Gloriana

Curse of the Bog Witch -- Part 2

Fleeing from the Rattlebog and the horrors within, our heroes stumbled back to Toadstool Hollow. Slaying the witch was beyond their strength, and if they were to liberate Morel and her home town from the curse, it would have to be by other means. Battered and discouraged, they turned in for the night.

That night, Morel had a dream. The Witch of the RattleBog argued with a shrunken head on her table. Morel’s gaze swept into the eternally screaming mouth and out another shrunken head, this one held in the wrinkled purple fingers and filthy yellow talons of a hideous cloaked figure riding on a coal-black horse with hair of fire. In a phlegmy and ancient voice, the figure offered to give Morel the words of the curse, that it might be broken—for a price. With a gesture, the cowled horror showed Morel a vision of the Tower of Nails, with a silver ewer glowing with blue light at its heart. “Bring me this from Royse, and I will give you the key to your curse.” Upon waking, Morel revealed this vision to his compatriots. Tavion realized the magic scintillating within the silver bottle is identical to that within the talisman he carries around his neck—the one holding memories he has lost. The silver ewer must contain memories, but whose? And why does the nightmare-rider want them?

In the Borgondhi Hinterlands by the side of a beautiful lake, the party encountered a group of footsoldiers let by Ser Callek—a Borgondhian Knight with a rude demeanor and distinctive nose. Surrounded by these soldiers was a forager, clad in simple raiment and wielding a homemade bow with arrows. While Tavion and Princess Aine hid in the wagon, the rest of the party answered the guards’ challenge. They presented Sir Eklos, Knight of the Pendant, and Tyrandriel acted the part of a humble acolyte. They successfully talked their way past the guards, attracting the attention of Sir Callek, who reluctantly yielded to the pious authority of Our Triumphant Family. The plight of the forager led the more compassionate of the party to ask her crime—Sir Callek answered that she was poaching. Tyrandriel recalled that a Knight of the Pendant can intercede on behalf of any criminal, taking them into the church’s custody and delivering them to perform Penance instead of a harsh sentence. Penances include service to the community and can be onerous. Sir Callek was again unhappy but unwilling to cross the church, so he released the poacher into their custody (swapping her iron manacles for rope bonds).

Once they got her away, they discovered that her name was Berwyn. A strikingly beautiful hunter and forager, she was not truly in the woods to steal the king’s deer—in fact, her husband had fallen ill, and she sought the Gray Wanderers. The party learned that the Gray Wanderers had been forbidden from entering Borgondhi by decree of King Ralzemon himself, on accusations of heresy and heathen practices. Nevertheless, Berwyn had heard of others across the kingdom falling asleep and never awakening, remaining unconscious and wracked with fever dreams until their strength relented and they perished. She also heard that the Gray Wanderers came to some of those afflicted in the night, and when they departed the sick awakened and recovered. She hoped to find them before they moved on, but when cornered in the woods by Sir Callek she panicked and went with hunting instead of heresy.

This news troubled the party. The symptoms of this sleeping sickness reminded them of their encounter with the Mists of Arkaley. In that small town in Marchen, the mists afflicted young children exclusively. Now it seemed that the affliction was far more widespread, and came not only with the mists or to the young—people across Marchen, Borgondhi, even fair Gloriana itself were falling asleep, never to awaken. Moreover, this had been going on before the Mists of Arkaley rolled in. Since her homestead was on the way to Dunlan Fief, they stopped by to check on her husband. A woodsman and lumberjack by trade, he’d been in a fitful sleep for two days. His body grew weak and thin, his flesh pale and withering from dehydration. In between bouts of spasms he muttered incoherently, pleading or arguing in gibberish born of no language.

Rhawunel’s divine sense did not reveal the presence of any unearthly forces, but the man was clearly wracked by dark magic. Tyrandriel sprinkled the woodsman with holy water and invoked the protection of the Laughing God, and the fits stopped. With the healing touch of Rhawunel’s magic, he woke up long enough to embrace his wife and drink water. While conscious, he recounted a tale of horror: he dreamed he was buried beneath the earth, his skin crawling with worms and spiders, while roots slowly grew into his flesh, consuming him and drinking his blood. Above the surface he could hear the voices of his children, telling him he belonged there and they did not want to release him.

When the companions spoke with the children, they found no signs of malicious intent or supernatural presence. The man also said he’d heard his wife, his long-dead father, the woman who spurned him in his youth, all scoffing at his pleas for freedom from his torture. It seemed the magic did not invade or possess his body; instead, it imprisoned his mind far away, in a dark and wretched place.

The companions considered what they knew. They feared this to be the work of Mairg, but how could her power reach so far away from the Caonach vale? What magic ensnared the minds of so many mortals, with no discernible pattern? And for what purpose?

Ulreik Hras Halril found a possible answer in the Mordavian Transcripts. They spoke of a Crown of Roots, which grants the wielder the power to “Send their will out across the Fifth Kingdom and the land.” They recalled the words of Nuinn, who told them that Mairg first tried to seize the miller’s children through Faerie, and when prevented there, reached out through “The Fifth Kingdom,” before being driven out “by ashes and embers.” The goblin Dwenday told them Mairg went down to the Starless Market and made a trade for a Crown of Roots, shortly before Rhawunel’s family was attacked and driven out of Angren. And finally, the Transcripts mentioned a “Root of Sorrow,” that drank from pools of suffering and grew fat on hate’s carrion.

Mairg was brewing something terrible in her forest palace. Could it be that she was leaching the life of humans across all the land, drawing their power unto herself for some malevolent purpose? And what does this have to do with her obsession with the Prophecy of the New Day?

With more questions than answers, the companions needed to set off to Dunlan Fief and the Tower of Nails. Eklos halted them—in his authority as a Knight of the Pendant, he gave Berwyn her penance: to stay with her husband and aid him in his time of suffering. He revealed that he’d met two of the Gray Wanderers and shared a meal with them while traveling to Arkaley. They were coming the opposite direction, towards Borgondhi, and while calm and polite they revealed little. Eklos stated that the Church was still uncertain about this new order, but thus far had no reason to persecute or hunt them. Ralzemon’s hostility was unexplained.

To compound this all, as they bid Berwyn and her husband farewell, Tavion learned one last startling rumor: Cedric Dunlan himself had fallen victim to the sleeping sickness. They hurried on the rain-swept trails to the central city to learn more.

