Session Date: June 17, 2019 (continued)
Effective Character Level: 8
A Little Extra Fey-power
“All I’m saying is, if you and Feb just happen to become betrothed, and we just happen to steal you away from him, then that’s an easy Wyld Hunt mark right there!”
“I’d rather not, if it’s all the same to you.”
Tatty Bogle bumbled over. “Well, after the disastrous results of the last round, the Pumpkin King thought you four could use a little extra help!
“We would have been fine, if it hadn’t been for the interference from the human,” grumbled the Centaur.
They were introduced to Kaeliss “The Silent,” an Eladrin ranger. He wore a Cloak of Invisibility, which helped him better stalk his prey.
“Charmed, I’m sure,” he declared, with no apparent trace of irony.
“There is now a new mark, to replace the mark claimed by the Spring Court. Your three options for this round now are:
“First, locate the crown of a king that sits upon no head.
“Second, the heart of a maiden, upon her wedding night.
“Third, the wish of a white stag!”
“Should we try for the crown again? I doubt they’d have found a new heir by now.”
“I don’t know if that’s the best idea. We already know that times flows differently between here and the Material Plane. Even if it’s only been seconds there, they’ll be much more on guard and ready for us.”
The attention of the group instead turned to the newest of the marks: the White Stag.
“I think I’ve heard of this White Stag. It’s difficult to do, but should you finally catch it, it’ll give you a wish in return for its life.”
“I think I actually saw it once,” the centaur murmured aloud. Such an event was a very rare thing indeed, but Lady Luck had smiled upon him.
“I can do you one better,” the Tau’ri commented. “I can remember how it smelled.”
The others stared at her incredulously.
“What? I’m a Tau’ri hunter. Scent memory is one of the things we’re good at.”
With this bit of encouraging news, the five agreed on tackling the White Stag. When asked, Tatty Bogle mentioned a particularly-lush forest on the Material Plane, where the Feywild had once spilled onto. Much of the flora and fauna there descended directly from their counterparts in the Feywild, and the White Stag had been last seen in its vibrant depths.
Methuseus was still crafting his intricate plans, though of another variety, as they mounted the Blink Wolves and began their second foray.
“All I’m saying is, if we wish for two more White Stags, then we can get around the ‘no wishes for more wishes’ rules. Oh, and they’d have to be particularly weak and frail, so we can catch them easily too, and…”
The Second Mark: A Gentle Touch
Tatty Bogle’s earlier description appeared accurate. When they arrived on the Material Plane, they found themselves among trees whose height and color were reminiscent of those in the Feywild. The edges of the evergreen needles nearly glowed with verdant effervescence.
Fharrs held up her hand almost immediately after they’d alighted. “He’s here,” she whispered quietly, her small nose sampling the breeze.
They were in luck. Just up the slope, on the other side of some bramble and fallen branches, the White Stag grazed peacefully. Not only had their entrance had been soundless, but they were downwind from their target, meaning it had neither heard nor scented them.
“Wait here for my signal,” signed Kaeliss, moving off to demonstrate his worth to the group.
Thanks to his Cloak of Invisibility, blending into the scenery was a simple thing for the Eladrin ranger. He stayed downwind from the Stag, ensuring it could not become aware of him. The only difficulty in approaching the White Stag was then in remaining silent–which he was able to do flawlessly.
Once he was both close enough to his target and certain the others were readied, Kaeliss caused a circle of thorns to burst from the ground around the Stag, hopefully halting its movement. As the White Stag reared its head in surprise, the four-legged sorcerer released his readied spell.
Fortune favored them a third time. The Stag stumbled and slipped onto the ground, coaxed into slumber. There he would remain–as long as nothing was done to waken him.
“Finally, something is going our way,” Methuseus declared, after they had placed and weighted a net over their prize. “Now we just need–“
A familiar and unwelcome effect again began to blur the lines of their surroundings.
“Quick! Everyone! Hold onto the net!”
The five figures vanished from their gathering in the fey-touched woods. And with them, too, went the White Stag.
Dare You Enter My Magical Realm?
The fey arrived (happily, still with their prize) in the center of a large marble-laden room. Riches and finery adorned every surface, from fine rugs to intricate tapestries to highly-detailed human sculptures.
Prustine recognized these hallmarks: These were the signs of human wealth, whose race preferred skilled artisans and crafters, using the hulks of felled trees and the skins of rare beasts. More so than any other race, humans preferred using dead things to show status.
But stronger than the scent of rare spices was the undeniable stench of magic. And more worrying than their arrival was the complete lack of any visible window or door.
A voice called out from the far side of the room. Reclining upon a giant silken bed, a sorcerer of obvious means languished in a parted robe.
“Oh no. Fey. Here, in my…most private of quarters. Where there is no way someone could disturb us.”
He casually loosened his robes yet a space and eyed those standing closest to him.
“What ever will they do with me?”
The fey regarded each other wordlessly. There was another of the straw wands in the sorcerer’s hand, apparently identical to the one used by the knight earlier. But unlike the knight, the summoner had given them no specific instruction or command.
