After disposing of the goblins, our heroes continued on their way to the cave, traveling toward the foothills of what would have been the Valthune Mountains had they been in the First Work instead of the Feywild. Indeed, much of the Feywild seemed to be an exaggerated reflection of the First Work – the colors brighter, the bees larger and more aggressive (as Griffo and Perion had recently discovered…), the mountains taller and sharper-edged, and so forth.
Zarn determined that in addition the crystals from the cave, Elisandra’s ritual might also benefit from some certain herbs and roots that could be gathered from the forest. First, flowers from a vine called Pope’s Crown (a relative of the First Work plant called Duke’s Crown?), and later, roots from an unnamed shrub. Abderus and Mort used their knowledge of nature to locate the plants, and Griffo and Zarn carefully harvested the necessary parts.
By midafternoon, the cave entrance was in sight, an ominous-looking opening beneath the roots of truly gigantic trees, from which a chill mist flowed. Our heroes entered cautiously, finding signs of recent foot traffic in and out of the cave. The tunnel walls were lined with the kind of phosphorescent fungus that only grows in the dark places of the world, which produced a light that Mort and Abderus found quite sufficient to see by. Griffo, not being possessed of such night vision, and having a deathly fear of the dark besides, quickly pulled out his everburning torch to light the way, despite protests from Zarn that it would make him a target in the darkness. Seeing that Griffo would not be dissuaded, Zarn lent a hand by casting wizardly lights onto the walls as the group proceeded along the narrow tunnel.
Soon the tunnel opened into a wider cavern, filled with the sought-after crystals growing along the shore of an underground lake. Mort, showing uncharacteristic caution, alerted the group to a possible trap, and with the aid of the others, was able to detect and skirt around a concealed pit near the entrance to the cave.
Having bypassed that danger, Griffo grew bold and hurried forward to inspect the crystals – triggering an attack, as two hobgoblin soldiers rushed forward from their hiding places behind stalagmites, surrounding Griffo and bludgeoning him mercilessly with great flails!
Zarn must have some deep hatred for hobgoblins, as he cast a mighty spell to start off the battle – his eyes began to glow even more brightly and he began rapidly firing missiles of magical energy at the hobgoblins.
The hobgoblins were aided by goblins the like of which our heroes had slain before (cutters, sharpshooters, and a blackblade), as well as one with a new fighting style – a goblin delver, just like Aleth had warned the group about. This one was armed with a bag of many tricks, from which he hurled caltrops and stones to harry and slow his pursuers.
Mort and Abderus rushed around the battlefield chasing the sharpshooters and the delver, while Griffo, Perion, and Zarn teamed up to take down the hobgoblin warriors. Mort was generally ineffective except as a distraction, Abderus dealt mighty blows with his axe, Zarn threw wave after wave of missiles at the hobgoblins, and Griffo and Perion worked remarkably well as a team to keep the hobgoblins off balance and distracted.
Soon enough, the goblinoids lay slain. Upon searching the bodies and the surrounding area, a locked chest was found, as was a matching key. The chest was opened (bypassing a poison needle trap) and found to contain a goodly sum of money as well as a number of items that must have been stolen from the elven farms by the raiders. Zarn selected a suitably flawless crystal from the cavern and enlisted Abderus’ help to extract it in one piece. The two also worked together to gather a mineral-rich water sample from the lake.
Though it was now late, and the group had been warned that distances in the Feywild can be deceiving (and asymmetrical…), the risk of getting caught in the open at night, asleep, by goblins seemed too great, and the heroes marched all night long to get back to Wiadale, arriving just before dawn.
After a much needed rest, and a hearty breakfast at the Sunshine Skillet, it was time to prepare for Elisandra’s ritual. Zarn mixed the ingredients together, but they needed to be heated to a very high temperature to infuse properly, so Mort took them to the blacksmith’s forge and pumped the bellows to produce a tremendous heat. After what seemed like a long time in the heat, Zarn pronounced that the reagents were now properly prepared, and the ritual could now be performed to make the fields fertile and productive. The inhabitants of Wiadale were overjoyed, and seemed to now finally be optimistic about the future rather than fearful of it. Truly a great achievement by our heroes!
As promised, Vorald arranged for the entire group to receive magical tattoos that not only provided a measure of common defense, but also marked them as friends of the Eladrin.
After another night’s rest, it was time to return to the First Work. The journey back to the portal site was quick and uneventful, and Zarn was able to perform the fey crossing ritual without difficulty. Stepping through to the other side, our heroes were greeted by the site of a young green dragon perching atop a nearby hill, waiting for them. What dark fate did this spawn of Kalyxa Dramon have in mind for our heroes…?