12 Spring, 2979
“Who would have thought he would be this heavy,” growled Hedge as he dragged along a little made of branches. Jarett moaned and turned his sweat soaked head to the side and coughed, a trickle of blood sliding out from his mouth.
“He’s getting worse,” observed Vaar as she pulled up the rear, keeping an eye on the half elf as they went.
Hedge glanced back at the dragonborn, “The old hermit’s place is just another hour or so away. I can already see the beginnings of the mountain now.”
“Are you sure we are going to find something that can help?” asked Feloryn from the front of the group. “I thought you said this hermit’s place was trashed when you were there last?”
Hedge gave a nod of his furry head. “It was, but trashed and looted are two different things. I’m betting that some of his books are still intact enough to try and find a cure for this poison,” he said with a slight hint of worry in his voice. None of the others seemed to pick up on it though, for which he silently thanked the Sun.
The rest of the trip to the mountain was in silence as the new, current mission weighed heavily on their minds. Jarett, though a quiet man, had been a true friend to the group since they begun their adventures only a short time ago. To lose him now threatened to shatter the fragile foundation that the group worked upon. Hedge wasted no time in finding the path taken previously and within a few hours, they were standing before a small hut nestled beneath a large barren oak tree. A quick inspection of the area revealed no threats.
Hedge pushed open the partially open door fully and moved inside, setting the litter with Jarett next to the bed, and then quickly went about searching the desk and bookcases for anything of use. Vaar quietly took up a watch by the door while Feloryn moved to help Hedge look through the loose papers and books that were tossed all along the room and floor. After several hours of looking, Hedge finally gave a growl of approval as he stood up from the floor holding a book, “Found it.”
The group moved over to him and encircled him to look at the book as he opened it to a page with several drawings and text. “Vaar, grab that candle will you?” asked Hedge as he looked over the text. Vaar stepped over a moment later with the candleholder, holding it so the light shown on the book. “It says here that the poison is difficult to counteract. Immediately upon contact, you can take a Sun Drop mixed with the essence of cottenweed.”
“But it’s been more than a day since he was infected,” interjected Feloryn.
“Right…” muttered Hedge and read more of the entry. “Blasted Cerian script. Why must these humans use such a confusing written word? Ah, here we go. After the turn of a half day, mix a Sun Drop with the tear of a nymph…”
“A nymph? Really? Where the hell are we going to find one of those?” blurted Vaar with her usual bluntness.
“Well, I remember there being a small glade nearby here when we traveled up to Talon Pass. It wasn’t much, looked more dead than anything else,” answered Hedge.
“Sun Drop should be easy enough. Did you say that there were goblins nearby that like to collect them?” asked Feloryn.
Hedge gave a nod, “Yeah, I’m sure we could…convince them to part with some more.” he closed the book and looked out the open door and then over to the still sweating and unconscious Jarett. “The sooner we leave, the sooner we can get the stuff made.”
With no more need for words, the group collected their things and Jarett and headed out to the old coppper mine. Hedge motioned to the group that he would return in a moment and stepped into the mouth of the cave with his dusk blade drawn. He drew in a deep breath and with a impressive stance, gave a deafening roar that seem to near shake the rocks loose. Several screams were heard moments later from inside the cave. Hedge looked over at the group from the cave entrance. “I got this. Be right back. Watch Jarett,” he said before heading into the cave.
The group took watch over their fallen friend as they waited for the cushani. Occasionally they would hear more roars and screams coming from inside the cave and at one point, what sounded like a large crash as if someone dropped an arm full of plates. Feloryn moved like he wanted to go inside but Vaar put her hand to his shoulder, “He will be alright. Sun help those who get in the way of a cushani on a quest for a friend.”
Feloryn looked to the cave and nodded his head slowly, “I hope you’re right Vaar.” The dragonborn only smiled a big razor tooth grin at him.
An hour after he entered, Hedge returned to the entrance of the mine with a toothy grin of his own and a small bag over his shoulder. “I knew they would see reason,” he gloated.
Feloryn tilted his head to the side in astonishment, “How did you get them to give it up?”
Hedge kept his grin and shrugged his shoulders, “I told them I would eat them if they didn’t give me some. One of them tried to say I was bluffing…so I ate him.”
