Having guessed that Layne’s demon would awaken at dawn the next morning, the six of us left before sunrise. We were several hours out of town when the long shadows behind him began to quiver. They rose up into a twisting void, the darkness falling across us. We were nearly defeated. Bloodied, Layne drank the mysterious potion that he found in the lockbox beneath the cavern waters. He became filled with a radiant light that tore through the shadow. Otherwise devastating blows glanced off him. The harbingers came, and gathered the demon’s soul as payment.
Lyndee had been proven a talented fighter herself, but she did not fight like a priest. We questioned her. She refused at first but—after what happened with Sonil—we refused to travel with those we do not trust and would not continue without the truth. We learned that she was a rogue and had never been devoted to a temple. She told us that when the city of Keilaris had vanished, the Alestines, and her family, had disappeared with it. She wouldn’t explain any more, and would not tell us why we had gathered these items.
A crater spread before us, the last location of the missing city. Standing on the edge of it, under the light of a full moon, Keilara cast a ritual over the flame of the candle. A pink smoke was spiraling toward us from the sky when a man, allegedly the protector of the city, asked what we were doing.
Before we could answer, I find myself standing outside a small hillside village. I see a young goblin girl running home with a fresh bundle of vegetables from the market. She lays her bundle on the kitchen table. Her mother is in the next room, tending to a sick Goblin child. I see Greym, talking to Lyndee as she hands him a potion bottle, which he takes to his son. Next, it’s morning, and I see Greym riding off with Lyndee, and nine Goblin children waving goodbye as he rides east.
We woke up among statues, a dinner party turned to stone; their glasses still raised in celebration.
The others had visions as well. Layne saw two clerics ride into a small town on the eastern coast of Laurythia. He said they were Lyndee and Keilara. They are surrounded by townsfolk offering trinkets and food in tribute. Lyndee climbs atop a fountain to address the crowd. She gestures towards the sky then runs her fingers through the water in the fountain. The people drink. Lyndee and Keilara enter the temple, as the leader of the town guard hands them a satchel of gold and gems. Shortly after, they burst from the back door, sickened. They only stop long enough to vomit before sneaking out of the town under cover of darkness. Lyndee is still carrying the satchel. He recognized the villiage as Drathwynd.
Mika, the protector of the city, saw a pirate ship near a small town on the eastern coast of Laurythia. The next morning, the ship sails east as dark clouds move in from the west. A red rain falls from the sky and a tall man in dark robes walks up to the town gates, which open with a wave of his hand. He enters the temple in the center of town, six robed women following him. They rummage through treasure left by the pirates as tribute. They do not find the item they seek as they cast aside coins and gems. The man is angry. He strikes one of his followers down with a dark spell and casts her body at the feet of the temple clerics. They erupt in a vicious plague and fall dead on the floor. The robed man and his followers leave town and head north as the townsfolk are left to die in the wave of sickness. Next to where he was sleeping, we noticed the symbol of the eastern goddess scratched into the floor.
The itchy one saw the tree where we had found Keilara’s body. She is still alive, riding west on the main path. She stops to move a broken tree branch blocking the road and is ambushed by a group of villagers. They are angry. They swarm and beat her into submission, before stripping off her robes and tying a noose around her neck. The mob searches her possessions and find a small parchment. They question her and seem satisfied with the answers, they hang her from a tree and leave her for dead. They steal her horses and head northwest. A man in dark robes steps out from the woods and he watches her die. Five women in the same robes loot the remainder of her possessions. The man casts an enchantment on Keilara’s corpse. When he finishes, he glances northeast and turns to his followers. He waves his hand and four of the women kneel and drink from a black vial around their necks. They fall to the ground. He and his last follower slip into the woods just before we arrive.
Pip saw a pirate fleet sailing in the stormy seas south of Avaria. The sky is filled with dark clouds and the seas are rough. With a bright flash, a bolt of lightning crashes into the lead ship and it splits in two. As the storm destroys the fleet, a solitary bear is foraging along the shore. The bear’s ears perk up and it tilts its head upwards. It growls at the sky as it stands upright. It moves towards the water and swims out to the wreckage. A few moments later it is dragging a pirate’s body to shore and proceeds to return to foraging. Its ears perk again and looks back up at the sky. It lets out a sad roar as it nods towards the unconscious pirate. It continues to grunt and snort as if arguing with the storm before once again swimming back out to sea. It again returns to the shore, this time dragging the unconscious body of a blue skinned female. It gently starts to lick her face and lays down next to the pair, who appear to be the only survivors from the sunken fleet.
I believe Ursis also had a vision, but I do not know what it was. He seemed to look disapprovingly at Pip and shook his head, but Pip says it must be my imagination.
