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It's a beautiful day in the city of Serestal. All seems peaceful, the people of the city going about their business as usual. The marketplace you pass through is as ever filled with all manner of stalls selling a truly mind-boggling array of goods. Here are weapons and perfumes, food and exotic fabrics, jewelry and dreams, memories and potions; and here too are a thousand people going busily about buying and selling. Eladrin and elves, mostly, dressed in bright colors. A hundred smells linger in the air, some making you hungry, others not so much. All seems normal, at least as far as normal goes in a fey city. Except for that letter, of course. And you've learned quickly since you came here that it's rarely truly quiet in the city.
It takes a bit of doing, between the infuriatingly vague location and the mind-bogglingly strange directions, but you eventually find the ice fountain the letter mentioned near the marketplace. Now... How wide is a moonbeam? And exactly how far past the sun's zenith does Celestria plan to show up? For that matter, which direction? Fortunately you seem not to be alone in this, as several other people are walking around as well, and the fountain itself is marvelous to look at. It seems to be carved from pale blue ice that doesn't melt despite the strong summer sunlight, formed into graceful swoops and whorls, with basins at various levels that catch and allow to drain what seems to be an eternal, impossible miniature avalanche of snow. At least you won't lack something to look at, and you seem to have company. Several other people are wandering near the fountain, looking as though they're also searching for someone. Perhaps one of them knows more...
So, this is the IC thread for the for now rather un-originally named game Heroes of the Feywild. :) Welcome!
The half-Orc coated head to toe in glistening rimefire plate armor which dances with hints of red and blue magic, stands with his hands on his hips glaring at the foutain. His greenish-brown hair is short cut, and his fierce eyes look like they're trying to melt the fountain with their intensity. This is why I hate this plane, sometimes. Irelia, grant me your eternal patience... he mutters, his gauntleted hand touching the rose tucked into his belt as he does so. I think I see why Gruumsh and Corellon never got along... he thinks.
Dredge wanders around the edge of the remarkable fountain, still unsure as to why he is even there. His thoughts flit between It's good to have friends in high places and Well, I've got nothing better to do.
He casts his gaze around at the other people scattered nearby, ensuring to keep his gaze downcast and his hands in the deep pockets of his robes. Despite the eclectic mix of people in Serestral - he can see a Half-Orc, a Pixie, a Genesi and a Tiefling in the immediate vicinity - he still feels like an outcast, and hides his strange ghostly gaze and scaled hands from view.
Still, he would like to know what's going on here, and maybe these others have more of an idea than he does. He approaches the Tiefling carefully, and futilely attempts to clear his throat. His voice remains gravelly regardless, as he asks, "You're also awaiting Celestria?"
A beutiful woman saunters lazily on to the scene. She appears human at first, but her jarringly pale skin and orange eyes suggest otherwise. She wears a corset and a short skirt. Her unremarkable clothing, however, provides jarring contrast to her many piercings and abstract tattoos. A bow is slung across the newcomer's back, and there is a dagger at her side.
"Hello," she says, in a deep, rich voice that is a joy to listen to. "And what brings you here?"
The Warlock sighs, staring up at the sky. A sunny day, of course. Not a hint of a moonbeam. A terribly inaccurate measure, in any case: how many moonbeams would possibly have the same width, and what instrument would one use to measure them?
Tajal never was a fan of vague and poorly explained directions. What ever possessed him to follow this lead? Oh, right... it may be that she knows more of the far realm and its denizens, the eladrin reminds himself.
More people here, too. Don't look like natives to Serestal. Look pretty lost to boot. Or too cheerful.
Tajal sighs again; more victims of poorly instructed meetings, perhaps? Maybe the Lady Celestria enjoyed calling in multiple people. Never a good sign in a contractor to call in multiple people who've scarce met.
"I suppose if anything," he mumbles, crumpling up the paper, "I now know how to navigate these streets."
A slight woman approaches, leaving behind her both a trail of muddy footprints and a fine mist of what might be sand trailing off of her shoulders. At first glance you pay her no notice, thinking perhaps she's some poor homeless sot covered in filth. When she opens her mouth to speak, however, the truth becomes immediately clear.
With a deep rumble and an unexpected echo, the words hit your ears only after bouncing back off of nearby buildings. "Might a moonbeam's width be a measurement of time, rather than of space?" she wonders aloud, before realizing that there's several other people staring pensively at the fountain, and, now, at her.
