The Children of Eisenwald

Dyin' and Dasha
The party races to save Albert before it's too late.

After slitting Albert's throat, Dasha conjures a runic barrier around himself and the altar, along with three lesser barriers around his sacrifices. As he finishes this spell, portals open in two corners of the room, from which small demons begin to emerge. Ugo Detects Magic, and is able to see that the portals, the barriers, and the altar are connected. The party attacks the barrier around Dasha and it begins to weaken.

The party dispatches the small demons, but more keep coming through, and the portals are widening enough to see larger creatures crowding together on the other side, eager to push through when the portal widens. Siegfried attempts to heal Albert, and it stabilizes him partially, but also heals Dasha. 

The party — minus Siegfried — dispatches another round of demons, but larger ones begin to push through. Siegfried, meanwhile, plays a magical song on his lute to Dispel the Magic of Dasha's barrier. As it breaks, Siegfried receives a vision of his master, Tannhauser, warning him that Dasha and Albert are connected. After re-stringing Siegfried's lute, "Tannhauser" sends Siegfried back to the present. Dasha panics and opens a portal above the altar, but not before Coge manages to hinder the assembled enemies with a blizzard of draconic ice that slows time. Dasha leaps for the portal but is slowed in midair. The demon portals widen but become unstable, likely the reason for Dasha's panic.

As more demons emerge, the party begins to feel the strain of battle, as Buu, Sting, and Evonni all take down enemies but more keep coming through. Siegfried breaks the circle around Albert by destroying the runes, which weakens the portals, as Buu summons a pack of wolves to assist the party with the demons. They kill the remaining adversaries, but as Sting and Ugo try to seize Dasha they get in each others' way and as a result both Ugo and Dasha are knocked through the portal just before it closes.

On the other side, they discover Heim, the old white-haired man. Dasha is surprised — this is not where he expected to be.

"Even the broken vessels sometimes have a use." Heim comments, looking at Dasha, before greeting Ugo. Abruptly, the red lady appears, interposing herself between Ugo and Heim.  The two exchange terse greetings, and Heim appears to concede the Red Lady's charge over Ugo. Almost as an afterthought, the Red Lady incinerates Dasha, and then prompts Ugo to follow her, leaving his fate as yet unknown.

The rest of the party, collects themselves after the battle. Searching Dasha's pack for clues, they find some magical items, but nothing else of consequence, and so, exhausted, they retreat to where they lest Paul and Sasha to rest. 

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Time's Not On Our Side
The tower gets weirder still...

Having been badly injured in the last fight, the party stops to rest in the ritual chamber, hoping it might restore some of their drained strength. As Siegfried bolsters the party's resolve with a Song of Rest, his keen ears pick up something amiss with the strange way the notes hang in the air when one passes in or out of the chamber, and he determines that there is something different about the way time passes in the ritual chamber. Bereft of the sun to mark the passage of time objectively in the basement of the tower, the party quickly leaves the ritual chamber to head towards the path opened by Vorax, lest they accidentally spend longer than they intend to inside.

On the way, they find a room to the right of the indicated path. Ugo sends an illusion of Sting in ahead, and the party follows when no one reacts to its snarling and posturing. Inside, they meet Paul, whom Sasha identifies as another hireling of Dasha. Though Paul is apparently uninjured, they find him rocking back and forth in a corner babbling and claiming to hear voices, so Siegfried uses his music to calm him and he then becomes somewhat more coherent. He knows nothing the party doesn't already know or suspect, except that he claims to have seen an older version of Coge at some point in the past or future. (He seems to be having particular trouble articulating concepts pertaining to time.) He also gives the party a scrap of parchment with a diagram on it, requesting that they pass it on to his son…and then his wife…and then himself, as he begins to break down in coherence again. At Siegfried's urging, the party moves on, but leaves Sasha to watch over (and perhaps sing to) the confused but harmless man while they follow Albert's trail to the north.

The trail leads to a perilous bridge across a deep chasm. The bridge appears to be riddled with holes through which the wind whistles. Siegfried, skeptical about the integrity of such a porous bridge, tosses a rock onto it. The rock promptly swarmed by two-tailed scorpions that mill around the stone before seemingly losing interest and retreating back into the holes. Evonni tries to run across before the scorpions can emerge but isn't quite fast enough, only just managing to jump back and avoid being swarmed. Working together, Coge and Buu are able to freeze water transported from the ritual chamber to temporarily plug the holes in the bridge. The scorpions immediately begin burrowing through the ice, but it holds long enough for the party to slip, slide, and otherwise comically pratfall their way across the perilously slick bridge.

On the other side, they find what appears to be some kind of throne room with an ominous looking throne flanked by three pillars on either side, sitting atop a mosaic featuring the tower's now familiar tentacle-and-eye motif. (Evonni notes that the diagram Paul gave her matches the layout of the room, and has an arrow pointing to one of the pillars.) Ugo uses Detect Magic, and notes a handful of weak magical sources, and a stronger one beyond the room. He also sees a trace of illusion magic, which Siegfried investigates, discovering that the roaring fire behind the throne is not real but conceals a locked door. 

Reasoning that the pillar on the diagram may hold some clue, Siegfried investigates it and finds nothing. Buu suggests he try the opposite pillar since the party doesn't know the correct orientation of the diagram, and he finds a concealed button. Before he can do anything else, Ugo grows bored and sits in the throne.

