Chapter 3, Part IV: Cave of Blunders

The Platinum Talons found themselves entangled in the whimsical quest of Ollie, a young Fairy boy. After decoding the message, they ventured forth to find Holcroft Cavern. Within the woods, the dexterous Drez used his scouting skills as a Ranger and managed to spot the entrance to the elusive cavern. Eager to explore, Xerxes, led the way into the dark depths, where a mesmerizing sight awaited them - an orange crystal gleaming like a fiery gem.

Ever curious, Vance carefully examined the orange crystal, using his trusty mage hand to gather some crystal shavings and powder. Nohki knew in his heart that the orange crystal held significant importance for crafting potions, and so made note to take more shavings as they stumbled upon them. Meanwhile, the Firebrook cast a spell of detect evil and good, which revealed a peculiar fae presence nearby - young Ollie himself.

As they explored the deep cavern, the group stumbled upon massive bear footprints, marking the path of a fearsome creature that lay ahead. Vance, in an attempt to assure the safety of their young companion, confidently declared the cave to be free of danger. But alas, Ollie's curiosity got the better of him, and he raced forward, initiating an unexpected and fierce encounter with the menacing bear.

Firebrook, who had a knack for intimidation, bravely invoked the name of the Sianfete Family to test the eerily glowing bear. The bear seemed very briefly to respond to the name that Firebrook had uttered. Ollie, eager to lend a hand, mustered his magic but, much to his surprise and dismay, accidentally enlarged the already imposing creature. In a bid to even the odds, Vance promptly blinded the bear with a masterful spell.

Seeing an opportunity for action, Nohki unleashed his primal savagery and attacked the gigantic bear, which retaliated with a powerful swipe. Xerxes, not one to be left out of the excitement, conjured a firebolt and sent it hurtling towards the bear, causing it to roar in pain.

The valiant Firebrook showcased his radiant and lightning powers, finally ending the battle with a decisive strike, but little did they know, more trouble lurked in the shadows. Two other bears emerged from behind and lunged at the party, prompting a quick and stern warning to Ollie against using further magic.

But when Drez encouraged the young fairy, Ollie was emboldened, and he cast an entangle spell, bringing the new foes to the ground. Vance used his dissonant whispers, and Nohki wielded his arm as a Shillelagh, but the encounter wasn't without its consequences - a haunting scream from the unnatural force inside the bears left Nohki's head ringing.

Undeterred, Xerxes unleashed another firebolt, while Drez and Firebrook launched their own fierce assaults. In a dramatic show of power, Firebrook taunted the bears, invoking the name of the Sianfete family, and ultimately delivered the finishing blow.

Ollie's magic once again went awry, causing confusion among the party and the remaining bear. In the chaos that ensued, Firebrook accidentally struck Ollie, who promptly disappeared from view, leaving the group in disarray. However, Drez managed to put an end to the last bear with a precise arrow to the head.

Eventually, Ollie reappeared, crying and apologetic for his unintended mischief. With the danger quelled, the Platinum Talons pressed forward, venturing deeper into the cavern's heart. Nohki gifted Firebrook the "Read the Kill" ability, a powerful boon for their future endeavors.

The exploration led them to a fascinating discovery - a blue crystal of unknown significance. Using his mage hand and dagger, Nohki gathered some of the blue and orange crystals for further investigation.

As they continued to explore, Vance felt an eerie touch on his shoulder, yet saw nothing when he turned around. Quick to act, Xerxes cast See Invisibility, but still, there was no sign of the mysterious presence. Determined to get to the bottom of it, Vance used detect magic, hoping to unveil the source of the strange phenomenon. It wasn't until they were crossing over a foot bridge to a stairway that the culprit was revealed: Drez had been using his Gloom Stalker archetype to harmlessly prank his friends.

The party encountered more traps, with Nohki unintentionally triggering an arrow trap. Though more cautious, they continued their journey, finally reaching a crossroads. Debating which path to take, they followed the letter from Ollie's Grandpa and chose the eastmost stream.

