On November 3rd, a Monday, several adventurers determined to make a proactive effort to explore the surrounding lands, inspired by the Black Hammer gnolls roving in the area. As they discuss a mission to explore the wild unknown to the East of the Vale, Rovert expresses interest in investigating the source of the dryad Conan met near the windmill to the South, which they tried to follow to the South East. The party is:
- Randall (HuS): Level 5 Human Druid
- Oliver, Level 5 Fox Companion
- Aronis (WaB): Level 4 Magic-user (Fire and Wind
- Rowan (MiM): Level 3 Elf Magic-user (Death and Life)
- Rovert (TrS): Level 3 Human Magic-user (Death and Mental Harm)
- Drej, Level 3 Pseudodragon Familiar
- Caramon (CoB): Level 1 Human Fighter
Packing in 7 days of food, they set out for the old windmill. There they find evidence of the rumor that a number of teenagers spend the 31st evening there. From the roof of the dilapidated tower they can see unusual trails of green trees among the autumn colors leading South East to a green horizon. They note the direction to the nearest line of green and set out toward it.
By noon, they arrive at the green trees, following them through the rest of day and catching a glimpse or two of a fleeing dryad. By sunset, they can see that while most of the trees near the Vale have begun dropping their leaves, the ground on either side of the line of green trees is free of leaves as if the trees have only recently turned. They make camp and their watches pass uneventfully, with Randall speaking to many plants and animals during the night to learn more about the Dryad they are chasing and why the trees here change later. He learns that the dryads sing to the trees to keep them green late into autumn and that further South East many of the trees never change.
In the morning, they continue and after only a couple miles hear an entrancing song. Randall and Aronis feel compelled to approach and Rowan stands transfixed. Caramon and Rovert stop Randall and Aronis and they shake Rowan out of his stupor. While they discuss how to proceed, a pixie calling herself Claire approaches (played by my daughter SaE) and offers to introduce them to the singing dryad ahead, calling her Velia. They soon get from her a rough map of the fey, including the Green Wood she says lies ahead. She is clearly a simple fey and they are unable to get much precise detail from her about the rest of the fey, as she has only dwelt in the Green Wood.
When they ask if there is anyone else she can introduce them to to learn more about the fey, she consults with Claire a while and decides to take them to the palace of the Raksasha who would know the entirety of the fey. They go with her and by noon they cross into the Green Wood. At the boundary, Aronis and Rovert sense portal magic as they cross. Randall immediately feels the loss of his connection to nature and feels disoriented by the new conditions. The sun, which was over head, is now on the horizon before them and rising. As they go, it rises to an apex still ahead of them and then begins to descend toward the same, new mountains.
Before it sets, they see the soaring palace of woven trees and plaster in the distance. They walk toward it through fields worked by tiger people and Rovert starts to grow nervous, realizing that the red cloak Randall wears was taken from one of these tiger people who attacked he, Conan, and Osiris.
At this point, the whole table but WaB were fairly nervous. HuS was eager to come clean about his cloak, but his character didn’t know where Osiris got it. TrS feared for relations with the fey as well as his character’s well being. Though Osiris and Conan weren’t present, CoB and MiM feared for them in the outcome of this, but played characters with no knowledge of the risk.
They arrive at the palace and Velia introduces them in the throne room of the Raksasha. They ask him to teach them more about the fey and its connections to the mortal world and he responds that it is traditional to present a gift when asking such a favor of a great noble fey. They had not prepared any gift, but Randall produces Bart’s ukulele, telling about its power. A Rak minstrel plays it and brings much of the court to a dance and the Raksasha accepts the gift into his own hands, recognizing the tragedy and sentiment it holds in addition to its magic. He calls it a generous gift and invites them to join him for dinner to have their questions answered.
At dinner, most of them eat and experience the five sense feast of fey cuisine. Aronis and Randall drink, the fey draught passing right through them and forcing them to ask for a bathroom. The Raksasha teaches them much of the mortal lands that border on the fey. When Rovert asks about his new, black sword, the Raksasha commands him to keep it put away during his time in the palace, as it is a Dragon Soul and not welcome there. He cautions him in the use of such an item.
Randall, knowing nothing of the cloak Osiris gave him, asks the Raksasha to touch it and identify its story (HuS was trying desperately to find an excuse to come clean). When the Raksasha does so, he senses that it was given in a selfish trade, that it was taken in a fair combat, and that before that it was possessed by one who considered it only a tool. It’s emotional content is little, but he is curious about the prior owner, who seemed very old. With all of their questions answered, the Raksasha offers to compensate them if they can return with information of a member of his court who never returned from the mortal realm when on a assassination mission or with information of his target, a blood sucking elf. He invites them to stay the night in his palace and they all retire.
During the night, the party keeps no watch, agreeing that if the Rak did wish them harm, they would not be stopped by keeping a watch. As they sleep, a Rak creeps into the room, perceived only by Randall, who he approaches and stands over. Randall awakes and asks what he wants, only to have a paw put over his mouth. In the struggle, Randall learns that this Rak is the brother of he who previously wore the cloak. Randall explains that the Raksasha told him the cloak was won in a fair fight, but that he would gladly return it and help the Rak, Sherga, get to the bottom of what happened to his brother. Satisfied that he can verify Randall’s story with the Raksasha, Sherga departs, implying that he might seek him out in the mortal world to investigate the circumstances of his brother’s death.
In the morning, they receive breakfast in their room and then meet the Rak that the Raksasha has assigned to guide them out of the fey. This guide leaves them at the crossing out of the Green Wood, but they find themselves somewhere other than they entered. With Drej’s help, they determine the direction of the mountains to the North and guess that they are within a few miles of where they entered and that returning more or less North West should lead them to the Vale, a wide target to miss.
The rest of Wednesday passes without incident until they make camp a little after sunset in a cold rain. Near midnight, on Randall’s watch, a mossy plant creature rushes into their camp. Due to the critters fleeing it, Randall alerts the camp well ahead of time and Rovert and Aronis do devastating damaging with prepared spells and Randall calls for it to surrender. It flees immediately, Rowan chasing to hit it with a final spell before it escapes into the rainy dark. As it flees, Randall gives pursuit, feeding it Rovert’s rations (his own rations contain little meat) before leaving it be.
During the last watch, Aronis’, the rain turns to snow and then a howling blizzard by the time they are ready to head out. They continue anyway, traveling only a few miles before the dark of the storm starts to become the deeper dark of night. They make camp and soon the storm ends and they set a watch. By morning, Randall is feeling too sick to want to get out of his hammock. He instead transforms into his healthy falcon form and flies back to Citadel (leaving his rations for Rovert) where he begins trying to sleep on pneumonia. The others continue on their way through the deep snow, emerging from the forest a little North of the windmill and arriving in Citadel late in the evening on Friday. During the trek, Rowan contracts a cold, leaving him sniffly as they arrive in Citadel. Both he and Randall will probably get magical healing from the healers, but will still be exhausted for a few days. Aronis, Rovert, and Caramon will need time to recover, but a weekend may be enough.
I was so proud of the players for forging this mission themselves. I had no plan, they had no plan, but they were able to learn a lot and handled every scenario they met expertly. It was excellent, and I need to buckle down and prepare the surrounding lands for future excursions like this.