The adventurers quickly made their way back to the crypt and through the secret passage up to the level where they’d left the human merchants and gnome, whom they had freed from the ogre’s larder. The prisoners were more than a little relieved to see their rescuers return, though the heroes’ condition was cause for some concern. Regardless, they happily followed the party back upstairs to the surface. It took the group no more time to travel the path from the Moathouse, but it certainly seemed longer. Their wounds and the emotional impact of their defeat at the hands of the drow priestess and her skilled warrior protector had taken its toll.
They were coming out of the woods near Hommlet when they noted two men standing near the treeline, apparently waiting. After a moment, they recognized the men as Turuko and Kobort, the mercenaries from the Inn of the Welcome Wench. The Bakluni rested easily on a quarterstaff, while his warrior companion stood quietly beside him, wearing splint mail and with a greatsword strapped across his back.
“Greetings,” said Turuko. “Another day of good fortune pillaging the ruin?” His tone was friendly, but his expression was not. “Kobort and I thought to join in your expedition, but a more efficient and far less risky plan occurred to me: just take the treasure from you.”
As the two men took aggressive stances, the adventurers heard a loud snort from above and the rustle of branches preceding a yelp as a man fell out of a nearby tree to thump to the ground. This unexpected development gave the would-be assailants pause, moreso when the man’s head popped up and he looked around blearily. All recognized him as Elmo, the happy drunk the heroes had met on the streets of Hommlet previously.
“Interruptin’ me nap, ye blaggards!” Elmo complained, glancing around squintily. The ghost of a smile crossed his face as his eyes fell on Felicity, and he cast a wink her way.
“ELMO!” cried the halfling. “HI! Are you still planning to have dinner and drinks with us!?!”
“Well, a’course, darlin’! I never turn down halflin’ hospitality!”
“This has nothing to do with you,” said Turuko, trying his best to sound unruffled.
“How’s that, then?” asked Elmo. “Ye look ‘bout ready t’pounce, an’ these are me drinkin’ buddies. Seems t’me if’n ye want t’row wit’em, like as not, I’ll want me a piece o’ th’ fightin’, eh?” He put his fists up like a novice pugilist, then turned and glanced at the party, his expression suddenly uncertain. “Eh?”
“Oh! Oh let’s not fight,” said Felicity. “I mean, I’m sure these two are more than happy to notice when they have taken the wrong idea of things.” She smiled at the two mercenaries and then warmly up at Elmo. “Surely they would know that we are servants for good.”
Kobort appeared to hesitate, but Turuko was unfazed. “We mean to rob you. Clearly morality is not part of the equation.” The Bakluni looked at his companion and said, “Draw. We will finish this swiftly and be on our way.”
The warrior pulled the greatsword from his back and said to Elmo, “Move along, you drunk.”
Elmo gave the man a sly look. “Oy, ye’ve got a cleaver there, aye? So ‘appens I’ve got me a pig-sticker.” He produced a knife, only the gods knew from where. “Me brudder give it t’me, and taught me a t’ing or two ‘bout usin’ it.” He glanced back at the party and held his hand up as though to whisper conspiratorially but spoke at the same volume. “Th’ pointy end goes in th’ other man.”
Taliesin nodded to Elmo then addressed the robbers. “You two have terrible timing. I have no patience for this right now.” The druid shifted into a brown bear and roared very loudly.
“Bless my butt!” said Elmo.
“Be careful!” Felicity advised. “He can turn into a zebra too!”
Kobort glanced at his Bakluni companion. “Turuko, this is … getting more complicated than you said it would be.”
“Be silent!” Turuko insisted, even as Elmo began what appeared to be stretching exercises, limbering up in anticipation of action. The Bakluni frowned at the sight, quickly recalculating the odds. “Bah, this is a waste of time,” he decided. “Kobort, we’re leaving.” He turned on his heel, and the big warrior followed behind him uncertainly.
“Bye!” Felicity called after them with a wave.
“Wot?” said Elmo to their backs, having bent over to look between his legs. “Oh, they’re leavin’ eh? Jist as well, really. Me brudder tol’ me never t’stick a man dumber’n meself. T’would be a cruelty, ye see.” He smiled, pleased with himself, sheathed his knife, then walked over and scratched Taliesin behind the ears. “Who’s a good bear?” The druid nodded his shaggy head towards Elmo respectfully and remained in bear form.
Besilana, having watched the whole scene unfold in a daze, could not form words. The merchants and gnome had the same expression as the paladin.
