We ask Eben again why the fortune teller called him a liar. Eben walks over to some trees and waves at us to follow. He tells that he needs to know that we’re alone and, as his demeanor has changed to be less confrontational and closed off, we duly look around to make sure that we are. When we’re reasonably assured of privacy, Eben tells us that he hasn’t been totally honest about his past.
Needless to say, none of us are surprised by this admission, so we wait for him to continue. At this, his weapons give off a grayish glow and then dim to mundane levels. Then, he pulls out a symbol that’s shaped as a raven and gives off a blackish-purple color. When he does this, all of his weapons glow the same blackish-purple.
All of us—even those of us who don’t recognize the symbol—are taken aback. Eben tells us, “It’s not safe to be a worshipper of the Raven Queen.” Her cults have been broken up and that this is why he felt it necessary to lie—he needed to be sure that we wouldn’t betray him.
He also tells us that he recognizes the entire pantheon—as Gavrash does—but serves the Raven Queen above the others.
Jack, in response, pulls out the Raven feather that the Rag and Bone man gave him and shows it to Eben. It’s glowing, and he explains to Eben where he got it. Jack holds it in front of Eben and it feels warm, giving them both a sense of comfort.
Eben experiences a connection with his patron and whispers a prayer to the Raven Queen. When he does this, he feels a surge, a warmth through his entire right hand. Even after Jack puts the feather away, he still feels that warmth in his hand.
We all agree to keep his secret, and he tells us that our mission will be his as well. I make my peace with him since he’s committed to our mission, and Aideena, also, makes her peace with Eben, especially since Eben apologizes for his behavior in her parents’ house. He offers 100gp to pay for any damage and Aideena duly exits to convey his apologies to her parents. They don’t accept the money, but they do his apologies.
We then take the road back into the marketplace to look around and gather any supplies we feel we may need for our journey. I buy 2 weeks of rations and Aideena puts them—and the rations others buy—into the Bag of Holding.
While everyone else in the party is shopping in the marketplace, Eben and I walk to the Lyre and the Lute to pick up any non-food items.
In the Lyre and the Lute, I buy some daggers, a potion of healing, and a bottle of Holy Water. I also bought some bracers. Eben does some shopping of his own, buying supplies he feels he needs.
While we’re shopping, the rest of our party makes its way to the Lyre and the Lute to do some shopping of their own. As we’re finishing up with our purchases, Gavrash walks in and tells us that as soon as we’re ready, we should head out. He keeps a wary eye on Jack while he says this, and then sidles outside.
Shortly after, we’re done shopping and leave the Lyre and the Lute to find Gavrash waiting. He begins leading us out of Delaine, in the direction we entered the town from, and—as we cross over a bridge—a woman with long blonde hair rides up to us. She bears a resemblance to Aideena and, indeed, Aideena, Targoth, and I recognize her. It’s Aideena’s sister Eolande, and she does not look at all surprised to see us.
She tells us that she knew she would find us here, and says that she saw Aideena in a dream. She then hands Aideena a vial, saying we would need it. It’s identical to the vial of Holy Water I purchased at the Lyre and the Lute. After this, she bids us farewell and rides back into town.
We continue into the forest, and find ourselves at a ring of dead trees. The air is very cold.
Gavrash tells us that he will use a ritual to send us into the Shadowfell. From there, we have to walk east towards a village of shadar-kai. He tells us they will not harm us, provided we give them no reason to. After that, we should continue to head east to find the fey crossing at a necropolis, which is particularly dangerous. After we cross into the Feywild, we must leave the area immediately because to tarry too long will leave us in grave danger.
After giving us these instructions, he turns to Aideena and offers her a boon of Sehanine. She decides to take it. He then turns to Targoth and offers him a boon of the Raven Queen, which he turns down politely. Eben reaffirms his faith and service to the Raven Queen. Gavrash then turns to me and offers a boon from Sehanine, which I accept. Lastly, he turns to Jack and offers him a boon from the Raven Queen. Jack wants to know what the boon is, but he pauses to think.
