“And above all, you must not tarry! The Feywild is a dangerous place for mortal creatures after dark, even in the safety of an elf town” -Elder Autumnbough
The old elf’s warning hangs unspoken on the heroes’ minds as they ride in silence down the river. They have survived the Feywild thus far, but their wounds are harsh and their resources low. There are precious few aces and fewer sleeves still to hide them in; it’s unlikely that the heroes will emerge unscathed from another attack from the vicious fey spiders.
Worse, Adrie’s keen eyes keep catching glimpses of something following them. Whatever it is, when the party passes through the sunset waters to exit the Feywild, the glimpses do not stop; this mysterious tracker is not content to merely wander the land of the fey.
The heroes briefly discuss what to do about the situation. There is barely an option; they must return to Bough’s Merry, even if it means leading their mysterious stalker to the elves. In their current condition, they might not survive another fight.
Thus decided, they continue and make their way to Bough’s Merry by midnight without incident or further glimpses. The heroes do not know whether they evaded their persistent hunter or if it, instead, has bested them at remaining unseen. Their sleep suffers for it and they do not find themselves as rested the following morning.
Elder Autumnbough is pleased that they have returned successfully and though he mourns how the beautiful Feywild has come so marred in the wake of the mysterious desertions of elf towns, he is optimistic that the heroes’ brave endeavor will prove fruitful. He gives the party a brush that belonged to his daughter and a few fine strands of her auburn hair still cling to its bristles and explains.
He points in the distance to a tree that can be seen above all others. The Oakwatch, it is said, can be seen from all the Nearwood. That is where the heroes must go next. There they must tie one of the women to the great tree and make her appear in great distress. Upon the moonlit hour, Lillywyn will come to rescue her and it is then that they must present the unicorn with the trinkets so dangerously gathered from the Feywild. With his daughter’s brush, perhaps the heroes will be able to entreat the unicorn to lead them to Leafwind.
Of course, the plan is not so simple as that. To reach the Oakwatch, the heroes must pass through Stormlash Ravine, a place where the elements themselves come alive in violent form. And once the heroes reach the great tree, they must take labors to ensure the unicorn is drawn to them – it is said that Lillywyn cannot bear the sight of an injured woman without coming to her aid. Further, the creature might be enraged when it sets upon the hilltop and the heroes may have to calm it before they can ask for its aid!
Eager to set out, the party makes its way into the Nearwood once more. The elder’s description of the ravine does it little justice. Stormlash Ravine is as much a different place from the Nearwood as the Feywild was, if not more; it is as though an inhospitable mountaintop crag was inexplicably dropped in the middle of the forest.
The path through the ravine is so narrow that the party must travel single-file. The howling wind whips around wildly and when the loose gravel isn’t causing the heroes to slide and trip, the violent wind spits it in their faces. When they ascend to the final pass, the elements finally decide to directly intervene.
Two whirlwinds kick up gravel as they advance toward the party, taking strangely humanoid forms as they twist their way forward. The heroes lose sight of one as its winds temporarily die down only for it to reappear in their midst with a sudden gale of violent storms.
A rockslide tumbles down the side of the ravine and another humanoid shape lumbers forth from the multitude of broken boulders. Living fire rips forth from the ground in the distance and flickers swiftly toward the fight. Surrounded, the heroes draw their weapons to fight back the elementals!
Dazed by the sudden storm, Avaris stabs feebly into the whirlwind before him but his weapon is unable to find purchase. The twisting cyclone darts away from him and vanishes once more into the camouflaging winds of the ravine. The rogue gasps out as the elemental vanishes from his sight, “Stay close…! They’re invisible when they get away!”
Adris and Tanule do not let the cyclone between them manage the same trick. They move to flank it and stab their spears in unison. The winds twist and howl as if in pain and the loose sands that have been gathered up by it spray wildly against the heroes as if it were a suddenly bloodied beast.
“Fire!” yells Adrie, training her bow upon the twisting whirlwind still visible between the spearmen. The arrow is deflected harmlessly by the raging cyclone, but Sabellia furrows her brow in concentration.
