In this episode, our heroes and dignitaries from the Council of Elves begin their journey to the Spire of Winter but encounter a village raided by the Burning King. Nalistri also begins to warm up to Elora and reveals that he is on a personal mission to rescue his captured guards.
Preparing for the JourneyEdit
Cam is feeling hungover from all the drinking last night. He requests Elora to allow him to sleep for another two hours. Elora does not allow him as the journey must start in the morning. Cam suddenly throws up. Elora gives him a glass of water and leaves. Cam drinks the water but vomits in the glass. He then drops it onto the floor.
The adventurers make their way out of Champion's Hold and too the horses prepared for them. Along the way, servants are seen packing bags and rations for their journey. Elora notices that her parents, as well as Queen Shalana and Commander Payla, did not bring any guards along. Nalistri Frostwalker have two guards, a male elf and a female elf, to protect him. His attitude towards Elora is still unfriendly, which her other companions have noticed by now. Jiǔtóu in particular does not like him.
While the others are walking to the horses, Cam is crawling himself out of the room, down the stairs and to the horses. In doing so, his clothes are soaking the vomit he left along the way. He is also sobbing on how hungover he is feeling now. Anyone that walk pass him, looks at him strangely. At the entrance, Cam notices people packing saddle bags onto the horses. He crawls up to them and lies in a foetal position, hoping the people would carry him up. Instead, the packers tell Cam to get on the horse himself.
Trellimar walks up to Cam and tries to throw him onto a horse. Trellimar manages to lift him up a bit. However, Cam's armour is weighing him down, so he drops him. Landing belly first, Cam pukes out more vomit. Jiǔtóu grabs a bucket of water from a nearby stable and dumps it over Cam. This allow Cam to feel a little better, though now soaking wet.
Queen Shalana and Commander Payla, both dressed in horse-riding outfits, come down to the entrance. Cam sees them and wipes his mouth off vomit before giving a gracious bow to them. Shalana acknowledges him. Payla though is still nursing her hangover, but is dealing it better than Cam. Jiǔtóu offers her a bucket of water, which she refuses, saying that she can holds her alcohol better than Cam.
Lord Alfadon and Queen Aletha are seen walking out of Champion's Hold with Nalistri, who is conversing with them. Elora walks up to her parents to greet them with a good morning. She especially greets Nalistri the same. He returns the gesture in a formal tone. Her father returns the gesture more joyously. Asking how Cam is fairing, he looks at Cam and laughs.
Nalistri's snow owl, Whispers, flies and lands on the ground near the horses, then gives a hoot. Elora, with her knowledge on nature, notices that the owl is somewhat magical. Cam, annoyed by its hoots, walks up to it to tell it to stop hooting. The owl refuses and continues to hoot, with Cam eventually giving up and walks back to the horses.
Cam is trying to get on the horse but it is not likely Cam, trying to get him off. Cam declares that his horse is broken and walks off to find another. The second horse also dislikes him. Aletha laughs to herself at the sight. She then goes up to one of the horse and whispers to its ears. The horse grunts and lowers itself, allowing Cam to easily get on the horse. Cam, in trying to keep his pride, tells Aletha that he was going to do what she did. Aletha shrugs it off.
Cam addresses Aletha as "Moon Queenie" and later as "My Queen". Aletha tells him that she prefers to be addressed as "Lady Aletha" instead. Alfadon, on the other hand, allows Cam to address him as "Lord Majesty King Alfadon". Cam addresses him as such, as well as adding that he is glad to be at his service. Alfadon tells Cam that, unlike other humans, Cam is more kind to royals. Alfadon and Aletha then walk to their horses that they brought from home, which Elora recognises as the horses that they grew up with.
With everyone present, Nalistri thanks them for joining him on this journey, which he shares that it will take 9 days to travel to the Spire of Winter. He assures that there are plenty of rations packed for the journey, though the terrains can get rough. He also adds that he had some business to attend to on around their third day into the journey at a local village.
Nalistri is skinny and frail for an elf, with no visible athleticism on him. His long black hair is pushed back, showing his big widow's peak. He have angular facial features with deep green eyes. A book and some scrolls are attached on his belt. Both Cam and Trellimar know that he is an arcane spellcaster. He reacts to everyone with the same formal emotion, except for Elora where he shows slight negative emotions towards her, especially if she is with her parents.
Trellimar takes this opportunity to read Nalistri's mind by wearing his Shroud of Eyes. This catches everyone's attention, including Nalistri. Trellimar reads Nalistri's surface thoughts, which says that he finds the mask powerful and wonders where Trellimar got it. Nalistri also says in his mind that Elora have powerful friends. However, upon knowing that Trellimar attempted to delve deeper into his mind, Nalistri blocks it off and angrily warns him via his thoughts to not to read his mind. Reinforcing the warning, Nalistri glares at Trellimar can conjures some frost on his fingers. Adding on, Nalistri assures Trellimar that he is not an enemy but still warns him to stay out. Trellimar just glares back.
Korak the Champion is saying goodbyes to Alfadon. Before he could walks up to Jiǔtóu, Elora informs Korak of the dragon corpse being kept at a stable. Alfadon is excited that her daughter killed a dragon, although he wonders if Korak will be offended. Korak says that he is not since the dragon is of Chromatic kind. Korak tells Elora that he will try to keep the dragon out of public's view and preserve it, and possibly get some mages to make use of it.
Cam walks up to Nalistri and asks him of the need to stop at a village on the third day. Nalistri tells him that he needs to attend to a business, which will not take long. On getting permission from Alfadon, Nalistri tells Cam that Alfadon is aware but is smart enough to not pry further on personal matters. Cam replies that he will stay frosty. Nalistri cracks up a little smile.
Nalistri snaps his fingers. An icy horse forms out of the air. It is Nalistri's horse. Cam, who is now on his horse, looks at Trellimar who is beside him. Trellimar does the same. Both are silently acknowledging that fact on how cold Nalistri's crotch would be by sitting on ice.
Korak walks up to Jiǔtóu and asks her of a task. He requests her to keep all of the elven royals safe as they are friends and important allies of the Dawn Republic. He made this request knowing well that Jiǔtóu is warrior-like. He worries that should anything bad happen to them, untold consequences may fall upon the Republic. Jiǔtóu assures Korak that she will try her best to keep them safe but only if he look after himself. Korak says that he wish he could come with them as he miss adventuring with Alfadon but has to stay behind to handle the attacks from the Broken Sky.