Amidst their exploration, Ollie couldn't resist showcasing his magical talents once again. This time, he turned Nohki into a Giant Subterranean Lizard and Vance into a giant coral snake, amusing and perplexing his companions.

Undeterred, Xerxes rode on Nohki's back to reach a high ledge, where they discovered a tall, hollow tree stump. Acting on the instructions from the decoded letter, Ollie placed a whiteberry within the stump, triggering the ire of three dragon-headed water weirds, guardians of the hidden room that awaited them.

To give themselves a fighting change, the Water Weirds knocked into the cavern wall, causing a rock to fall and release water that began to fill up the cave rapidly. With their adversaries revealed, the Platinum Talons found themselves embroiled in an epic battle against the formidable water weirds and the sudden rising tides.

The brave and resourceful adventurers fought valiantly, with Xerxes casting bane to weaken one of the weirds, while Nohki's lizard form lunged at them ferociously. But the water continued to rise, knocking Xerxes off balance, until Drez came to his rescue, dragging him to safety.

Unleashing his chaotic powers, Xerxes dealt a powerful blow with a chaos bolt. Vance, in his coral snake form, grappled with one of the weirds, while Nohki dove into the water to investigate further.

To his astonishment, Nohki saw Ollie pulsating at the bottom of the water-filled cavern. The fearless and maybe slightly ruthless Xerxes cast shocking grasp, knowingly triggering a chain reaction of electric attacks.

After a hard-fought battle, the Platinum Talons emerged victorious, with Vance's cunning allowing him to sense and defeat the last remaining water weird. Together, they managed to bring Ollie to the surface, just as the final water weird dissolved into the water.

Their triumph revealed a hidden room, within which lay a variety of ominous cult-like paraphernalia.

The glowing crystals appear in clusters along the walls and ceiling here. Candles, long burnt down to puddles of wax, are caked on dusty bookshelves. A desk on the side wall is cluttered with papers and books.

An altar, stained with dark splatters, stands at the room's center, surrounded by empty vials and broken glass. There is a cloak hanging in the corner in light tatters. Arcane diagrams are etched into the stone floor, while a weathered tapestry rots on far the wall, the picture on it obscured by layers of gunk and dust.

Drez discovered a letter on the desk which read:

25th of Yielding, 799 EoW

It's been nearly a decade and I'm still empty handed. I've asked for more agents to assist but it seems like my words have fallen on deaf ears. The handful of us that came here have dwindled down to myself and Anjar. It appears we may have arrived too late. We have been unable to find any concrete evidence of this massive arcane secret. Citizens often refer to "The Great Calling" where all throughout the land people speak of this unbeatable trial that if somehow were bested, leads to the secrets of the universe. But now, what was once vibrant whispers of secrets amongst the citizens of Fynali has turned into nothing but silly fairytales in the recent years. The Great Calling has ended, and with it, my hope.

After casting Mending on the tapestry, the Talons saw a seal depicted on it illuminated in the dim glow of the orange crystals. It showed a rounded diamond with blades jutting from the sides like wings, and a circle in the center. It was a symbol that Firebrook would recognize despite the small changes. Surrounding this symbol were letters in Infernal that read, "Order of Righteous Conflict."

Order of Righteous Conflict Seal on tapestry in hidden room

Behind this tapestry was a chest hidden in a slot in the wall. Using the chime of opening, Firebrook revealed the chest's treasure trove: 700 gold pieces, a wand, a strange deck of cards, a well-made quiver, two potions of greater healing, and an airtight box of potions ingredients containing 2 Pixie's Parasols, 2 Silvertorns, 2 Red Amanita Mushrooms, and 2 Hagfingers.

On their walk back from the cave, their pockets heavier with their well-earned riches, the Platinum Talons found themselves contemplating the fate of young Ollie and his mother, Edwina. Once back to Sprightly Spirits, the persuasive Xerxes, Vance and Drez tried to convince them to move to Wiltspar and run the Inn, a charming prospect that eventually found favor with the Fairy family.

Completed: July 2023