Upon defeating the Caffe Druid cultists at the temple ruins, the heroes set on back to Lafonde to meet back up with Ged and see that the children got home safely. They returned to much thanks from the new leader of the village and were welcomed to stay for as long as they pleased, especially as the Winter Solstice celebrations were coming up soon…
They spent the next few days in downtime: Kaden taking advantage of the nearby reef and going fishing; Solena getting some special elvish armour made up for her out of moonstone – resistances to non-magical weapons; and Dendrim sought a little guidance from the local herbwoman and trained with shortsword with the keep’s guards. Outside of this they cajoled, they talked to Ged and the locals, and they spent their time in the peacefulness of the nearby woods.
When the Winter Solstice came about, there was much rejoicing in the village. A fair had set up and even the enslaved humans had the day off to partake in the festivities. As the sun began to set a solemn group marched down from the keep, Ged at it’s lead, several guard about, and four prisoners with their heads bowed and being led by ropes. Kaden observed that the prisoners weren’t just human, one was an elf, another a half-elf.
The crowd quietened and Ged’s voice range out, “my people, we come here tonight in celebration, to worship the old gods. Contoo has blessed these lands with a warmer winter, and these criminals will be sacrificed to bless this coming spring.”
Solena pulls a elfman aside, asking him what the prisoners did. His response, “the humans were rioters who opposed milord’s rule, the half-elf burnt his family home down in a fit of rage, and the elf was caught trying to steal from the keep.” They asked no more questions as the festivities started up again and a procession followed Ged out of the town, up past the keep, and to an ancient stonehenge that sits upon a cliff, overlooking the ocean.
By the time they reached the top, it was getting dark. The crowd spread around the outside of the circle, the guards took up positions at the entrance, and Wtyo led each of the prisoners to one of the four large pillar, which contained a small onyx crystal in each of their crest; he tied them there and painted their unresponsive faces. Ged began chanting, and the large onyx crystal that sat embedded into the central pillar began to glow a soft white. Above, the sky was dark: no stars, the moon new.
The ritual reached its crescendo and suddenly four coloured beams of light emerged from the crystals above each of the prisoners – yellow, blue, green, and red, all focused towards the central crystal, which absorbed the lights and refracted them upon the sky, bathing the crowd in a divine light.
Solena, Kaden, and Dendrim watched as what looked to be a figure take shape amongst the aurora before it too burst and spread across the skies. The light pulsed back into the central crystal, then pulsed back out to each of the four pillars flowing into the prisoners and through them, like liquid, essence drained into a stone bowl in the ground beneath their feet. In hushed silence, the scene goes dark except for these four coloured pools, and soon after the crowd begin to light torches and start back up their celebrations with a renewed vitality.
Within the stonehenge, Wyto and Ged collect the newly formed gems and the guards lead the now soulless prisoners away.
A few days pass, the group recovered from their hangovers and their downtime activities, and began to wonder what to do next.
Dendrim was training within the keep yard, Kaden watched, and Solena walked with Ged, discussing the events of the solstice: “That wasn’t Contoo, was it Ged?”
“No my dear, I see I cannot misdirect you like the others here, but that was not Contoo,” the old wizard confessed.
Through a short stare down and a few pointed questions, Ged explained, “That was Aurelion, the Goddess of the Skies. She was not banished by the Ancient ones, and so visits her Godstone and has bestowed us with her blessings.” Looking unashamed, “my dear, the elves in these regions have long worshipped Contoo. It was the only way to rally them against the tyrant that sat here before me, and it worked! They may believe the offerings we give are for Contoo, but let me tell you, Contoo already has enough. The old and forgotten gods, like Aurelion, deserve them more.”
An alarm rings out in the distance and the guards call down from the wall, “RAIDERS! RAIDERS ATTACKING THE TOWN!” The guys all move to a vantage spot and see heavily armoured soldiers riding draconic mounts racing through town, a few already at the base of the hill and climbing.
Solena, knowing that it is her people rush out of the gate before it closes, followed by Kaden and Dendrim. Kaden runs past, jumping a ledge and hiding amongst some shrubbery. Dendrim casts Entangle, summoning rapid growth in the plants before the riders, trying to constrict their mount’s movement.
Halting 30 feet back, Sir Rhogar, the tallest of the dragonborn here, lifts his helm and shouts to Solena, “Relic! You have led us on a wild chase, but must return with us now!” Upon her refusal, Sir Darko, a broad-shouldered red dragonborn, moves forward, “Please child, we must go back to the homeland – our mission has ended.”
(Backstory catchup: Solena travelled from Erekusu with these Scorched Knights to parley with the locals of the Yarrawong continent, and discover what secrets the people here hold. Eventually they should return home, and with the information they bring, the Holy Order will set out to purge those lands.)
Rhogar nods to Squire Kriv, the smaller, black dragonborn knight, who begins to cast Sleep on Solena. Resisting, she shots a firebolt back at him. Kaden rushes out, making a sneak attack on Rhogar, while Dendrim plantshapes into his wooden form. Ignoring Kaden, Rhogar charges to Solena and grapples her onto his mount. Darko shouts out, “please, please, we only come for Solena!”
Two other Scorched Knights charge towards the keep gate where a formation of elves have taken up position with spears held aloft. Kriv begins attacking Kaden, trampling him with his mount. Kaden attacks back, knocking Kriv clear to the side, and then turns back to Rhogar, who is struggling keenly as Solena fights back.
Dendrim seeing this, casts levitate on Solena, making both her and Rhogar (still holding on) float into the air. This fight lasts another round more, until Darko steps in, “Rhogar! If she chooses to stay, it is the will of Oorun, let her stay.” And with that, Rhogar turns his mount, charging straight toward Kaden, who jumps out of the way. Darko looks to Kriv, orders everyone to fall back.
I know it was a long one this time! But a lot to cover and plenty to tell 🙂 Next time, the players return to Alafia. As always, if you want to know more, just let me know!