Episode 60: Ara and the Storm
The party fairly collapsed into rest in the hours before dawn on the 1st of the Fox. A light snow started as Ara kept watched and listened to the city slowly quiet after the terrors of the night. He passed off his watch to Whisper, and retired to his elf-trance.
Whisper noted that the snow seemed to be increasing, and a bitter wind had picked up. Over the next couple of hours it worsened, until at what should have been dawn, a squall was blowing, darkening the morning sky. Climbing to her loft for a better view, Whisper was surprised to see a figure, standing in the street, silhouetted against the snow and lit by the occasional flash of lightning. As she watched the figure seemed to appear closer to the house despite not appearing to have moved: once, twice it disappeared and reappeared. Growing nervous she cast Hunter’s Mark on the figure, who reacted by immediately turning invisible.
Alarmed now, Whisper woke Yuna and made her way to the front door, her magic telling her the figure was still out there, unseen. As they stared into the blinding snow, the strange figure appeared suddenly just feet away. They saw clearly for the first time the figure was a large, heavily-built elf wearing trapper’s furs of some sort, armed with a large hunter’s knife, bow and quiver, and sporting a surprisingly thick, black beard. More surprising still were the antlers growing out of the man’s forehead, and the way his eyes were rolled up, showing their whites.
The figure remained motionless and unresponsive in front of the house for some time with the blizzard coursing about him, the snow drifting at his feet. Not knowing what else to do, Whisper left a cup of tea and a goodberry for the man and closed the door. Yuna completed her watch as the storm continued to rage and the figure remained rooted to the spot outside their house. Stella growled and snarled at the door throughout the watch, and only with reluctance and with Yuna’s insistence did she quiet.
When the rest of the party awoke, they found the figure still fixed to the spot outside the door, the sky black with thunder clouds and the snow driving harder than ever. Whisper noted from her loft that the storm seemed to be centered on their house; she could see the glow of daylight some sixty or seventy feet away.
Without warning the figure came to consciousness, regarding his surroundings and the party regarding him in turn from the doorway. “I have no memory of this place,” he said in a deep, raspy voice. He addressed Keen, saying “Are you master of this domain? To what Court do you give your allegiance?” His Elvish was strange, an ancient dialect Sirlius had trouble following. Ara stepped forward then and introduced himself, brightly declaring “Hallo, I am Ara am Akiir, pleased to meet you!” The name Akiir seemed to capture the man’s attention but Ara then shifted into an aggressive tone, warning the stranger not to cross the Fist of the North Wind. At that, the man grinned and with blinding speed struck Ara with the Open Palm technique. The two elves were pushed away from each other and fell unconscious, Ara into the arms of Sirlius and the other on his back in the snow. At the same moment, a chorus of howls echoed in the storm, and four large silhouetted creatures began closing on the house. Whisper called forth a huge tangled hedge of spiky plants ensnaring and tangling the creatures and slowing their charge, before racing to the third floor loft, Keen in pursuit.
As the creatures slowly made their way towards the house, they unleashed blasts of icy breath at the doorway, forcing Sirlius and Yuna to leap for cover. In response, Sirlius engulfed three of the monsters in a towering column of fire, incinerating them instantly. The fourth leapt forward but was felled by a barrage of Whisper’s arrows fired from the broken window of the loft.
Meanwhile, Ara found himself standing in an open field, long grass blowing about him, rain pouring down in sheets and black clouds crackling with lightning. An elf, different than the interloper at the house, emerged from the darkness, took up an combatant’s stance and announced “I’ve been looking for you, Fist of the North Wind. Let us see how you fare against the Fist of the Storm!”
The duel raged across the field, the strange figure calling lightning down from the skies, his unarmed strikes scorching and burning Ara’s flesh. This was apparent to Yuna and Sirlius, who saw Ara’s unconscious body spasm and jerk with pain on the floor of the house. Sirlius unleashed bolts of necrotic energy at the prone elf in the street while Yuna poured healing magic into Ara. Striking out from the darkness, the Fist of the Storm unleashed a final volley of lightning, but Ara stood his ground and counterattacked. The figure of the bearded, antlered elf fell forward, prostrate at Ara’s feet, while a spectral vision of Ara’s opponent rose from the body before first enveloping Ara and then being drawn inside.
Ara regained consciousness, manic, happy and babbling about throwing a party. As Whisper and Keen rejoined them in the foyer, Yuna healed the elf, restoring him to consciousness also. Regaining his feet, the man declared himself The Enigma of the Absolute. He insulted the party, the house, Uman, Telisar, and the entire Material Plane, before noticing that sky. “They struck here also, I see,” he said to himself. “Who did,” asked Yuna, to which he replied, “The Order of the Dragon, obviously.”
The foul-mouthed man turned to leave, but Sirlius, insulted and irritated, attempted to cast a minor illusion on him. The tiefling’s casting caught the man’s attention, and with a flick of a finger he cast Dominate Person, forcing Sirlius into a begging position. With a dismissive wave transmuted Sirlius’s horns into fluffy white bunny ears before planeshifting back to the Feywild.
Embarrassed and irate, Sirlius tried to cut off an ear with a dagger but was stopped by Whisper, who helped him die the white fur red, to better match his skin. Realizing they were dealing with a caster of immense power, Sirlius pulled out the Raven’s Feather to speak with Anansus. From him she learned that The Engima of the Absolute was a hugely powerful elven demigod of the Feywild, third in line to the Throne of the Winter Court, whatever that meant. As Sirlius related the details of their encounter, Anansus realized that the attacks on the Material Plane had also occurred in the Feywild, and urged Sirlius to visit the Feywild to understand what was happening there. He suspected a shard of the Heart of Bahamut must be there, somewhere.
As the storm abated and the mid-morning light filled the house, the party considered this latest development and tried to decide which of their urgent business was most urgent. Sirlius attempted to remove the curse of the Drow platinum from Keen, and then studied the effects with a detect magic spell. He was surprised by a blinding, overpowering response from the spell, as if Keen were somehow made of arcane energy, but he did confirm Keen was no longer affected by the curse. The rest of the party, the house, and everything in it, still was. Despite the curse, the party was most concerned by the warning imparted by Sabetha, and resolved to attempt to retrieve Madame Elethi’s ledger before the tiefling assassin lost whatever shreds of patience remained.
Fist Collection Status: 2/5
Party Combat Tactics Level: A+
Elven Demigod Rating: Asshole
RP Rating: Awesome!