Session #21: Through the Elderwyld

As Weddumlir Aleshield the Dwarf Fighter, Davroar Hollysword the Elf Cleric of Moriarty, Nathan Garney the Human Cleric of Everly, Meldor Ironforge the Dwarf Wizard, Acindor the Human Fighter and Thril Wolfsbane the Elf Fighter surveyed the area where the mushrooms grew unchecked in the TYRAN FIRION LINE TUNNEL, they noticed that there was a ring of red mushrooms growing amid the ones they’d been sent to fetch. At the center of this ring, a chicken scratched and pecked at the mine tunnel floor.

Unexpected Visitors

As Davroar moved closer to get a better look at the chicken, he noticed that it only had one eye, set in the middle of its head like a cyclops. The cycluck seemed unconcerned by their presence.

Before he could consider the strange creature further, he felt himself compelled to step into the ring of mushrooms, whereupon he immediately vanished from sight. Thril and Acindor approached the ring to see if the ycould determine what had happened to Davroar, but they too felt compelled to enter the ring. Weddumlir decided to kill the chicken but fared no better, vanishing into the ring along with the rest. Meldor and Nathan decided to enter the ring of their own volition, not wanting to be separated from their friends.

The adventurers awoke along the side of a perfectly round void at the center of a sunlit meadow; however, the edges of their view were obscured with purple mists infused with electrical energy. Two paths through the mists led away from the clearing.

“Moriarty’s luck, we’re in the Elderwyld,” Davroar breathed, realizing where they were.

Thanks in part to his fey ancestry, the elven cleric of Moriarty knew that the Elderwyld connected the Seven Worlds. The Seven Gates of Farrago and other established portals through the ELderwyld were relatively safe and could be likened to highways through the fey regions. The Elderwyld was a wilderness of fey creatures and deities, many of whom used their various pockets within the purple mists as traps. Their victims were used to stock their larders, provide subjects for their experiments and amusements, and slaves for their private kingdoms. His suspicions were confirmed by the presence of seven suns in the sky, one from each world.

He grimaced and stared at the round void they’d come through. If he was in the Elderwyld, this portal was a one way affair. They’d need to find another exit.

His companions were frozen in various postures around the void. Wedd’ s axe was raised high to strike a cycluck that was no longer before them. Nathan Garney’s face was frozen with an expression of grim resignation as he stepped forward. It was Acindor who unfroze first after Davroar. The latter quickly informed his friend that they were in the Elderwyld and that they needed to find another way out of it.

The others animated in due course, according to the time they crossed into the Elderwyld.

After a quick discussion, the adventurers decided to head north. Hoping to give them an advantage, Davroar cast a spell to detect magic and then immediately after remembered why that spell was considered near useless in the Elderwyld. Everything but the black void they’d entered through became blindingly bright, as everything in the Elderwyld was technically made of magic. Attempts to reach out to their deities for guidance resulted in interference from the purple mists around them.

Nathan Garney alone had moderate success. He flipped his sacred coin. It landed on tails, which he interpreted to mean “fate.” The path to the north seemed to widen, though none of the others witnessed this phenomenon. They decided on the fated path.

In the next clearing, they surveyed a sunny meadow filled with strange glowing trees which seemed upon closer inspection to be made of hives of glowing, near-translucent insects. They moved slowly across the meadow, crawling with their roots as if they were merely living trees. Cyclucks pecked and scratched in the meadow; however, they noticed that the one-eyed hens northeast, they noticed a conspicuous gate. To the north, they spotted a house made of candy.

The House

As they considered their options, they heard an unearthly shriek. The shriek was immediately answered by several wolfish howls.

Acindor decided to lead Davroar through the meadow, after they decided to head for the candy house. As they approached the psychotrees, Meldor and Wedd felt themselves strangely attracted to them. The leaves of the trees seemed to be filled with gold coins and overflowing stones of ale hung from their branches. To their companions’ horror, the dwarves began walking toward the psychotrees. Thinking quickly, they tackled the dwarves. The impact triggered the protection of Baldnoggin, activating Wedd’s sureshield. A wall of force swept out from the blessed shield, plowing into the psychotrees. The trees fragmented into insects along the way.

The activity attracted the attention of a pair of large wolves, whereupon the adventurers double timed to the candy house.

Despite the presence of a sign on the door which read, “Shove Off!”, they felt they had no choice but to go inside. Hopefully within, they could fortify themselves against the wolves.

The interior of the candy house was pleasant and warm. A banquet table in the middle of a large room was filled with all manner of candy and chocolate. A roaring fire blazed in the fireplace. Sticks for rafting marshmallows lay conspicuously nearby. A familiar figure rested on a throne at the other end of the room.

