Day 1 in Thelanis
The party regroups in the Ironwood Spire and sets off for a river which marks the edge of the domain of Shae Loralyndar, and the last place Evisalyth can track the missing Tharashk mercenaries to. On the way there, Reardon, Galorax, and Samson become lost, encountering some sort of strange nymph slaver on the way. Reardon and Galorax also meet a strange woman who gives them bracelets to submerge in the river’s waters in exchange for returning them to the road and their companions.
The others are cautioned by eladrin on the road of dangerous weather patterns and a rogue kingdom of something called “fomorians” ahead. They carry on anyway, and on some open plains are set upon by a storm of scorching hot water. They take shelter in a ruin, once a tradepost between two eladrin domains, and here they find evidence of a dismantled Tharashk camp. They also discover tunnels beneath the ruin, and attempt to investigate. In cramped tunnels beneath the ruin they are ambushed by meenlocks, twisted fey that thrive on fear. They are led by an eladrin sorcerer corrupted into becoming a meenlock, called the Twisted King. Unable to maneuver or see properly, the party faces tremendous losses in the tunnels — Duine and Laxus are killed, Reardon loses an eye, Peril develops a limp, and Samson is disfigured by burns.
After searching the tunnels and burning Laxus’ body (in hopes it does not become another meenlock), the party rests in the ruin, attempting to wait out the storm.
Day 2 in Thelanis
The storm subsides, and the four remaining party members make their way to the river, where they meet Vaxin, an eladrin monk specializing in channeling ki through his glaive, and Kraft, a warforged training with him to study his strength. They also encounter Elias Alastai, an archfey associated with rivers, who is revealed to have originally hired the Tharashk mercenaries while in disguise in the Material Plane. He wanted them to map the “Isle of Dread,” an island that was once in his and his sister’s control, and to discover why they can no longer exert power over it or remember any details about it. The mercenaries stumbled into Thelanis, got briefly lost, and then set on the right track, but have not been heard from since.
The party is offered the same task in exchange for a reward and escape from the Fey Courts. They take the opportunity, also seeking to locate the missing mercenaries on the Isle, and Vaxin and Kraft also decide to come along. Elias gives them a partial map and creates them a boat from reeds on the river bank, and they soon set off for the Isle of Dread.
Day 1 in Thelanis
With the rift back to the Material Plane closed, the party has returned to Ironwood Spire with their escort. The escort makes another trip back to the rift, where they locate Galorax. The goblin is revealed to have also entered the mind of the Sovereign Elk accidentally when he sampled the blood to assess whether or not he could sell it. Reardon is also present there, having followed the Elk through the rift before it closed but become lost for a short time after coming out the other side by himself.
Back at the Spire, they find Peril to be in good shape again after his mauling at the hands of the briar troll guarding the rift, restored by the healer of the Ironwood Spire. They meet with Evisalyth again, now reunited as a group, and she tells them she will send her arrowmaidens with them again to lead them to the right path. She tells them that there will be an old road to follow, which they must take until it ends, and from there, follow the sound of flowing water to the river. This, she says, is as far as she can track the missing mercenaries the party seeks; the river marks the edge of the domain of Shae Loralyndar, the feyspire to which Ironwood Spire belongs. She says that it is clear that the mercenaries ended up in another domain, or perhaps in the wilds, and that they certainly arrived at the river.
The party is then given three days’ worth of food, and they follow the eladrin to the road. The road is indeed old, mossy and cracked in places, but shows signs of expert craftsmanship in the intricate and immaculately-carved flagstones. After traveling on this road for a while, they begin to notice a smell somewhat like incense. Peril, who has experienced the dangers of the Fey Courts before, urges the party to block it out as much as possible, but Galorax, Samson, and Reardon are swayed and drift off the path. Within moments, they are lost completely. Peril insists they continue forward, and that they do not try to search for the others lest they become lost themselves.
While wandering through a thicket of tall but somewhat sparse trees, with the road nowhere in sight, the three lost party members begin to hear cries of help. Believing this to be a trap given the dangerous nature of the plane they are in, they ignore them at first and attempt to navigate back to the road (except for Reardon, who decides it is safest just to follow Galorax and Samson), but somehow find themselves moving closer to the cries. Choosing to just embrace it, they head towards the shouting to discover three eerily beautiful elf-like female creatures, bound in iron shackles next to a pristine pond. While keeping their distance, they are approached by a tall man in iron armour, his face hidden by a visor. He says he has taken too many captives, and offers to sell one to the party for coin.