He considers that the feather did not come to him by accident, and then he decides to accept the boon. Gavrash tells him that the Raven Queen is happy to have the entire Hanswurst family serve her.
Those of us who accepted boons are asked to step forward. Two shafts of moonlight illuminate Aideena and me and the goddess gives us her blessing. There is a sense that someone looks upon us with favor. The Raven Queen then blesses Eben and Jack.
After this, Gavrash draws out a glittering black dagger and draws his own blood. He then draws a sigil and starts the ritual.
As he begins the ritual, we’re attacked by some gray humanoid creatures. We take up positions to attack them and keep them busy while Gavrash continues to work on the ritual. The battle is nearly over when he finally gets the portal to the Shadowfell open. Turning, he raises a hand and mimes a pulling motion. When he does so, the orcs both jerk in unison and tumble to the ground, dead. We notice a quiet whoosh of air like an exhalation and see two streams of faint light dragged into the portal. At the ragged edges they seem to resist for a moment before passing through. Gavrash bids us hurry through the portal before the worlds work to seal the breach; we do so.
The Shadowfell is cold—a chill clamminess—and it’s dim, even though the sun is shining. We start doubting ourselves and feel despair—some more strongly than others—and the feeling eats at our will.
We’re in the Broken Forest, a place of dead trees, and we begin to make our way east towards the shadar-kai village that Gavrash told us about. There doesn’t appear to be anything alive around us as we walk out of the forest and towards the village.
Once we get to the village, we see a strange sight: there is a large pillar in the middle of the village, emanating a familiar black unlight. We can’t quite place it, so we move a bit closer and notice that all of the shadar-kai are turned towards the pillar and appear to be bowing to it, as if they’re worshiping it.
We stop when we notice this and we can hear what sounds to be the cooing of a human baby, coming from the top of the pillar. We can tell something is wrong. Eben senses the wrongness, and it begins to beat at his mind, but he’s unable to make sense of it.
As we stand there watching, the cooing turns to the squealing of a stuck pig, and it suddenly occurs to most of the group where we recognize the light from: it’s the same light we witnessed when we fought the crazy man and woman at the inn in Riven.
Suddenly, all of the shadar-kai stand and face us. Targoth quickly tries to talk to them, but they attack us. Aideena, during the battle—which rages fiercely—hurls her magic missile at the pearl on the top of the pillar and it falls to the ground. Jack, in desperation, uses the feather from the Raven Queen directly on the pearl, and it works. The pearl is negated and it snaps all of the shadar-kai out of attacking us. The feather, however, is destroyed, leaving naught but a striated pattern of lines across the formerly flawless surface of the pearl.
The shadar-kai who approaches us introduces herself as Suudasha and apologizes to us—which we accept—and, as we’re talking, we ask her how to get to the necropolis east of town. She tells us about Haug ak Ashkar, the River of Letting Go, and how it causes a “terrible forgetting” to befall those who have any contact with its waters. In fact, the shadar-kai consider the river sacred and use it as part of their death rituals, wherein the body of the deceased is placed in the river to float away and the grieving family each dips a fingertip into the water and touches the finger to forehead in order to forget some of the pain of loss. She informs us that there is, unfortunately, no apparent way across the river, though we’re welcome to try.
Eben is able to tell us that the pearl is no creation of the gods; rather, he says, it feels alien. We’re also able to discern that the pearl, when activated a certain way, eats planes. All of us apart from Eben are a little nervous at this, given how such a potentially destructive force is in Onath’s hands. Just as disturbing is the news that there are at least two of these things.
As we’re talking about the pearl, the sun has almost completely set, the speed of its motion across the sky sped up dramatically. We ask Suudasha, the leader of the shadar-kai, about this and she tells us that the cycle of the day and night is attuned to the Raven Queen; when she expends a lot of energy, time in the Shadowfell speeds up accordingly. We also ask her about how the pearl came to be in her village. She tells us that it was found on the bank of the River of Letting Go and that it began to speak to them, though she has no recollection of what it said. All she can tell us is that she had a powerful feeling that she needed to set it free, that she felt the need to open something.
