What should have been a short trip to the forge to buy some cold iron weapons to protect themselves from any more faerie assassins introduced our heroes to the old smith, Warwick, once the forge-master for kings in the Middle Kingdom. But it turns out that his talents were not natural — instead, he had accepted eternal servitude in faerie in exchange. And worse, he was forbidden to forge weapons that could harm faerie.
The party decided to investigate their assassins at the source, and a method was devised to enter the faerie realm through a ritual in the forest south of Stoneswatch. With gifts left for the fae, the heroes slept and awoke in the Faerie Realm, a shadowy mirror of the prime material, where it is always dawn or dusk and strange creatures roam. They made their way north through a dangerous forest to King Oberon’s castle, but not before discovering that the waters of Faerie were very dangerous: Niowin fell face first and, when the water touched his lips, he fell fast asleep in the water. He was rescued and seemed fine, but something about him had changed slightly …
They found the kingdom in shambles. Faerie guards and citizens sat around moping, and no wonder: King Oberon was in a low mood, since his queen had abandoned him thanks to his indiscretions with a human woman.
But Oberon’s sorrow had disastrous consequences for the Faerie Realm, which responds to his moods in peculiar ways. An ancient evil entity known as The Speading Oak had arisen in the forest, and its corrupting influence had spread through the streams and fields of Faerie. And soon it would grow powerful enough to spread its influence into the heroes’ world, too.
With no champions willing to come to Oberon’s aid, and with no tools to fight the Spreading Oak, the party agreed to destroy the Spreading Oak’s manifestation for Oberon. In return, they were offered the use of several items from the faerie king’s treasury: weapons that would allow them to prevail in the fight. But the party may have planned to simply leave Faerie.
Scrounging up materials, and hungry for breakfast, Lia decided to eat some blackberries. Nester tried to warn her against eating anything in Faerie, but she didn’t listen, and soon she was gorging herself on what seemed like an endless supply of the berries. Nester cautioned the party against accepting or consuming anything else from Faerie lest they all be caught by the realm’s magic. So the party cleverly found a way to summon food in the extradimensional space of Niowin’s Handy Haversack.
The party returned to the forest, but the woods were treacherous and the path led them in circles. eventually the party took a birds’ eye view and found that they were being prevented from reaching their adversary by the trees themselves moving. And with a forest full of malevolent creatures to harrass them and prevent rest, the party had no choice but to fight in a weakened and exhausted state.
The battle with the spreading oak was long, but the party eventually prevailed — not without discovering that Oberon’s weapons exacted a price for their use! Niowin accidentally shot himself and his allies, and Niowin blasted the tree with the firewand (with some interesting results).
Inside the tree’s maw, they found a half-starved, nearly dead human woman, Oberon’s lover, who they brought back with them to Oberon’s palace to be healed. Oberon granted the party a boon, which they decided to save for when they trule needed it. But they still needed a way to return home, and Oberon was reluctant or perhaps unable to use his power to send them; and they learned that they were unable to return the way they had entered. So instead they sought out Titania to convince her to return to Oberon’s side and, they hoped, her magic would return them to their home plane.
So they set off to her most likely location, the lake west of the castle, which had become a swamp in the intervening time since Titania had left. After talking to some of the grig locals (Fleetfeet had tea, which is VERY IMPORTANT!), the party set off toward the center of the lake, which involved treacherous paths through the swamp that spread well beyond the lake’s original borders. Circling inward, the party came to a well-appointed cabin, where they decided to rest for a time. The cabin had a good store of dried meats, and seemed to be the home of a hunter.
That night, wolves were heard outside the cabin, and a woman could be clearly heard coming closer to the cabin. Nester went outside to investigate and brought her into the cabin.
She was not Titania — instead, she was another Faerie queen, Aeval, the Huntress. Aeval’s “retinue” (or is it harem?) of shapeshifters had been corrupted into werewolves, who tried to devour Aeval during the twilight phase of Faerie’s day cycle. Our heroes helped secure the cabin and kept the wolves out throughout the night; and in the morning, Aeval thanked them for saving her life and agreed to help them in their quest to find Titania, offering to use her ritual magic to force the Queen to grant the party wishes for anything in Titania’s power.
She led them to a stone bed in the center of the swamp, and there she performed an hours-long ritual. When she was finished, she awoke Titania and compelled her to do the party’s bidding to be released from the holding spell. Titania grudgingly granted the party’s wishes, including giving a vial of her own blood to aid in their fight against the swarm creatures, and sending them home. The party retained one boon of Titania for later, putting both the queen and the king of Faerie at their beck and call should the need arise.
After returning to their bodies on the Prime Material, the party was dismayed to learn that many weeks had passed; the Solstice had come and gone, and snow, weeks old, lay on the ground. The pilgrims had dispersed when they were unable to approach the stone circle. And Clarise Baker had summoned them to Ketan for a conference of the wisest and most powerful mystics in Firseid.