Once we’ve recovered from battling the archers behind the portcullis, we move past it and find what appears to be a treasure chest with a fire sigil. When we step near it, it blasts fire at us, pushing us away. Targoth solves this problem by breathing his icy dragon breath on it, disabling the sigil temporarily. We’re able to get close enough to discover that the fire sigil is a magical knot of sorts that has been tied from within the chest; we’ll need to see what’s inside the chest to disable the sigil.
We manage to get the box open and Aideena is able to deactivate the sigil. Inside, we find four bottles, a bag, and a scroll. I unroll the scroll and a small gold rod falls out; the scroll, however, is gibberish to me, so I hand it and the rod over to Aideena.
Two of the bottles are hot to touch, one seems to hover in mid-air, and one is a clear liquid. We are able to then discern that the two hot bottles are dragon’s breath, the bottle that hovers is an Elixir of Levitation, and the clear liquid is Elixir of Chameleon Power, which grants total concealment. This last is particularly disturbing to me, because an essential ingredient is viscera from a changeling or doppelganger. The bag holds powder, which we discover is Dust of Disappearance. We divide up these things according to what we want, and I decide to take the Elixir of Levitation.
Before moving away, Jack and I try to discover if there are any secret compartments in the box; after dropping it, we find 100gp.
The group goes back through the portcullis and we begin to notice that the butterflies seem to have congregated around us. Perhaps not in huge numbers, but certainly enough to notice. Perhaps more disconcertingly, though, we can hear large wings beating in the distance. We know it can’t be any of the archfey that help set up the maze, because they don’t have wings.
On our guard, we turn a corner and are confronted with frost on the grass in front of us and a noticeably lower temperature—low enough, in fact, for some of the butterflies to drop out of the sky, frozen. We keep moving forward, and it gets colder as we go. So cold, in fact, that our breath is leaving a noticeable trail.
As we’re moving, Fiamma apologizes to Aideena for running earlier, saying that she was “not entirely truthful before…had dreams…I lost—”
And before she can continue, she’s interrupted by a massive bellow. Something fast comes down at us from the sky. I foolishly throw a dagger at what turns out to be an enormous dragon. The dragon, in retaliation, takes a snap at me and wounds me.
We learn that the dragon’s name is Squall, and that he is an adult blizzard dragon. He attempts to reason us from the path we’ve chosen—namely, finding our way through the maze and undoing the knots in the leylines. He tries to convince us that we’ve placed our faith in someone—Viri—who is simply using us as pawns, that she was in fact in favor of sealing the Feywild in the first place.
Squall offers us a choice: our lives will be ours if we leave the maze. He tells us that his master is the Prince of Frost, and he would allow us to leave alive and unharmed. Or, we can face the dragon and our deaths.
We try to persuade him that it’s unnatural to have the planes sealed from each other, but Squall counters that the plane we’re currently on—the Feywild—is the prime plane and that the rest will wither and die, leaving the Feywild strong and unharmed.
Targoth, sick of listening to Squall speak and knowing that no accord can be reached, interrupts the dragon mid-sentence and attacks. After that, the fight is on and it’s difficult for our group, though we outnumber the dragon. During the battle, however, spots of sunlight begin to appear and we remember what we learned about the politics of the Feywild, namely about the Summer Queen, Tiandra. The rays of sunlight get stronger as we realize this and call out loud to the Summer Queen to aid us.
Finally, after an arduous battle and with a definite assist from the Summer Queen, we kill the dragon. The clouds part and a tall eladrin woman materializes in front of us. She tells us that we’ve done well. Then she turns to Aideena and tells her to think about what the maze is and why it’s here. She says that Aideena needs to figure out the purpose of the maze and she might survive unsealing the Feywild.
Once I’ve recovered from my brush with near death, I ask Aideena what she thinks that the Summer Queen meant. Aideena starts speaking out loud, brainstorming, about how people used to make pilgrimages to the Worlds Tree and that Ariniel said the maze was built in such a way that no one Archfey could undo it.
Aideena says that we need to get back to the prime plane, and we notice that what we can see of the tree glows.
We quickly make our way to the Worlds Tree. Waves of arcane energy are rolling off of it. Aideena looks over the tree and can see the ley lines all tangled up. Targoth is able to see them too, as well as how the ley lines are flowing through every hedge in the maze.
While we’re inspecting the Tree, the butterflies that have been trailing behind us grow in number and start to coalesce, forming into groups and becoming creatures that have awareness.
Aideena climbs the Tree as the butterfly creatures attack; as she works on that, the rest of us battle the butterfly creatures, trying to keep their attention on us and away from Aideena. As Aideena climbs the tree, she cuts her hand and bleeds on the ley lines. This causes them to start to crawl up her hand and arm, so she uses the special dagger Viri gave her to make another cut. More of the ley lines follow. It becomes clear that the tangled ley lines are what is holding the maze together; as more of them crawl up Aideena, they leave the hedges, which immediately start to fade.
Her strategy is working to fix the ley lines, but it’s sucking her dry, requiring massive amounts of blood and focus to do so.
