(Work in Progress)
Our heroes are summoned from their respective homes in Zenterkern by the king and are told to venture Faredstad, one of the largest towns in Arenula to investigate a disturbance that is believed to have originated from the woods. The woods are highly suspect as they’re one of the easiest passages from the Orient to the Westerlands, and dangerous beings are rumored to lurk past the mountains that divide the continent in half.
Jubeln, wife of General Stute, welcomes you to the town with gift baskets made by the children and informs you that the inn has been destroyed. With no lodging she invites you to either stay with her or one of the many welcoming townsfolk she has marked for you on your map. As you discuss your first course of action, Albern comes from his shop and passes by. Just as he’s about to invite you in, Ander makes his way south to the hermit’s house and Apotropaia makes no delay in going to investigate the inn. Fane and Patchan decide to decline Albern’s offer, leaving just Merlow to visit the shop.
Apotropaia begins the investigation and finds little of note. After Fane and Patchan arrive to assist her, the investigation bears fruit in the form of some strange twigs that don’t come from an identifiable tree and claw marks that appear to stop halfway through their path.
Ander reaches Shootren the hermit’s house. Though knocking does nothing to attract Shootren to the door, she spots his eyes through the window and opens the door herself. Shootren quickly darts upstairs in a panic. After hearing a commotion from the animals downstairs he descends to find Ander covered in animals who are licking, pawing, and playing with him. Convinced that Ander is a respectable individual, he asks what he came there for. They do a quick exchange of flowers and Ander pulls out his pen and paper to explain his lodging situation; to which Shootren responds by agreeing to let him stay with him on the couch. They talk a bit and Ander takes note of the ferret glaring daggers at them from the corner. Shootren states that the ferret is very spoiled and probably doesn’t appreciate the new company. The ferret also only eats Shootren’s food, which would explain why Shootren is so emaciated. Ander vows to capture the ferret for Shootren. Shootren informs him that he’s fine and capturing the ferret won’t be necessary.
Merlow visits Albern, the curious owner of the general store. Albern gives Merlow a place to stay.
Apotropaia makes her way to Shootren’s and scares him and Ander upstairs. Apotropaia lets herself in and makes herself comfortable on the couch downstairs. The animals cower before her. Shootren sees how the animals react to Apotropaia and eventually sneaks downstairs with Ander and signals his ferret to attack her to scare her off. Finally seeing the elusive ferret, Ander darts to it and catches it, just before it escapes. Shootren asks politely for Ander to let the ferret go and after some back and forth Ander loses sight of his original goal; this animal is special, and he seeks to make him his own. Shootren follows Ander all the way to Albern’s General Store, attempting to hide from cover while quietly pleading for Ander to let the ferret go. Ander ignores this and knocks on the door and summons Albern, who sells him a fancy cookie for five copper. Ander wishes to buy the ferret’s affection, but the ferret doesn’t take the bait. Ander then gives up after noticing the shy hermits determination and gives the ferret back to him. After Albern notices “Shooty” he invites him in to stay the night and catch up. Merlow simply looks on in confusion.
Meanwhile Fane makes a visit to the local priest, Dresler. She informs Dresler that she was sent by the king and of the rooming complications and Dresler agrees to give her a room as the church is never all that crowded anyway. They discuss religion and Fane shares a small sermon, but due to a combination of fluke, lack of preparation, and Dresler’s hardheadedness she doesn’t impress. Dresler says that she’d be willing to share her technique if Fane could use her people skills to give advice on how to attract more patrons for her church. She claims that even though her sign is awesome looking and she updates it every morning nobody ever shows up. Fane informs her that a fire insurance policy of “If you don’t devote your life to Goda you could end up tortured by Drof in the afterlife, do you want to take that chance?” doesn’t attract followers, but her advice goes right over Dresler’s head and they agree to swap advice some other time.
After a long nights rest the group meets up and agrees to venture into the woods to see if the innkeeper was either lost or captured. After a bit of inspection they find a ring of flowers. The group knows what is likely the cause of this, Fey beings. Just as they begin to retreat, poisoned darts whiz by them from an unknown source and the grass reaches up to grasp at their feet. Ander is quickly paralyzed and sprites are discovered to be the culprits. Merlow asks the sprites what their demands are and if they can leave as Patchan and Apotropaia drag Ander to cover behind a tree. The sprites respond by declaring that if the party wants to leave, they must leave without the incapacitated members of their team. The group refuses and Merlow delivers an Eldridge blast to the face of one of the sprites, incinerating it completely. A small pixie descends to the blast site and weeps over her lost fey friend. Fane seeks to aid his team, but is grabbed by grass and the roots of trees. A dart is delivered to his neck to incapacitate him the same as Ander. Apotropaia makes her way to the other sprite and releases fire from her cloak, completely incinerating the other sprite. A different pixie flies over to the sprites corpse to grieve over his charred remains. Apotropaia is overcome with a sense of guilt and comforts the pixie, apologizing for her rash actions. Meanwhile, Merlow suffers the same fate as Fane while Patchan climbs a tree. Thinking he now has the upper hand in this situation, he waits to save his friends, but a dryad emerges from the bark of the tree and grapples him, incapacitating him as well.
Our heroes are left to the fate of these creatures of whimsy. They are tied up and carried further into the forest, pondering and dreading what their fate may be…