Kaladrax was still reeling with grief when they arrived back at King’s Crest. With Marx’s death still fresh in his mind, he went about packing and preparing for battle against Null. He wanted to leave now but the others convinced him that they needed more time to prepare and that there was another powerful danger to the world they had to look into, The Queen of Ash. She was getting stronger and stronger while they fixed all the small problems she sent at them.
Aleera tried using her Elior’s Deck to divine a solution to the problem of the last Queen. The first card showed a beautiful crystal. Inside was a fire, trapped within the crystal. The second card was that of a skull in ice. The third card was of a beating heart. The cards were hard to read on the beast of days. The only concrete things they had was the vision of fire trapped in crystal. The only people they knew could tell them what these means were the elves on the Duskveil Isles. They were closer to the land than any of the other species on Novos. The isles were small islands of the north western coast of Novos.
The Hand of Destiny made preparations to leave for the Duskveil Isles as soon as they could. Once ready, they tried to teleport to the city of the elves within the Isles and found themselves, instead, on the edge of a great forest with long, lush grass showing the path to the elven city in the horizon. Kaladrax was a little miffed at the thought of having to walk instead of being able to teleport within the walls but shrugged it off and began stomping through the grass towards the far off city. After a few moments of doggedly stomping onward Kaladrax noticed that he was no more close to the city than when they first arrived.
A small stone placard lay at the side of the grassy trail. It was written in elvish, which only Aleera and Hepolita could read. They explained that the elvish script instructed travelers to dance with the grass to pass through the path. Aleera went first, as the professional performer of the group. She undulated with the grass as it swayed in the breeze and matched its laid back demeanor. Once she got the rhythm in her mind she stepped onto the grass and began making her way through the grass. Hepolita and Kariss both flew over using the broom. Kaladrax and Milo were the ones having issues.
Kaladrax tried to match the rhythm of the grass and Aleera but had a terrible time of it. Milo was likewise unable to match the tempo. Both struggled to move through the grass as it impeded their progress forward. Aleera had to come back and show them how to move for a bit longer. It was a couple of hours before they could match rhythm and move safely through the grass. They made their way dancing through the terrain to get to the elven city. In the distance they could make out the biggest landmark of the city. A giant sunflower bloomed on the horizon. Small dots, which they assumed were elves, dotted the giant petals.
They arrived at the city gates after an easy trip for Aleera, Hepolita and Kariss but a rough one for Kaladrax and Milo. There were Eladrin moving about on various errands or outings. Each had a unique coloration and plantlike appearance. They were gorgeous to look upon. They were required by the guard at the entrance to answer a riddle to gain access. After a very tense few moments they answered correctly and were granted access to the elven city. They walked around for a moment, taking in the sights of the rarely known city. After a few verbal encounters the group realized that intelligence and wisdom were highly prized in the city. So much so that people traded important things including their own lives and persons through the telling of riddles and solving puzzles.
The Hand of Destiny made inquiries of where they could have their questions answered and were directed by everyone to the giant sunflower palace that bloomed in the center of the city. Turning in that direction, they made their way to the palace. At the gates, they face another riddle to solve and this time Aleera was ready with the correct answer. They were led across an emerald lobby, up verdant stairs, each glowing with flowery sconces that gave off the feeling of a small sun cradled inside, to the throne room. Their escort explained that the king always met with newcomers to test their compatibility and perhaps offer the chance to join the elves.
Aleera was astounded. She had always heard that high elves and Eladrin hated half breeks like herself. She had always lived in the contempt of elves and humans alike. Yet here was a king of elves offering their secrets up to anyone he deemed worthy. Even humans. The throne they entered was open to the air, they were at the top of the sun flower. A vine wrapped throne sat on one of the yellow petals. In the center was the circle of “seeds” that sunflowers made. Upon closer inspection they realized that the “seeds” contained elves. Some were babies and others were full grown elves. Attendants walked around placing or removing the pods and taking them to some other place.
One the throne was the king of the Eladrin. He introduced himself as Marion Frostleaf. True to his name, he had pale blue skin with white edges and his clothing matched to give the impression of a blizzard in the middle of winter. He welcomed them to the elven city of Elderhaven and asked if they wanted to play a game. Kaladrax agreed almost immediately, wanting to pit his wits against the king himself. Marion explained that should Kaladrax lose, two of their companions would be taken and if he lost he would answer all of their questions to the best of his knowledge. Kaladrax could not back out so he continued and the game began. There were three riddles. He answered the first two with ease but the last proved difficult. He was offered three chances to get it right and failed the first two. With time running out and one last chance, he finally guessed the correct answer.
Sagging with relief, Kaladrax gave the rest of the group a weak, apologetic smile. With the game won by Kaladrax, Marion offered his knowledge to them. They asked about the Queen of Ash and of a way to defeat her. Aleera showed him her cards from Elior’s Deck and he explained what they meant. There was a fire of creation that had been encased in crystal, the one they now had in their possession after stopping the gnome heist, that became a weapon that could kill her. The skull encased in ice was a metaphor for the blade of the dark dragon god, The Null blade, which they also now had. The final card was of her heart, both weapons had to pierce her to kill her for good. They now had a means to kill the Queen of Ash and end her terror.
With the information they needed now in their grasp they made to leave. Marion pulled Aleera and Hepolita off to the side and asked them if they wanted to stay. He told them that not only had they answered well in the city, he had ears everywhere, he also sensed great magical potential within them. He offered them the choice to join the elves of Elderhaven. Aleera was astounded. She explained that she thought she would not be welcome because she was only a half elf. Marion burst out with a bright tinkling laugh. He told her that they did not care about that, only the potential within. Hepolita declined, having already escaped one destiny, she did not want to join yet another elven regiment.
Aleera had conflicting thoughts. Here was a group she could fit in with, that loved magic as much as she did. Here, she could forget the troubles of the world and live a carefree life. She would also live much longer than anyone else. But she could not leave her friends. She could not leave Kaladrax, who angered her sometimes, but whom she loved. She had only recently realized that last bit. She declined but expressed her thanks and happiness at the offer being made. Marion smiled and let them go, bidding them farewell and good luck. Aleera cast one last long look at what she was leaving behind before following her friends out of the palace and out of the city.
They made their way, once more, through the undulating grass. This time took a bit less time and, when they stepped on solid ground, Kaladrax teleported them immediately home. Happy to be back on unmoving ground, the party settled in for the night with much to think on. They had the weapons they needed, now they just had to kill the Queen of Ash.