Fey Me Twice

Kastin's Report - Day 24
Wealday, 31 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

Today we descended into the silver mine contested by the mites and the gremlins, in the hopes of finding some silver weapons or tools that might help us to fight the daemon and fey in this region. The main door was warded against the entry of fey, which gave Sionach a bit of a hard time, but our initial scouting was otherwise uneventful. It seems there is at least some illusion magic cast over the mine, as piles of what looked like silver were in fact merely piles of worthless rock. The mine seemed completely abandoned, with no signs of life.

After descending for some distance, we found an invisible barrier, beyond which the mine seemed more like a fey castle, with intricate carvings, almost as though it had been grown rather than carved. We eventually found a large set of double-doors with ancient Sylvan writings, which Aarevan was able to interpret as some form of tomb for “General Traikot,” a human general who betrayed his race (the Sumatron Empire) to join the fey in their war. Within the double-doors, which were cleverly locked, we found a large, octagonal room with a dais in the middle, containing seven gems, each matched to a door on the seven other walls, and a large fire burning in the middle. Each door had a statue sentinel beside it, hand outstretched as though to receive a gem, and a short inscription that seemed to indicate an element.

In a fit of excitement, Aarevan matched gems to statues, and as each hand closed around the gem he placed in it, the door beside it became a moving wall of elemental energy, not only the four that are taught at the Four Quarters (earth, air, water, fire), but also wood, metal, and void. We were unable to close the doors. After some cautious testing, it seemed we could cross through the doors, even those that looked to be of harmful material, to the corridors beyond. The barriers acted as some sort of teleportation spell, though I cannot say where exactly they took us.

We first went through the wall of falling earth and found ourselves in a large cavern with a pedestal at the far end. Aarevan was a little too excited in his exploration and triggered a pit trap, which we all fell into, revealing another pedestal and a large number of scintillating gems and crystals. Liriel realized that these crystals were in fact eggs of creatures from the Plane of Earth, and no sooner had she realized this than we were attacked by crystal scorpions. They did not respond to diplomacy and we were forced to kill them, but not before they did great damage to the party, including casting some sort of spell on Atraxian and I, slowing our wits and rendering me unable to cast spells.

Once the creatures had been destroyed, Aarevan reckoned that their remains would be worth quite a lot of money when we leave the forest, on the order of 2,000 gold pieces, so we collected them for the day that we are out of these accursed lands and back into more civilized areas. We also found two gems: one small grey one that revealed itself to be a ioun torch and one frosted blue one that we have not yet identified, but that is clearly magical. We also found a dwarven warhammer on the pedestal at the far end of the pit, surrounded by runes describing how the dwarves used to be human and only became dwarves after making a pact with giants. Whether there is any truth to this, I cannot say. Biere seemed particularly upset at the implications. In any case, even though the warhammer was meant only to be lifted by a dwarf, and though neither I nor my companions can use it in combat, we recovered it anyway in the hopes that we can sell it later or return it to its people. It is also magical, and particularly effective when used by dwarves.

A final item we found in the pit, a brown runestone, was charged by placing it in a bowl of earth at the first, upper-level pedestal. When we returned to the main chamber and placed it in the appropriate slot on the dias, the door closed and the statue crossed its arms across its chest. How anyone else will enter the room after us, I have no idea.

In any event, after waiting for the effects of the monsters’ spell to wear off and for me to return to my senses, we explored the hallway beyond the water door. After walking for a half-hour or so, we found ourselves at the edge of a large lake with a pedestal in the middle, atop which was a glowing blue runestone gem. Our first attempt to obtain it was, I thought, rather well planned, involving me carrying Aarevan along the ceiling (using our slippers of spider climb), tethered by a rope, so that he might cast mage hand on the gem from above. Sadly, this plan was interrupted when a tentacled monster from the Plane of Water engaged us in combat, throwing a flaming goblin skull that exploded on impact and then using a wand to hurl fireballs at us. Aarevan was knocked unconscious and lost the gem in the lake, and after a brief combat in which we were not particularly effective, the monster replaced the gem upon the pedestal.

