Episode 24

The party is on the edge of the plains, at the border between the flowing grass and the clouded masses of scarps and pinnacles. The party has a rendezvous with Krisyra down in the Cauldron and they intended to keep their meeting. They meet and the conversation begins.

Scene 1: The Journey to the Cauldron

On flat plains everything is further than it seems. The walk to the Cauldron takes two days and they reach the outer, rocky descent late on the second day, near nightfall.

It's their first view of the Cauldron at its edge. Their feet are on splintered gravel. Below them the jagged descent fades into fog and thick clouds. In front of them the full horizon of formless grey. The air smells of stone and sulfur. A breeze blows upwards, and although it should push them backwards they feel pushed forward, down into the descent to see what lies beneath.

Beldroth asks if they should setup camp and his voice breaks the fantasy. The rest of the party shake off their impulse to walk forward and agree. They find a secluded spot a hundred yards down from the edge and unroll their sleeping blankets. Orryn builds a fire.

Scene 2: Orryn's Compulsion

Orryn sleeps poorly. He awakens during Beldroth's watch. He decides he needs to descend to see what's below the clouds. There's something there, just out of sight, just a few minutes away. Although Orryn would never frame it as such, it's a compulsion not a choice. Movement will relieve the agitation he feels.

Orryn starts jogging. Fortunately Bedroth sees him, but he can't catch up. He isn't as nimble. Orryn balances as well upon the rocky surface as he does on flat land. Bedroth calls out but Orryn doesn't answer. Bedroth awakens others in the party who run to grab Orryn.

Fortunately, they're able to reach him. They shake Orryn and he looks around confused. He's unable to explain himself.

As the group heads back up the steep ground, they notice deep diffusions of red in the mist. They bob and grow.

Scene 3: Battle with the Fire Elemental and Magmins

The lights break out of the mist and are fully visible. There's a full sized Fire Elemental with an encircling mass of Magmins. They notice the camp and head towards the party. The party prepares to engage.

The Magmins and fire elemental attack. Beldroth is able to cast Banishment on the Fire Elemental and it vanishes back to its plane. The Magmins are disoriented without its force to rally around, but they fight on.

It's a difficult slog for the party. The bodies of the Magmins explode upon death, leading to painful baths of molten rock, but they beat them down without taking too much damage.

Scene 4: Meeting with Krisyra

The party spends a day to recuperate and heal and then head to the rendezvous point. Krisyra said she'd find the party, but the party isn't sure how that's going to work. Are they even in the right plane?

The Cauldron is playing tricks with perspective as they walk under its rim. At times they feel like they're in the Feywild, other times the material plane. In the distance the great walls of Gathela rise and vanish.

Eventually the party finds the ledge. It's a broad platform shelf, a quarter mile down from the Cauldron rim, just under the beginnings of the cloud cover. The landmarks that Krisyra provided were accurate and simple enough for a scout like Orryn to follow.

The entire shelf has been raked and cleared of debris. At its far end, sitting against a spire and looking into the fog is Krisyra. She holds her hand up in greeting and the party approaches.

The party is bewildered at her presence. She has no traveler's pack, no indication that she has been waiting for more than a few minutes. They ask how long she's been waiting and she replies that she knew when they arrived and leaves it at that, without additional explanation.

Krisyra thanks the party and expresses her gratitude. She gestures into the fog and says it's a big world out there. It's where everything begins and ends.

She continues.

"I know it seems silly to ask and rely on strangers for help, but you aren't strangers."

"I have a longer perspective than most, but even those that live a few seasons know the world is changing and that change is accelerating. A long time ago, we would have still been standing on the plains. There were no Dwarves and no Elves. Everything was peaceful. Magic was well-placed. Whatever we now call the Cauldron started a hundred miles in the distance." She pauses to survey their surroundings.

"The clouds were thinner. I could see the ground below. The Cauldron folk were happy to rummage and keep to themselves."

"I know you've felt the call. So have I. The difference is I can't answer. Power and madness are too close for comfort."

"I have a lot of work to do. I need you to be my eyes, my ears, and my scribes. The land will guide you, tell you where to go, tell you what to see. Pay attention to it. Learn what it wants to say. Find out and come back. Information is the lever we need."

I've sent out others, you know." But, she shrugs, "they haven't returned."

"That abomination over there, the city of Gathela is sending out a kind of floating city. The death they bring is horrible but their movement is assured. I know you don't quite know what I'm talking about, but you will. The city is built around it. Get to Gathela."

She looks over the party. "You're going to have trouble getting in and staying hidden. I'll help, as long as you don't mind. Transmutation is straight forward. I'll give you a couple of months. That should give you enough time"

Orryn, Adrazel, and Hardy agree. Krisyra casts. Their bodies shift shift into new forms. Hardy is an Elf. Andrazel and Dwarf. Orryn remains an Gnome but of different build and body.

The party continues to chat and ask about the city and the Cauldron until Krisyra says it's time to go. She wishes then good luck and then walks into the mist and out of sight. The party is alone.

Scene 5: The underbelly of the town

The party's perspective has settled. Edwyn's sense of place has stabilised. They climb up and out of the Cauldron. The town is clearly visible on the horizon. They are out of the Feywild although no one felt the shift. It will be a long walk to Gathela. They start walking.

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