"Oh, sorry, a mountain forgets it speaks aloud. Hello. You may call me Rumble, if you ever have reason to call me anything. Are all of those bits of paper summons here from Celestria?"
"Curiosity, more than anything," Dredge answers, opting for the easier response. He takes in the motley assortment of people and wonders what this Celestria could possibly want from such a disparate group. "But let me guess - you're here for the 'handsome reward'?"
A small pixie flits into the fountain area, buzzing around excitedly. His shoulder-long hair is a bright pink, and he wears robes made out of what appear to be leaves. He holds a small piece of paper, and is muttering to himself. "How long is moonbeam? Would it be the width of the moon? But what if the moon isn't full? What direction from the fountain should I go?" Looking up, he notices the other people gathered there. "Oh, hello! Are you here for the job as well? Has anyone figured out how long a moonbeam is? And why would we need to be exactly three moonbeams from the fountain? How would we all fit in there anyway?"
As you mill about talking to the others present, a woman suddenly makes her presence known. The Eladrin frequently have a flair for the dramatic, but even by their standards it's disconcerting when she appears in a small burst of cutting, icy wind and swirling snow.
"No, no, I said three moonbeam widths, not two..." She laughs suddenly. "Ahh, forgive me, I always forget that our manner of giving directions makes little sense to outsiders!" She smiles warmly. She's an average height for an Eladrin, with golden hair, tanned skin and violet eyes that mark her as being from among the Summer fey, though the snow falling lightly about her and the chill air that clings to her make it obvious she has some sort of connection to the Winter fey. She's dressed in the flowing, silvery robes of a priestess of Sehanine, and looks about somewhat furtively, then seems satisfied that no one else is in the immediate vicinity.
"You are no doubt wondering why I have called the six of you here." She sighs. "Alas, it is something that can only be attended to by outsiders." She frowns.
"Recently, children have begun to disappear. Only a few so far, but all in more or less the same way. The Council of course has been looking into the matter, but we've been able to find little, and I have noticed something... Rather disturbing. It seems our investigations are being tampered with from within, perhaps by someone within the Council itself. Whomever is behind it certainly seems to know our movements, so they must have some sort of inside source." She frowns.
"That's where the six of you come in. You're strangers with no affiliation with the council. Adventurers are always passing through this city, due to its bridging of the mortal world and the Feywild. I've heard of your past exploits, and believe that the six of you are suited to investigate this. The council never employs outsiders, so it's unlikely you'll be linked to me, and I certainly don't plan to mention hiring you. Hopefully these factors will enable you to find out more than we have." Her face twists into an expression of sadness and the air chills further.
"And if anyone asks why you're investigating missing children... You can simply tell them that one of the parents of the missing children asked you for help. Three nights ago my son vanished. I ask your help not just for the city, but... Also for myself." The snow falling around her worsens and she looks at you hopefully.
At the other's appearance, the Warlock perks up: he is obviously more at ease now that the unknown employer has arrived, and listens to her (somewhat long) tale in quiet deference. The fact she's heard of his past exploits puts Tajal on guard, but in spite of this she sought him out, so... she cannot have heard anything ill.
All together a good thing, he thinks to himself, because I do not fancy too many explanations.
"I should think myself a terrible person for this," Tajal starts, "but I cannot help but wonder the... unifying thread, if you will. Here we are, people of different walks of life and," he gestures to the racial diversity present, "likely different schools of thought.
"You see in us a group of people who will set about unveiling this mystery, and I see in us a ragtag group of different people, no offence." He falls quiet at this and looks to the lady expectingly.
There is no doubt that he should assist: having someone on the Council owe him would be a great boon if he were to find out the location of that legendary arcanist... navigating the city has been maddening and frustrating enough, and no clues ever left lips without money leaving his pouch.
And Tajal felt money was a great deal scarcer to come by in Serestal, what with the continuous stream of would-be heroes, eager to prove their mettle.
After hearing the news of the missing children, Sparrowhwk gasps. "The poor children! Who would dare get in the way of stopping something like that? Of course we'll help find them!" He then turns to Tajal "I'm sure we can work together just fine! I'm Sparrowhawk! What's your name?" He says, extending a tiny hand towards the Warlock.
