This is the compiled play-by-email thread that took place during December. It starts with the extended rest after meeting the Elves, covers several days of travel, and ends with the party closing in on the Fey passage and Court of Blossoms. DM commentary following each entry is in italics. Enjoy.
“Bloody elves…” Derek thought to himself. He’d always been a big fish in a small pond when it came to the tracking game at Bridgewater. That was the only reason he had suffered some notoriety. He was read enough on Elven culture to know an adolescent could do for fun what he did professionally after years of refinement. That left him very uncomfortable. If they took on the Elves as guides, they’d surely show him up as a lesser skilled tracker. Aside from that, he’d have to put his trust in a historically flighty race. Couple this with the destination being the mythical forest wherein resides a fantastical race of “super” Elves, Derek’s mind was straining as he exhausted potential outcomes. The answer was clear but his pride was getting in the way of acceptance. Perhaps he’d been around the Dwarf for too long.
“Bloody Kok…” Derek muttered under his breath a bit too loudly, gathering an inquisitive snort from the Dwarf and a befuddled glance from the female Elf. To diffuse the situation Derek slipped back into his rehearsed, country bumpkin role. “I don’t want to say your “ambush” was not well planned or executed, but the mostly drunk Dwarf who nearly ruined your backline speaks for itself. What say you leave this well-guarded meadow and show us to the Eladrin? It’ll save your brethren the trouble of wasting their arrows on a drunken Dwarf if we stumble into another “ambush” and you might even find some Orcs along the way! I mean, it’s not like you can keep this up indefinitely…”
Del has been the epitome of the backwater know-it-all. He kept pointing out to the Elves and to the party that the Elves seem to be short on things like food, equipment, and provisions. “Oh I notice you only have seven arrows in your quiver. Back in Bridgewater we keep them full at all times!” “I can’t believe you didn’t bring any elderberry bark!” etc. His comments seem to grow louder and more desperate in response to their polite detachment and refusal to respond.
Our Elven guides have the tact to keep their indignation to themselves, but I can see young Derek’s characteristic sensitivity to the finer undercurrents of interpersonal relationships retains its customary vigor. I suggest as much to them in Elven; the People see no shame in their emotions, nor in their acknowledgment, thus their deliberate restraint suggests both some passing familiarity with human-kind and a conscious effort of good will, however unwittingly abused by our young ranger. There is honor in that, and I do my best to tacitly suggest I recognize that gesture and appreciate it deeply.
His considerable gifts with the bow and his knowledge of the wild places in the world would garner some measure of respect from them, I have no doubt, and observe aloud that Melora seems to smile on the lad. Should they accompany us even part of the way toward Farwood Forest, I suggest, they might see so for themselves, though I hurry to add young Derek would undoubtedly benefit from the experience of sharing the dappled paths between the trees far more. Indeed, as a token of appreciation for said company and example, we would insist on sharing our provisions and the bounty Derek’s skill can draw from the land. But ah, there’s the rub—I will offend them gravely if they think I mean they cannot care for themselves, even if I can plainly see their diminished supplies, and so I must word this delicately. The connotation of thel ’anel varies depending on their upbringing, but it seems the perfect word. It must be… Smiling, I slowly bend to pick up my own belongings, remarking offhandedly that we would be honored to share our footfalls and firelight with them, as I would be honored for them to share in what meager gifts I offer in song and story. Perhaps they have heard of Arafellan and Selann, the Elf and Eladrin scouts who ambushed one another in the black of night, only to learn their lords were allies against the Goblins just as their blades were about to lay low one another. The pair became the heroes of the Bloodnettle Gambit not one year after. Such tales, of unfortunate happenstance and the good will of unlikely allies, are common around our fires. That, I add as I begin humming a common and popular Elven ballad as I shoulder my pack and move toward my companions, and the comforts only music can grant.
Eammon responded by speaking eloquently to the Elves (in Elven) about the party’s thanks for their aid, compatible goals, and the benefits of working together. He has managed to convince the Elves to accompany the party for a short time at least, despite the fact that Del was annoying them.
Speaking to the nearest Elf who will listen:
“I believe you when you say these woods are dangerous. Based on your current level of supply and knowledge of where we are I’d say you are better off sticking with us until we reach safer passages. We benefit mutually with the addition of skilled hands like yourself and also you would benefit from having us alongside as well. Unfortunately we must continue with our task, which may add considerable length to this partnership we are suggesting. I also assure you that our cause is good. I know your type to be spiritual and as a devout follower of Erathis I assure you that no harm will come to you from our hands. I will also assure you that my companions mean well or otherwise I wouldn’t have journeyed this far for this cause. Fate has brought us together and I believe that was no coincidence.”
Upon reaching the edge of the forest Roland further implored the Elves to continue as your guides. They have agreed to continue only until sundown to help show your party how to set a safe and concealed campsite within the forest.
Benji, in his usual boyish nonchalance, is excited to be traveling with real live Elves…and gets a little long-winded with anyone who will give him the time of day. Towards the end of the day, while camp is getting set up, he begins regaling the Elves with stories of the great Eladrin hero, Asel. “You should have seen him fight! Never was a soul so cunning and fierce! It might do you Elves good to stay with the group, since we’re basically cousins to the Eladrin at this point, after our time with Asel-bashemajiggy-who.” The fact that Benji still has a Genuine Eladrin longsword with him is sure to curry the Elves’ favor, as well.
At camp Benji tried to convince the Elves to stay with the party indefinitely, even going so far as to show them Asel’s longsword and claim that he was “basically cousins with the Eladrin”. The Elves recoiled from his gestures, vocally implored the gods that they hoped you “grave robbing savages” were worth the risks they had taken, and left the party.
Day one of our journey through Farwood Forest, unguided. I’m ashamed to say that the horror stories my father told me as a child about this place have left me numb with fear. What perils we may face here I have not the heart to write. It is all I can do to maintain my composure in front of my comrades.
Still, all battlefields are more alike than not. Know your terrain! How many times have I had that drummed into me. The disadvantage of a forest, any forest, is line of sight. With so many obstacles impeding one’s natural sense of direction it is easy to get lost. Entire divisions have been defeated in forests when their commanders were thrown off course. I must get a better feel for the terrain. Perhaps some of the taller trees are climbable. I might be able to find some landmarks that we can aim for from the top; taller, older clumps of trees, clearings, hills or valleys. That’s it! This forest may be populated with all manner of beast, but once I get a feel for the terrain, once I understand the shape of the battle, woe be to those that would oppose us!
Cedric took it upon himself to climb trees high in the forest canopy to try and get a bearing using the topography of the landscape. Upon returning to earth he seems encouraged, talking about ridges and other natural landmarks that tell him the party should be marching “that way!”.
Belarus is still hesitant to show any kind of magical aptitude besides a scholarly interest in front of the group. After acquiring those rituals awhile back with Eammon, Belarus has been puzzling over them in his spare time, trying to glean some sort of information about rituals leading to gateways to other planes.
He would spend some time apart from the group, trying to read. While he does not yet have a ritual book, he is yearning for some quill and paper in order to do some scribbling of his own.
Using arcana, he’d try and glean some kind of hint of magical traces through the forest, possibly like a Ley Line; the angle of blades of grass pointing in one direction, or the pattern clouds make in the sky.
Belarus was able to divine patterns within patterns occurring all around him. Cloud formation and movement, the orientation of fallen leaves, and a stirring in his bones all led him to believe that they were crossing a Ley Line which, if followed, would surely lead the party to a nexus and the crossing site they sought.