When they refuse, he says he will give one away for a single drop of blood, so that he can “prove to his masters that he did not simply lose the equipment,” apparently referring to the shackles placed on the water nymphs. Reardon asks about these masters, but the stranger is not forthcoming with the information. Galorax attempts to barter with other items, but the stranger will not accept trade — he says he is not a merchant, and cannot assess the value of anything other than coin if there is to be an actual transaction.
Eventually, a decision is made not to complete the trade, and the three head off again. Samson splits off from Galorax and Reardon and finds his way back to the road, soon catching up with Peril, Laxus, and Duine. The other two remain lost for the time being.
The travelers on the road soon encounter other travelers, coming from the opposite direction. This group consists of several more eladrin, these ones including a number of males, indicating they are not from Ironwood Spire. They guide a wagon, the body of which appears to be carved expertly from a single piece of wood, excepting the iron bars blocking the narrow windows. The wagon and the eladrin appear battered, as though they have recently seen combat.
Peril halts the party, throws his hands up, and asks to speak with them in the Sylvan tongue. One of them responds in Common, and the party learns that they are carrying a prisoner of some sort from their domain to the Ironwood Spire. The eladrin do not reveal the nature of the prisoner. They caution the party against following the road further, as the other side of the river has been claimed by fomorians, who have “crawled up from the Feydark and proclaimed themselves kings.” The party thanks them for the warning but insists they will not heed it, and the eladrin give them one more warning to beware of the weather patterns ahead. With this, they part ways.
Meanwhile, Reardon and Galorax emerge from the trees into a meadow, where they find a herd of elk with shining golden antlers grazing. Galorax chases them, intending to kill one for its antlers, but they flee, and his shot misses. After searching for a moment, however, he does come across an antler shed on the ground, which he takes, covering it in grass to conceal its shine. While he and Reardon consider their next move, a beautiful eladrin woman in a white silk dress appears as if from nowhere, offering to guide them out.
They are suspicious at first, but see no other option, and go with her. She tells them she must make a short detour to her home, and they agree. Her home is small in size but exquisite in design, made of a white wood that does not seem to match the trees that surround it. The woman leads them inside, where she gives Galorax water and, by Reardon’s request, gives the priest a potent, questionably-alcoholic fey beverage. She says it goes by many names, most of which are Elven or Sylvan, but says they can refer to it as “dragon breath.” It makes Reardon quite sick for a moment, but it soon passes.
She then asks them for a small favour in exchange for helping them back to the road: she gives them each a bracelet, and instructs them to don the bracelet and wear it while wading into the river they are heading to. They tentatively agree, and she continues leading them back to the road. They make it back, rejoining the others, but find no sign of the woman when they arrive. Reardon inspects the bracelets, utters a short prayer, and declares that they give off an aura of transmutation magic.
Now that the party is all together again, they continue on until they reach the end of the road, as promised. The flagstones become far more spaced out until they are almost indistinguishable from natural stone, and the forest gives way to a rolling plain, mostly empty save for a single ruined structure of alabaster stone just off their path. The sound of a rushing river carries across to them, somehow sounding at once both clear yet distant. While walking across the plain, the sky begins to darken as thick clouds roll in. They assess them to be rain clouds, possibly heralding a storm.
When the first droplets fall, however, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary storm: the droplets feel scalding hot against the flesh. Realizing what is about to come, they run for the ruined structure and take shelter in a partially-covered courtyard, containing a dried well with long-unused buckets full of some kind of thick moss. The courtyard connects to an archway leading into the sole chamber of the structure, which all but Galorax decide to take refuge in.
Inside, they find the tattered remains of multiple camp sites of various ages and origins. When inspecting the room closer, they find the walls are covered in charcoal drawings, none more than two feet off the ground, depicting many grisly scenes of violence, torture, and kidnapping. Duine begins smearing the charcoal, trying somewhat unsuccessfully to create new, more pleasant drawings, while the others continue to investigate. They discover that the most recently abandoned campsite contains equipment which is property of House Tharashk, suggesting the mercenaries have come through here. There are, however, no signs of the soldiers.
While they sit and wait, Samson analyzes the bracelets worn by Reardon and Galorax, and concludes that they will have a temporary transformative effect should they enter the waters of the river, turning them into elk — but the duration is unclear. After this revelation, Peril takes a minute to concentrate, focusing on the sensations he keenly recalls from his last “visit” to the Fey Courts. By doing so, he is able to sense the presence of nearby fey: there are five of them, dwelling a short distance beneath the structure they are in. He announces this, and the party searches the ruin, eventually discovering a well-concealed stone that covers a pit leading down to tunnels beneath.