The companions arrived in a town rife with activity. Caravans of food, leather, raw metal, tools and weapons streamed to the city gates. Not only were conscripted soldiers of Dunlan Fief watching the roads, but Tavion recognized numerous mercenary companies patrolling the grounds. There hadn’t been this many soldiers in Dunlan Fief since the last time the old knight rode to war. Rumors flit left and right about the sleeping sickness—its grip on Cedric dominated, of course, but others were afflicted, male and female, young and old. Bromin learned that only humans were falling prey to the disease—dwarves remained unaffected. The party needed to learn three things: the location of the mysterious Woman in Red, the condition and events surrounding Cedric’s illness, and everything they could about the Tower of Nails.

Once inhabited by Ulreik’s friend and fellow ex-student of the Academy, Florian, the Tower of Nails now hosts a reclusive man named Royse. Unlike Florian, Royse was expelled from the academy after a loud disagreement with the Alfar Council of Elders. The tower itself occupies a mountain pass that was once a key holdout against the Huldra, rendered useless when King Geirr and his knights invaded the lands and founded the kingdom of Marchen. Royse keeps little company but a thick-necked manservant. Supplies are delivered once a week by George the Farmer or his family. The Tower is renowned for its telescope, the top floor has partially crumbled, and there is an oubliette below the bottom floor. Nashia’s research revealed the history of the tower and the lack of any secret passages, as well as a general floor plan. Morel’s dream did not reveal the specific location of the Ewer of Memories. Bromin got Farmer George drunk and agreed to take the next shipment of supplies up to the tower, and Ulreik wrote a letter of introduction hoping to visit Royse as a fellow ex-student of the Academy. With multiple routes of entry prepared, they hoped their mission to retrieve the Ewer would succeed.

Gaemund and Rhawunel went in search of the Lady in Red. They learned she’d arrived before the party and gone to see someone at Dunlan Keep. Their questions, however, garnered the unwanted attentions of several mercenaries nearby. The quick-witted Gaemund managed to lose their tail and follow them in return. It seemed that the mercenaries had a vested interest in keeping the Lady in Red’s affairs secret. What could it mean that the woman who sold Bromin’s stolen ale, from the caravan where so many died, now had a secret meeting at Dunlan Keep? And if all these mercenaries were preparing for war, with whom, and why?

Meanwhile, at Dunlan Keep, guards and mercenaries halted Tavion, Aine and Tyrandriel, still in the disguise of a Priest of the Church. In Cedric’s time of illness, no guests or visitors were being permitted. This forced Aine’s hand—she revealed her signet ring and declared herself the Blood of Borgondhi, Aine, Daughter of Helena von Borgondhi, Granddaughter of Ralzemon von Borgondhi. Once the guards verified her credentials they let her and her compatriots into Cedric’s chambers. The elderly knight lay in agony, muttering to himself just as Berwyn’s husband did. Tyrandriel spoke the words of the Prayer of Protection and Cedric’s mind returned to his body. The acolytes of the church quickly administered healing herbs, prayers of restoration and water, and Cedric awakened. Face to face with his adoptive father for the first time since he fled, Tavion requested a moment alone.

The spell of protection could not last forever. Though he wondered at the risk his adopted son took to visit him, Cedric embraced Tavion warmly (but weakly). He recounted dreams of being buried beneath the earth, roots digging into his flesh, the voices of his own son and long-dead wife taunting him from above the ground. He feared for his fiefdom—Cedric confided in Tavion that shortly before the sleeping sickness set in on him, he had argued with an envoy from King Ralzemon. The Crown demanded that Cedric raise more soldiers and horses for the army, at great burden to his own people. When Cedric refused, a messenger told the King’s envoy that someone had arrived. The envoy departed with a scowl. That very night, the nightmares began.

Now leadership of the fief falls to Cedric’s son and Tavion’s adopted brother, Jurian Dunlan. Cedric trusts in his son’s honor and judgement, but the weakness of his father may leave Jurian vulnerable to the hounding pressures of the crown. Ralzemon prepares for war, and Dunlan Fief may be swept up soon enough. As he fell back asleep, Cedric asked Tavion to keep himself safe.

A change crept over Tavion. The man who raised him from the time his village was razed and his parents were slain, the pillar of strength who showed him that justice must be tempered by mercy, that patience and understanding can coexist with decisive action—that man lay dying in the grips of a distant witch’s curse. His fingers clenched on his daggers, and in the silence of his heart Tavion pledged to drive them into Mairg’s heart, no matter how many lives he had to take along the way.

Mairg’s power was growing by the day, and with her designs on Marchen and several of our heroes’ families, it was clear that she must be stopped. How to thwart her designs—or even what those plans are—remains undiscovered. Confronted by the suffering Mairg inflicted not only on her own family but on so many others, Rhawunel called upon the spirits of Dakonaand Corik Tel’Maerlyth. During their years on the run, Corik tried to teach her the traditions of his order—protect the innocent and the weak. Nurture beauty and life in all its forms. Wield the sword only in defense of that which cannot defend itself. Yet Rhawunel’s heart cried out for vengeance, to swear the same oath Tavion took in silence.

Corik’s offered her his counsel in this time of grief—do not turn on Mairg in hatred and wrath. Instead, stand between her and those she harms. Stand for them, not against Mairg and her plans, and you will find peace. Dakona revealed to her daughter that her own death was not out of hatred, but utility—like all those wrapped in the roots of Mairg, Dakona was sacrificed in exchange for some terrible gift. She called upon Rhawunel to become the leader that the lost people of Angren need, to find her lost brothers, and to save the Huldra from the mad queen’s designs.

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Interlude -- Letter from the Academy
Personal possession of Ulreik

When Ulreik Hras Halril was expelled from the University, it was shortly after receiving word that a colleague, correspondent, former student and friend had passed away. Florian was an older man who’d studied at the University in his youth before arguing with the Alfar instructors and leaving. The two of them shared a fascination with the Faerie World, and a suspicion that the Alfar were deliberately withholding knowledge from their mortal students.

After leaving the academy, Florian took to the Tower of Nails, a fortified keep in the lands of Borgondhi. There he continued his studies, taking advantage of the isolation to observe the night skies and the movements of the stars. Ulreik discovered Florian after talking with some older students who remembered the man, and the two began exchanging letters, offering each other encouragement and helping with research the other could not pursue.

Of all the books, journals, notes and scrolls Ulreik lost in exile, this letter was a lonely survivor. Perhaps the mysteries contained within will help Ulreik pursue the knowledge that shut the doors of the academy.

The below is PLAYER KNOWLEDGE, not CHARACTER KNOWLEDGE, to everyone but Ulreik

TO THE RIGHT NOBLE, and learned, Ulreik Hras Halril, who studies most diligently at the Academy of the blessed city of Gloriana in pursuit of the light of knowledge and revelation of the mysteries of creation,

It gladdens my heart to receive your missives. It seems at times that we are but permitted to view the shadows as cast by the rising sun, and given no torch or lantern of our own. But in you I have found a scholar who refuses to bask in awe, who fashions lenses to focus that light, and hopes in time to ignite from it a fire of our own—unbequeathed, unburdened by gratitude, and free to spread as we see fit.

