Ranza (Changeling 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 6)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan
Hobbs (Hedgefey 6) and Wattles the Giant Swan
Thrax (Fighter 5)
Vegarious (Changeling 4)
Jonesomon (Specialist 5)
neo-Baihu Cerritulus (Magic User ?) [NPC]
The minotaur charged into the party, and specifically into Hobbs who stepped forth to face the monster. Hobbs was viciously gored and pushed aside. But the hedgefey stood firm, and he and the rest of the party turned their full focus on their not so jolly green foe. The creature did inflict much damage. And the party noted, was healing of its own hurts, the vine and growth of the hedge and floor climbing up it's body to close it's wounds. So Ranza used a fear spell to drive it away. The minotaur turned and melded back into the hedge. But it was not gone long, and before the party could even lick their wounds, it was back for more. This time Gnarl used entangle to slow it down, but the beast did not seem to be held as tightly as most victims. Guessing it would take more than hacking and slashing to end this threat, the party used all their supply of oil and torches, and Ranza the last charge of her wand of bees, to finally turn the minotaur into the remnants of a smoldering brush fire.
Pausing to bind wounds, the party then moved on. The only exit out of the chamber went north, and was there blocked by a wall of thorns. Which proved no impediment to the party as they simply deployed the folding bridge over it. There were a few side passages, but just past the wall of thorns there was a another large space. In one corner stood a collection of vines and growth in the form of trees; in another was what looked to be a large mirror with a strange purple glow held in the frame. Poking around in the 'forest', the party came across a strange tree. It had the face of a wood gnome trapped in it's 'trunk'. And upon sensing the party, the face spoke. His name was Fnyrous, father of Silnor and creator of the Verdant Maze. From him, they learned the maze was to be but one of the three refuges for the Prince Who Would Be. In addition to the island temple and the maze, the Faerie were to build a place for the Prince in their realm. Alas they betrayed all, and instead the Prince was kidnapped by his faerie grandfather, Crindis the Hidden One and whisked away to Faeire as a prisoner instead. Crindis also cursed the Maze and Fnyrous, turning him into a tree and the maze into a deadly trap. When asked why the Prince was kidnapped, Fynrous explained Crindis hoped to use his grandson's connection to the mortal realm as a way to return in strength and conquer the Forest of Wyrd.
The party professed their desire to prevent that from happening, and explained their quest to rescue the Prince and bring him back to rule the Forest. Which made Fynrous happy, and he explained what they had to do. The purple mirror was the gate to the pocket realm of Faerie where the Prince was held. To open the gate, they had to cover the purple flame held by the statue of the Prince Who Would Be (which he explained where to find) with the purple cup from the pillar. That would open the gate, which could only be closed again by removing the cup from the flame. He explained that once in Faerie, they must move fast. As they might be lucky enough to get the Prince before Crindis even knew they were there. And the gate should not be left open too long, as no doubt someone on the other side would eventually notice and make use of it to come through to the mortal realm.
Having learned all they could, the party headed back to the minotaur chamber and the statue there. They quickly figured out that the stature of the King in Yellow was activated like the other two teleport statues, but in this case by placing a burning ember and a green leaf in his hands. This brought them back to the first half of the maze, and they made their way to the cup and pillar. More brut forces was tried, and in the end Vegarious was able to pull the cup free of whatever held in tight. Then back thorough the teleporter they went. They found the statue of the Prince, and tested the gate opening to confirm Fynrous was telling them the truth. Closing it again, they settled down in the gate chamber to rest and sleep before passing through to Faerie
Once refreshed, the party activated the gate and passed through. And found themselves back on the mountainside, looking down on the island with the temple. Or were they? A second look showed some clear differences. First, everything was bathed under fey twilight. And in place of the temple, there was and odd tower of coloured crystal with a large bulge off to one side at the top. And there was a bridge leading to the island from the base of the cliff on which they were perched. Seeing that, Hobbs convinced Wattle to fly the party down one by one and they then rushed to cross the bridge.
But there they were stopped by what looked like Polduk the giant. But they quickly learned it was his twin brother, Oengus. Who has been geas by Crindis to guard the bridge against intruders. Only those who answered a riddle, beat him in a wrestling match, or paid a blood or gold price could pass. Most of the party opted for riddles, and were successful in answering them. Vegarious was not so lucky, and was forced to pay the blood price; a hard blow to the head from Oegus' club. Bit he then let them all pass, and once more the party rushed forward to the tower, determined to waste as little time as possible.
