While the people of Ellim’s Reach did not have much information to provide, the bartender at the White Blossom and a city guard were able to tell us that the road to the Grand Circle was full of “big bad beasties” – likely by design.
Foolishly undeterred, we gathered rations and set off along the coast. After the first day of uneventful travel and my lucky location of a protective cave for the night, we were feeling pretty good. That was a feeling fated not to last.
I “awoke” to find Timeria, Sorob and I standing in the middle of a desert looking at a drawbridge over a moat surrounding a castle. No lights or people could be seen in the castle. However, my spells detected no magic.
A disembodied “Yes?” answered Sorob’s booming “Hello!” No other statement was forthcoming as I felt a chill rush through my body. With no other option behind us, we tentatively headed under the walls to find a black eyed girl waiting for us with the eery greeting “Welcome, would you like to come in?”
I asked “What are you, who are you, and where are we?” And she responded “You ask a lot of questions. I am hungry.” before withdrawing through the only door off the courtyard.
Nothing of this felt right. Nothing. Yet Sorob was undeterred, and willingly entered the keep to find a big room with a long table brimming with food and a crackling hearth. The eerie music coming from within was the last straw – I was not going to set foot in that room.
My heart near stopped as the little girl said from beside me, “Why don’t you come in?” I instinctively drew my scimitar but did not attack. I did not sheath it during my subsequent questioning.
The girl is Vanessa who lives here with her “dad.” If she and her siblings (hell, siblings??) throw a party, her “dad” comes home. She did not know how she got here and she seemed surprised that anyone would want to leave. Every once in awhile new people come and join the party. Timeria let out a low growl and I turned to see these “new people” – all black-eyed children – standing behind me. They ask together “is it dinner time?”
That was it for me. I rushed to the gate, only to find the portcullis closed. At my demands that the children open the gate, they responded “we cannot open it.” Rather than help, Sorob ignored me and started dancing inside. So much for backup…
Sorob was snapped out of his revelry though when “dad” showed up moments later. The party seemed a lot less funny to him when the creepy jester put his hand on Sorob’s shoulder and said “Welcome to the party.”
Finally Sorob acts on my suggestion to leave, but finds his way to the door blocked by the 20 black-eyed children. With no other options, Sorob attacked the jester as children started to grab at him. Sorob slashed the jester’s shoulder but began laughing hysterically after the jester countered with his scepter.
Using my newly acquired ring, I hit the jester with a magical force, slamming him away from Sorob. Sorob dashed for the door, slashing grabbing “children” on his way. Their black blood pooled on the floor as Sorob and the jester fought once again. We continued our assault on the jester as Sorob backed through the door, only to have the jester say “Y’all no fun anymore” and close it on us.
Sorob opened the door to see the Captain standing there asking “What the hell is going on?” We quickly closed the door and opened it again. This time it is Percival, “What the hell are you doing? Wake up!”
I blinked my eyes only to see that we were back under the rock… daylight just starting to break over the water.
What the hell?