“I’m really glad that didn’t turn out too bad!” said Felicity. “Thank you for the support Elmo!” she hugged him.
The hair human hugged her back. “Aye, lass. Lucky ‘twas that I were havin’ me nap, eh?” His eyes twinkled.
“I… " Besilana ground into mental first gear. “I was wondering why you were here.”
Elmo made shooing gestures at the party with a grin. “Get ye along t’town now. Don’t dawdle.”
“Think that… that’d be best, yes,” said the paladin, nodding in gratitude.
“Okay!” agreed Felicty. “Please, please come to the tavern and drink and eat with us tonight! You can have my share of the alcohol if I can have a bite of your food!”
Still in bear form, Taliesin started down the road, shoulders hunched as if weary, but looking back and forth watchfully. Felicity began to skip cheerfully then, the strange encounter having lifted her spirits some.
The company continued toward Hommlet, and as the first building came into sight, the druid finally transformed back into an elf. A young boy ran up to the group as they entered the village. “Rufus was lookin’ for ya," said the lad breathlessly. "Said to tell ya to come to the guard tower as soon as ya could. Oh, an’ he tol’ me to say please an’ thank ya.”
Felicity favored him with a smile. “Oh! Yes and your welcome!”
“Um,” said the gnome, whose name they had learned was Charley. “I don’t suppose you can spare some coin to put me up long enough I can get a message to my people and make my way back home?”
“Of course,” said Besilana.
“They know us,” said Taliesin. “Just tell them to put it on our tab.”
The gnome smiled at Besilana and Taliesin in turn. “Bless you both.”
“The least I can do,” said the paladin. She started to smile, but it didn’t quite come together.
The merchants Walter and Paco once more assured the adventurers that they would be rewarded for rescuing them.
“The reward is knowing that good men are free,” said Felicity.
“I’m glad you are safe,” said Taliesin. “Now I recommend you relax. A bath might help wash away your last few days as well.” They agree heartily and departed with Charley, bound for the Inn of the Welcome Wench.
As the heroes approached the construction area, they saw very little work was being done. A group of laborers was gathered around the base of the guard tower, and when they caught sight of the adventurers, the men ushered them across the drawbridge and into the tower proper. They passed through a door flanked by shuttered arrow slits and murder holes in the ceiling above.
The main hall was roughly forty feet in diameter, with passages flanking the main door leading back to a pair of fireplaces attended by cooks. Several comfortable chairs were placed along the walls, and the walls themselves were hung with tapestries and decorated with shields, arms, and hunting trophies. Ramps curving upwards and downwards led to other levels.
Rufus paced back and forth along the far wall, until he catches sight of the party. “Greetings again,” booms the big man. “It seems we could use your assistance confirming something. If you would please come with me?” He gestured toward the ramp descending into the lower tower then began walking that direction. Besilana aimed a sideways glance at her companions before following Rufus.
Rufus led the adventurers down to the ground level of the tower, where the outer batter thickens the wall. Here were all sorts of supplies – food, ale, beer, wine, oil, and so forth. This place was not pierced with slits or windows, and another ramp led farther down. The warrior crossed directly to this ramp and continued to descend.
The ramp terminated in what appeared to be a combination stable and gaol. There were heaps of straw, hay and oats to provide for the needs of horses, and four cells along the southeast wall for prisoner retention. Each was closed by an oaken door, barred, locked, and chained. In each cell were fetters and chains. One of the cells was occupied, and Rufus led the party directly to it. “Tell me,” he said, “Do you recognize this man?”
Felicity gasped, and Taliesin’s expression was shocked. “What is he doing here? We just saw him hours ago,” said the druid.
Still shell-shocked, Besilana said, “What is it?”
“That’s one of the guys from the Moathouse that was shooting at us!” said Felicity.
“Are you sure?”
“Well, I don’t rightly know his name but I know his face! He shot at us!” She started pointing and almost jumping with enthusiasm.
“It’s him all right,” agreed Taliesin.
Rufus nodded, his expression unreadable. “Dark tidings indeed. This is Zert, a vagabond who has been lurking around Hommlet for some time. He claimed to be awaiting the return of a caravan from the south, and so we were content to ignore the layabout, so long as he got up to no mischief. In point of fact, he would not have come to our attention at all were it not for your man Wil, who recognized him from his time among the bandits occupying the Moathouse’s walls. He noticed Zert speaking to another one of our laborers Josef, and thought to inform me of the villain’s association.