Jiǔtóu warns Korak though, that she could not trust his Council of Guilds members. Korak looks at her strangely and says that his new council members have went through thorough investigations and are deemed loyal to the Republic. Korak believes that his people have apprehended suspected traitors, but asks Jiǔtóu if she suspects anyone else. Jiǔtóu says that she suspects a couple of them, but withhold on revealing their names. She tells Korak to not be complacent. Korak acknowledges that. The two then give each other a warrior-style farewells.
Meanwhile, Trellimar is still focusing on reading Nalistri's surface thoughts. He is now getting spell recitals from him but notices that Nalistri seems to be able to focus sub-consciously on other things yet keeping his mind scrambled to prevent Trellimar from probing further. Trellimar informs his companions via his mind that he will try to probe Nalistri's thoughts and saying how powerful his mental defences are. Cam loudly calls out "Got it!"
The First DayEdit
By now, the convoy have begun their journey. Leading the convoy is Nalistri, followed by his two guards. Behind them is dignitaries of the Spires of Eternal Autumn and the Moon, including Elora. Trailing behind is Cam, Jiǔtóu and Trellimar.
Elora asks her parents on why they did not bring any guards. Alfadon tells her that he had to leave his forces to defend their Moon Spire from attacks from within the Feywild which has been growing more dangerous lately. He assures her that the attacks are from natural beasts. He also adds that she and her companions are strong enough to look after one's self, so he thinks that more guards will not be needed. He even adds that he too can take care of himself, claiming that him getting beaten by Korak, referring him as a "scaly bastard", the day before was just an exception. Aletha lets out a sigh, but assures Elora that they can take care of themselves.
Elora mentions of her not trusting Nalistri well enough, leading to her mother telling her that perhaps more time is needed to allow him to be more open. She also adds that his father, Selandris, is friends of Alfadon, so any ill-actions from Nalistri is highly unlikely. Nalistri turns around to give a slight glare at Elora. She sees this and waves back smiling, leading him to glare even more and looks away.
During this conversation, Jiǔtóu heard Alfadon calling Korak a bastard. She informs Cam about it and wish to tell Alfadon off as she finds it improper, yet does not wish to do so as he is of royalty. Elora heard this and tells Jiǔtóu that "bastard" in this context is more of a nickname for Alfadon's good friend. As such, Jiǔtóu wonders if it is alright to call each other bastards since they are all friends. Elora says that she may call Cam that, with Trellimar agreeing with her. He even tells Cam, "Don't I, bastard?" Cam reluctantly agrees. Alfadon finds all this amusing. Aletha heard her daughter saying a foul word but pretends to not be bothered by it.
"Elora, you are a bastard" as Jiǔtóu says to her.
Alfadon just laughs, saying that he likes the demon child for her humour. He then looks at Jiǔtóu to tell her that he now knows why "the scaly bastard" likes her. Jiǔtóu ends off by calling everyone bastards. At that, Elora notices Nalistri making a stifled chuckle.
Cam trots up to Nalistri's guards. Age wise, the two look like an equivalent to humans in their mid-twenties. Both are athletic. The female guard has blonde hair tied to a braid. The male guard has his hair cut short. He also have a scar on his neck. The two are wearing ice-looking metal armour and wield a sword and shield each.
Cam says "sup" to the guards. The male guard and replies to say the sky. Cam then says what's up", leading the male guard to repeat his answer. Cam ignores them and trots forward to Nalistri. He hears the two guards laughing at him.
Cam begins a conversation with Nalistri. Nalistri informs him that the journey will take 4 to 5 days to Grasping Peaks mountain ranges, a few more days to travel through the mountains, then up to 2 days to reach the Winter Spire. On asking if Nalistri will be cold and harsh throughout the journey, Nalistri tells Cam that he is just trying to get his job done. Cam asks Nalistri to look at him, claiming that he gets the job done. Nalistri looks him up and wonders if he is a travelling minstrel for Elora. Cam says that he likes Nalistri's wit.
Cam asks Nalistri if his icy horse will feel pain if he chips ice off. Nalistri tells him that it will not feel pain as it is a magical construct. Cam made that request as he wants to keep his water cool. Nalistri lets out a sigh and asks Cam to pass him he waterskin. Cam does so. Nalistri then casts some magic on it and hands it back to Cam. The waterskin now feels cooler. As Cam takes the waterskin, he leans in closer and warns Nalistri that if he tries to harm Elora, Cam will murder him. Nalistri replies back to say that had he wanted to, many of Elora's family members and friends will definitely harm him, so he had no ill-intention towards her in the first place. Nalistri then trots forward.
Cam travels back to the bodyguards, saying "sup" to them once again. Likewise, the male guard simply replies "the sky", then asks Cam if it is a human thing. Cam explains that it is one of the ways humans say hello. The female guard tells him that it would be a lot easier if Cam just say hello. Cam says that it would be boring.
Knowing that he is Cam, the guards tell him that, from their conversation with the city guards, Commander Durmont calls Cam "Little C" while pointing at Cam's crotch. Cam just goes back to his companions as the guards say bye to "Little C" while laughing and sharing a drink amongst themselves.
Cam takes a drink from his cooled waterskin. It is still water, refreshingly cold, but he also tastes a lemony flavour to it. Cam reckons that Nalistri might have also casts a lemon spell on it.
Trellimar tries to read Nalistri's deeper thoughts again with his mask. It is unsuccessful. Nalistri warns him again to not read his thoughts. He then grumbles in his mind, leading to Trellimar telling him through his mind that he is so grumpy, possibly due to his testicles being cold from sitting on the icy horse. Trellimar then continues to read his surface thoughts, still full of random spell recital as Nalistri tries to annoy him.
Elora continues asking her parents of the events back at home. The Winter Spire is the only one that the Moon Spire had contact from. For the Summer Spire, it is rumoured that it is still trying to transition from the Feywild back to Arrak. The spire's transitioning between planes had attracted creatures from the Feywild, especially the hostile archfey. Elora was told during her childhood that the spires would form a defence to hold them back as archfeys, having countless armies of fey creatures such as faeries, centaurs and satyrs, want to mess with the Surface. King Alfadon and the Moon Spire is leading the coordinated defence against more frequent attacks from the archfeys. Yet, Alfadon tells Elora to not worry about it, claiming that the situation is under control. He rather wants her to focus more on getting to the Winter Spire to learn more of their situation.
