Dark Holes in the World

When we last left our heroes, they had settled in somewhat better at the Mended Heart after their meeting with the Prince of Hearts to discuss Sigil’s fate and how best to defeat Tiandra. Although Bright and Lo-Kag began drinking soon after that meeting, Chaedi kept her drinking to a minimum as Riii attended a subsequent meeting with the Prince of Hearts during which he and Moreth exchanged notes about possible allies and Riii discovered not only how Moreth interacted with her while she was in command of her body, but also how lonely he must have been all this time. Once back inside, she and Chaedi headed to the hot spring to reconnect, only to have a heated discussion about their relationship…

Riii and Chaedi both exit the spring, shrugging on the robes provided as they argue. Riii’s turns and leaves first, teleporting to the top floor as soon as she has line of sight on it, and then retreating into her room. Chaedi follows closely behind, pausing to plaster on a smile and wave at the people at the bar after Bright points her out, and then following Riii upstairs. She’s ready to burst through the door, but forces herself to count to ten and take calming breaths before she makes a rash decision. She can hear Riii crying softly through the door, and decides to leave her there while she goes to her own room.

In Riii’s room, Moreth attempts to console Riii psychically.

“It’s hard, isn’t it? To care so much. This is the responsibility of royalty. The crown is a heavy weight to bear. The choices that you make are so much more important than the choices of anyone else. As a ruler, it’s your responsibility to bear those choices. It’s not easy, but I know you can do it.”

With Chaedi in her thoughts, Riii responds “I’m not her queen.”

“But she is your responsibility. You have a grand purpose. Much rides on you. It’s not so different from the burdens of royalty.”

“So this is my glorious purpose.”

“Stay with me. Take your time. When you leave this room, I know you’ll be able to hold your head high.”

In Chaedi’s room, the cleric sits in the sand on her floor and vents her frustrations to Melora in an exasperated prayer to Melora. She forces herself to focus on the calming, natural scene outside the window while she does, and sees an autumnal tempest of falling leaves swirling around on the forest floor. She feels almost as though she can see further through the woods than she should be able to, as though the trees and canopies are parting to make room just to hold her thoughts. Slowly, as the prayer goes on, she calms and focuses on the sand in front of her. A luminous moss has begun to spread outward from her, creeping along the floor of her room and out of the window, clinging to the side of the Mended Heart. Small plants have begun to sprout through the floorboards.

Eventually, she begins to calm down, and as she meditates she feels a growing connection to something stable, a sense of being rooted. She closes her eyes towards the end of her communion, and when she opens them she sees the room around her filled with trees and other vegetation. Webs of spidersilk hang from the ceiling and tree branches.

At the bar…
Back at the bar, Lo-Kag joins the other bar patrons on the dance floor, and enjoys himself for a while. Usually, he has to be concerned about the combination of his weight and traditional goliath dancing breaking the floorboards, but he senses that the Mended Heart can stand up to such a beating. Although he doesn’t fully remember the dance he chooses, he manages some interesting, convincing improvisation to fill the gaps in his memory. Bright, also invited to dance by Kodun Dek, sits on the sidelines for now, but several other patrons try to copy Lo-Kag, with varying levels of success. It certainly becomes clear, however, that they are all adept dancers.

Shortly after, a more stately dance starts up and the eladrin woman gets Lo-Kag’s attention and dances with him like he was trained to do for the Court of Stars. It’s not long after that Lo-Kag notices Riddle return to the inn in high spirits. Politely exiting the dance floor, he gets Riddle’s attention, and asks him if the Gloaming Fey agreed to send help to Sigil. Riddle beckons Bright and Lo-Kag over to the bar to speak about the matter over drinks.

Back upstairs, Moreth reassures Riii that she can handle the pressures. He promises her that, while things can and will be difficult and frustrating, she has many other positive experiences ahead of her that will help softens the blows and lighten her hearts. Riii finally relents and decides to head back downstairs. She changes into a beautiful – but party-appropriate – maroon dress that she will be able to comfortably move in, and heads down. She might not feel entirely up to partying, but she does remember that she told Lo-Kag they would drink together, and she wants to get Chaedi off her mind.

