Cheered on by kobolds, the party dispatched another group of giant ants. The queen ant exuded vile corrosive pheromones, causing some trouble, but her servants were fragile and short-lived.
The party continued on, finding an upward-slanting passage, following the smell of fresh air. Soon stray beams of light bounced in from ahead. There was some awkward climbing to do; Whooat had no trouble as she was riding a wall-clinging ant, and Jenda-Shan had no worries since he could fly. Lucan, unfortunately, was not a skilled climber. He tumbled; fortunately he was an excellent tumbler and somehow managed to fall up.
Around one last, very last, corner the passage ended and revealed a big, beautiful, sunlight-lit, snow-dappled clearing. After over two weeks scrambling through caves and cave denizens, the party had escaped.
Ahead lay a farm. They could see people working on the fence line in the distance, apparently an adult with several children. The party was reluctant to bring their kobold followers-slash-leaders out to the surface, but the kobolds wanted to stay with them.
Jenda-Shan: "Maybe it's a kobold farm."
It was a kobold farm. A young woman ran this farm as a sanctuary for wayward kobolds, and was glad to accept new refugees. She offered her hospitality for the night, and traded a healthy horse for the two giant ants the party had brought out, since ants required careful attention to survive aboveground in winter.
The farm was located in a sparsely populated area called Canaida, only a few days west of Kingdom’s End. The party traveled home without incident. The mood within Kingdom’s End was somber. The party had been given up for dead, and interrupted their own memorial service!
Sobriety fled. The night was a merry one. At the Laughing Little Person, Paul the innkeeper lavished the party with drinks. He also had some packages which had been left for them. Among them, a note from the dwarves of Ardale’s Mine. Ardale had absconded with some of their assets, but the mine was running independently. The reclaimed Temple to Moradin was thriving, but the walls were oozing Evil Putty, some of which was included in the package. The dwarfs did not recognize the significance of the Putty, and had in fact been using it as a drink mixer.
Kingdom’s End had marched on in their absence. Count Fussbottom has dealt with this theft and smuggling problem, but expensively, and his businesses overall are struggling. He even had to lay off J’ayne. Sage Batson is stressed as well, as he’s been getting less work from Fussbottom, but he’s kept safe the Dagger of Remote Control and also located another Lock of Chlamidior. The lock, in the shape of a bust of a man recoiling from a punch to the face, was unobtrusively located on the shelf at the nearby general store. Mother Euphasia has kept the temple in order, but needs a favor. Actually, she demanded the party help since they “owed the church” for the privilege of recovering the equipment below, but Whooat stood up to her, earning the old woman’s respect and a rare smile. A discount resurrection has gone wrong, and a spirit was apparently jacked and taken.
Divinating a bit of ritual scroll found near the temple, Jenda-Shan determined an Eladrin had been skulking near the temple and somehow absconded with the spirit. He divined the image of the Eladrin grabbing the scroll while kneeling in front of an unfamiliar (to Jenda-Shan) and upset-looking Eladrin woman.
While Lucan tracked the perp and Whooat asked around town, Jenda-Shan checked in with Fussbottom. Fussbottom agreed to provide what information he could about his dealing with Eladrin (which was wildly unhelpful) in exchange for Jenda-Shan looking into apparent accounting trickery at the Fussbottom’s most profitable business, the Merry Maiden. Jenda-Shan asked around, making the aquaintence of the working girls, and sharing a drink with J’ayne who had been spending time there since losing her job.
DM: For the sake of being able to look you all in the eyes,
nobody is getting it on with a whore. I'll have Pelor smite
your junk if I have to.
With a combination of divination and inquisition, Jenda-Shan found that actually Fussbottom was cheating himself. He was doctoring his accounts, and hiding cash, to avoid paying taxes on the full profits. Normally very careful in his business dealing, he had slipped up and forgotten due to recent stress. He and Jenda-Shan came to an understanding; the Merry Maiden was “officially” signed over to Jenda-Shan who would report and pay taxes on one third of the net profits, while Fussbottom’s accountants would funnel the other two thirds to him. The change of management, and Jenda-Shan’s reputation as a do-gooder, would divert suspicion of the drop in reported profits. Thus, Jenda-Shan became a multi-class Wizard/Pimp, acquiring Skill Focus: Bitchcraft.
The party rejoined with itself. Lucan had tracked the souljacker to a cliff near the north end of the city wall (which only covered the non-cliff side of town), and the footsteps looked an awful lot like he had jumped off. The ledge overlooked the river and forest to the east, with an open view of the mountains to the north. It was a spot of rare beauty so close to a major city. A rock tossed over the ledge vanished after about 100 feet. The party suspected a Fey Crossing, so they bought some extra rope and returned to the cliff. A guard atop the city wall spotted them and wished them luck: “If you fall, scream real loud before you die.”
Lucan climbed down first. After 100 feet, he vanished in a puff of nothing. Whooat pulled the rope up, but it was cleanly cut at that length. Jenda-Shan confirmed it was probably a dimensional portal, but a one-way portal with no way to know exactly what lay on the other side.
Meanwhile, Lucan fell.
After some trepidation, Whooat tried to climb down as well. She stumbled badly and fell spinning to vanish where Lucan had.
Meanwhile, Lucan continued to fall.
Jenda-Shan gathered up the rope, tapped into his airy essence, and floated gently down along the cliff face.
Meanwhile, Lucan noticed he had been falling a while.
The party was falling at their various speeds, having appeared beside a huge rock spire over a mile above a large fog-covered lake. Jenda-Shan and (in moments of lesser panic) Lucan recognized the Feywild from their education, but Whooat’s experience was simply an overwhelming sense of nature pressing into her awareness. They were all impressed upon by the sharp-edged clouds in the bright grey sky, the piercing dapples of light on the water below, the angry roaring of the wind in their ears, and after a long fall the stifling substance of the fog.
The fog let light through, but was physically denser than should have been possible, more like cotton batting than like a cloud. Gently, almost lazily, the fog slowed Lucan and Whooat so that they landed in the water with a pleasant “ploink”.
Even wearing armor. they easily swam to the nearby shore, the beach adjoining a sparse forest in a large plain below the rock spire. The opposite shore of the lake was perhaps a mile away. Jenda-Shan waftily drifted down to meet them. Lucan spotted tracks matching the Eladrin from the temple, who apparently wasn’t even bothering to be sneaky, leading into the forest. They proceeded; in was late autumn here as well, and the trees were bare. Unfriendly angles were in the branches and cast as shadows on the ground. There always seemed to be something moving in the corner of one’s eye.
As they entered a clearing, they were set upon by mushroom men, Myconids, whose motives were unclear. The Myconids were not terribly strong, but they were well-coordinated and put both Whooat and Jenda-Shan in fear for their lives. Fortunately the party was victorious.
Welcome to the Feywild.
OOC: None of the players caught it at the time, but the woman overseeing the kobold sanctuary was actually Wat, the only survivor of the first party to travel Turanga. Wat had taken a handful of baby kobolds to safety after “accidentally” sacrificing their siblings to an Iron Defender. Not even Wat’s player (who now plays Whooat) recognized the description. It was decided that this was just excellent roleplaying, since Whooat had neither met nor heard of Wat.