On the other hand, Queen Aletha is asking her daughter on her druidic studies. Though Aletha learns more creatures that she can shape-shifts too than Elora, both of them are on par with each other on spells learnt. This means that if wants to learn higher level spells, she could no longer learn from her mother and has to research on her own.
Giants and GithyankiEdit
It is now late afternoon as the convoy have been travelling along trade roads for six hours now. They have past Shard Lake with the ruins of Firstlight visible on the other end. Along the way, they have past grass plains and hills, with occasional small forested areas.
As they travel further north, the scene becomes more wary. Signs of heavy footfall traffic are seen on the main paths as if there was a huge crowd that walked by. Merchants with broken wagons parked by the side of the road trying to repair them. Some tell the convoy, upon querying, that bandits of the Burning King attacked them and that they are seeking refuge at Talis'Val.
At around six in the morning, as the sun begins to set, the convoy see a windmill up on a hill, with silos connecting to it. Two hulking figures, standing between 13 to 14 feet tall, are seen pulling the windmill apart. Human screams can be heard from the windmill.
Cam points out to the scene unfolding. Alfadon wonders what sort of creatures are they, which Payla replies to say that those are hill giants, which she have not seen in this part of the Surface before. Cam does not think that they are patching up the windmill. Payla agrees with him.
Alfadon says that they should help the people trapped inside the windmill. Nalistri says that he prefers them moving on given the long journey they have but will assists if King Alfadon wish to help. Elora says that they should help. With that, Nalistri allows Alfadon to take the lead. Alfadon gladly does so, with Cam following closely behind, mainly because he is bored from the travel and finally gets to partake in some action. Commander Payla rushes forward next, with Queen Shalana tailing closely behind her. Nalistri, his guards and the rest of the adventurers all go next. Aletha follows them right behind, telling Elora that she could help better as a support as she is a bit tired from travelling and her Wild Shapes has become rusty.
Within a few seconds, the convoy reached to the base of the hill. With a closer look, one of the giant is holding the trunk of a tree and the other giant has a tree laying on the ground beside him. Both of them are reaching for grains inside the windmill via the hole they have created. Screams from a female can be heard from the inside.
Alfadon leaps off his horse, causing him to stumble a bit. He draws out his sword and demands the giants of what they are doing. One of the giants tells him to go away, claiming that they are here just to get food. Alfadon continues to demand them to stop pillaging the windmill but the giants ignore him, insisting that they just want food. However, Trellimar, with his mask still on, does not buy their claims as he sees the symbol of the Burning King branded on their arms.
One of the giants suddenly swings his tree trunk at Alfadon. Elora jumps off the horse to try to save her father but it is too late. Alfadon brings his hand down to form a shield from his bracer but the impact of the trunk is so great that the shield shatters. He is flung into the air and lands prone on the ground.
First Round of Battle
Cam jumps off his horse and casts Invoke Duplicity. Cam blows a kiss to his duplicate. Distracting the giants with his duplicate, Cam attempts to slide underneath the giant to get inside the windmill. The giant moves his feet, knocking Cam into the wall but he is now inside. Lying prone, Cam sees barrels forced open and sacks of flour spewing everywhere. Tracing the ladder up to the next floor, he also sees a group of humanly figures quivering in fear.
Elora casts Moonbeam on a giant in attempt to prevent him from hurting her father further. The giant shades his eyes with his arm while complaining of the bright light despite not being night yet. Elora then shape-shifts into a polar bear and stands defensive while protecting her father. Trellimar casts Hex on the same giant to affect his dexterity. Eldritch chains form and wrap around its legs, seeping its necrotic energy into the giant. Trellimar then fires Eldritch Blasts at the two giants. The blasts did not do much damage, however, as their blobby skin absorbs some of the damage.
Jiǔtóu leaps off her horse and attacks the giant not bounded by the Moonbeam by focusing on injuring his ankles. She slides him with her guandao, giving a nasty cut. She then gives punch but the skin absorbs the attack.
Ted tells Jim that a demon is fighting him. Jim replies that he should smash her. The Moonbeam injures Ted, causing him to stumble outside it. Crying out that he does not like both the polar bear and the silver-faced man, he plucks out a stone from the windmill and throws it at Trellimar. The stone hits Trellimar hard, knocking him prone. Ted thinks that Trellimar is dead, so he says that he will now eat the polar bear. On the other hand, Jim fails to hit Jiǔtóu with a tree trunk as she nimbly dodges the attack.
Nalistri accesses the situation and, seeing Elora casting Moonbeam on Ted, he conjures a cloud of icy knifes around Ted's head. The knives scar his face. Nalistri's guards stand by his side to protect him. Shalana goes up to Alfadon and conjures a shield to protect him, herself and Aletha, who is tending to his injuries. Payla strikes at Ted with her sword.
A shimmering portal, looking like a night sky, appears out of nowhere next to Trellimar. Three alien-looking creatures step out from it. The leader of the githyanki, a githyanki knight, looks around and, speaking in everyone's mind, asking who has the artefact that he seeks. He adds that they will not surrender until the artefact is given to them.
Second Round of Battle
Cam gets up and climbs up the ladder to the next floor. On there, he sees a bedroom, with a mother cowering behind a makeshift barrier of furniture with her son and daughter. Cam tells her that he is here to save them, making her glad that someone is here to aid them. Cam closes his eyes for a second to move order his duplicate to casts Spiritual Weapon. A huge spectral sword is formed and the duplicate is pretending to wield it.
With that done, Cam focuses back on the family, telling them that they should at least climb back down just in case the windmill tips over and harms them. However, upon knowing from the mother that the giants could reach inside from below, Cam changes his plan and says that they should just hang out here on the top floor. This worries the mother as she thinks Cam does not know what he is doing.
The polar bear attacks Ted first before moving the Moonbeam over him. Ted's legs are now scarred and bloody.
Trellimar immediately takes off his mask and hides it quickly. He then says to the githyanki that he shall help them find the mask if they assists to defeat the giants. The knight replies to say that he did not mention that the artefact was a mask. He then orders his warriors to kill Trellimar as they now know he has the artefact. In panic, Trellimar fires Eldritch Blasts at them. One of the blasts hit the knight, while the other bounces off the strange metal armour.