Placing my hope in your continued prosperity and wellbeing, I put to you the enigma I mentioned previously in our correspondence. For the bond of fraternity that we share as students of abjuration and with respect to the confidence of our long friendship, I implore you to retain this mystery between ourselves. It is my fear that the benefactors do not mean us to pour over the inscription below, for in my moments of brightest hopes I feel that it may hold the keys to this cage of knowledge they weave.

During my apprenticeship, before I took my leave and withdrew to the Tower of Nails, I strayed from the dormitory well past curfew—a sin that, while regrettable, can be remembered by all who have completed their studies therein. While seeking a glimpse of a fellow student who had caught my interest (in a not altogether intellectual way, I will admit), I happened upon a balcony over a room I had never tread before. The chamber below was inscribed with elaborate stone runes, circles within circles, and at their epicenter a basin rose from the floor. Across the waters two voices debated, one in a soft and melodic, the other with words few but like distant thunder. It was Runda herself and a stranger to the academy. He wore curious garments, a coat of sheening black or leather. His hair was cropped short in a curious fashion. I could see the burden of terrible secrets in the lines on his face. At his side he carried a thin chest or coffer, emblazoned with runes of dreadful power. The language they spoke was unfamiliar to me, but it was clear they disagreed. In my wonder I leaned over the balcony, and though the vaulted ceiling was inscribed only with stars of an unfamiliar sky, reflected in the water shone the runes I write below.

Though it is plain to me that these are elven script, and though they remain seared into my mind as fresh as that night I crept from my bed and witnessed two terrible powers in debate, nothing I have done with them has revealed any new truth. I have crossed them and translated them and all my efforts are in vain. Perhaps a fresh set of eyes and new ideas can bring me out of this long cast shadow.

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The first row means in the old elven tongue “By the root,” as does the last row read backwards. I fear I can decipher no meaning from the rest of it. In my years I have pursued the truth of this mystery alongside my other, more reputable studies, and the only mentions I have found of this phrase stem from an old Huldra song. The song is called Nornogamon, or The Wheel Upon the Hill, and only the dusk elves of the Marchen woods know its words. The best I can tell is that it concerns the coming of a Dökkálfar to a place called Magardh gan réaltaí—”The Starless Market"—seeking the key to a “Road of Seven Veils.”

My search for such a place or the full text of the song has produced nothing, and it is my hope that in the library of Gloriana, and with eyes undimmed by the fog of time, you may make of this something greater. What it portends I cannot say, but I am firm in the belief that if Runda and the strange peer of hers found it a point of contention, certainly it points to knowledge beyond yours or mine.

I apologize for the delay in sending you the transcripts of the Mordavian Tablets—they are on loan to a scholar named Euthynos. Perhaps you two are acquainted—inquire with him for their delivery. Best wishes to your health and success in your studies, and may the light of wisdom shine ever on your path.

Yours ever in friendship and scholarly endeavor,

Florian

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Curse of the Bog Witch -- Part 1

While Ulreik Hras Halril and Nashia Arie pondered the meaning of the Mordavian Transcripts, our heroes dealt with what they’d learned during the fair. Yvain Ponty acquired his so-called “Oakstump Stout” from Bromin Firebeard‘s robbed caravan, the same caravan that saw the deaths of Tarah Arcistoth and Corik Tel’Maerlyth. Given the state of the brew Yvain was pushing, the ale must have been acquired from the wreckage of the caravan and sold very quickly. With no other leads into the attack on the caravan, the party decided to investigate.

In another twist, Morel’s transformation in the throes of the Curse of the Bog Witch has worsened. He has shrunk several more inches, more mushrooms are sprouting from his flesh, and he’s gained the ability to see in the dark. Concerned for the progression of the curse, the party resolved to find a cure or break the curse as soon as they could.

Tavion Gervis went immediately to the HONORABLE AND LOYAL ORDER OF WEAVERS AND DYEMEN, where he spoke to the snub-nosed guild representative Wimblington, asking if there’d been any acts of thievery or crime within the town. Wimblington asserted that the Guild knows all the operators in Calchester and aside from petty thievery and pick-pocketing, nothing gets done without their approval. That being said, there WAS a caravan that came through recently that acted suspiciously. They had far too many guards and were bound for Dunlan Fief in Borgondhi.

Tyrandriel consulted with Tilly Carosi, the singer and faithful of the Laughing God who’d warned them about the Borgondhi thugs working with Frederic Arcistoth. Tilly saw the same caravan and knew they were too well armed to be merchants, or even common thieves. These were people on a mission, and with ill intent for the land of Marchen.

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At last, Bromin, Gaemund and the rest of the party confronted the disgraced Farmer Ponty himself. When they came to his farm in the morning, he was blackout drunk in the mud—Mrs Ponty exiled him from the house until he’d sobered up and cleaned off. Nashia was more than happy to awaken him with a toned-down application of her Shocking Grasp spell. Jolted back to consicousness and surrounded by some people he’d just as soon enver see again, Ponty was eager with the answers.

  • Yvain bought all the ale from a traveling merchant lady. She was passing through town in a hurry. His wife was none too fond of how the lady dressed, talked, or looked at Yvain.
  • The lady had acquired a bunch of ale on her travels. She shared with him some secrets of its brewing—secrets he later spewed when claiming to be the brewer, with a few creative touches of his own.
  • She had blue eyes, black hair, and many armed guards. Her boots were not Farraud/Calchester make. She wore a red cloak, a black dress, had a wagon adorned in lanterns, and feathers at her belt. Her caravan was well guarded and seemed to be carrying whetstones, feathers, and other goods for sale in Borgondhi.

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One thing was certain—whoever this woman was, she had VERY swift access to the site of the caravan attack, and she was headed to Dunlan Fief. In the absence of any better leads, the heroes chose to pursue her. They set out for the edges of Marchen, on their way to Borgondhi.

Many of the heroes had reason to fear traveling to Marchen’s neighboring kingdom. As the daughter of a disgraced princess, Aine risked discovery and harassment for her lineage. Nashia Arie knew that spies from House Bothotlo of Elam were working with agents of Borgondhi—how far did the conspiracy to kill her and claim her priceless scroll go? And worst of all, Tavion Gervis was returning to the land he grew up—Dunlan Fief, ruled by his foster father and brother—a land with a price on his head!

