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!