Chapter 03: Power, Duty and Temptation

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Session Number: 74
Date: Sunday 21 November 2010
Venue: Fergus'
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr8 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Emily Ftr3/Rog6 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Feren Rog9 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal9 (Craig) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz9 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBC

At the party's request, Trina hands over a dozen seeds with reverence and grace. Rowaine places them in a small wooden box for the queen, then stows them in her backpack.

"Will they last indefinitely, Trina?" Rowaine asks. "Unplanted, I mean. Will they need care?"

"They are seeds. They will last a long time."

"Trina," Rowaine asks, "does Troll have any Roielle blood?"

"No, not that I can tell. There was a time when the Roulaes and the Roielles were mixed, but that was a long time ago."

"I think I'll stay behind," Troll says. "I'm not that keen on going to a place where I am hated."

"You don't wish to see the queen at all?" Rowaine asks. "She may wish to see you."


"I will stay with you," Shalélu says.

Troll grants all the ability to use Abbey's wing to transport back to Elondel. Given that Shalélu is not venturing forth, Arrian asks Trina if she can locate a person of Caprian's description nearby.

"If you go in that direction," Trina says, indicating an area of the thorny barrier, "the gentleman you describe is there. He appears to be hunting."

"Can you guide us?" Arrian asks. Trina looks perplexed.

"Just go in a straight line."

"We're not very good at travelling in a straight line. We grew up with dwarves."

"Dwarves? Why would you want to do that?"

"We were all orphans and the dwarves took us in," Arrian explains.

"You don't look like an orphan," Trina says to Arrian. "I see family."

"I was only recently orphaned," Rowaine says.

"You don't have a large family, although there are some. I see why you would want someone to lead you. I have a friend close. He will help."

"What form does this friend take?" Arrian asks.

"You would not understand. There are none here anymore. He will lead you. Go that way."

Arrian tries to push through the thorns but cannot.

"Trina, could you let me through the barrier?"

"You have the means."

Arrian turns to Feren. "Can you allow me through?"

"Sure," Feren says. He repeats the request to Trina. Arrian tries again but still cannot make any progress.

"Can you let him through, Trina?"

"I don't control the hedge. It's magical, it has a mind of its own. I can ask it to do certain things, but it works under its own rules, not mine. You and Troll can get through and you can let others through, because that's what it was told to do."

"A mind?" Arrian says. "Can Feren talk to it?"

"I don't think so. That's not right. Why would you want to do that? Not everything that has a mind can communicate with you."

"Trina," asks Rowaine, "for the gatherings that you held many millennia ago, did some of the delegates arrive on foot?"


"How were they allowed entry so as not to cause inconvenience?"

"Oh, there wasn't any hedge then. It was put up by the last Roulae and the last Roielle. They said it was for protection."

"You asked earlier whether we wanted the barrier removed," Rowaine continues. "Is that within your power?"

"I can ask it to go away."

"If you ask it to go away, is it gone forever?"

"I can only ask it once. Then it dies."

The party form the same chain as before and squeeze through the brambles safely. They see nothing unusual on the other side and decide to wait. Shortly thereafter, Arrian spots a white light buzzing amongst the distant trees. They cautiously approach. Arrian notes the light bears a vaguely humanoid shape, winged and white. It is as if the figure glows, but the glow doesn't touch the surrounds, somewhat as if it is blurry. The figure seems to notice the party's approach. It flits away then stops and turns, waiting.

The group follow the figure for several minutes. It speeds up for a time before coming to a halt. The party close to within twenty feet of the figure. It appears as an attractive male. It beckons them to sit, then points away and silently leaves. There is nothing of interest in the direction it indicated.

"Caprian!" yells Rowaine. There is no reply. The party remain seated for a couple of minutes but Caprian does not appear. They set out in the direction the being indicated, but quickly become confused as to where to go.

"Caprian!" yells Rowaine. No answer. She turns to the others. "What are you supposed to do if you get lost?"

"Stay where you are, attract attention and wait," Arrian replies.

The party stay put. Every five minutes Rowaine calls out Caprian's name. Shortly after her second call Caprian appears.

"Well, what do we have here?" he says. "You got out. Although there appears to be less of you than there was…"

"Two of our companions stayed behind," Arrian explains. Caprian seems to digest these words.

"What can I do for you?"

"Would you be so kind as to lead us to the capital city and the queen?"

"There has been more activity in the area than I am used to. Scouts."