They move the stone aside and investigate the passage. The pit is narrow and coated with a soft black moss that provides easy handholds. After talking it over, the group agrees to investigate the tunnels, and they go down one-by-one, with Galorax — the only one able to navigate the cramped passages with ease, due to his stature — taking the lead, followed by Peril, then Laxus, then Reardon, then Duine, and finally, Samson. Samson wears goggles of his own invention that allow him to see, and Galorax and Peril have keen vision that allow them to see in the darkness, but the others are almost blind.
They find a divergance in the tunnels before long, with one way covered in more of the moss, and the other scattered with small bones, resembling those of small humanoids, like goblins or halflings. They choose to go down the latter as a group. While in this next passage, Samson is suddenly rocked with fear, suddenly terrified as two grotesque, insect-like fey creatures emerge from other tunnels and strike. Not long after, more come from where the passage splits again ahead. Peril identifies them as meenlocks, monstrous fey that are created raw from abject terror, capable of moving through shadows, inspiring unnatural fear, and converting victims to their kind.
Struggling to handle the meenlocks in the darkness, Duine strikes a torch, which causes the creatures to reel in terror and pain. The torch does not remain lit long, however; soon, the leader reveals himself, a meenlock that was clearly once an eladrin sorcerer. He casts a spell that swallows the party in unnatural darkness, rendering even their darkvision useless. What follows is a terribly one-sided struggle: the party has intruded in the meenlocks’ domain, and here they are at their strongest. All but Galorax struggle against the cramped conditions, and the unnatural (and natural) darkness, as well as the paralyzing fear generated by the meenlocks, make the fight extremely difficult.
The fight begins with Peril moving ahead in the cramped passage to cut off the advancing meenlocks, but he soon finds himself surrounded. He desperately tries to parry in the dark, but is soon rended by their claws, which fills his mind with their poisonous fear. The words “Twisted King” keep repeating in his head as he falls helpless to the ground. Galorax moves up to help him, as does Laxus. Galorax’s nimbleness and size allow him to maneuver up further in the passage into relative safety, even managing to stay out of the Twisted King’s unnatural darkness. Laxus also finds himself struggling in his attempts at keeping the meenlocks off of Peril, and soon he too is paralyzed with fear.
The others face danger from the meenlocks in the rear, as well as the Twisted King, who is focusing his foul sorcery on them. Jets of greenish-yellow fire flow through the passage, assailing Reardon, Duine, and Samson while giving them very little room to get out of the way. The unnatural darkness subsides as the Twisted King’s magic shifts, allowing Duine to light another torch and weaken the meenlocks. With this, Samson is able to break out of his fear long enough to shoot half the face off of one of the meenlocks, and Galorax manages to drive his daggers through the eyes of the meenlock he is fighting. Reardon calls out a prayer and Laxus shouts a call to order which bring life and vigor back to the party members, but the tides soon turn again after this.
Another blast of fire from the Twisted King flows across the ceiling of the cramped first passage. One of Reardon’s eyes is burned out, while the top of Duine’s head is melted and Samson’s face is disfigured. All three fall to this fire. The meenlock with half a face scrambles forward and extinguishes the fallen Duine’s torch, returning them to natural darkness. The meenlocks that had been attacking Peril and Laxus overwhelm the lawbringer, and he soon finds himself paralyzed again. At this point the two meenlocks grab him and begin dragging him out into one of the deeper passages, with him screaming incoherently all the while.
Galorax and Laxus, now the only two standing, take the opportunity to flee. Galorax dodges past the Twisted King and the meenlock with half a face that still block their retreat, but Peril cannot move quickly enough to do so and sustains some injuries. Galorax takes a second to re-light Duine’s first torch, driving the meenlocks back somewhat, and a potion is administered to Samson who manages to regain his footing and follow the others back to the passage upward.
They scramble up as quick as they are able to with their injuries. The two meenlocks dragging Laxus are shaken off as Laxus comes to, but they drive him to paralysis again and are replaced by the injured one, who continues to drag him. The other two rejoin the Twisted King as he pursues the others back through the tunnels. They extinguish the torch on the way, leaving Laxus in total darkness.
