- "I remember the arrival of the Elves, long before they became the Asrai. I watched as they first ventured into the green. They were so full of fear. I laughed as their blood was spilt upon the forest floor. I screamed my fury when our fate became entwined with theirs. It was a mistake, but their time among us has come to an end..."
- —Drycha, Briarmaven of Woe.
Long ago, Drycha held court amongst the roots of Addaivoch, the once-glorious creature known in recent times as the Tree of Woe. Most believe that Drycha lost her mind when Morghur’s death tainted that ground forever, but in truth, she was capricious and malevolent for many long years before that tragedy. Drycha remembers well the days before the coming of the Elves, and has ever rued the folly that shackled the forest to mortal whim and fate. She rarely converses with others, even the Dryads who serve her as handmaidens, but instead chants a mantra of the names of all those fellow spirits whom she believes have been failed by the Elves. As old as Drycha is, she still possess a crystal-clear memory, and it is doubtful that she will ever reach the end of her tally; new names are added with every battle between Athel Loren and the outside world.[1a]
In the early years of the alliance between the Elves and forest, Drycha was ever in evidence about the glades and groves, watching the Elves and examining their every action for any sign of betrayal. She has been seen little in the years since Morghur’s blood was spilt upon her glade, though she is known to commune with Coeddil, a Treeman of great age and power, and serves as his herald while the great being lies shackled in the depths of the Wildwood. Such a thing cannot help but provoke unease, for Coeddil’s distrustful attitude of the Wood Elves is legend. He is so incredibly ancient that it is difficult to ascertain his motivation, for Coeddil has forgotten more than many younger beings — the Elves included — will ever know. If these two embittered spirits have found common cause, as it appears, it can only be a matter of time before the balance of Loren forest is thrown into disarray.[1a]
In recent years, strange tales have come to Athel Loren, worrying rumours of Drycha’s activities. On the fringe of the great Drakwald Forest in the Empire, the peasants tell stories of the trees that come alive, hungry for blood. On the edge of the Forest of Arden in Bretonnia, villagers gather only deadwood for their purposes, citing tales of other settlements found ruined and torn, the inhabitants left as scraps of tattered meat by the vengeance of the trees. To many, these events seem as senseless as they are apparently random, but if they are indeed the work of Drycha and her handmaidens, there must surely be a greater goal behind them than mere slaughter — though what that goal is remains to be seen. Alas, even Naieth the Prophetess cannot see the destination for which Drycha strives, for the road leading there is hidden by blood and horror.[1a]
Battle of the Oak of Ages
- "I know all your hopes and desires, mortal. Nothing is hidden from me. I can give you what it is you want. I can guide you along the darkling paths that wend and twine..."
- —Drycha, within the Oak of Ages.
At some point, Drycha was able to intervene in the ancient ritual that awakened Orion, King of the Woods. With the demi-god trapped in icy slumber, the Briarmaven gathered a vast army of forest-spirits and disgraced, spider-tattooed Elves from the Wildwood. Marching upon the Oak of Ages, seeking to free their lord, the Wood Elves of Athel Loren engaged in a great battle with Drycha's malevolent forces.
Unusually, the Asrai host counted amongst their number two Humans. They were Anara and Calard of Garamont, a blessed Grail Damsel and Questing Knight of Bretonnia. While Anara lent her magical might to combating the forest-spirits, Calard bravely charged into the very heart of the Oak of Ages, where the Briarmaven awaited.
Poisoned as he was by the venomous arrows of a dozen Sprites, Calard was still able to combat the illusions that Drycha conjured to entrap him, strong in his faith to the Lady of the Lake. When the Branchwraith made to attack, Calard plunged his holy sword into her chest, banishing her to the realm of Cythral...
Wargear and Abilities
Among the most ancient of all Athel Loren’s inhabitants, Drycha possesses great and terrible power. She is capable of conjuring potent illusions, driving her victims mad by forcing them to face their greatest fears and doubts. She can also change her form at will from that of a hideous tree-thing to a beautiful, elf-like maiden.
In her most appealing form, Drycha is virtually naked, with smooth skin, slender limbs and unblinking emerald eyes. Moving with unhurried, feline grace, all that protects her modesty is the serpentine flow of her hair, wrapping around her willowy form. Filled with twigs and ivy, her hair is like a living mass, caressing her body. Only those possessed of incredible willpower can hope to resist her charm, for she is physical perfection beyond any earthly being.
When the time is ready to strike, Drycha’s alluring beauty sloughs away, replaced with a mask of vileness and fury. Her cracked, wooden lips slide back to reveal green needle-like teeth and oily black gums, and her slender, nubile body becomes a wasted cadaver of wood and thorn. She leaps at her foe, fingers fusing into points, and draws her branch-like arms back to impale them...
- Fang of Taalroth - Many in the realms of men believe this powerful dampener of magic was once carried by their God of Nature, Taal himself.