Ugo is then surprised to find himself alone, except for a newcomer who startles him by introducing himself as king and inquiring as to why Ugo is sitting on his throne. Ugo questions him about the party's whereabouts and Albert's kidnapping, but apart from being alarmed that children are being kidnapped in his kingdom, the "king" doesn't seem to know anything, including how Ugo arrived in his throne room. The king confides that he rarely gets to see anyone in the kingdom at all, except for a man he describes as being tall, white haired (but not old) and dressed all in white, which makes Ugo think of Coge.

Displaying an almost childlike enthusiasm about the situation, the king then offers to accompany Ugo to save Albert and draws his sword for the purpose. On discussing it with the king, Ugo decides to try sitting down again, and when that doesn't send him back he jumps up in frustration, and promptly finds himself back in the throne room.

Naturally, Ugo struggles to explain what just happened to the party (from their point of view, all that happened was that Ugo sat down for a second and then jumped up again) but eventually Siegfried begins to follow what he's saying and hypothesizes that this might be something similar to the strange way time passes in the ritual chamber. Buu makes a connection with Paul's statement of seeing someone who looked like an older Coge, suggesting that the man in white the king referred to might be Coge's father or another ancestor, which Coge doubts. Ugo gets Siegfried to sit in the throne, but nothing happens.

Buu then volunteers to sit, and finds himself facing a myconid that looks like a healthy, un-bedraggled version of the late Grand Sovereign Osho, flanked by two other myconids.  Osho loudly declares, "We will never be your servants! You may swarm over our lands, you may burn our trees, but you will not be our king!" and then slams the butt of his staff into the floor before the throne, creating a shockwave that throws Buu back into the royal chair with enough force to cause him to bounce off it and onto the floor.

Buu then finds himself back amongst the party  (who only saw Buu sit and then be thrown onto the floor by an unseen force) and relates his experience, wondering why nothing happened to Siegfried. Siegfried conjectures that perhaps Buu and Ugo have some kind of ancestral connection with the people they saw when sitting in the throne, but adds that he is growing impatient to get to Albert and then impulsively pushes the button he found on the pillar.

Fortunately for the party, the button evidently unlocks the door Siegfried found hidden by the illusory fire behind the throne, because Siegfried tries the door again on a hunch and finds to be unlocked this time. Proceeding inside, they find a man matching Sasha's description of her former employer Dasha holding a bound Albert above an altar in the center of the room, a knife at his throat. Nearby, two other small bodies lay unmoving. 

Before they can react, Dasha snarls "You're too late!" and cuts the boy's throat, throwing him down on the altar.

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To Bring You Up to Date -- AGAIN!
Wow, I need to update this more often!

A recap of our latest adventures:

Previously on the children of Eisenwald, the heroic Eisenwarden ended the plague of spores upon Pilzstadt and the surrounding forest, vanquishing the Rin the Dark One who had come to capture Ugo in the interests of gaining leverage against his archfey patron The Red Lady. After doing so they encountered The Great Sovereign Osho, one of three ancient myconid sovereigns who once ruled and protected the roots of the forest and the Living Tree. Osho revealed that a small spark of life remained in the roots of the tree, though its fallen trunk had long since died, and passed on his Spore of Sovereignty to Buu before dying of extreme old age. They also discovered that Rin and his minions had been behind the theft of the Pilzstadt merchants' wares, so the party rode back in triumph to return the stolen property.

On their way back to Pilzstadt, they encountered a raiding party of fire elementals led by a trio of young dragons, which they were likewise able to dispatch, although with the temporary loss of Ugo's sprite companion Lister. They routed the Elementals but the dragons escaped through a portal.

4-29-17:

Siegfried and Oph returned from Kusteburg, having learned that the Grand Duke's brother Count Byard

has taken over the Duchy in all but name while the Duke is away. He dismissed many of the Duke's retainers, replacing them with functionaries under the authority of the new Seneschal Waldemar, who they discover is a practitioner of magic during their infiltration of the Duke's library. Fortunately, their mission to the library was a success despite being discovered and forced to flee, and they find evidence

exonerating the people of the Pilzstadt for the destruction of the Living Tree. They also found the blessing herbs needed to create the antidote to the magical disease that some Pilzstadt folk had contracted.

This accomplished, the Boph arrived in Pilzstadt to perform a ritual invoking the gift of Himmel and Erda, and a Great Stump grew up from the ground beneath the Warden's yurt. In the commotion, however, Sting was scared away from town and a child was lost. Evonni tracked Sting to the edge of the forest, and there she found a sketchy looking creature named Num, and his boss Devat. She managed not to bring the situation to blows and instead returned to town to inform the other Wardens at the Great Stump, which turned out to be hollow and full of naturally formed rooms inside. Based on her discreption, Oph identified the creature as a goblin and it's boss as a bugbear – both troublesome to have so near one's town.

While the party debated what to do about this, Frau Yettenich from Pilzstadt ran to the wardens to beg for help finding her lost child Albert. Siegfried, having met Albert earlier the same day, was able to reach him with a sending, and work out that goblins had kidnapped him, so after collecting Albert's stuffed snail “Snaily” from Frau Yettenich to give to Sting for a scent, they set out after the missing boy.