"Elven scouts?" Rowaine asks.


"Part of your team?"

"No. I'm what you might call independent. These are more 'queen-orientated', shall we say?"

"I am sure they will be able to help us if you connect us with them," Arrian says. "Could you put us in their path?"


Caprian leads the group for a couple of hours, then stops.

"This is their thoroughfare." Caprian says. Rowaine looks around. She cannot see anything to distinguish this part of the woods from any other. Caprian sits down and begins pulling food out of his backpack: meat, cheese and bread. "Eat," Caprian says, handing out the food. "There's plenty, and we may be a while." Feren notices that the volume of food before them could not possibly fit in the backpack it came out of.

"How was the hunting?" Rowaine asks as she makes herself a sandwich.

"Good enough to serve our needs for a while."

"Do you live nearby?"


"We need not indispose you any longer than is necessary," Rowaine says.

"I am happy to wait. These can be dangerous woods. I will introduce you to anyone who passes. I expect we will be here for the rest of the day."

"Very well," Rowaine says. "Don't be alarmed, Caprian," she says, and then begins summoning her fantastic mount. Harley appears behind Rowaine. Instantly, Caprian is on his feet, bow in hand, arrow nocked and trained upon the stone flyer. He hesitates.

"They're not normally nice," he says, his eyes never straying from the beast.

"This one is different," Rowaine says, swinging her arm around Harley's considerable neck.

"This is a paladin of Moradin, Caprian," Arrian says. "And this is her mount."

"Ah," Caprian says, lowering his bow. There is the merest suggestion of relief on his face. "Those things are hard to kill."

Harley stands watch over the group as they finish their meal. Rowaine throws a handful of bones to her mount which quickly disappear. The group get comfortable and wait, Harley looking outwards.

After several hours, Caprian stirs. "You might want to pack up. I think we will have visitors soon." Harley has not moved. Rowaine and Feren listen but cannot hear anything save the breeze through the trees and the occasional twitter of birds.

A few minutes later, a clanking, rustling sound heralds company. A lone elf stumbles into view, obviously tired.

"Caprian?" Rowaine questions.

"A soldier of the queen."

"Who be you?" the figure asks in elven. Arrian introduces himself as a priest of Corellon Larethian and offers his blessing. He then introduces the others.

"Feren?" the soldier says.

"Yes," Feren says hesitantly, in between translating the exchange for Rowaine.

"Crane. I have been sent to bring you back to my camp."

"We are looking to travel to your capital city," Arrian says. "Can you help us?"

"I am sorry. I an under strict orders to return Feren to camp."

"Why?" Rowaine says in common after Feren translates.

"How many of you are there?" Feren adds.

"Twenty soldiers, and the prince."

At these words, the party agree to be led.

"I will leave you with Crane," Caprian says. He nods to the soldier.

Rowaine unsheathes her imithrium dagger and offers the hilt to Caprian. "Would you accept this as a gift given in gratitude for your services?"

Caprian takes the weapon and inspects it. "Thank you," he says.

"If you should ever encounter metallic spiders, you may find it more effective than your other weapons."

Caprian takes his leave and Crane leads the group. Ninety minutes later they hear the sounds of a nearby camp. They soon enter a clearing occupied by tents. Elves move about the area. Crane leads them to the centre where the crown prince stands over a shaded table, studying maps. He looks up.

"Feren!" he says excitedly. "Mother will be so pleased. You are well? It is good to see you." He turns to the others and switches to common. "I am very pleased to meet you all." Arrian introduces himself and the others. The prince's eyes linger on Emily before returning to the speaker.

"Arrian… I have heard that name. Come, we should talk. Do you need anything?" He calls over one of his servants to see to the party's needs.

"Mother sent me out looking for you, Feren. She was worried."

Prince Elathon chats to Feren in elven. He then turns back to the others.

"Is there anything else I can provide?"

"Just one thing," Rowaine says. "Passage to your capital. We have news for the queen."

"I will personally escort you tomorrow." He calls over a servant and whispers something in his ear. The servant nods and briskly walks away. "Please, you must be hungry. Come, join us as we take dinner."

The party are seated at the prince's table. With him are three of his captains. Over the meal, Rowaine properly introduces herself to the prince.

"Are you the same Lady Rowaine Kharag that helped my mother?"

"The same."

"Thank you for looking after my good friend here," the prince says, indicating Feren. "I appreciate it."

"He has been a good companion."

