PREVIOUSLY: A group of youngsters have discovered that a town logging operation is somehow connected to a curse which has befallen the surrounding forest. Hoping to prove themselves so they may be chosen in a forthcoming coming-of-age ceremony, the youngsters begin their investigation only to discover more questions than answers…
Having completed their daily chores and training, the group again meet up at a local watering hole on the banks of the Tourondel River. The group contemplate their next move and decided to go and investigate the logging camp. Whilst heading out of town towards the logging camp, just outside the gates, the group walked past what appeared to be a makeshift stall of sorts. Two men in formal clothes were examining bottles of a brown substance, their owners standing on the other side of the tables. The four individuals were made up of an elf that Zevan recognised as Elyin Ursage, a local bee-keeper; a man, an older woman and a halfling, all of whom were from out of town. Behind them stood a series of apiaries, and it soon became evident that the townsfolk were taking part in the initial stages of a honey judging ceremony.
The group overheard one judge mention to the other that the last sample they tasted was not as good as the last batch of honey produced by Tenzekil Braybittle. Eve recognised the name as that of a gnome beekeeper that had disappeared 2 years ago after losing the competition to Ursage. Some say that the gnome had a breakdown and fled into the forest, while others said he died of the ‘whitening’. The group stopped to ask what was going on, however they were soon asked to move on as this was serious business and not a place for youngsters.
The group continued on their way, and soon after moved into the forest to avoid detection as they approached the camp. As they began sneaking in, Sam, who was clearly new to the idea of remaining quiet, gave their position away. The group then saw Colbin, his major domo Grimscar, and a couple of other loggers, heading in their direction. Knowing their position was compromised, the group moved out of the forest and onto the roadway in order to confront the men. Eve was the most vocal, claiming that Colbin and his operation were destroying the village and we’re bringing forth a curse upon Kassen. Colbin laughed off the accusation, stating that the only proof they had was from a bunch of “brownies”, and a cluster of dying trees which was too far away from their logging operation to be their concern. Colbin, with the assistance of Grimscar, threatened the group and ordered them off his land. Colbin and his men brushed past the group as they headed into town.
The group discussed their options, and although Eve was clearly interested in sabotaging the logging operations, it was Kal who suggested a better course of action was to investigate further and gather more evidence. With that, the group headed back into town.
After entering through Kassen’s western gate, the group happened upon Mayor Uptal who was in deep conversation with Arnama. The group stopped and spoke with both of the village councillors, informing them of their encounter with the brownies and that the logging operation was, according to the brownies, the cause. The Mayor assured the group that he was doing all he could, and given the delicate nature of the situation, he requested that the elders handle the matter. With that, Arnama took Zevan aside and asked him to come with her. The group went back to their respective houses but not before planning to take matters into their own hands. Eve and Nell suggested getting all of the loggers drunk so that they couldn’t work in the morning. It was a short term solution, and Sam, and Kal dismissed the idea, claiming that their actions were likely to get them in trouble. By late afternoon, Sam made his way to the town gate tower for his shift, and Kal returned to the chapel for afternoon prayers. Eve and Nell however still thought that their plan had merit, and discussed their best option.
Their first, and final idea, was to steal some of the honey they saw earlier, and to use the most potent of it in a large barrel of mead. Their plan was to get the barrel back to the inn, hand it to the loggers as a peace offering, and then sitting back to watch the result.
With the plan hatched, Nell went off to buy the ale, whilst Eve spoke with Asina about what they wanted to do. As night fell, both Eve and Nell stealthily left the town through the front gate where Kir and Sam were stationed, gradually making their way to the bee apiaries they had seen earlier.
Upon arrival, Eve and Nell found that the tables and honey jars were covered. Upon inspection, Nell noticed that one of the jars was magical, and that it was jar belonging to Elyin Ursage. Nell grabbed the jar, broke the seal to taste it. It was highly bitter, and almost caused her stomach to turn. Nell instructed Eve to get an empty bottle, open one of the aviaries, and fill the jar with honey. That way they could swap the magical jar with the new one. Eve, clearly only knowing a little about the nature of bees, reached into the aviary to scoop the honey into the jar. Unfortunately her actions disturbed the bees, and she was swarmed by them. Eve ran from the scene screaming, and headed towards the river. Eventually, whilst being stung, she quickly jumped headfirst into the river, its cool water temporarily soothing the burning stings across her body. Sam and Kir heard the commotion, and yelled out if all was well. Nell responded that it was just her and Eve, and to go back to their duties. Nell quickly finished the job with the honey, replaced the lids, and ran back towards the town in possession of the honey.
Later, Eve arrived at the doorstep of the chapel, soaked from diving into the river, and with bee stings covering her arms and face. Kal answered the door, shook his head, and administered some divine healing to the injured elf.
Meanwhile Nell returned home with the bottle and asked her father to take a look. He said he would do so overnight and told her to quickly finish her chores and be off to bed. As she was preparing for bed, Moltus Vargidan, her adopted father, entered the room with the jar. Her father described in detail that the jar of honey was laced with a powerful magic poison, and explained that one dose would have been enough to kill several men.
During the night, each of the five friends received letters of invitation from the Kassen Council to be the one of the chosen to recover the Everflame from the Crypt of Kassen as part of the Coming of Winter Celebrations.
The group completed their daily chores, and at midday made their way, as instructed on the invitation, to the town square. All of the elder townsfolk were assembled upon their arrival, all dressed in ceremonial black garbs, as were many of the villagers who by this stage had filled the square. The Mayor introduced the five and handed each of them a backpack full of supplies, along with a series of additional equipment including the sacred lamp that would be used to bring a spark of the Everflame back to Kassen. After the ritual was read by the Mayor, the group was sent off, and soon after exited the southern gate towards the Crypt.
Around mid-afternoon, the group stopped to examine their belongings and their backpacks. In each backpack was a series of supplies including a map showing the direction to the Crypt of the Everflame. The group assembled the map, and plotted their course.
The journey was coming close to nightfall, when they came across a fallen log across a path. As they prepared to go over the log, they observed five orcs jump up from behind the log, and start charging towards the group. Sam was the first to fall, however it was not long before Eve realised that the orcs were illusions. It was difficult to convince the rest, but eventually everyone came to realise the folly of their ways. Eve heard a laugh in the distance, and noticed that it quickly moved away from their position. Kal also heard it and identified it as Holgast, the local Sage and Wizard. Clearly all of these would be tests of their mettle.
The group set up camp on a ridge, and organised watch for the night. During the evening, hungry and diseased wolves stalked the group from the safety of the shadows. Around midnight, they struck. The wolves however were quickly dispatched. Zevan identified that the wolves appeared malnourished and slighted affected by what appeared to be the same disease that was affecting the brownies. Eventually, everyone returned to sleep.
The rest of the night passed without incident, and although they started late, by mid-morning, the group returned to their journey toward the crypt…