 

5-06-17:

On the way out of town, the party retrieved Ugo, who had finished performing the ritual to bring Lister back from his limbo state in Ugo's magical chain tattoo. They tracked the goblins to some ruins in the mountains to the south, where they found they had gone down into the lower levels of some kind of tower full of weird eye-and-tentacle motifs. The party encountered and defeated several goblins therein along with a Bugbear commander. Unfortunately, these werent the goblins they were looking for. (This bugbear was Boss Mog, not Devat). Ugo, meanwhile, made his way down a set of trapped stairs into a large round chamber.

 

5-13-17:

Siegfried, Evonni, and Coge searched the area where they fought the goblins while Buu made his way down into the round chamber with Ugo, setting off the fire traps a few times but making note of where they were so he could successfully lead Siegfried down thereafter. Once they had identified all the trapped steps, the party was able to go down without further scorching. They retrieved some items from a pool in the chamber, including a statue of a grasping hand which concealed a Scroll of Hunger of Hadar.

Searching a room to the east, they found a series of cells, at the end of which was a woman stuck to the wall by some kind of enormous sticky fungus that appeared to be slowly dissolving her. After several unsuccessful attempts to free her directly, Siegfried managed to improvise a minor curse on the creature causing it to temporarily lose its stickyness and slide off the woman onto the floor, where it began to eat away at the party / their boots. The party grabbed the woman and hightailed it out of the cells, slamming the door behind them and apparently containing the fungus.

Between Evonni, Siegfried, and Buu, they healed the worst of the woman's injuries. She introduced herself as Sasha, a scholar from across the sea hired by a man named Dasha to investigate the ruins of what she called “The Old Watchtower”, apparently the building that stands / used to stand above the sublevels the party ventured into. However, according to Sasha, Dasha made contact with the goblinoids upon arriving in the Eisenwald region, and paid them to abduct children from nearby towns for an unknown reason. When Sasha objected to these abductions, Dasha stuck her to the wall with the fungus and left her to be slowly digested thereby.

After Buu mended the gear damaged by the fungus along with Sasha's clothes, the scholar more or less joined the party's exploration of the lower areas of the Old Watchtower. To the north of the round ritual chamber, they encountered an altar, which Sting sniffed at suspiciously. This caused an entity connected to the altar to contact Evonni through her bond to Sting, and ask her if she was worthy. Evonni answered in the affirmative, and so the entity declared that it would test Evonni and her companions to see if this was so.

Four tentacle monsters then appeared in the room which the party was forced to battle – Ugo, unfortunately, ended up locked outside for this fight as he had not yet entered the chamber with the rest.

After the party beat the monsters, the entity identified itself as “Vorax”, and declared Evonni worthy of a boon / wish. Evonni asked to be shown the way to Albert, so Vorax magically opened a new path to the north, and said Albert could be found that way.

Current Quest Status:

Main Quest, “The Autumn Festival”

 

Rich Emissaries from across the sea are on their way to Pilzstadt for the Autumn Festival to negotiate lucrative new agreements to purchase the fine hardwoods of the Eisenwald, thanks to the diplomatic and economic machinations of Mr. Wolf, the town's master of trade. Unfortunately, a series of mysterious mishaps have befallen the town – these must be resolved, or the festival will be ruined and the town could be set back economically for years!

 

1. The Missing Merchandise (Complete!)

The merchants of Pilzstadt were robbed en masse by unseen theives, and with everything from metal stocks to the Brewmeister's best ale stores gone missing, the Autumn Festival could be ruined, leaving the Emissaries unimpressed with Pilzstadt's hospitality. The party beat the gang of boggles that stole the goods, and returned them to their rightful owners.

 

2. The Mangled Mill (Complete!)

The mill was magically sabotaged! It has to be repaired, as without water-power the huge logs from the Eisenwald can't be sawn into saleable lumber, and there'll be nothing to offer the Emissaries! Evonni recovered a magical bag of metal and lumber from the Shrine of Rodak, and along with some coins to pay extra laborers, it was enough to fix the mill.

3. The Magical Malady (Complete!)

A mysterious illness, recognized by Buu as being magical in nature, has befallen several residents of Pilzstadt. Siegfried, Oph, and Kotadi retrieved healing herbs from Anne's shop in Kusteburg that created a curative form of holy water when combined in the Stein of Healing Siegfried recovered from the shrine of Rodak. The disease has been eliminated!

4. Spore'n To Be Wild (Complete!)

A cloud of strange spores is causing people and animals around Pilzstadt to go crazy – that's the sort of thing that scares off potential investors! The party tracked the spores to Osho, an ancient myconid who was using them to send a distress call to any of his kind within range, so that he could pass on his Spore of Sovereignty to another of his kind before he died. Buu received the spore, and once the myconid peacefully passed away, the distress spores quickly dissipated from the air.

 

5. A Ferry Bad Situation (Complete!)

Someone sabotaged the ferry – without it, the loggers and mushroom-hunters on the other side of the river have no easy way to get back and forth from the forest to Pilzstadt, which would slow both of Pilzstadt's key industries to a crawl. A solution must be found! Though the party could not fix the ferry, Ugo found a magical seed in the Shrine of Rodak, which grew into a bridge across the Bochtig River where the ferry once was – an even better solution than before!

 

6. Owls Be Seein' You (Complete!)

Weird shapes have been spotted moving through the woods, making mushroom gathers and lumberjacks alike reluctant to venture into many parts of the Eisenwald – some people have even gone missing! We need our wood and shrooms, so we've got to solve this problem. The shapes turned out to be the Boph, a friendly race of owl-bear people with reason to distrust humans. Thanks to the party's discoveries, relations with the Boph have normalized, the missing people were returned, and all is well between Pilzstadt and Boph…burg?