"I am pleased to hear it."

"He is quite good with that rapier of his," Arrian adds. "He has been taught well."

"Not by me. I prefer the bow, myself. I see wisdom in stopping an enemy before they close."

"Makes sense," Arrian concedes. "Your family is well?"

"Yes. Mother is busy. There is a lot of talk around court."

"Do you have family of your own?"

"Not as yet. Alliances are forged slowly amongst elves."

"Well, things that are forged slowly are the strongest."

The prince changes the subject. "I understand the campaign in the south went well?"

"You mean Fort Rannick?" Rowaine asks.



"Well done. Most interesting. I understand you had quite a hand in that."

"Not without cost," Arrian says. "One of our dear friends fell."

"I am very sorry to hear that. Unfortunately my position does not permit me to visit such places."

"Have you travelled to the south?" Rowaine asks.

"Yes, a number of times. Never to that particular fort, though."

"A pretty area," Rowaine says. "Strange architecture… Did you venture to the dam? Skull's Crossing?"

"I have seen the dam."

"Do you know its history? It is said to be very, very old."

"Yes. Before my time. My history is more localised. I am sure our scholars would know more." The prince looks about. "I must say, I expected your party to be… larger."

"You refer to Troll?" Rowaine says with typical dwarven bluntness. "He has chosen to… study."

After dinner the party take their leave and settle into the tents provided them. The following morning, the elves strike camp and prepare to leave. The troop travel on foot through the forest. Towards the end of the day they meet a windy dirt road. They follow it until dusk approaches, then pitch camp in the forest alongside. The party again sup at the prince's table.

"I would be quite interested in speaking to a learned elf named K'at," Rowaine says.

"K'at? You know he's nuts, right?"

"He has a reputation for being knowledgeable…"

"But that doesn't mean he's not nuts."


"I've asked him many questions over the years. Sometimes his answers are quite ridiculous. But anyway… As you wish."

"You know him well, then?" asks Arrian.

"No, not well… Nobody really knows him well." The prince gestures to the northwest. "We will be meeting mother in Follyhall, one of our southern houses. I think mother was expecting a… larger party, and wanted to stay out of the main city."

"It might not be politic to be seen in the company of a reviled exile," Rowaine muses.


A night, a day and a night passes. Mid afternoon, the troop enter a wide clearing bisected by a river that originates from atop a fifty-foot high cliff to the west. Buildings connected by timber walkways nestle up alongside the cliff face on the opposite side of the river. Elves tend fields. Two graceful bridges cross the river to the left and right. The area looks well-established and well-maintained. Guards step out of their hidden posts and snap to attention at the sight of the crown prince.

The troop walk over a bridge and climb many steps to a house surrounded by a wide timber walkway. It appears the structure continues into the rockface, rather than simply butting up against it. Prince Elathon leads them inside, past twin guards. The construction melds almost seamlessly from timber to stone. The prince leads the party into a large room with plentiful seating, lit with lanterns that give off neither heat nor smoke. Two servants look on expectantly.

"I suppose you'd like to clean up?" Instantly the servants move to attend. The prince excuses himself, taking Feren aside.

As the others clean up, the prince leads Feren out to another house further up the cliff face, into a room where the queen waits.

"Welcome," Quen Raewyn says. "Good to see you. How did it go?"

"Quite well. We have activated what you wanted activated."

"I expected it would be."

"You knew that I was of the Roielle family?"

"Yes, Feren. Some information that you might need at this time. Your brother knows this, but your sisters do not. When your father was ill, we were unsure how the kingdom would fare after his passing, since I married into the family. We jointly decided early on that it would be safer for you to not be known by your bloodline. Your father died before you were born and I took over the crown. I decided that since nobody knew, it would be easier to keep the truth hidden rather than try and bring you into the family. I have kept an eye on you; you have done well and have made me proud. Your sisters will be advised at the right time. They are fond of you anyway…" The queen's voice trails off as she sees Feren's eyes glaze over.

"It's a lot to take in, isn't it? But you are of noble blood. Remember that. Be proud, and make us proud. I hope that one day your blood will be made known, but not today. 'Matters of State'… Sometimes our people take precedence over ourselves. It is the way it works, it will always be.

Recent events also prove that your companion is indeed a true Roulae. Possibly one of the last, I suspect. They have not been seen for many years. We have history, the Roielles and the Roulaes, history that you are not party to at this stage. It must remain so, at least for a time. The royal family are the only people that know what happened around those times… We are going to keep it that way for now. I know, your father knew, your brother knows some and he will know more."

