Last week on the Thursday game...
Thanks to the most-excellent navigational skills of their ranger Trinity, the party eventually returns to Northreach, where they learn that their promised food shipment has arrived. On their way to the fishing village, however, Mordai learns of some bad news: his guild chapter was recently attacked by an unknown force, and Gilran ordered all the thieves in the north to retreat to Islington. He finds the messenger that was sent to deliver this news to Northreach strung up on a tree near the keep, and Trinity confirms that the tracks nearby indicate that while two men walked into the grove, only a large snake slithered out of there.
Once their mundane affairs were in order, Robert decided that it was time to check up on his fractured self. Heading for Hunter's Grove, the party pulled themselves into the Feywild and realised that the Summer-Winter battlelines have shifted significantly: more than half of the Feywild was now under the control of Winter, and it did not look like Summer was going to be able to strike back any time soon.
Willing himself into his castle, Robert discovered that his fractured self was not within his kingdom but had, according to his subjects, left for the Lying Tree several hundred heartbeats ago. When they visited the Tree - a gigantic thing on a hill about five miles wide and about six times as tall - it confirmed as much, but it refused to tell the party where Robert went or what they discussed without some promise of payment.
Realising that they were at an impasse, Robert asked to treat with the Tree on his lands instead of its, and the Tree agreed, sending a human-sized squirrel to serve as its ambassador. Over a meal of nuts and acorns, the squirrel tells the party that the Tree is only interested a handful of things: land, sunlight, water, warmth... and, of course, that most precious commodity of all in the Feywild, power.
"What about this?," Robert asks, pulling out the Huntsman's Earring. "This used to belong to a worthy of Summer, and is probably worth quite a bit in the right hands." Scratching behind his ears with his tail, the squirrel agreed to take the Earring as payment, and proceeded to lead the party to what appeared to be the new border between Summer and Winter.
At the edge of a large open field, the squirrel pointed the party towards what appeared to be an ordinary rock laying out there in the open. As the party approached the rock, however, the rock began to grow larger - or was it them that grew smaller? - and the more they walked towards the rock, the more the rock began to resemble a tower; more specifically, it began resembling the Tower from the Major Arcana, complete with lightning frozen in mid-strike, partially-collapsed buttresses... and Robert falling from the top.
Entering the Tower, they realised that the entire place was trapped in a time loop of some kind. Showing Titania and Oberon's relationship throughout the ages, the time loop kept the party trapped at each floor until Robert figured out that the key was a copy (?) of the same puzzle box and banner that he had fought so hard for, all those months ago.
Their journey through the Tower eventually lead them to the roof, where they had last seen Robert's fractured self falling from. There, they found themselves greeted by a terrifying huge creature that gave this place its true name. Clad and helmed fully in plate whilst wielding a greatsword in both hands, the Tower charged the party at once and immediately made a beeline for Robert.
Instead of laying about with his sword, however, the Tower attempted to throw the King of Wands off the roof, in the process fulfilling the prophecy that they have been seeing throughout their climb. The party did their best to try and create a human shield for their warlock, but it was to no avail: when his path was thwarted, the creature simply clove through the person in its way and grabbed Robert again.
Thankfully, Robert was prepared for such an eventuality. Through careful positioning and judicious use of Misty Step every time he was successfully grabbed, he managed to avoid being thrown off the roof, though it got close at several points. Eventually, with the combined effort of the rest of the party, the creature was mortally wounded; and as the creature staggered off the lip of the blasted roof, its armour fell away to reveal that it was no other than Robert's fractured self beneath the plate.
One way or another, the prophecy was fulfilled: Robert had fallen off the roof, and the time loop was now fully closed. All that remained was for Robert to claim the mantle of the Tower for himself by grabbing the greatsword that his fractured self had left behind. As he reached for the sword, however, the air around the tower became infinitesimally colder, and the clouds in the skies began arranging themselves into a familiar, coldly-beautiful face: that of Titania.
"Think carefully," said Titania, "before you touch that sword, my King of Wands. Leave my service, deprive me of a King, and you may live to regret it." Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Robert squared his shoulders and began negotiations. An agreement was eventually reached: in exchange for Titania not begrudging Robert's leaving her service, Robert will agree to answer three of her summons as long as the balance between Summer and Winter is perfectly matched. Additionally, as long as Summer is winning, Titania has the right to call upon his services as many times as necessary until the balance is restored once more.
Appeased, Titania's face disappeared from the skies, and Robert approached the greatsword that, like so many things in the Feywild, started shifting in perspective as he moved towards it. By the time he had it firmly grasped in his hands,, he realised that it was no greatsword after all, but instead a sacrificial knife, an athame: specifically, the very same athame that he was found with, at the doorstep of his former monastery.
As the party began searching for a way out of the Tower, an emissary of Titania emerged and introduced himself as the Knave of Wands. He explained that he was here to offer the party a deal: the Lady had heard rumours that a band of adventurers were about to enter Oberon's service, and she wishes to thwart his plans. In exchange for delivering them into the Feywild, she will not only deliver them to the Prime Material Plane - a mere few days away from a path in the road that she knows the adventurers will take - but will also open a permanent Road through the Feywild between Yus (the capital of Yaniel) and Northreach Keep. The party agreed, and the contract was formalised between the Knave and the new Tower.
It is currently the ?? of Early Spring.
The party has ??gp, the treasury ??gp, and Mordai's chapter has ??gp.
Notable items in the Keep include:
- Golden Bracelet: the gold of the bracelet frames a thin sheet of marble that features, in the far-eastern bas-relief style of Lacio, the scene of an archer firing a greatbow at a dryad emerging from a pond. Two symbols of Krubivax - the empty circle of the new moon, and a skull with a worm crawling out of its eye socket - appear in the corners of the scene.
Notable guests of the Keep include:
- Nicodemus, chief steward of the keep
- Eldraz, Borock's clutchmate who's missing both his hands
- Tyd, the Azer smith in the keep's forge
- Egoveus, the human wizard living in the keep's tower
- Garle, representative of Ankers & Co.
- Halvenpaul, widowed captain of the guard
- Gilran, lieutenant of Mordai's chapter