Let the Bulettes Fly
The Kobolds and the Trees
The Party awoke in the underground root-structure that had housed The Rain Bow feeling stronger than ever. Predicting a long day ahead, Lilli Longshadow led the group out around dawn. Faewynn Treewalker noticed after a short amount of travel that the forest seemed strangely different than she remembered it. She brought this up to Lilli who did not seem concerned by it, and so the group walked on.
After another hour of walking, the party heard the distinctive sound of a tree falling nearby. Lilli insisted on checking it out, and the group agreed. With some particularly poor stealth performance from Johann VonGruppen, the team gave themselves away to the creatures in the clearing ahead. A large group of kobolds were gathering around a couple of large, felled trees and noticed the group. One among them--the only one with blue skin--ran off into the forest. Instructing the party to "deal with this," she ran off after the creature into the forest, dodging easily an attack of opportunity or two on the way.
Algernon the Tall decided that the most appropriate way to "deal with it" would be to unleash a massive fireball in the middle of a forest, and so he did. Although many of the creatures seemed to be less harmed than might be guessed, this did not diminish the smell of burning kobolds remaining in its wake. Faewynn unveiled The Rain Bow in spectacular fashion, and it would not be long before the party dispatched most of the remaining kobolds--several with a second fireball that left Murmus Bigtoe looking fairly singed as well. Shortly thereafter, two attempted to escape, and one succeeded--the other being struck down by another colorful shot from Fae.
Upon investigating one of the felled trees, the party discovered that the trees seemed to have... faces? Or at least the suggestion thereof. Noticing what he believed to be a closed mouth, Johann chose to cast his Speak With Dead spell on the tree. Miraculously choosing Elvish--the only language this recently dead creature spoke in life--Johann was able to communicate with it. The party was able to deduce the following:
- The creature could understand Johann.
- The creature had recently died.
- It knew why it was killed.
- It was killed for its bark.
- Its favorite color was green.
Upon returning to the party, Lilli regretfully shared that she was not able to capture the fleeing "leader." She explained to the party that she was glad to see their success, and told them a little of the travesty that had taken place. The party learned that these creatures were generally revered, as they were kind and wise creatures. Their bark was evidently useful in making magical equipment such as wands and staves and it was for this that the kobolds attacked. Lilli insisted the respectful thing to do would be to burn them, to prevent the kobolds from returning to this spot and stripping their bark. With some teamwork, the party was able to start two significant blazes and stuck around to see the bark burn away.
When Algernon realized that the ashes of the bark still had magical properties, he elected to start shoveling them into an iron pot he, for some reason, had on his person. This seemed to infuriate Lilli, who immediately moved to stop him. When he initially refused, she drew her sword to his throat and repeated her demand. Algernon elected not to die this day and relented, restoring what ashes had collected and walking away from a furious gnome.
Upon realizing that no one in the group had the ability to extinguish the fires, Lilli sent Sol the owl away to fetch a solution. Assuring the party of her confidence in her friend, she proceeded on to her home.
Of Frogs and Faeries
Upon reaching Lilli's home, the party was mildly surprised to find Marin still there, seated on the floor and reading a book of some kind. The party reaffirmed their plan to return the poor grung to his home, which Marin revealed was about 3 or 4 days travel... perhaps 2 if they could recover a boat. This made the party reconsider whether they truly wanted to go at all, but decided after a moment to commit. Immediately realizing they would need shelter during the nights, the party began to ask if Marin or Lilli knew any other safehavens on the way. They were reminded of the shifting nature of The Fellgleam that Fae had witnessed all day long, and thought these plans to be unreliable. It was at this point that Algernon remembered mastering a spell called Leomund's Tiny Hut, which would be used to safely shelter them for 8 hours a night. This was thought to be sufficient before recalling that nights are more like 10-12 hours long. Algernon had an answer for this, too, however. You can always fit a hut inside another hut, he assured.