Once there, they found four ramps of polished white stone, leading into a tower built of giant multi-colored opaque crystals. Heading up one ramp, they entered a round chamber. It was largely devoid of content, except for four pillars . These were near the walls of the tower, and connected to the wall by a colored and shimmering sheet of light; one red, one green, one blue and one yellow. And right in the center sat a monstrous creature, with the face of a man, body of a lion, bat wings and a long spiked tail. In the ceiling above Jonesomon noted a trapdoor, there being no other exit from the room. The creature sat grinning at them, and the party tried to parley and negotiate. Anything to avoid a fight at this point. But the gatekeeper would have nothing to do with it, so Ganrl used his ring of the stone to reshape the stone and clamp the beasts butt to the floor, while Ranza deployed the folding bridge to reach the trapdoor. That of course made the gatekeeper angry, and though he could not move, he could still fight. And promptly fired a volley of tail spikes, most of which hit Vegarious. He also summoned a band of hobs through the red shimmering light. While most of the party rushed up the bridge, Thrax and Hobbs stayed below and finished off their foes, not wanting to leave enemies behind them.
Climbing through the trap door, the party found themselves in an even emptier room. There was nothing to see except a door to the south. Jonesomon, noting that the weird multicolored glow of the crystal walls was disorienting, focused on the plain white floor for a bit. And then curiously noticed he could now see indistinct objects out of the corner of his eye. He reached for one, hoping it might be a healing poultice. Which to his great surprise and relief it was! Hobbs and Thrax tried the same, and likewise hoped for and got a healing poultice. But unfortunately for the badly battered Vegarious, when she tried it there were no more objects to be seen.
Done with parlor tricks, they party opend to door, discovering a set of stairs going up. This lead to another simple room, this time making up just one half the tower. A set of stairs continued up further, and the wall that divided the tower in half had two doors in it. Each guarded by a fey knight. As Jonesomon carefully went to check the stairs, Hobbs walked over to the closest knight. The figure didn't move or speak until Hobbs attempted to approach the door, as the hedgefey had noted a barred window. The knight then turned and growled "Do not approach the door" and took a swing at Hobbs with his sword. This opened a general melee as the party and the other guard got stuck in, and after an exchange of blows the guards were slain. Going over the the door, Hobbs called out. And from just out of sight a figure appeared. He was young and fair, with blue tinge to hair and skin, and carried a large book under one arm. And they immediately recognized him as the Prince Who Would Be. Hobbs started to explain who they were, but the Prince stopped him. Patting the book under his arm, he said he knew all about them and what they had done (which caused a few uncomfortable winces as they realized they killed his mother) as could could read history as it happened. Knowing they were there to free him, he told them the doors could only by opened by a special key. It could be found on the next level up, but they may also run into Crindis the Hidden One there.
Opting for speed once again, the party rushed the stairs and entered what must have been the large bulge at the side of the tower. In that cavernous space there were three flat platforms hovering above the floor; one at 5', one at 15; and one at 25'. Barring the entrance were another pair of fey knights, and on the highest platform they could see what could only be Crindis the Hidden One; a tall slim figure mounted on a Faerie nightmare, dressed in robes of indigo and black, flickering and shimmering in the weird tower light. The knights turned to attack, and the party responded in kind. Thrax summoned his own nightmare, and with Gnarl riding in front of him, charged into the air at Crindis. Meanwhile the rest of the party fought the two knights who barred their passage, as well as others the Hidden One summoned onto the lower platform. Ranza and Jonesomon were blinded by their opponents, while Thrax/Gnarl/nightmare traded blows with Crindis and his mount. The fey lord also tried several times to enspell the fighter, but the big dumb fighters luck shook it all off. Except at last, just after Crindis' own mount was slain, the fey lord succeeded in geas the fighter the leave the tower and never return. But by this time it was too late for the Hidden One. Gnarl had jumped free as Thrax rode away, landing on the highest platform. There he was joined by more of the party, they having extended the folding bridge to reach fighting height. And with a few more blows, they party brought down their foe.
The party quickly looted the body of magical bracers, sword and a strange shimmering key. With this they returned to the lower level and freed the Prince. Fleeing the tower, they encountered Oengus coming their way, bellowing that his curse was lifted and he was now ruler once more. And as they passed back through the mountainside gate, they encountered the giant Polduk coming through yelling the same as the two brothers were reunited in their realm.
Once back through the gate and maze, the party with the Prince ended up back on the isle and the temple. Taking a breather, they spoke to the Prince. They learned he was ready to start on the path toward rulership of the Forest. But his didn't want to do it through force of arms and in haste if it could be avoided, He would bide time and slowly build support among all in the Forest, taking the long path to his inheritance. He asked if they would support and help him by becoming part of his court. On this the party split; both Jonesomon and Ranza opted to turn away, But the specialist, before walking away passed Starblade to the Prince, as he claimed is by right of his father. Those who remained he appointed to his court. Hobbs as the first knight of the Order of the Swan. Thrax as his shield and standard bearer should it come to battle. Gnarl as his Warden of the Forest. And Vegarious as his close Consul, as one who like him stood in both the fey and the mortal realm.
AND HERE ENDS THE FOREST OF WYRD (FOR NOW)
Bracers of Defense AC20
Sword +3, Cold Flame
The Prince Who Would Be
6 Fey Knights
Crindis the Hidden One