Disguised and concealed within Gaemund’s cart, the party made their way through the Marchen woods. Two days into their journey, ravens flocked around the path ahead, drawn to fresh meat. Morel and Gaemund crept forward, wary of signs of slaughter. Up ahead in the road was a man clad in the armor of a knight, lying beneath his butchered horse, moaning incoherently. The rest of the party approached carefully, but there were no signs of danger. Morel went to go help the man, who bellowed a warning at the sight of him—through a mouth filled with blood. His tongue had been cut out so he could not tell of the danger lurking in the woods—a Huldra ambush!

Eight warriors burst from the bushes, firing arrows into the caravan. Those within the wagon ducked for cover, but the Huldra’s leader commanded the plants and roots around them to rise up and crush the humans. With the power of druidic magic, he trapped them all within. Only Bromin, Tavion, Gaemund and Morel avoided the spell. But the counter attack was fierce—Morel leapt atop the dead horse and with lightning-fast rapier strikes struck down the leader’s wolf companion. Aine, Nashia and Ulreik chanted within their vine-wrapped prison and unleashed a barrage of magical power at the Huldra leader, cutting him down in a barrage of light. Bromin jumped to the ground and charged at the nearest warrior, and with a single mighty swing of his maul he shattered the huldra’s weapon and hurled them into the air. The raiders clearly expected merchants and travelers, not warriors and spell-slingers.

In the aftermath, a single Huldra survived. Tyrandriel tended to the broken man’s wounds while the rest interrogated the Huldra warrior. He had little to say—other warbands like his had steadily crept into human lands, deeper than ever before, to extract eternal vengeance for the slaughter of their people during the Invasion of Marchen. Morel worried for the safety of her village, Toadstool Hollow, no more than a day’s travel away. If the Huldra could reach this far from the Caonach Vale, could her home town be in danger?

With the healing presence of the Laughing God (disguised with the rites of Our Triumphant Family), Tyrandriel brought the wounded man back on his feet. The huldra had broken his arms and cut out his tongue in order to lure other humans to the site of their first strike. Handed a quill, ink and parchment, the man identified himself as Eklos, Knight of the Pendant. He’d received Vesta Piota’s message and was just now riding to Arkaley to deliver the town from the pagan magic enshrouding it. The heroes assured him that Arkaley was delivered from the terrible mists, its people safe. In his current state Eklos felt the best course of action was to return to the nearest abbey of his order. The party decided to protect him on his journey.

At last they arrived in Toadstool Hollow. All of Morel’s townsfolk share the curse of the Bog Witch with her, and as such they do not trust outsiders. The little hovels and moss-covered huts of the people have been boarded up to keep out the light. Villagers wear heavy clothes and cloaks to hide their appearance, but they cannot hide the fungus that occasionally sloughs off their skin as they transform bit by bit into mushrooms. The people were glad to see Morel and eager for any news of salvation from the curse. All she knew, she’d learned from the Archfey Nuinn—the curse can be lifted by killing the witch, convincing her to lift it, swearing fealty to a being more powerful than her, or by finding the flaw in the curse.

It was at that moment it occurred to Morel and company that they had a group of nine well-armed, magically trained adventurers.

In the depths of the Rattlebog, just hours east of Toadstool Hollow, they arrived at the foul-smelling lake known as the Dark Hollow. Sickly willows clung to the few islands of mud rising above the bubbling waters. A well maintained wooden pier wound away from a slime-covered house, the path illuminated by flickering green lanterns. Eyes glared out from the branches of the gloomy canopy, observing the interlopers. And growing from every conceivable surface were creeping fungi—toadstools on the islands, shelf fungus feasting on the trees, mold and mildew and all manner of slime.

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Something about the very air disturbed the magically sensitive among them. Ulreik opened his Sight and saw magic infusing the entire lake. The Dark Hollow is a place neither entirely here nor entirely there, floating between the Mortal and Fairy kingdoms. Distrustful of the water, they approached the Witch’s hut cautiously along the pier. Morel used her new grappling hook to scale one of the willow trees. All the heroes watched the witch’s hut, looking for a point of attack.

Unfortunately for them, a point of attack found them first. Morel had just enough time to spot something in the water, and Nashia and Aine released crackling witchbolts into the murk. The electricity arced through the water, enraging the beast below, and it exploded through the walkway with a roar. Heroes flew left and right, some of them plummeting into the water, as those who held their feet reacted to the monster—a troll! It snatched at them in anger until they drove it beneath the surface with magic and weaponry.

Nashia scarcely made it to one of the mud islands, only to have the toadstools there pop and blast her with poisonous spores. Even worse—a cackling voice arced through the swamp. “CHILLLLDREEEEEN!” it called, and each of the piles of toadstools emerged from the earth—they were merely the heads of fungal creatures, infested with poisonous spores, mindlessly following their mother’s orders to kill the interlopers and feed their corpses to their young brethren!

Things went from bad to worse. The troll continued to tear apart the wooden pier, threatening the heroes again and again with the unknown horrors of the bog. Swarms of the mushroom thralls approached, and they found themselves hideously outnumbered. It was then that Morel discovered he could hear the thoughts of the other “children,” and even communicate with them. With a burst of will and cunning, she suggested that more interlopers could be found behind the house. That drew off half the Children, leaving an opening for the heroes to escape. At that precise moment the troll burst from the water, seized Morel, and dragged him into the water!

It took the combined efforts of every other hero to rescue their friend. Morel struggled as the Troll clutched his throat, trying to choke the life out of him, stabbing away at the beast with his daggers. The mages unleashed magical power into the water, accepting the risk of striking their friend. Gaemund leapt into the water, seized Morel and Bromin hauled them away. They banded together and fled the swamp, with the Witch’s cackling taunts at their heel.

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Interlude -- The Mordavian Tablets

The original Mordavian Tablets are lost, one of many treasures plundered during the reign of King Neverwas. Still, many scholarly transcriptions and translations of the tablets remained in the libraries of the Academy of Gloriana — as one of the only known pieces of Dokkalfar literature, it has been the subject of great speculation and inquiry. Due to peculiarities of the Dokkalfar rune set, translations can vary wildly.

Recently, the scholar Euthynos has busily acquired every possible copy of the Tablets, no matter the scribe or state of the translation. It seems only one escaped his grasp: that in the vaults of Ursi Arcistoth, Knight of Calchester. It is in poor shape, but the scribe who did the translation was dutiful and thorough.

Came to the Dokkalfar Grotto a man of gold. He came up from the Pools of Fire and was set upon by the deep watchers. In his arms a shade clinging to flesh, a daughter woven of gossamer and glass. They saw he was made of flesh and gold, not a spirit or devouring demon. How was it he came from below, unheard and unlooked for?