 

7. The Quest Starts To Drag-On (Complete!)

Uh-oh, someone's been setting things on fire on the outskirts of Pilzstadt! The party's got to put paid to this pyromania, and fast. The party defeated the fire elementals attacking the fields, and drove off the red dragon wyrmlings leading them.

 

8. I've Got Some Bones To Pick On You (Complete!)

The old fire watch tower north of town has been the source of strange activity – it's right off the trade road to Kusteburg, so we need to solve the mystery to insure the town's secondary trade route stays open. A group of restless warrior spirits – including one of Hartmann's kin — were bound to the tower by dark magic. Defeating their reanimated remains released them to rest in peace.

9. They're Goblin Up The Children! (Quest In Progress)

Just when it looked like everything was ready for the festival, a child in Pilzstadt goes missing, and it looks like goblins are to blame! It's time for the Eisenwarden to teach those little green freaks and their big bad bugbear bosses a lesson!

 

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To Bring You Up To Date...
The undocumented adventures of our heroes up to date at last!

Siegfried and the mayor successfully stop the town from rioting and potentially hurting Mr. Wolf's associate, who turns out to be Kamil. The Shaggy Mane is cleared for a private session with the mayor, where the party reluctantly reveals their magical transformation. The Mayor is surprised but supportive, especially as the party agrees to help her with the strange problems around town. She in turn has a yurt-like wood and canvas Pavilion erected with the help of some funds supplied by Wolf earlier, to give the party a private space to plan and work in. 

The party then investigates each problem in turn: first a strange disease affects some folk in Pilzstadt. The party investigates and Buu determines the disease is magical. They try to then investigate the site where the first infected person fell ill, but run into Lumbermeister Steppenwald who warns them lumberjacks have been disappearing in this area. On investigating they are initially attacked by spears and driven off after ignoring several written signs telling them to keep away. They stay the night at the camp, where they meet Hartmann, a man who managed to magically survive a living tree attack. Ultimately undaunted, they return to perimeter marked by the signs and loudly ask to parlay. After a tense meeting diffused by giving the strangers a close look at the elven faces of Sieg, Ugo, and Evonni, they discover the strangers are the Boph, an owl-like race of humanoids is responsible for the disappearances, having captured the lumberjacks, believing them to be responsible for the destruction of Ruddy Hans. Comparing notes, the party discovers that the Boph appear to be from a different time, since they believe the tree just fell to an attack by magic-weilding humans, whereas it was hundreds of years buried when the Pilzstadt loggers found it and began harvesting. 

The suspicious Boph give the party 10 days to investigate, and send a scholar named Oph to help. 

Back at the yurt, the party splits up: Buu and Sieg investigate the mill, Ugo, Kotadi, and Hartmann check out the shops that have been robbed, and Evonni and Coge investigate the ferry, since their investigation of the disease was stymied. Sieg and Buu find the mill appeared to have rotted by non-organic means, and after nearly drowning by the broken waterwheel, Sieg recovers a stone cylinder, which the smith helps him open, and which contains two spell scrolls – comprehend languages, and mage armor. Ugo's crew finds that the missing items from the smithy vanished inexplicably, but a large stone marked with a wing symbol appeared outside. Evonni talks to some otters about strange things in the river, and the point her to an oddity in the bank which turns out to be a sinkhole that sucks her, Coge, and Kamil down into a cave system. Kamil manages to climb back out and bring Sieg and Ugo, and they encounter strange ice monsters guarding a shrine of some sort.

After killing the monsters, they enter the shrine and meet the ghost of Rodak, a past hero who mentions he was killed by the Boph but seems to bear no ill will towards them. He puts them through three trials before letting them leave the Shrine, and then giving them relics of his heroic adventures, which turn out to be a strange magical seed that grows a bridge, a mug with healing powers, a magic bag of miniaturized building materials, and a magic ring. His purpose fulfilled, Rodak vanishes and the party makes their way back out of the caves.

Evonni gives the bag of building materials to the Smith to replace the lost stock and repair damage at the mill, Ugo throws the seed as instructed by Rodak where it grows into an impressive stone and metal bridge which will obviate the need for the ferry, Siegfried investigates the possibility of using blessed water in the mug to heal the disease, and Coge's ring turns into a swarm of bats at night and flies away, though it returns in the morning. 

The party each dreams about the item they received, which convinces Siegfried to go to Kusteburg to retrieve a rare herb needed to bless the water in the mug from Ann's shop, taking Oph, Kotadi, and Kamil with him — they also hope to investigate reports of unrest in Kusteburg. Evonni dreams about a strange smith and some animals, and when she asks the town smith about it, she finds that some strange bracers with animal symbols on the appeared at the smithy during the night. The smith gives these to Evonni. Ugo has a dream in which he sees the bridge being turned from a bridge back into a seed with Rodak and a female mage. The mage gives him a magic band in the dream, which he still has when he awakens. When they next sleep, the party shares a dream of fighting a mutated snail, which is interrupted by a pair of massive glowing yellow eyes telling them to "remember". 

