Kingmaker: Reborn - Session 5

The human woman that the Evergreen Party rescued introduced herself as Gaetana, one of the local hunters. She gave the party her thanks, grateful that if they had not shown up, she would have surely been torn to shreds by those brush thylacines. Speaking of which, both Gaetana and Cethin agreed that it was extremely unusual that thylacines would be so active during the day, as they are normally nocturnal hunters. Also, they have never been seen in such numbers.

"Maybe the increased number of bandits has something to do with it," Gaetana surmised.

Davona, Dante, and Minchdoya volunteered to escort Gaetana back to Onestrio's Trading Post. Meanwhile, Arina, Cethin, and Jupus would continue their survey of the region.

After a few days of exploring, the Evergreen party encountered a large field littered with sun-bleached bones. Upon closer inspection, the bones were from a myriad of animals, even a few humanoids. However, the party did not see anything else of interest.

As they turned to leave, a pony-size spider erupted from the earth! It latched onto Arina, and its bite injected strength-sapping poison.

After defeating the giant spider, the party looked into the spider's lair. In it they found the remains of a man. On him was a silver amulet shaped like a stag's head, and a crudely drawn map with a red 'X' marked on it. Cross-referencing the crude map with their more professionally drawn map led them to believe that the red 'X' points to one of the southern parts of the Gnarlwood forest.

The party continued their exploration for the next several days. They did not encounter anything dangerous, but something new did happen to them each days. Ever since they came to this part of the Evergreen Plains, after defeating the giant spider, the three were suffering harmless, but annoying pranks every day.

The morning after, they put on their boots, only to painfully discover that little bones from the spider's nest were hidden in.

Another time, they woke to find themselves covered in leaves sticky with honey.

And another time, their hair and clothing were temporarily shaded with an obscene collection of colours.

One night, the party heard wolves growling all around them. Their sounds grew louder and louder as if they were closing in on them. As the party started packing up, the wolf sounds reached a crescendo. Then, a loud fart sound erupted. As the party realized that it was another prank, they could hear faint musical laughter.

"This is getting really old!" Jupus yelled out into the night in the Sylvan tongue. A faint fart noise was his only response.

A few days into the pranks, Cethin suspected that their source were most likely mischievous fey. Considering how easily these fairies set up their pranks on the watchful adventurers, they may have powers that would make very difficult to confront head-on. The only real solution that was available was to leave gifts for them. Traditionally, fairies would stop their pranks upon befriending them. From then on, the party left out gifts of potions, gold, and jewelry each night in hopes to stop the pranks.

Jupus left out mostly bread and cheese. Cethin pointed out those were not very useful gifts to fey, that they liked sweet things. "It's fine," Jupus said.

On another morning, the three found their weapons missing. After a brief search, they discovered that the weapons were each hidden in a different person's belongings.

"How did they do this without us noticing?!" an exasperated Jupus exclaimed. "This is unacceptable, we can't let people mess with us this way."

The party continued their exploration in the direction of the fangberry thicket that Donato pointed out to them when they rescued him. Aside from a chance encounter with a giant snake, which they killed easily, their journey was uneventful, though they still suffered daily pranks. It appears their gifts were not sufficient in impressing the fey. And they still could not detect them even after setting up watches.

The thicket was nestled in a low valley between two small hills. It was also covered by a gossamer blanket of webs. As the party approached, they saw plenty of fangberries, but also plenty of sharp thorns on their branches. The three waded into the thicket to collect the berries. While doing so, they received many cuts and scratches from the thorns.

"Ouch! I hope Onestrio appreciates these berries," Arina said as she cut herself again while grabbing another handful of berries.

"Wait, Onestrio? He didn't ask us for any berries," Jupus said. "You sure it wasn't Sabina?"

"No, she wanted moon radishes, which the others should have brought back with them. Wait, then how did we know about this place?"

"Wasn't it that trapper Donato? But he just told us about this place. I don't recall him asking us to collect any fangberries."

"You mean to say we're getting all cut up for berries no one even asked us to get?" Arina moaned and facepalmed. A streak of blood from her cut hand left a trail on her face.

"Maybe it had something to do with that Biaggio fella, the potion-maker. Something about adding flavour to the potions? Ouch!"

"Hey guys…" said Cethin fairly weakly. "I got… my share of the… berries…"

The kitsune witch held up a small satchel filled with fangberries, but he was swaying on his feet. The others could see that his fur was matted with streaks of his own blood.

