Tales Dark and Grimm

The Archerfeast Carnival

Archerfeast in Heldren was especially unique this summer – the Circus Maximus was in town! You awoke to unseasonable cool weather that morning but it did nothing to quell the gaiety and laughter cutting through the cold wind and even the sky-shy sun peeked its face from around the gathering grey clouds. Children squealed with delight and gasped in awe of the sights, sounds, and smells of the carnival. The Titan’s Wheel creaked and groaned as a burly lumberjack tested his might with a hefty spin, a family rushed giggling through the town square and children and adults alike lined up for games and food. Despite the revelry though, after some time sightseeing, winning contests, and eating and drinking your fill, you felt that not all was right at the Maximus.

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blindingly_fast_fey.jpg As your suspicions grew, you and a handful of others in town noticed a pinprick of yellow light flaring against the twilight darkness. From the smallest flash of color, it silently increased its radiance until it seemed as if the sun itself has come down from the heavens into the grove. Suddenly, directly in front of the light, an alluring female form appeared. The intensity of the light made it almost impossible to determine any of her features, but it was clear she was stunningly beautiful, and completely naked. The only part of her that is clearly visible was her eyes, which were liquid brown and seem to draw in the light. Her voice chimed with the crystal beauty of a mountain spring on a summer afternoon.

She told you she was the queen of the Border Wood Biggy_Piggy.jpg and of the First World, and that she and her fey had lived there since before man stepped foot in it. She continued on, telling you that this very morning a rider came with the cold wind and with a voice of steel promising the fey revenge for the forest they lost to man. His purpose, she did not know. The fey descended on Heldren to butcher its people, but the townsfolk were ensorcelled by something called The Eye of Rapture, causing them to not see the horrors around them.

To defeat this Black Rider, the fey queen had you and the others drink cold milk from a nearby wooden bowl. The scales dropped from your eyes as the sorcery was overcome. The Titan’s Wheel was a rotten claw spinning ‘round, the ale being served in The Silver Stoat turned the lumberjacks into trees and the pies at the pie eating contest were filled with offal and human remains.

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Chasing off a few of the twisted fey offered you the chance to capture and break the witch ice shard the fey queen told you was rooting the Black Rider the area. He appeared before you in the foggy streets wielding his glaive and Leopold and Fistandantilus were able to negotiate for his weapon and The Eye in return for the daggers the roguish gnome had stolen from him early that morning.

Once The Eye was shattered, the fog lifted and the spell enchanting Heldren dissipated with it.

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An Early Frost

The sleepy village of Heldren has rarely seen so much excitement or concern. Unforgettably, a haunted carnival of fey came to town and now hunters from the nearby Border Wood speak of unnaturally cold weather at the height of summer that descended on the forest just days ago. Heavy snow followed, and those who returned spoke of an uneasy presence in the woods, as if perhaps, some dangerous new predator was loose. No one knew what this event meant, but the carnival fortune teller’s proclamation, rang in Leopold’s head: dark times lie ahead.

As if in proof of that dire prophecy, Isker’s daughter, Xanthippe, ran up to the Stoat and exclaimed a badly wounded mercenary had just stumbled into town, claiming to be a bodyguard of Lady Argentea Malassene.

“He’s telling the village council that the noblewoman’s escort came under attack by bandits and strange creatures near the edge of the Border Wood. He alone escaped, and Lady Argentea was dragged away into the forest. Valentinos and two of the town guard has already left!”

The caravan guard, an Ulfen from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings named Yuln, was taken to Leopold’s apothecary where he warns Elders Teppen and Safander of bandits and strange winter fey who fear fire and cold iron. The townsfolk cast fearful eyes toward the snowy forest, worried what else might emerge to threaten their peaceful village.

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Gask and Leopold head to the massacre site where they find two ornate carriages that had been attack – one having been run off the road and overturned, pierced with arrows. Leopold heard muffled cries from the coach and when Gask opened the door, a royal guardsman that appeared to be frozen dead attacked him! Startled he fell off the carriage at the feet of a long stationary gnome.

After fighting off the guardsmen, the two Heldren villagers head into The Border Wood in search for Lady Argentea. The gnome, Mae, joined them in hopes of finding her missing family. The forest trek led to a lodge high in the hills – the hideout of Rohkar’s Raiders.

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Leopold talked his way into the lodge and supped with the bandits, until they found out he fey.jpg knew about Lady Argentea. They attacked him, but the despite the three-to-one odds, the group handily defeated them. Sneaking through the lodge in search of Rokhar, Mae found the cellar that held Lady Argentea and the Heldren guards. They captured Rohkar and sent him and Lady Argentea back to Heldren with the town guard while they searched the lodge.

Finding a caged fairy, Leopold and Gask tormented it for information. Armed with the knowledge that these winter fey are in the heart of the forest and led by a fairy named Izoze, Leopold burned the captured fairy and the group set off to find the source of the cold weather.

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The Depths of Winter

After crossing the bridge the spanned the gorge near the lodge, the party found some ancient Qadiran soldiers awakened by Leopold’s magic. During the skirmish Fistanditilus appeared after visiting another reality where he spoke with The Magician. Soon after Mae found Dryden Keep’s journal and his dead body (having been ravaged by the giant white weasel he had been tracking).

The journal warned of the bear traps he set for the weasel and of a strange hut. Ten Penny was barely saved from stepping into a trap and was convinced to return to Leopold’s apothecary in Heldren. Shortly thereafter, the group came upon the hut which stood upon logs carved to look like chicken legs. Inside was a creepy doll that Gask beheaded.

As night fell, Izoze ambushed the group as they pushed further toward the heart of the forest. The doll’s body stood motionless in the middle of the snowy trail. Izoze was chased off and Mae stuffed the doll’s body into her pack.

At the center of the woods, stood a magical portal blowing sleet and snow in all directions. As Leopold and Gask ventured into it, Teb Knotten, having been in the shape of a tree, knocked Valentinos to the ground from behind. Mae ran from a cave the monster had been living in (where her father stood, turned to stone). She shouted a warning to the group and engaged the creature, valiantly sacrificing her life.

Through exceptional teamwork, the group took down Teb Knotten but before they caught their breath, the Black Rider appeared through the portal with the ominous greeting, “So we meet again”

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