“You!” Davroar accused, recognizing Balin Thanatar from his many unwilling stops in the Room of Eight in the Temple of Wanjo.

“Welcome! Welcome, my name is Castor Thanatar,” the figure said.

“I believe we have met before,” Davroar said.

“You have not. I have never left this place. You must have met my …brother, Balin.”

“Ah,” Davroar said. The minute he’d stepped into the room, the world had lost its magical brilliance but it was if the light Freon his spell to detect magic were hidden beneath a basket. Occasional spots of light shone through and patches of the room seemed to glitch as if reality were uncertain. Davroar turned to his comrades and discreetly hissed, “Don’t touch anything.”

“For what it’s worth,” Castor said, “I wouldn’t trust my other further than I could throw him. He serves B.O.B.”

“And who do you serve?” Nathan asked.

“I serve no man nor any god.”

”Forgive the intrusion,” Davroar said. “We are being chased by wolves.”

Castor chuckled. “You’ve met my puppies. They’re blink wolves. You’ve heard of blink dogs, right? These are the creatures they were domesticated from. I like them better. They’re bigger and, for my purposes, well, I have a lot of chickens to take care of. They’re very useful in keeping the chicken population… manageable.” He brightened. ”By the way, would you like some chicken? I’m personally sick of chicken. That’s all I ever eat around here is chicken. I would love to have something other than chicken.”

They offered him some of their spare rations but Castor demurred. “I can’t accept something for nothing. Why don’t you all sit down and have something to eat?”

Davroar begged off that they’d just eaten.

“Oh, please do change your mind,” Castor said. “I don’t often get visitors these days. I used to get goblins, a wonderful elf engineer or two or a handful of humans, but now all I seem to get are ghouls. I don’t know what’s going on. Is the portal no longer in the Temple Mines? Did they move it to a graveyard? Ghouls are such foul things. They leave such a bad taste in your mouth.”

They offered to help rid his domain of ghouls if Castor were willing to show them the way out.

Castor considered the idea but suggested that they get a good night’s rest before they set out. They were reluctant to accept hospitality from anything in a fey realm and, besides which, they were already well rested. Upon hearing their decision, Castor said that he would be happy to accept their offer, but first they must share a cup together to seal their bargain.

Thril Wolfsbane took the first drink. He sat down with a satisfied grin.

“How is it?” the others asked.

“It’s great! Try it!”

Wedd took the next drink. He felt a lightness in his step and an aura of invincibility.

Davroar whispered a prayer of protection to Moriarty. His drink turned to gelatin. He pretended to drink anyway, watching Castor suspiciously. “Ah, wonderful!” he said, saluting their host with his chocolate cup.

“If you say so,” Castor said.

Meldor tasted black licorice when he drank. He didn’t care for the taste but he was more concerned with the fact that he seemed to have six fingers suddenly. When he blinked, he had the normal number of digits. Nathan tasted iron as he drank. He peeked into his cup and watched an eyeball float to the top of a pool of blood. Acindor started seeing cyclucks all over the room, each staring into his soul with their single baleful eye.

Castor smiled. “In addition to the sharing of cups, I must insist that one of you remain behind to help me with dinner. It will not be three of you, but you three” – He looked at Meldor, Nathan and Acindor in turn – “have failed my test. The cup disagreed with you.”

“Are we to help you with dinner, or are we the dinner?” Acindor asked, not bothering to hide his suspicions any longer.

“Strange question,” Castor said. “Is this customary where you’re from? In most civilized cultures, the civilized creatures eat only brute animals.”

After discussing the mnatter amongst themselves, they decided that Acindor should stay behind. Davroar assured his comrade that they would return for him, no matter what.

Castor grinned at their decision. “Wonderful! This whole affair is so delicious! Such a spice to my usual humdrum fare these days. It really is opportune that you fine folk came along when you did. I was simply starving for the delight of a passing guest.”

It was at this moment that Davroar heard the voice of Moriarty in his head. “Get out now! The house is a mimic!”

Davroar’s eyes widened.

Though he didn’t hear the voice of Davroar’s god, Castor seemed to pick up on the cleric’s demeanor. He licked his lips. “You know what? I’m being a bad host. I’m really going to have insist that you all stay for dinner. I’ve thought about it and it’s been such a long time since I’ve had guests. I’m out of practice, I’m afraid. Anyway, it would really be rude of me to let you leave and go on this adventure without a hearty meal to fatten you up . And of course, you’ll want a good rest after such a hearty meal.” He smiled but the warmth didn’t quite reach his eyes. “And I know you won’t refuse my hospitality. Do you know how I know that?”

Davroar could contain his dread no loner. “Look over there!” he shouted, pointing behind Castor. As their host, turned to investigate, the cleric grabbed Wedd and shouted to his friends. “Run! Run!”