Through a door near the end of the dining hall we entered a kitchen where some sort of enchanted broom was cleaning the area. After destroying it, an enchanted mop appeared from some adjacent room and began tidying the splinters of its fallen brother. We let this one live. We opened the pantry searching for rations but all of the food was rotten, and by the smell we guessed that it hadn’t been edible for nearly six months.
We explored the rest of the quarters, and found ourselves in a library where Greym had stabled our horses. His vision was harder to understand than the others and he didn’t share much. He bowed towards us, and I bowed back, the vision seeming to warm him to us. It was decided that Greym would permanently join our party. He has been a loyal friend and we have protected each other ever since.
We continued down the hallway to find a room of cages, some holding stone animals, and others holding nothing at all. The empty cages were labeled “Mimic”, “Basilisk, two”, “Corgix”, “Ochre Jelly”, “Minitaur, two”. The cage labeled “Chimera, two” was not empty, but only held one of the creatures. We noticed a pixie hiding among the poisonous frogs and newts. She had also been turned to stone but wasn’t mentioned on any of the plaques. A signet ring, identical to the one Layne was wearing now, rested around her forearm.
Along the passage to the north we found an alchemist’s lab and two more statues. In the cupboard we found two bottles labeled as de-petrification potions. We asked Keilara if she could use the books and materials in the lab to create more, and even though she had no training in alchemy, she would try.
Whatever else this building held was locked behind a number of doors, heavy, richly finished, but veiled in a layer of dust. Layne used his finger to draw a dirty picture in it and felt an imperfection in the smooth surface. Sweeping the dust away, he saw a small hollow carved into the wood, elaborately patterned, a perfect fit for his ring. He gently pushed it into the carving. There was a click as it found the right spot and was held there, but the door did not swing open. We pointlessly pushed and pulled on it. We looked again closely at the locking mechanism, noticing a second, similar hollow in the wood.
We took one of the de-petrification potions to the Pixie. Some considered simply breaking her arm off, but the rest of us rejected the idea as too cruel. We used the potion, and an… assertive… pixie sputtered to life. She said—in maybe different words—that she was attending a party in this section of the palace and had a bit too much honey wine. She remembered climbing into the cage and then nothing but darkness.
We took the rings back to the southern door and it swung open easily. There was a room with traps along the floor and a pair of chests on two pillars at the back of it. With every step each stone tile changed from cold grey to yellow, to orange, to red. I threw a spare sword at the glowing red trap below Itchy’s feet to test it, but he caught it instead and threw it back. I learned that the red tiles exploded, not enough to kill but enough to hurt. We made it to the end of the room, with the—false—belief that the traps must be protecting something good. One chest was a mimic that attacked us when it was touched. The other contained only a third signet ring.
We returned to Keilara to see if she had made any more potions. They were oily and yellow but similar enough in colour to the others so we tested it on the statue we guessed was the apprentice. Slowly, he began to sink through the floor. We tried to stop him from falling but our fingers grasped through him as if he wasn’t there. Soon, he disappeared through the stones under our feet and was never seen again. We thought it best to use the true potion on the other alchemist who introduced himself as Cactus.
Cactus told us that the Alestines and the Silvestines were celebrating a wedding and coronation in the main palace. He wasn’t much for parties and had spent the majority of time in his lab. Some days after the banquet, he was ordered to prepare de-petrification potions with his apprentice who, he said, was apparently slacking off somewhere else. They had spent the last few days—the last few days of memory anyways—preparing hundreds, maybe thousands, of bottles of oily yellow liquid. He suggested that we could learn more if we explored the palace across the hedgemaze to the north, locked just beyond the door with four ring-shaped carvings.
We took the remaining potions that Keilara had made, just in case, and used the three rings to open the door to the west A long hallway led to what appeared to be the guest quarters.
We moved from room to room, searching the guest’s possessions for another of the rings. When we got the end of the hallway, we heard rustling from one of the rooms. We opened the door, carefully, and there was a basilisk, curled between the sheets of a feather bed. It saw us in the doorway, and an icy gaze began to make our limbs numb and heavy. Most of us moved quickly enough to surround the creature, but Pip was nearly petrified. She took her chances with another of Keilara’s potions—this one slightly more orange. She did not seem cured, and was now not acting like herself. She threw herself awkwardly in front of a bite aimed at Lyndee, yelling something about her “bee love head”. I don’t know what insects had to do with it.
After finding a fourth ring in the stomach of the—now dead—basilisk, she moved to the next bedroom where she found a pair of racey undergarments in a chest at the foot of the bed. She slid them on and oiled herself up with another of the potions.
It had been long hours since we journeyed to this place and the beds looked inviting, so we barricaded ourselves inside and slept here. Pip chose the room with two figures twisted around each other on the bed. She invited Lyndee to stay with her, but Lyndee chose a room by herself. Pip usually isn’t so friendly, Layne says it’s because she has a stick up her butt. I thought that, being a healer, she would have taken care of that.