We were lucky that Liriel’s eyes are good, because she discovered a pouch containing dust of dryness, with which we were able to drain most of the lake and reveal the monster beneath. Fighting in the water is not as easy for me as it would be for an undine, but between us we managed to bring it down. We gathered up what treasures the monster had collected beneath the waters: a wand of fireballs, one of rain of frogs (both with very few charges left, unfortunately) and another flaming goblin skull. We found, however, that we were unable to climb the ceiling or pedestal, even using the slippers of spider climbing, until we refilled the lake by bursting the dust of dryness pellets that contained most of its water.

Once we replaced this blue gem on the dais of the main room, the water door closed as well.

We rest in this chamber tonight. Tomorrow we will attempt to explore the rooms beyond the wood door and possibly the void door, depending on how effective we are. We are all wounded, some of us poisoned, and I worry that we will not have the strength to explore more than one or two doors a day, and five remain us. In truth, I’m not certain why we are exploring these rooms at all, as the guardian monsters seem quite content to stay where they are and are likely no threat to the prime material. But Aarevan seems quite interested in exploring, and none of us are eager to wade back into the war between the mites and the gremlins. Perhaps we may even find something that can help us in one of these caverns.

In any event, we will rest now until we have regained some of our energy and then continue exploring. I am not looking forward to what we might find. As always, I await further instructions.

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Kastin's Report - Day 23
Toliday, 30 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

Today we walked back east, into the territory of the mites and the gremlins. For the second day in a row, we did not encounter any fey. I wonder whether they are shadowing us invisibly or have just lost interest.

In any event, the fact that Biere’s memories are 750 years old has piqued Aarevan’s interest. No doubt he will have several interesting papers to write for his college on the subject of ancient dwarven history. I have asked Aarevan to let me copy his reports for my notes, so you will find them attached as he gives them to me.

Tomorrow, I believe we are planning on exploring the silver mine, assuming we are able to enter without killing ourselves.

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Kastin's Report - Day 22
Moonday, 29 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

As expected, Biere returned in the morning with no memory that his tent had been set on fire. We can still see the fetchling within his semi-transparent body.

In any event, before investigating the mine or engaging in further combat, Aarevan and I managed to convince our companions that we should test the hypothesis that leaving the region of the war might return us to our normal size. We tried to take John MacTaggert (the human from ancient Engova) with us, but he was in one of his temporary “dead” phases, our horses had run off or been taken, and we were unable to carry him.

The bad news is that even walking for a solid fourteen hours westward, past where we know the contested territory ends, has not returned us to our normal size. So tomorrow we must travel back and see what we can do about ending the war, killing the gremlin king, or banishing the daemons. At least we had a pleasant day’s walk with no untoward encounters. I think this is the first time I’ve been able to say that since we entered this accursed woods.

As always, I await further instructions.

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Kastin's Report - Day 21
Sunday, 28 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

It has been an eventful day so far, and it is barely past midday. I will do my best to record everything that happened in order.

This morning, given that the mite queen told us that we could only regain our normal size by killing the king of the gremlins, we left to scout the caves where we believe the gremlins live. We were ambushed by a number of gremlins. Some looked like particularly ugly dogs, some like beetles. In the end, we made short work of them and kept one alive for questioning.

He told us that the mite queen used to be part of the gremlin king’s council until she was possessed by a daemon, apparently from one of the two statues we saw in her lair. The other statue’s daemon possessed another member of the gremlin king’s council, but he was trapped in a circle of power. We determined to speak with this daemon in the hopes that it could tell us how to free the mite queen, or at the very least how to revert to our normal size.

