The Fey Plot
An unknown ally sent a cenobyte knight to bring cold iron weapons and a warning to the Goblinslayers, the heroes now known as The Missed. But the knight’s mission was a failure, and a band of adventurers received both the weapons and the written message. Now, those adventurers have traveled deep into the heart of the Forest of Shadows to a set of coordinates found within the unlocked cryptex And they seek to end the fey plot to destroy the legacy of The Missed.
Human Bounty Hunter
Who Are the Players in this Tale?
Rocco: A three-foot-six, seventy-pound, brown-haired little manling in leather armor, with a veritable arsenal lining his body. He wears goggles with blue-glass lenses due to photosensitivity. He is a jack-of-all-trades. He enjoys engineering little pieces of machinery into tools to perform simple tasks. He is a warrior with some roguish skills; he shows honor at times, and at other times he shows less. He is hearty despite his size, and during combat he tends to disappear and reappear elsewhere moments later.
Piros Quill: A man of average height and weight; fairly handsome. He wears greens and browns, usually with his face hidden in his hood. He brings something good, something bad—a little of both. A certain panache, as it were. And he’s very good in the forest.
Aurora Zarmina: Aurora has brown hair, violet eyes, is slightly above average height and is slightly slender. She is very athletic and skilled with the sword.
Groot: Brings healing and natural skills, and is a strong protector, especially of Rocco. He is a druid, known for strong and fierce defense of his friends. He is seven feet tall and carries a staff and spears. As a warforged he wears no discernible clothing. He speaks little, saying “I am Groot,” a phrase that, somehow, Rocco is able to translate into various statements. He also travels with a raccoon animal companion, Lylla.
Torianne Black: She is of above average height, very lithe and quick on her feet. She has black hair and green eyes. When push comes to shove, she does her best to avoid attracting attention. As a jester, she is a jack-of-all-trades, with some performance skills, including juggling. She lives at the Enclave, is very literate and works at times in the Civic District. She is somewhat distractible, however.
Draga: Draga looks like a walking mountain. He brings strength to the party. Draga has tattoos.
Yanos: A middle-aged man with a short, brilliant, Tepestani red mohawk rising above the shaved sides of his head. He is very rough-looking with a long, leather duster. Though not particularly tall, he is physically imposing. He has piercing blue eyes. He brings both skill and cunning to the group.
August 8, 762: An Anomaly
Piros Quill, the “Forest Lord,” has led his companions deep into the Forest of Shadows, to the region described by the coordinates that came from the black knight’s cryptex. The going is tough, requiring the adventurers to hack their way through the dense undergrowth. Only the druid warforged Groot is able to move cleanly through the wilderness, but he leaves no trail—not even tracks—to make the others’ journey easier. The coordinates indicate a large area within the forest, but Piros is confident that his skills, and those of his mentor Yanos, will be up to the task.
Then, the first sign of the strange events about to befall them manifests. Time slips around the adventurers. The air goes silent. The leaves and grass move more rapidly. Clouds scud across the sky as hours seem to pass in a matter of instants. The adventurers are free to move, but they cannot seem to pass out of the anomaly occurring around them, and any attempt to interact with the world around them fails, as if the world has become slippery, and their touch just glides off without making contact. And then the “bubble” pops. Time resumes and the Forest of Shadows appears to have forgotten they were ever there.
Hours have passed during the anomaly, so Piros says that he will start looking for places to rest.
Tori asks whether this is a sign that they have found where they’re going, but the adventurers have no concrete answers to give.
August 8, 762: Campsite
A short time after the anomaly ends, Piros spots a good, easily defensible camp site. Yanos helps set up camp. Then Piros builds a rather smoky fire, much to his chagrin. With Yanos and Draka, Piros goes out hunting and foraging. Another chronal anomaly saves the deer that Piros intends to bring down for dinner, but he is able to forage roots and herbs for dinner before the three of them get back to camp.
As the meal ends, and Groot enters his rejuvenative state for the evening, the adventurers hear an impossible sound. A galloping horse races towards the camp, unslowed by the dense forest. Tori runs to Groot, both for cover and to wake the warforged. Draka, Yanos and Aurora stand together in the center of the camp, weapons at the ready, braced for whatever is coming. Piros watches the opposite direction.
Only Yanos glimpses what is coming an instant before he arrives. This is no figure on horseback. Rather, it is a man. He is short, dressed in flowing blue clothes with white scarves and a wide-brimmed blue silk hat with a white feather. The fellow smells of horse and has large, square teeth. With a bow, he greets the adventurers, giving his name Equus.