Jiǔtóu casts Water Whip in an attempt to trip the giant she is attacking. It encircles around Jim's legs, causing him to fall down onto the ground. She then attacks him with a flurry of guandao attacks and kicks, injuring him badly. Jim cries out to Ted, saying that they should run away, otherwise the Burning King will kill them. Ted asks what about the food, which Jim says to forget about it.
Ted clears his face off the icy knives. He gives one final look up at the Moonbeam as a pulse comes down from above, obliterating him. Jim looks on in horror as he sees his buddy disintegrating away. He cries as he picks himself up and attempts to run away. He could not run far though, given how badly injured he is.
Alfadon is back up on his feet, looking embarrassed as he dusts himself off. Nalistri moves his could of knives at the githyanki. Payla gets ready to attack though she is unsure of what is going on.
The githyanki knight stretches his hand out to Trellimar. Using magic, he lifts him up to 30 feet above the ground. Once again, he demands Trellimar to hand over the mask, claiming that they have greater use for it. The two githyanki warriors attack Payla and the polar bear each. Payla receives a cut on her face from a crystalline great sword. The polar bear receives two cuts from two similar swords, as well as an agonising pain in her head as a result of the attack.
Third Round of Battle
From the top floor of the windmill, Cam can see, at eye level, Trellimar floating in the air. The two wave at each other. The mother also waves but is in horror to see him floating in the air. Cam warns her to cover her kids' eyes, which she does, while casting Healing Word on him. Fearing that Trellimar may be smashed onto the ground, he runs and leaps off the windmill to try to grab Trellimar. Trellimar sees this and shouts at Cam to not do it. Cam still leaps off and successfully grabs onto him. With the combined weight, the two start to slowly descend to the ground. The githyanki knight struggles to keep them in the air.
With Ted dead, the polar bear moves the Moonbeam to the githyanki knight. She then attacks back the githyanki warrior that attacked her.
Cam and Trellimar descended down about 10 feet. Even with Cam hugging him tightly, Trellimar tries to fire Eldritch Blasts at the githyanki attacking the polar bear. The first hits the grass beside it. The second impacts the githyanki.
Jiǔtóu chases after Jim and attacks him with her guandao and a Flurry of Blows. Jim just cries out to Jiǔtóu, begging her to let him go as he is feeling devastated that his buddy is dead.
Seeing his daughter being attacked by a githyanki, Alfadon shouts at him to stop harming her. He proceeds to casts a bolt of lightning at him. It goes through him, creating a hole in his chest. The githyanki warrior collapses onto the ground. Nalistri uses his icy knives to injure the githyanki knight further. It takes in further damage from the Moonbeam. In both instances, the knight still manages to concentrate his spell on Trellimar. Payla attacks the warrior that attacked her.
The githyanki knight had enough, so he steps out of the Moonbeam and raises Cam and Trellimar another 30 feet up in the air. He then cancels the spell. Both Cam and Trellimar are now free falling to the ground. Fortunately, a hard impact is avoided as Aletha catches them just in time with her casting Feather Falling on them. The two descend slowly to the ground. Enraged, the knight draws out his great sword. Meanwhile, the only remaining githyanki warrior gets another hit at Payla.
Fourth Round of Battle
Cam orders his duplicate, who is wielding the spectral weapon, to charge at the githyanki warrior. He blocks the attack just in time. Cam then whips out his dagger Nimbus at attack the same person. It stabs into its shoulder, then reforms back on Cam's hand. The polar bear moves the Moonbeam back on the githyanki knight. She then attacks the warrior, dealing more damage on him. Trellimar fires Eldritch Blasts at the two githyanki, injuring them further.
Jiǔtóu strikes on Jim's ankle with her guandao. This causes him to falls down to the ground. She then leaps up into the air. With her guandao positioned to jam into the giant, Jiǔtóu aims for his neck and stabs right in, going as far up the head. Jim twitches for a moment, then remains still. Jiǔtóu removes her guandao and spins it once to flick off the blood on it.
With the githyanki warrior distracted by the polar bear's attack, Payla takes this chance to ram her curved sword up its neck, then pulls it back. The warrior collapses onto the ground. She then whirls herself around and gets into a defensive position.
Nalistri conjures Ray of Frost and aims it at the last githyanki remaining. Alfadon also attacks him with three blue bolts of energy from his hand. The Moonbeam injures him further. Outnumbered and extremely injured, the githyanki knight tells Trellimar that he shall return another day to get the Shroud of Eyes. With that, he moves his hands in an elaborate fashion and the Astral Plane envelopes him back to his realm.
End of Battle
The adventurers pillage the dead giants and githyanki, taking an alien-looking half-plate armour and two crystalline great swords.
Nalistri walks over to Trellimar to ask him of where he got the Shroud of Eyes. He later warns him that he should be careful with it, given its astral origins and how powerful the astral beings are. Trellimar questions him on how he knows so much about the Astral Plane, to which Nalistri informs him that he is a wizard and has studied the arcane arts. His knowledge on it extends to the planes and other phenomenon that involves magic.
Cam walks over to the noble elves, seeing Aletha tending to Alfadon's wound, although Alfadon downplays his injuries. Cam lets them know of the family inside the windmill. The noble elves give their thanks to him. He then walks inside the windmill to bring the family out, saying that the giants are gone. He also tells the mother to shield the eyes of her children due to the mess caused by the battle. Her son thanks Cam for assisting them. Cam pats his head and says how nice their windmill is. The boy says that it belongs to his dad, who left for a nearby village Redcrop just before the giants arrived. The mother adds on to that by saying that her husband went to fetch supplies.
The mother asks her children to stay inside the windmill while she go thanks Cam's companions for their help. She walks outside with Cam and is horrified at the sight of two dead giants. Cam suggests burning all of the corpses, leading Jiǔtóu to conjure a small tuft of flame from her hands. This got the attention of the mother as she stares at her, having rarely seen a tiefling before. Jiǔtóu tries to give a smile in return, making the mother to look away. She keeps getting pleasantly shocked though as she sees a polar bear then a drow. The polar bear stands on her hind legs and gives a wave with her paws. The mother waves back, still trying to compose herself. On the other hand, the children loves the polar bear.
Alfadon moves up to the mother and asks if she is alright. She says she is. He questions her on why she does not have any defences, particularly from a nearby town. The mother explains that the nearest settlement is quite a distance away. She adds that they live in a cottage on their own near the windmill. Alfadon finds it terrible at the lack of defences and then babbles on how they should appoint soldiers here and there.