I am TARAS, said he, and I have come from the Gates of Death. I tore them from their hinges and conquered Death, and I return with my daughter. Let none prevent me. Said the watchers, all the kingdoms have heard the din of the wrenching gates. We will not prevent you. Speak with the Sage and rest.

A meal was set before TARAS and his daughter, who ate but little. The Sage saw that TARAS was filled with fire and light. A new day comes, said he, for you are the Dragon of the Brightest Noon. When Dusk, Night and Dawn are born anew, what will you become? Said TARAS, my people are beset by the King of Storms and his sons, the Four Winds. I will overthrow them as I have overthrown Death.

Ours is the Moonless Night. We know the deep ways and the secret paths, the Road of Seven Veils and the Root of Sorrow. If you learn the Dragon’s song, you will walk the four worlds as one—but there will be no new covenant if you do not heed the Dokkalfar, who keep the Pools of Fire, the Scintillating Path, and the Fifth Kingdom, said the Sage

We walk the world of Mortals. The Sky Kingdom makes war upon us. I have sundered the gates of the Underworld, and the Fair People keep their ways secret. I have the counsel of Silver-Clad Jonil and the wisdom of the DARASTRIX. Yet of kingdoms I know four, said TARAS.

Paths of mind and wandering, barred to the children of Dusk, Dawn and Night. Enshrouding all as a mist, bending to the wills of the learned, flowing through all kingdoms, reaching into the shadows of the soul. A fog that conceals us from Beyond the Stars. You walk the land at night without seeing your own feet.

Three paths are there to the Fifth Kingdom. First is the Scintillating Path, the Secret of the Sage. It is barred by ash and embers. The Path of Seven Veils winds through all kingdoms. TARAS Golden asked of the Path of Seven Veils. It is all that remains of Seosh and Seosha, who battled each other beyond the Seventh Gate. Now it winds between the worlds, invisible to the unlearned, perilous to the unwise. It is kept by the Queen of Stars and the King of Storms, your foe.

TARAS Golden asked of the Root of Sorrow. A tree grew in the Fifth Kingdom, with roots that spread beyond the stars. They drank from pools of suffering and grew fat on hate’s carrion. But the Phoenix came to roost in its boughs, and burned it to ash. The dead roots remained, never growing, ever mouldering, wound between the kingdoms. Who wears those roots as a crown will send their will across the wilds and the Fifth Kingdom.

Asked TARAS golden of the Crown of Roots. Only the Caoineadh of the Starless Market can weave such a crown. Asked TARAS golden of the Starless Market, and said the sage:

Take a sheer black stone in hand
Go where mountains meet the land
When clouds conceal the moonless sky
The starless market’s gates are nigh

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The Calchester Fair Affair -- Part 2

CABER TOSS

Bromin and Tavion both compete while Tyrandriel and Gaemund make coin by racketeering the spectators. Tavion does surprisingly well but Bromin wins.

Farmer Gern’s hog loomed massively over the rest of the competition, but when it came time to weigh the hogs, Gern’s sow was larger than it was heavy. Turns out the man misunderstood the rules of the contest and had been feeding his sow beans. The crowd laughs and boos, and as punishment the judge makes Gern grab that pigs tail while she presses on its stomach. The relentless and hideous fart reduces the pig’s diameter significantly and leaves Gern gagging. Farmer Dinkle’s sow takes the prize.

Bromin met Tilro Farraud, who expressed familiarity with the plight of the Firebeard Clan. “A terrible omen, for the volcano to go quiet. If the old gods can die, what does that say about the rest of us?” Tilro was very proud of his clan’s history—protecting the corpse of King Geirr during the war against the Huldra—and took poorly to Bromin’s disregard for his family’s beliefs. “Our duty is with our people. Wherever they are, that’s where we belong.” Bromin also discovered that the Farraud clan always enters their own ale into the brewing contest—not to win, but simply to add to the festivities, as a gesture of hospitality and mutual friendship.

THE SECOND DAY

Several members of the party participated in the traditional Pig Wrestling. A single pig was covered in grease and set loose in a pen. There was a brief controversy as the original chosen pig was actually a rare, sweet smelling floral pig and far too expensive to be used for such a contest—indeed, Lord Mayor Loxias’ wife nearly battered him for abuse of the sweet creature. Instead, they went with Butters the pig, who caused a great mess and got grease on Morel’s clothes in particular. The Lord Mayor sends his apologies. Fortunately, he won!

In the vicinity of the pig wrestling, the party heard a hubbub caused by one Yvain Ponty, a local farmer, touting his Oakstump Brew. The party asked nearby townsfolk about this man and learned that he’s never tried his hand at brewing before, but after meeting a modicum of success as a farmer he’d come up with a fairly large batch. Nothing he said really indicated that he knew what he’s talking about, and his neighbors described him as a serial dabbler.

  • “The malt is from my very own fields! Wheat I raised myself and watered just a mite extra. The lands of my farm are positioned PERFECTLY to catch the sun as it breaks around the bulwarks of our town, lending their might and potency to my brew!”
  • “I cannot share my gruit of course—that would give away my secrets! But there’s a bit of bog myrtle, some honey, yarrow, a blossom or two…”
  • “Every oak tree I’ve found I’ve cut down and hollowed out the stump, Once I seal the brew in there to ferment, the oak wood mellows the secret ingredients I add, making them not only palatable, but delightful beyond comprehension!”

Since the success of their endeavor depended on winning the brewing competition, members of the party quietly threatened and extorted Yvain to throw the contest. Their efforts paid off not immediately, but further down the line.

As the day wound down, Gaemund tracked his brother to the alleyway outside of a tavern. Frederic was still recovering from his injuries when he met a mysterious robed figure who spoke in a sibilant voice.

“The whole reason I’m helping you is for the sake of my family. There’s still not a word about my mother. Excuse if I’m not raring and enthusiastic right now.”

“Until your mother returns, your family needs you more now than ever. You must help us, and we can assure your brothers’ future.”

“What, by spying on some strange girl in the tavern?”

“She is a lackey of foreign powers, and thwarting her will reward you greatly."

“Fine, fine. Don’t forget, you’ve promised me a business for EACH of my siblings. Enough to get our lives back on track. What do you want me to do?”

“Stay close and watch the inn. When their guard is down, search through her things. Above all else, look for…That is the key to your future. And trust no one else.”

Nashia Arie recognized the hissing voice as the sign of the Dragonborn, denizens of the distant empire of Elam. What could agents of that land be doing here, and what did they have to do with Gaemund’s brother?

