The session opens with Sioned waiting, cooling her heels, outside the library in House Duncam. Within are Duncam, Pizarro, Melina, and Estevan. When brought in she sees Estevan is using his true form. Estevan tells her the time has come for him to retake his House in Sigil, he says the great war between the factions is nearly spent and when it finishes he can return. He will cast out the imposter who has taken his place and seize what is rightfully his, all to the profit of the Consortium of course since he’s a far better factor than the current occupant. Estevan seems to possess some inside information as he says that he will begin in three days, and that Sioned is to meet him at The Golden Apple in the Cage in three days. Before she does she needs to deliver some cargo for him, oh, and she needs to acquire some gold for Estevan prior to then as well. Estevan is vague on the details of who/why/where regarding the cargo, and especially vague on how Sioned is to get to the cargo, but he’s perfectly clear on the gold. Sioned is to bring him 100,000 gold pieces in three days.
Back at the ranch grandma is beating off the injuns . . ... okay, not so much. In fact there is a large gathering at the Simkins’ Ranch. Everyone rides out to gather the locals, at the end of the day there are near 100 men (and a few women as well) gathered in the farmyard to discuss the coming of Torgar. Consensus is that the 500 or so men the settlers can muster will not cut it in a fight against the minotaurs, help will be needed. It’s agreed to send messengers to Tablarax to ask aid of the city. But some dispute over whether to send Pieter and his “boys” to Erathis for help or whether to send Boss Simkins and Robb (who are both willing to pledge Erathis their souls if that’s the price of saving the people of the Berare river valley) arises.
As the congress of ranchers and farmers debates Alruna is distracted by a voice only she can hear, a voice from her past, Sioned’s voice. Sioned is in danger and calls to her saying “If you can get the feather of the Raven Queen come and help me.” Alruna can sense there’s danger from Sioned’s voice, and can feel there are drawn weapons involved. Alruna goes to ask Rook about the feather. As she does she again hears a cry for help, followed by a sharp pain as if of a cut to someone’s wrist in a sword-fight. Rook can not help her, though he’s fascinated to hear of the Raven Queen’s interest in her and her vision of Akasha (the exarch of the Raven Queen). Alruna then hears Sioned cry out for help again, and feels a sharp pain in her wrist as if from a viciously applied disarming move, she can sense a large figure attacking Sioned. In increasing distress Alruna presses Rook for any information about the feather that he knows, in a corner Aeran sees what is going on and sneaks nearer to Alruna and Rook to watch. Alruna falls to her knees and cries out for the Feather of the Raven Queen as she is overwhelmed by a sharp pain in the side of her chest and a clear vision of a large Oni standing over Sioned’s fallen form piercing the side of her chest with a great sword, worse yet, she recognizes the Oni as Davakara, the Oni hired by Colonel Vailor to try to assassinate them. Taking compassion on her plight, and obvious distress, Aeran pulls the feather out and hands it to Alruna.
Alruna collapses to the ground unconscious, and the feather vanishes.
The discussion of what to do breaks down as the congress of ranchers dissolves into chaotic talk about Alruna, and what her collapse means. (if anything) While things break down Tara rushes into the house to get medical supplies, but on her return finds there is nothing wrong with Alruna that she can determine. A few seconds later something momentous occurs. . . .
About a day’s walk out of Tradegate, in the forest nearby, Sioned and Estevan are setting things up. Along with them is one of Estevan’s cousins, an assassin by trade, an Oni named Davakara. Estevan explains that he’s not sure exactly how it works, but that it was prophesied by one of his clients (referred to as “I”) that if Sioned cried out for Alruna’s aid after three summons, when things seemed most bleak, Alruna would appear and that Sioned would depart The World with her. Estevan explains that this is how she is to get to her “cargo”, he’ll now answer that he believes the cargo is some people, but that he’s still not sure exactly who, nor where they are to go. Sioned and Davakara agree to stage a “duel”. Sioned calls, with no effect, for Alruna’s help and the two begin to fight. Davakara is (for now) the more skilled swordsman and as he slices Sioned’s fore-arm she again calls to Alruna. Pressing her backwards he pins her against a large rock and disarms her with a skilled trick, forcing her to cry out to Alruna for a third time. For the final call to Alruna he twists his sword so that his strike to Sioned’s chest is merely a flesh-wound instead of a mortal blow, but it is bloody and painful as Sioned cries out a final time for Alruna.
