I returned to town after not finding any blasphemous dams. Oscar wanted to bring a talking frog home. In return for a promised reward, of course. A druid named Yip agreed to guide us. We came to an abandoned timber mill with 2 dead bodies. Yip was just going to leave them out in the woods, but I said I’d be happy to build a pyre. Lovely flames. They were consigned to the flames, their souls purified. Zuul was pleased. Oscar announced that he was claiming the mill for his god. Weird.
We headed deeper into the woods, and came across two unicorns trying to free a horse tied to a tree. They vanished when Yip approached. The horse was skin and bones. He was going to free the horse, but a man appeared, claiming the horse was his, and Yip was a thief. He said he was a noble and could beat the horse if he wanted. Anything unicorns wanted freed, I was on board with. Yip cast a spell that caught the man and horse up in plants. He started casting rocks at the man with the sling. Oscar objected, yelling about resolving it in a civilized manner. As if abusing an animal to the extent unicorns involve themselves is civilized. He started to intervene. I pushed him and he fell down. I couldn’t stop him the second time.
The man then promised Oscar a reward for freeing him, saying he was an ambassador for Lady Yggraine. That’s the lady that owns the area we were headed to. While he was blocking Yip with his shield, I hit the man with my mace. We absolutely needed him incapacitated before he ran back and turned the lady against us, or we wouldn’t be able to return the frog to its home. He called me a harlot, which was incredibly insulting, given the unicorns would’ve stayed with me if men hadn’t been around. Wanted to incapacitate him more permanently then. Oscar pried the plants off and let the man go. Yip ran after him, leaving me to endure Oscar’s lectures and disapproval. I settled the horse down and freed it from the plants, then untied it. Swear I felt something from the woods behind me when I did. I wanted to bring the horse along, but Oscar insisted on giving it back to that horrible man, so I just let it go.
We started off the next morning, but were completely lost. Luckily we found Yip. Oscar almost walked away, but decided to finish the mission. Yip wouldn’t say what happened to the man. That’s fine, we can honestly say he ran off and we have no idea what happened to him. Seemed a perfect out to me. Oscar of course disagreed. Yip led us to the manse with the mirror lake. We went to the lake, wet and miserable from storms. The frog was delighted to be home, and asked us our dreams as our reward. Something about fishing in dreams to get them. I said my dream was to have fire with me always. Ahnjela appeared out of nowhere. Then a swan boat arrived and took the frog away. I rested in my tent for a while. It wasn’t a natural lake, all starry, so I wasn’t interested. Then Ahnjela and Yip brought back boxes that had come ashore for us. I have a magic tinderbox. Best present ever. Oscar was determined to bring the horrible man’s saddlebags back to him. He said it would ne dangerous for us to go, but it would only be so if he was going to blame us. Yip and I went, to tell the whole story, if necessary. We got to a set of twisty gates, Oscar made a speech about returning the belongings, and left the bags by the gates. A man rode up, very strange looking and sounding, and he rode right on through. Both jobs done, we set up tents again at the woodline. I went to sleep. The rest stayed up to watch the swan boats and their alleged dream fishing. Apparently there were also creatures that came out of the woods and did something at the lake, but they didn’t notice us. We left the next morning and met up with the barbarian child. We found a ring of standing stones that hurt my ears. Oscar said it was a transportation magic. Then, in grasslands, we found an ancient altar. The barbarian was all for me helping clean around the altar with fire, but Oscar was eyeing me and frowning, muttering about us all dying in a grass fire, so I didn’t give in to my urges.
Once we had made arrangements to hire a guide, I dragged him into out rooms at the inn to make the last introduction. Yip the druid meets the Frog Prince. That went well, the talking frog didn’t phase our guide a bit.
We hiked into the forest, and around dust ran into an abandoned carpenter’s mill. There was a small building, mostly intact, with three corpses inside, covered in flies. We dragged the corpses out. Yip and Ygnas burned them to a crisp while I filled out the proper forms (disposal of unidentified corpse, human, by cremation, location unmarked, form 627-a2). I should have probably searched them for goods for resale but the flies were disgusting.
Yip determined they had died by grinding poisonous insects into their grain. Disturbing indeed. But not an immediate threat, probably.
When I realized the place was a carpenter’s mill in the middle of a forest with a source of nearby running water and currently unclaimed, I was sharply reminded that Denara had suggested this area would be a good place to found a temple. And this place had all the necessary elements to be a paper mill, a place simultaneously holy, necessary, and profitable.
I claimed it in Denara’s name immediately. (Paperwork to be filed later).
We spent the night there, and continued our journey in the morning.
About noon, Yip led us to a horse. More specifically, to a horse tied to a tree, a man napping under said tree, and two unicorns trying to untie the horses. The unicorns bolted when Yip approached; I guess being out alone in the woods handling your own wood counts after all? Of course, you then have to ask how they knew… Unless they were watching!
