"Nurture Nature" Plot Recap
Some creatures seem to be inherently evil. Others seem to embrace an evil life. The Half-Elven Renegades of the High Forest would seem to be the second. Yet when they kidnap, kill and rob, should they face a different fate than the first? Or perhaps they are even more detestable, since they've chosen their life.
My next tale begins when the Order of the Jade Blade investigated an attack on a caravan just west of Loudwater. The Half-Elven Renegades had attacked a set of Sweetwater Trader's wagons on the Delimbiyr Road. The Renegades stole choice items, including the strongbox, preserved food, and several casks of wine. Of much more concern, the Renegades kidnapped four gold-elf passengers.
When our heroes heard that bandits struck a caravan, they immediately rode to the site to see what could be done. They talked to the caravan master and the passengers, as well as the militia investigating the scene. The Jade Blade quickly pieced together that the Half-Elven Renegades were responsible for the ambush and found a trail leading into the High Forest. They followed the Renegades' trail, but after many miles lost the scent. The bandits used magic to erase any sign of their passing. After several hours of fruitless effort to follow the Renegades, the Jade Blade had no choice but to turn back.
Shortly after the adventurers returned to Loudwater, they were approached by a gold elf who introduced herself as SerindŽ. She heard they investigated the attack on the caravan and wished for news of her sister AmariŽ. When she learned of her sisters kidnap, she begged the heroes to find AmariŽ as she didn't have the coin to pay a ransom to the Renegades.
The Jade Blade agreed to help SerindŽ and began their investigations. They spoke with a number of people in Loudwater who had knowledge of the Half-Elven Renegades, including Gauntlet Isyan Kiy'sisnos, Eldrin Whisperbark, and me. From these conversations, the adventurers pieced together the locations of one of the Renegade's hide-outs. Isyan mentioned that Eldrin was held prisoner by the Renegades last year, and he was held in a natural, underground cave. He remembered crystalline growths on the ceiling and a beautiful stone drapery. With this information, I was able to identify the stone as gypsum, and there is only one cave nearby that has both gypsum and a stone drapery – the Cave of Blooming Stone.
The Cave of Blooming Stone is a natural cavern in the southern High Forest used by the Eaerlanni elves. The natural beauty of the caves was enhanced by the moon elf Daniros. He converted the caves to his home and built magical braziers that played with flame, color and light. The lanterns are still there, but Daniros had moved on, and the caves had since become a base for the Half-Elven Renegades.
With directions to the cave, the Order of the Jade Blade arrived without difficulty. They found nearly a dozen Renegades there. I assume some attempt at stealth was made, but the effort failed and battle resulted. Although the bandits outnumbered the adventurers, they had terrible morale and no wish to die on a freesword's blade. After a short but fierce combat, the remainder fled through secret passages into the forest.
In a deeper part of the cave, the adventures met the leaders of this band, a druid and a ranger. The two appeared to be lovers, and they fought well together even after their followers had fled. Both paid for their kidnapping and thievery and fell before the Jade Blade.
Beyond the cave where the leaders of the Renegades made their home was a chasm above a rushing underground stream. A rope and wood-plank bridge stretched across the chasm, offering easy access to the far side. However, the adventurers found their way blocked by a troll and an elf-like creature with scarlet fur and a long, coiling tail. I have learned that the creature is one of the fey'ri – the descendents of a corrupt group of elves that consorted with demons.
"The elves are mine. I arranged their capture. You cannot have them," the elf-like creature said and refused to allow the Jade Blade to cross. In the short conversation that followed, the Jade Blade learned that she was from House Dlardrageth and that she arranged for the capture of the elves because they were "a future." Tiring of the parley, the fey'ri ordered the troll to attack, and she supported it with a variety of spells and bardic inspiration. When it was obvious that she was going to be defeated, the fey'ri lept into the chasm and died when she hit the river far below. Strangely when the adventurers made their way down to the underground river, they found no sign of the body. I have heard the outsiders often boil away into mist when slain.
With this last threat removed, the Jade Blade rescued the gold elves who were held in a cave on the far side of the chasm, including SerindŽ's sister. AmariŽ was relieved to be rescued even if the other gold elves were aloof and distant to the adventurers. When they returned to Loudwater, the freeswords received a note from SerindŽ that she had been called away on urgent business, but she left them a beautiful necklace as their reward. AmariŽ took a liking to our idyllic town along the Delimbiyr and settled down in a cottage not too far outside the town walls.
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