In a blaze of radiant energy Alruna appears behind Davakara. Sioned sees a blaze of light eclipsed by the large Oni’s body, and then the tip of Alruna’s sword cuts through his side with a vengeful thrust. Davakara leaps backwards, and crying out “Damn, that hurts” he flies up and away and vanishes in mid-air. (Estevan puts his hands up before vanishing into the woods.) Sioned looks up at Alruna and tells her she’s okay now, but could use a ride. As Alruna stays she can feel Divine Power blazing through the feather and into her, the feather seems to get more “real” over time. (almost like it’s larger, heavier, denser, except that it’s not) Clasping hands with Sioned Alruna decides it is time to return. There is a thunderous flutter of black wings, and a feathery touch, and the forest is once again empty.
Back in the yard everyone is surprised as Sioned appears, standing over Alruna, armed, armored, sword in hand, and bloodied. For her part Alruna sits up, recovering consciousness now that her spirit has returned.
Simkins does not take to Sioned, whom he clearly considers flighty and prone to improvising things as she goes. He doesn’t like the sounds of her mysterious “employer” either, since she won’t give many details about them, not even naming Estevan nor the Consortium if I recall rightly. However, given what his friends have to say about her, he’ll grant that her desire to choose envoys and get moving is the right one. In the end it is decided: Sioned will lead the party out to seek Hestavar, Simkins will send Aeran with them to look after his interests, and Simkins will keep Wythe since he’ll want a wizard to help defend the valley. The settlers will contact the orc tribes to help scout the badlands, then they’ll take the materials for Erathis’s church and use them to build up a defensible position, while they do so the non-combatants will try to move south ahead of the horde, the hope is that they can hold out long enough for Erathis’s forces to relieve them.
Summoning Phantom Steeds and using the Traveler’s Chant Sioned immediately heads out, taking Wythe to open the shallowing to the Feywild.
On arrival in the Feywild the five heroes are attacked by fey guarding the passage from the World into the Feywild. Two dryads lead a pair of su monsters and a basilisk. The su monsters and basilisk fall, and the dryads end up negotiating peace with the party. Aliera and Mabh tell the party they are near to both the Labyrinth of Fathagn and the Sakbe of Kan Balaam. Sioned recognizes the Labyrinth, she knows it belongs to a fierce dryad queen and is rumored to have the First Tree at it’s heart, the Sakbe of Kan Balaam is not something she recognizes. (though Wythe told people he knew it was a great white road leading to a dark goblin city) Aliera warns Sioned not to trespass the Labyrinth lest she be slain by the guardians, but says that if they approach respectfully they may be able to treat with the druids there.
Heading towards the Labyrinth the party stops and pulls back at the first sign that the undergrowth is thickening and their path is appearing more clearly from the surrounding growth. Sioned knows that if she continues the undergrowth will turn into impenetrable walls stiffened by saplings, at which point everyone will be inevitably lost within the maze. The group spends almost an hour calling and waiting before an older human man will appear, he has a salt and pepper beard and calls himself Diarmuid. He asks their business and invites them to his hut to discuss it. He lives in a rough and simple wood cabin alongside a stream, he serves them simple food culled from the forest and fresh water. Diarmuid says that he knows of no portals in the area that they would wish to use, though he can get them into Mag Tureadh if they wish to try that dreadful place. (it is sure to have a portal to almost anywhere they want to go) The group says that’s not of interest to them and he sighs and asks them to wait while he finds a wiser head than his to ponder their needs.
Some hours later he returns to the cabin, walking alongside him is a magnificently beautiful woman. Or so she appears, as she draws near it becomes apparent she is a dryad of some sort. Diarmuid introduces the party to Surlief, handmaid to Queen Fathagn. Surlief says that she can’t offer the party any more ready route to The Land than through Mag Tureadh, but if they agree to send a merchant to her Queen with certain texts (that they will buy for a fair price) she can open a gate to either Astrazalian or Cendrianne for them.
Knowing that while Cendrianne almost certainly has plenty of portals to choose from it is also a dangerous city of ruins (from the Eladrin/Drow war) everyone agrees that Astrazalian is the better choice to start out from next. After all, if it’s the right season Astrazalian will actually be in The Land, which would make travel easy. And if Astrazalian is still in the Feywild, well, at least it’s a civilized place and will probably be easier to find a route out of than the deep wilds where they are now. Surlief casts a linked portal ritual, opening a gate to of of Astrazalian’s teleport circles. The party steps through the gate.
Five heroes emerge atop the ramparts of Astrazalian at the height of a Fomori-led assault on the walls of the city….