We found it surrounded by a river that flowed in a circle without any feeding streams or runoffs, and around that a number of trees that had been coated with silver and scribed with runes, forming some sort of binding circle. The daemon itself appeared as a pool of blood that was able to take the shape of a blood-soaked gremlin. Sadly, negotiations failed when we were unable to offer it anything it wanted — notably, its freedom — and it compelled several of my companions to attack each other. Biere tried parley further, which caused the daemon to inhabit the pieces of dead gremlins that were piled in the circle, and combat ensued. We managed to beat it down, though it used up many of our spells and resources, caused many injuries to the party, and did not seem to have affected the daemon itself.

We discovered that unlike the rest of us, Biere was unable to leave the circle etched by the river once he had entered it. As we looked closer and cast detect magic on him, trying to figure out why this might be, Liriel caught sight of a magical rune on the back of Biere’s shoulder. It looked like this: [sketch of the rune] The daemon indicated that Biere was an eidolon, a summoned creature, and that he would be able to leave the circle if he were unconscious. Liriel hexed him with sleep, and where Biere had stood only seconds before now was a fetchling, who seemed terrified and tried to run as soon as it woke up. Moreover, it did not seem to speak any of the common tongues understood by anyone else in the party. It was, however, quite formidable with its bare-handed attacks, and we were forced to tie it up for its own safety.

When it was calmer and realized we weren’t immediately going to kill it, we managed to work out, through pantomime, that it very much wanted the book that “Biere” wore on his back, but that it was terrified of actually opening the thing, and was quite agitated when we did. The book is written in dwarven script, and as far as we can tell, it is some sort of cookbook. This is as strange to me as it is to you, I assure you.

In any case, having few other options, we returned the book to the fetchling and allowed it the privacy it wanted, and about a minute later it walked back as Biere. Now, however, the shape of Biere Stonegaze is semi-translucent, and you can see the fetchling beneath, as though wearing Biere’s body. Biere has no memory of the hour he spent as a fetchling and believes that he single-handedly killed the daemon after the rest of us left him behind. In other words, he is back to his usual self.

Once returned to more-or-less normal, Biere and Atraxian scouted the entrance to the silver mine that the mites and the gremlins are warring over. They found several dead mites and gremlins in front of the mine, apparently killed in combat. While Biere wants to press our advantage and explore the mine now, many of us are hurt and most of us out of spells, so we have decided to rest until tomorrow morning before doing anything potentially dangerous. I look forward to a few hours of rest, even if it is in fey-infested forest.

Update, middle night: It seems that fey creatures set Biere’s tent on fire. He continues to camp away from the group, but a quick investigation revealed that he was not in his tent when it burned down. I have every expectation that he will return in the morning with no knowledge of anything that happened.

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Kastin's Report - Day 20
Starday, 27 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

We seem to have gotten ourselves embroiled in a war not of our choosing. As we made our way northwest today, towards the redwood, we found ourselves getting smaller and smaller. Our mounts, our equipment, our weapons, all of them were shrinking. The only one of us who wasn’t was Sionach, for reasons we didn’t understand. In fact, we understood nothing about the situation: why we were shrinking, how small we would become, and (especially important) how to reverse it.

While Aarevan and I were scouting, our companions killed fifteen mites, small fey creatures who seemed as large as giants compared to us. They had the foresight to keep one of them alive for questioning, and he told us the reason we were shrunken was because of a spell put on us by his leader. He also told us that the mites were involved in a war with nearby gremlins over a local silver mine. We forced him to bring us to the mites’ base of operation. During the trip there, we seemed to settle at a size about a foot and a half tall, as far as I can make it. It is very disconcerting.

The mite was killed by an expert bowman as we were approaching the entrance. Whether this was one of his own people or a gremlin assassin, I don’t know. The base was guarded by carnivorous plants (please don’t laugh at this — the plants had at least enough sentience to grab my companions and constrict them until they could not breathe, though I thankfully escaped unscathed) and several spriggans, who I think are some distant relatives of goblins.

