Teaching an old lizard new tricks
"Oh, what are you the DM now?"—Stephanie
Matt, "Joke not ready!"
Stephanie, "Hmmm urban turkey club sammiiich—hmm."
Sean, "D'oh, d'oh, d'oh! I'm Homer Simpson!"
Stephanie, "You know what, Sean? We need to have a talk!"
The party is stopped by Sir Nora Sable, Knight of the Stinking Bog, a large, fey corgi who guards a bridge across the bog they need to get through to reach Goblin City. Clover distracts her, playing fetch, and the party can use the bridge. Afterward, he invites her to come along, and pulls Chubbs the Giant Boar from his pouch to play with her.
Walking toward Goblin City, they enter a forest where a soft mist raises to shroud them. Suddenly, they hear a voice speaking, and Raquel and Irpaks recognize it as the voice which spoke to them in a dream while they were prisoners:185
Suddenly, each party member finds themselves separated and in a different place.
Smelling Henrietta's fresh pastry, Clover finds himself back at his home in Haven. Overwhelmed with emotion, he crumbles and starts crying. A man with bird companions appears, introducing himself as Mut, and consoles the Mousefolk. They sit down for pastries and melon juice, and Mut prophesizes that the times are very dangerous, and that Clover will face a big challenge soon. Mut speaks of Colin Timble, and of sacrifice, which is a way Clover could choose for himself. Another way would be to stay behind and deny the challenge. In the first case, Mut asks Clover to safeguard the silver arcane disc, but in the latter case, he should leave it with another guardian.
When Clover asks about the disc, Mut explains that it holds a friend of his. It is not dangerous, but it will come to his aid when the time is right. He says it is time for Clover to go, and the Mousefolk finds himself back in the forest.
Hearing familiar music, Raquel finds herself back at her establishment in the middle of a party. Now dressed in a beautiful gown, she is swept up in a dance, and her partner seems to be Aramel Kinlee. She embraces every moment.
When the music stops, she looks around and realizes there are no exits from the room. She walks along the walls, knocking on them, but Aramel interrupts her, asking why she would ever want to leave. The music plays again, and they dance once more. Raquel eventually gets tired, but the music starts over, playing the same song, and she starts feeling weirded out. She looks at Aramel's face, and his smile has grown distorted and demonic. Raquel reacts swiftly, producing the Wellington dagger199 and plunges it deep into Aramel's neck. His face melts under horrific cries, and the dancers around them turn into demons also. Then, the whole scene melts. Within a moment, Raquel is back in the forest, still holding her dagger.
When the fog parts, Throden has returned to his home village, but the buildings are intact, though there are no people around. He sees smoke rising from his former home, and investigates. He hears humming and thinks it must be his wife. He finds her at the stove, making food, but she is in the same way she was when he met her in the forest near Haven194. For a greeting, she teaches him what a hug is and how to reciprocate.
She explains that she broke a rule when she died and angered the Raven Queen, but instead of punishing her, the deity has required her service. Throden asks what is to come next, and she says it will be a great and terrible battle between good and evil. She does not know about their role in this conflict, but that the Raven Queen has charged her with awarding him a black raven feather. Once she does this, she realizes their time is up, but announces that they shall be rejoined once more. Then Throden finds himself back in the forest.
Feeling solid stonework beneath his feet, Irpaks finds himself in a beautiful tower. Floor to ceiling, the walls are covered with shelves of books, and in the center, a large oak table stands with a red velvet chair. In a corner, he sees a reading nook next to a stained glass window. Irpaks browses the back of the books and finds Markus' Magnificent Study of Creatures in Irulan, picks it up and sits down to read. After a while, he is surprised to hear someone at the oak desk.
A tall, dark man with beautiful locks of brown hair in blue and white robes claims to be contractually bound by someone named Jazirian to speak to Irpaks in this manner. The man introduces himself as Milil, the god of creativity and inspiration. He tries to make Irpaks a deal: as there is trouble down the road, Milil wants Irpaks to help. In order to learn more about his enemy, the bard should go seek this very library. He explains it is what remains of the fallen THE Mage College of once floating Stebrook, and accessing it will also be Irpaks' reward. Furthermore, Milil says Markus Landor made his home there, but has left, so Irpaks must expect the place to be trapped and dangerous. Irpaks agrees to seek the library, and asks the god for stories, which Milil promises him. As the library disappears, Irpaks is back in the forest.
Deep in the mist, Fanel finds the great oak tree which used to be his home. Monks from his former order appear, and he witnesses them training. When he approaches, he realizes that a young Fanel is sparring with a classmate. Fanel wins, and his master Leo applauds. The scene fades, and soon Fanel observes himself when he was older, returning from a mission, and presenting Leo with the horn of a unicorn, but the master is displeased. Finally, Fanel remembers the day of his banishment: having just defeated Leo in combat, his staff is raised and his terrified coeds await the killing. But Fanel does not kill his master. Leo cusses him out and Fanel is banished.
The scene fades once more, and Fanel witnesses Leo accepting a gold sum from a mysterious figure. Then things fast forward and he sees the great oak tree burning, and many monks of the Sun and Branches Order lay slain. A voice tells Fanel that Leo has strayed from the path and tried destroying the order. When he asks how Leo could attempt such a crime, he hears that Leo was corrupted, and a purple smoke appears, shaping the two-sided face of The True God. Fanel is warned to be careful, and then finds that he has returned to the other party members.
They hear a tussle nearby, watching Sir Nora wrestle with Chubbs, as a bell tolls far away. In the distance, a giant castle looms.
Ben, "Do I recognize the humming?"
Lauren, "You do. It's your wife. She's not a great hummer so it's really easy to recognize."