Anapasday, Quadrember 13, 358 EK
Bosabrieln, Dareisyn, Desire’lya, Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela join Ondulf and Lorelinda Cooper, as well as the rest of their family, for dinner. The farmers seem interested in tales of their adventures, and the lot of them take the opportunity to tell them — all while surreptitiously watching Ondulf’s reaction.
After dinner, the travelers are given two guest rooms. Bosabrieln, Dareisyn, and Desire’lya take one, while Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela take the other. They decide to take watches in case anything strange is happens — although Bosie, Syn, and Desire tend to get to bed late anyway — but their nights are uneventful.
Syn awakens Bosie and Desire, and they ready themselves to find Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela already having breakfasted. Once the trio has eaten, the group prepares to investigate Ondulf’s machine.
Travel southwest through the dense woods takes most of the day. Finally, Ondulf leads them to a small cavern in a hillside. Lighting torches, the group marches into the cave.
After the tunnel winds down into the hillside several feet, the cave opens into a larger chamber. Dominating the center of the chamber is a massive horseshoe-shaped console covered in levers, dials, and switches. In the middle of this horseshoe configuration is a cube made of glass or crystal.
The group cannot really make heads nor tails of the strange device; they only note that several of the levers and dials are corroded or broken. Interrogating Ondulf reveals that any given lever, dial, or switch can activate some mechanism within the machine, so the group wisely decides to not touch it. Additionally, some uses affect the surrounding region, while other uses only affect the inside of the crystal cube.
Perhaps most notably, Desire quickly discerns that Ondulf seems nervous — dry-mouthed, jittery, sweating. However, this seems less like fear or anxiety and more like withdrawal from drug addiction; he clearly wants to use the machine again. She quietly lets Syn know about this development and starts keeping a closer eye on Ondulf during their investigation of the machine. She then openly suggests to Syn that they destroy the machine; as she suspected, Ondulf protests, claiming that there is a still a lot they could learn about it if they experiment. After discussion, the group merely decides to collapse the cave mouth, leaving the device intact; the assembled party manages to convince a reluctant Ondulf that this is the best course of action, and the best possible way to keep his family safe.
Syn collapses the cave entrance with his magics, and the group starts the long trek back to civilization. As night falls and they approach the farm, Syn and Desire ask Ondulf about his Sun card from the Deck of Many Things and convince him of the tragedy they have seen it cause other card holders. They offer to pay him for it, and when he refuses to part with it, Syn threatens him into relinquishing the card.
When they return to the farm, Lorelinda offers to let the group stay another night, but Desire says they need to continue on their journey. The travelers thank the Coopers for their hospitality, and leave. Once they have left the farm, Syn gives Desire the Sun card, which she puts with the o—thers, and she indicates she did not want Ondulf to have the chance to retrieve his card or do anything untoward to them. They make camp in the woods a few miles from the farm, and sleep in watches for the evening.
It takes roughly three days to make the return trek to Elham, arriving on the evening of Quadrember 17. After finding rooms at the Maiden’s Needle, they decide to look for work the next day in the hopes of replenishing their dwindling funds. Desire manages to find work as an advertiser and model for one of the tailors in town; Syn finds the town to have need of a sage with his knowledge of magic; Bosabrieln provides entertainment in the Maiden’s Needle, acting as a minstrel; and Drishti finds work telling fortunes.
The week passes pleasantly, and many of the residents of Elham come to recognize the strange travelers that have appeared in their midst. Only Bosabrieln and Drishti work on Rasday, Quadrember 21, with most businesses being closed in town.
It is near the end of the day on Tefnutsday, Quadrember 25, that Desire notices other out-of-towners — elves dressed in the garb and armor of Syn and Desire’s homeland. They are merely quietly observing. Desire sends her hawk to alert Syn and the others. Roc the hawk makes its way to where Syn is working, and when he hears of the hawk trying to enter the building, he excuses himself and goes to greet it. He knows to follow Roc where it leads, and so follows it to the Maiden’s Needle to retrieve the others; Syn finds Bosabrieln and Godfrey, and they follow it back to where Desire is working. She excuses herself and explains that she saw elves from the Wandering Styck. She knows no further details, but they were definitely watching her. Godfrey, having noticed Syn and Desire’s watchers, takes Bosabrieln to follow them and see if he can determine anything regarding their plans.