The polar bear shape-shifts back into Elora and goes up to her father, telling him to calm down. He eventually keeps quiet. Elora tells her father that the attackers are not roaming bandits but belongs to the Burning King, a recent terrorising group that the adventurers recent come across. Alfadon apologises to the mother, yet telling her to invest in some crossbows. Aletha drags her husband away, saying that she wants Shalana to examine her wounds. He still downplays his injuries. Aletha also nurses Payla's wounds.
Nalistri wonders where did Trellimar learnt his magic from, saying that he has never studied them before. He also wonders if Trellimar is a sorcerer. Trellimar says that he picked them up from his travels. Nalistri tells him though that he should invests in a way to prevent himself from falling from the sky. Cam jumps in to say that this is where he comes in to break his fall.
Cam asks Nalistri of the name of the village he wanted to make a stop at. He tells him that it is Melody, though saying that he plans for them not to stop there as he just wants to visit it. Cam finds it a shame that it is not the same place as Redcrop, but asks if they could transport the family to Redcrop to find their father, believing it is safer there. Nalistri sighs but agrees, since Redcrop is along the way.
The convoy resumes their journey to the Winter Spire, now with the family tagging along. The mother rides with Cam, while her son rides with Trellimar and her daughter rides with Elora. The boy is amazed at Trellimar's inverness cape and Granamyr. Likewise, the girl is mesmerised by Elora's pretty hair as she druidcrafts some flowers to place it on the girl's hair. At the same time, the children are in awe, and a bit frightened, of Jiǔtóu.
Destruction of RedcropEdit
It takes the convoy a few hours to reach Redcrop. However, it is not a pretty sight. From a distance, thin wisps of smoke are seen rising from it. Upon entering the village, motionless bodies are strewn everywhere, some covered with blankets and fabrics. Humans, half-elves, halflings. Also hobgoblins. Even a hill giant impaled by many spears. Most buildings are heavily damaged.
The convoy makes a sombre trot through the village. The girl quietly sobs at the sight with Elora comforting her. The mother is horrified at what she sees.
At the town square up ahead, a group of villagers, mostly elderly with a few late-teen folks and two adults, are surrounding a pile of wood and kindle, with two bandits on it. One is unconscious, the other is beginning to regain his senses. The male adult is holding an unlit torch.
The two adults converse with one another on their next move. The convoy can hear their conversation as they plan to burn the two surviving bandits alive as soon as they are conscious.
Cam quickly tells Jiǔtóu to stop whatever the villagers plan to do, since she does not have another person on her horse. Jiǔtóu is hesitant, saying that since the Burning King's leader, Viticus, is a tiefling, she feared that the villagers will be hostile to her too. Shalana tells Elora that, despite what the bandits have done, burning the bandits alive is barbaric. Cam asks around if anyone can interrupts their plan.
Nalistri hears Cam and rides forward to the villagers. The villager are taken aback as they see an ice horse approaching them. Nalistri hops off and snaps his fingers. Ice forms around the unlit torch. He then tells them to not do what they planned to do. The villagers start to berate him, claiming that he does not know what they had gone through of the Burning King killing and taking their loved ones, as well as destroying the village. Nalistri remains calm. At one point, he grabs the arm of a woman that is about to strike him.
Elora jumps off her horse and hands the girl to Shalana. She then walks to Nalistri and tries to calm the crowd down. The villagers heckle at her too, this time blaming them for not coming earlier to defend the village. It is only when Elora informs them of the family they saved that they quietened down. They recognise the family as Barrick's, a father that was captured by the Burning King.
Nalistri apologies that they could not arrive earlier to help but tells them that they cannot burn the two bandits alive. By doing so, Nalistri says that they will be no different than the Burning King. He rather have the villagers imprison them and be punished by the Marshal Society in Talis'Val. Elora adds that the bandits may have information that could help bring down the Burning King.
The female adult agrees with their words, saying that the city can deal with the bandits and perhaps send more men to protect their village and perhaps rescue the people that were captured during the raid. Elora asks her further on this. The lady informs her that the raiding party, of up to 30 people, had half of them focusing on capturing able-bodied men and women and load them onto wagons pulled by massive dogs that breathe out fire, while the other half, including the hill giant, goes round and destroying properties and buildings and at the same time stealing valuable items including food and gold. Any village fighting back were mostly killed. The villagers manage to turn the tide around but have lost so many of them in the process.
Elora asks the lady where the captured people are taken too. Nalistri looks nervous as the lady informs her that she does not know. She says that she have heard of Burning King but is surprised that they would now target larger settlements like Redcrop, even though it is still a village. She adds that despite having a militia to defend the village, the raiding party just tears the village apart. Elora asks her if the place is Melody, where the captured people are taken to. The lady is not sure but Nalistri quietly tells Elora that they should talk about this later, knowing that it is Melody.
One of the captured bandit regains conscious and struggles on his bind. He demands the villagers to let him go or the Burning King will seek revenge. Nalistri clicks his fingers and a muzzle of ice forms around the bandit's mouth. He tells the bandit to keep his mouth shut and will deal with him later. He tells Elora that she and her companions are better at handling such situation and that he needs to head back to the horses as he needs to think of some stuff. Elora says that they will have to discuss about this later. Nalistri agrees.
Elora asks the villagers of a place where they can take in the family. The lady tells her that they can as they have hidden their children and elderly in the wine cellar of the tavern, the only place left untouched. She adds that they will use the place as a staging ground to repair the village. The adult man informs Elora that Barrick, the family's man, was one of the people taken away. He will help the family, since Barrick has been friends with them for a long time.
The villagers bring the family to the wine cellar. Jiǔtóu, Payla and Shalana go around the village to put out any remaining hints of fire and rescue people out of the rubble.
Cam asks Trellimar to read the mind of the conscious captured bandit, who is putting on a brave front. Cam, however, tells Trellimar to be careful not to bring in any astral beings. Trellimar puts on his Shroud of Eyes.
Trellimar reads the bandit's mind. He is actually terrified of the piles of wood and kindle, with smell of oil, which he is sitting on. He is terrified of being burnt alive. Digging deeper into his mind, Trellimar learns that he is under strict orders from a hobgoblin commander to capture people for a peasant slave labour force the Burning King is building up. The force is to aid the Burning King in ore mining, stockpiling food and weapon building.
