“To the lab!” Curuvar The Wizard shouted, running off down the street.
The party glanced at each other, confused as to what action to take next. Haunt shrugged. “To the lab!” He said, echoing the wizard mockingly, and rushed off after the old geezer.
They arrived at the doorway to what was obviously a wizard’s laboratory. It looked plain enough to be a library, but exuded a magical aura. Not that libraries didn’t. They were pretty magical places actually. They entered the lab, prepared for anything, and found the wizard rummaging through piles of paperwork, frantically looking for something.
“Oh no!” He shouted. “It’s gone! They’ve taken it!”
The others looked at each other, mystified. The room was a mess, and looked like it had been attacked by thieves. The wizard had added his own mess to it in his searches, but nothing had turned up from them apparently. “What’s gone?” Tarrasol asked.
“Oh, you wouldn’t understand,” he said, depressed. “Or maybe you would. A little while ago, while I was researching the Spellplague, my researches led me to a location of planar magic which was just the opposite of magical.” Everyone looked confused. “It was an absence of magic, an absence of spaaaace.” His cheeks dropped into a frown. Worry marks crossed his forehead. “I was able to build an artefact that harnessed that energy: one that could create portals at will. But it is gone.”
“So when the goblin said they were looking for the ‘key’ for ‘her’,” Moloch said, “this must have been what he meant.”
“You fool!” Donn said. “You brought this down upon our town.”
“But how could I know? I…” He cut off as his hand brushed against something, dropping it to the floor with a hollow thunk. “What is… but… oh we are saved!” He bent down and picked up something that looked a lot like a rock.
“That looks a lot like a rock,” Alistair said.
“No, you see this is the focus crystal for the key. Without it, the key cannot be controlled, it is a mere stick. Well, a stick that could send you to any place or plane in the world at random. Without the crystal the one who uses it could accidentally open a portal of any size to anywhere. Oh but you must return the crystal to me.” Then to Donn, “They will surely return for this.”
“Then we should destroy it,” the guardsman said simply. Curuvar’s face blanched.
“Or we could go get the key back,” Tarrasol said. “This key looks like our only chance to close the portal in Tordek’s Vale.”
Twenty minutes later, the party was ready and prepared to go. Curuvar had scried on the location of the key and discovered it far to the north, in some old Elven ruins. An Old Crone referred to as “The Wise Woman” was called in for advice, and she suggested that they bring the focus crystal, despite the risks of it falling into the wrong hands. They would surely fail without it.
As they were leaving the town, Donn brought forwards the small goblin they had found before. “What should we do with him?” He asked.
“Throw him in prison or something,” Tarrasol said.
“But many guards were lost today,” Alistair said. “They will want revenge. I would not want to be this goblin in that case.” The goblin paled, squirming. Alistair bent down to look him full in the eyes. “Will you ever be returning to this town?” He asked.
The goblin shook his head violently. “No, never ever ever ever, ever sirs.”
“Good,” the warlock said. “This is what is going to happen. You’re going to go south into the forest, and never come back. If I ever see you again, I will kill you on sight. Okay?” The goblin nodded. “Isn’t that right?” Alistair asked, turning to Donn. “You do not want the blood of an innocent goblin on your hands, and it will solve nothing. Trust me, you don’t want that blemish on your soul.”
“Very well,” Donn said hesitantly. “We’ll release him to the south. Good luck on your journey, we will send some horses with you for the first part, until it becomes too difficult for them to journey further.”
And it soon became aparent just how difficult “too difficult for them to journey further” was. The mountains were rugged, and having set off at just the wrong time of year for this journey, the Rogue Wolves were poorly equipped. They forgot about the Stonemeal Biscuits they had received from Curuvar, and failed to eat them, even when their stomachs got to their heads.
The storms threatened to blow them down the mountain, but they could feel the keystone throb as it gained on its other half. At last, after a difficult trip through a freezing river, and over a mountaintop, they arrived at an old Elven ruin. They sighed a collective relief. But there was no sign of their quarry.
Being careful not to disturb anything, they approached the ruins, finding a pool of water unfrozen despite the cold climate. “That’s weird,” Thrax said, testing the water. “It’s still warm.” They all ducked a finger into it and agreed. It was weird. Magic throbbed in the air.
Alistair pulled out the keystone. “Hey, look at this,” he held it up. “The stone’s gone completely transparent. I can see you guys through it! Woah…” he just caught something out of the corner of his eye. Looking closer at it, he saw nothing, until he brought the stone up to his eye again. Within the pool of water, a reflection stood out, but it was not one of a destroyed ruin: it was a springtime forest. The feywild.
The Rogue Wolves experimented with the stone and the pool, while Thrax and Alistair sought clues elsewhere: journeying to the top of a nearby tower. They found nothing. It was not until Tarrasol dropped a stick into the pool of water that they discovered its true nature. It was one of those fabled portals to the feywild.
“We should go through,” Tarrasol said, once Thrax and Alistair had rejoined them.
“Fine,” Alistair said, “I’ll try and get through. If I end up stuck in the feywild, I’m gonna be really angry though.” He took a deep breath, and fey stepped into the pool. Above on the surface, water bubbled up as it displaced to let him in. He felt nothing, then dropped to the bottom, and the world flipped upside down. The wind was knocked out of him and he struggled for breath. Coming to the surface, Alistair was surprised to find himself in the feywild. He dragged himself to the surface, and waved an okay to the other side.
A minute later, Moloch appeared in the pool. “Looks like we’ve found a portal,” he said cheerfully. Alistair’s mood was dark.
“I’m going back,” the warlock said. “I’ll tell them what we’ve found.” And he jumped in, just as Tarrasol was about to leap in on the other side.
“Woah!” The dragonborn said, surprised. “So we found a portal! Let’s go!” It seemed to be just the kind of adventure the fighter was after.
“It’s not that simple,” Alistair said. “I can’t follow you in there.”
“What? Why not?” Thrax asked. “Aren’t you from the feywild?”
“Exiled from the feywild, more likely,” Alistair said, then explained his story briefly. “I was a nobleman of the feywild city of Kanthyr, head of the guard actually. Anyways, in my time I uncovered a plot against my queen by her second-born son. I revealed that knowledge, but her son, the ‘raven prince’ covered it up. I was exiled.”
“It must have been a while ago, I’m sure they’ve forgiven you,” Thrax said.
“It’s not forgiveness I’m worried about. It was the Raven Prince’s followers who threw me into the mortal realm, into a blizzard not unlike the one which is about to befall these ruins. He meant to kill me. If he ever found out I was still alive, he would undoubtedly finish the job. Besides which, the order is to kill me on sight here. It’s not safe.”
“Well, I won’t let anything happen to you,” Thrax said. “They’ll have to go through me to get to you.”
“And me too!” Tarrasol agreed. “So, ready to go home?”
Alistair nodded hesitantly, “Okay, let’s go.” He followed them in, and soon they were all on the other side. In the jungle. With no Moloch anywhere.
“Guys?” Came the wizard’s call from above them. “Guys?” They looked up and found him dangling from a vine. “A little help here?”
Haunt started to laugh, but cut short as the laugh turned to a cackle and he realised that it wasn’t him who was cackling. The wise woman from the village approached. “Kekekekeke, fools!” She said. “You fell straight into my trap! And with the crystal too.”
“I knew it!” Tarrasol said, preparing to fight.