At the bar…
Downstairs, she finds Bright and Lo-Kag just as they share a toast with Riddle. She slides into the seat nearest Bright and teasingly admonishes him for starting to drink without her. He is – as always – gently baffled by her teasing.

“Oh, you came back down!” He looks over her outfit. “You look fancy.”

“We’ll work on your complimenting skills soon.”

Bright asks if that wasn’t a good compliment, and she tells him that it was but it could have been better. He suggests he’s not as good at words as her or Chaedi, and Riii’s smile slips momentarily. She tells him that sometimes that’s a good thing.

Despite her sadness, Riii can’t feel wholly melancholy as she watches Bright. He’s smiling, happy to see her, and obviously drunk. She can see him processing his thoughts as they pass through his mind. He starts to pass Riii his drink, then remembers that he’s in a bar and can get her her own drink. He turns to the bartender to order one, but finds he is already pouring one for her. Once Riii’s drink is in front of her, he awkwardly proposes a toast and they drink to it. His obvious uncertainty earns him a supportive thumbs up from Lo-Kag.

As Bright and Riii toast, Riddle makes his way to Riii and holds out a hand to shake hers. She makes a point of holding hers out palm down, and he takes the hint and takes her hand, bowing to kiss the back of it. He asks her how she’s been, and she dodges the question, not wanting to talk about her night so far.

Before the discussion can get further underway, Chaedi also appears, looking nowhere near as fancy as Riii, but back in her Tinderwood-style outfit of soft, off-white cotton shirt and pants. As she approaches the bar, Riii indicates the seat nearest to her, and Chaedi takes it with a smile. Riddle bounds over to her, clasping her hands in greeting. Lo-Kag refocuses the conversation, asking Riddle to share any good news he may have about Sigil.

“Yes, please, sit, I promised to fill you all in. I will say I bring good news. But before that, I hope you will indulge me.”

Riddle jumps up on a barstool with a glint in his eye, and theatrically recites a riddle:

“Light or heavy as seed or tree,
Shallow or deep as beaches or sea,
Hither I come, and thither I flee;
If I don’t come back, then dead you’ll be.”

Riii instantly devises the answer to the riddle, “breath”, and is applauded by Riddle and the rest.

“Now, let me ask you something else. On my journey, which promised to take a week if not longer, what did I find? Or, rather, not what, but who?”

“The Witch of Fates?”

“Indeed, the Witch of Fates, and the rest of the Gloaming Fey. They will arrive here before dawn!”

Chaedi is pleased with this, but asks if all of the Gloaming Fey are coming, and if they’re all well. Riddle assures her that the answer to both is yes. Riii presses Riddle for more information about how he ran into them, and Riddle tells her he was on his way to visit the Maiden of Moon, whose lands lie furthest from here. On the way there, he found them all coming towards the Mended Heart. When he introduced himself, they told him to make his way back to the Mended Heart and herald their arrival.

Riii, remembering that the last time the Witch of Fates marched it was to war, looks visibly worried, but Riddle reassures her that she didn’t seem to be bringing that kind of message. Lo-Kag inquires if this all mean Riddle didn’t have a chance to discuss the matter of Sigil with them. Riddle responds that this is correct, and that he thought the party would be better able to provide details on the matter anyway.

To Riii, as well as to Riddle, Lo-Kag says he isn’t afraid of the Witch of Fates, and actually enjoys her straightforward approach. Riii responds that she isn’t afraid of her so much as what news she might bring. Lo-Kag points out that she is a knowledgeable woman who might have important information for them, causing Riddle to quip that the Witch of Fates “knows much and says little”.

Having heard all Riddle has to say, and ready to party, Riii downs the rest of her drink and offers to order more for the group. While the others agree quickly, Chaedi takes a moment and asks Lolth if she might know the name of the drow funeral drink the party had in Kerradunath. Lolth tells her it is call The Little Village, because the clusters of mushrooms used to make it look like little villages. Chaedi passes the name of the drink on to Riii, who asks the bartender for a glass of it. The bartender, unfamiliar with the name, asks for a description, and eventually finds an eight-sided decanter of the stuff under the bar and pours the drink, passing it to her and watching with interest.

