Time Marches

Force of Nature II: The Sovereign Elk

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

The party finds themselves in Ironwood Spire, where they meet the eladrin’s leader, Evisalyth. They are asked to bring the Sovereign Elk back through the rift by bonding with it, using drops of its blood to perform the bonding. They also pick up a new traveler: Garrrth Thicktrunk, an ill-mannered earth genasi wizard who seeks the weapon of his hero father.

Sypheros 5, 1027 YK

After a brief and unsuccessful side trek in which Galorax and Laxus attempt to locate a healing spring in Thelanis, the party returns through the rift with their eladrin escort (after confronting the sister of the briar troll who once protected it) and follows the path of the Sovereign Elk through the woods to Yrlag. The Elk, accompanied by several yuan-ti cultists — including the cultists’ leader, Senjarik — is steadily advancing on the palisade walls of the town.

Using the cover of a convenient fog, the party strikes at the yuan-ti while Laxus attempts to bond with the Elk. They soon learn that it is under the control of Senjarik, and so the adventurers defeat the yuan-ti before entering the Elk’s mind, also making use of some additional blood carried by the cultists. Here, they push back the poisonous magic and return the Sovereign Elk to Thelanis, finding themselves back on the other side of the rift… which has now closed.

Main Characters: Duine, Galorax, Laxus Secundus, Content Not Found: samson-brugnak, Garrrth Thicktrunk

Sypheros 4, 1027 YK

The party is led by the eladrin women they have encountered through the forest along a twisting pathway. They arrive at a huge ironwood tree, around the trunk of which wooden settlements have been built and connected by bridges, ramps, and walkways. The eladrin escort takes the party up to the highest and largest of the wooden structures, where they find themselves in some sort of informal reception chamber. A eladrin woman sips tea at a table while looking contemplatively at a man with cracked, stone-like skin, hanging from his wrists by a rope and flanked by two guards.

After a brief introduction by the escort, the woman — named Evisalyth, who is a somewhat informal leader of the Ironwood eladrin — the party asks about the man hanging from the rope. Evisalyth tells the party he is being detained for “extreme rudeness,” and that the most likely punishment is banishment. This leads to a lengthy conversation between the eladrin leader and Laxus Secundus, who tries to persuade her to employ stricter and more codified approaches to law in her settlement. At the same time, Galorax tells the man — who is revealed to be named Garrrth Thicktrunk — about the benefits of black powder. Garrrth also reveals his purpose: he is seeking the Earthreaver, also known as the Fall Axe, which was the weapon of his hero father, Girrrth Thicktrunk.

After this detour, Evisalyth steers the conversation back to the party. She knows that they came through the newly-opened rift, and questions if they are to blame for it. They tell her that they are “indirectly” at fault, and explain that the yuan-ti were the ones attempting to open the rift; the adventurers were simply attempting to stop the tremors plaguing Yrlag. This leads into them questioning if Evisalyth has any idea of the whereabouts of the missing House Tharashk mercenaries. Evisalyth, however, claims she has not seen any outsiders since the recent arrival of Garrrth, who was sent to the Fey realm by a mystic who he had trusted to help him find an object he is searching for: an axe wielded by his father, the hero Girrrth Thicktrunk.

The party continues to suspect that the Tharashk mercenaries have somehow ended up in Thelanis, assuming they are not dead. Evisalyth offers the party a modest reward and help in finding the mercenaries if they can bring the Sovereign Elk back through the rift. The Ironwood Spire, she says, was once an outpost of the great Feyspire Shae Loralyndar, the City of Rose and Thorn, and that it served a somewhat religious purpose in honouring the Sovereign Elk. Though they are separated from their Feyspire since the Day of Mourning in 996 YK — a fact which, unfortunately, remains true even after Zil’dejin Firebane undid many of the Mourning’s effects — they continue to uphold this duty. Evisalyth cautions them that allowing the Sovereign Elk to run rampant in the Material Plane could prove truly disastrous for both Eberron and Thelanis.

They agree, and Evisalyth gives them a vial with three drops of the Sovereign Elk’s blood. This is to be consumed to bond with the Elk in order to guide it back. All three drops must be consumed by one individual, who must then physically touch the Elk. Laxus takes the vial, and Evisalyth then offers them an escort back to the rift. Before they go, though, she asks that they take Garrrth with them, since he is to be exiled anyway. They decide to do so, but before they depart the spire they choose to spend the night in Ironwood Spire. They express some concern about the passage of time based on Peril’s warnings about the way time flows in this realm, but the eladrin assure them that they will be alright. They are taken to a guest house that contains sparse but well-made furniture, all carved out of a single piece of ironwood.