Prince Elathon's grin can be contained no longer. He clasps his brother to his chest.

"We had best talk to the others," the queen says.

Prince Elathon leaves the queen and Feren, returns to the lower dwelling and bids the others follow him. He leads them to the building where Feren and the queen wait.

"Your highness," Rowaine says, curtseying.

"It is an honour to meet again," Arrian adds, bowing low.

"I thank you for freeing our friends in the south," the queen says. "I appreciate it very much. It will make it easier, eventually, having those trade routes in place. I also understand from your companion here that you have done as I requested and activated the tower?"

"Yes," Rowaine says, "although she doesn't refer to herself as a tower. 'Trina' is her name."

"Yes, I believe it was. Thank you."

"At your service. I have these for you," she says, passing the queen the small wooden box. She opens it.

"I take it these are Trina's seeds?"

"Indeed," says Rowaine.

"According to legend, her branches were far-reaching and many. I do not know how they fare these days. It would be good if they were once again."

Rowaine clears her throat. "I feel it only fair to let you know we have established a Roulae wing within Trina's grove."

"Is that so?" The queen's tone drips with disapproval.

"It is," Rowaine says firmly. "We are a long way from home."

"Are you familiar with the terminology?" Arrian asks.

"Yes. As queen, I am party to much information that is unknown to many others. There are a number of books in the library about such things."

"We felt that the tree and the tower would work very well collaboratively," Rowaine says. "Trina is unaware of current events. She seems quite naïve, and although well-protected, she does not know of the arachtria or the matre. We felt that she could benefit from the added protection that a wing could provide."

Arrian adds "It also means that you and your people can communicate via the wing to Troll and to get messages to him and us."

The queen is silent for a time. "You could be right. It may be advantageous." She appraises Rowaine. "It does not hurt to have such power in the area though, does it?"

"To be honest, your highness, it does not interest me in the slightest."

"We shall see. Still, it is done, I suppose. I doubt it is within my power to reverse it, should I wish."

"It is a matter you can take up with Troll at your leisure, your highness."

"Hmmmmm… It will be interesting to meet him again. Interesting boy. I notice that your party is… short..?"

"Yes," Rowaine says. "Troll has decided that he would be better served not being here right now. I can pass a message on, should you wish?"

The queen does not answer, instead gazing at the seeds within the box. Arrian notices the object of the queen's attention.

"Over the centuries that Trina has been dormant, most of her branches have fallen away for various reasons, some of them geological. At this point, Trina only knows of three functioning branches."

"It is very sad. According to legend, there was a time when she had many, many more."

Rowaine informs the queen of the fate of Trina's five remaining branches.

"Interesting. These seeds will go far."

"Your highness," Rowaine says, "Trina mentioned that she had branches in almost every elven city. I presume that you would have had one or more in your city..?"

"There were some branches that were fairly close - within a few weeks' journey - but to my knowledge they are no longer."

10,000 years ago the elven capital could have been built around Trina, for all we know.

"I appreciate your work in the south and I appreciate your work in awakening Trina," the queen says. "As such, I owe you a debt. I have much to give. Land, wealth…"

"There is only one thing that is out of our grasp at this point that we would welcome any aid on," Arrian says.

"Speak. If it is in my power, it shall come."

Rowaine fetches the precious black rod from her backpack. "We have a friend entrapped within this magical device, and I wish that not to be. He bargained with some entity, I know not what, and in return for his entrapment my soul was returned to this plane and this body."

"I have a number of powerful people at my disposal," the queen says. "Priests and mages. They will be made available to you."

"I greatly thank you."

"No reward could be richer, your highness," Arrian adds.

"For a trapped soul, I agree. It is a most noble quest."

"My learned colleague has mentioned the name of a sage in your lands by the name of K'at," Rowaine says.


"Would he be able to help?"

"Hmmm… K'at may. He has much knowledge. I shall send for him."

"Would it be better for us to go to him?" Arrian asks.

"I shall send for him," the queen repeats. "He will be here tomorrow." The queen's eyes flit away momentarily. Servants enter bearing berry teas.

"How are your daughters?" Rowaine asks.

"Well. They are close by."

"The one I met at the monastery seemed… ebullient."

"She is the youngest, it is to be expected."