The adventurers have a benefactor, Equus says. The benefactor is a chronomancer, but he is apparently not a very good one, because his message for the Goblinslayers missed them by about a decade. And now he’s trying to come in person, and his many attempts seem to be failing miserably. The anomalies, Equus says, are failed attempts by the chronomancer to enter the current era.
But, Equus has received a message from the chronomancer, and he has done his duty, though it may have cost him his life—a fact that he embraces with great relish. He interacted with the fey guarding the entrance to the fey lair, and he managed to piece together a crude map.
Further, Equus knows that the leader of the forces is a fey known as a stroke lad, a creature named Beck. Beck has a great hoard of gold that came from someplace deep within the Mists. The fey who spoke of the place that yielded the gold spoke of a great city of steel and iron buildings that rose into a perpetually cloudy sky. The air was dirty there, and the earth was spoiled. Most of the buildings had been sundered, broken off mid-way to their top stories and left jagged and windowless, crawling with the undead and those who would be better off if they were not alive.
Whatever else Beck’s minions might have brought back from this place, Equus says, it cannot be good.
The adventurers ask Beck many questions, and the fey creature answers as best he can with details about the door guards—the banaan—and Beck himself. They learn that those who fight a stroke lord often find themselves confused, moving about without any memory of taking the steps and sometimes finding blood on their weapons that they do not recall drawing.
Before he leaves, Equus explains that Beck’s lair is just around the corner. Only the favorable wind keeps the smoky fire from giving away their presence.
The adventurers set watches and sleep till morning.
August 9, 762: Spotting the Entrance; Another Anomaly
The next morning, the adventurers find that Equus’ sense of distance is apparently different from that of mortals. They walk till lunch, and then for some time after before coming across the three openings that lead into the entry chamber of Beck’s lair. At the entrance are the banaan. These sentinels look like hairless elves, slender and graceful, with long arms that end in sharp claws. Their skin is brown and woody and resembles tree bark. They wear clothes made of leaves and vines and bear thorny wooden quarterstaves.
Working together, the adventurers concoct a plan. Groot reveals himself, marching forward to take the banaan’s poisoned arrows and potentially even their poisoned thorny quarterstaves. As a warforged, Groot is immune to their venom; Piros and Yanos will lay down a barrage of arrows upon the guards, hopefully slaying the guards before Groot engages them.
Then a chronal anomaly strikes. Groot stands just before it, gazing into a bubble of utter destruction. The cave mouth has been blasted open, into a single craterous hole. The banaan are all face down, dead, their backs burned to charcoal. As the adventurers take in the shocking sight, they see that the bubble is actually moving slowly this time. The cave face is deteriorating, as if still exploding outward in slow motion. The burnt backs of the banaan are flaking off, lifting into the air, as the burns dig deeper into their flesh.
Draka asks whether this is a glimpse of things to come, considering they are chronal anomalies.
Groot leads the way into, and through, the temporal bubble.
Inside the cave, Groot calls upon the power of Sylvanus to create light and Tori, at the back of the party, lights a torch.
As Aurora follows the others into the depths she glances over her shoulder and sees that the “bubble” has popped. The banaan stand their watch—very much alive—in a sunny forest clearing.
Again, Equus’ sense of distance is proven not to be his strength. The adventurers walk hundreds of yards into the earth, in a tunnel that slopes gently downward. Quite some time passes before they find anything that is not naked stone and earth. Along the side of the corridor stands a short table with a bottle of smoked glass. It is stoppered and sealed with wax. On the tablecloth, resting just before the bottle, is a folded card labeled in flowing Darkonese script, “Drink Me.”
Yanos plans to take the bottle, but Tori suggests drinking it at once. She studies the card and recognizes the script as that of a very cultured man. It could be the chronomancer—some manner of aid their benefactor might have managed to get through time to him. If that is the case, then it might be important to drink it right now.
The potion is magical; it shrinks its imbiber to a height of three inches. The process is excrutiating, but Tori endures and looks about for something she might find at her new vantage. Below the table, concealed by the tablecloth is a door, which is locked.
“Should I check for traps?”
“Your pick is too big.”
“That’s the only time you’ll hear that.”
Yanos bends down and plucks the door out of the wall.
Tori takes stock. Behind the door is a smaller table, draped in a similar tablecloth to the larger one behind her. Atop it is a key and another bottle, labeled, “For Later.”
Tori takes the key and rides Lyla after the others.
