Episode 72: Snow, sand and shadow
Through the power of the Residium Binding Telepathy, Yuna and Magnus could feel, though they could not see, Ara and Keen teleporting erratically from point to point in the fog, now hundreds of feet west, now dozens south, now hundreds north, all the while being attacked by the tiny glowing orbs of light. When Ara felt himself move to within 90 feet of the party, he dashed through the snow and was able to rejoin them, with Will-o’-Wisps in tow. Realizing they were the evil spirits of long-dead creatures, Yuna cast Turn Undead and caused several of them to flee, while Ara, Sirlius and Whisper dispatched their remaining foes. Magnus directed their attacks using his See Invisibility spell.
Keen was not so lucky, and though he ran as fast as he could towards his friends, the Will-o’-Wisps overpowered him and he fell, his unconscious form prone in the snow. Stella used her massive strength to pull the fallen halfling onto her back, and dashed for Yuna as fast as she could; Yuna and Magnus did the same, followed by the rest of their friends. But the distance was too great, and with a final, frustrated howl unheard by all, Stella fell to repeated attacks from the Will-o’-Wisps. Her celestial form shattered and cascaded into flecks of moonlight, and then there was nothing.
With Stella temporarily destroyed, The Wisps fed greedily upon Keen’s remaining life force, and mere moments before Yuna could reach him, Keen was slain. The remaining Wisps, outnumbered by the party, fled into the fog and disappeared.
Stricken, the party debated what to do. Yuna cast Gentle Repose upon Keen’s body, preserving him against decay for some days, but she lacked the components required to cast the Revivify spell and return Keen to life. The friends considered attempting a Residium Binding Teleportation back to Uman, leaving Sirlius and Whisper behind in the forest. They considered calling in their favour from Sabetha to bring the material components required. And they considered appealing for aid from Bartok or Arminius, two powerful friends. Angry and frustrated, reached into his pack and retrieved the Raven’s Feather. Touching it, he intended to ask his patron, Drahnus, to intervene. A short argument followed on the black sands of the Shore where Drahnus in his aspect of a talking sand castle chastised Sirlius for his presumption. He strongly hinted that Sirlius already had all the knowledge needed to save Keen, and no divine intervention was required, should any be on offer (which it wasn’t). The vision ended, and Sirlius relayed this information to his friends. In the end, the party decided to follow Sirlius’s advice and press on into the forest, trusting that by following the path laid before them some hope would be found. Ara quickly lashed together a sled of branches and vines and with Keen’s body secured upon it, the party resumed the heavy walk through the snows of the Forest of Stars.
As they traveled, Whisper, overcome with grief and guilt, silently called to the Whisper King. Though the strange voice that had guided her throughout her life had never before replied directly to such direct appeal, it did so now: it told the old Kenku that all was not lost, that she was indeed the Warden of the Court of the Whisper King, and her responsibilities included both the living and the dead.
After several more hours march southeast, deeper into the forest, the party spied a standing stone of purple schist, perhaps 4 feet in height, jutting up from the top of a small rise. As they approached to inspect it, they could hear rushing water far below them, and the rise revealed itself to be the edge of a steep ravine. At the bottom of the ravine was a fast-flowing river, with breakwaters swirling and crashing about boulders and rocks. Whisper found a rough-cut staircase under the snow, and slowly, carefully, the party descended.
At the water’s edge they found the opposite bank was a sheer rock cliff, but a wide circle of clear ground upon which no snow would fall awaited them, with stone statues or carvings purposefully arranged therein. Whisper cast Water Walking and the party easily crossed the river and alighted on the cold, barren ground. They found the statues were in fact offering bowls, carved of solid stone, and set upon stone plinths. Five in all, arranged in a half-circle. Upon each, the names of the Five, the principal dieties of Telisar, were inscribed in Draconic, marking this place as sacred to the Dragonborn. Beyond the bowls was an alcove cut into the rock, shrouded in darkness.
They inspected the bowls and found that one of them, sacred to Toru-sa-Matec, God of Death, contained the skeleton of a small bird; the bones glowed with a faint blue luminescence. Realizing appropriate tributes must be paid, the party filled the bowls: A tuft of living moss for Frei-ya-Narlotec, Goddess of Life; a dagger for Wod-em-Coatlec, God of War; a magic ring for Syf-ur-Potec, goddess of Magic; and for Mim-ra-Teloc, Goddess of Truth, Yuna held open the Enduring Book of Transcription, and Sirlius recited The Stone is Standing, the Tiefling nursery rhyme that appeared to be a map of sorts through the Forest of Stars. The offerings were consumed in a flash of blue arcane flames, and a deep rumble of stone grinding on stone emanated from the alcove.
The party ventured inside, and discovered that stone tiles had slid apart to reveal a staircase descending down into the earth. They entered, Magnus at the lead, and found the stairs led to a short passageway ending in a large chamber. The party made camp at the base of the stairs, protected from the elements but unwilling to venture further into the darkness. After a difficult long rest keeping vigil over Keen’s body, the party entered the chamber at the end of the hall. Under the glow of Light spells, they found the room dominated by a statue of a blindfolded, four-armed dragonborn, its hands open in a gesture of offering. Before it, three large stone boxes rested upon the floor.
Sirlius and Magnus pried the stone lid from the first box, and found within a bag of residium dust. Fascinated, Magnus cast Identify on the bag and was astonished to find that the dust could be used to replace a missing material component for any spell. Yuna realized she could use a portion of the dust to cast Revivify on Keen, replacing the diamond she didn’t have; but worried that without Stella, her returning spell sickness could disrupt the spell, possibly making things worse. She cast the spell anyway, and was successful: Keen returned to life. The party rejoiced, and Whisper began conjuring goodberries to help Keen recover his strength. Yuna was quiet, though, angry; Sirlius told Keen to talk to her. Keen apologized to Yuna. She forgave him, but cautioned him to be more careful.
As Keen recovered, Ara noticed that one of the statue’s four hands had closed into a fist.
Player Death Rating: Unexpected
Sirlius Patron Status: Surly
Rhyme Stanzas Visited: 1 of 4
RP Rating: Awesome!