“I approached the pair and demanded to know what they were about. They denied any misdeeds, but when I bluntly demanded to know their connection to the Moathouse, they panicked. Josef was slain in the ensuing confrontation, but Wil helped me subdue and capture Zert. With your testimony that he is indeed a servant of the darkness occupying the Moathouse, we may yet be able to determine his association and his business in speaking with Josef.”
“I was ready for some good news,” Besilana said, mostly to herself.
“Well, we did run afoul a dark elf priestess,” said Felicity.
“I didn’t believe the drow were real until I saw one for myself.”
“That was a drow!? I figured she was just a really cursed elf … I’m learning so much today!”
“Maybe you couldn’t see it in the dark, Felicity, but she was wearing Lolth’s symbol.”
Rufus’s eyebrows crawled up his forehead. “Are you certain? Burne must hear about this.”
“We are going back,” Taliesin said. “As soon as possible. Any information you can get from him would be useful. Like how he beat us to town, for example.”
“A horse, I’d wager,” suggested Rufus. “You all are still afoot, aye?”
“Most of the time,” said the druid.
“We could afford horses, now. Couldn’t we?” said Besilana. Felicity stared off into space, mouthing the words “cat-size-horses.”
Taliesin turned to the prisoner angrily. “Is Eiravain alive?!” he demanded. “Tell me what that bitch is doing to her!” Felicity was shocked out of her reverie at the mention of the priestess but stayed quiet, staring at the prisoner with a solemn and wholly unhappy expression.
“He’s in no condition to answer questions at the moment," said Rufus, and they could see it was true. Zert was unconscious from the beating he’d received at the hands of the Badgers. "Rest assured we will find out what the bastard knows.
“As for Wil, he took a wound in the fighting, and I ordered him to rest for the remainder of the day. He is in the laborer’s camp, under guard if truth be told. I could not dismiss the possibility that he might be involved with these miscreants. Now that his assertions have been backed up by yourselves, I think that he does indeed intend to cut ties with the bandits and their wicked associates.”
Furnok looked thoughtful at this revelation. Besilana said, “I will have to thank Wil. I feel that he’s seen the light; in time, I’m sure he’ll embrace it.” Then she noticed Felicity’s woe, and she touched the halfling’s shoulder. “Come on, everyone. Let’s get some food and some rest.”
“Yeah, I’m tired,” the halfling said somberly.
“One more thing,” Taliesin said to Rufus. “Please do something about Turuko and Kobort if you feel the need. They accosted us just outside of town, intent on leaving with our possessions. We encouraged them to think again, with some help.”
“I’ll put the word out,” said Rufus.
One of the Badgers escorted the party back outside. Furnok turned to his companions and said, “You all go on. I’m going to go see Wil. I’ll meet you at the inn.”
“Thank him for me, if you will?” said Besilana. The rogue nodded wordlessly.
The three adventurers returned to the Inn of the Welcome Wench. Elmo was already there, entertaining the crowd, for certain values of “entertaining”. He cried in welcome as the Ehlonnans entered and invited them to sit at his table, along with Walter, Paco, and Charley. Felicity immediately perked up as if nothing bad had happened. She started hugging them all. Besilana hesitated, but seeing Felicity run to the table was the encouragement she needed to join the party. Taliesin looked more irritated than anything, but he seemed very ready to wash away some of his frustration with ale. Once everyone was seated, the halfling skipped to the bar and ordered a round for everyone (juice for herself) and then food, food, and more food before skipping back to the table. Shortly thereafter, Furnok entered the inn and rejoined the company.
Hours passed in merriment, and the day’s troubles started to fade into the back of the heroes’ minds.
In the evening, Ostler Gundigoot invited the adventurers to join him in a private room, his expression unusually serious. He led them to a dark and inconspicuous corner of the common room and ushered them through into a chamber. It was comfortably if plainly furnished with a long table and plush side chairs. Three men were already seated inside. Two they recognized as the druid Jaroo and the warrior Rufus, but one was a stranger with a somewhat alarming appearance. The man has a red face and horns rising from his brow to curl around his ears. “We need to talk,” he said without preamble. “Please, have a seat.”
At the Ehlonnans’ curious expressions, Furnok said, “That is Burne, master wizard and boon companion of Rufus.”
Felicity looked shocked and then confused, walking over to the horned man and peering up at him. “Can I touch your horns?” she asked sheepishly.
The tiefling raised one eyebrow. “No.” He shot a look at Rufus, who shrugged and grinned a little.
She pouted for a second then smiled again. “Okay!”