The adventurers reach a four-way intersection. They realize that this must be the area patrolled by Beck’s guardian creature. When they hear the creature approaching, they back up, cover Groot’s light (Tori’s torch is still little more than a match in size at the moment) and await its approach. Groot watches it moving about in the dark, using his Infravision. He sees that the thing is tall, humanoid, with long arms and some manner of hunchback.
It turns and walks away, in the direction that should take it away from Beck’s treasury, according to Equus’ map. The adventurers surmise that it may be patrolling in a figure-eight pattern—though Tori questions whether a fey creature would march in a regular pattern—and so they wait for it to return and walk past treasury. Their plan works.
The adventurers wait several minutes, until the guard has almost certainly passed the treasury, and then they follow in its footsteps. Groot reveals the light gradually, and they move towards the treasury. Piros follows behind to cover their tracks.
The treasure reflects brilliant light. A purple toadstool, some three feet high stands in a room full of chalices and necklaces and scepters and orbs, all of solid gold. Though cobwebs drape the walls and ceiling, and all the items collected here, the gold does not appear to be tarnished. It glints from beneath the covering.
The toadstool has begun to hum. As the adventurers draw near to the door, the shrieker quivers a bit, as if curious that something is coming closer.
Yanos shoots the toadstool. It shrieks.
He shoots it twice more, and it goes still.
Not long after, the guardian charges into the light. The thing is a tall, loathsome humanoid. Its long arms and fingers end in deadly talons, but it has no mouth. It bears a large crystalline cyst on it back, which glows faintly from within. The adventurers battle it and bring it down. It initially attacks Aurora and Piros, but when it senses arcane power within Yanos—who is an arcane dabbler—it teleports to attack him instead. But Draka is not to be put off. He made his way to battle the guard with Piros and Aurora, and now he charges to Yanos’ side, where he decapitates the creature.
Groot, seeking to flank the creature, finds the adventurers a few moments later with news of the door Equus marked on his map.
During this time, Tori and Lyla have been gathering additional treasures from the treasury.
The Locked Door
A locked door leads deeper into the fey lord’s armories. The door is sturdy, though a triangular section had been broken away where the bottom of the door meets the wall. It seems to have no keyhole. A mirror stands opposite the door, showing the chamber before the exit. It shows the room as it appears, a moldering couch, a battered clock built for a giant, even a dinner table covered in rotten food.
Two things are different, though. The door, in reality, has no keyhole. And the chair, in the mirror, is draped with a gold necklace—one of the ones from the shrieker’s chamber. The mystery of the mirror goes unsolved. Instead, the adventurers send Tori through the broken opening in the door. On the far side, she quaffs the potion marked, “For Later.” Again, the process of growing to full size is excruciating, but the key grows with her. She holds her breath and tries it in the lock on the far side.
The door opens, and the adventurers enter Beck’s armories.
Beck’s armory is a row of three chambers, each occupied by a single item.
In the center chamber, opposite the door Tori unlocked and opened is a slender-bladed longsword with a ruby-studded hilt and a gleaming blade of some strange, gray metal.
Groot walks first to the third armory. There, a smooth, white pebble small enough to fit in the palm of a human hand rests atop a flat-topped stalagmite. The stone has been engraved with the faint impression of a feather.
Piros walks to the first armory, at the farthest end of the corridor from Beck’s lair. There he finds a foot-long bottle with a balloon base, made of glass so dark green that it is almost black. Within, a fluid sloshes about halfway up its body, but a churning vapor seems to fill the remaining space. It is corked and sealed with wax. There is no label on the bottle.
While the adventurers explore the armories, they experience another anomaly. As time runs strangely around them, they spot the fey rune—the one first found above the black knight outside of Aulbesmil—glimmering on a cave wall for a moment. Then it fades, and time resumes.
Groot investigates. He sees that a faint remnant of the symbol is still in the wall, incomplete.
Piros asks whether the adventurers should take the items in the armory.
“We should be able to come and get the treasure later, right?”
“Unless there’s some great explosion.”
“And blows the banaan away.”
Concerned that there might not be a second chance, the adventurers take the three items from Beck’s armories. Piros takes the longsword, using his cloak to avoid touching it. Yanos has voiced concern that some magical weapons are possessed of a personality of their own, and Equus’ mention of “very bad mojo” had the adventurers worried about what might happen if the sword is handled too much.
Yanos takes the feather stone. He attempts to trigger it as an ioun stone, and when that doesn’t work, he pockets it without touching it with exposed flesh.
Aurora takes the potion bottle.