Still, the thought of escape or physically assaulting the human felt shockingly repugnant. There were still mental blocks in place, constricting their behavior.
Methuseus shot a pointed, meaningful stare at Feb the satyr, then cocked his head towards the seductive sorcerer. He made a few obscene hand motions to illustrate his point.
Feb shook his head vigorously.
“Apologies,” Kaeliss spoke finally, “but it seems you’re just not ‘our type’.” He locked fierce eyes with the human in a silent contest of motive.
The human flinched first. The Eladrin felt the barriers around his mind lessen, then break. His will was again his own. Taking up his bow, he shot one arrow into the sorcerer’s shoulder.
The sorcerer was been better prepared than the knight had been. There was no sign the arrow had wounded him–no trickle of blood, nor even a reaction to the impact. The human’s concentration held, and so did his spell (and his mental control) over Kaeliss’s friends.
Worryingly, however, a metal statue in a corner of the room jerked backwards, as if it had been struck by an invisible blow. Gears whirred to life, and it stepped menacingly towards the group.
“A shield guardian!” breathed Prustine. “That thing will absorb whatever damage we throw at the sorcerer.”
“Then we aim for the wand itself,” Methuseus advised. “No wand, no spell.” He willed his hands to conjure a fan of flame from the air. But, with the sorcerer’s mental blocks still in place, his resolve died, and so too did his spell.
“Now, now, there’s no need for violence here,” the man proclaimed. He waved his fingers mystically towards Kaeliss.
A fog reentered the Eladrin’s mind; and suddenly their captor seemed, to Kaeliss, no different than his fey friends nearby. The fey, it seemed, were back in the sorcerer’s palm.
The human looked over at his shoulder, reconsidering his earlier stance. “Unless, of course, you’re into that sort of thing.” He waggled an eyebrow suggestively.
Feb was the next to break the sorcerer’s grip. The satyr’s shortbow sent a second arrow into the sorcerer. Again, though the shaft was clearly lodged in his belly, there wasn’t a drop of blood. The shield guardian, on the other hand, reacted as if it’d been punched in the gut.
The second time was the charm, apparently. The sorcerer seemed surprised by the fierce determination of his toys. His spell wavered, and the fey’s minds were restored.
Fharrs took her new freedom as opportunity for a disarming strike, aiming to knock the straw wand from the man’s grasp. However, the sorcerer moved his hand at the last second; and the shaft instead went straight through his palm, pinning the wand to his chest.
The human flexed the fingers of his skewered hand. “You know, in most other situations, this would be really painful.”
Kaeliss, the first to begin the fight against the sorcerer, was also the one to finish it. As the shield guardian attempted (unsuccessfully) to pummel him, he stepped through mists to appear instantly by the sorcerer’s side.
“We’ll be taking that,” he declared, snatching the straw wand from the man’s grasp and snapping it in his face.
As the lines of the sorcerer’s chamber of secrets (thankfully) dissolved around them, they could hear their host calling out one last time after them.
“Wait, come back! Was it something I said??”
Something is Rotten in the State of the Feywild
The Wyld Hunters were delighted to discover the White Stag still within their net (and still asleep) upon their return to the Feywild. This meant that the Autumn Court had achieved one of their marks, and scored one point for the Wyld Hunt.
But they were not the only Court returning victorious. On the other side of the field, the Spring Court again gallivanted and cheered, apparently having completed the “Maiden’s Heart” challenge. This meant that they now had earned a total of two points in the contest.
“I took her face in my hands and took a kiss, like plucking a ripe fruit!” one satyr was bragging. “She pressed herself towards me, but I danced away, saying my heart belonged only to the Feywild. She cried when I left, as if her heart would break!”
“The Spring Court…” Methuseus murmured to himself. Wheels were beginning to turn in his head–unfriendly, suspicious wheels.
Thanks to their last two rounds, the centaur sorcerer now had possession of two broken straw wands–seemingly identical, despite being from humans hundreds of miles apart. He interrupted a few knowledgeable party-goers to get their professional opinions of the wands; while none of them recognized where the wands were from, they all agreed the items were heavily laced with fey magic.
This seemed all too convenient to Methuseus…all too convenient for the Spring Court, that is. Summoning his courage, he made his way directly to the satyr being congratulated on his success, perhaps to intimidate him into a confession.
“Do these fey wands look familiar? I couldn’t help but think they might have come from the Spring Court.”
The satyr took only one look at the wands before guffawing in the centaur’s face. “Hey Willowtwig! Get over here and look at this! This centaur thinks we Spring Court would have anything to do with these dead, dry leaves!”
There was a wave of laughter in Methuseus’s direction, but he barely noticed it. The wheels in his mind had begun to turn again, in another direction. The satyr had made a very good point; dead grass and leaves were not the calling card of the Spring Court. Nor the Summer Court, nor even the Gloaming Court (who preferred evergreen needles or naked branches.)
Indeed, the wands of straw pointed him right back to his own Autumn Court–they of the harvest and the time of reaping. And he didn’t like the implications.