After resting on the edge of a forest, we spend a day moving through it and around the city of Calathea in order to avoid drawing attention to ourselves. As we move away, we find ourselves on the edge of a swamp and make our way slowly into it. We decide to head left and as we make our way through, we hear a sound like something creaking behind us. Before we really know what’s happened, a branch takes a swipe at Targoth, and we’re under attack from trees.
We begin to fight them as best we can, but the treants are very powerful and we’re having a great deal of difficulty fighting them. In a moment of profound inspiration, Jack calls out that the Witch of Fates is protecting us. The trees laugh at us and one attempts to step on Jack, but it explodes before it is able. Suddenly, Viri appears and mutters, “Curse that fool Ariniel!” The she calls out “Enough!” and suddenly the damp forest and swamp begins to dry, the earth starts desiccating, and the treants are suddenly very weak and vulnerable. Because of this, we’re able to kill all of them but one—which runs off—fairly quickly. (Ed. note: especially for a tree.)
Viri then leads us through the swamp herself, eventually leading us to a tree with a door. She shows us inside. The tree is, perhaps unsurprisingly, large enough on the inside to fit us all. Viri goes over to the stove and makes hot water, preparing some tea for us; sunleaf for most of us, but it turned to shadeleaf tea for Jack and Eben. Looking around, there are all sorts of items—some broken and some dangerous, but all of them odd. All of us are curious about them, of course, but not necessarily for the best of reasons. Viri, though, understands that and warns us not to touch any of them.
In one corner, for example, there are a pair of boots trembling even though they’re unoccupied; Viri tells us that they’re cursed.
She does, though, have something she tells us we’ll need. Saying this, she brandishes a long, thin dagger which she hands to Aideena. Meanwhile, Jack attempts to thieve a ring, but Viri sees him do it and asks for it back.
Viri then turns back to Aideena and tells her—and all of us—that there are only two such daggers like that in the world, and that, in order for Aideena to use it, a child of Faerie must once again give sacrifice. Aideena is, understandably, disturbed and remains quiet.
After saying this, Viri pulls out a blanket and rips it in two; she then shakes it out and it’s suddenly back to the same length that it was before it was torn. She performs this task enough times for all of us to have one. Viri explains that the blankets will hopefully protect us from the sight of the Archfey.
After this, she tosses a shirt to Jack. She then explains what we need to do and tells us that we’re welcome to remain there for the night before getting a start to the maze in the morning. We decide this makes the most sense and spend the night there.
Overnight, Jack has a dream and, the next morning, tells us what happened: he dreamt that the Raven Queen bid him seek out the other black pearls.
After listening to Jack, we gather all of our gear and leave. Viri leads us to he maze, where we put on the cloaks she gave us.
Our first task—the one to get in the maze—is to catch the five golden butterflies amongst hundreds of multicolored butterflies. This will open the gate and allow us to enter. Jack is able to catch two rather easily; I then catch one, followed by Aideena with her mage hand. Jack attempts to catch the last butterfly, but his hand gets caught when the butterflies turn to glass. All of our attempts to free him result in him being more stuck until he finally manages to free his hand and catch the last butterfly. The gate opens and we begin to make our way into the maze.
Almost immediately, we are accosted by huge spiders and Displacer Beasts. We’re fighting in such close quarters that Aideena hits almost the entire party with her scorching burst. Fiamma, though, has a violent reaction to Aideena’s use of fire and runs, scared, out of the maze. The rest of us are eventually able to finish off the creatures we’re fighting and, after some debate, decide to leave the maze and follow Fiamma.
We find her outside, hysterical and completely shaken up. We attempt to reassure her that none of us mean her any harm, that we’re her friends and want to help, and eventually Jack and I are able to get through to her and calm her down enough to continue. She gives Aideena a wide berth and it’s clear why; her cloak, in her agitation, had ridden up her arms a bit and revealed scarring and burns.
We return to where we defeated the spiders and Displacer Beasts, and realize that we’re going to have to go towards where the beasts came from. We head south and see a steady red glow. We can’t determine what it is, but we can tell it’s coming from the ground. Aideena, towards the back of the group, suddenly feels her arcane power stop working.
Jack heads closer to the red light to investigate it and gets caught up in some vines. He decides to push through and makes it past them and close to the red lights where he sees two snakes and some crystals—the source of the red glow.
In the course of the battle, Jack destroys one of the crystals and Eben and I get transported to a separate area of the maze. Targoth finds a broken pillar which proves to be what’s interfering with everyone’s ability to use arcane energy. Once a particular phrase is destroyed, arcane power is restored.
Just before the end of the battle, Targoth, Eben, and I are all petrified. We sort it out quickly and relatively safely, thank goodness, and are able to continue on.
From our location, we’re still able to see the tree that’s at the center of the maze, so we know which way we need to head.
We begin to follow the path that looks the most promising and I check on Fiamma; she seems to be hanging in there, though she’s giving Aideena a wide berth and is lingering near Jack.
As we round a corner, we notice that there are blue stones on the ground. From our location, we can tell that the stones have arcane energy and seem to be connected to something else, but we can’t determine their purpose until Targoth moves closer to one of them and an arrow shoots out of it at him.
Not only does the arrow hit him, but it becomes clear that the arrow is poisoned.
Jack attempts to throw a dagger over the stone and nothing happens; he then throws one at the stone and it goes through, causing something humanoid on the other end to yelp.
We toss more daggers and weapons at the stones and hear another voice hiss in deep speech.
Targoth heads in a different direction and finds a portcullis. Meanwhile, Aideena finds the blue stone that connects where Targoth and Eben went. Targoth and Eben attack one of the archers they find and pull her through the portcullis, killing her.
I join Eben and Targoth and attack the last remaining archer; we defeat him fairly quickly and decide to take a short rest while we explain to Jack and Aideena what happened.
Jack picks the pocket of the snake woman and finds a child’s necklace and a fey bread biscuit. We find that the necklace relates to Zehir, the evil god of the Fey Dark or the Underdark.