The Price of Immortality

On Erastil

Something strange is going on here...

When they approach the skyport in Cloud Eagle to dock, they notice that the towers are not in the best condition. The area at the base of the skyport towers is crammed full with all sorts of makeshift houses and hovels. There are almost no skyships present at the towers. The towers that do hold ships show heavy barricades that prevent people climbing up the tower towards the ships. All docking places at those towers are full.
Upon indication of Preen, Jeremy tries to get their ship next to one of the other docked ships, a large freight vessel, similar to the Freebird, which they sold on Iomedae. The looks they receive are a bit strange, and they are questioned immediately: “Who are you?”"
Preen tells them who they are and that he would like some information on the current events on Erastil and in Cloud Eagle. The captain of the freight vessel tells Preen that docking here would probably not be a good idea, pointing towards the barricades and the overflowing city.
When Preen asks where the druids are to be found, the captain shrugs, and says “probably in a forest or something. But I would not know about those people, they dwell on land…”
“Are there other places or ports on Erastil where we can dock?” Preen asks. “Have you not heard?” the captain asks almost incredulously, “Erastil is cursed! All food is poisoned, when you eat any of the food you will die and at the same time you won’t die… You become a soulless body, moving about for who knows what purpose. Possibly there are still some forts standing further inland, which are safe havens, but to be honest, I do not know. I am more concerned now with getting fuel. I have already sent out three men on separate occasions, and none of them have returned. My ship will drop out of the air in a week time!” The anguish and frustration is clear on the captain’s face. Preen wishes him good luck and then orders Jeremy to fly out of earshot.

After a brief discussion, Preen, Jonathan and Lini decide not to dock in Cloud Eagle. Jeremy informs them that they still have fuel for about 60 days. A proposal is made to fly overland, to get a feel of the land and look for the forts and hopefully they can get some information on where the archdruid can be found. Their food stock is somewhat limited, they have for about 5 days provisions. But as Lini is able to conjure up safe and sustaining food each day, that is not a large concern at the moment. Having somewhat of a plan, they fly over the city, further inland.
They notice a lot of people, making begging gestures towards them as they fly overhead. They reach with their arms toward the ship as if that would enable them to board the ship.

After leaving the city behind them, flying at a comfortable altitude of about 100 meters above ground, they set course towards the center of the island, as they understood there would be a temple in the middle of a big forest. They spot a large amount of fields and farms on their way. A large manor farm surrounded by smaller farms, connected by small dirt roads, and a larger road connecting the big farms to the larger settlements. They see almost no activity, only some cows are in the pastures, and some pigs, but they don’t see any people.
At some point Jonathan notices that the cows act in a strange way. They moo at fixed intervals, every fifth count, and after they moo, they take five paces and then moo again. This is not synchronized between the cows, so it is not very clear to spot, but when Jonathan points it out to Lini and Preen, they also notice the rythmical behaviour of the cows and when they pay closer attention, they notice this behaviour with all farm animals. The wild birds still behave as expected from birds. They lower their ship, to a height of 50 meters above the land, so they can examine the cows more closely. Their unnatural behaviour reminds Lini of a spell that can turn living creatures into zombies, where assignments can be given that will be repeated endlessly. It seems that whoever cast the spell on these animals, they tried to have them behave naturally.
The majority of the crops are still in the fields, waiting to be harvested. They go back to their 100 meter altitude.

They decide to fly through the night. The next day they approach a lake. Nowhere are people in sight. It takes them two days to cross the lake. Then they approach a large forest, still some goodly ways away. When they approach the forest, they keep an eye out for any strange things in or near the forest. But they don’t seem to be able to focus to clearly on the forest, there is some sort of haze covering the forest, keeping everything out of focus. When they are near this aberration, they give it a closer inspection. It appears to be some sort of dome, covering a large part of the central forest on Erastil. Preen casts his Detect Magic spell, and is almost blinded by the amount of magic that resonates from the dome. The type of magic he detects is one of transmutation, illusion and conjuring. Jonathan nocks an arrow and shoots this into the shimmering haze. The arrow disappears and is not seen again. They notice that birds do seem to fly in and out of the dome without problems.
Thinking that this must be some sort of protective spell around the forest, cast by the druids, they decide to fly into the dome. Lini is at the front of the ship, wanting to be the first to experience what happens when you cross the ‘border’.
When the bow of the ship enters the dome, Jonathan and Preen see Lini disappear from view. Lini is the first to see that inside the dome the continue flying between trees, there is an endless amount of flower blossoms that falls down, some soft, lovely music can be heard, together with some giggling voices. A general feeling of serenity encompasses all of them, once the ship has completely entered the dome. They see a path leading towards the center of the forest, presumably towards the temple. Jonathan is the only one who realizes that they have entered the realm of the fae!
He tells Preen, who is standing next to him, that it is probably best that they turn around now. “But why?” Preen asks, “It is so beautiful here!”
“It is always beautiful in the fae world! It really is better to turn around now, then we can prepare better!”
The crew is completely impressed by their surroundings, and is totally relaxed, leaving their sailing duties for what they are.
Lini and Preen do feel, deep down, that something is amiss, they are not in control. Then they spot a big branch which moves to grab the ship. The branch is attached to a tree with glowing red eyes. The voices around them turn a bit more aggressive.
Lini spots a very beautiful woman, sitting on a stone next to a small forest pool. She beckons to the crew members.

Preen commands Jeremy to turn the ship around, and this is done, albeit somewhat reluctantly. They intend to follow the path outside the dome. Preen feels the wind and tells Jeremy to keep the ship half towards the wind. Then Preen, by some impulse, decides to pull forth his whistle, and he starts to play a random tune. This almost immediately causes the veil of tranquility that covered them to drop. They now experience a sense of unease. Then they see about six one-foot high creatures flying around the ship, armed with bows and arrows. They look at them aggressively through red eyes and with a snarl on their faces.

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DerkG Ageraluon

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