The Price of Immortality

Close encounters in the Fae world

We'd better look for the Archdruid somewhere else

Jonathan and Lini recognize the flying creatures around their ship as pixies, although normally these creatures of the Fae world are not aggressive. The pixies in question are very aggressive, they have red eyes and sharp teeth. In the distance they faintly hear a girl’s voice call out: “Run!”
Jonathan grabs the Goggles of Starsight from his belt, throws this at Jeremy, and says that it is really time to go. “Use those goggles to navigate, as anything else you see around here will likely be an illusion” He adds, almost as an afterthought, that this behaviour is not at all like pixies he knows about…
Then the fight begins. Preen and Jonathan fire arrows at the pixies, but both miss. Before Lini can do anything, she and Preen are hit by at least one small pixie arrow, and they both drop down to the deck, in an enchanted sleep. Also one of the crew members is hit and is soon fast asleep on the deck of the ship. Jonathan starts shooting his arrows in earnest, he hits a pixie three times, but there is no apparent effect. Then he selects an exploding arrow, and shoots it in a nearby tree, where also two pixies fly near. The huge explosion causes a large fireball and the two pixies are engulfed by flames, which causes some high-pitched screeching.
At that same time, Jonathan also hears a piercing cry coming from far away in the forest. Then he is also shot by a number of pixie arrows, and his world goes black…

An undefined amount of time later, Lini wakes up to a somewhat rhythmic sound of something thudding against something else. She soon discovers that this is the sound the ship makes, softly flying repeatedly into a tree. The others also start to wake up. Jeremy lies on deck and is missing a complete leg! Two other crewmen are also on deck, a sound coming from below indicates that Cook is also still around. The third deckhand is unaccounted for though.
Lini quickly goes over to Jeremy, who is in shock: “They ate us alive!” Lini performs a cure serious wounds spell, to stabilize Jeremy and heal the stump that his now his right leg. During the healing Jeremy faints.
Jonathan and Preen notice that they are no longer in the Fae forest, but back near the lake again. Then Cook comes up from belowdecks and calls out in frustration: “They ate all our food!! There is nothing left!”
Jonathan looks for Nala, his small dragon, and asks her if she can tell him what has happened after they all fell asleep. Nala is still very frightened from what has happened, but after some encouraging she tells Jeremy what she knows. Apparently they started eating Jeremy first, as he was still awake. Then they also ate a crewmember. One of the crewmen just walked off the ship – the one who is unaccounted for. Then suddenly a large tree came to the ship, and picked it up an threw it out of the dome. After Nala finished her report, Jonathan gives her some fruit from his backpack, which was not found by the pixies.

They decide to go around the domed forest, at a safe distance from the shimmering border. It takes them six days to fly around the forest. Lini ensures that everyone has safe food to eat every day. They decide to go to a nearby fort, and see that also around this fort a fair amount of makeshift hovels are built around the fort. Lini and Jonathan see that ten people are led outside the fort by about twice that number of soldiers, and on a unheard command, the throats of the ten ‘prisoners’ are slit. They approach the fort but remain at a respectable distance, but still within earshot. The people in the hovels look emaciated. “Ahoy!” Preen calls, “We come in peace!” The somewhat suspicious answer comes from the watch tower, asking whether they have food. As there is some food to spare from Lini’s ‘cooking’, they agree to give them 36 meals. “Where are the druids” Preen asks. “They travel around, between the forts and other safe places. They distribute food. One of them was here a week ago. She will have continued her round and should be at the second fort from this one in less than a week’s time.” The helpful fort soldier shows them a map of the islands, with all the forts indicated, and points first to his own fort and then the one the druid will be traveling to. Preen thanks him and they arrange the food to be dropped to the watchtower by flying over it. They continue their journey to the fort where they hope to meet up with the druid.