Meanwhile, the rest of us have our hands full keeping the attention of the butterfly creatures on us. They keep trying to attack Aideena while she’s working. It becomes apparent that we’re going to have to move right next to Aideena in the tree in order to better protect her, since the butterfly creatures can fly right up to her. I use the Elixir of Levitation to get closer, but as I do so, Aideena is lifted off the tree by the force of the arcane energy. The ley lines have mostly been unknotted at this point, and arcane energy is screaming through Aideena. She manages to hold on until the end. The last thing she recalls is the knowledge that the ley lines are spreading through the world, that the planes are once again connected.
We see Aideena pass out and fall, so we grab her and quickly make our way through the portal which has opened. We just barely make it through before it closes behind us.
It takes Aideena two days to recover enough to regain consciousness from her ordeal. In that time, the rest of us have ascertained that we’ve returned to the prime plane—we’re in Braen Wood, a forest near Easar, to be exact—and that it’s much colder and more wintry than we expected.
We’re near the edge of the forest and from the very edge we can see Easar in the distance. We can also see the road that leads into the city, as well as the checkpoints along the road. It’s very obvious that, to get into the city, we’re going to have to risk going through the guardposts. We do the best we can to disguise ourselves; I first disguise myself as an eladrin, but think better of it and make myself into a nondescript human female. Jack helps with his disguise kit and we make use of the potions of eladrin shape that we’ve had for some time.
We attempt to casually take the road and fall in behind a group of merchants selling wine. Targoth strikes up a conversation with them and we discover that we’ve been in the Feywild for three months—very surprising to us, since it felt like little more than a week or so. He also discovers—and relays to the rest of us—that the checkpoints are recent and lazier on the outskirts than nearer the city. As we approach the first checkpoint, we do our best to hide or stow anything that appears dangerous or unusual and concoct false identities and stories for ourselves. I call myself Asheena, Aideena uses her sister’s identity, Jack calls himself Kern, Eben takes the name Leto, and Targoth goes by Terran or Balthasaur—depending on his form.
Thus decided, we reach the first checkpoint, wait in line, and we’re waved through with hardly a glance.
We are able to see into the guard’s hut as we pass through, and we discern wanted posters for Jack, Targoth, Audra, Onath, and Aideena. The posters give names, races, descriptions and bear the seal of the Chancellor, with a reward offered.
The posters put us on our guard and it’s clear that Jack, even in disguise, might appear to be too similar to the picture in the poster. It’s too risky to remain a human, so he took takes a potion of eladrin shape.
Where the first checkpoint was a breeze, the second is more difficult. The guards there take Jack and me aside for questioning. We’re both able to answer the questions to the guards’ satisfaction, however, and they wave us through.
Near the third checkpoint, Targoth gets spotted leaving the road to take the last potion of eladrin shape. He is confronted with two men but, luckily, Eben turns up and intimidates the men into leaving, allowing Targoth to take his potion.
This proves to be a good thing as the experience at the third checkpoint is the most stringent of all. One of the guards even has a rod in his hand, which makes me think of the rod used to disrupt my shape when our party was ambushed by men looking for me. Luckily, they don’t seem to suspect me at all, and we’re all allowed through expect Aideena who, ironically, has the most truthful cover story. After acting suspiciously around her and questioning her story—and then lecturing her about needing to register with them in the next few days—they wave us all through and we’re finally in the city.
We move as quickly as we dare through the city towards the Longshore Inn, mainly because we know that the potions that Jack and Targoth have taken won’t last much longer.
We walk into the Inn and procure ourselves a room with the Innkeeper; Jack and Targoth offer to play some music in the Inn as compensation for “friends” of ours who plan to turn up later to share the room.
Once the potion wears off, Jack dons a disguise and we all head into the bar to get a sense of what’s been happening in Easar and Dakkon while we’ve been gone. Targoth talks to a dragonborn and learns that his former mentor, Saresh, is in Easar. Targoth asks his new friend, Ghaiar, to pass a note along, wishing to speak with him as soon as possible. The dragonborn offers to do so the next morning, when he plans to see Saresh.
Meanwhile, I find a place to sit and listen to what people are talking about. They talk a little about gossip from Riven—House Strael gets mentioned—as well as Linna Palverani. At this point, a man who says he can read futures takes the stage nervously and asks for volunteers. This “act” doesn’t much impress the locals, and the Innkeeper approaches Jack and Targoth and asks them to play to entertain the guests. They do, and I decide to go up and allow the man to read my fortune. It’s disappointing; he merely tells me that “a tall, dark, handsome man is looking for me.” In my disappointment of any real insight, I can’t decide if that’s a stock line this man feeds to the gullible or some dire word of warning.
I go back to listening to the crowd and hear that Docksides has a new constable, one that’s rougher than the former constable.
“Did you hear about the smuggling ring?” one man asks another.
“They killed them.”
I also hear one of them say something about a tiefling illusionist possibly being involved.
