15th Razas, AM 806 - Getting Answers
Reaching his arms up to the sky, Enn is suddenly transformed into a bird! Not willing to let him just fly away, though, the heroes redouble their efforts. After eagle-Beryl claws at him, Rasca attempts to land on him - then zaps him with lightning for good measure - right before Tolin hits him with a magic missile, knocking him out of bird form. Swooping in again, Beryl grabs him and lifts him into the air as he struggles feebly until he admits defeat. They take him back to where the others have Ard tied up and Elliot secures him, too, before questioning them. He wants to know why they seemed to recognize him, what is the significance of the stylized eye on the coin, and whether they were involved in the razing of the village of Tulch. It's clear that Ard is uncertain but Enn doesn't want to tell them anything, certain that speaking up would just lead to their deaths. To make a point, Elliot punches the already grievously wounded Enn, finishing him off. This gets Ard talking a bit since he realizes he's as good as dead anyway. They assure him they'll let him go and he realizes it's his best chance. He's a rather low-level member of a cult that worships the goddess Kiya. There are quite a few other worshipers looking for Elliot; they are to bring him back alive by order of Kiya's priestess. It's unclear how many followers she has but the cult is actively recruiting, especially young women—as only women can serve in higher positions. Hoping to get more information, Elliot heals Enn just enough to question him. He still stubbornly refuses to divulge anything, though, so the paladin of Pelor stabs him in the chest, killing him a second time. Ard then tries really hard to remember helpful details to convince them to let him go. He warns them the strange birds will be used to watch them and Kiya's followers will surely try to capture him. The heroes wonder if that might not be a good thing, actually. They finally let Ard go but make a point of leaving Enn's body out in the open...
Meanwhile, in Abenfoyle, Beltane has been getting back in touch with his spiritual side and now feels ready to rejoin his comrades. Communicating with them magically, he learns that they are on the road to Cantre and hopes to join them there. Wondering if there might not be a way to travel a bit faster, he speaks with Brother Lovetere and explains his dilemma. The Pelorian manages to call in a favor from Arthyen Prideux, one of the city's wealthy landowners. It seems the gentleman has some magical abilities—which he would prefer to keep secret—and can send Beltane to Cantre via teleportation circle. The Tritherian finds himself suddenly transported to a confessional inside the Temple of Pelor in the heart of Cantre. Stepping out into the transept, he sees several Pelorian priests who are clearly surprised by his appearance. Ignoring their calls, though, Beltane hurriedly leaves the temple, eager to catch up with his companions. As he sets out on the River Road, he is quickly offered a ride on a merchant wagon—where he immediately begins proselytizing, converting his fellow travelers to the ways of Trithereon.
Back on the road, the rest of the group discuss the bird cult that seems to be hunting for Elliot. Based on what Ard said, they wonder if Bartolo's missing daughter, Avete, actually was recruited by this cult. Also, why is Kiya's eye symbol on some of the coins Rasca conjured up? Not to mention the coin they found back in the cave where the goblins had been camped. Why does this eye motif keep turning up? Seeing at a distance the same birds they encountered before, they assume that their movements are being reported to the cult and consider whether they should try to avoid them or try to lure them out. Eventually, they decide to stop for the night at an inn—but still insist on setting a watch. Despite their suspicions, though, the night passes quietly.
The next day, the heroes continue south until they approach a village where two mothers are calling for their daughter, Nora and Tova. It seems the girls were born a couple weeks apart and have been best friends their whole lives. They play together all the time and often run off to their silly games but usually return home at a reasonable time. Today, though, their mother's are worried because the girls haven't come home all morning. Beryl and Tolin immediately begin looking near the brook where the girls often play. They come to a faerie ring of mushrooms with a carved wooden toy dragon sitting atop a tower of stacked stones. There's an aura of magic over the area and the whole thing reminds Beryl of a play in which a faerie ring transported the hero into a fey court. Meanwhile, the others follow another trail into the nearby woods and come upon several spots that look like play areas for the girls: an uprooted tree with odds & ends buried in the soil; a bird's nest set in the underbrush with more knickknacks in it; a small beaver dam a little upstream. Wolf-Beryl manages to track the scent of the girls around the entire trail, ending at the faerie ring. Recalling the stories about such rings leading to places like the Feywild, the heroes fear the worst and realize they must enter the ring and try to follow them. After a little experimenting, they realize that they must each step into the ring and touch the wooden dragon in order to POOF!
On the other side, the heroes find themselves standing in the Royal Court of the Mushroom King. His Morel Majesty is attended by Cremini Ministers and Portobello Guards. They seem startled and confused by the group's sudden appearance. A hedgehog advisor steps in to explain to the king that clearly they are heroes sent to participate in The Quest. He shows them where the girls went into the forest but has no information to share with them about the actual nature of the quest. Apparently the girls came up with the quest on their own, including the prizes. All he knows is the girls went that way...
Odds and Ends:
- Ard decides to take a chance and try to escape east, farthest away from Kiya's forces; he's hoping they will be too busy looking for Elliot to bother to come after him; he leaves his cloak and ring behind (the ring allows the wearer to speak with birds)
- Lex suggests that Ard look into a new god to worship, like Trithereon; Elliot mentions that he half expected him to recommend Bane; Lex admits that his mentor at Farisan, Bastián Alicante, was a follower of Bane but didn't press Lex to
- along the road, they run across a patrol of the Border Guards, led by Captain Anyon Brynmoor, who are incredibly impressed by the group's horses and warn them that thieves would be quite interested in obtaining such fine steeds; the Guards are on the lookout for any such bandits that might be stationing themselves along the road in anticipation of merchants traveling to Reld; also, Capt. Brynmoor, a Farisan alumnus, remembered being in on a blanket party that beat Lex ("Legs-y") with bags of oranges
- the hedgehog lets slip that he, the court wizard, may have left the faerie ring open accidentally...