Sombra 15th, 331
Having passed the Elves’ Rite, the Singing Mercenaries emerged from the grove, to be met by a very surprised, but pleased, Sapheera. She had clearly not expected them to survive (although that had been obvious to them from Elrias’s reaction to the Council’s prescribing of the Rite in the first place.) Sapheera explained that typically the Rite simply struck out at non-Elves, so the fact that they were given the opportunity to, much less profited from, passing the Rite was nothing short of miraculous. Despite it being late in the evening, Sapheera was eager to hurry back to the court, and ushered them along the path. As they turned to trudge through the snow, however, a loud crashing from the northern woods gave them pause.
Seconds later, a Dragonborn came hurtling from the forest, moments later to be followed by the a huge Ettin and several twisted, humanoid-looking creatures. The Dragonborn called out for aid, claiming that if they were any sort of decent they would aid them against his foes. The ensuing battle was, for lakc of a better term, a slugfest. The Ettin and the larger humanoid creatures were all very strong warriros, and even the Dragonborn’s mightiest blows, and Jett’s most skilled attacks, could barely scratch them. The Ettin’s large size allowed him to keep the Singers at bay, and his lackeys, especially the smallest one, proved no mean opponents either. Upon spotting Winward, the Ettin seemed to brighten up (as much as giants can), shouting that his masters would love to have one of their long-lost slaves back. At this, the gnome became enraged, unleashing his bardic fury upon the giant. After a protracted battle, the creatures were finally felled.
The Dragonborn thanked the Singers, and introduced himself as Shalazar, an Avenger of Tempus. Shalazar explained he had wandered from the northern reaches of the continent in search of other Dragonborn or Dragonborn relics, as he had been raised among humans and had long wondered where others of his race might reside. Feeling he owed them a debt of gratitude, and thinking that being with other adventurers might further his own goals, Shalazar offered his services to the Mercenaries, which they greatly accepted. Sapheera, in the meantime, had been in the sacred grove, and emerged once the fighting had stopped. She explained she had left the fight to protect the grove, only to find that the great tree had been tainted by an evil. Upon inspecting the fell creatures that had been with the Ettin, she pronounced them originally to be either elf or human, saying that they had been warped by some unknown energy. Disturbed, she began hurrying towards the Court of Four Leaves, but before the party had gone very far, they heard voices to their east in the thick woods.
Shikou decided to scout ahead and determine whether the voices were friend or foe while the others hid behind some large rocks in the clearing. What emerged was a pale, beautiful looking Eladrin, a werewolf, a displacer beast, and several undead archers. The Eladrin and the werewolf talked as if they were expecting to meet another group, however, before the group oculd learn anything else, Winward stumbled over a rock, revealing their presence. Another fight ensued, although it was not the desperate battle fought before. The werewolf taunted Shikou, recognizing the Monk’s Shifter heritage, claiming that Shifters were merely weak, unrealized, creatures who deserved only to die. The Monk quickly proved the Werewolf wrong, unleashed a flurry of attacks that quickly downed the arrogant lycanthrope. The other enemies were subdued quickly, until only the Eladrin was left standing. The Eladrin revealed herself to be a vampire with a haunting voice, able to freeze the Singers in place and literally force them away. When she realized that she would surely lose, the vampire seemed to give up, claiming that the Singers would never be able to destroy her. Taking her at her word, the party simply subdued her.
Exhausted, they rested, wondering what the potential meetings of their foes could mean, and what awaited them back at the Court of Four Leaves. Sapheera seemed more troubled than ever, relating to the group that the lycanthropes in the forest had always been on peaceable terms with the elves. She also gleaned that their captive was originally from the Feywild, and for the Feywild to have released such an evil creature into Rantalia was surely an ill omen.