After the pair leaves, an armored female elf approaches Syn and Desire, saying she is from the Styck. She explains that she and her band have been requested to retrieve Dareisyn and Desire’lya and return them to the Styck. Desire explains that she has a job and has given her word to complete it, but this is the final day of her obligation, so she can meet and discuss such matters this evening. They are staying at the Maiden’s Needle and should all return around dinnertime. The messenger accepts and agrees to these terms, and so takes her leave.
Meanwhile, Bosabrieln and Godfrey wander through the town, but lose sight of any foreign elves. They eventually return to Syn and Desire, who explain what has transpired and that the elf emissary will meet them this evening. Syn and Bosabrieln return to work, pondering what they will do when evening comes, while Godfrey finds Juvela at the inn and updates her on the situation.
As evening approaches, Syn and Desire return to the inn. When Drishti arrives, they quickly update her on what has happened during the day. Desire indicates that this business only regards she and Syn, and that the others are under no obligation to assist them, but everyone insists on helping. Godfrey takes a position at a far table to observe the proceedings, while Bosabrieln, Syn, Desire, Drishti, and Juvela await the elves.
They do not wait long. Shortly, the same female elf who previously contacted Syn and Desire approaches and joins them. She explains that the elders of the Styck require them back for judgment; Elendar in particular has apparently been seeking Desire’lya’s return. Desire wishes to explain what transpired and what caused them to flee the Wandering Styck; although the elf messenger says she has no authority to pass judgment, she will listen and offer this testamony. Desire explains they were attacked by a myriapoda, a humanoid centipede beast. When it bit Dareisyn, his blood sprayed and she accidentally tasted of it, reawakening the ancient hútayár curse of their bloodline. Although the myriapoda was slain, the hunger overwhelmed her and she drained the wounded Dareisyn, killing him. A devil appeared, offering a way to bring him back, and she accepted.
The messenger is surprised, as apparently those of the Styck did not know infernalism was involved. As the messenger reiterates that Dareisyn and Desire’lya must return to the Styck, Desire explains that she has been granted a vision by the gods, a vision of fire and horror that is to be brought to this realm lest she and her companions stop it by gathering a scattered Deck of Many Things. She shows the messenger the Euryale, Fool, and Sun cards they have already gathered. The elf indicates this is a notable development, and says she will discuss it with her fellows, and they will send a messenger to learn what Nona has to say on these matters, and whether they will be allowed to go on their way, or whether they will be returned to the Styck.
Before she leaves, Desire asks the messenger’s name; she introduces herself as Niserie Woodvine. Niserie asks where they will be headed next, and Syn indicates they will be traveling north to Wadbradworth, and then east. Longer-term, they will likely be headed to the City of Ten Thousand Pleasures. Niserie indicates she will likely have a response within the next few days, and takes her leave.
Desire is deeply shaken by the experience, but Bosabrieln goes and speaks with her. Godfrey talks to Syn about these developments while Bosie and Desire are elsewhere. Drishti and Juvela take their leave. Once Bosabrieln, Syn, Desire, and Godfrey reconvene, they decide they’ve had quiet enough of the day and retire to bed, to set out for Wasbradworth in the morning.
The next morning, as the group wanders down to breakfast, they are pleasantly surprised to see Zealot Shadowhate in the tavern. Desire is so overwhelmed that she bounds over and hugs him, tackling him out of his chair and to the ground. He greets the group, and before he can fully explain what he is doing in Elham, he and Desire start flirting and decide to retire to their room. Syn and Bosabrieln insist on following, and watch as Desire fellates Zealot; in the meantime, Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela eat breakfast, leaving the others to their own devices.