These people are taken to Melody, an old ruined village and a place somehow protected from magic that allows them to remain hidden. The place also have a hobgoblin force with more than 20 members patrolling the area. Ogres are assisting in patrolling too. Similar to the information Trellimar got from the berserker, the bandit is terrified of Viticus, knowing on what horrible things he does even to his own men. All Viticus cares about is burning things.
Trellimar shares the information he got from the bandit to his companions, adding that if they are planning to go to Melody, they will need serious reinforcements. Elora says that they will need to have a word with Nalistri to find out the reason for his need to make a stop there. Cam agrees but says that they should not discuss about it in front of the bandits. He also says that no one from the Burning King must know of them planning to visit Melody. As such, Cam says that they do not need to have the captured bandits around. Jiǔtóu, who is with them now, lets out a small flame from her mouth upon hearing what Cam said. The conscious bandit is frightened at what he has seen and heard.
Wanting the bandit to talk, Cam asks Jiǔtóu to melt away the icy gag on his mouth, telling not to worry about burning his face. Jiǔtóu does so, with Nalistri aiding them from a distance by destroying the ice with his magic. Now able to speak, the bandit begs the adventurers to not kill them. This leads to Cam questioning him on how people did he killed in the village. The bandit claims that he does not know, saying that he just swipe at anyone who attacked him as he pillage the village. However, Cam sees through his lie, making the bandit admitting that had he not done so, he will get punished by his kind back at their stronghold.
"Sounds like you're a slaver," as Jiǔtóu calls out.
"They told us too!"
"I was a slave once, and they've killed my mother and father."
The bandit goes quiet and trembling as Jiǔtóu recalls her past, of how the scene of the damaged village is similar to how her village in Bresseras was pillaged and her parents murdered during her child years.
In Jiǔtóu's mind, Crownrend tells her that she should kill the bandit as they are no better than the tyrant they serve. Calling them pawns in a game of chess, Crownrend says that the pawns must be taken out first before killing the kings and queens. He then chants "Burn them!" repeatedly to Jiǔtóu.
Cam holds Jiǔtóu back and asks Elora and Trellimar on what they can do to prevent the bandits from saying anything. Trellimar suggests cutting their tongues out. Cam looks at Nalistri and asks him if he knows any spell that can silence the bandits without torturing them. Nalistri may have a spell or two but it will not be a permanent effect. He adds that such spells are enchantments, an area which he is not experienced in. He is well-learned in the area of conjuration. He voices out his opinion though, to have the bandits secured and taken back to Talis'Val for proper punishment. Cam fears that leaving the bandits in the hands of the villagers will allow them to act out their own judgement. Nalistri begs to differ, accessing that the villagers now know that they can be better than the Burning King.
Crownrend continues to ask Jiǔtóu to burn the bandits alive, saying that Cam only wants the easy way out and that Crownrend himself understands her suffering, but Cam does not. She is agreeing with him in the aspects of having the scene of destruction similar to her childhood memories.
Jiǔtóu leans in to the bandit and, with a sinister tone, asking the bandit to say something. The bandit begs her to not burn him, leading her to demand him for a reason for her to not do it. He just says that he would rather spend time in jail than to be burnt alive. He adds that he has seen what Viticus has done to the people are terrible. Jiǔtóu asks him how many more people will he kill and later on how children had become orphans. Terrified and in tears, the bandit cries out that no one else will die and that he does not know as an answer to her second question.
"Are you sorry? For all the children?"
The bandit says he is sorry and will allow himself to be locked up in prison.
All this time, Cam is on edge of Jiǔtóu's action, preparing to pull her back should she does anything of concern. The male adult steps forward and offers to bring the bandits to Talis'Val as he have a wagon and can find a horse somewhere. Jiǔtóu asks the man if he is certain of what he wants. The man says that he do wish to see the bandits burnt alive but figures that he will be no better than them if he do so. Looking around at the ruined buildings, he says that he is better than them, looking down at the bandit as he says that.
The man goes off to get chains to secure the bandits. Elora suggests him to have another person to accompany the bandits. An older-looking man offers to tag along. Elora also tells the man to bring the bandits to Korak the Champion, allowing him to use her name so that the city can hand down proper punishment and dig out more information on the situation that the city is aware of.
Jiǔtóu reins back on her actions at the bandit, aware of the discussion between the man and her companions. She then shows the bracer on her arm to the bandit, telling him, "You may have escaped a fiery fate today but I leave you a mark to remember me by. And if you kill again, I will find you!"
The gemstone on the bracer flickers with energy. With it, Jiǔtóu burns a mark on the bandit with Crownrend hot and scarring him. He screams in agony as an "X" is drawn on his face. Cam initially wants to hold Jiǔtóu back but lets her scar the bandit, not wanting to incur the wrath of Crownrend. Elora's parents are alarmed at Jiǔtóu's action. Both Shalana and Payla look on worryingly.
Cam later pulls Jiǔtóu back after the cross is finished. He mutters under him breath to say to her that, although it may be her past, it is not her present. He adds that she should learn from it just like he has learnt from his mistakes. Jiǔtóu replies to say that she has learnt, otherwise, the bandit would have been allowed to be burnt alive. Cam, speaking in a normal tone, says that it is good that she is taking baby steps to learn from it.
The man returns with a heavy locks and chains. They untie the two bandits from their post, looking at Jiǔtóu in terror. They are chained up and they get on the wagon, showing no signs of fighting back. The old man brings in a mule to pull the cart. The two men get on the wagon and begin their journey to Talis'Val.
The convoy rests for the night at Redcrop, also prepared to protect the village should anything happen.
Nalistri offers to conjure food and water for the convoy, as well as for the villagers as much as he could provide. A container of gruel and waterskins filled with water appears magically. Cam is amazed at this, which Nalistri explains that he did not choose to make the gruel, rather, it is the magic that chooses it. Cam goes to taste it but finds it bland, so he asks if Nalistri could add some flavour just like what he did to his water earlier in the day. Nalistri sighs but does so anyway, making it mildly spiced. The people then graciously accepts the simple meal.
The convoy has set up tents and bedrolls for the night. Jiǔtóu leaves the village and rest by a nearby tree, thinking of the events that happened during the day, but not before letting her companions know where she is. Elora's parents are letting her handle the situation with the villagers, not wanting to interrupt her focus and with Alfadon's ego knocked by the battle earlier. Shalana and Payla remain wary of Jiǔtóu, though not keeping a distance from her.
