the land. We are no exception. For one who knows how to live well, as we do, the land will provide for all your needs. Not just food and drink, but comfort. Not just shelter, but protection. This earth can be your companion, your solace. It can be your greatest lover, if you’ll let it.
This can be true for anyone, but few will let it. And though none of us truly deserve these gifts, every generation, a few of us will devote ourselves to honoring and returning them. My departed brother, Vigilant Penna, and I are members of a clachan dedicated to protecting a portion of what you call the Bitterwood. For Ages, we’ve kept these paths shrouded behind an ancient veil, hidden wherever no words were spoken, so that we might safeguard a portion of this world that harkens all the way back to creation, the dawn of this world.
There are no words in any modern language for what has been taken from us. The closest might sound something like… Earthheart, or Worldroot. It is a thing of unimaginable power, and was no doubt used to render these poor souls to their current arboreous states. We’ve no clue why our wayward brother First Stag has taken it, but without it, our Shroud has failed, which explains not only how you found our path, but also how the redcaps we tangled with earlier made their way in as well.
I suppose the good news, if there is any to be had here, is that if he’s used the heart for something like this, it’s likely famished. He won’t be able to do something like this again until it’s had a chance to regain its potency. "