Summer’s End Revisited
Return to Summer
Draconic assassin found
Found Kalad’s head-returned
Summer’s End Revisited
After heading back to the portal known of as ‘Summer’s End’ the current incarnation of the Brigade: Bairdyn, Lucian, Doctor Crocre, and Ssarina arrive at the hidden entrance to the Feywilde located behind the waterfall set in a quiet grove of trees where the Marth Forest met the Giant’s Shield Mountain, at the source of the Elsir River … Here they once again find the secret narrow tunnel hidden by the waterfall. Entering the tunnel that eventually rises into a widening staircase of stone that after some time descends into a large, chamber but the floor of the chamber ahead wasn’t what they were expecting, it was broken and rough, covered with cracked stone, the walls and ceiling appeared to be nothing more than hard-packed dirt, gouged deeply in many places, leaving heaping piles of ruin in the edges where the floor met the wall. It is darker and rawer than they had heard or that Bairdyn had remembered. Across the chamber, waited a large angry looking treant.
There is no hesitation, the treant attacks … starved, and suffering from having been cutoff from addictive fey mists Jelendra had been using to keep the ent sedated. It reaches across the chamber towards the heroes where Ssarina interposes herself. The others withdraw back into the stair filled hallway, but roots bursts from the walls, floor, and ceiling attacking them and slowing their progress. Bairdyn yells out, “Stop your attack! We are here to see your mistress, we are here to see Jelendra.”
The treant’s fury only increases. Moaning loudly it stomps hard enough to knock Ssarina over; as she falls Lucian hurls globes of arcane acid upon the ent causing the ent to smolder and howl. Both Dr. Crocre and Bairdyn join in the attack affording Ssarina the opportunity to recover and regain her footing. Within moments the combined assault of the heroes becomes overwhelming and the treant falls. Lucian quickly moves across the chamber opening the door but their problems only intensify.
A wide corridor stretches before Lucian. On the west side, a large statue glares and stands perfectly still within a large alcove, heading east the corridor continues. On the south wall of the corridor there are four small occupied cells each sealed by iron gate. Inside are several humans, dwarves, and other residents of the Elsir Vale. As they see the sorcerer they shout to him, begging for help. In the corridor two cyclopes were already charging towards Lucian; they looking ready for battle. One of them, a hulking beast of a cyclops, carried a giant wooden club. The other one is clearly a slaver armed with a heavy barbed net and a number of spears slung on it‘s back. Together the cyclops yell out loudly in the elven tongue,
“For Vaneval, leave none alive!”
Lucian backs up quickly, yelling out a warning to his allies, but not fast enough for his friends … a net spreads across the chamber behind him, a heavy net trapping both Ssarina and Bairdyn, it’s sharp hooked barbs biting deep in their flesh, tangling them and dropping them to the moist dirt floor.
Thinking quickly, Dr. Crocre turns his attention to the fallen treant calling out:
Responding to the Doctor’s spell the dead treant rises and advances towards the slaver who involuntary takes a step back, reflecting on previous encounters with the mad treant. The cyclops knew the threat it presented; this allows the dead ent to block further access to the entry chamber from the outer corridor. Angered by the slaver’s retreat the cyclops crusher pushes forward engaging the treant. Lucian fires back attacking both of the cyclops guards with an argent rain spell, sending a magical shower of molten metal to burst upon them.
Behind the cyclops their new commander advances, Vaneval, the dragon-spawn that had been previously been responsible for Kalad’s execution. The dragon-spawn had been hiding within Jelendra’s lair, the place where the eladrin Tulani of Summer, had stayed while in exile. He was biding his time there with growing frustration caused by inactivity. Vaneval was evil, greedy, and foul-tempered and he liked nothing better than a test his strength against weaker opponents, which in his hubris he believed everyone was. Excited by this new distraction, he shouts out orders the cyclopes, “Kill them, kill them all!” Looking forward to the entertainment these visitors might provide … He had after all been warned by Jelendra to expect them.
Suddenly back in the first chamber two fey quicklings appear as if from no where.
Upon their appearance the doctor recognizes the speedy gray humanoids as quicklings. They were said to have at one time been brownies, but they were transformed by the evil power of the archfey Queen Mab, who was never called by name, more commonly she was known as the Queen of Air and Darkness, or the Witch in the Wood; regardless she was certainly a most dangerous fairy, and capricious, in the extreme … She might appear as a miniature creature who liked to drive her chariot into the noses and into the brains of sleeping people and compel them to experience dreams of wish-fulfillment or on a her whim to spread plagues if it otherwise suited her. She was the midwife who helped sleepers ‘give birth’ to their dreams.