In any event, Aarevan was the only one who could converse with the spriggans, but he managed to convince them to take us to the queen of the mites. The way was dark and uncomfortable, as the mites greatly dislike any light and neither Aarevan nor I can see in the dark. However, we eventually made it to the queen’s “throne room” (I use the phrase loosely). She told us that she employed a skin stealer mage to case the spell, as the gremlins have a habit of bringing in “large” creatures like us to trample the mites underfoot. The spell can be broken either by finding the mage (a difficult proposition, as the spell was cast years ago) or killing the king of the gremlins. Whether simply ending the war will break the spell is uncertain – they are one and the same in the queen’s mind, and it may not be enough to get the gremlin king to sign a peace treaty. He may not be inclined to in any case.

Once we were done speaking with the queen, she allowed us to light a torch in her command room so that we could see their map and get a sense of the surrounding area. It looks like there might be a hydra several days east of us (in the swamp Biere indicated a few days ago) and that the blinding fey may be immediately northwest of where we are.

A few other things of note: it looks like the tunnels under the large tree where the mites make their home originally housed other beings. There is an eye of a linnorm embedded in one of the walls, which apparently does strange things to our reflection in the water. I could not see it myself (being blind in the darkness), but Liriel claimed that Biere reflected as some sort of fetchling, which is exceedingly strange. There was also a statue of a toad-like demon (a “susto” demon?); the queen mentioned that the skin stealing mage took a similar statue in the shape of a monkey demon. Apparently these statues can be used for summoning demons, though there were thankfully none in them today. On the topic of demons, however, Liriel suspects that the queen herself showed signs of being touched by Abaddon — something strange happened to her eyes as we were leaving, and the last person she knew of to have a similar mark was “Father Locust,” who followed the Horseman of Famine.

In any case, it now looks like we will need to engage with the gremlins and possibly kill their king in order to regain our normal size. I don’t like the situation, but sadly we have little choice in the matter. I will be happy when I see the backs of mites and gremlins both.

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Kastin's Report - Day 19
Fireday, 26 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

Biere was yet again attacked in the night yesterday. Sooner or later, I wonder whether he will swallow his pride and make camp closer to the rest of us. He claims something horrible might happen if he does so, and I believe him, but fighting off fey and other monsters because he makes an easy outlying target strikes me as no better.

We continued pressing west toward the Redwood. At one point, it looked like the land had risen up in a sheer cliff, almost as though a section of the ground had been pushed whole out of the surrounding forest and upward for several hundred feet. The area below was full of stalagmites. Impaled upon one was a dead man with a sword stuck in his side. We had no idea how he died, but given that the weapon was an enchanted bastard sword, I took it for my own use.

Sadly, this may have been the wrong decision. It turns out the man is an ancient Engovan knight named John MacTaggert, a contemporary of Sir Aloysius. He wished on the Redwood for immortality and was granted it, but at the cost of the thing he held most dear, which is his life. So he is forced to die and revive daily for eternity. It must be a difficult life. He agreed to let me use his sword when he is sleeping or temporarily deceased, as it is finer and keener than my own. For the time being, he is traveling with us, as it is safer in numbers than to travel alone. Death is hardly the greatest worry in this forest.

Tomorrow we will turn northwest. If we continue to make good time, we should reach the Redwood in two days.

As always, I await further instructions.

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Kastin's Report - Day 18
Oathday, 25 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood, west of Riverbend Fort

We traveled somewhat west of Riverbend and arrived in unexplored territory around midday. We encountered a number of elves who claimed not to work for the Stag Lord and who were unhappy to see us. Though Aarevan attempted to parley on our behalf, we were forced to fight them and killed one, though it was a hard-fought battle and many of us were grievously wounded. Whether these were true elves or fey masquerading as elves, I can’t say. This forest plays tricks on the mind. They seemed able to cast a number of spells, including the ability to transfer damage between themselves and turn our attacks against us. In the end, we killed one of them and the rest retreated. Or at least, I assume he was killed — his fallen form disappeared out of his armor when he died.