The eladrin blinked wide eyes at the cushani and stammered, “You ate him?”
Hedge only gave the warlord a sly wink and said, “Time to get going.”
The path up to the Talon Pass proved uneventful, good fortune for which the group which they thanked the Sun. As they came around a high bend in the road, Hedge walked over to the edge of the path to a small clearing below with a grouping of trees. “I think that’s it over there,” he said, pointing to the trees.
“Doesn’t look like much,” Vaar said as she peered at the clearing.
“It’s a fairy. Not much to them. Present company excluded of course.”
Feloryn looked up from gazing at the trees, “Hm?”
Hedge gave a laugh, “Maybe not. Let’s go.” Vaar gave a chuckle as well and with the rest of the group, headed down into the glade of the nymph.
Upon arriving at the glade they found it to be less than pleasing to the eye. The trees, once oak and cedar, were now mostly husks of wood, and the once lush grass was now flat and withered. At the center of the glade was a mostly dried up pond where only a trickle of water came in from the mountainside. At the edge of the pond was a small creature, not more than few feet in height and naked. The female creature’s hair was long and the color of vibrant barksin hung lossely at her back. As the group approached, the creature stood up quickly to face the heroes.
The nymph had faired about as well as her glade. Her skin was wrikled and dry and her eyes were red as if she had been crying for days. She looked at the group curiously with sad eyes. “I have nothing to offer travelers,” she said in a craggy voice. Even the enchanted voice of the nymph had fled her.
Feloryn gave a deep frown. “We have come to ask for your help, but it would seem you are in worse condition than we,” he said.
Hedge grunted. “Our friend is dying and we need one of your tears, fairy,” the cushani stated bluntly, seemingly wanting to get the talking over with.
“I have no tears left to give,” she said as she motioned to the glade with her withered hand. “All I have is what you see. All that I am is what is here. I cannot help your friend.”
Feloryn quickly stepped forward, “Is there perhaps something we can do for you?” he asked, which brought raised eyebrows from Hedge and Vaar.
The nymph turned to look at the dried up pond, “There is something that could be done. The voice of the gods have a cup of life. It could bring life back to this glade. But I cannot go to it, to the land of shadow and death.”
“We can get it!” exclaimed Feloryn in a hurry which brought Hedge full circle.
“What?!” the cushani shouted. “Are you out of your fairy dulled mind?”
But the eyes of the nymph widened. “You would do this for me? From brother to sister?” she asked, her hands clasped together in hope.
Feloryn looked pleadingly at Hedge and Vaar, “We can do it. The tieflings said that the temple was supposed to have some sort of Chalice there, I bet it could be something helpful to her.”
“And if it isn’t? You’re making a deal with a fairy, moron. It never goes the way you want it to,” replied Vaar.
“But we have to try.”
“Bah!” grunted Hedge, “It’s your funeral. But we are going to need Jarett if we are going to storm the place now.”
Feloryn looked back to the nymph, “Can you help us?”
The nymph closed her eyes, “I have but one tear within me and with it is the soul of this glade. Give unto me your life, and we shall have our pact.”
Feloryn gave a nod and looked to the half elf in the litter. “Remember this,” he said quietly and made his pact with the nymph by giving a drop of his blood in exchange for her last tear.
13 Spring, 2979
Jarett gave a yawn as he awoke the next morning. His body ached and moving was a chore, but he managed to swing his legs about the bed to stand.
“Whoa there, matey. Take it easy,” said Hedge as he moved over to put a hand on Jarett’s shoulder. “You’re still weak.”
“I can manage. What happened?” he asked, and Hedge told the tale of the trek through the swamp and the deal with the nymph. The half elf looked to Feloryn when the tale was done, “I’m in your debt.”
“Don’t thank me yet. We still got to get that Chalice or my life belongs to the nymph,” he said from his chair.
Jarett nodded slowly and raised a hand to his face to feel his uncovered face. The burned and leather skin felt cool to the touch. He looked around for a moment for his mask which rested at the side of his bed. He quietly picked it up and attached it to his face.
“I’m sure there is a story that goes along with that,” said Hedge with interest.
“Perhaps another time.”