Returning from the kruthik nest, our heroes checked on the townsfolk to learn their fates. To their great surprise, they learned that while some of their neighbors suffered serious wounds, none were killed in the attack. Realizing that the druid was still their greatest lead on the source of the threat to Laston, they set off after him. Walking for hours, the heroes finally caught up with the druid at his makeshift camp for the night in the mountains to the northwest of town. Glia and Kore attempted to sneak up on him, but he heard their approach and girded himself for the coming battle. Once he realized who it was, though, he quickly surrendered himself to their custody again. Camping the night, they returned to Laston the next morning.
Taking him before the Mayor and the Reeve, the druid was again questioned about his role and dutifully told his story yet again. After a good deal of discussion and debate on the part of the heroes, it was decided that word should be sent to the Baron Greenspire at his home in Stoneroad. Getting word back would take a week. The townsfolk would not yet be told of his role in the kruthik attack, lest they take justice into their own hands. In the meantime, the druid would remain in custody. Alastrianna appointed Valeran the druid’s watchman until the Baron could decide his fate.
Our heroes had several theories on why someone would attack the town. Perhaps someone wanted to strike at the Mayor by destroying his town? Or perhaps another person in town was the target. To learn more of the Mayor’s past, our heroes decided to pay a visit to Auntie Elspeth. Since that trip would only take a couple of days, there was plenty of time before the messenger dispatched to the Baron would return. And so the next morning our heroes set out, druid in tow, for Auntie Elspeth’s valley.
The trip went smoothly, and once our heroes arrived at the Auntie’s home they were welcomed inside. Introductions were made between the druid and the old woman. They explained the kruthik attack and asked if she knew of anyone with a grudge against the Corliss family; Elspeth explained that just about everyone who had met that family had grounds for a grudge, but she knew of none that would seek to destroy Laston to repay the Corliss’ unkindness. Kore persisted in asking why Elspeth had moved from the valley so long ago, and Elspeth finally relented and told her tale. She was married at sixteen, and widowed two short years later. Chauncey Corliss, then mayor of Laston, wanted his son Carlisle to marry Elspeth, but she would not dishonor her husband’s memory. Chauncey pressured her, threatening that she could not raise her son alone, and gradually the townsfolk began to subtly turn against her, either out of concern for her well-being or out of fear of retribution from the Mayor. And so she left Laston, 55 years ago, moving to the valley where she has lived ever since.
As Elspeth finished her sad tale, the sound of someone running towards the cottage could be heard. Going to investigate, our heroes saw a familiar face – the boggart Skipjot, running as fast as he possibly could, exhausted, and frightened. He begged for their help, gasping that someone had shared his entire warren, and he could not find them. After getting him to calm down a bit and tell his story, they pierced together that the other boggarts in his warren had gone missing. First, half the warren had vanished, Now, the last dozen were gone as well. He begged the Auntie for help, and our heroes were happy to oblige. After some debate, they decided to leave the druid in the care of Auntie Elspeth , extracting promises from him that he would not leave the valley until either Kore or Valeran came for him. Leaving with Skipjot, they traveled to the warren a few miles northwest of Elspeth’s valley.
The warren itself, a jumble of small, makeshift tents and lean-tos built from sewn-together scraps of cloth, was empty, just as Skipjot had said. Looking around, they found some tracks that led northward. Following the tracks, they came to a small animal trail that the boggarts had apparently themselves followed, and there they discovered the dead body of a boggart. He had apparently become caught in a trap, where he had died from blood loss as he tried to free himself. A thorough search revealed blood where others had also been trapped, but all the traps had been taken along with their victims. The heroes continued to follow the trail north, when they heard a boggart’s scream cut short.
Running towards they sound they had heard, our heroes emerged into a clearing that held a circle of dolmen. Most of the circle still stood, but one on the west side had fallen to the ground. In the center of the circle stood a lone standing stone. Chained to the north side of the dolmen were a group of boggarts. One lay dead, his skull cracked open, the trapper Roon still standing above the bloody body with heavy knife in hand. As soon as the heroes entered the clearing, his hunting dogs began to bark and moved towards our heroes. When they ignored Roon’s threats of what would happen should they not leave immediately, they were attacked by the largest dog, Thorn. Roon followed suit by throwing one of the traps that hung from his belt at Valeran. The trap caught the swordmage by surprise, latching onto his leg and hobbling him. The heroes moved to engage the dogs and the trapper, and a bloody battle ensued. They learned that Roon’s blade bore not just the blood of the boggart, but also a poison that burned the flesh it cut. Valeran realized, much to his chagrin, that his trap was his very own construction, forged under the tutelage of his father and master, and he had done well indeed for it proved all but impossible for him to free himself. But the trapper was outnumbered by the heroes, and they soon scored a vicious blow that seemed to make the battle’s end imminent. And then the world shifted.