With any luck, using his knowledge of Eladrin standards of measurement, Baruk is right next to the spot where their host appears. After her intro, Baruk nods. The Old One gave of himself for children; I can only hope to do the same. Milady, my lance is yours in this; before I am through, my blade shall taste the blood of this horrendous criminal, he vows, inclining his head to their would-be employer. He turns to his companions. I am Baruk Blackhand, last of the Blackhand clan and scholar of the Dawn War. I look forward to working with any of you who would assume this noble quest.
Rumble shakes her head at the news, and the snow which had accumulated on her hood and shoulders slides down her figure in a manner surprisingly akin to an avalanche. "Goodness, m'Lady, I have not had such a chill in many Winters. I know little of the bonds between a mother and her child, but I know well enough the pain of loss."
"I know not how I will be of service, but I pledge my services to you nonetheless." With this, Rumble kneels and holds her hands before her. With a sudden swirl of wind, the snow around her takes to the air, whirling around and between her hands, obscuring them for no more than a blink of an eye. When the flurry fades, where seconds before there was only empty air, Rumble now holds a large, formidable ice pick, which appears to have been itself carved out of ice. She gently places it on the ground and looks up at Celestria for further instructions.
"A band with unified goals after all," he says with a laugh, and then continues to the pixie, "I am Tajal. Rather than worry over our capability to work together, I was concerned for a reason to work together, but..." he lifts his hands a bit helplessly, "in this I am proven wrong."
Celestria relaxes slightly in relief, the snowstorm abating somewhat. A smile returns to her face.
"I am glad that you're all willing to help. And yes, of course you'll be compensated for your time and effort. And perhaps you're an odd lot, but then I am highly abnormal myself." She gestures to the golden hair that contrasts so oddly with the snow falling about herself. "Not always a bad trait, abnormality..." She crosses to the fountain and sits on its edge. "For example, you'd think a fountain near a marketplace would be a bad place to meet in secret, but this fountain was created long ago by the Prince of Frost, before he became quite as... Unfriendly... as he is today. A thing of great beauty, but because so many have come to fear the winter, this place is shunned. Few ever come here." She sighs wistfully. "Caelin loved this place..." A tear falls down her cheek, freezing on the way, before shattering on the pavement. She looks up at you suddenly.
"It's always at night. Usually outside, but a couple have been inside as well. One moment they're there, and the next..." She pales. "I only looked away for a moment, and he was gone... Obviously some kind of teleportation magic is in use." She sighs. "For what it's worth, all the missing children so far have been Eladrin. No particular season, so it doesn't seem to be motivated by those particular rivalries among the fey. All fairly young." She sighs.
"We've found very few leads, and what we have found has been stymied by the interference I suspect from within. Some on the council have suspected the Drow; while they're tolerated here to an extent, and most who live here are of a kindly nature, there are certainly some near here who are quite the opposite of that. They don't usually teleport, though. There's been a higher than normal amount of criminal activity, but we haven't been able to tell if it's coincidental or part of this. Mostly an increased trade in cold iron and items made out of it. Such things are obviously not well-loved among the fey, and mostly sold on the black market here. Someone's been tipping off the criminals, though, and they've evaded our attempts at raids. Still, I can tell you where we last knew them to be operating." She frowns. "There's also been an increase in activity among the Formorians and Goblin tribes, but that seems to be less related. And it may be something else entirely, for all we know. I'm afraid it's not much to go on. That's why I need help. The Council has managed to accomplish nothing, and if we truly are compromised..."
"I'm sure you still have many questions for me. Please, anything you need to know, ask it and I'll do my best to answer."
Dredge ponders the situation carefully before responding. "Without seeing the teleportation spell performed, it would be difficult to find out anything about its nature or source. So, unless we have some way to predict the next victim, it sounds to me like our best bet will be to investigate the possibility that the criminal activity is related." He pauses, then shakes his head. "As unlikely as it may be, we don't have much else to go on."
Rumble ponders carefully before tilting her head to one side and speaking. As before, the words leave her mouth as no more than a deep rumbling noise, but the echo which bounces back from ground is crystal clear.
"Please excuse me in advance, m'lady, for I know I ask something quite rude. The children gone missing have all been Eladrin?"