Cam suggests that only Elora should be around with Nalistri, so he and Trellimar leave the two alone. Yet, Cam and Trellimar sneakily hide in a position to listen it. Trellimar is well hidden but Cam is visible as he is poorly hiding behind a wall. Nalistri spots part of Cam's bandanna and his boot poking out of the wall, leading him to comment to Elora that he is not the cleverer folk he has encountered.
Nalistri places his owl on a stand by his bedroll as he sits down, then lets Elora to ask him about Melody. Before that, he comments that he finds it humiliating that, of all people, he has to tell Elora. When she asks him why, he says that she is the precious daughter of the Moon Spire who is great at everything and has failed nothing. On the other hand, Nalistri hired a group of militiamen from a town in the Troubled Lands, paying them with gold for their family. He thought that the journey from the Winter Spire to Talis'Val would be easy and that having the guards by him would make a good impression on King Alfadon and Queen Shalana. However, he was ambushed by some members of the Burning King, capturing 10 of his men. Serina and Fauren are the only two guards he had left.
Nalistri is hoping that his two guards and himself would try to rescue the 10 men from Melody without letting the elven dignitaries know, reasoning that the last thing he wants is to be another embarrassment to his father. To this, Elora says that it is not an embarrassment to come across such attacks, as she shared that her companion, Trellimar, fell off a griffin and passed out while fighting against the Burning King in Burkley.
Nalistri, however, emphasise that she does not have Lord Selandris as a father, which he describes as a very demanding elven lord that has ever existed. He shares that with him being defeated by the Burning King, a group that Selandris considers as inferior, will bring embarrassment to the family. He adds that he should be able to fend them off, like his elder brother. Nalistri knows that the Burning King are ambitious, well trained and well supplied, but he is just one wizard with half-decent guards. However, he says that his father would not see it that way.
Elora asks why they would need to tell his father of his so-called embarrassment. This throws Nalistri off as he never thought that Elora would not tell Selandris of the incident. Elora says that it is not her place to say such things. This made Nalistri confused, saying that the convoy might have found out if they stopped by Melody to rescue his men. Elora tells him that they could go to Melody for other reasons like rescuing the captured civilians.
Not understanding her response, Nalistri asks her why she is being nice to him. Elora asks back on why he could not understand that people can be nice. Nalistri explains that he was not being nice to her, adding that she has a loving family while he does not, which makes him angry about it for a long time. Elora calmly says that being unfriendly would not fix anything.
Nalistri is now speechless as he fidgets about by playing with his spell book. His owl hops towards his hand and nuzzles it. Elora compliments him on his competence in the battle at the windmill, leading her to believe he is not a failure. She also believes that his father may not be good at telling him on how talented he is. Nalistri laughs, saying that what she said was an understatement. He adds that he would be lucky if he says to him just two words.
Nalistri informs her that ever since the death of his elder brother, his father attitude has become worse. He says that Alfadon might be aware of it. He tells her that the reason for Lord Selandris' delayed response for their spire's return is that Nalistri's brother died during the spire's transition to the Surface. This made things difficult for Selandris.
Nalistri gets up and starts pace around the room, saying that he does not understand why Elora is being nice to him when she should be horrible, selfish and spoiled. This makes him feeling guilty and horrible for her kind treatment towards him. Elora explains that the elven spires should be helping one another, and that rivalry and jealousy would bring nothing good for them. Nalistri says that this is probably another reason why he is a failure to his father. He gets emotional, a trait that Selandris does not like. He explains that her friend, Cam, makes jokes of him being cold, but when compared to his family, he is like a blazing sun. Saying that the people from his spire are emotionless, they believe emotions is like a disease. This forces him to hold his emotions in.
Nalistri now has a lot to think about. He also apologises to Elora for not telling the convoy of his reason for going to Melody. Elora suggests him to speak to her father about it. Nalistri tells Elora for her to inform her father of the basics first as he needs time to process his thoughts before letting him know of the details in the morning. He adds that he is not good with people, that he is better in books, in learning and in spells.
On rescuing the captured guards, Nalistri supposed that it would be easier if Elora and her companions aid him rather than trying to rescue them alone. However, he does not want any of the elven dignitaries to get involved, thinking that it will be far too risky. He says that he would appreciate the help from the adventurers and thanks her.
He now asks Elora to go as he needs room to think. Elora says that she will give him the space but not before letting him know that her companions will treat him better only if he opens up to them from the start. Not doing, she adds, will cause Cam to do things like sneaking in conversation as she points to where Cam is loosely hiding. Cam is surprised to hear this and tries to back into the walls to hide better. Nalistri then requests Elora to tell Trellimar to not probe into his mind. Elora tells him that it is a new item he obtained recently so he is trying it out, but will still tell him. On the mask, Nalistri asks Elora to tell Trellimar that he should be careful using it as it is a powerful item not of this realm.
Ending off the conversation, Nalistri tells Elora that his father is in a sad state now. He adds that Selandris is looking forward to see Alfadon as his support would be helpful to Selandris. He reckons that the sight of Alfadon may help Selandris regains back some of the emotions.
Elora leaves Nalistri to give him space. Cam and Trellimar do the same, though Cam makes sound of rocks kicking and twigs breaking as he leaves. The three meet up. Cam asks Elora on what she know. Elora calls him out that he has heard everything. Cam eventually admits to it.
Elora believes Nalistri is not good with people. Cam thinks that he is strange and they should be cautious of him. Elora says that she trusts him now after knowing his motives for going to Melody, thinking that he is just embarrassed of the incident linked to it. On infiltrating Melody, Cam says that they should be extra cautious. Elora agrees since it is a stronghold for the Burning King.
Still, Cam has yet to trust Nalistri and worries that Elora is too trustworthy on people. Pointing out that he rides on an ice horse, Elora finds it cool. Cam tells her not to get distracted by it, believing that that could be underlining problems in regards to him riding the horse. Elora just gets distracted on how to make an ice horse, ignoring Cam.
On Elora mentioning of Trellimar attempting to prod Nalistri's mind, Trellimar says that he would not have done it if he is not suspicious. He also adds that since he has the ability to do so, why he would not make use of it. Still, he takes off his mask and apologises to his companions on his flippancy of the warnings given by his patron of the mask. He lets them know that he was warned by Dah'Mir of prolonged mask usage.