She also tells us that they were absolutely defenseless against the pearl.
We ask her more about the necropolis and she tells us that, back when the River had a bridge, they buried their dead there. She also tells us that the graves move and that people are drawn there from other planes. The necropolis’ entrance is guarded by a gate and a puzzle—to get in, we must write the five names of Death on the door in such a way that no sigil repeats itself.
Suudasha tells us that she has to go help her people with the dead, but tells us that we’re welcome to stay in the village before setting out for the river and the necropolis. We thank her and take her up on her offer, getting some much needed rest overnight.
The next morning, we head east from the village and head to the river.
When we get there, we can see the black spire of the necropolis rising on the other side. All we can see on our side, though, is a stone that is carved into the shape of a humanoid face, one which is oddly proportioned. It’s as if the sculptor was working from a description of a face, but had never actually seen one.
We are able to tell that there is some divine or demonic energy from it, but there appear to be no traps on the statue. We are also able to tell that the ground right around the statue is unnaturally dry, in stark contrast to the clamminess of the rest of the ground and, indeed, the entire Shadowfell. The carving is completely smooth and there appears to be no way to scale the face, let alone to jump from it to the other side of the river.
Aideena, luckily, remembers the vial of Holy Water that her sister gave her. This, in turn, reminds me of the one I purchased and we pull them out. She uses the water on the face and—as long as the water is streaming over it—a shadow in the form of a bridge appears, leading across the river.
We decide that Jack should use the water on the statue and be the last to cross.
The first three of us to cross—Targoth, Eben, and myself—have no problems and make it across safely. Aideena comes next and, while crossing the bridge, she missteps and starts falling towards the river. She manages to make it to the other bank, but not before a single drop of the water lands on her foot. Jack is also able to make it across safely, and we begin to walk to the Necropolis.
Once we get there, we see tall black walls barring our path and we come to the door Suudasha told us about. It takes a bit of time, but we manage to solve the puzzle. The doors swing wide open and we can see inside. The room smells of disuse and death. Inside, there are three skulls on a table. One skull is a bone skull; one is a skull carved out of ore, and the last is a mummified, desiccated head. There are also three doors. One of the doors is made of wood, one is made of some kind of metal, and the last is made of stone.
On the table they’re sitting on is a riddle:
Wood and bone open the unknown,
Iron and ore unlock a door,
But stone and skin will lead within.
After some discussion about which door to try first, we agree to go to the wooden door on one end of the room. So Aideena picks up the bone skull and opens the door. Something massive and nearly insubstantial comes out from the walls and grabs Jack and Aideena. They manage to get away from the monster and I yell at them to shut the door. We manage to do that and the monster on the other side does not attempt to break through.
We decide to try and get a sense of what might be behind the other two doors—and if there is any similarity between them and the one we just opened. It turns out that all three doors are emitting necromantic energy, but the one we just opened and the one on the other end, are much more concentrated than the one in the middle. We open the stone door with the desiccated head and see the obelisk in the distance. In between, though, is a large area with tombstones.
In front of the obelisk is a large gate and standing behind it, at the foot of the obelisk, is a vaguely humanoid creature with three skull faces—each face being different. The fight is brutal; skeletons keep popping out from the graves and the Skull Lord is a powerful foe. All of the party take substantial damage, but—in the middle of the battle—I’m able to discern a lever controlling the gate off to one side. I direct Targoth over there—since he’s closer to it than I am—but in the process of trying to pull it, he breaks it. Luckily, the gate is stretched between the ruins of two stone towers and there are gaps on the far edges of these ruins. Targoth is able to make his way behind the gate and begins to battle the Skull Lord. Eventually, all of us, save Aideena, are able to fight our way onto the other side and manage to defeat the Skull Lord.
We decide to start the fey crossing ritual so Aideena begins the ritual while the rest of us cover for her. She opens the portal and we head through it.