On waking, Buu finds he has molted and feels stronger, and some of his memories return. Sensing myconid distress spores, he runs outside, finding the sky overcast almost to the point of twilight. When he portends the weather, he sees a mountain with smoke coming from it, which is not a portent he is familiar with. When the party assembles, they trace the spores to an ambush by three mushroom-wolf hybrids, which Buu is able to identify as myconid spore servants. The servants attack them, focusing only on Ugo and Evonni, but the party defeats them, though Ugo and Hartmann are briefly paralyzed by stunning spores when Hartmann kills the alpha wolf. Buu touches a floating spore that emerges from the alpha, seeing a vision of a leering, pointed eared face along with frantic mental commands to find and neutralize it embedded in the psychic residue of the spore. Buu convinces the party to go after the distress spores, and as they follow the trail they find many glowing, oversized distress spores, some of which Ugo collects despite Buu's protest. 

Along the trail they hear something in the brush, and chase it into a box canyon. It turns out to be an ugly little blue humanoid creature, which beckons them closer, but the party is not fooled and when the creature appears to give a loud frantic signal in its strange language, the party joins battle, where the adventure pauses for now. 

 

 

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The Shivving Tree
The party turns over a new leaf.

On their way to a cave Evonni knows, the party encounters a strange disturbance, which Evonni hears as whispering and Siegfried experiences as a faint melody. Suddenly, nearby trees and shrubs come to life and attack, lashing the party with the branches. Though their first impulse is to fight back, the party is ill-equipped to fight trees and (obviously) outnumbered, and so they flee the scene, easily outdistancing the trees who seem to have relatively little ambulation. Most escape with scratches, but Evonni is knocked out by a swipe from the largest tree and has to be carried to safety.

The party reaches the cave, which seems to have been used as a camp before, and turns in for the night. In the morning, Siegfried and Kotadi discuss how the townsfolk will react to their new appearances, and they decide that that the elf-like party members can hide their ears with long hair and their cloaks, relying on peoples' tendency to see what they expect to see to help obfuscate the more subtle changes. Siegfried reveals that he has also worked out how to disguise himself with a magic glamour, as he is the one most likely to draw direct face-to-face attention. 

The party sets off for Pilzstadt, on the way encountering Snail Farmer Lukas headed out of town to search for a lost giant snail. Knowing that the part of the forest he is headed to is dangerous (having recently encountered angry trees and goat men there) they dissuade him, with Evonni promising to search for the snail instead. Fortunately for Lukas' health, he is agreeable to any course of action that lets him go have a drink at the inn instead of bushwacking through the Eisenwald, and so he agrees, turning back to Pilzstadt, where the party follows after a quick detour at Evonni's forest camp to resupply and obtain some stored healing herbs. 

They approach the town and Ugo wants to immediately go home to greet his mother, but Siegfried convinces him they need to meet with the mayor first to explain the goings on. They find that the ferry is missing, so they cross via the mill bridge instead, where Siegfried's parents normally run the mill. Inside, they find the mill deserted and in uncharacteristically poor repair. Heading to the Inn, they find the mayor swamped by a mob of townsfolk inside. Inquiring with her mother (who runs the Inn with her father), Evonni discovers that the town has been plagued with strange misfortunes, including the mysterious accelerated rotting and sinking of the ferry virtually overnight, and the sudden breakdown or decay of many of the mill's components, along with a plethora of missing stock, soured milk, mysteriously assaulted lumberjacks, etc.

Mr. Wolf is nowhere to be found, and in the absence of his charismatic leadership, the mayor is having trouble calming the townsfolk on her own. They blame a mysterious stranger (a purported associate or guest of Mr. Wolf) for the misfortunes, and demand he answer their charges. Currently, the mayor has sequestered the stranger in her house guarded by a few of the more level-headed townsmen to prevent the mob from seizing or lynching him, but the situation is becoming dire as the town's mood sours. 

With their benefactor currently absent, Siegfried declares that it's up to them to stop the people from rioting, and as they prepare to do so the story pauses. 

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The Goat Men Cometh
Ambush at the Healing Spring

The party is ambushed by attackers from the forest, who appear to be strange half-man, half-goat creatures armed with spears and bows.  Initially surprised, the group gradually rallies to face their foes, who seem resistant to magic. Kotadi awakens mid-combat and manifests the ability to teleport, flanking one of the goat men with Siegfried. One eventually falls to an arrow from Evonni, one takes Siegfried's rapier through the back when he turns to cut down Kotadi, and one is improbably beaten to death with a stick by Buu. (Who was evidently provoked into a fungal rage by having himself and his new friends nearly murdered by a band of unprovoked assailants twice in one week.)

The group then wearily drags themselves to the spring to rest. As they do, Siegfried begins to feel strange, hearing ethereal melodies all around him, and to his amazement he discovers that he too has begun to manifest magical powers through his voice and music. Moreover, the party discovers that their appearances have changed after bathing in the pool — Ugo and Siegfried have taken on elven features, Evonni and Kotadi even more so, with Coge temporarily manifesting a hard-edged draconic appearance that gradually fades once he leaves the water. Ugo, Siegfried, Evonni and Kotadi also discover that their senses have sharpened, and they now have the ability to see in the dark. Though Evonni has yet to manifest any magic directly, she feels her bond to the forest has taken on a mystical dimension. (Buu does not become any more uncanny than he normally is, much to everyone's relief.) 

Siegfried, recalling stories he has heard, matches the appearance of the elven party members to the description of the Forest Folk, a legendary race told of in fairy tales and generally thought to be entirely mythical, though he cannot recall anything quite like Coge in the stories he is familiar with. They discuss what to do about the pool, initially concerned they may have intruded where they do not belong, though Siegfried comments that since they are seemingly Forest Folk, the forest is where they belong by definition, a sentiment Evonni readily agrees with. 