When Wedd resisted his tug, the cleric made his urgency more clear. “The house is a mimic! Run!”

Castor gave up all pretenses. Hastily, the house mimic’s front door slammed shut and tentacled sprouted from the door frame to bar their escape.
Wedd Thought to rise and attack the doorway but discovered that he was stuck to his seat, held by the mimic’s adhesive nature. Davroar shouted a magical word, commanding the door to open. The doorframe tentacles writhed in agitation as the door blasted open. Davroar thought to dash out the door, but found his shoes were stuck to the floor. Meldor too made for the exit, , but likewise found his sturdy dwarves boots stuck to the floor. Acindor, Thril and Nathan were able to escape the house mimic’s sticky hold and managed to run out the door to safety through the flailing tentacles.

Am enormous maw opened up at the feet of their host as he laughed at his trapped guests. Tentacles began stretching out of the teethsome mouth, reaching for the victims of Castor’s over-sized roach motel. The interior stopped looking like candy and took on a more organic look. Eyeballs, teeth and tentacles began appearing on various surfaces. The more the house mimic’s true form emerged, the more it’s became evident that this monster was composed of several mimic’s working together like a jellyfish. As two were fighting over Davroar, he wrenched free of the floor and made a mad dash for the exit. The tentacles around the doorway tripped him on his way out. He landed on his face but he landed outside.

Meldor growled with fury and wrenched himself free of the house mimic’s grip. The house mimic was so intent on preventing him from leaving that it released its grip on Weddumlir. The dwarves danced and somersaulted toward the door, dodging teeth and tentacles on their way outside.

The house mimic roared as they escaped pits interior. The outside of the candy house transformed quickly into a disgusting mass of writhing teeth, tentacles and eyeballs.

The roar was answered by howls. Turning their attention to the gate to the east that they’d spotted earlier, the adventurers saw the gate open. Out of the gate, something that looked something like a giant reptilian one-eyed chicken emerged. The cycluck rooster was the size of an adult tyrannosaur. Two blink wolves flanked the rooster, who began herding it toward them until it was running at full speed.

Flight from the Everwyld

The eldritch horror behind them shrieked again. The horror of the house mimic was so unfathomable that Wedd and Thrill had to fight not to pass out from terror. Their fight-or-flight responses kicked in and they reacted in exact opposition to one another. Wedd turned to fight the house mimic abomination, determined to vanquish it from the earth. Wedd’s ineffectual attack resulted in his being entangled in one of the house mimic’s tentacles. Thril fled as fast and as far as he could, running toward the cycluck rooster. Thril was barely able to dodge out of the way of the cycluck rooster’s way to avoid being trampled; however, the creature’s leg did deliver a glancing blow that sent him tumbling.

Wedd savagely tore himself free of the tentacles grip and shook off his fear. Though he noted that the blink wolves ignored Thril as they passed, Davroar tugged a boom stick out of his pack as he ran south, out of the path of the thundering rooster. Those still near the house mimic quickly followed his example. Nathan Garney cast guiding bolt on the house mimic, hoping to make it more vulnerable to attack.

When the cycluck rooster reached the house mimic, it bit down hard on one of the larger tentacles, wrangling it like an earthworm in the soil. One of blink wolves beside it also attacked the horror with its teeth and claws. In rage and pain, the house mimic scooped up a blink wolf in its tentacles but the fay canine teleported out of its grasp.

While the monsters fought one another, the adventurers made a mad dash for the gate.

The gate led to a wide open field filled with cycluck hens. At the other end of the field was a portal, their way out of the Elderwyld. Wedd prayed a quick prayer to Baldnoggin, thinking to use his sureshield to plow through the chickens with a wall of force; however, Davroar and Acindor realized that the rooster would probably come calling if the cycluck hens were harmed. Instead, they tossed their rations into the cyclucks, causing a path to clear in front of them. Making their way through the field and their rations, they reached the portal.

Unwilling to waste his boom stick, Davroar lit the fuse and tossed it into the cyclucks. He witnessed the glorious chaos of an explosion of chicken feathers, blood, and other parts as he and the others passed through the portal.

When they came to their senses, they were face down in a pig pen. As the stench of pig mud, slops and unmentionable wastes filled their nostrils, they became aware of the unmistakable sounds of a large city above the squeals and grunts of protesting porkers.

As they got to their feet, a gnome accosted them. “Get out of my pig pen! What are you doing in there? Guards! They’re stealing my pigs!”

“Wait!, Wait, we’re not here to steal your pigs,” Acindor said, hands raised in surrender. “Can you tell us where we are? Please, we need your help.”

“What’s that? You don’t know where you’re at?” The gnome scoffed. “Great. More travelers.” He sized them up and sighed. “Alright, come with me then and, um, welcome to Farrago.”