Their leader gave an apple core to Sionach with the instructions to plant it if we encounter a “skinless man.” I hope not to see such a thing myself.

Biere mentioned that there were some moving logs in a marsh nearby, which nearly ate him, but we decided not to investigate. Tomorrow we press further west towards the Redwood.

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Kastin's Report - Day 17
Wealday, 24 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Riverbend Fort

Riverbend has been taken over by forces from Thenton, led by a Silver Clad (officer) named Sir Garland. They must have been just behind us on the road. Or, more likely, coming from a different road, as they have been sent by Viceroy Genmel of Lochwell to gather spell components, supplies, and creatures for the viceroy’s new arena. Sir Garland is quite civil and the soldiers have treated us courteously. They are well-supplied with men, perhaps 20-30 of them, almost all human. They have also brought a smith, so I can finally get my sword repaired from the damage it took when fighting the undead dwarf.

One of the creatures they wish to find is a disenchanter, a spindly-looking quadruped capable of eating the magical essence from enchanted items. The viceroy apparently wants to use them as a way of discouraging cheating in his arena matches.

Sir Aloysius is remaining here and will eventually return to Lochwell and Thenton, I think. It is for the best — these woods are no place for old men. We leave the fort tomorrow and return to exploring.

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Kastin's Report - Day 16
Toliday, 23 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood

We encountered more victims of the creature that burns eyes: four elven bandits lost in the wood, sightless. We put them out of their misery, because death at that point was inevitable for them. They had a map on them with an area marked ‘redwood,’ which is to the west of us, a few days’ travel. Aarevan says a redwood is a fey that is capable of granting wishes. I fear for what my companions might wish for.

Tomorrow we will return the dog and Sir Aloysius to Riverbend Fort and collect supplies before heading back into the wildwood.

As always, I await further instructions.

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Kastin's Report - Day 15
Moonday, 22 Desnus, 4711 A.R.

Location: Bound Wildwood

Today we explored north-west of Riverbend. The good news is that we found Sven’s missing dog Olaf. The bad news is that it was in the territory of a green dragon. Sionnach claims to have seen the dragon and says it was 20 feet long, but I did not see it myself. Also, I cannot rule out the possibility that this is a fey trick. It is very difficult to trust your senses in these woods. I find it very disconcerting.

Speaking of fey tricks, as Aarevan and I were keeping watch tonight, we were lured away by the smell of good food, only to discover that a group of worgs had been lured towards our location with the same ploy. We killed the worgs, and Sionnach and Atraxian saw the perpetrators: four faerie dragons, who look like tiny, multicolored dragons. They generally keep themselves invisible and would not have been seen at all if Atraxian had not cast color spray over them. We were unable to kill them, and I don’t know whether they are following us or not. I long for the days of enemies that made themselves known.

When we returned to camp, we found that the fey had loosed our horses’ tethers, and we were forced to split up and spend several hours hunting them down and bringing them back. We will have to be more vigilant in the future.

One more thing: Biere Stonegaze is not dead. He returned to camp this morning with no memory of last night’s events or how he escaped the owlbear. He can also now change his size to become much larger. I worry what this portends. If I did not already cast keep watch every night, I would start to do so now. In fact, given the encounters with fey creatures the last two nights, I may start memorizing it twice. I do not know when we will have another uninterrupted night, but I suspect it won’t be before we leave the Wildwood.

I do not know how much deeper into the Wildwood we will go. We have planned to explore a little further, and then return to Riverbend to return Sven’s dog and allow Sir Aloysius the chance to go back to civilization, strange as it will seem to him now. I wonder if it will not be better for us to go back with him and give up our charter for Engova. Even if the rest of my companions want to continue exploring, maybe I should return to Brookglade or Lochwell with the Thenton knight. You sent me to the mainland to find out about the political landscape and the military borders, not about fey creatures that stay, mostly, to their woods.

As always, I await further instructions.

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