The party then shares a literally magical experience as they sit about the pool, with Siegfried and Ugo joyfully putting on a show with bright illusory magic, joined by Coge and Buu who manipulate the water around them into fantastical shapes. Before they depart to seek shelter, Siegfried — whose magic awakened after the battle and therefore was not expended during it — sings an old song he knows that was purported to be a healing charm.  He manages to continue it long enough to mend the wounds of the most grievously injured, and the party leaves to seek shelter in a nearby cave. 

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Over The Hills and Through The Woods
The chase is on!

The party heads into a copse of trees to camp, but Ugo is awakened by a spectral hand beckoning him, and wakes up Evonni as he follows it. It turns out to be Kotadi, warning them that Byard's men have pursued them outside of Kusteburg and into the countryside. 

The group flees, with Coge and Ugo managing to convince a surly shepherd to misdirect their pursuers after he catches Evonni trying to scatter his flock for the same purpose. Siegfried uses his flute to imitate a hawk, scattering birds from a hedge as further misdirection, but they are then stymied by a river. Although Buu finds a decent place to ford, he, Ugo and Siegfried are still swept away when they trying to swim the swift water. Luckily, Evonni and Coge make the other side in time to throw them ropes and pull them to the far side of the river (with Siegfried snatching up Buu in the process) just as Byard's men arrive on the opposite bank. As they draw bows, Coge creates a pair of floating ice blocks to distract them while the party flees.

With several more misdirections, the party arrives in the Eisenwald and makes camp, Evonni sleeping in a tree. She awakes on the ground but doesn't seem to have fallen. Someone catches a brief view of a masked figure, but other than disturbed brush there is no sign of them in the morning. The party finds that they have suddenly taken ill, but this is soon discovered to be an effect of Buu's telepathy spores finally taking hold on them. Siegfried finds he (having carried Buu papoose-style for a substantial portion of the way) is now able to hear Buu's projected thoughts, much to the little myconid's delight, and the rest of the party is expected to soon be "tuned in" as well. 

Kotadi has failed to awaken, however, and despite the application of herbal medicine by Evonni and Buu, they are only able to stabilize him. So, constructing a rough travois from branches and one of Evonni's animal hides, they carry Kotadi to the Healing Spring, hoping it will cure him. Siegfried gives him water from the spring, but when that doesn't work, the party decides to carry Kotadi into the spring.

When they do so, the water begins to bubble and glow, and a shock runs through the party from Kotadi's body. Siegfried manages to remain in the water to hold Kotadi above it, but as the rest of the party scrambles out of the spring, an arrow from somewhere strikes Evonni, and the story pauses. 

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Escape From Kusteburg
The party makes their escape.

The party awakes back at the Duke's Rest, recovering from their injuries under the care of a healer named Kamil, except for Coge as he was relatively uninjured during the fight. Captain Hans introduces Kotadi to Coge, who negotiates an agreement to take Kotadi to the Healing Spring, previously visited by Evonni on Wolf's behalf. 

Later, the party is interviewed individually by Knight Captain Dals about the robbery, and Siegfried perceives from his hostile, accusatory manner (despite the fact that they were victims) that he is connected with Egbert, a question which Dals evades.

That evening, Captain Hans arrives to spirit the party away, suggesting that if they stay in town they may somehow be framed for the robbery or some other malefaction by Byard, Egbert's uncle and the overseer of the city watch.

They make their way out of the inn, where the surly (and likely fake) musicians they encountered on the way to Ann's shop are lying in wait, but Siegfried distracts them with a dart thrown at a distant pan to make noise and the party slips past them unseen. They are nearly caught by a surly cart driver when Ugo is noticed trying to urge the horses forward to block the alley behind them, but Captain Hans intervenes and they escape to the harbor and The Howling Tempest, where they meet Kamil and are instructed to hide in a lifeboat. Therein they meet Kotadi, who has rescued Buu from the bandits who robbed Ann's shop. Once the ship is underway, they lower the lifeboat and escape up the Bochtig river, hiding the boat along the shore as they make their way into the hills towards the Eisenwald.

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The Rarest of Mushrooms
A simple delivery leads to both wonder and disaster.

After a good night's sleep, the party awakes and heads downstairs into the common room of The Duke's Rest, to find that their benefactor Ernst Wolf Ribbentrop has left for the day on business, leaving them each a small stipend of coins and some instructions with the innkeeper, Herr Hill

They are instructed to deliver a wooden box to the local Herbalist's shop, and are advised — for reasons not stated — to stay away from the harbor district and not to cross the river into the wealthier district of Kusteburg. Afterwards, they are to show Ugo around to some tradesman's shops, to see if he sees a trade that interests him. Siegfried — being the most familiar with Kusteburg — takes the lead, and drops the box into a sack, which on second thought he hands to Ugo to carry.

The party sets off, and finds it is a generally normal day in Kusteburg, with the townsfolk bustling about their business. They encounter a pair of street performers who seem utterly disengaged with their work, not even bothering to thank a passing citizen who drops a coin in their cup. Siegfried notices and comments on their lack of flair, which prompts Ugo to approach them – with Siegfried hovering protectively just behind - and ask what they are doing, which they answer curtly and brush off further inquiries with gruff unfriendliness. Despite this, as far as the party can tell they are just poor street performers, and so our heroes move along to their destination.