Trellimar apologises to Elora in particular for not only putting them in danger but also her parents. Elora says that they should not have known what would have happened but is concerned that the astral beings may return, given that they really want the mask. Trellimar tells her that he will use the mask more sparingly, hoping that they would not return that way.
Meanwhile, both Crownrend and Jiǔtóu are having a conversation about her not burning the bandits alive. Crownrend explains why he does not trust royals by pointing out that they have tried to impose their decision on her, robbing her chance of revenge. Jiǔtóu insists that she herself choose not to burn them alive. He retorts back, saying that they guilt her with their morality, but she tells him that she chooses not to listen to what they have said.
Jiǔtóu says that vengeance is technically not of hers, but of the villagers. Crownrend says that the bandits are already weak and it was their decision to join the Burning King that allow the consequence of burning alive to take place. Jiǔtóu simply says that the bandits will find a worse fate in the cells under the watch of Korak the Champion. Crownrend says that he hopes so, adding that it is the horrible conditions like in cells is the one thing that governments, kings and lords can do well in to make people suffer.
Crownrend tells Jiǔtóu that both of them must be strong for each other. Jiǔtóu says that she will be, then telling him that Viticus is responsible all these enslavement. Crownrend agrees but says that his pawn should not be spared too. To end off, Crownrend says that, in this great game, both must be the ones that are winning.
Everyone goes to bed for the night.
The morning arrives. Nalistri goes to inform Alfadon of his reasons for going to Melody. At first, Alfadon seems angry but later calms down. Nalistri looks apologetic, meek and embarrassed. Eventually, the issue is smoothed over. Nalistri then tells Elora about the next steps. They will still proceed to Melody but Alfadon is angry of his suggestion for him to keep away from Melody. Aletha had to calm him down as she believes it is a good idea, given what has happened to him the day before.
On Melody, he shares that there will be a force of hobgoblins present. He also suspects fallshards to be present, which dampens his magic upon close contact. With that, a stealthy approach would be ideal as he propose. Recalling the effects fallshards had, the adventurers know that fallshards do affect magic. Things like Cam's lightborn abilities and Elora's Wild Shapes seems to be unaffected. The effect on Jiǔtóu's Crownrend and Trellimar's Shroud of Eyes are still uncertain.
The convoy's second day journey to the Winter Spire begins rather uneventfully. They are now traversing hilly terrains. It is around midday as they reach a wayside ruin of a watchtower. Aletha, Alfadon, Payla, Shalana and Nalistri's two guards, Fauren and Serina, stay at the ruin while Cam, Elora, Jiǔtóu, Nalistri and Trellimar continue on to Melody by foot. Elora tells Alfadon to not charge in. Alfadon assures her that he would not do such things, saying that he is needed here to look after the elven dignitaries. He remains proud and regal from what he said.
Elora moves in and tells him quietly that, in reminding him of what happened during the battle the day before, he needs to be a bit more careful and be a bit less proud about it. Alfadon now looks a bit less proud as the reality kicks him. He then says fine to his daughter. Elora goes on to say that is why she is here to protect them now. Alfadon tells Elora that she too needs to take care of herself. He adds that Trellimar falls down too much but Cam and Jiǔtóu are warrior-like. He then leans in to Jiǔtóu, quietly telling her to look after them since he finds Cam to be an idiot sometimes. Jiǔtóu is just adding more people to look after that other people asks her to look out for.
Elora asks her mother to ensure that Alfadon does not go anywhere. Aletha assures her that he would not, adding that she will entangles him if she have to. Elora also asks Nalistri's guards to take care of the elven dignitaries. The guards assure her but requests her to take care of Nalistri too, saying that despite him being difficult, he means well.
A few more hours past. Reaching the vicinity of Melody, Nalistri lets them know that the village is largely in ruins with a small wooden palisade wall. Cam suggests sending Granamyr to scout the place from the air. Nalistri will also send his owl, Whisper, too as it has similar abilities like Granamyr.
From the viewpoints of Granamyr and Whisper, both Trellimar and Nalistri describe what they see to the rest. Certain sections of the wall has collapsed, providing more entry and exit points. Many buildings are dilapidated from prolonged misuse. There were once two main buildings, a tavern and a temple, both of them have collapsed. Sticking out from the two buildings is a long, thin, dull-grey fallshards.
On the patrolling forces, there are a least three groups of five hobgoblins and a commander. These groups are patrolling the streets and the outskirts of the town. At the centre square, there are five more hobgoblins guarding 20 civilians chained to a wooden stake. In a stable next to a prison area are two ogres, eating a horse. Another group of five are resting inside a ramshackle house. Everyone seems organised and well-trained.
All patrolling hobgoblins are wearing a half-plate armour and wielding a shield and sword each. All of them are following orders from a hobgoblin standing at the centre of the village, who wears an eye patch and a spear-like shaped metal replacing his lost arm. He carries a buckler on his other arm.
The group now converse on how to infiltrate Melody.
- Halloween: As Episode 30 almost coincides with Halloween, the High Rollers D&D crew are dressed up for the occasion: Mark as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, Kim as Jillian Holtzmann from Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, Katie and Trott as Jessie and James from Pokémon, and Matt as Deadpool.
- Accidental Throwback: When Mark is flipping the Monster Manual to find stats for certain creatures, Kim jokingly tells him that dragons are on page 32. A Redditor on the High Rollers D&D sub-Reddit points out that the monster illustrated on page 32 are blights, which is the very first monster the adventurers fought in Episode 1.
- Water Whip: Kim, in roleplaying as Jiǔtóu, and with Mark referring to an earlier print of the fifth edition Player's Handbook, used Water Whip as a bonus action during the battle by the windmill. The publishers have published an erratum on this, correcting that Water Whip is to be used as an action instead.
- Bromance: On Cam jumping out of the windmill and grabbing Trellimar tightly, who is floating in the air, Kim, Mark and Trott describe the scene as the two embracing each other and descending down while spinning slowly, with glitters enhancing the scene.
- ↑ Sassy Elves (Halloween 2016) - HighRollers D&D: Episode 30 at 0:43:29
- ↑ On Page 32 of Player's Handbook fifth edition, "Page 32" thread, High Rollers D&D Sub-Reddit
- ↑ On Water Whip, "Sassy Elves (Halloween 2016)" thread, High Rollers D&D Sub-Reddit
- ↑ Sassy Elves (Halloween 2016) - HighRollers D&D: Episode 30 at 1:22:05