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Grove of Doom by Didier Graffet

Grove of Doom by Didier Graffet

The Grove of Doom is the small forest in the southern continent which was the holy place for the Strangler cult. The Grove is situated between the great river (and Taglios) to the north, and the surging Main to its south. It is approximately 7,000 miles south of the Sea of Torments. It was visited by Croaker in both Books of the South, and later by other members of the Black Company in three of the Books of Glittering Stone.

The forest was said to be the place where the head of Kina, the Strangler goddess, fell when she was cut into many pieces in mythical prehistory. Later revelations about her true location would prove that myth false. The Stranglers built a temple at the center of the Grove where their priests and jamadars gathered once a year to perform the rites for the Festival of Lights, which included human sacrifice. The Stranglers' temple was destroyed and rebuilt many times over the Grove's long history.

The Grove was also visited by the Black Company early in their history. They sacrificed one hundred thousand prisoners of war there and buried them in mass graves. This was done in a failed attempt to bring about the Year of the Skulls and resurrect Kina.

Grove of Doom

Conjectural map of the area around the Grove of Doom. Note that the great river and the Main are incorrectly shown as the same river.

Shadow GamesEdit

Croaker, riding on the back of one of the black stallions, visited the Grove of Doom for the first time in Shadow Games. He was scouting south of Taglios to check out the Main as part of his new role as Liberator in service to the Prahbrindrah Drah. During this recon, he and his group were separated by Shadowlanders who had been sent by 6 shadowweavers to assail them. Croaker took the opportunity to chase a very mysterious stalker into the crow-infested woods (he would later learn this was Soulcatcher). Not yet knowing about Kina, her connection to the Grove, or even the Grove's name, he and even his horse were still haunted by the menacing presence of the wood. Croaker left after Soulcatcher shot a black arrow with a warning written in the language of the Jewel Cities mere inches from him.

Dreams of SteelEdit

In Dreams of Steel, Soulcatcher brought her captive, Croaker, to the Strangler temple in the Grove to heal him from the arrow wound which she gave him during the Battle of Dejagore. During his convalescence, Soulcatcher created her duplicate of the Lifetaker body armor inside the temple. Eventually, Croaker sewed Soulcatcher's head to her body with the help of the imp Frogface. In his ample free time, Croaker made a veritable army of figurines out of handy plant material, scattering them about, including very detailed ones of Soulcatcher and the Howler. He also made a crude display of the Battle of Charm, in the hopes that his wife would see it. They departed before the Strangler pilgrims began to arrive.

It was soon visited by Lady and the Stranglers during the Festival of Lights. During this event, Kina's idol was animated by the goddess's magic power for the first time in its history. Secretly, Narayan Singh and the others somehow consecrated the unborn child in Lady's womb to be the "Foretold". Lady killed Moma Sharrael and used his blood and some sorcery to permanently stain the hands of all those Stranglers present. As her husband hoped, she found Croaker's figurines, and realized for the very first time that her sister Soulcatcher was indeed alive.

Bleak SeasonsEdit

Years later, during Bleak Seasons, the Grove was raided by a team of Black Company members and allies, including Murgen, One-Eye, Goblin, Thai Dei, Wishbone, and Wobble. They attempted to rescue the Daughter of Night – the kidnapped child of Lady and Croaker – and killed or captured every Strangler present with only one exception. Narayan Singh, the most prominent Strangler jamadar, only escaped with the Daughter with the help of the Howler. He had been meeting with six shadowweavers who were representing Longshadow in his new alliance with the Stranglers.

Water SleepsEdit

More than 15 years later, in Water Sleeps, the Stranglers in the Grove were again ambushed by the Company, this time by Slink, on orders of Sleepy. Narayan Singh retrieved the golden pickax from the temple and handed it over to Sleepy. He fled with the partially-written Books of the Dead when he spotted a captured red rumel and realized his fellow cultists had been killed. Before Sleepy and the others continued their journey, they discovered the gold beneath the old iron shell of the pickax. They departed the Grove, headed south, and soon crossed the Main at the Ghoja ford.

Soldiers LiveEdit

At least 4 years later, the Stranglers suffered yet another ambush at the Grove, this time during the Battle at the Shadowlander cemetery in Soldiers Live. Instead of the Company executing the attack, it was Aridatha Singh leading a group of Taglian City Battalions on behalf of Mogaba. The Strangler pilgrims present there were all killed and decapitated, and both the Khadidas and the Daughter of night were bound and sent to the Palace in chains.

Not long afterward, Croaker and Goblin struck Kina directly. Croaker subsequently flew to the Grove on his rheitgeistiden. He no longer detected the sense of menace that had hung in the air of the place for centuries, which provided him with added confidence that his attack had succeeded.

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