The party awoke the next morning after a rough night. Aleera and Kaladrax left almost immediately to see his mother and keep her company. They returned later in the day to find Urstill, the Headmistress of Whistler University. She was Kaladrax’s boss. It was a little strange that she came alone. No escort or guard followed. She had come to ask the group to investigate the increasing earth elemental attacks. With the Oasis liberated, the healing potions were being made again but the earth elemental attacks were disrupting distribution lines and making impossible for the outer settlements to receive any aid.
Urstill gave them a brief history of the earth elemental in Novos. They originated in the Broodmaw caverns which were the lair of the Earth Spirit, Terra. She loved making the earth elementals and loved destruction. She had been dormant for a long time but recently there had been droves of the elementals swarming the roads and overpowering any wandering travelers nearby.
Aleera decided to do a reading with Elior’s Deck. She focused and drew three cards. The first was of a giant mountain, clearly the Broodmaw Caverns. The second card was an orange crystal. The last card was a horde of rats, walking. The last two cards were confusing and vague but Aleera explained them as best she could to the group and then began formulating plans with Urstill about their next expedition. That’s when the room went eerily quiet.
A figure came into focus in the center of the room. It was Malthazar. He looked at Urstill for a brief moment wit sadness in his eyes and addressed the team.
“I will attack King’s Crest tomorrow. I tell you because there is no way for it to be avoided. I have hundreds of earth elementals at my disposal and all of them will be attacking on the ‘morrow. Take this time to make peace with your loved ones and prepare for tomorrow you all die.”
Urstill’s face was a mess of emotions. Love and hate warred in her eyes as she waved a hand and banished his image from their presence. The room was only silent for a moment longer before everyone burst forward in a wave of movement as they rushed to plan a counterattack. Urstill promised them a hundred volunteers to hold the walls as the team made their way to the Caverns to stop Terra and her earth elementals. She was the only being capable of generating this many at once.
With the plans made up and nothing to do but prepare individual provisions and sleep, the party went in separate ways to make their own peace. Aleera and Kaladrax went to warn his mother and the estate. Hepolita got drunk of course. Milo and Kariss went out into the city. She wanted to see if there were people to heal and he wanted to protect her.
They explored the nearly deserted city and were about to leave the upper district when they noticed movement in a window of one of the abandoned buildings. They went inside and found a group of children. They were siblings, two boys and a girl. None of them were any older than 12. The two younger children were twins, the girl and one of the boys. Kariss bent down to examine them for the Curse of Ash but found no evidence of infection. These children had somehow avoided catching the curse. With Milo’s help they led the children back to the guild hall for a hot meal and warm beds.
They had checked for adults and found none. They had also asked the eldest boy about where their parents were but he said he didn’t know. Their parents had gone out one day and never come back. Once they were fed and put to bed. Kariss asked the cook and bartender/spy to keep an eye on the children while they went out on their mission. They agreed and Kariss thanked them with a few gold each.
After leaving the children in the care of trustworthy people, the party got some rest that night so they could get up early and set out. In the morning, the group made their way over to Kaladrax’s estate where the druid was still making sure the land stayed as healthy as possible. The blight had receded to a manageable level but was still creeping outwards incrementally. With the healing ability that Kariss had and a little help from the Oasis waters, they were able to erase the blight completely and left behind a bare patch of dirt. The druid was relieved to have the blight cured but the party still needed help from him.
Kariss asked for him to cast Wind Walk on the group again if he could. His old wrinkled face broke out into a grin.
“I knew ye would be askin’ for the spell again and made this for ya.”
In his hand was a basic looking walnut. He informed them that it held a one time charge of the Wind Walk spell that we could use. Kind of like a spell scroll but, in the typical fashion of druid, in a walnut.
The group thanked him and quickly used the walut to transform into wisps of cloud that soared into the sky. On their way out to the Broodmaw Caverns, they noticed the northern wall of the city with a hundred soldiers and mages lined up in anticipation of the attack.
They flew for miles. Soaring high above the small island, they felt truly free. More free than they had felt in the months since arriving. There in the distance were the caverns. Streaming from them was a long contingent of earth elementals all moving in a solid line towards King’s Crest. Malthazar had not been lying when he said he had hundreds at his disposal.
They moved closer to the large opening to the caverns and there at the entrance they transformed back to their corporeal selves. The long line of elementals was long since gone from the entrance and they were free to enter at their own risk. They squared off against the encroaching darkness and stepped in towards their next trial.