We immediately turn to Shadows Sigh and ask him what’s wrong, standing overlooking a vast kingdom, he informs us that this is the Realm of Autumn, that the Lords here are capricious and fall between Winter and Summer in temperament, flipping without a moments notice.
Shadows Sign says that he can head back to the Winter Kingdom from here, we broach going with him for help, with Chai talking to a plant for guidance, he says that we’re more likely to get a straight answer from them, but it will take a while to get there, and we are quickly running out of time. We ask Shadows Sigh if he can treat with the Winter Lords on our behalf, parting with items of great meaning to us, I give him my fathers Hammer, battered and worn, but passed down to me, Chai gifts a symbol of her old God, the last piece of her faith left.
In the sky we see 3 strange balls of light getting closer, comets? I don’t want to be around when they come crashing down. Heading to the City, I cast Legend Lore to gather information, and learn this city is famed for its mistress and her coterie of gossips, the Blue Barbers, a network of Gnomes gathering and trafficking in information, the saucier the better, who immediately parrot it back to her.
Approaching the city walls, the hill beneath us begins to roll, a storms whips up the autumn leaves around us, as they stick to our skin and start burning, I try to dispel this magic but can't focus with my body burning, Chai and Ront turn us into gaseous forms as Con’nor misty steps away, we drift to safety and head through the town gates, as Ront connects with the storm and calms it.
Dropping our gaseous forms we gaze upon the populace, Elves, Gnomes, halflings, pixies… blue barbers.
Roza, Chai, and myself follow, while Growbeck and Con’nor head to gather our bearings, and find an Inn for our base of operations.
Heading into the barbers, we are guided to salon chairs by a Gnome, their hair shaped into a beautiful swan. Trying to gather information, we share tales in exchange for services, Chai and Roza spill some beans about the Canniths in exchange for a platinum blonde cut for Chai and a sleek new look for Roza. While I tell them about the peculiar herbs Brother Mathias grew back at my temple, the ones he told me not to tell the High Priest about, I never found out what they were, they braid my beard into the magnificent form of Moradins Hammer.
Growbeck, Ront and Connor head towards to an Inn and start asking around, they trade recipes for food, and get some info on the Fey Mistress, they find out she holds banquets daily, inviting people in the hopes of gathering as much gossip as possible, that she’s famed for her high fashion and we need to turn up in style if we’re going.
Reconvening, we head to the fashion district and are ushered into an expensive looking store by a dapper looking troll, his blue hair molded into the form of a giant fist. We offer stories as payment again, and Chai reveals her backstory;
Raised as a Goblin Marauder, she started life as just a number, trained to raid and pillage. They raided a halfling village, but unable to bring herself to murder indiscriminately, her Goblin brethren turned on her, attacking her and leaving her for dead. The surviving Halflings took her in, nursing her back to health, she took her name from the first thing they offered her once she awoke, Chai…
We get fully decked out in finery:
Chai wears a dress seeming designed to invoke trypophobia in those who look upon it.
Growbeck dons an armoured tuxedo.
Ront is adorned in the finest silk, looking like the aristocracy.
Con’nor receives a look that makes him appear as a shimmering blue streak, the personification of misty step.
Roza receives a battledress, that looks like the scales of a crystal blue dragon, wrapped in roses and thorns.
I, Kharduum, have my armour decked out in the styles and colours of my mentor Lodrum, invoking the image of the mighty cleric order, The Hammers of Moradin, I even have my irises temporarily changed to match his golden hazel ones.
We leave for the great hall banquet, hearing the increased sound of revelry, I look at Chai, and quietly cast a spell, she has been brought to the brink of death twice in as many days, and lost so much, maybe this will protect her.
The hall is magnificent, it looks like there’s no expense spared, but a hush comes over the enter room as we enter, everyone turns to stare for just a beat, then in hushed tones, the gossip begins, groups of Fey people huddled in circles exchanging information as though their lives depended on it.
We start to wander and gain our bearings when the crowd goes silent once again, an announcement fills the room introducing the Mistress of Midnight Teeth, there are whoops and cheers as she enters, sporting a colossal blue beehive hairdo, and a shimmering ball gown, her look and makeup are pristine, she saunters down the stairs with an unnerving grace, but for a split second as she passes a mirror on the stairs, we see another form, sharp fangs, running blood, black eyes, a wholly unique creature.
Ingratiating herself into group after group, she prowls the room. We try to do the same, gathering as much info as possible, there’s talk of the comets, heading over the city, there are dark and tragic tales, funny tidbits, and whenever we are mentioned, the hint of jealousy, for we are new, with untold tales to tell.
We get the sense that this is just how things are here, Con’nor starts talking to a gentleman, Walter, and begins asking about the Mistresses “looks”, but is quickly shut down and advised not to spread these rumours.