Sypheros 5, 1027 YK

The next day, the party awakens in Ironwood Spire. Laxus asks around for a healer, and meets with a sage who is responsible for the treatment of injuries and illness in the outpost. He asks for any potions or something of the sort that they can bring with them, but the helaer explains she has no such thing. He then wonders if there might be a spring with healing water or something to that effect nearby, as he has heard tales of such thing existing in realms under the influence of the fey. The healer confirms that such a thing exists “not far from the spire,” but they are traditionally forbidden from going there by the Lords of Rose and Thorn, and are especially restricted from leading outsiders to it. She can point them to its location, but she cannot lead them there, nor can any other eladrin of the Ironwood Spire. She gives him a bottle to fill at the waters.

Galorax decides to go with Laxus to find the spring, intending to fill his waterskins and any other containers — whether to use or to sell is anyone’s guess — but the others consider it too risky without an eladrin escort. The goblin and the knight head out into the wilds as directed by the eladrin healer, and soon find themselves surrounded by dense, dark foliage. While trying to get their bearings, they hear the sound of lumbering footsteps approaching. A bulky, bestial humanoid creature, surrounded by points of light and covered with tangled vines, approaches. It bears a striking similarity to the briar troll they encountered in the rift.

Galorax scrambles up a tree in an effort to hide, but Laxus stands his ground, meeting the creature’s gaze. They hold this way for a while before the branch supporting Galorax snaps, and he falls to the ground. Something like recognition is sparked in the troll’s eyes, and it attacks. Galorax immediately turns and flees, and Laxus attempts to follow, sprinting as fast as he is able but ultimately tripping over a root and falling flat. The troll approaches and beats him into unconsciousness before ripping off one of his feet. Apparently satisfied with this, it goes looking for Galorax, who manages to divert the troll’s attention and help Laxus stand again.

The goblin then takes the vial of archfey blood and runs back into the forest. Laxus grabs the fallen branch, and uses it as a cane in his attempt to limp back to Ironwood Spire while avoiding the troll. The two make it back, and the healer — who is not capable of magically regenerating the foot — instead replaces it with one made of roots. Laxus has a hard time adjusting to this, but it’s better than having no foot at all. The party decides not to go looking for the spring again, and goes with the escort back to the rift. Here, they encounter the troll again, which seems to be presenting Laxus’ foot to the rift. The party, alongside the eladrin, immediately attack the troll, making quick work of it but losing the foot in the process. Laxus decides it is better just to pursue their goal rather than waste time looking for his foot, and so they return through the rift to the Material Plane. Galorax gives Laxus back the vial.

They find the basin with the shrine to be almost completely choked with the roots that are slowly spreading outwards from the rift. The path the Sovereign Elk took is also largely overgrown, but they are able to determine that it made a clear path towards Yrlag. They follow as quickly as they are able, with the eladrin escort going through the trees and the party trying to cut a direct route along the Elk’s path. Duine gets through by finding the path of absolute least resistance using his keen senses, and Galorax follows nimbly after him. Laxus uses sheer strength and climbs to the top of the overgrowth, leaping and swinging along the way. Garrrth and Samson get stuck mid-way, perhaps because both attempted to overplan their passage. While stuck, they are nearly caught by a yuan-ti ambush, but both manage to escape: Garrrth begins singing a strange, gutteral song that seems to allow him to move more fluidly, and Samson discovers exactly the right vine to pull to clear a path.

The party regroups at the end of the Sovereign Elk’s trail just as a dense fog rolls in from the woods, possibly coming out from the rift. They are at the edge of the forest, looking at the Sovereign Elk. On its back are two humanoids: one particularly snake-like yuan-ti with black scales, and one “pureblood”, an almost-human creature with a small scattering of scales. All around the ground are an assortment of yuan-ti purebloods, mostly poorly armed cultists, who are charging alongside the Sovereign Elk towards the pallisade wall of Yrlag. Yrlag is mounting a reasonable defense, mostly of archers, but they are doing little to slow the Elk’s advance. Seeing this, the eladrin immediately charge in, leaving the party still undetected in the newly arrived fog.

Galorax is the first to move, going up through the fog to catch an unsuspecting yuan-ti cultist off-guard. He stabs the cultist multiple times before retreating into the cover. Meanwhile, Laxus, Samson, Duine, and Girrrth move up through the fog to the edge of the forest, where they can see the yuan-ti and the Sovereign Elk clearly. The two yuan-ti on the Elk’s back have crossbows and train them on the party as they approach, crying out in alarm. Duine assaults their minds with his psionic powers, but falls under a fell charm cast by the black-scaled yuan-ti, who is revealed to be the leader of the cult: a mage talented with manipulation of the mind, named Senjarik. Under the charm, Duine sees a swirling pattern of colorful weaving snakes, which fascinates him, preventing him from moving or striking at Senjarik.