“Well met, gentlemen,” said Besilana, sitting down and steepling her fingers. Felicity and Furnok sat beside her, and Taliesin nodded, seemingly a little uncomfortable in this situation, before finding a seat himself.
Master Gundigoot excused himself back to the common room, and Burne said, “I speak on behalf of Hommlet, as we three form part of the council that serves the village. It appears that we owe you four a debt of gratitude. Jaroo informed us of your quest to seek out your missing priestess friend and of his advice for you to investigate the Moathouse. It seems you have found more than a handful of bandits squatting in the ruins. Can you tell us what you have discovered thus far?”
“Of course,” said Besilana.
“So first there was this toad!” Felicity said enthusiastically. They began at the beginning and tried to leave nothing out, concentrating on the cult presence and Lareth.
Rufus nodded as the tale came to a close. “You have endured much and more for the sake of your friend. Under questioning, Zert confessed to serving a drow elf new to the Moathouse … and an ally to the Temple of Elemental Evil. I have heard stories of this ‘Lareth the Beautiful’, and none of them bode well." He turned to Taliesin and added, “He said that when he left the Moathouse, your priestess friend was still alive.”
“Mother of Forests be praised,” said Besilana, echoed by Felicity. Taliesin let out a sigh of relief.
Then Jaroo addressed Taliesin, sounding perturbed. “I was surprised when you did not report to me what you found on your first foray to the Moathouse. Perhaps you felt it was not something the Circle should know?”
“I wasn’t sure I could afford the offering,” said the younger druid testily. “And … I’m not used to this kind of thing. My family mostly acts on its own.”
“And that is why the Ehlonnans are not equals in the Circle,” the elder druid said coldly.
Felicity winced. “Gentlemen … Please calm down. This is beneath us.”
“We’re all working toward the same goal,” Besilana added.
“Give over, Jaroo,” said Burne. “There was little enough to report, and I doubt the Ehlonnans intended any slight.” The elder druid sat back in his chair and held his tongue, though he looked none too happy about it.
“Besides,” said Rufus, “through their actions, we now know that there are cult spies in Hommlet itself. Zert also confessed that he was ordered to report your incursion to Josef, who had additional contacts within the village. He denied knowing the identity of these contacts, and I am reluctantly inclined to believe him.”
Burne inclined his horned head. “Aye, we’ve an inquisition to conduct,” he said to his warrior companions. Then he addressed the party. “Rufus tells me you intend to return to the Moathouse on the morn and try your luck against this dark elf a second time?”
“Aye, we must, for Mother Eiravain’s sake,” said Besilana. “Lareth will be waiting for us, but what choice do we have?”
“Is there any aid we can offer?” asked the wizard.
Besilana looked to her friends. “Yes. Any help you might have with that would be greatly appreciated.”
Felicity said, “Advice on defeating a drow priestess, because … I mean. That was rough.”
“Have you any magic to counter her darkness?” said Burne.
The halfling shook her head. “I’m afraid I’m not in possession of anything that would counteract magical darkness.”
“I can counter it for myself by becoming a spider,” said Taliesin. “But that doesn’t help all of us.”
The tiefling reached into his robes and pulled out a small pouch. He handed it to Besilana and said, “Take this. Within is a stone ensorcelled with continual flame. It should cancel out the drow’s darkness where the spell areas overlap. Just be sure to have a torch lit, as well.”
“Your generosity is greatly appreciated!” said Felicity.
“Your success is Hommlet’s success,” said Burne.
“I promise, we’ll make the most of this gift,” said Besilana.
“Very good. Gentlemen?” he said to Rufus and Jaroo. They all three stood and bid the adventurers farewell. The elder druid’s parting was curter than his fellow councilmembers.
“Thank you!” Felicity called after them.
The adventurers returned to the common room, and Furnok excused himself, making his way over to the table where Spugnoir sat. The rest of the heroes retired to their inn rooms shortly thereafter to sleep off the exertions of the day.
* * *
At dawn, Besilana invited everyone back to the place where Taliesin had wild-shaped for the first time to witness her swearing the Oath of the Ancients. Afterward, they set off toward the Moathouse for the third – and hopefully final – time.
When they arrived a couple of hours later, they saw that the corpses from their first trip out were still scattered about the courtyard and black chamber. “We need to deal with these as soon as we’re done below,” said Besilana. Felicity frowned at the stench and nodded agreement.