She was in fact the very focus of the Doctor’s studies. His worship of her had been that which had over these past years divided the doctor’s family. Bingus has never truly understood Manne’s love for the darkest fairy. The doctor had tried to explain by describing her beauty, she was by legend a bodiless, invisible being, but who at time chose to be perceived magically as a faerie with pale, angular features, blood-black eyes, and a mane of black hair. In this form she would be beautiful, but hers was said to be a terrible, eldritch beauty that chilled to the bone. Most recently the Doctor imagined that her appeal was finally speaking to his overly bright brother. She was, in fact, the first true queen of the fairies, cold and utterly emotionless, ruling from her throne of shadows. Her court is filled with evil, twisted fey, elves, and undead. Hunting hounds, slavering at her insubstantial feet …Having heard Bingus’s tale of the Summer’s End portal, the Doctor has hoped … no ‘dreamed’ that Jelendra true allegiance was the fey goddess of magic (especially illusions), darkness, and murder, as befitted what he had heard of Jelendra’s nature.
The quicklings appeared as if from thin air, moving at extremely high speed, and the Doctor knew they could attack with equal speed if they so chose having encountered them before, opponents such as these were especially dangerous to a spellcaster, so rather than attack he quickly offer a verbal treatise with the dark fey.
“We mean no harm, we come to offer service to our Tulani of Summer, Jelendra, please advance our greetings and good intent.”
One of the quicklings responds in the elven tongue, “Our Tulani has gone missing of late, and this spawn of the dragon lacks any humor or inspiration. I would aid you if I could, but alas it is not to be … not in his presence.”
Guessing at the quickling meaning Doctor answers, “Then would I take if the dragon-spawn were to disappear you might be inclined to be of assistance?”
The quickling responds, “True, true, if only such a thing was possible, but he is dangerous and unruly in the extreme, and as I’ve said completely humorless.”
“Then I believe we can help you, I ask only that you do not side against me or my allies while we redecorate.” concludes the Doctor before telling the others … “Do not attack the quicklings!”
Behind the stalled cyclopes, Vaneval’s plotting was complete and he launched into his offensive attacking with a deadly mix of spells designed to kill the invaders. First a primordial storm exploded at the chamber’s entrance washing over the dead treant and the two heroes trapped within the cyclops net, the wave of ancane power struck with thunder, fire and biting frost, Still trapped in the net, Ssarina struggles to lay hands upon Bairdyn in a desperate attempt to save the halflings life, giving little thought to her own wellbeing. Even before the storm subsides, flames errupt from the dragonspawn’s body as he approaches, his ire smoldering, sending a wash of fire spreading from Vaneval into the entry chamber utterly destroying the treant and roasting the trapped heroes, severely burning them and freeing them from the net.
Lucian responds immediately blistering Vaneval with globes of acid, but the dragonspawn laughs at his rival sorcerer’s attack, countering with a spell of his own, avatars of chaos, which divided his essence into a quartet of magical poles: one representative of fire, one of force, another of lightning, and a fourth made-up of psychic energies, each surrounded by a curtain of flame. Lucian recognized the spell and its danger immediately and warned Doctor Crocre who stood next to him at the far side of the chamber. “We will have to destroy each image in turn, before we can strike against our true foe.”
The dragonspawn’s images were as large as the dragonspawn himself, and they served to pollute the chamber making it chaotic and crowded, and difficult to move. Each of Vaneval’s images lashed out at Ssarina in turn as she rose and interposed herself as best as she was able to protect Bairdyn. The images left corrupted, tainted wounds which would difficult for even the paladin to heal. Doctor Manne, and the sorcerer Lucian struck together quickly blasting through the images, but inadvertently clearing enough space to allow the cyclops crushed to wade into the melee, with one mighty blow of it’s great club the halfling fell. As the last of Vaneval’s images vanished the dragonspawn reappeared and the Doctor summoned a great, blackened skeletal hand, which burst from the ground beneath the dragonspawn lifting him high in the air and holding him there. Then with a second finishing blow from the cyclops the valiant halfling’s battle struggle ended and Lucian unleashed himself upon the villain, blasting his free of the black hand. The hand disappears, as if it was never there, but the combined attacks sent the barbarous dragonspawn sorcerer into a fast retreat. Vaneval made for the door to the treant’s chamber, headed for the same passage heroes had come from, the passage back into Klarn. Vaneval had long wanted to leave but up until now the treant and duty had barred his way.