The meeting ends and the party depart. Arrian strikes up conversation with some of the guards and enjoys some sparring practice with them. He connects with the local priesthood, pays courtesies and meditates.

Rowaine stands outside, taking the place in. It is very restful here.

"Walk with me, paladin of Moradin?" The queen.

"Your highness." The two walk amongst an orchard of ancient apple trees. Rowaine waits for the queen to begin.

"I suspect you guessed, worked out, or have been told in some way shape or form that Feren is of Roielle blood?

"So it appears."

"He is of royal blood, my fourth child. His father was deathly ill when I was early with him, and it was deemed unwise for a widowed queen to be with child. Feren knows, as does his brother. His sisters do not. I thank you for looking after him. He is very dear to me."

"Things fall into place for me," Rowaine says.

"If he continues to travel with you, which I suspect he may, it would please me to know he is in good hands. Feren is free to go his own way. He is not bound, like his brother and sisters, to a life of servitude. You may think that the mantle of royalty gives; it does not. It takes away. As a paladin, you may understand these things. Your life may too be one of servitude."

"I believe that servitude takes many forms, your highness. One may have more or less freedom than another."

"I would be eternally grateful if you would look over him. He is a good lad inside."

"I am finding so. I will do whatever is in my power to look after your son."

"My thanks."

Rowaine looks thoughtful. "Your highness, do you see any hope for the relationship between your family and Troll's?"

"The story of the Roielles and the Roulaes as passed down through the generations is not quite as accurate as people would have you believe. The relationship between our families at the time of the split was not so strained. I hold a lot less enmity towards Troll than you might think. Although I am disappointed that there are not more of him, doing more work."

"You are disappointed that he is the only one left?"

"Well the only one I know of."

"Trina believes him to be the head of the family."

"Which is quite possible. However. Even were I like most of my people in reviling the Roulae family, I am smart enough to know their value against the arachtria and the matre. And I am not like most of my people."

"My fear, your highness, was that regardless of your relationship or feelings about Troll, that you would attempt to use him for 'the greater good'. That would … disappoint me."

How does one diplomatically threaten a queen?

"I must admit the idea did flutter into my head three or four hundred times… But if Troll is a true Roulae, then there is not a lot I can do to control him. In fact, there would not be a lot that anybody could do."

Rowaine laughs and smiles. The queen notes her reaction.

"If his family's blood runs through his veins as it did in the history books in the royal library, then he is uncontrollable as they, and it would be detrimental for me to coerce him. An alliance with this family would be beneficial, but I do not believe that I can control him. Any attempt to do so might cause a problem for elfdom itself. If he is in fact the last Roulae, he needs to seed."

"His mind is heading in that direction also."

"So what do you think of him?"

"Your highness, you can immediately discount me…"

"As I suspected, but one must never assume."

"Would the Roulae line be extended through a multiracial union?"

"I suspect so, at least as far as Trina is concerned."

"And the towers?"

"I have a lot less understanding of the towers."

"Your highness, I imagine someone of your position and tutelage would have excellent knowledge of matters of history. You mentioned that common perceptions of what happened in those times is different than actual events. Can you tell me what actually happened between your family and Troll's?"

"Well, there was a falling out, a disagreement, an unpleasantness. But I am not at liberty to divulge any more than that. These affairs are family affairs."

"I shall not press the matter," Rowaine says. "Well, your highness, it seems I am somewhat of a bridge between these two great families. Just as I shall look after the Roielle, so shall I look after the Roulae."

"Again, my thanks," the queen says with a smile. "Trina will be able to provide transport to the other elven kingdoms. The towers are very, very valuable, especially in the matter of the matre and the arachtria. While they have been silent for some time, I must admit a wing in my realm makes me feel slightly safer. As they have been silent for some time, the enemy has grown a lot. Not so much as I would expect, but still a lot. Hopefully, they disappear entirely. I don't think it will happen in my day, but I think it will happen."

The queen channels Rachel Hunter.

"Might I perhaps mention to Troll to consider providing arms and equipment for your people?"

"I do not know if my people will accept that. It may be best if any alliance is somewhat unofficial and not public."

While the queen and Rowaine walk, prince Elathon spends time with Emily walking by the river. He seems quite taken with her.

Rowaine and the queen part. Arrian grills Rowaine about their conversation; Rowaine brings him up to date.

"So, did the queen say there are arachtria still active in her kingdom? That's something that Troll might like to know!"

"You are right."

