The Vrynenwood â€“ formerly named simply The Northern Forest. When Gortan Orftansen, the first Tyrian in known history to enter the woods and emerge again (yes, itâ€™s one of *those* forests), returned to civilization a changed man, the curious masses asked him again and again, â€œWhatâ€™s in the Northern Forest?â€, to which he would give only one reply: â€œThe Vryne live there.â€ And so for lack of anything more imaginative to call it, it was re-named the Vrynenwood.
The forest, whose silver-barked trees were naturally leafless year-round, used to be passable and crisscrossed with footpaths and trails, but that was many centuries ago. Then, the Vryne were known to the world as a wispy-bodied peaceful people best known for their intricate and beautiful waterwheels and for the excellent craftsmanship of their reed and cattail weaving. They preferred to live by the brooks and ponds that dotted the Northern Forest, and most of their villages were clustered around a slow-flowing or still body of water, with the chieftainâ€™s house often built on stilts at its center and accessible by low bridges of their native silvery wood.
Their peace was long, but it was not to last. One day a ragged traveler arrived at a Vrynen village and the villagers, who were usually friendly to but cautious of outsiders, took him in and heard his story. He was called Traemas, and he told them that he had gone in search of a new home for his people, the half-breed elves of Trelling, who had been forced out by famine and disease. Being compassionate as they were, they fed him, clothed him and allowed him several days rest there, but when he begged them to let the Trelling refugees come there to live, they refused. However Traemas pleaded, the Vryne could not bear the thought of their serenity overturned by thousands of outsiders with their foreign customs. They were polite and apologetic, but they would not be swayed.
Traemas left the village in a fury, and it was not long after that the refugees of Trelling, fueled by desperation, descended upon the scattered Vrynen villages with Traemas at their head. If the Vryne would not take them willingly, then they would take the land by force.
A bloody battle broke out, and though the refugees were starving, they Vryne had little to no combat experience and the only weapons they possessed were used for hunting small game creatures. Indeed, there was only one true warrior among them, Ulan, who had left the forest as a boy and spent more than twenty years in the kingâ€™s army before returning to his homeland.
Ulan was immediately elected to head the defense, and he fought like blazes, a terror dressed in green and white; but victory was out of his grasp. They were simply too far outmatched. Ulan soon found himself gasping on the ground with his own blood pouring out of his many wounds. Though he was soon to be a dead man, he still yearned for his peopleâ€™s salvation. With his dying breath, he uttered a prayer that he would reincarnate and live again, as would all his people, and they would avenge the destruction of their homes and lives, and continue to protect the forest.
As they saying goes, be careful what you wish for.
A passing minor deity heard his prayer and took pity on him, granting his wish within the limits of the deityâ€™s power. As the Vryne were killed off one by one, their souls were snatched from the boundary of the afterlife and remade into smaller versions of the deityâ€™s image. They became like lovely insects: tiny, thin and cylindrical with round black eyes and translucent, iridescent wings shaped like miniature dragon wings. In fact, except for their veined, five-pointed wings, they were much like dragonflies. And of course, their sting was poison.
The Vryne returned to their villages in beautiful swarms and stung the Trelling refugees to death before theyâ€™d so much as settled in. Having accomplished their mission, however, they were stuck in their new forms, immortal, with no other purpose than to guard the forest.
They nested on the leafless trees, their transparent, rainbow wings appearing exactly like leaves as they clustered on the branches by the thousands.
Now, those who journey to the forest will gaze on a bewitching sight â€“ the silver bark and shimmering â€œleavesâ€ of the Vrynenwood, but that may be the last thing they see before the â€œleavesâ€ come alive and protect their homeland, as they have done for centuries.
Maybe the PCs need to find a way to convince the Vryne to let them pass through the forest? If they can return the Vryne to their original forms, they may be the only outsiders allowed to pass freely in this wondrous place.