They encountered no resistance as they made their way back to the closed door before the hallway leading to the Master’s domicile. After their tribulations the previous day, Ehlonna had seen fit to bless her servants with additional gifts. With new spells at their disposal, Felicity and Taliesin begged a moment to prepare the adventurers for combat. The druid’s spell gave his skin a rough, bark-like appearance, and the cleric’s prayer bolstered her companions’ resolve. This accomplished, Besilana passed the continual flame stone to Felicity and said, “Stay behind me.”
“I’m going to have to stick with my bow,” said Furnok. “My blades are still … you know … in there.”
All tactical decisions made, Besilana opened the door. A chair had been placed on the other side, which scraped loudly as the paladin pushed it open. This alerted the human guard standing at the corner near the end of the hall. “They’re back!” he cried out.
Besilana dashed forward, Starsong whistling as she moved. Taliesin also advanced, holding the strange bone pipes he had found in the ogre’s chamber, while Furnok and Felicity brought up the rear.
The cult guard retreated farther back into the dungeon, and the swordsman emerged, his stance defensive. "Welcome back. Welcome to your doom.”
Lareth emerged beside her champion, her expression gleeful. “I’m glad you came back. I promised Eiravain she could watch you die!” She cast a spell, and purple lights erupted all around them.
The faerie fire attached itself to Furnok, who began to shed dim light. “What the!” he complained.
The priestess’s face twisted in annoyance. “Very well. Kill him first,” she instructed her companion.
Besilana ignored the lieutenant’s taunts and moves to smite Lareth. “Betrayer!” she hissed in Elvish as her blade carved a gash in the drow’s arm.
The dark elf recoiled from the blow and said, “Betrayer? Is that what you tell yourselves?”
Taliesin moved forward, plays a haunting melody on his pipes. He was gratified to see Lareth’s eyes widen in fright as the magic take hold of her mind. Then the druid transformed into a dire wolf.
The guardsman advanced and shot a crossbow quarrel into the wolf’s flank. Not letting up on the drow, Felicity evoked a bolt of holy wrath and launched it between the druid’s paws to strike Lareth, who reeled as the divine light glittered all around her.
The swordsman advanced on Taliesin, but was unable to land more than a pair of glancing blows with his swords. Despite the distraction provided by Felicity’s guiding bolt, Furnok’s arrow flew just past Lareth’s face. Suddenly and heavily wounded, the drow priestess cast darkness, and the adventurers heard her footsteps retreating. Fortunately, the darkness subsided with her, leaving the heroes to square off with the cult warriors.
Besilana turned her attention to the swordsman and her blade lit up with holy light as she brought it crashing through his defenses. The lesser cult warrior drew a longsword and flanked the paladin, but her shield work was on point, providing no openings for the man to strike her. Taliesin advanced for a better angle on the swordsman and took a bite out of his leg, and Felicity prayed for sacred flame.
Lareth’s bodyguard was apparently feeling his injuries, because his strikes came slower and less sure, barely piercing Taliesin’s woody hide. Despite being unseen, Furnok could not get a bead on the warrior past the druid’s hulking wolf form. The heroes heard more chanting from the dark corner followed by cursing in Elvish.
Besilana continued to focus fire on the swordsman, and he couldn’t get his blade up in time to intercept the paladin’s attack. “My lady, I- I have failed,” he said as he fell. After striking the bodyguard down, Besilana turned on the guard, side-stepping to make way for Taliesin. The druid advanced and tore the man from his feet with a vicious bite. The cultist scrambled back to his feet and looked desperately between the two of you, swinging for the wolf but only drawing a shallow cut across Taliesin’s hide. It was, however, enough pain to make the druid lose concentration on his barkskin, which dissolved in a shower of green sparks.
Felicity’s next prayer made an end of the cult guard, and she held Burne’s gift ready to counteract Lareth’s darkness. Furnok advanced and said, “Shit. She in the dark, there?” He nocked an arrow, preparing to fire should the dark elf emerge.
“Yes!” said Besilana. “Well, at least she was.”
The drow cast another spell, and the darkness vanished, replaced by spectral spiders. Her eyes were wild as she picked off Furnok’s arrow with her snake-headed staff. “I took that sword from your mother after I killed her, you know,” she told Besilana. “Shame the bitch cursed it with her dying breath. Do you feel it, paladin? The craving for vengeance?”
Besilana trudged forward through the phantom spiders, gritting her teeth against the pain until it found the secret part of her – the part that had pushed her into harm’s way before. Her vision blurred with scarlet; her next step carried her back in time, when little Felicity roused the nine year old Besilana from slumber, then dragged her through Myhalas to hear from Mother Eiravain that Azathir Moonwind was dead.