They are greeted by the shopkeeper, Anne The Herbalist, who eagerly opens the proffered box to reveal five rare mushrooms from the Eisenwald Forest. Inviting the party to come along, Ann goes down a hallway into a dimly lit back room, where she (evidently) begins talking to a plant and placing the mushrooms in front of it.

As their eyes adjust to the dimness, the party approaches to discover that the plant is, in fact, a large mushroom itself. More interestingly, this mushroom possesses arms, legs, and eyes. More interestingly still, this mushroom is moving around of its own accord. Startled at first, the party quickly warms to the little creature as it absorbs the medicinal mushrooms provided to it, becoming even more active as it does so. Anne explains that the creature's name is Buu, and he was found in a somewhat sickly condition by mushroom hunters in Pilzstadt. He was then passed on to Wolf by the Mayor, who mutually agreed to keep him a secret, which the party generally agrees was probably wise, and Wolf in turn left him with Anne, hoping her expertise in herbs and fungi could shed some light on Buu's nature. For his part, Buu seems to be currently content with this situation, responding positively and even warmly to Ann and the party, though he rebuffs Evonni when she asks to pick him up.

The creature can communicate mentally with Anne, but not the party, and she surmises that extended exposure is required to speak to it and hear it in this way. Nonetheless, Buu can understand the party's words, and makes himself understood to the party as best he can with gestures, nods, and head shakes, with Ann relaying more complex messages.

Shortly, Anne hears other customers enter the shop up front, and leaves to attend to them while the party continues watching Buu in rapt fascination, as the little mushroom-creature revels in his new vigor and mobility, moving around the room and inspecting the various raised planters. Ugo comments that this is much more fun to watch than the surly performers outside, and Siegfried agrees, saying that Buu's capering would probably bring in a lot more coin than half-hearted juggling, but also that it's probably for the best that Buu is not subjected to that kind of public exposure. Evonni attempts to ask Buu how long he's been with Anne, and so Buu attempts to communicate the concept of "ten days" by pointing to a sunbeam and then making ten lines in the dirt, but Evonni is unable to make sense of it. 

Ugo then hears something from the front, and when he listens closer realizes that it is angry shouting. Thinking that the Herbalist might be in trouble, he alerts his friends and bolts towards the shop front, with the rest of the party and Buu following. 

They find a group of armed men threatening  Anne. Ugo rushes in and strikes a glancing blow to one of them, but is pushed back. The men advise the party not to intervene, appearing to be single-minded in their objective — the man Ugo struck is the apparent leader and says they are there to reclaim their property. Buu attempts to stay out of sight behind Evonni, but the leader of the brigands catches sight of him and advances, saying that Buu is the "property" he has come to take. 

Since no real justification for their invasion of Anne's shop was provided, Siegfried interposes himself between the leader and Buu and engages the head brigand in a sword fight. Buu, surprising everyone, somehow produces a cloud of fog to obscure himself and Evonni. Evonni takes advantage of this, darting out of the fog to loose arrows at the enemy and then darting back in to conceal herself, though aiming is difficult with so many of her allies around and enemies overlapping each other. 

It goes poorly, as Evonni and Siegfried are the only well-armed members of the party. A club-wielding thug grabs Ugo from behind and holds him fast despite his struggling, and in so doing breaks the chain around Ugo's neck. The moment he does so, Ugo finds himself in a forest, in the company of a white bearded man and a white horse. The old man introduces himself as Content Not Found: cheim, and says he has been watching Ugo. He claims he is an ally of the forest itself, who seeks other allies to protect the Eisenwald, and to fight injustice, those who would do harm, and — he makes a point of mentioning — bullies. As Ugo watches in a mixture of amazement and unease, Cheim reaches into the horse's body and — seemingly without causing pain or damage — draws forth a clean white rib and offers it to Ugo, saying that this will be a symbol of Cheim's alliance with him, and that he is not to lose it. Ugo, somewhat reluctantly accepts the gift, and feels a rush of power. Cheim bids him farewell, and Ugo finds himself sailing away through the air before reappearing in the shop, behind the thug that had seized him. 

Ugo grins, and with an instinctive gesture of the bone wand that sends nearby flower petals swirling around the thug, the man sways on his feet, and then collapses to the floor as though he fell into an exhausted sleep. The party is amazed, but has no time to react as they are occupied with the other thugs and their uncommonly skilled leader, whom Siegfried struggles desperately to match in swordplay.

Another of the thugs starts to advance and Coge tries to seize him with a curious technique used at the monastery, but as he does so the crystal around his neck starts to glow, and the technique proves to be a somatic motion that unleashes a ray of frost on the thug. With all the thugs thus engaged with the party, Anne darts through door to the storefront. 

Still struggling to hold their own, Seigfried scores a few hits on Content Not Found: gypsy, who is then buffeted along with another of the thugs by a roaring breath of frost exhaled by Koge. Ugo then manifests another ability and strikes at the leader with an coldly lashing vine of withering force, but the leader keeps his feet still, and in a flurry of attacks strikes down Siegfried. Ugo roars in anger, projecting a dread presence that pauses the leader's advance momentarily, but the leader shakes it off after several seconds and manages to wake the thug Ugo had put to sleep. 