The rest of the party can smell the drink, and all of them remember when they last had it. Lo-Kag asks for a glass as well, surprising Chaedi, who quickly checks with Lolth about whether it would be alright if the rest of the party had some. The response, slightly slow in coming, is that she is allowed to share some aspects of drow culture with outsiders.

Lo-Kag, noticing Chaedi’s expression, turns to face her and explain himself.

“I came here to celebrate too soon, and you came here to grieve, and seeing you with that drink reminds me that the drow taught us to do both.”

Chaedi nods, grateful, and downs her ale so that all that is remaining in front of her is The Little Village.

After everyone has settled into the party atmosphere, Chaedi – perhaps somewhat abruptly, turns to the small circle of people at the bar, and tells them she has a story for them.

“It starts with a murder, but it ends… with love.”

The dramatic promise is enough to get everyone nearby listening, as Chaedi tells the story of the murder mystery in Sigil, the damage done to Sigil’s city guard, and how the party came to know Ant and Merolil. As she talks about helping the two lovers escape from their home to Iliacta’s Boudoir, she puts her arms around Riddle and Riii, bringing them together, then clasps their hands, showing the audience she intends for them to take the roles of the two men. Then, she prompts Bright to stand. She’s hoping he’ll take on his role as well as he did the night of the trek across the city, but he doesn’t immediately understand what she’s getting at. Thankfully, Riii’s theatrics – clutching at Riddle and describing her fear – give Chaedi enough time to whisper the plan to Bright, who then carefully instructs the two on how they should move, sneaks them around the bar, and then out through the door.

Riddle brings Bright and Riii back in to applause, and Chaedi has only a moment to continue the story before Riii jumps in, and encourages everyone in the audience – which has now grown – to guess what she did for the lovers. After several wrong guesses that Riii jokes about to some laughter, Riddle guesses correctly that she paid for their entertainment, which earns another round of applause. Chaedi, having woven in several other encounters from their time in the city, shifts the scene to the tense night spent chasing Sgt. Farthing to Albrecht’s Tower. Here, Lo-Kag takes a turn weaving the tale, describing their encounter at the tower, the chase through the building, and Farthing’s death in the basement.

Hoping she has done enough to secure some interest in how the broader tale ends, Chaedi pretends to be ready to leave it at the next morning, and the three people heard snoring from Ant and Merolil’s room. Several audience members, however, demand answers to other question, most notably the fate of the city and how it affected the lovers. Chaedi continues with the tale, weaving in more people from their journey until she reaches the climax of the story and the party’s escape from Sigil to the Feywild. Overcome with emotion, and not doing a great job of ending on a high note, she cedes the floor to Lo-Kag, who steps in and emphasizes that when they left the city was still fighting. Riii jumps in too, toasting the Prince of Hearts for sheltering them after their journey and working to help the city. She then tries to move the crowd – some of whom are in tears – back towards lighter things, and here is aided by Riddle, who reminds the crowd that as much as they must feel the horror and sadness of the tale, they must also seek joy and, above all else, love. At this, the band picks up another dance tune, and the atmosphere changes to something more cheerful. As everyone turns back to the dance floor, Chaedi pulls Riii and Bright into a big hug. She’s a bit drunk herself now, and very thankful for their cooperation. She turns to look for Lo-Kag to thank him as well, but…

The depressing part of the night over – for him at least – Lo-Kag is back out on the dance floor. Kae-Gu gives a series of quick shouts to keep time before beginning an energetic drum solo. Lo-Kag starts dancing frenetically and tries to get the rest of the crowd to join in on Der Goliath Funkybeatz. Gyisheed is dragged onto the dance floor by the eladrin woman from earlier, and soon they are copying his moves. Moments later, Bright and Chaedi join them. Chaedi tries to get Riii to come along, but she sticks to the sidelines, smiling and watching.

Lo-Kag claps to the beat, emphasizing it over Kae-Gu’s more complex drumming so the others can follow more easily. As people catch on to the moves, however, he stops and focuses on his own dancing. The beat picks up, the dancing becoming faster, and the focus everyone devotes to their dancing reveals the unspoken agreement: this is a competition now.