"Could they just be bad at Fey Stepping? I've heard tales of Eladrin children finding themselves stuck in the mortal realm and unable to Step home, or worse, landing inside walls."
"I mean it as no insult to your Son, of course. Have you noticed any interference when teleporting yourself, lately?"
Or... The kidnappers are Eladrin themselves, and are using their Fey Step ability to snatch the children instantaneously. To me, this would be the most sensible explanation, says the half-Orc warrior after some thought. This plane is heavily invested with arcane magic; there are literally countless ways these kidnappings could be conducted, so I believe we should pursue more tangible leads.
"Well, if someone turned themselves invisible, they wouldn't be noticed, and if the turn their target invisible, the no one would notice them moving towards a door or something. Of course, you'd also have to cast a silence spell on the person you're taking."
Lady Celestria has already stated that there seems to be no discernible pattern to the disappearances. Even if we were to disguise one of our own as a child, how would that help? That would be no insurance whatsoever that a kidnapping would be attempted. Magic is not always the answer to magic; I say we look at the criminals that have been evading the Council's efforts and see if we can draw a link. That is our firmest lead.
As he says this, his mind is on other things. Have the denizens of this plane never heard of practicality? Of logic? Irelia, my heart, I do not know how you live in such a place...
"Pursuing the criminals behind that activity was the council's main plan as well. I do not know if that bodes good or ill for it, but." She sighs, a bemused expression on her face as she looks at Rumble.
"Caelin wasn't 'bad' at it, no. I realize non-Eladrin aren't familiar with it. But it's not something we generally need to learn, really. It's just... Part of us. We can do it from our earliest childhood without thinking. I've heard occasionally of those with blood from other races who can't do it innately and had to learn, or never managed at all, but Caelin and all the other missing children are pure-blooded Eladrin." She sighs. "Further, it wouldn't be possible to be trapped on the other side here. Serestal lies fully in both worlds, the veil between the Feywild and Mortal world is so thin here as to basically not exist. Both sides can be seen, so even if he'd transitioned to the material plane I still would have been able to see him, it only really matters what plane you're in when you leave, and even then it's simplicity itself to make the change in the city. And I've noticed no interference in my own teleporting, no..." She looks at Tajal.
"There are similarities, yes. They've all been about the same age, twelve. All at night, as I've said, and all of the parents reported that they had simply looked away for a moment." She frowns. "I suppose it's possible that they're using a silence or invisibility spell, but more likely that yes, they are teleporting in, grabbing the children, and teleporting out, escaping before they can make noise. Some Eladrin are so adept at teleporting they can take others with them, and while we can only do it every few minutes innately, an invisible one could hide, or have learned magical methods of doing it, true." She taps her fingers on her cheek in thought. "That's why we were looking at the criminal activity, actually. Cold iron can keep Eladrin from teleporting suitably applied, otherwise the children could have just teleported away from their captors." She stops suddenly.
"Oh. Oh. I just thought of something." She rifles through her robes and comes up with a list. "These are the names of the missing children and their parents." She hands it to Baruk, who's closest. "It's... All the children missing come from parents of mismatched seasons, and in one case a mismatched race. Caelin's father was a Winter Eladrin. I may be a Ghaele of Winter, but I'm of Summer descent. I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but... Well, it wouldn't be the first time someone's objected to 'impurity' in Eladrin bloodlines. Or perhaps they like that in them. I can't say." She waits while you look at the list. "Is there anything else I can help with?"
Erelia Taelis - 12 Parents: Cernial and Termien Location: Lower Ward.
Tareth Nethal - 12 Parents: Maerthil and Vaelith Location: Upper Ward
Thraelin Nelarin - 13 Parents: Saresha and Eneril Location: Temple Ward
Veldrin Vareth - 12 Parents: Rynthel and Aledria Location: Western Ward
Celenden Theleril - 12 Parents: Celendrien and Saerthen Location: Upper Ward
Caelin Velthrin - 12 Parents: Celestria and - Location: Temple Ward
I would like to know as much as I can before we proceed. Do you know which seasons each child was a mixture of? If there is a pattern there, we may be able to manipulate it. Also, have you any solid leads we can use to begin investigating the elevated crime rate? Baruk clearly wants to get started investigating these disappearances, but he is suppressing his impatience rather admirably.