Buu attempts to intervene, causing vines to erupt from the ground and grasp at the thugs, but the brigands break free of them. Coge backs towards the door, hurling icy blasts, but most fail to find their mark as he is forced to aim around his rapidly falling allies. Ugo succumbs to the leader's seemingly invincible assault and falls alongside Siegfried, as Evonni blocks the door. The leader tells her to stand aside, to which she bravely refuses, but with all the thugs converged on her she is struck down just the same. The thugs head into the fog to search for Buu, who manages to stab one in the leg with a dagger before the other three seize and disarm him, and then stuff him in a sack. 

While the thugs are thus occupied, Coge follows Anne to summon help, and finds her already on the way with the city guard. As he calls out them the, the thugs push past him and flee down an alley with Buu. The watch arrives with Ann, who rushes into the shop as the guards pursue the brigands. Anne binds the wounds of the fallen and prevents them from dying, while Coge elaborates on the situation to the guard captain, skirting around the sensitive issue of Buu by describing him as a valuable mushroom which the thugs have stolen.

Just then, the other guards return and inform the captain, Anne, and the party that the thugs had a boat waiting, and have unfortunately escaped by water with their "stolen mushroom".

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The Story Begins
The Wolf assembles a pack.

The story begins as the unseen Narrator tells a story to an unknown group of travelers from the sea, going first to Kusteburg, and then to Pilzstadt where the Narrator advises his audience that the tale starts.

Siegfried Sommer, adventuresome young musician, is summoned to The Shaggy Mane Inn by the mayor of Pilzstadt, whom he finds in conference with Mr. Wolf, the master of markets and commissioner of Shroomspringa. The two officials explain that a royal envoy from a distant kingdom is to arrive in Pilzstadt, with an eye towards purchasing some of the imperishable cedar wood from the ancient dead-fall "Ruddy Hans". They hope to welcome him with music from the envoy's homeland, with which Siegfried is not familiar, so the young musician is sent to accompany Mr. Wolf to Kusteburg where a traveling minstrel familiar with the foreign songs can teach them to Siegfried

Meanwhile Evonni Kruger, the reclusive hunter, searches the Forest of Eisenwald on an errand for Mr. Wolf. Her keen eyes spot the object of her hunt — an as yet unrevealed object — and with this mysterious item secured she makes her way to the river to wait for Wolf's arrival as instructed.

Later, the eager but troubled young Ugo Dunkelauge is on the fringes of Pilzstadt where he spots and avoids a pair of local bullies, whom he shortly thereafter witnesses absconding with something from the inn, and then making a quick escape. Ugo was also summoned to meet with Wolf at the inn, and so he makes his way there. Upon his arrival, Mr. Wolf informs him that his family has been formally accepted into the village, and furthermore that Mr. Wolf has commissioned him to go on Shroomspringa. (It appears from the mayor's reactions that Wolf has somehow pressured or cajoled her into agreeing to these actions against her own wishes.) Ugo is at first stunned, and then nearly panicked when he is told that he must leave immediately, and is given scrip by Wolf to outfit himself at the general store. 

Ugo, having assembled a bindle of supplies from the general store, heads to the dock where he meets Siegfried. Together, they board the barge and Ugo almost falls into the water as he tries to copy Siegfried's casual hop from dock to deck, but Siegfried catches him with a swift Acrobatic maneuver and pulls him aboard, where Wolf shortly joins them and the barge sets off downriver. 

Elsewhere, the enigmatic wanderer Coge Fenter finds his way to Kusteburg, where he attempts to find work but has difficulty explaining the nature of his talents to the townsfolk. It is there where he encounters a Mysterious Woman, who seems to sense potential in him, and offers him an opportunity. 

Back on the barge, Ugo discusses Shroomspringa with Siegfried, the latter having already completed his. Before long, the barge crew slows the vessel at Wolf's behest and briefly steer towards the bank, where Evonni is waiting and hops aboard without a word. The two young men try to engage her conversation, but she is reserved and the company soon lapses into an awkward silence, broken only when Siegfried decides to play his hornpipe to the delight of the barge crew. 

The barge group arrives in Kusteburg, and after leaving the harbor there they encounter The Mysterious Woman, whom Wolf seems to know and be slightly discomfited by. (Leading Ugo to suspect her of being Wolf's "special lady friend".) After parting ways, Wolf takes the group to The Dukes Rest, a nicer inn past the harbor, and leaves them in the care of Herr Hill the innkeeper. Siegfried, always eager to spread his fame in Kusteburg seeks to ply his trade but discovers a pair of minstrels already playing there, much to his chagrin. 

In the back room, Wolf meets with and hires the perplexed Coge. Coge accepts Mr. Wolf's offer and they toast with a liquid poured out of a Flask before Mr. Wolf sends him out to meet his new compatriots in the common room while Wolf attends to another matter. After introductions, during which Siegfried unsuccessfully tries to nail down what exactly it is that Coge does, dinner is served. As they eat, Siegfried brings up the subject of his favorite tavern game: darts. Herr Hill happens to have an old dart board in the basement made from a crosscut log, which he dusts off and hangs up in the common room for his guests. They each take turns, with Ugo narrowly hitting the board, Siegfried striking near the center with one of his own hand-fletched darts, and Coge employing a strange throwing technique to get a bullseye. Evonni then misses badly with a wild throw that ricochets improbably around the common room, before hurling one of her daggers at the board in frustration instead and hitting the bullseye dead-on. Thereafter she declared the game to be stupid, and retrieved her dagger from the board, leaving an immense gouge where the bullseye had been. Siegfried wryly congratulated her on having "slain the dartboard."

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