Ssarina had been badly injured and was in no shape to pursue the faster dragonborn, she stayed back to finish the two cyclopes. With Lucian’s magic temporarily spent, only the Doctor stood in the way of Vaneval’s escape. Once again hubris had taken hold of the dragonspawn, he didn’t notice the Doctor’s familiar at the top of the stair where the small dragon kept watch within the darkest corners the passage offered. When the dragonspawn raced by, the Doctor teleported to the familiar’s side and with a single spell, a spell of enchantment, Vaneval fell asleep … a sleep from which he would never awake.
Injured and with one of their party dead, the heroes take a short rest while Doctor Manne examines Bairdyn’s crushed body. “He is whole, and uncorrupted, more than could be said of the bodies left behind of their assassins … I should be able to raise him within a few hours. Search the lair, and make sure I am undisturbed.”
The heroes take shelter within Summer’s End lair taking care to search the chambers completely, Lucian allows the two quicklings, Gosh and Freak, to lead the way.
The large statue in the main corridor glares perfectly still observing the whole of the corridor, Not recognizing the statue, The sorcerer and the paladin head east following one of the quicklings through the corridor. On the south wall of the corridor there are four small occupied cells sealed by iron gates. Inside are several humans and dwarves, all residents of the Elsir Vale. When they see Lucian and Ssarina they again call out to the heroes, obviously the victims of great abuse.
“Free these people immediately!” orders Ssarina.
Not understanding the quickling looks up at the dragonborn, twitching, almost fading away, but before it fades completely, Lucian translates her gruff request into the elven tongue and the quickling answers accordingly.
“Of course mistress.” answers Gosh “… but I have not the key.”
“Find it.” suggests the sorcerer.
“I will, I willlll …” answers the quickling disappearing.
Dim light emulates from fungi covering the walls and ceiling of the corridor easily providing enough light for Lucian’s eyes which were accustomed to darkness. Moving beyond massive doors at the end the corridor the heroes find themselves within another great antechamber. Heavy metal doors wait across the hall, but they are shut tight, and bright, light spills from the arched opening on the north wall.
They find one of the small gray quicklings sitting, waiting for them within the chamber beyond the open archway, bathed in bright light provided by chandeliers hung from the ceiling of the chamber. On the walls stared the dead eyes of various beheaded animals mounted as trophies within the chamber, their eyes seemly to move following the heroes in the play of the light within the chamber. The creatures had come from a variety of worlds during Jelendra’s hunts, but easily the most gruesome among them was the newest addition, a trophy taken by Vaneval. There hung on the wall, the heroes saw Kalad‘s mummified head, obviously hung in a rushed, sloppy fashion. The quickling timidly says, "Welcome to the great lodge, your highnesses."
Over the course of the following hours that follow, the prisoners are freed, and their injuries cared for as best Ssarina can manage. In a search they find several treasures, including an emerald, multi-faceted gem fashioned by a cyclops’s expert hand worth (15,000 gp), 170 pp (blood money paid for Kalad‘s execution), and a magical Maul of the Titans.
After a time, and having used the last of his magical components, the gnome Doctor mops his weary brow … rising to feet looking down on his slain comrade. He had spent hours applying sacramental unguents, the mystic salves softening dead muscles, warming the body in preparation for what was to come. Then given his beliefs on the nature of this lair and its keep he called out to she whose long-lost true name is never utter among the fey. Her symbol, the black diamond, a gem unearthed by dwarven miners before history began. A ten-faceted black gemstone of darkest beauty, was drawn out with a lover’s care beneath the recently fallen friend, Bairdyn had died innocently not unlike the dwarves whom had decided to present the gem to she who had them been, at that time, the queen of the fey as a heartfelt gift. The fey princess who would eventually become known as the Queen of Air and Darkness was said to still be reigning in the court at that time, and on the fateful day of this presentation her sister Titania had been bathing in the waters of the river Afon Bhlu, which fed the lake Cwm Glas. The gem, which is whispered to have been the creation of the Dark God, ultimately corrupted the princess, destroying her physical body and consuming her soul with led to her departure from the Seelie Court, absconding with her precious diamond and the other great treasures of her race in her black chariot that belched smoke and fire. Soon after, the mountain from which the diamond was unearthed exploded, destroying the primordial fey realm of Ladinion and decimating the fey people. Since then the Seelie Court has been forced to wander the planes, never again finding a permanent home. The disaster the gave rise to myths of lost lands are common among the fey, and many speak of the Fading Lands that slowly disappeared from the world, such as the home of Sidgevin calling out to such forces seemed most appropriate here. As Bairdyn eyes fluttered suddenly and he awoke from the sleep of the dead.
Thereafter, they sent the prisoners home bearing with the recovered head of the dead hero Kalad, the first member of the Seven Platinum Shields who had been slain, along with the severed head of his assailant, Vaneval. The heroes rested one more day within Summer’s End before moving on through the Fey portal.