Fire… Of course! Fire! These creatures are the pure, embodied forms of their elements; in the case of this whirlwind, it is nothing more than air. In other words… fuel. The warlock conjures an orb of fel fire in her palm and hurls it into the creature’s twisting form. It explodes in a sudden violent fiery cyclone before turning, enraged and weakened, upon her.
The invisible whirlwind reappears suddenly, blasting and buffeting Adris and Tanule with another fleeting storm. Flames die out upon the other whirlwind and with the spearmen dazed from its ally’s sudden attack, it surges its smoking form toward Sabellia with the full howling fury of an enraged storm.
Avaris collects himself and lunges upon the reappeared air elemental that has appeared in their midst. The rogue hacks and slashes violently into the storm until he can taste the coppery grit of sand in the air; he has bloodied the creature. When it flees, he follows it murderously.
Boulders charge past the rogue and slam with a thundering crack against the still-dazed Tanule. The elemental bashes its enormous rocky arm against the dragonborn’s armor and the walls of the ravine tremble as if ready to crumble away.
Adris slips past the boulder-like beast and rushes to Avaris’ aid. He charges the escaping whirlwind and drives his spear into its twisting form. Adris trains her bow on the elemental, but her arrow is sent twisting off into the sky once more.
Forced back against the cliff-edge at the back of the ravine and too close to risk her eldritch magic against the whirlwind, Sabellia runs through her knowledge of elementals while she swats at the creature feebly with her mace. “Earth… thunder! It will weaken its stony hide… and fire— Adris, your spear!”
“Fire?” Adris calls over the howling wind with whom he is locked in combat. But the swiftly flickering flames of the fire elemental dart past him and leap over the deep ravine toward his sister instead. The flames almost seem to cackle as they engulf her.
Tanule drives his spear into the earth elemental then stomps his foot sharply upon its haft. Like a lever, the weapon dislodges an enormous boulder from the creature’s mass and it seems to suffer a grievous wound from the attack.
It lifts an enormous stony foot into the air then brings it down with a crack that trembles the entire ravine. Tanule, Avaris and Adris are all lifted momentarily into the air as the ground collapses beneath them, only to fall prone with a sickening crunch. The living rocks seem pleased.
Avaris rises first and skewers his rapier into the winds one final time. They sputter and spit dust and sand and dirt and finally die down to nothingness beneath the wound. After him, Adris climbs to his feet and charges the earth elemental. His first attack is deflected harmlessly by the creature’s stony armor, but undeterred he looses divine magic upon the dangerous elemental and summons Avaris to his side in a flash of light and together the two flank the creature and manage to pierce its defenses.
Adrie shrieks, nearly losing her footing as she steps back from the two elementals engaged with her and Sabellia. She lets an arrow fly into the flames and as soon as it hits, fire bursts out like blood from the creature, engulfing all nearby to share in its pain.
Sabellia risks the dangerous retribution of the air elemental cornering her against the cliff-edge and flings the fiery creature over the edge of the ravine with a diabolic grasp of eldritch magic. The storm cuts at her fiercely and she drops to one knee, desperately trying not to be forced back any further.
“Go to your sister,” growls Tanule, forcing the earth elemental’s attention aside so that Adris can slip to Sabellia and Adrie’s aid under his covering attack. The stony rocks rumble under Tanule’s assault.
The boulders slam into the ravine floor forcefully once more, driving all but Tanule to the ground beneath the quake’s assault. Avaris melts into the ground with the smokey cloud of his magic cloak and appears behind the air elemental engaged with Sabellia. He drives his rapier into the wind and slays it outright.
Tanule breathes lightning-breath upon the earth elemental and finishes it with another lever-like attack from his spear. Adris whispers the word that sets his spearhead alight with glimmering icy magic and freezes the living flames where they stand. The rest of the heroes let loose their attacks and shatter the final elemental before making their way through the ravine.
The Oakwatch stands upon a towering hill just on the other side.
Sabellia turns to Adrie with a smirk, then looks at the rest of the party. “So? Which one of us is getting tied up?”