Upon asking, Jeremy informs them they have for about 49 days fuel left, and he suspects it will take about five days flying to reach the other fort. They keep flying in the night, and during one of these nights on her watch Lini sees a large shape flying across the horizon. The shape has a white sheen and blue piercing eyes. She realizes that this is a Dracolisk – for lack of better description, a skeleton of a dragon, which is beyond powerful. She also saw something or someone sitting on its back – a human shape covered in dark robes.
In the morning Lini shares this information with the others, and they are a bit more concerned than they already were. This may explain what is wrong with the island and the plague ravaging it.
When they arrive at the other fort, which is very similar in appearance as the one they left five days ago, they learn that the druid has just left, and has the guise of an eagle. Lini searches for animals in the area and is able to contact a raven, who she asks if he has seen an eagle recently, and where it may be now. The raven says he has seen many eagles, and asks if she is searching for a particular one? When Lini haltingly tries to communicate that she is looking for an eagle who is not an eagle, the raven quickly interrupts her and says “Oh, you’re looking for the druid” A bit embarrassed, Lini accedes to this, and asks him if this is the arch-druid. “No, no, the arch druid takes the shape of a bear and lives in a forest” The raven does not know which forest this may be, but he can guide them to the eagle. Lini explains the gist of her conversation with the raven to the others and tells Jeremy to follow the raven. They fly all day, and continue part of the night, until they reach a small copse of trees, where they spot a small fire. Lini thanks the raven and gives him some food as payment. When they reach the fire, they see nobody around. They make their good intentions known, and suddenly a female elf appears on deck. “What brings you here?” she asks, still a bit wary.
“Well, it seems you have a problem with an undead dragon, we know someone who may be able to counter his influence, but we need the help of the Arch druid to restore it to its full powers.” The druid looks at them a bit askance: “How can this ‘someone’ help, if it need help itself?” she asks a bit skeptically. “_ Preen replies: _”By joining forces, the result will always be better than each individual force alone…“_
The druid gives some additional explanation regarding the situation on Erastil: _”The Seelie Queen in the forest with the temple is also under the influence of this ‘zombie curse’, and as the Seelie Queen and her subjects are immortal, the effect of the curse is different too. The Seelie Queen now wishes to expand her domain and the Arch druid is trying to counter this.“_ She looks at them with her head slightly cocked. _”Maybe you can be of assistance_" she muses. “I will give you a guide to lead you to the Arch druid” She then looks at Jonathan, or more precisely, at Nala, who sits on his shoulder. Nala flies towards the druid, and the druid whispers something in her ears. Nala then starts to emanate a blue light, and starts to fly away from the ship. “Follow her if you wish to meet with the Arch druid” the elven druid says, and leaves the ship.

They fly four days and nights, following the seemingly inexhaustible Nala, until they reach a dense forest, and the blue light fades from Nala. She is very tired, and crawls into a safe spot in Jonathans pack. The forest is too dense to fly through, so they anchor the ship and instruct the crew to wait for them. Lini leaves some food for them for the coming day or two, and Preen, Jonathan and Lini leave the ship to enter the forest. Jonathan is looking for tracks, any tracks but specifically bear tracks, but he does not find them. LIni contacts a blue tit, to ask it where the arch druid may be. The response is that you do not find the arch druid, but she will find you. With this somewhat unhelpful answer they continue their trek into the forest. They thought they have walked in a straight line towards the center of the forest, but Jonathan realizes that after a day of walking, all they have done is walk in circles. They reach a clearing, and at the other side of the clearing a fox and a dear are standing close together. Lini tries to contact them, but they scamper away before she is successful, startled maybe by the sounds Preen makes when marching into the clearing. They decide to make camp here, as it is as good a place as anywhere. When it is fully dark, a pantherlike creature appears at the edge of the clearing, emanating a familiar blue light. It turns away and looks at them over its shoulder, as if to invite them to follow. They douse the fire, grab their belongings and follow the panther. During the short trek Preen and Jonathan notice that at some point, between two steps, they are no longer at the same place. It is much lighter now, and there are blue jack ‘o lanterns around, and different types of toadstools and mushrooms. Preen is engulfed by a peaceful feeling. Lini and Jonathan are not affected by this. They approach a lighter area in the forest, a grove with a small pool. Next to some large rocks surrounding the pool, a fox, a deer and a very large brown bear are sitting in a semi-circle. Preen, as if in a daze, walks forward and sits down in this circle. After only a brief hesitation, Lini and Jonathan follow suit, completing the circle.
After some time, the bear turns toward the ’guests’ and shimmers into a human female shape. She is dressed in animal skins, and is much older than she looks. “Welcome to my grove,” she says with a voice that has wisdom of ages, “What brings you to Erastil at this time?”


DerkG Ageraluon

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