Mother Eiravain was grieving, the half-elf remembered. I’d never seen her weep before, and I’ve seldom seem it since. But I didn’t weep … I was too angry.
Yes, she told herself. Remember your anger. Feel it anew! Lareth killed your mother! Lareth is the root of all your sorrow! Slay her and be free at last!
The rage in Besilana’s heart drove one foot forward, then the other. Starsong’s whistling became a dirge as the paladin readied to strike. “Yes,” she hissed at Lareth, “I feel it. Now you’ll feel it, too.”
Taliesin moved forward, nearly losing his form from the pain inflicted by Lareth’s spirit guardians. With a growl, he willed himself to regenerate before going for the drow’s throat. Instead, he got ahold of her shoulder and tore her off her feet.
From the ground Lareth cast a taunt at Felicity as well. “Barkinar’s brat, all grown up? Well, as ‘grown up’ as your kind get, I guess."
The halfling was caught off guard by the dark elf’s words, but her sacred flame burned no less brightly. The spiders vanished as the light pierced Lareth’s chest. Blood running out of her mouth, Lareth wailed, “Impossible! This was my destiny!” A couple of ragged breaths later, she rasped, “It matters not. Elemental Evil will consume you all.” Her eyes locked on Felicity and she grinned cruelly. “Tell your father I-” Her sentence ended as her eyes glaze, and she fell to the floor unmoving.
Felicity sprang toward Lareth and grabbed her by the chainmail “MY FATHER? WHO!?!” The halfling was too shocked to realize that the woman was dead.
Besilana, shaking with anger, had trouble sheathing her blade. She took a knee and pulled the halfling back. “She’s dead, Felicity.”
“She knew who my father was!” cried the halfling. “She told me to tell him something!”
“Now we have a name, Felicity. We’ll find out what she knew. But right now, Eiravain needs you. I need you. Please, Felicity. Eiravain is here, somewhere. We have to find her. Remember?”
Felicity shook the corpse once more before looking up at the paladin. “Eiravain!” she cried.
“Maybe here?” Furnok said, indicating the door. He opens it, and gasped. Taliesin transformed back into his usual form, then he and the others joined the rogue at the door. Their reactions were little different.
In the chamber beyond the door, they saw a prisoner chained facing the wall. It appeared to be a dirty and bloodstained elf woman hanging from shackles on her wrists. Her blouse was torn open, and her back was a mess of gashes and bruises, like she had been whipped repeatedly. As you drew closer, they saw that it is indeed Eiravain.
Taliesin rushed in to check on her, pulling the ruins of her blouse aside to reveal the extent of the injuries on her back. He stopped cold when he saw a familiar symbol freshly carved into her flesh: a crescent moon nested in an opposite pointed crescent moon with a four-pointed star in the middle. Swallowing, the druid willed healing magic into the woman’s abused body.
She gasped as she came to, hesitantly turning her head to look over her shoulder. Tears welled in her eyes as she took them all in. “Taliesin?” she said, her voice nearly cracking. “Oh, thank Ehlonna!” She broke down crying, which only intensified when Felicity rushed in, torn between tackling her with a hug and trying not to make her injuries worse. Besilana mostly just looked uncomfortable, though the priestess’s expression of gratitude had not changed when she noticed the paladin.
The halfling had not noticed the symbol matching her tattoo, and Taliesin decided that that particular revelation could wait. Furnok freed Eiravain from her shackles to facilitate the reunion, then excused himself to loot the bodies while the Ehlonnans tended to their friend. Several healing spells later, the elven priestess was more or less pain-free and ready to talk.
“Lareth had me for days? Weeks? She kept saying that I was nothing more than bait and talking about a prophecy. Then yesterday she came in all excited, and repeating something about ‘the righteous, the noble, the wild, and the pure’ or something like that." She turned and addressed the paladin directly. "It was like she wanted you here, to die just as your mother had died. Besilana, I- I’m so sorry.” She broke down crying again, leaving the half-elf uncertain how to feel.
The rogue came back into the room holding a scrap of parchment. “I, uh … I think I found something,” he said, offering the torn scroll to Besilana. She scanned the rhyming Elvish words there and translated them into Common:
The woven web is tangled, but glory is possible
Turn civilization’s eyes toward familiar evil
Brood of the vanquished enemy must lead the charge
The righteous, noble, wild, and pure hold the key…
Besilana looked up from the page at her companions. “What does it mean?”