The next morning, K'at arrives with the two princesses. They are pleased to see Feren. K'at is spirited away. Rowaine and Arrian loiter outside, hoping to encounter the ancient sage. They eventually see him descending a set of stairs, alone.

"Rowaine," says Arrian, "his features… If I didn't know better, I'd say he was a sun elf, like Troll. Not like the queen or Feren or I."

"They all look the same to me," Rowaine says. But as the ancient elf gets closer, she is inclined to agree. Rowaine casually intercepts.

"Sir, may I help you?"

"No thank you, young lady, I am fine."

"As you wish. It is a lovely day."

"It is," he says, completing the journey and easing himself into an east-facing bench in the garden.

"I am Lady Rowaine Kharag, of the Silver Hand. This is my companion, Arrian."


"Pleased to make your acquaintaince. Was it a good journey?" K'at nearly dozes off.

"Hmmm? I think so. I wasn't awake for most of it <cough cough>"

Rowaine observes the elf, thinking he is a bit chesty. "May I help you? Are you poorly? I have some skill with ailments."

"I stubbed my finger before," K'at says, holding up a finger on his left hand. "It hurts mightily." Rowaine can see nothing wrong with the digit.

"Whoops, wrong finger." He holds up a finger on his right hand. It too looks fine.

"Oh, the sun is good on my old bones…"

"Excuse me sir," Arrian says. "We asked the queen if we might have the honour of meeting you because we had some questions."

K'at gets up and starts slowly shuffling away.

"Excuse me, K'at," says Arrian. "We do have some questions, we wondered if you could help us?"

"You could have said something before I got up! It's not easy, you know…" K'at sits back down stiffly.

"I may be able to ease some of your pain, sir," Rowaine says.

"I don't truck with that kind of magic. It's wrong. Should do it yourself. Hmmm. Whaddayawant?"

"We have a friend in trouble," Arrian says. Rowaine pulls out the black rod. K'at eyes it.

"Hmmmm… Interesting."

Rowaine thumbs the device. "Our friend appears to be contained within."

"How big is he?"

Rowaine is somewhat taken aback. "Half-orc-sized…"

"Half-orcs are normally a bit bigger than that…"

"He made a deal with an entity in order to save one of our party's souls," Arrian explains, "which involved freeing the entity from within the rod and having his own essence captured in exchange."

"Hmmmmm… Does it have a stopper on one end?"

"Yes," Rowaine says.

"What happened when you pulled the stopper off?"

"It doesn't open."

"Did you pull really hard?"

"Yes, I did, sir, of course. We believe it is a magical containment device."

"Oh it's magical you say, I see… I was wondering how you got him in there…"

"Is this something that you might be able to help us with?"

K'at coughs again. Rowaine approaches him. "Are you OK?" She reaches out. K'at turns and stops her with a stare.

"I am fine, young lady. Sit down."

"Very well, sir." Rowaine does as she is told.

"I have heard of devices that have this kind of effect. Not in this area for some time… They have existed in the past, there are probably a few of them still around - obviously at least one. The type of beings that would normally use this type of container are… 'averagely nice', shall we say? They can be mean some times. Can I have a look?"

"You may," Rowaine says, handing the rod to K'at.

"Heavy. You could have warned me!"

K'at peers at the rod and attempts to open the stopper. It does not budge. He murmurs words under his breath a number of times.

"Hmmmm. Hmmmmmm. It is possible to release him, but it will not be easy."

"What must I do?" Rowaine asks.

It will require some special magic, and some special ingredients. I will need to contemplate it for a bit.

Rowaine makes to leave. "Please do, and if there is anything I can provide, then I am at your ser…"

"I'll need… Hmmm. I'll need some help for a start." He gets up and does not look nearly so infirm.

"Was your friend a nice person?"

"Yes," Rowaine says. "He follows the same deity as I."

"Hmmm. Averagely nice, then. Hmmmm… You will need to journey to get some ingredients for me. It's fortuitous that you have brought the queen some of Trina's seeds, as I will require something like that. Seeds are particularly potent - growth magic. They will be useful. I'll need one or two. And I will need another device like this, or something similar. If you can find me one that is like this - I can let you know what type of magic is required - then I can use the magic from it to cancel the magic from yours, and free your friend."

"It needs to be a certain kind and potency of magic?" Rowaine asks.

"To cancel the containment of this device, I can use the containment magic of another device. It needs to be of equal power or greater."