The eladrin, perhaps overly tired after all her earlier enthusiasm, falters first and sinks to the floor, laughing. Chaedi isn’t far behind her, and heads back over the Riii, leaning on her, breathless with laughter of her own. Bright comes next, tripping on his own foot – an odd sight for those used to his sure footing. He joins Chaedi and Riii, and together they watch Lo-Kag and Gyisheed, both sweaty and breathing hard, as they finish off the competition. They both hold out for a while longer, leaving the rest of the competitors in the dust, but Lo-Kag eventually missteps, catching himself before he crashes to the floor but unable to continue. Gyisheed finishes gracefully and the two exchange compliments in the middle of the cheering onlookers.

The dance finished, the eladrin woman – Weslenna – tugs Bright towards the bar, eager for discussion with him. Chaedi, meanwhile, finds herself in discussion with another elf, Helethana. She asks after the dog that was sleeping in the bar earlier, before talking about her background and her travels. When she mentions Kerradunath, Helethana stops her and asks where Kerradunath is, forcing Chaedi to suddenly remember Lolth’s preoccupation with drow secrecy. Beset by uncertainty and drink, Chaedi reveals perhaps more about the city than she believes prudent. As Helethana pushes for further information, however, even the fog of drink can’t suppress Chaedi’s suspicion, and Helethana picks up on this. She reveals that she is a “lawyer” – a term Chaedi is vaguely familiar with and associates with rules and large populations. With this information in mind, the two discuss Kerradunath further, and Chaedi reveals some of the drow’s history and present circumstances with Lolth’s blessing.

Lo-Kag has found his way through the crowd to Kae-Gu, who is still drumming a bit to the music. Maykiss, also there, and watching her as she goes, speaks with him briefly until Kae-Gu is available. Lo-Kag tells her they will be leaving the next day, but he hopes that they get safely back to Ratheradir whenever they find it in themselves to leave. He compliments Kae-Gu’s drumming, and she comments that he is making his ancestors proud with his own work. Lo-Kag’s lack of response tells her a lot, and though the sincerity of the comment hangs in the air, they move on to other discussion before Lo-Kag excuses himself to sit with Bright. Before he leaves, though, he tells her that if she finds an elven woman from the Feywild she should tell her they’re still working on making their homes safe to return to.

Riii, for all her bluster about partying, isn’t feeling up to much more of it. She heads to Bright and Lo-Kag, announcing her intention to get to bed. They ask her about what she thinks they should do for the Prince of Frost. She can’t help but laugh a bit as they try to think up large beasts to fight. Bright is especially keen, asking her what kinds of dragons there are, and wondering if a large Feywild bear would be considered an impressive kill. She answers their questions with half-hearted teasing, and then makes for the stairs, where she’s stopped by the Prince of Hearts, disguised as an elf and standing at the bottom of the stairs. He escorts her upstairs, expressing his gratitude, and offering his help to Riii in the future. As they enter her room, Riii asks if he knows any way that she and Moreth can be separated, to be able to exist as separate entities. He responds:

“As you know, your situation is rather unique. There have been cases where archfey have been wounded, sometimes grievously, and recovered over time. This is a much more serious, and a much more interesting precedent. You have shown incredible growth in your abilities over the past few months, but it still could take decades. There is, however, the matter of eminent domain. As you know, an archfey’s domain responds to that archfey’s whims. There is a certain reciprocal benefit to that. An archfey is strongest in their own domain, they derive power from their lands. And so, there is a chance, that once you and your lover regain your rightful place as the royal King and Queen of the Summer Court, the power provided by that domain, the domain of your lands as well as the good king’s element, that may be enough in itself to accelerate the process.”

He leaves her with that to think about, and discuss with Moreth, as he heads out the door to destinations unknown…

Will Kae-Gu and Maykiss ever escape the Mended Heart? What does Ratheradir look like now, after the deaths of two gods? What could have driven the rest of the Gloaming Fey towards the Mended Heart? Will the party be in any state to hear about it when they arrive? And what about later, after they defeat Tiandra? Will Moreth and Riii be able to separate, or will they remain as they are for some time? If the latter, which path will they choose: rule the Summer Court, or stay with the party until they can defeat Vecna, creator of…



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