Dawn in Dark Hollow
For a time the Band of Iron rested in the Tower of Nails, securing their hold, repairing the old structure, calling the Parliament of Bastards and other allies to gather. During this time, they received another letter from Manard the Weater, delivered by the owl Curiosity. In flowing prose it charged them with traveling to Baron Yorlen’s fief of Bresnikhold and stealing a tapestry from his castle.
First, the party decided to challenge the Bog Witch again. With Royse’s books they learned how to destroy her sanctuary, Dark Hollow. The Band traveled to the town of Fernsby to find the Dokkalfar. On the way, they found evidence of the Wild Hunt running down Penitents.
Once in Fernsby they met the blood hunter Bordul, who agreed to join them. The party located Skjult Grotto, where the Dokkalfar Dwell, and spoke with their leader, the myconid Sodd. The Dokkalfar agreed to weave an enchanted net for the party, given the right materials. Gaemund made a pact to return when Mairg was defeated in exchange for the release of a farm boy the Dokkalfar had imprisoned in their Well of Dreams.
Departing Fernsby, our heroes travel to Glassweb Grove in Fairy. They navigate the web of glass and meet the Sisters, who tell Ulreik and Tyrandriel that they have music in their blood. The party learns that Taras, Blessed Child, and Dirtirith had all come here before seeking their gossamer. They obtain some gossamer of their own, return to Skjult Grotto, and the Dokkalfar weave the gossamer into a crystal net.
Back at the tower of nails, the Band of Iron activates Royse’s sky bridge to enter the Sky Kingdom. They travel across the Morass and avoid Vindur’s patrols, reaching Vafprudnir‘s mansion. After defeating him in a battle of riddles, the heroes earn the fruits of his garden and safe passage to the Stairs of Dawn. They climb the Mountains of Morning and catch the first ray of dawn’s light in the Net.
The Band of Iron returns to Dark Hollow, exposes Waxcap’s Cauldron to the Rays of Light, defeats Father in combat and destroys the Witch of the Rattlebog.
Fideba’s caravan travels to Toadstool Hollow to help them recover. While the Band of Iron plans their heist in Yorlen Hold they come across treasure hunters searching for the Tomb of the Feathered Serpent. The tavern girl where they meet, Zyanzya, is secretly an actual Feathered Serpent, who follows them.
The adventure is a trap designed to catch someone who can read ancient draconic. Chea and her agents wait in an old huldra burial mound. With their trap, they capture and torture Nashia Arie, trying to ascertain whether she is the lightbearer. The Band of Iron storms the tomb and rescues her. Zyanya emerges, gives Nashia a massive gemstone egg, tells her “The first Lightbearer was a dragon. THe second was an Alfar. The third is both” and vanishes. A silver star appears on Nashia’s hand, identifying her as the Lightbearer.
Mask of the Baron
At last the Party travels to Bresnikhold to steal the tapestry. They arrive during Fooltide, a celebration of the Laughing God and the last harvest celebration before winter. On their way there, the Party protects Fideba’s caravan from the Wild Hunt. They rescue Quinn and learn from him a great deal about his order, the Penitents.
Fideba returns safely to Toadstool Hollow while the heroes and Quinn go to Bresnikhold. They meddle in the affairs of the soldiers, nobles and mercenaries, while aiding the common folk and Tilly Carosi. With their help, Fooltide is a merry celebration. In the end they approach Yorlen’s castle and his masked ball.
Once again armed with strange potions, the party infiltrates the scene in search of the tapestry. They find Chea and Warrick among the guests. During the festival, Tyrandriel and Bromin are whisked away to Winesong, the Laughing God’s home, where they receive the Mug of Mayhem and a deed to the Golden Bough, an enchanted tavern between the worlds.
The night ends with the party successfully stealing the tapestry, but the festival devolves into chaos, during which Warrick’s assassins kill Baron Yorlen. Ulreik manages to scar Warrick’s face with acid on the way out. Our heroes are forced to flee the chaos of the scene and escape with the tapestry.
The Willow’s Bride
Bresnikhold descends towards chaos. With a chance to return to their tower, the Band of Iron discovers that the tapestry depicts the Witch of the Willows, and the First Penitent, Marcus. They become suspicious of Manard and choose to confront the Witch of the Willows before returning to him. Atropa appears to Mo Rel, claiming that the Willow Witch will hate her for killing Waxcap. She offers to tell them the Witch’s secret, once again in exchange for Royse’s memories.
From the Tower they travel to Callabrook and Quanmar, Tavion/Caius’ home town. They find it overrun by bandits who they avoid. Tavion finds his father’s hunting knife in the ruins of his childhood home. They enter the Weeping Fen to find the Witch.
Along the way they battle and confront the Witch’s memories, extending back through the second day. After a harrowing journey they find three paths. They split into three groups, Gaemund going alone down one path. Each path holds its own perils and insight into the Witch’s history. Though worn, they reach her home.
It turns out the Witch is Aisling, fairy warrior, with her wings gone and her mind burned. She lives in Brave Mother and Kind Father’s original stone cottage, thousands of years old. The heroes manage to make peace with Aisling as they try to uncover the truth, but Atropa appears and attacks them with Shadar-Kai, summoned elementals, and her own magic.
