Some days, I spend the whole day in my office with nothing more exciting than supply reports. Others: Ramathon and a group of new adventurers reporting a problem with a barely sealed demon gate. Sure. That’s what we needed nearby.
I’m alarmed at how long this has apparently been a problem without my being aware of it- it appears they have already located the seal system for this gate- some sort of resonance from magical tomes- and one of the tomes in question, though given whose possession it’s actually in, I don’t know that I’d really claim “we” have it. A problem for another day.
First order of business, these adventurers know where another of the books is, and it seems even one should be enough to keep the gate sealed. It’s an inefficient system, I’ll have to consult with the wizards to see if there’s something more effective we can put in place once it’s secure again.
This key-book was meant to be with a group of elves in the far north, though the exact location of their settlement had been lost to general knowledge. One of the adventurers, a fighter and scholar called Eonar, suggested his contacts at a University might be of use in pinpointing the settlement, and we arranged with Alcadizzar to teleport us to the library there.
The library- Yera has to go there one day, she’ll lose her mind. It’s enormous. I’ve never seen so many books in one place. Honestly, I’ve probably never seen that many books total. I should speak to the librarians, perhaps they’d agree to some sort of knowledge exchange.
With some assistance, we were able to locate a pre-Edict map and more information about the group we were seeking (along with a few interesting stories I found on my own. The University really does have knowledge on quite a broad range of topics).
Autumn is passing quickly even in Cradle; where we were headed, it would be firmly winter, so we sought out more sensible clothing before heading out (…mostly sensible. Warm, certainly. The gold lining and phoenix embroidery may not have been strictly necessary, but they’re pretty and I like them).
The journey north from the University was to be two and half days, through the Wailing Woods and into the mountains.
Turns out, the Woods are full of ice faeries, who are exactly as unpleasant as you might expect from creatures so far from light and warmth. They particularly enjoy ambush. While invisible. And, if they can manage it, while you’re asleep, though to be fair, the first time they attacked us, we were awake. Immediately trapped in a thornbush, but hey.
I got good use out of my night-light, though- whatever Alcadizzar did to its light works just fine on fae invisibility too, little bastards.
And, of course, ice faeries can’t bear the touch of flame. Nocturne has shown a propensity to throw fireballs that I seriously appreciate, and my smites have begun actually lighting my enemies on fire lately, so that was…effective. Blessings of Rhollor be upon us. I suppose He would approve of the destruction of ice creatures.
We endured several attacks as we made our way through the Woods, and I could see the strain building amongst my companions- Fenriss and Chimera took to sleeping tucked into tree branches, and Nocturne spent her meditation trance perched on her broom, ready for quick escape if necessary.
The attacks got stranger as we pushed forward- even the trees cannot be trusted, their leaves razor sharp, branches lashing out to grab and grasp. The fae, too, tried to capture us, flying at our faces and attempting to administer some sort of exhaustion gas- the only one who tried it to me got my instinctual reaction, the blaze always barely held under my control lashing out to destroy him.
(and Gods help me, I shouldn’t enjoy that as much as I do)
It took most of our resources, but we made it through to the snowy plain on the other side of the Woods. Ramathon and Fenriss lead us unerringly to the spot we’d found on the map, where there was…nothing.
Or, at least, no city. What we did find, after some clever searching on Eonar’s part, was a suspicious patch of mid-day darkness, covering what turned out to be stairs.
We made our way carefully down into a multi-story complex, and after a quick survey by Chimera’s familiar revealed the first floor to be entirely abandoned, down one more floor. At which point, we finally encountered someone, an elven lady in leather armor, wandering toward a locked door we’d just been investigating. We greeted her and I explained our purpose, asking about the book.
The elf brought us to her sister, the Princess. Again, we introduced ourselves and explained our mission, and why we had come to them. Much to my surprise, the Princess…was not inclined to cooperate. She was bitter at having been left behind on the other side of the Edict, and inclined to protect her own people, even at the expense of others, which I can understand, if not agree with.
Not so much the part where she suggested we ally ourselves with the very demons we are trying to keep sealed away. As she, and her people, apparently have.
I yearned to smite her. A year ago, I would have. But I am no longer simply myself. What I do is what Cradle is seen to do, and we cannot afford impulsive violence.
Even in the face of blatant demonic cooperation, Gods damnit.
In any case, having seen we would not be able to come to any sort of agreement, we left before the troubled mood could boil over into actual battle (probably, if I am being entirely honest with myself, begun by me, if I had remained there for much longer), and returned to Cradle.
If these people are, in fact, in league with demons, though- and why do I have to keep explaining why making deals with demons is always, always a bad plan?- we cannot leave the book in their hands for long.