After being welcomed to the grove of the Archdruid, and after some brief introductions, Preen answers her question what brings them there: that he thinks that they can help each other. “It seems you are being plagued by a necromancer who flies through the skies on a skeletal dragon. We can help you deal with them, in exchange for something we believe is in your power to give: a Scroll of Regeneration.”
The Archdruid looks at the three adventurers a bit sceptically: “You are going to fight the necromancer?”
“No, no, not us”, Preen assures her, and explains they know of an ‘entity’ that may be able to help in this matter. He does say that he cannot guarantee for a hundred percent that aid will be given, but he expects that there is a large chance that help will be provided.
“Hmm,” the Archdruid ponders, “That are not very good odds, but better than some I heard before. Unfortunately, the white dragon is not our first problem. Nor is the necromancer. The greatest peril comes from the Fae in the forest. I will make you a deal. If you help me lift the curse from the Seelie Queen, I will give you the Scroll of Regeneration you seem to desire.”
When Preen, Lini and Jonathan ask for more information on what their help should look like, and what the risks are, before they can agree to anything, the Archdruid elaborates: “Your recent arrival on Erastil means that you are unknown to these lands. You will not be recognized if you get near to the Seelie Queen. You will help a druid get near to her. This druid will carry this stone” the Arch druid removes a red, round, fist-sized stone from her robes and shows it to them, lying on her palm, “and by using this stone the druid can cast a spell over the Seelie Queen that will remove her ‘disease’. Once the Seelie Queen is cured, the forest and the Fae will no longer pose a threat and we can then focus on the secondary things that are not right on Erastil”
A discussion follows between Preen, Lini, Jonathan and the Archdruid going into more detail regarding this quest, and what would be needed exactly and how things should be done. It is important that there is mutual trust during this mission. The Archdruid concludes the discussion by stating that if the mission is well prepared, and if they will use sufficient stealth, the chances are that they will survive the quest. Leaning towards agreeing, Preen argues that the crew of their airship will need to be fed in their time away, but that would be a minor issue that can be taken care of by the druids.
Lini senses that the motive of the Archdruid is neither good nor bad, but mainly focused on restoring the balance. Her intentions are in principle good, she will benefit from a successful mission, and she will give an important artefact – an amplification stone – to them to take on their mission.
Then the Archdruid makes a surprising request: she requires that Jonathan stay behind – as some form of security. She then calls out : “Luna!” and a large woman comes forward, who holds her hand out to Lini and says: “Hello, I am Luna” Lini looks somewhat surprised by her appearance – she appears much larger than she really is – and then shakes her hand and introduces herself. Preen casts a quick look at Jonathan, who does not wear an expression that he is not okay with what is going on. Nala is already running around the grove, playing and talking to druids and other creatures. Preen then says to Luna, while shaking her hand: “So you are the one who will cast the spell on the Seelie Queen.”
“Yup, that is the idea,” Luna answers.
Preen then remembers something, and asks the Archdruid if she can help him with his lycanthropy problem, preferably without having him changing bodies or form – he likes the way he is now (when not in his were-bat shape, that is). “Well, if you are that attached to your own body, then I am afraid I cannot help you” the Archdruid answers. A pity, Preen thinks, I’m really stuck with the dragon’s deal then…
Resigned, Preen checks with Lini if she is okay with the new quest, but Lini basically sees it as one big adventure and she’s eager to get started. When asked how she feels about the plan, Luna just nods her approval.
“But what about Jonathan?” Lini asks suddenly, “What happens to him if we don’t get back??” The Archdruid ensures that nothing bad will befall him, he will be placed in service of the grove, not in a way a slave would be in service, but a servitude of learning and helping each other.
Mollified by this answer and although not everyone is equally convinced of the wisdom of the Archdruid’s quest, they agree to do her bidding.
Preen and Lini make some small talk with Luna, in order to get acquainted. Then suddenly the Archdruid stands behind Luna and offers her the amplification stone. “Be aware: when you use the stone when you cast a spell, this can be felt. If the Seelie Queen is healed, she will not be without gratitude.” With those words, she turns around to lead Jonathan away. Before he lets himself be led away, Jonathan gives Lini a big hug and claps Preen on his shoulder as farewell. He then leaves with the Archdruid.
Two raccoons approach the trio of adventurers, dragging a large package which is placed in front of them. After a quick check, this appears to be food that is to be given to the crew of the ship while they wait for them to return from their mission.
“All right,” says Preen, “Let’s go.” And he turns to leave. Luna picks up the package of food and she and Lini also turn to leave. Something made them look back, and the grove is no longer behind them. Luna fortunately knows in which direction they have to go to reach their ship.
During their walk to the airship, they try to get to know each other better. Luna is from [INSERT BACKGROUND STORY LUNA]
Preen and Lini tell Luna about the blue dragon they met on their way to Erastil and their promise regarding the scroll of regeneration.
When they exit the forest, they are very close to their airship. “Ahoy!” Preen calls, explaining to Luna that this is the way to speak to a ship. “I didn’t know ships could talk…” LIni says softly, upon which Luna bursts out laughing.
Jeremy has spotted them and throws down a rope ladder. They all climb up, after having secured the package of food to a rope to be hoisted up. The plan regarding the Seelie Queen is explained to the crew, and they are told to park the ship at the northern edge of this forest after they have dropped the adventurers off near the Fae forest. The food package should be enough for the four remaining crewmembers for the next couple of days.
After about a day and a half of sailing, Preen, Lini and Luna are dropped at about half a day walking from the Fae forest. At the end of the afternoon they make their camp near the edge of the dome in a section that can almost be called forest. Lini generates their food, and they set out a guard throughout the night. Preen has first watch and during his shift he continuously has the feeling that ‘something’ is watching them from the dome, and a feeling of dread envelops him. When it is time to wake Luna for the second watch, Preen takes a few sips of brandy, to make him sleep better, and then crawls into his blankets. Luna knows that there is nobody near, and has no eerie feelings whatsoever. She sits out her watch and then wakes Lini for the final stretch of the night watch. Lini too has a feeling of paranoia and unease during her watch, and is very much on edge when dawn finally breaks and she wakes the others. Preen is the first one to notice that the edge of the dome has moved: that small group of gnarly trees first was completely outside of the dome, but now is almost halfway in it! There clearly is something going on here…