I go to take a look in the mirror she passed, but it seems like a normal mirror, my own reflection stares back, same as always, just with Lodroms eyes.
Growbeck heads to the drawing room, he wants to know what happens if you kill a fey lord, he finds out that if a fey does so, they take their place, but in a different way, a slave to their archtype.
The rest of us join him, we see the comets touch down in the distance as the mistress flounces through the door, ushering everyone out except for her, she waves here hand and the glass panels on the wall twist and stretch out, forming a throne “so…” she purrs, “what can I do for you?”
We start talking back and forth, she knows about us, everything we shared in the city and in these halls has been fed back to her, we talk about the comets, asking if we can help with them in exchange for a favour, but she says they aren’t there for her, they are Oni, come to guard the newly formed gateway between worlds.
Chai asks if she misses being able to travel now she is tied to the city, but she says she lives vicariously through others and the stories they tell.
We ask if she knows away to free Felix, or if there’s anything they can do to help with the Canniths, it’s probably best that we’re on the other side of the portal and not them, they’re likely to come through and strip this place of anything and everything, but she doesn’t seem worried. She does offer us something though, that to free our friend, we have to find his true love and say his name. She wants to send people through the gate into our town, to gather info and gossip, but the party aren’t too keen on having more whisperers roaming the outpost.
We ask if there is anything else she can do to point us in the right direction, but she says we need to offer something in return. I offer a shameful secret, something that I have never told another, I can barely remember my mothers face and voice, she died so long ago that she is fading from my mind.
Her face turns, looks like it did in the mirror, "so then, how about you let me take the last of those memories?", I turn to the others, if this is a way of rescuing Felix, then I am willing to make this sacrifice, I turn back, looking into her blacked eyes, when Con’nor roars out, threatening to reveal the secret of what she really is, she smiles and leans back.
Magically, she calls Walter into the room, she reveals herself and asks him what he thinks as he stammers and tries to avoid her gaze. Smiling, with a flick of the wrist, as knife flies out and cuts through his throat, I rush over to him, healing the wound and trying to bring him back, she suggests that this is the only thing that can possibly happen if we say anything about her.
There’s an immense power to her, she may be the most powerful being we’ve ever come face to face with, there’s no way we can make a deal with her, or let her into our town, we turn down the offer and leave. There’s no way we can fight her and an entire city, we need to protect the outpost, we will return with the little info we’ve gleaned.
Leaving the city, the hunger we felt has lessened, heading back towards the gateway with haste, we find three enormous Oni before us, we say that we’re just returning home, they say we’re free to do so, but not him. Looking at Growbeck, they say that he must pay for what he did to their brethren, we try to say that they were corrupted and gave us no choice, but they look to his axe, the Oni’s image emblazoned on the blade, its soul bound to Zariel, they say he needs to seek penance and return the soul back to them.
But Growbeck is bound, he can’t release the soul not without breaking his covenant, we propose offering a larger soul to Zariel in exchange.
I cast sending but cannot reach her, I say that I will keep trying and we don’t want to fight, but at that moment, Growbeck immediately goes on the offensive, he doesn’t see another way out, we try to calm the situation as his axe finds purchase, cutting a gash into one of them as wreaths of flame spill out.
Ront moves into position and with a finely placed thunderwave, punts Growbeck from the melee and through the portal, Chai wildshapes into a bird and flies through, the other Oni turn and breath fire through the portal, Chai is engulfed in flame, but just as her body begins to burn, the ward I placed on her activated, protecting her from death. I implore the Oni to stop, I say that I will do everything I can to bring their companions soul back to them, the wounded Oni turns and nods, he says that we won’t be able to come though the portal again, but if I can return the soul, we could come to an agreement. Thanking him, the rest of us turn leave, back to the outpost.
Reaching the otherside of the portal, the room scorched in firemarks, I reach out to Moradin and use his power to heal the party, heading out of the vault, the guard tells us that 3 days have past since we left, and Pro’bass wants to see us.
We see the Guildhall has repairs underway, and the Feywild encroachment is no longer occurring, the plants are being cut back, and are staying gone. I message Roza’s sister Posy on her behalf asking what she knows of Felix’s true love, she says she knows it’s another dragon, but that’s all she knows.
Crashing through the doors of the council chambers, we find Pro’bass and the rest of the council, arguing furiously, calming them down, we tell them what we found, that we need to find Felixs true love to bring him back, turning to Radu, we suggest he’s the man for the job, Roza persuades him, saying he can be the hero if he finds out, he agrees and with a huge smile he stands and bounds off, dreamily repeating his status as a true hero…
But the others look grave, they’ve set up the dam and the spikes, but workers have died and gone missing down by the river. Before they knew it 47 were gone, poor souls, what could possibly be happening now, won’t this horror ever end.