Galorax and Samson fire arrows and bullets down on the meenlocks as Peril makes his way up the passage, and then they push the covering stone back over the pit, placing weight on it to keep them down there. Laxus, now placed in something like a shallow grave in the darkness, hears the distance “thud” of the stone being replaced, and continues to scream in vain. Meanwhile, the three who have made it back to the ruin have, in their haste, forgotten the meenlocks’ shadow-teleportation ability; the three creatures appear in the shadows of the stone, and resume their assault. Now, however, the party has room to maneuver and the meenlocks are weakened by the light, shifting the advantage to them.
Back in the tunnels, Reardon comes to consciousness just enough to shout a prayer to Olladra, who apparently sees fit to bring him back to his senses. He stands and relights another of the fallen torches, then takes stock of the situation. Duine’s body lies next to him, with the warforged dead from the Twisted King’s fire. Laxus’ screams can still be heard deeper in the tunnels, while the others are nowhere to be seen. He recognizes Laxus’ voice and considers the situation for a moment, before letting his hatred for Laxus overwhelm him. He leaves the lawbringer down in the tunnels and retreats, finding himself back at the covered stone… which he cannot move, due to the fighting taking place overtop of it.
The fighting above soon turns to the favour of the party, and the meenlocks attempt a retreat, but Galorax has placed a torch on the stone to erase all shadows, providing no avenue for the meenlocks to escape through. They slay all three still remaining, allowing Reardon to pull himself up and administer divine healing to Samson, Peril, and Galorax. After about ten minutes, some of their wounds are restored, although Samson’s disfigurement and Peril’s limp still remain, and Reardon still has only one eye. They mutually to avenge their fallen and possibly rescue Laxus from the last meenlock, and return to the tunnels once more.
Laxus, however, has already managed to recover from his fear and madness just long enough to slit his own throat, even while the meenlock continues pressing into his mind. This is a mercy to himself, as he refuses to become one of these twisted creatures. The others find him this way, quickly killing the last meenlock, and decide to burn his body just in case. They then search the room, finding some trophies taken by the meenlocks over the years, including an ironwood shield, some tanglefoot bags, and an old healer’s kit. The detritus also hints at the structure’s original purpose as a trade post between two feyspire domains.
Finally, they return to the surface ruin and camp, attempting to wait out the scalding storm outside.
Day 2 in Thelanis
When the four survivors awake, the storm is over. The air is warm and humid, but otherwise ordinary. They exit the ruin and continue to the river, where they find two more strangers: an eladrin monk, practicing with a glaive, and a warforged, trying clumsily to imitate the eladrin. The party stays clear of them, with the exception of Reardon, who approaches them and engages them in smalltalk and learns a bit more about them: the eladrin, Vaxin, is a weaponmaster from a fallen feyspire named Shaelas Tiraleth, who was raised by fey wolves. The warforged, Kraft, encountered Vaxin by chance and has since been studying the warrior to learn more about his inner strength.
The others, meanwhile, draw close to the waters, and with this, a figure rises up from the surface and walks over the rushing waters towards the party. He also has the look of an eladrin, but with pale blue skin and green hair the colour of seaweed. He introduces himself as Elias, but Vaxin recognizes him as Elias Alastai, an archfey with dominion over the rivers. From Elias, they learn that he hired the missing Tharashk mercenaries while in the Material Plane in diguise.
The mercenaries were hired to map out the “Isle of Dread,” an island in Thelanis that was once in the domain of he and his sister Siobhan (who commands the lakes and seas), but which is no longer in their grasp, and they can “no longer remember why.” He wishes to find out what has happened that prevents them from touching the island, what is on the island now, and why he has forgotten the reason for the change. Elias directed the mercenaries to Yrlag, believing the people would know about fey crossings; however, the mercenaries arrived to find that, while the reeve Vlayn Felstrom knew of the leylines, she had no idea about any crossings.
The mercenaries stumbled into the Fey Courts by accident, but got sidetracked, losing some to the meenlocks, and some to “another incident,” before finally arriving at the river, where they were carried to the Isle. They have not been heard from since, a span of two months in this realm, and Elias tells the party that he can send them to the Isle and even get them out of the Fey Courts if they complete the mercenaries’ task. They agree, and Vaxin and Kraft ask to join them on the journey, to which the party also agrees.
Elias gives them an incomplete map of the edges of the Isle of Dread (as far as his influence will carry his sight), and then crafts them a boat out of river reeds. He also reveals the name of the mysterious woman Reardon and Galorax met: Felsa. He will say little more other than that they should be “cautious, but not afraid of her.” They all board the river boat, and it then begins carrying them down the river to their new destination.