The adventures have but one direction to go. Another long tunnel, this one leading to a large, brightly lit chamber, leads towards a noisy gathering. A great revel takes place before them. Almost two dozen fey and plant-like creatures caper and croon about a wooden cradle holding a long, tubular object of shining gold.
Next to the cradle is a handsome and wicked-looking young man of sleight build with sharply pointed ears, small goat like horns jutting from his broad temples. He dresses in fine silk robes and an ermine-lined cloak and bears a gold scepter.
Fluttering about the room are a pair of ugly, dark-skinned creatures. They have tattered insect wings, long thin arms, and a broad, large-nosed face. Their features are bestial, with claws, fangs, and oversized, monstrous eyes.
On the floor is a menagerie of filthy goblin-like creatures and humanoid tumbleweeds, all rolling over one another in their celebration.
The celebration seems to revolve around the tubular golden object in the cradle. Draped in green vines and moss, the object tapers to a point at one end and has four fin-like projections at the other. A large, red button protrudes from the smooth top of the object’s gold surface. The cradle has been designed with a wooden protrusion like a finger, as if pointing at the button.
The wicked young man stands not far from the tube, and its red button.
The adventurers mount a surprise attack, firing arrows into the fey and Draka charging with his sword drawn. The fey respond viciously, though. Beck levels his confusing power, addling the minds of both Groot and Yanos. Then he and his oft-invisible quickling aide-de-camp rush into the fight. Beck focuses on Piros at first, as Piros is the most handsome man in the invading force; Beck is only distracted from Piros when he spots Tori. Before Beck can change targets, though, Piros damages his primary weapon. In desperation, he draws the longsword from the armory, and the fey thing explodes into a murder of raging crows, intent on blinding and devouring Piros himself.
The swarm batters an area some ten square feet in area, including Beck himself, driving back the stroke lad.
The adventurers continue to press their offensive, but the fey continue to defend themselves with tenacity. Aurora succumbs to the sleep venom of one of the bestial, winged fey, and Piros ultimately falls to beneath the beaks and wings of the angry crows. Just before the situation becomes untenable, though, the confusion over Groot and Yanos passes, and they both return to the fray, supporting Draka and supported by Tori.
Beck, his quickling aide, and all the mites and twig blights and unseelie faeries, fall.
For the moment it seems that the adventurers have won.
The wooden cradle is alive.
It winks at the adventurers, and then it pushes the red button, detonating the golden bomb from Apocalypse City.
The Benefactor Arrives
As the bomb goes off, a man appears in the midst of the chamber. Behind him, hanging in the air, is the fey rune that the adventurers first saw in Aulbesmil. As he appears, he drops to one knee and slams a clay marker onto the floor. Blood spills from his nose, bubbles from his mouth. When he slams down the marker, the exertion sends a shudder through his entire body. The marker was in the shape of the rune that brought him here, but it shatters as it crashes against the floor.
Time slips around the shattering rune.
The fey bomb explodes, but the force of the blast does not touch the adventurers, or their newly revealed benefactor. White light fills the air, but there is no sound. There is no sense of the heat that melts away the bodies of the creatures in the room, turns the stone of the cavern lair into smooth obsidian.
And then the cave itself is gone, blasted into open air by the force of the explosion, and the destruction of the golden bomb sweeps across eastern Darkon in moments, forming a great cloud in the shape of a mushroom, churning above the Forest of Shadows.
Time passes rapidly within the sanctuary of the shattered rune. The churning mushroom cloud dissipates, and many cycles of day and night pass overhead. Nothing grows in the crater that was Beck’s lair. The earth is dead here.
The man speaks. “My name is Chilton AnDearg. I was too late. But all is not lost. The fey bomb destroyed virtually all life, but some survive. One, a chronomancer, was killed soon after the explosion. I used his notes to try to change what had happened, but I was never able to master his magic. If you can find him, and keep him from being killed, then you might be able to go back and change the course of history the way I was unable to do.”
Blood continues to flow from Chilton’s nose as he speaks. Groot does his best to stabilize him, but the injuries are grave. Yanos, who supports Chilton, feels the devastation within the great heroes’ body.
Chilton speaks again. He says that the Missed are unable to take direct action, and that the magic he used came at a terrible price—not just personal but also for the future. He has left his station unguarded, and there are those who will come for it.
The threats before the adventurers are manifold, though. For in the wake of the living, the Dead arose to fill the vacuum. The domain is crawling with the living dead. And they hunger for the flesh that no longer exists here to feed them.
But, he says, the Enclave is more than just the Legacy of the Missed. It is a key lynch pin holding the future together. It is more than just a symbol of hope. Beck cannot be allowed to destroy it.