Their attention was turned to a growing sound of chittering. Peering closely, they saw a carpet of thumb-size spiders emerge from the thicket, heading straight towards them!

"Nyaarh!" Jupus uttered as the swarm of spiders crawled all over him, being the closest. The gnome could feel their tiny little legs crawling all over him. Fortunately, their bites did not yet get through his armor and clothing.

Cethin stretched out his hand, and invoked burning hands onto the swarm. He burned a few off, but the swarm just seem to keep growing. The party took one look at that, went "Nope!", and bugged out of the area on their horses and ponies as soon as they can.

The party rode in the northeast direction. After a days ride, they made camp, and planned to resume their exploration in the morning. During the night, they thought to use their fangberries as an offering to the still unseen fey. Hoever, in the morning, their piles of fangberries were still there. However, they appeared to have been washed clean, and piled neatly on leaves.

"Oh, they're just fucking with us now," Jupus muttered.

Continuing their exploration, the party arrived at what was marked as Biaggio's hut on their map. It was a crude hut made of mud with a grassy roof. A light inside the window and smoke from a chimney indicated that it was occupied. Dismounting, the party approached and knocked on the door.

"Eh? Who's there? What you want?" a screechy old man's voice called out from within.

"Sir? We're the Evergreen Expedition, and we heard we might acquire potions here," Arina replied.

"Eh, business? Alrighty, be right there!" The door to the hut opened, revealing an old human man dressed in raggedy clothing. His white hair and beard were scraggly and unkempt. "Name's Biaggio, whatcha need?"

The party introduced themselves to Biaggio. "Well, we seem to be tailed by some fey causing pranks on us. We were wondering if you might have anything that we can use to appease them, like baked sweets, or sugar water," Arina asked.

Biaggio chuckled. "Problems with fairies, eh? Yeah, they like to do that to newcomers around here. Well, I do know they like potions. Which I got plenty of. For sale."

The party members gave each other a look. "Of… course. By the way, we have these fangberries with us. Would you happen to need them?"

Biaggio's eyes perked up. "Hey, fangberries! Perfect timing, supply's been running out. I use 'em in my potions. Gives 'em a sweet flavour. How much you got there?"

"About three shares, all cleaned and washed."

"Ooh, nice and clean! Usually I just dump 'em in as is. Hmm, tell you what. You give me these shares, and about four more to fill up my supply, and I'll give y'all a 25% discount on all potions."

"Hmm, well a month-long discount doesn't seem long," Arina said.

"Well, don't need to be a one-time thing. Every month, you give me seven shares of fangberries, you get the discount."

While the party agreed to this deal, Cethin had an idea, and snuck off. Out of sight from everyone, Cethin used his natural kistune abilities to make himself look like Onestrio. He then came back, and everyone thought that he really was Onestrio.

"Onestrio! Surprised to see you here," Arina said. "Wait, where did Cethin go?"

"Oh, don't worry, I passed him on my way here," Cethin-as-Onestrio said. "He said he had to hurry back to the trade post for something."

Turning to Biaggio, the disguised kitsune said, "Hey there, Biaggio! Here to pick up some potions!"

"Eh, Onestrion? Surprised to see you here. Usually I bring'em to you," Biaggio said, peering closely at Cethin. However, he seemed to believe that this was the genuine Onestrio.

"Yeah, I had some free time, and needed the walk. So, got my supply?"

"Sure! Got the gold?"

Cethin froze. "Uh… not on me. Sabina should've brought it to you."

"Nope? And you sent your wife out alone with the gold? That's odd of ya."

Feeling a bit sweaty, Cethin backed off. "Oh, you're right. Must've misremembered. Nevermind then, I'll head back and wait for the usual shipment back at the trade post. See you!" And Cethin-as-Onestrio shuffled off in a hurry.

A few minutes later, a normal looking Cethin came back and rejoined the group.

"Cethin? I thought Onestrio said you headed back to the trade post?" Arina asked.

"Uh, yeah. Remembered it wasn't really that important, so… yeah."

The party let the matter drop. Arina bought a fangberry-flavoured potion from Biaggio. With night falling, the party made camp, and Arina left out the potion as a gift to the still unseen fey.

In the morning, Arina had a sweet-smelling bouquet of flowers place near her head.

Jupus and Cethin had weeds stuck to their hair.

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