After being briefed on Athao's trip to Melia, and Nook and Kindle's trip to Kaena, Yar and I (Wren) voted to return to Kaena to investigate the bridge.
We missed the turn, apparently, but found a lovely statue of a high elf noble… 50 feet high! Continuing east, we arrived at Kaena.
Occasionally, it felt like we were being watched… but we saw nothing.
When we arrived, we saw the signs of the battle Nook and Kindle described, but no bodies. No sign of scavenging, no sign them being dragged away. That seemed fishy, but the focus was on the bridge and what might be on the other side.
As they said, the tower on the south side was clear… but walking 500 feet across the open bridge just felt wrong to everyone… too exposed. Yar solved that by picking up a table meant for 12, and although it was a bit worse for wear (the wood was rotting), used it as a shield for all of us to safely cross the bridge.
Second tower was as the first, but in better repair. That watching feeling was back again, and we saw a white furred beast on the roof of the south tower. Athao and Kindle recognized it as a.. Quathog?? Some foul beast from the underdark? It sorely underestimated the strength of our bows, as we did quite some damage to it from the north tower. Yar and Nook took off across the bridge, followed by Kindle. Athao and I provided covering fire, and then followed.
I think the beast is talking to us? At least Athao and Kindle seem to react to those growls as goads….
The beast led us to the statue, where it had friends. 9 of them in fact. And … giants with two heads? There were some growly exchanges, and then battle was joined. I asked for Nature's blessing, and crossed my fingers.
Yar of course made a tempting target, and took on what I'm told are Ettins. Two of them went for him, the third after poor Nook (whose bush wasn't as substantial for hiding as she might have hoped). The archers did their damage, but not swiftly enough, as Nook fell under the Ettin's onslaught. I brought her back, but the Qualthogs had now joined the fight, and she fell again. Again I brought her back, but that was all the blessings I had…. Yar thankfully reached her side and defended her.
The Quathogs divided and went after the archers. Running was now my job… my swift elven feet kept me just paces from their attack… except the once. One attack from them nearly brought me down, but I gathered my meager strength and sprinted once more. I started to see a pattern, and headed back towards Yar and Nook. Kindle, with his shifty ways, was able to stay away from harm and continue to fire arrows. Athao kept three busy with his fleet feet, but they eventually were too much for him, and he fell. I turned in his direction, but he was far, far away. Nook, however, having shoved her healing potion into Yar… swiftly reach Athao and found a potion in his pack, and brought him back.
Yar then killed the leader, and with him fallen, they started to run. We took down two more, but the final two were too quick for us in our injured state. A quick search showed they carried a few coins but nothing of real value, and we headed swiftly back to the base camp. That feeling of being watched was back, and they could return with reinforcements.
After a night of rest at the camp, the two Eladrin centaurs that Rivyre is so fond of showed up… we told them of what we found, the forces north of Melia, the forces of the underdark at Kaena. When they said they were heading back to the Starlight Throne to make their report, we requested to return with them….
I didn't believe Rivyre, truly, when she described how grand the settlement was. It was breathtaking… and yet… so sad. A home for thousands, now occupied by a few hundred. We were led to a palatial home and invited to make ourselves comfortable. Ethereal servants brought us food and drink.
Eventually Quillathe came for our report, and upon Kindle's report of finding an… Illithid?? .. in one of the ruins, asked if they could examine him for signs of mental coercion.
After that it got a little weird…. Kindle was quite upset, something about a fight that didn't happen, a Beholder's lair, and an interrogation? Nook and Zog underwent the same process… well, Zog has already told his tale. Athao also volunteered, to see if the same happened at Malia, or perhaps our trip to Kaena was similarly false, but his experiences seemed to be true.
I'll let Kindle or Nook explained what happened to them…. but it was unsettling enough that Kindle begged the Eladrin for magic to help us fight our foes. And, generous as they are, so they did. A cloak, a dagger, a bow, armor, and a glaive that makes me ill to gaze upon it. I urged them to leave the glaive… but here it is in Stone's Throw. sighs
One note, on several occasions the Eladrin referred to us as allies. Perhaps I am swayed by Lady Rivyre's tales, but they were generous and kind while we were in their company (even in light of Kindle's rudeness…. the most ancient elders I have ever met and he treated them as serving wenches!) Their home was mostly sterile stone, but there were small havens of nature within… as if they went out of their way to bring remembrances of what they left behind.