The party fends off Atropa’s attack, despite her attempts to outright kill Tavion, and Tyrandriel walks with Aisling into the lake by her garden, where her memories are stored. This burns both of them, turning Tyrandriel’s hair and robes ash gray. With her memories restored Aisling becomes their ally, sharing her knowledge of the past. They learn of Marcus and the Root of Sorrow, the history of the penitents, and Tyrandriel receives Silver Talon, her sword. They also take a sealed metal box from the fireplace, the last of Marcus’ fire, and Princess Aine claims Eleanor’s Bracers.
From Aisling, they discover that Caill An’Angren sold her his name and transformed into a human to hide from Mairg. Rhawunel drinks the vial of his memories, obtaining his name. Now both she and Tavion have two names, keeping the second for their brothers. Tavion fully regains his memories and they see Royse’s memories of Vindur’s preparations for war. Bromin learns that Vindur stole the heart of his volcano to make weapons.
Atropa is driven off, but leaves behind a warning to the princess: “The dragon comes to reclaim his own!”
The Rains of Valdotain
It becomes clear that Manard has tasked them with retrieving artifacts related to the Penitents. Suspicious of an alternate agenda, the Band of Iron resolves to find and confront him. Just as they do, Curiosity delivers a well timed letter inviting the Band of Iron to join him in the city of Valdotain for an auction.
On their way they see more evidence of imminent war, as Bresnikhold collapses into chaos and Borgondhi troops and merecenaries prepared to invade. Tyrandriel departs to Bravewood Abbey to seek Eklos and Sheevra. They trick a group of Wolf Company mercenaries and steal their wages before reaching the city.
In Valdotain, they study at the Scholarium, realize that both Chea and Euthynos are present for the auction, and meet with the Count and Countess.. Gaemund discovers a mysterious warrior running secret errands for Count Imbert. Aine befriends the Countess.
One of the items at the auction is the veil of an ancient Sharani queen. Both Euthynos and Chea covet this item, so the party puts up a painting they commissioned from the Cloud Giants in the auction. They also plot to steal the veil, but when Wessel the Weasel enters it, he vanishes back to the Underworld in a burst of violet light. The heroes are forced to bid for the veil against their rivals. Gaemund uses Morco’s Fang to scare Euthynos out of bidding, but his Alfar attendant Quile stays in. Manard arrives in the middle of the auction and convinces Tavion to bid far more gold than they own, then drives up the bidding on their item to make sure they can cover it.
Back at the Guild of Weavers and Dyemen, Manard reveals that he is working for the owl Curiosity. The Heroes realize that Curiosity is Rúnda’s owl and has been spying on them. All the investigations into the penitents and their artifacts have been for the sake of Runda. Through Curiosity, they tell Runda to meet them in four days, then imprison Curiosity in an anti-magical cage.
Seeking to clear Jurian Dunlan‘s name and gain allies against Ralzemon’s imminent war, they invite Count Imbert to the Golden Bough to meet Sheevra and reveal the conspiracy.
At the Sign of the Golden Bough
Tyrandriel reaches Bravewood Abbey, collects Sheevra, and with Eklos as an escort they meet in the Golden Bough. Sheevra and Imbert know each other from their childhood, and Imbert becomes suspicious of the Band of Iron. They convince him that she is not the real princess, though they did know each other, and explain the death of Jurian, the death of Yorlen, Ralzemon’s schemes to foment an injust war, and Mairg’s designs against the kingdoms of humanity. He leaves to collect his thoughts.
Back in the city, Mairg is scrying for Caill and her spell finds Rhawunel instead. Rhawunel takes shelter in the Circle of Protection inscribed in the Eerie Wain, but the party knows they need to leave soon. Aine dreams of being a dragon and wakes up with scales that fade by morning. Gaemund and the party follow the trail of Ivory and find the grave of Sorruk, who has become a ghost, breaking his own oath of Ghostslaying. He asks them to help ivory complete her quest so he can rest. Her mission is to find or avenge Count Imbert’s parents. Gaemund agrees, and Sorruk vanishes.
Mo Rel and Bromin sneak into Euthynos’ manor. In addition to stealing some of his treasure, spellbook and research notes, they overhear Quile calling him the Dragon of the New Day. They frame Chea for the break in and flee.
Rhawunel discovers that the Noble Order, the mercenary band her transformed brother leads, is based out of Rastov, Isabel von Valdotain’s homeland to the south. They decide to travel there once their business with Runda is finished.
On the road back to Valdotain, Tyrandriel is accosted by bandits and visits the home of the farmers robbed by Wolf Company earlier. He gives them gold to help and continues on his way, until he meets Limgwan, a spirit summoned by Rhawunel to retrieve him, and rides swiftly back..
Four days after their meeting with Count Imbert, Rúnda arrives in the Golden Bough. She offers to trade each one of them a truth for a truth, and grants the party a boon in exchange for her owl’s freedom. The Band of Iron learns that the Laughing God stole the owl from her, and it was not her plan for them to find him. They realize that Atropa told Mairg of the Crown of Roots, that she found it to fight against Runda, and that her true plan is not to fulfill the prophecy, but to use it to persuade Vindur to destroy the human kingdoms.
Aine learns that to break a dragon’s curse, she must drink that dragon’s blood.
(To be continued)