Xorn wakes up face-down in moss. Nice, green, moist, springy, fragrant deep-forest moss.
The Barbarian-Ranger is typically very quick on the uptake. It never takes him long to assess a situation or come to a conclusion. But this is a deviation from reality that the half-Orc might be forgiven for needing an extra minute to wrap his head around.
Up until just now, or just a few minute ago, Xorn and his friends were in dark, musty catacombs under a cursed temple of Pelor, many miles east of Riddley’s Crown. They and their coalition partners were fighting Wights, Slaughter Wights, and a Blaspheme in narrow subterranean corridors. Xorn himself was engaged in melee combat with the Blaspheme.
Though the memory of the fight grow curiously indistinct in his mind, the Barbarian-Ranger seems to recall fighting from halfway up the wall, being wounded by a series of hits, then seeing the Blaspheme’s horrible maw lunging at him before pain and darkness overtook him.
Now, he is here. Wherever ‘here’ is.
Xorn rolls to his side. He does so slowly, expecting soreness from his injuries, but there is none. He is not injured. In fact, he is not in his usual armor or equipped with his usual weapons. A fine suit of studded leather adorns him; a magic bow and quiver of arrows are propped up against a tree. A tent and the accouterments of a proper wilderness camp are set all around him. This is not his camp, but feels like it is.
Sitting up, the Barbarian-Ranger looks around at his surroundings. In all directions there is forest – healthy deciduous trees, low green secondary growth, birds and insects busy about their business, a brilliant blue sky above a canopy of leaves in their full green strength of summer growth. A peaceful breeze drifts by, carrying the scents of foliage and game, awakening primal memories within the half-Orc’s soul.
There are no threats here. Xorn does not feel panic or unease or concern. The knowledge comes to him as instinct more than intellectual deduction – he is dead, or at least dead from the Material Plane point of view. This is not where he was from; this place is different, not an illusion, but a different Plane entirely. The trees, birds, light, smells, feel of the place are wild, of nature, the antithesis of civilization and humanoid dominance. This is the Wilderness of the Beastlands.
The encampment and its equipment are not his, but they are for him. As is this place; Xorn knows this as his afterlife, where he may hunt and explore and challenge nature for all eternity. Memory of his old life is slipping away, fading, becoming a dream half-remembered in this new awakening. A part of his mind seems empty, bereft of a presence that had grown familiar, the companionship of an intelligent Chaotic Neutral sword whose name he no longer remembers and whose partnership is severed and lost. But this is not a loss so much as a leaving behind. Already the Beastlands have embraced Xorn’s soul.
There suddenly comes a sensation of contact and communication, a last faint call from a past life lived in a forgotten dream. Xorn senses that it comes from a priestess of Nerull, someone Lawful Evil in alignment, who seeks to draw him back to the Material Plane. But the summons grasps at mist and vapours – that Barbarian-Ranger is no more. Xorn will not leave this place. The call falls silent, leaving only the wind in the leaves and a wilderness singing of summer.
Today is a day that will not end; the half-Orc takes up his bow, and decides on a direction to hunt.