Looking about, our heroes realized that the world was at once the same and different. The colors of the grass were vibrant, the flowers’ scents strong they rode upon the gentle breeze. The circle of dolmen was still present, but all stood where but a moment before one had been fallen. Inside the circle lay a pool, not a standing stone. There were hounds here, but not the muscular breed that Roon favored; these were long and lean, their coats a shade of green, and when they growled they revealed a mouth full of thorns instead of teeth. Boggarts were chained to a stake near the north dolmen, but their captor was not Roon the trapper but a <href>satyr, a decadent mixture of man and beast, with the legs of a goat, torso of a man, and a human head with a goat’s ears and horns. Was this the Feywild, the land of Gwenowyn, realm of the Faerie?
Seeing the heroes, the satyr drew a curved bow from his back and ordered his hounds to attack these intruders. Springing up on the nearest dolmen, he unleashed a pair of arrows – one at Kore, who was closest, and one at Valeran, who still struggled to free himself from his handiwork. Both arrows found their homes, boring deep into the heroes’ flesh. The battle raged on for several minutes, Glia and Krehir following the satyr onto the top of the dolmen. But even as they seemed to gain the upper hand, the world again shifted and they once more found themselves in the middle world, the world of their birth, where the trapper Roon seemed bewildered by their new positions on the battlefield. Had no time passed in this place while they fought the satyr? The heroes were unsure, but wasted no opportunity to finish what they had started. And just as Kore struck a decisive blow to the trapper with his own poisonous blade, our heroes once more felt themselves shift into the Feywild.
Once more confronting the satyr, Valeran tried to pull it from atop the dolmen with a leash of lightning, but it failed to fall to the ground amidst our heroes. Realizing the battle was lost, it leapt from the dolmen into the woods, running with a speed the heroes could not hope to match and was soon lost to sight.
And thus our heroes found themselves victorious on the battlefield, but still in this strange land. What boggarts are these, corralled here by this satyr? What became of Roon, still in the other world? And how are our heroes to return to Laston?
landed a lucky blow on the swordmage that once more knocked him unconscious.
Glia was unsure what to do. With no training in the healing arts, aiding in Valeran’s recovery seemed doubtful. And even if she should restore him, the owlbear could still present an overwhelming challenge with Kore still unable to reclaim his sense. Seeing no other viable option but still torn by her decision, she hoped for the best for the swordmage even as she struck at the owlbear rather than try tending to her friend’s wounds. Her blade slid into the belly of the owlbear. As it regained its vision, the owlbear turned and fled the clearing. But before Glia could turn to the aid of her fallen friend or Kore could regain his senses, the young swordmage let out a dying gasp as his spirit departed.
Waking from their restful sleep after a long night, our heroes enjoyed a sumptuous brunch. While the Baroness’ healer attended to Valeran, the reluctant soldier Caber was instructed to show them around the town. Caber explained that the town was named Mondref, and while exploring the environs our heroes saw that it was very much a reflection of their own home. Buildings and streets seemed familiar, including a building that had burned down recently. Caber explained that the home had belonged to a gnome named Barnydd who had recently been critical of the Baroness, and that she had prevented anyone from aiding his family during the fire that ultimately claimed their lives.
Where the Gwynedd River flowed through Laston, there was only a wide, dry ditch in Mondref. Caber explained that the Gwynedd River (using the same name for the river as is used in the Middle World) had quit flowing through the valley in protest of the Baroness’ actions, leaving the trench they saw. He told the tale of how the Baroness gained her position – she gained the trust of the previous iarl (the ruler of their town) by marrying his son Brenin, then betrayed them. She killed the iarl and assumed control of Mondref, while Brenin fled town with their newborn son. Now she has forbidden anyone to speak their names, and they are called the Courtless. She marched to the seat of the Baron, ostensibly to aid him against a fomorian attack, but refused to commit soldiers to his defense. The Baron was killed and Elespiel assumed the title of Baroness, grudgingly acknowledged by High King Galawnt out of necessity. Indeed, the town was making preparations for its defense, as the fomorians have taken lands to the east of Mondref and are encroaching steadily. Krehir participated in some drills with the local eladrin, who took advantage of the opportunity to spar with one who bears similar weaponry to their enemy the fomorians.
Gwil asked to visit the church, and Caber led her to a grove on the west side of the valley. A dense stand of trees grew there, heavy fog cloaking everything within. Caber told her their spiritual leader, the Fogborn, dwelt within. As Gwil entered, she heard a warm voice greet her. She spent some time within the trees, conversing with the spirit. It asked of her religious beliefs, and how she would feel if the hidden Primordial Gwenowyn should return. Gwil answered haltingly, but truthfully, that she was unsure. The Fogborn, satisfied with her response, conversed with her for a while before she departed.