THE THIRD DAY

Jugglers, singers, poets and playwrights gathered in the town squares of Calchester for the third day of the celebration. Poets recounted the song of the Man in the Moon, but of particular note were the comedic stylings of Tilly Carosi, a musician and storyteller. She performed a work of her own composition, The Donkey’s Song, , which was definitely NOT a series of insults aimed at Baron Yorlen. It seemed to Tyrandriel that Tilly had her eyes on him, and he was not wrong—they shared a common faith in the mysterious Laughing God. She promised to speak with him later on a matter of great import.

Many of the other plays and performances of the day were morality plays, retellings of the tale of Patient Father and Fearless Mother. Others were the cautionary play, the Shepherd and the Huldra, the bombastic Clouds Come to Earth, and raunchier fare—a bit about a milkmaid who cheats on her husband by claiming to be a forest spirit drew great laughter from the crowds.

Afterwards, Tilly revealed to the party that she had been keeping an eye on the wayward Sons of Arcistroth, for ill fortune follows their wake. It seems that Frederic has fallen in with agents of Borgondhi and perhaps of something even more sinister. Tilly gave them the location of a hunting lodge in the woods, abandoned for many years, that recently showed signs of habitation. Though Frederic had never been there, she suspected the strangers he was meeting were holed up there.

And it was none too soon, for that very night…

THE FOURTH DAY

…Nashia woke to find her Dragon Scroll missing! She had yet to speak to any of her compatriots about the contents or import of the scroll, but insisted that it had to be recovered. Gaemund agreed, but only if Nashia would reveal the truth about her scroll—if the party was to risk their lives for it, he felt they deserved her trust. They set out to the woods to confront the thieves.

With a burst of magic and bladework, the party stormed the hunting lodge. Over a dozen thugs and bandits held the perimeter, led by a dragonborn sorceress — Kava of House Bothotlo. The heroes scattered and slew her hired men, all of them paid with the coin of House Borgondhi. As for Kava herself, they pried the scroll from her claws and demanded to know what she wanted it for. “The Future,” she hissed, “of the Empire.”

Back in town, Nashia admitted to the party that the scroll was the original copy of the Prophecy of the New Day, written by Taras Halfdragon himself after the War of the Four Winds concluded.

That night Yvain showed up once more to promote his brew. Under duress from Gaemund and Bromin, he decided to give it all away and not participate in the competition the following day at all.

(They also drank a lot and drained some of his kegs as well)

THE FINAL DAY

At long last, the day of the feast arrived. Bakers and butchers brought their finest fares to the table, and Ursi Arcistoth herself opened her coffers to sponsor the eating and drinking. Shepherd’s pies, breads, buns with frosting and all manner of country delicacies graced the tables. Music and drunken cheers resounded off the cobblestone streets. At long last, the Lady Knight tried all the brews presented by the artisans of Calchester, and Bromin and Morel’s work triumphed! The heroes presented themselves to the irascible Lady of Calchester and requested their boon: access to the Mordavian Transcripts from her library. Surprised and displeased by the request, she nontheless granted them their wish.

As they walked up the hill to Arcistoth Keep, Bromin happened to notice the discarded kegs that Yvain Ponty had stowed. The farmer never brewed anything in the first place—he’d purchased it all from a mysterious salesman traveling through town. It bore a familiar symbol—the same that Bromin used to mark the ale (continued)

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Interlude -- The Donkey's Song

The Calchester Festival tests more than feats of strength and agricultural acumen. Poets and singers come to the fair to draw the crowds, earn a coin or two, and hopefully win the favor of the city council. Tilly Carosi took the prize this year. Aside from having a husky voice that carries across the room, her sarcastic sense of humor is a crowd favorite.

The cattle lows, the rooster crows
The sow squeals in her den
But loudest of the animals
The donkey brays YOR-LEN!

Uncontent with fur of gray
Hee-haws for silk and gold
Enduring hardships every day
Like soup that’s three bells old

His stable is not big enough
The straw he eats too stale
Truly, life for him is tough
So close to Huldra vale

Behold the donkey’s mournful fate
A life of ease—alas!
He dreams of kingship but of late
He acts more like an ass!

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Interlude -- The Weaver and the Scholar

A letter from Manard the Weaver to Ulreik Hras Halril, collected upon the companions’ arrival in Calchester, 12-3-16 RL time

To the learned and diligent Ulreik Hras Halril,

Per our prior agreement I have continued my investigation into the acquisition of the Mordavian Transcripts. It would seem that Euthynos has procured every copy for leagues around. I have written to every abbey and learned sage throughout Gloriana and Borgondhi, even to Grave Runda herself, and alas, I am unanswered, or receive only news that Euthynos has purchased from them every scrap and half-written novice’s copy—save one.
Should fortune find you in the fair and prosperous town of Calchester, there is one library that has escaped your rival scholar’s determination—that of Lady Knight Ursi Arcistoth. I have on good authority that she inherited from the property of a neighbor whose negligence cost him his entire estate a transcription of the Mordavian tablets from the quill of a cloistered acolyte in an abbey on the borders of distant Emankorrak. Raided by the rough warriors of that land, it found its way to the private collection of that unwise nobleman, and thereby to Lady Arcistoth’s shelves.

With the utmost reverence and respect for the rightfully appointed Lady Knight, I find it unlikely she has disposed of this text. Regretfully, Ursi holds learned scholars and students of the written word in little regard, particularly those with a penchant for the arts arcane. Convincing her to part with the text will be no small task.

By the time you reach Calchester, the delightfully quaint traditional harvest celebration will be in full swing. Do take in the sights and flavors—the terminus of the festival is a great feast sponsored by the Lady Knight, where all the folk thereabouts bring their ales and wines. Whichever best pleases the town council, Lord Mayor and Ursi Arcistoth herself may be entitled to a boon of their choice. A curious tradition that may avail you.

With all sincerity of affection and admiration for your continuous dedication to the noble pursuit of learning even in the face of hardship and the cruel injustice of fate’s fickle hand,

MANARD WEAVER, HN & LY GWD

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The Calchester Fair Affair -- Part 1

Days of traveling through the woods of Marchen gave way at last to rolling fields, farmsteads, and at last strong stone walls—the city of Calchester, home to the Arcistroth Family. With the Amethyst Goblet safe in their possession, the companions passed through the city gates to deliver the prize. Along the way they passed bustling crowds, merchants shouting out their wares, and the many cobblestone courtyards of Calchester’s markets. Above their heads hung triangular pennants telling the town’s history across three generations.