Samson gives Laxus a makeshift device which provides a strobe effect, making him difficult to focus on in combat. While so protected, Laxus consumes the vial of blood, and touches the Sovereign Elk as instructed. He has the sensation of being pulled into the creature’s consciousness, only to be blocked by a sort of venomous net. Realizing that the archfey is under the control of Senjarik, he puts away his greatsword and pulls out his longsword and shield, and begins climbing the creature in an effort to slay the yuan-ti. Samson loads his firearm and follows the Sovereign Elk at a jog, firing infused bullets at the yuan-ti on the creature’s back while Laxus and Garrrth — still singing his strange song — attempt to climb it.

The first attempt at climbing sees them both shaken off, launching them further afield. Laxus makes it up on the second try, while Garrrth continues to be thrown off the great fey. Meanwhile, Galorax has drawn away most of the lesser cultists, luring them into the fog and hiding among the brightly-coloured fey flowers using his extravagant cloak. He kills one by leading it into the trees and springing an ambush, which prompts its companion to turn and run only to be shot and killed by Galorax’s bow. The last one goes for Duine, still mesmerized by the snaking patterns, but Galorax meets him and engages him in a quick but deadly duel which Galorax ultimately wins.

Laxus reaches the back of the Sovereign Elk, where he is immediately attacked by both Senjarik and his second. The second yuan-ti drops his crossbow and pulls out two scimitars, pressing Laxus into taking a primarily defensive stance, focusing on blocking the series of strikes, claws, and bites with his shield and parrying with his blade. He manages to land a few strikes, but most damage to Senjarik is done by the trailing Samson, who fires near-fatal shots that pierce Senjarik’s throat and chest, yet the cultist manages to stay standing. Garrrth finally makes it onto the Sovereign Elk’s back just as it reaches the pallisade walls and smashes through. When on its back, he attempts to pull Senjarik away from Laxus and casts a spell, launching a whiplike lash of lightning from his axe, but Senjarik shakes it off, and the other yuan-ti charges forward, opening its jaws wide to spray poison on Garrrth. The mage falls to the poison.

With the focus diverted from him for a moment, Laxus manages two powerful strikes, channeling the pure essence of order sending silver fire coruscating over Senjarik’s body, and again, burning him from within. With Senjarik’s defeat his hold on the archfey is removed, but the Sovereign Elk continues forward. Laxus focuses, putting his hand on the Elk, and is transported into the archfey’s mind. At the same time, Senjarik falls from the Sovereign Elk’s back, holding a bottle of the Sovereign Elk’s blood — enough for the entire party. Duine, now free from the hallucinations, rushes forward and collects the blood. He helps Samson slay the last yuan-ti pureblood, and then they both consume the blood, joining Laxus in bonding with the Sovereign Elk and entering its mind. Galorax, feeling he has done enough, sits on the ground.

In the Sovereign Elk’s mind, they see a lush landscape around a pristine lake. An eladrin stands nearby, with great antlers on its head and wrapped in furs, sleeping fitfully bolt upright. The clouds darken in the sky, forming snakes that come down and bite the lake, poisoning it and the elk who drink from it. They explore, trying to awaken the Sovereign Elk’s mind. They discover the ruins of the Fey city where the Elk once dwelled, and here they locate a temple where Duine acquires clarity of mind. Duine then goes to psychically heal away the wounds of the poisoned elk alpha, while Samson discovers the Sovereign Elk’s true name on a statue once dedicated to it, and Laxus dives to the bottom of the poisoned lake to recover a silver harp.

Duine then speaks the true name with clarity of mind while Laxus plays the harp to the elk herd. This is sufficient to awaken the Sovereign Elk, who thanks them, and then casts them out of his mind. The party loses consciousness, and when they come to, they find themselves on the Thelanis side of the rift. The rift itself, however, is closed. The others — Galorax, Reardon, Garrrth and Peril — are nowhere to be seen. The Ironwood eladrin quickly locate the three and take them back to Ironwood Spire.

Here, Evisalyth thanks them, and speculates about the yuan-ti’s intent: there is, apparently, a prison containing some entity that is a god to the yuan-ti, half of which is in the Ironwood Spire, and the other half of which lies below Yrlag. She then gives them six bone carvings of the Sovereign Elk in various majestic positions. They are not magical in any way, but may be valuable. She also gives them some gold coins, and tells them that she now believes she has found the trail of the Tharashk mercenaries in the Feywild. She offers to send the party in the right direction.



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