The deal they had struck with the Baroness weighed heavy on Glia’s mind. Had Kore bartered away her very soul? Caber insisted that there was always a way out of any fey bargain and encouraged her to find some loophole, but she pointed out that he still served the Baroness despite his wishes. He sighed, reluctantly agreed, and begged her not to give up hope.
During the day, as the parallels between the Middle World and the Feywild became apparent to Kore, he questioned Caber on the timing of events. The fire that claimed the lives of Barnydd and his family had occurred almost two weeks before, contrasting to the fire in Laston caused by the kruthik only three days ago. He asked about Alastrianna and her escape from the Baroness; Caber recalled that the events had occurred perhaps thirty years before and the escape was aided by a human woman in her thirties and a half-elf, one of whom could summon storms. That would make Dawn Villestre the right age to have come to the assistance of Alastrianna, just before the eladrin moved to town. Kore filed this knowledge away for later, questions of how time flows between the Middle World and the Feywild still unresolved.
As the day turned to evening and the moon rose in the sky, the ritual to restore Valeran was completed on the north edge of the valley. He awoke, naked, upon a stone table. Vines wrapped around his midsection where the owlbear had savaged him. Above him stood a wilden, a fey creature that is perhaps more plant than animal, but with a kind visage. She introduced herself as the Lady Ivy. Her skin was green and plant-like, but supple. Tendrils of her namesake fell from her shoulders, forming a cloak that resembled the magical cloak worn by Gwil. Vines provided her with modest clothing, if indeed that was important to her; small berries on the vines were red, yellow, and orange – autumnal colors – lending her a sense of age. She helped Valeran to his feet and led him towards the Baroness’ palace. Along the way she explained that she had restored his body, but the Baroness had been the one to call back his spirit. She took him to the sleeping chambers and left him there, where he shortly encountered his friends upon their return from dinner.
After a round of hugs in way of greeting, Caber asked how they planned to proceed. Glia suggested they return to the Middle World as quickly as possible. Caber pointed out that the Baroness could likely provide a route, but cautioned against any further bargains with her. They quickly settled on the proposal to continue on the quest the spriggan witch had laid before them, the hunting of the beast called the Anghenfil. Having slept well past morning, and informed by Caber that all journeys in the Feywild are best begun by moonlight, Caber guided them from the palace to the edge of Mondref without further interaction with the Baroness.
Walking eastward along the road, several hours of travel brought them near the spriggan camp. They detoured around in an effort to avoid unnecessary contact with the spriggans, in case they should become incensed and attack. They found the tracks of the Anghenfil once more, and following the tracks back laid a trap for the beast using a rabbit bound in a snare.
Shortly, just as the sun rose, the Anghenfil approached the snare. Our heroes saw that the beast was not just a great cat, but a displacer beast, a powerful catlike creature with a pair of whipping tentacles that uses illusion to disguise its true location. Taking the beast unawares thanks to their well-laid ambush, the heroes struck at the Anghenfil. Krehir led the way, his powerful blows stripping the creature of its concealment and allowing others to strike true as well. Soon, the beast lay slain in the dewy grass.
Taking the body to the spriggan camp, our heroes arrived just as the spriggan finished breakfast. The mood of the camp was cheery, and they were greeted warmly by the leader Gludd. They could not help but notice his cap, a vivid red as if recently dyed, and knew that the spriggan must have slated their bloodlust somehow. Showing the spriggan the body of the Anghenfil, the witch Gwrach agreed to keep her end of their bargain and so they broke camp and set out for the dolmen circle. Once there, Gwrach drew out a small box and opened it. Inside lay a heart, slightly bigger than a human fist, a bloody red and apparently still stirring of its own accord. The spriggan has said the charm was a recent acquisition from a hag they had dealing with; what manner of dealings allowed one to remove the heart and keep it still beating? Their intent to return to their home outweighing their curiosity, they allowed the witch to continue. From where they stood inside the dolmen circle they began to see the Feywild waver, as if heat rising from the dolmen stones obscured the landscape. The air cleared, and our heroes once more found themselves in the Middle World, the land of their birth. Where it had been early morning in the Feywild, the light here was that of the late afternoon. Casting a long shadow as it hung from one of the stones, bound at the neck, was the lifeless body of the trapper Roon. From the discoloration of his lips and eyes, it appeared that Kore’s parting poisonous shot had done the trapper in.
Traveling south, they soon found Skipjot’s warren. Other boggarts were about, but hid at their approach. Skipjot was braver, and conversed with them for a short while. They learned that while they had been in the Feywild for a day and a half, the boggart believed them to have been gone only a handful of hours. Tired, but desiring to rest in the relative safety, they began the walk back to Auntie Elspeth’s valley.