Just as they reached their destination, shouts and outcries rounded the corner. Directly in front of the Guildhouse of the HONORABLE AND LOYAL ORDER OF WEAVERS AND DYEMEN a crowd of a dozen townsfolk were beating a man that Gaemund recognized—his brother Frederic, one of the Bastards of Arcistroth. As they kicked him into the mud, the crowd shouted all sorts of accusations.

“I swear you cheated me, bastard! That barn you carved blew over the first time the rains came in!

“I’ve a bed he made that collapsed the first time I made love to my wife! She hasn’t slept with me since!”

“The wagon wheel you repaired broke off in the midst of the woods. I’m lucky the Huldra didn’t come for me!”

“You’re a robber and a vandal, asking those prices!”

“Down with the bastard!”

Gaemund and company worked together to extract his brother from the hands of the mob. It was a combined effort—Aine cast an illusion of coins spilling into the crowd, Gaemund disguised himself as a stern authority figure, shouting and intimidating the crowd. Amidst the hubbub, Rhawunel crept in and spirited Frederic away.

Unwilling to reveal himself to his brother, Gaemund in disguise warned Frederic that his rescue was not an act of charity, and would carry a price some day. Frederic responded with defiance—he and all his brothers are used to humiliation and bad luck, and he would owe nothing to a stranger. “Besides, my family’s luck is on the up. I’ve a plan to change everything for the better!” With those words of defiance, Frederic left them, still unaware that his brother had saved him, or that his mother was dead.

At last the companions reached their destination. Over the guildhouse a massive sign declared in (false) golden letters: THE HONORABLE AND LOYAL GUILD OF WEAVERS AND DYEMEN. The guild house smelled of stinging chemicals and rotting berries—all the secret ingredients of their dyes. To counter the reek, the reservedly dressed guild representatives burned incense and placed fresh flowers around the room. The mingling of scents could not be called fresh by any definition.

Upon checking at the front and showing the letter from Manard the Weaver, Tavion was ushered in (along with his companions) to a private side room by a snub-nosed guild representative named Wimblington. He took possession of the Amethyst Goblet and after a cursory inspection produced a heavy back filled with silver trade bars—450 gp in total—as payment for their services. When asked about the goblet, Wimblington had this to share:

Nobody knows where the grey clad strangers have come from. Rumors of their activity have spread throughout the Marchen wood. Each time the story is the same—they arrive at night and are gone by morning. Some stories claim that they are missionaries of a strange religion, a heresy of Our Triumphant Family. Others describe acts of miraculous healing. Still others claim that they are stealing the souls of children or placing curses for mysterious purposes. In any case, this is not the first report of an amethyst goblet, but it is the only one to be recovered.

In addition, Wimblington had a letter in his pocket for Ulreik. She read over the contents and relayed the most important elements to the companions.

  • The original tablets are said to be written by a Dokkalfar seer long ago. They describe a citadel of shining light at the end of a “sevenfold road” as part of an analysis of the Prophecy of the New Day.
  • Ulreik has been seeking a transcription of these tablets for her own research for many years. Every known copy has been acquired by a scholar named Euthynos.
  • Since the tablets are an attempt to interpret the Prophecy of the New Day, acquiring them will help the party discover Mairg’s plans and motivations.
  • Ursi is not likely to share her copy, since she doesn’t like scholars or magic wielders.
  • The Calchester harvest fair is underway. It ends with a brewing competition. Whoever wins the brewing competition can ask for one boon from Ursi Arcistroth. If the party can win the competition, they can use this boon to get access to the Mordavian Transcripts.

Bromin and Morel immediately set out to the forest to gather herbs and flavorings in order to compete. The party has until the end of the festival to prepare. In the meantime, it seems that Frederic Arcistroth has become embroiled in some manner of plot, and there are others in town with interests in the companions’ business…

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Interlude -- The Princess and the Dragon

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A letter from Helena Borgondhi to her daughter, Aine

I have had years to write this letter. I have written it many times and each time I have cast it into the fireplace. There are things I wish to tell you and not in all your years have I found the words that ring true, so the truth alone must suffice.

Whatever dowry was meant to be mine my father has turned towards winning power over Marchen. Any wealth I was to inherit of my own accord, I pass now to you. I will live out my days here in the cloister, my earthly needs tended to by the sisters of Our Triumphant Family. I have no need of worldly possessions, and hope only to give you whatever advantage I can. The stars know I have given you precious few.

You know that your grandfather the King is a stern man. He has long felt the House of Borgondhi more deserving than the lineage of Isbrand the 1st, but when I was a young girl he planned to gain their lands and privileges through the courtly ways of peace. I was betrothed to Isbrand III, the king of Marchen. Isbrand sent a painter to our court to make a portrait of me, that my husband-to-be might see the face of his future.

The painter, Thander, was kind and humorous. He made me laugh even as I sat for hours in the parlours, sitting still for his brush. It helped ease the dread in my heart—I wanted no part of a marriage to a distant and older king, an odd man by all accounts. Thander stayed the better part of a fortnight and left to bring his work to Marchen’s king.

Months later my father the king grew impatient. Some ill fate befell Thander as he journeyed back to Marchen, and Isbrand never received the portrait. Lest his interest cool, father sent me immediately to Geirrfast to visit in person, with knights and attendants to keep safe.

I was determined not to marry King Isbrand, and I feared for the fate of Thander, who had become a friend to me in a time when I had precious few. As we passed through the Marchen woods I snuck off in the night and fled the caravan, seeking my friend. Without guides I lost my way. I remember passing through a valley filled with briars, a swamp where the willow trees sang a mournful lullaby, and a great stone arch carved out by the river itself. The river became my road and I followed it to a waterfall that poured from a rocky crag to a hidden lake. A secret path wound behind the waterfall, and a great cave mouth waited there. It was foolish for me to tread there and I paid the price.

Fate was friend and foe to me—I found Thander in that cavern, but worse befell me. He was prisoner to a terrible dragon. Its scales were emerald plates of armor, its teeth yellow spears, its breath a cloud of poisonous death, and its eyes mirrors of dread. Thander told me his caravan was waylaid by the beast, and though it devoured all his compatriots, it snatched him and flew back to its den. In a massive cavern the beast lay for hours while Thander captured its likeness on a canvass as large as a ship’s billowing sails. When the portrait was done, the dragon would devour the artist, and hang it on its lair wall to admire itself.

I was not prisoner there long. The vain monster had a servant—a thin wild elf with tangled braids, of solemn countenance, but not stern. Slender of body but strong of arm and well formed, noble and sad, weary and determined. Dragon and huldra alike spoke the same strange tongue—a hissing language I had not heard before. The wild elf was an attendant and a student, not a prisoner like us..

