Ranza (Changeling 4)
Jonesomon (Specialist 5)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4)
Gnarl (Wood Gnome 5)
Hobbs (Hedgefey 4)
Thrax [NPC] (Fighter 3)
After an uneventful day of travel from the standing stone, the party arrived on the outskirts of Twitten's Hollow. The town lay in a small valley approachable over stream by means of an absolutely massive white stone bridge. The bridge was wildly out of proportion for the size of the stream (which was actually reasonably easy to ford in several places). Approaching the north end, the party observed a curious creature sitting there awaiting them; a short fey with feet on backward and a huge carbuncle on her nose. Ranza was elected to talk to the creature, and the changeling learned her name was Shimmer and was part of the Seelie Court of King Thorbus and Queen Botsum, the fairy king and queen who ruled this shee. At this gestured to the series of mounds scattered throughout the open wood behind the party. Questioned about her unusual feet, Shimmer reluctantly explained she had mocked Queen Botsum and been cursed for disrespecting her majesty. Ranza also learned the queen disliked cats but loved flowers and fresh strawberries. Asking why she was on the bridge, Shimmer replied the bridge belong to the King and Queen, and it was her job today(?) to collect the tolls. Asked about the toll, Shimmer stated today it could be paid by helping get rid of the terrible itching in her thick red hair; she had been scratching vigorously the whole time Ranza was speaking to her. Looking closer, Ranza could see Shimmers mop of hair was absolutely lousy. The rest of the party approached to help, trying magical milk from Feedbag and lamp oil to wash them out, both to no avail. In the end, Gnarl cast speak with animals to convince the lice that they had to leave or risk destruction, providing an old fur of Thrax's as a new home.
The delousing successful, Shimmer allowed the party to pass and, after dealing with a more traditional man-at-arms toll collector on the south side of the bridge, arrived at Twitten's Hollow. Questioned, the man-at-arms directed the party to the Moon and Mastiff Inn, a comfortable establishment, to rest and recover. It lay just below the hill atop which perched the keep of Thayn Godwin (a pleasant young lord liked by fey and human alike) and the Monastery of the Seven Saints of Wisdom (a cloistered and silent order of monks who interacted little with the town). The party proceeded to spend a number of days, restocking supplies and preparing for their expedition down the River of Sorrows. They questioned folks at the Inn about the river, and learned it could be navigated fairly easily on a small raft. There were rapids along the way though, in particular a large stretch of rough water where the northern branch joined [Hex 07.03]. Asked of other dangers, the people could supply only vague wonders of shadowy, dark fey things from over the Mountains of Twilight. Very few folks travelled in such remote and dangerous areas.
In addition to the usual food, cold iron and raft making supplies, the party members split to look for more unique items. Jonesomon visited Ungra, priest at the shrine St Astinious to get holy water and commiserate over the untrustworthiness of anyone not human. Ranza carried some fresh pies to the Monastery, hoping to speak to the monks and gain some healing potions. After some silent banter and pantomime (and silver) with the door warden, she was successful. When he asked about other more advanced healing needs, the monk gestured vaguely to the woods outside of town. The party also purchased another mule (The Dude") to take on their journey and relive some of the burden from the long suffering Feedbag.
Gnarl, meanwhile, got it in his head to request an audience with the King and Queen of the fairy, and started to gather gifts to smooth the way. He convinced Ranza to give up her lanterna bush, Hobbs offered the telescope with the strange constellations, and the wood gnome topped it off with a bottle of fine strawberry cordial her purchased from the barkeep at the inn. With that, he and Ranza headed back to the north end of the bridge. There they met another fey, a silent, preening and slender maiden of enchanting charm, lavender hair and green fingernails. Again pantomiming their desire to meet with the King and Queen and showing off the gifts, the fairy (Gundeline) indicated that the pair should come back when the moon was full and high in the sky. That night they complied, and Gundeline met them at the bridge to lead them into the cluster of fairy shee. She led them to a small hollowed between the mounds, and then gestured in a circle around her. As she did so, there appeared a ring of fairies standing atop the shee and watching them, the last to appear being King Thorbus and Queeen Botsum. He was short and stocky, sporting a long silver beard and monocle, whereas she stood tall and beautiful with blue hair and skin and butterfly wings.
A small brown imp with the body of a boy and the face of a girl (Falfael) approached Gnarl and Ranza and asked what they wished of the King and Queen. Ranza, speaking on behalf of Gnarl by grace of her silver tongue, said they wished only to offer their respects the the royal couple and brought gifts for them. Falfael took the three gifts to the Queen and King, and they seemed quite pleased by the honour. Queen Botsum reached to her head and somehow unwound a long continuous string of her blue hair, eventually joining it together at the ends to form a loop. This she offered to Gnarl, saying that as the party would be travelling in dark places, the ring could be used to protect them against the intrusions of the dark fey if they stayed inside it. Ranza and Gnarl bowed respectfully to the royal couple, and when they straightened up found themselves once more alone.
All business done in town, the party loaded the mules and headed north, retracing their footsteps to the standing stone and thence down the hills and into the river valley. The journey was uneventful the first day. But as they climbed down the wooded hill on the second , Ranza (walking invisibly on point) noted activity in the trees ahead. Something, nearly invisible, was moving around up there. The party halted to wait, and all of a suddenly there was a rush trough the treetops towards the main body of the party. Three creatures, green humanoids with green leaf-like leathery skin, burst out of the foliage ready to mob Gnarl, who was walking out front between Ranza the rest of the group. He entangled one, and Ranza colour sprayed the other two. There then followed a burst of archery from the rest of the group, but the two green things dropped down on Gnarl to tear into him with claw and bite. The party rushed in to help, and the two were shortly slain, as was the third entangled one.
Binding Gnarl's wounds, they moved on and reached the banks of the upper River of Sorrows around noon. They spend the rest of the day turning the pile of rope, pig bladders and fallen trees into a reasonable raft, ready to launch in the morning ...
String of Queen Botsums Hair