At any rate the unicorns ran off when Yip approached, trying to finish untying the horse from the tree. I called out to stop Yip from commiting horse theft (form 6754, theft of animal, horse, by paid companion, not whore). And the sleeping man woke up.
Denara teaches to always wrote down the argument of the other side, even when it lacks merit. So I will note that the horse appeared to be underfed. Yip considered this to be mistreatment, apparently worthy of freeing the horse by force and without even offering the rider a chance to explain himself. The rider protested, calling Yip a thief (which charge I thought had merit at that point!) And claiming to be some sort of noble or ambassador to Ygraine.
Yip immediately did some sort of druidic thing and wrapped horse and man alike in plants. Then he pulled out a sling and started lobbing stones at the man. I don’t see how possibly mistreating a horse equates to a death sentence without a trial. I would have been glad to oversee such a thing. Think of the paperwork! With nobility, a priest of Denara as both judge and witness, unicorns, questions of fact concerning the horse’s mistreatment, territorial and diplomatic concerns from Ygraine and whoever the man was ambassadoring for.. it would have been glorious.
Anyways, I inserted myself between Yip and the man, trying to spare his life. Ygnas promptly joined in with her sling! An unexpected betrayal. I couldn’t block the stones from them both, so I had to change plans. I rushed to the man and began pulling him free of the plants entangling him. He tried to offer a reward for turning on my companions, but I wasn’t going to do that. We were a company, bound together for the duration of this task. I told him to shut up and flee. He did.. eventually.
Yip, apparently in a murderous rage, took off after him. In chain mail neither Ygnas nor I could keep up, so we just shrugged and waited. And argued, and waited, and argued, and waited. Ygnas let the horse go and I claimed the man’s saddlebags, planning to return them to Ygraine where they would hopefully get back to the right place.
Eventually we returned to the building I had claimed for Denara, and spent the night there, still arguing over their criminal and even dare I say evil actions. Dawn rose and we set off, hoping to find the Mirror Lake, but without our guide it seemed unlikely. I was no woodsman and Ygnas would rather burn the woods down so she could see. Or just for fun. More the latter, probably.
Yip finally found us about noon. He looked smug and unrepentant. I avoided further argument, merely adding the dirty little man to my list of people to avoid traveling with if at all possible. I would hate to be associated with any of his crimes – (and, I must add with shame) – AGAIN.
Perhaps this was Denara’s plan in allowing her Holy Scales to be ripped from my grasp beneath the oak tree. She will not be associated with this, only the pathetic wooden representation was there, and that I hid under my tunic from shame.
Yip did lead us to the Mirror Lake eventually. It turns out the Manse of Ygraine is not just nearby but actually overlooks the lake itself.
We dropped off the frog at his pond; it’s actually a place called Mirror Lake, and the first thing he did was summon a swan Uber from fairyland to take him home. Seems he actually is a fairy prince just like he claimed. His folk spun dreams from fishes, or fished dreams from lakes, or something something something. It was actually quite impressive once you got past the fact that the prince is a small and slightly slimy amphibian.
The offered rewards turned out to be manifested dreams themselves. The Prince (and note that I render him his proper title, now that it is confirmed!) granted me a deed to the mill. It will come in handy should any fae creature challenge my stewardship of the place. Likely not very useful in human courts. Ygnas was granted a strange device that makes fire on demand. Ahnjela, who had joined us, received a hilt for a sword. Perhaps once assembled, it will be magical? I didn’t pay any attention to what Yip received, but he almost lost it later while trying to negotiate with a coterie of thieving gnomes.
After dropping off the Prince, we continued to the Manse of Ygraine, which was limned in an odd purple glow as night fell. I knocked at the gates several times – they did open – and even called into the courtyard. No one presented themselves to receive us, however.
Eventually I gave up and wrote a note explaining the circumstances of the saddlebags, loudly announced I was leaving them just inside the gates for their proper owner, and we departed. On our way out, we did meet a man headed to the manse on horseback, and explained the circumstances to him. He did say someone would retrieve the saddlebags, but was not willing to sign a receipt for them himself.
We spent the night near the lake, curious to see what would happen around midnight. And sure enough, mysterious portals opened, revealing strange swan boats filled with elves who were, if the Prince could be believed, fishing for dreams. This went on for some time. Ahnjela took a swim in the lake and was chastised for it. This is when the gnomes tried to steal Yip’s dream-gift.
In the morning, we set out to return to town by the scenic route, hoping to find a small barrow u-Heury said he had dreamed about. Hopefully will get together and burn down a forest somewhere else so I can see about acquiring the legal right to my little mill in human courts as well as fae.