I have tried so many times to explain what happened between us. Here in the abbey’s tower it feels a far off dream, a children’s fairy tale. Please, daughter, trust me that he was utterly unlike the simpering courtiers of my father’s court, the fearful peasants of the land, all my tutors and suitors and strangers I had ever known. I will never again know his like. Let me say only that in the end he risked everything to defy his master the dragon, and won for me and for Thander our freedom.

The painter and I fled the dragon’s wrath until King Isbrand’s knights found us lost in the woods. Your grandfather blamed Marchen for failing to keep us safe, and insisted that the wedding forward immediately. I refused to tell him what happened or consent to the marriage. He locked me in his highest tower to change my mind.

On a night when the stars shone and the moon cut a slender crescent across the vault of heaven, the wild elf found me in the tower. He flew to the window on emerald wings that vanished when he set foot in my chamber. I could see a change coming over him, the burden of the dragon’s curse. His skin was changing and hardening to become more like his former master. He stayed through the night, speaking of his family, exiled from the court of a strange king. I told him of my father’s wrath and demands. We were both caught in the winds of fate, the whims of the powerful, and we found comfort in each other.

Before morning light crested over the hills, he grew his emerald wings again and flew off. I never saw him again.

I have two precious relics of that night. One of them is you, my greatest love and treasure. Of all the rash choices and moments of defiance in my life, the only regret I bear is that I could not be a mother to you. Your grandfather sent me to cloister when he discovered I was with child, and refused to let you come to live with me after you were born. I pray for your happiness and solace, Aine, with all my heart. I will not ask you for your forgiveness; I have cast you into a life of loneliness and hardship. I am sorry, daughter.

The other relic I now bequeath to you. Your father stole this from the horde of the dragon when he fled that dreadful lair. Thander captured his image and mine, in gratitude for his salvation. I kept it that I might remember him always. Now it is yours. I pray it guides you through the trials inflicted on you by your birth, by my father’s disfavor and my own folly.

Go with my love,
Your mother, Helena von Borgondhi

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The Mists of Arkaley -- Part 3

The sun was dipping below the horizon as the companions passed once more through the town of Arkaley. They rushed to the home of Fiebras the miller to protect his twins from Mairg’s last kidnapping attempt.

They had the Golden Bough in hand, and chose to make their stand using the threshhold of the miller’s home. Rhawunel and Tyrandriel set the power of their faith against Mairg’s servant, weaving a protective barrier of detection and sanctity around the home. With help from the wizard and sorceresses of the party, they set the Golden Bough over the door and took up positions within and around the house. The twins hid under heavy guard, Fiebras and his wife bolted themselves inside the bedroom, and the trap was set.

This was the final night of the Mists of Arkaley. They rolled in, shrouding the land in a sinister curtain, obscuring the mischief of their author. Little did Mairg’s envoy suspect the trap set for it—Rhawunel noticed at once when a foul presence entered the twins’ room through the window. Calling upon the memories and souls of Dakona and Cork, she strode to the window and delivered a single telling blow. Mystic fire coursed down her blade as it clove through the air, splattering sulphuric ichor across the room. A pathetic screech erupted from the seemingly empty space and a twisted form manifested, cloven in two—an unnatural spider with yellow eyes. Just as soon as it was slain, the remnants melted away, vanishing back into the underworld.

Slain may be the fiend, but the companions realized that it was only a servant to another master—someone else was still inside the house! The companions got the twins out of the home and safely into the hands of those watching outside. Baleful power spread through the floorboards, and black carpets of spiders erupted from below—swarms of the beasts, driven mad and bound by evil magic. They crawled up the legs of the companions as each member fought back. Bromin laid about with his maul, Nashia unleashed blasts of fire, and Aine gathered the power of heritage around her like a cloak. Meanwhile, Rhawunel sought after the invisible menace working against them. A low rumbling shook the house as she walked away from the rest of the family, culminating in a shockwave that shattered dishes, blew cupboards off their hinges, knocked the furniture around, and collapsed the shells of every hell-driven spider nearby.

As the dust and shrapnel from the spell settled, a creature manifested in an upper corner of the room. It was Mairg’s servant, recognizing its defeat and offering terms of surrender. Wary of making a deal with a creature in league with the underworld, the companions nonetheless extracted a stern promise from the goblin that it would leave and never attempt harm or action against Fiebras or his children ever again. In the process, they learned the following:

  • The goblin is a warlock who goes by the alias of Dwenday.
  • Mairg offered him “several lives” in exchange for his services, using the underworld to circumvent Nuinn’s power.
  • Dwenday made this deal at the Starless Market, a place on the border of the Unseelie wilds and the Underworld. It is a haunted place where shadow fey trade favors for mortal lives.
  • This is not the first deal Mairg has made at the Starless Market—the crown of roots she wears came from that place as well.
  • Because Mairg was already driven from the Fifth Kingdom, Dwenday used the venom of his fiendish companion, IckPick the Quasit, to invoke sickness and unconsciousness in his victims. He was practicing when he attacked the innkeeper. When he found the companions heading towards Iommor’s Tomb, he sniffed around for a human and discovered the Blood of Arcistroth—a perfect target.
  • Dwenday left no tracks because he rode his spider-demon, who can climb walls.
  • Mairg became obsessed with the Prophecy of the New Day when her son, Iommmor, was slain by Ursi Arcistoth. Everything she has done since then has focused on fulfilling the prophecy, and exacting revenge.
  • There are powers in all four (five?) kingdoms interested in the prophecy. Some want to fulfill it on their terms, others want to make sure it is never fulfilled.

After forcing Dwenday to swear on his true name never to harm or deliberately allow Fiebras, his children, or the village of Arkaley to come to harm, the goblin departed for the underworld. All that remained was to confront village reeve, Convarch Collach.

Gaemund demanded some answers, and learned that Collach stumbled into Nuinn’s grove many years ago. All he had were some cakes he’d stuffed into his pocket, but when Nuinn offered him food, the young Collach had the wherewithal to offer the archfey those smashed up cakes first. Nuinn laughed at the boy’s savvy, and ever since then decided the town was under his protection. This was before the death of Iommor and the wrath of Mairg.

Collach was unable to offer them a substantial reward, but after learning what they’d done for his village, he swore to repay them someday by whatever means he could.

The last bit of business was for Tyrandriel to speak with Vesta Piota, Priestess of Our Triumphant Family. He assured her that while the power of the fey had not left the town, the imminent danger was gone. He also promised to pass her word along to the Knights of the Pendant.

With their task complete, the village and the children safe, and as many new questions as answers, our heroes set out to complete their journey. The road ahead passed once more through Fern Crossing, on to Ursi Arcistroth’s seat of power: Calchester!

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