Episode 80: Into the Feywild, Part IV
The party attempted to pull Ara from the whirlwind that was whipping about him, but were unable to penetrate the wind – Whisper and Sirlius tried to grab him but were blown backwards and landed in a heap.
Ara confronted the strange presence invading his mind, believing it to be his god, Rillifane. But the harsh, antagonizing voice was not what you would expect of the Leafy Lord of the woods. Ara begged for understanding, but the voice said HOW CAN YOU HAVE UNDERSTANDING WHEN YOU DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE? and with a flash of brilliant white light, Ara’s surroundings changed. He found himself observing events from his past, some more than three thousand years hence. The young elf could not reconcile this, but knew it to be true nonetheless. In each of these observed memories, Ara was always wandering the land, always attempting to do good works. But in each case it seemed Ara was faced with a dilemma that was not easily resolved, and the voice scoffed at both his lack of recollection of these events, and whatever actions he took to resolve them.
Meanwhile, the blinding flash of light touched Ara’s five companions also. Unbeknownst to him, it was they that were reliving these memories. It was they who found themselves playing the part of Ara in these long-forgotten places. And it was their actions, their decisions in the moment of this experience that seemed to form the memory Ara had of events as they actually occurred. In most of the scenarios Ara’s companions seemed to intuit how Ara would handle the situation, and through their combined efforts Ara seemed to have gained a measure of understanding – of himself, of his place in the world, and of the function of religion and faith.
With that understanding, the winds died away, Ara floated gently back to the ground, and the party returned to consciousness. They were greeted by a strange creature emerging from the surface of the tree, as if the bark itself poured into the shape of an elf woman. Her skin was the color and texture of bark, her hair green, mottled with gold and red and orange, echoing the oak tree’s first turning of the leaves. Upon her brow sat a copper circlet of oak leaves inset with a single emerald. A great spear rose up from the ground, as if emerging from the roots of the oak tree, and she clasped it as she stepped forward. The woman introduced herself as Seda Greenleaf, the protector of Rillifane’s Respite and a Chosen of Rillifane. She offered Ara her hand to help him up; as he grasped it there was a brief tension and release, and Ara found that he had absorbed the Fist of Truth.
Seda smiled. She told Ara that Rillifane has great love for him. Ara would be a Chosen one day, as she was, and that he must always trust himself to know which path to walk. She warned him that the Fists were not his allies, and that their purpose, though unknown, could not be reconciled with his. Ara thanked her for the warning, noting that he did not like them either, that he neither desired their powers nor understood them, but that if he was meant to carry them he would put them to work in the service of good.
Finally, Seda told Ara that Rillifane pitied him, for though his faith was strong the path he followed was long, and difficult, and beset with danger. Rillifane therefore offered him a choice: to remain as he was, and struggle along this path, knowing that he may never gain true understanding, or to accept a boon, and have that which was taken from him restored. Ara considered, and agreed that he would accept the boon though the change may be drastic. Seda nodded and reach out. A tender vine, like a pea shoot, grew from the tip of her finger and burrowed into Ara’s forehead and disappeared. After a moment of dizziness, Ara found that everything about him seemed to make more sense, and recent events had suddenly come into sharp clarity. He understood that he was Ara am Akiir, young elf not long from his Temple; likewise that he was the Ara am Akiir who had lived many lives on Telisar, lived and died and returned; that he recognized this place because this, this grove here in the Feywild, was his home.
Ara thanked Seda, and as she merged back into the massive oak tree, she said, “Always remember that Rillifane loves you, Ara, and trust yourself to do what is right, in his name. Trust your friends, and guide them, and you will not fail.” As Ara struggled to explain what change had overcome him, his friends quickly realized he now possessed of a keen and penetrating intellect. He was still Ara, but he was a different Ara now. A wiser, more collected and considered one.
Their encounter at Rillifane’s Respite complete, the party decided to seek the ruins of Amouradiath. After many hours’ travel summerwise a sweating and tired group crested a hill overlooking a wide plain covered in huge blue flowers. The buzz of strange insects filled their ears. As they looked out over the plain they saw the ruins of a great city, lost to the overgrowth. In the centre of the field they could just make out a partially intact structure, whose strange twisting spires and spheres reminded Magnus of the El Astrum Public Library.
They made for the ruins, though not without some concern – Yuna appeared to be suffering some malady, perhaps related to the loss of Stella and the overwhelming arcane energies of the Feywild. Keen was also troubled, causing him to behave as if deaf, or distracted, or both.
They reached the central ruin and discovered that it had indeed been a library once. They found a partially intact section in which could be seen a large statue of Labelas Enoreth, an ancient Elven god of knowledge. The figure held aloft an unlit lantern in one hand; the other was extended in a closed fist. Before it stood a display of a series of adventurer’s guides to the Nine Hells, as written by one Voruhidu am Amouradiath. They investigated and found that the books were not books at all, but props in some sort of mechanized puzzle. Sirlius and Magnus tried to shelve the books in various combinations, but it was Keen who noted that the first letter of each book title, when properly arranged, spelled out the phrase, “In her palm.” Thus arranged, the statue’s closed fist opened, revealing a stone disc depicting a setting sun, the symbole of Labelas Enoreth, and the lantern illuminated the space with a soft orange glow.
Keen noted a particular space on wall opposite the statue in the lantern light, and found a scene carved into the stone that included an impression into which the disc would slot. Magnus inserted the disc, and a portal opened in the wall. Before the party had a chance to stop him, he stepped through and vanished.
Not knowing what else to do, they followed, and the party found themselves on a mountainside path before a stair leading to a great edifice atop the mountain. An arch over the stair bore a banner reading WELCOME TO THE FREELING HIDEAWAY. They ascended the stair, and as they approached the massive, oversized building they could see a giant with the head of a bear, torso of a man and goat legs pushing a ridiculous push broom across the entrance-way. The figure turned to regard them, and with a grin and booming voice the giant pointed at Sirlius and yelled, “HAT BUDDY!!” He then lumbered down to the party and took Sirlius up in his huge arms, dealing the stunned tiefling some minor crushing damage.
Fists Recovered: 3 / 5
Ara Past Lives Count: ???
Hat Buddy Levels: Rising
RP Rating: Next Level Awesome!