Appreciating their commitment to keeping a promise, Lilli offered to visit The Feywild on the party's behalf. Reminding them that she could not predict when exactly she'd return, Lilli offered to learn what she could of the quickling thief and his goblin companions, and the party gratefully accepted her generosity.
With their plan solidified, the party moved to set out with Marin. Before departing, the grung insisted that Lilli take his walking stick from him. Lilli reluctantly accepted with no small amount of confusion on her face. Seeming pleased nonetheless, Marin walked off under his own power into the forest with no sign of a limp--a fact that struck Murmus as peculiar.
Johann decided to inquire of Marin what he had been reading when the group arrived. Marin revealed it was about Fey folklore and legends, and all manner of things in The Feywild. When asked next about something important or interesting from that book, Marin suggested that the most important thing would be to avoid a creature called The Cthaeh. Evidently, it was said to look like a magnificent, twisted willow tree. Marin also said that it was allegedly the most dangerous thing in that entire realm, and that no one should ever dare to speak with it.
Let the Bulettes Fly
The party walked on, led by a confused Marin receiving guidance from Fae. Eventually, they found themselves in a huge, grassless, muddy field entirely devoid of trees. It was the first time anyone in the group had seen a truly open sky since arriving in The Fellgleam. Seeing that circumnavigating the field would cost them much of the day, the group elected to pass straight over it. With a strange sense of agoraphobia descending upon them, the group managed to cover about a quarter of the distance to the far side before some noticed a low, deep rumble. Progressing uncertainly--evidenced by Johann's retrieving his Immovable Rod--Murmus began using thaumaturgy to make rumblings in various spots as they walked. Eventually, this attracted the focus of two monstrous bulettes who exploded out of the earth beneath them and attacked.
Johann and Grihymm each targeted the beasts with magic that had no effect, as the creatures were too feral and stupid to appreciate the intended effects of their spells. The beasts struck out at the group, dealing significant damage to Murmus and Johann immediately. However, the group's friendly white dragons interceded and with a puff of magical breath, temporarily incapacitated one of the bulettes. The other would spend some time groveling at Grihymm's command. With some additional efforts (and no thanks to Marin), the group managed to slay one of the two beasts, leaving the other relatively unharmed.
Murmus, seeing the remaining beast, charged ahead and--for the first time--activated his Tide Stone amulet. All in the vicinity notice the deep, vibrant blue glow as a critical moment seemed to reveal itself. Everyone's breath caught as something important seemed about to happen... but then Murmus tripped, dropped his hammer, and fell incapacitated in the most spectacular failed attack anyone had yet seen from the stout dwarf.
Perhaps in an effort to distract the remaining bulette from his fallen friend, Johann then decided to mount the creature's back. With an impressive bit of dexterity, he managed to climb aboard. However, he was not physically equipped to withstand the bulette's bucking, and was thrown high into the air seconds later. Remembering his Immovable Rod, Johann clicked the button midair and managed to hang on, halting his own momentum and leaving him hanging in space. He was disappointed when the creature decided to make a running leap for him anyway.
With some incredibly quick thinking, Johann decided to click the button on the rod, dropping him several feet. Importantly, though, he clicked the button once again before dropping himself to the ground. He negated most of the force of the creature's onslaught as a result, but more importantly, the bulette's gaping maw and huge stature allowed him to accidentally swallow the entirety of the Immovable Rod. As a result, it found itself unexpectedly stranded and helpless 15 feet above the earth. As its cries of rage turned into cries of pain, Grihymm took pity on the creature, and ended its suffering in a single slash across the beast's belly, splitting it wide open and causing a rain of gore and entrails down upon himself, the dragons, and Johann.
Algernon used his Mage Hand to recover the Immovable Rod for his friend, and quiet fell upon the battlefield. Standing now alone--most of them drenched in blood and smelling putrid--the group looked on across the remaining distance awaiting them on their journey to Marin's home.
Lilli's promise to visit the Feywild to learn more about Twig and his goblins on the party's behalf.