Once finished, Bosie, Syn, Desire, and Zealot return downstairs. Zealot explains that he has not yet learned any additional information regarding his lost friend, but he has some people assisting him at the moment, and will hopefully have more information within then next couple of weeks. He then asks what the group has been doing since he left; they explain about the unfortunate events in Duchy Bassano, and encountering the strange machine in a cave. Zealot recognizes the machine as the Machine of Lum the Mad; thought lost from Oerth centuries ago, the Machine was found by the Oeridian warlord and artificer Lum the Mad. He learned how to operate the machine and used its power in many successful military campaigns. One of his commanders, a man by the name of Leuk-O, discovered a suit of armor, possibly made by the same people who made the Machine. Leuk-O then rebelled against Lum the Mad, and the two eventually fought. During the battle, a mysterious mist arose and swallowed Lum, Leuk-O, and their fantastic devices.
The Machine of Lum the Mad has many wondrous functions, but most of them are unknown and poorly understood. It is also known to cause madness in users, and can cause the cranium to expand.
Desire also shows Zealot the Deck of Many Things cards they have thus far retrieved, and tell him as much as they know about the soothsayer who has been giving them to people. He does not think this is related to his quest, although he indicates he will let them know if he finds any relevant information.
Bosabrieln, Syn, and Desire then persuade him to join them upstairs. Desire similarly persuades Drishti to join them. They lose the rest of the day to their sexual revelry, deciding to instead depart the following morning; Godfrey and Juvela leave them to it, and stroll around Elham instead.
The next morning, Quadrember 27, everyone eventually makes their way downstairs to breakfast at the Maiden’s Needle. They say their good-byes to Zealot — despite her protests, the group convinces Desire not to stay another day — and set out on the road to Wadbradworth.
They arrive in Wadbradworth in the late morning of Anhursday, Quadrember 30. Outside the city walls, they note the presence of many colorful vardos and carts, suggesting a Vistani caravan. Drishti and Juvela reveal they have been discussing the matter, and Drishti planned on parting company whenever she next encountered a Vistani caravan. Juvela was considering joining her; she further wonders if Bosabrieln would be willing to perform her blooding ritual, and he agrees.
Bosabrieln, Drishti, and Juvela introduces themselves to the Vistani, led by Voivode Ziemowit Corvara of the Boem clan. Drishti asks for permission to join them, explaining that her own caravan was decimated by monsters; he agrees. The group enters Wadbradworth proper, getting a room at the inn and preparing for the blooding ceremony later that evening. Everyone expresses their sadness to see Juvela go after traveling together for over a month and a half, but she says she will definitely see them all again.
As evening approaches, Bosabrieln, Dareisyn, Desire’lya, Drishti, Godfrey, and Juvela make their way to the Vistani camp. Bosabrieln, Drishti, and Juvela briefly confer with Voivode Ziemowit, and the Vistani of the camp all bear witness. Bosabrieln performs the ritual, cutting Juvela’s left palm and mingling their blood. The scar turns purple, her irises turn black, and Voivode Ziemowit pronounces her Juvela Bassanelli Zivkovic. Dareisyn, always properly paranoid, examines the ritual for any infernal influence, but is satisfied to find none.
After her pronouncement, there is much merriment, although Syn, Desire, and Godfrey largely abstain. Bosabrieln goes to speak with Voivode Ziemowit, asking him if he knows anything about the Deck of Many Things cards they have been finding. He says he does not, although Bosabrieln senses some hesitation; pressing further, Ziemowit shows Bosabrieln his Fates card. He explains that a soothsayer named Serlei Yaltark — describing her as a young, pale, ginger-haired woman with a headdress of jawbones and peacock feathers, much the way Ondulf Cooper described his soothsayer visitation from five years ago — visited him thirty years ago, telling his fortune and gifting him with this card. It has brought him good luck ever since. He then waves away Bosabrieln’s questions, putting away the card and telling Bosabrieln to drink with him. After sharing a drink, Bosabrieln excuses himself and tells Syn, Desire, and Godfrey of what he has learned — particularly given that this supposedly-human soothsayer isn’t aging — also warning them that he consumed the man’s liquor, so if Ziemowit poisoned him, just to be aware of it. The four decide there is nothing they can do to retrieve the card at the moment, but at least they know it is in his possession, so they can always track him down later and retrieve it if necessary.