There’s also discussion about the increase in property crime, that warehouses have been broken into in Seninsholm, and that statues have been stolen that were intended for Eastwind.
None of it means much to me, but I remember it and report back to the rest of the party later that evening before bed.
We all go to bed and wake up the next morning.
Fiamma wants to find Solange right away, but there’s a knock on the door and Targoth’s friend from the night before is there with a note and message for Targoth, saying that Saresh wants to see Targoth as soon as possible.
We head out into the square and pick a building that Jack remembers being a guildhouse the last time he was in the city. There are three men behind three desks and they ask us if we’re looking for property.
It’s fairly obvious that the ladies have moved. We go back into the square and we find a building that has a symbol on it that matches what the men told Jack to look for—a pink awning of sorts. We enter the building and ask about Solage. The atmosphere of the place immediately changes. Men block the exits and people go quiet. They start asking us why we want to talk to her, what we want. One man leaves, while the rest of those present look grim-faced. There’s definitely a “circle the wagons” air, as if these people are protecting Solange. When we don’t respond satisfactorily, one of the men puts a dagger to my throat and demands to know why we’re there.
Targoth intimidates the man, who backs off, but the atmosphere in the room is decidedly hostile. We try to find out if she’s in trouble, but one of the women tells us to come with her and won’t give us any information.
She takes us to a room and leaves us there, telling us to wait. None of us likes being there. We begin to feel paranoid, thinking that they’re setting us up to be arrested by the King’s Guard or about to be slaughtered. We begin making plans to get the hell out.
Around this time, Jack leaves the room and spots a room that looks like it contains treasure, which is generally irresistible. He goes into the room, which is dark, and looks around. He spots a dagger on a wall that he’d quite like and goes to take it when he’s accosted from behind. A voice warns him against what he’s about to do—“Bad idea, friend”—and he freezes, turning slowly. For him, it’s like looking into a mirror.
“Who are you?” Jack asks. “You look like me.”
The woman threatens him again, and Jack blurts out, “Helena?”
The woman is shocked and Jack is flustered. He tells her that he knows her, that he’s her brother.
She looks shocked. “Fritz? No,” she says, in disbelief. She tries to get him to prove it, which he is able to do.
They’re both overwhelmed and surprised, and the woman—Jack’s sister—hugs him, sags against him. She starts crying and Jack is completely at a loss. She tells him that she ran away, that she’s been looking for him.
“When?” he asks.
She tells him she ran away when she was 14, basically to go looking for him.
At this point, it’s been about half an hour since we were led to the room and, much to our surprise and relief, Solange appears. She calls for the woman—Adhara—who goes to her. Jack looks surprised, but she sends him a look that promises they’ll talk about it later.
Solange scolds us for not being discreet in asking after her—her people were simply protecting her, of course—but tells us that we come at a good time. There’s going to be a meeting that very day in a warehouse in the Docklands, and a huge chunk of the resistance is going to be there. We need to be there, she tells us.
Solange updates us on the people we ask her about—the Baron is in the Dragonchain, Jalmari is in town for the meeting—and we introduce her to Fiamma and quickly update her on what we’ve been up to—including our discovery of the original prophecy. We show her the exact wording and she goes incredibly pale at the first few lines, and then refuses to discuss it.
Then she tells us the situation: there are two main camps in the resistance with two different philosophies. On the one hand, Gavrash wants to raise an army and attack the king. If he wins, he wants to completely remove all of the Denadras from power.
Jalmari, the leader of the other school of thought, is obviously committed to the goal of Second Dawn, which is to see the king deposed in favor of his son Navuul. Jalmari is also looking to avoid an outright conflict, mostly because of the overwhelming numbers.
We learn that Orran has fallen and that some of the minor nobles have come to Easar. Also, the halflings have gathered and Daren Windraker supports Gavrash.
We also have confirmation that Druuk is the constable that the men were discussing the night before; Targoth doesn’t seem terribly surprised, as he’s had plenty of contact with Druuk before and has a good grasp of his tactics and tricks.
Solange tells us we need to get going if we’re going to make it to the meeting, so she leads us to the Docklands through the sewers for most of the journey. We only leave the relative safety of the sewers when we’re forced to.
The entire way, Jack holds his sister’s hand, still amazed that he’s found her working for the Guild of all things.
Eventually, we make our way to the warehouse and enter. Once we’re inside, Solange gives us a rundown of everyone present.
I make my way over to Jalmari when I see him, pledging my support. He tells me it’s not necessary, that this shouldn’t be about choosing sides so decidedly. He says that we simply need to convince Gavrash that Jalmari’s way will work best. There’s a problem, though. Gavrash is committed to seeing the entire pantheon worshipped and—while Jalmari suspects that making a concession on this will help unite the two sides more easily—he can’t speak for Navuul or make promises on his behalf.
Jalmari also indicates that Navuul is currently in Riven. I’m still shocked of Navuul’s direct involvement in Second Dawn—and have been since Fiamma mentioned it.
In the room as a whole, people are still milling about, chatting. The meeting hasn’t quite begun yet.