"Where might we find such a device?" Arrian asks.

"Not in these lands, that's the unfortunate thing. I haven't heard of one of these for many years."

Rowaine pulls off her backpack. "I presume that this will not serve?"

K'at inspects the backpack, murmuring. "That'll do nicely. Maybe not powerful enough… No, not powerful enough."

"But this sort of thing?"

"This has containment magic, which is good… If I had more magic as well, then that would help."

"If I had more of these, would that suffice?"

"I expect so, yes. The magic that binds your friend is stronger than the magic in your backpack. I need equal or greater magic, preferrably but not necessarily of the same type as that which holds your friend. If it is not the same type of magic, then the amount of magic I need is greater."

"What about a wing backpack?" Arrian prompts Rowaine.

"K'at," Rowaine says, "are you familiar with Roulae towers and wings?"


"The portable device that is used to create a wing, would that be appropriate?"

"I'm not sure… From what I understand, towers and wings are made from old magic. Much more sustained than the new magic."

"Would it be too powerful?"

"The older magic that the towers are made with draws upon a different source than the magic that holds your friend. It is not a matter of power, I am certain the 'backpack' contains enough of that. It is a question of… compatibility. I don't think I could draw power from it."

"Do you know anyone that we could talk to who may know sources of containment magic?" Arrian asks.

"Yes. I understand you recently awoke the Tree of Life? She has told you of the Ships of Song? It is said that its inside is greater than its outside."

"And that is the sort of magic that I seek?" asks Rowaine.

"Interdimensional magic is perfect, yes. Your friend is not literally held inside there," he says, tapping the rod with a wizened finger. "He is held inside another space. That is just the portal to it."

"I see," Rowaine says. "Then it seems I have a journey ahead of me."

"How may we contact you?" Arrian asks.

"I will be here for some time. It is nice and warm here."

At lunch, the queen informs the party that her advisors will be arriving over the next week. She also warns Feren privately that she is likely to tell the two princesses about his parentage some time in the next couple of days. Prince Elathon seats Emily at his right hand.

Over the next six days, elven mages, priests and sages pass through the residence and meet with Rowaine and Arrian. Caprian arrives also. Roughly half of the learned elves offer opinions similar to K'at's. The others either don't know, suggest the use of reality-altering magics such as Wish, or advocate tracking down some form of containable entity, perhaps a genie, and transferring it into the rod in a transaction that should free Krag. Once the stream of elven intelligence is exhausted, the party offer their thanks and are led back to Trina by Caprian. They arrive safely and Caprian departs.

"Hello, again," Trina greets the party as they breach the brambles and approach her tree.

"Hello, Trina." Arrian says. "Queen Raewyn Roielle has twelve of your seeds. You said it can take up to a year for a branch to grow from a seed… Can you communicate with them before that?"

"Of sorts, yes."

"Is there any way to send a message to Follyhall if they plant one of your seeds now?"

"Not really."

"You can't accelerate the growth of a seed?" Rowaine asks.

"I can, but it's not natural. It just doesn't feel right."

Shortly afterwards, the party realise that neither Troll nor Shalélu are within the grove.

"Hello, Abbey, Rowaine says after summoning her portal. "Have you seen Troll? Are you in contact with him?"

"He went with what's her angle…"



"Inside the tree?"


Arrian finds Trina. "Do you know where Troll has gone?"

"He has visited three branches."

"Do you know which one he is at now?"

"Yes. He most recently visited the Cavern of Tears, with Shalélu. I told him not to go, that I didn't think it was a good idea, but he went."

"How long ago did he go, Trina?"

"About a day."

"How long did he spend in the first two?"

"A couple of days."

"This is their first visit to the Cavern of Tears?" asks Rowaine.


"How how long does it take to travel?" asks Arrian.

"An instant."

WHY did we leave Troll alone?

"Trina," Rowaine says, "can you contact him? Is he near your branch?"


"What is at your branch?"

"A cavern."

"Is Troll nearby?" Arrian asks.


"Did he arrive safely?"

"Yes. He arrived, then went out of the area of my perception."

"How distant an area can you perceive?" Rowaine asks.

"Down there, not very big. In the caverns there is lots of unnatural stuff that confuses my senses. It is a large cavern with lots of… hard stuff, like you wear?"


"Metal, yes. The girl didn't want to go."

"We'd better head back to Elondel, stock up and go after him," Arrian says.

Rowaine gasps. "I could slap him!"

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