It was a cool, crisp day late in Harvestmoon. The harvest was in and it was the days leading up tothe big harvest festival and Fair at the grounds next to Elsbrook Abbey. It seemed a fine day for Sister Catherine, the herbalist at Elsbrook Abbey to take a group of older students into the nearby Weald for a bit of a field trip. This was probably the last year she would have these particular charges in tow and they had become dear to her.
They are all outcasts in some sense, all of them part of the non-human minority. There were the two hald-elves, cousins by all accounts, one, an outgoing boy named Rolen with an ear for music, a quick wit and a sharp tongue, the other, Theren, a boy with nimble hands and a penchant for knives and small blades. Another was an elf, who followed after his father’s footsteps as a tracker and forester. Unfortunately, his mother thought Eladrin names were prettier and didn’t realize the name she gave him was rather effiminate. He introduces himself as ‘Goobz McGee’.
Then there were the ‘monsters’, though nobody called them that to their face. There was the tiefling Japhrinell, scion of a cursed race, marked by a diabolical taint, but surprisingly wih a strong connection to the brighter creatures of the Faewild. There was a dragonborn girl with a strong connection to the primal spirits of nature, a slight disappointment to her mother who was a member of the Order of the Sun, a holy Paladin dedicated to Mithron. Finally, there was Borkrieg, a hulking minotaur, saddled with his own connection to the primal spirits, channelling the bestial rage within his kind as best he could.
Together with Will, a lay servant from the abbey wearing a red tunic and carrying a stout club, they set off into the Weald.
A short distance into the woods they came across a circle of rowan trees, all in ull fruit this late in the season. For some reason, the sunlight seemed weaker here. A stillness lay over the grove.
“It’s too quiet here…” said the elf.
“There is magic afoot!” declaimed Rolen.
“I sense a connection to the Faewild here,” said Japhrimel, “someplace not very nice…”
Across the circle, a figure appeared,a beautiful young woman with elfin features clad in the briefest of diaphonous tunics. She smiled at the group and the boys stood as if stunned. The dragonborn Nymerria narrowed her eyes, unlimbered her shield and picked up a heavy fallen branch.
“It’s a trap.” she said and stepped towards the woman, partially blocking the view of the boys. The woman pouted prettily at the dragonborn, but Nymerria continued forward steadily, the boys following as if on strings. The woman’s face transformed into a rictus of rage, and she shrieked, shredding her disguise, revealing a hideous had in her place.
“KILL THEM!” she shouted the words seeming to echo magically, stunning everyone briefly. Suddenly from the woods errupted a screaming horde of small, vicious, green-skinned creatures, goblins, almost as ugly as the hag they obeyed.
“You are extremely hideous and have a poor sense of fashion,” Rolen mocked the hag. The words imbued with magical force rocked the hag back on her heels. The other boys sprang into motion as well. The elf unlimbered his bow from his back and shot two arrows in quick succession at two of the goblins, taking them through the throat. Japhrimel pulled a short rod from his sleeve and shot a greenish bolt of energy at the hag. Theren, drew a pair of wickedly sharp daggers and wove into the fray, stabbing a goblin who was trying to engage with Nymerria from behind. The minotaur, Bjorkrieg, picked up a huge fallen log, his eyes flashing red. He roared in rage and waded into a group of goblins.
Three goblins surrounded Wil, valiantly trying to protect Sister Catherine layed about him with his club, but he was overwhelmed and the goblin spears took him in the chest. The goblins then turned to the nun with evil gleams in their eyes.
“Noooo!” shouted Nymerria, and a wave of power seemed to emenate from her, drawing the goblins in to her instead of the sister. She stood, firm as a rock, defending the Sister as more goblins joined the others. She suddenly opened her mouth and bolts of lightning issued forth, catching them all and felling the evil creatures.
The hag shrieked at seeing so many of her minions slain and a bolt of darkness shot forward from her fingers, striking Nymerria in the chest, felling her. Bjorkrieg seeing this roared and swung about him with mighty blows, slaying three goblins with each swing. Japhrimel pressed the hag more strongly, his eldritich green blasts stinging and distracting while Theren slipped in behind her and sliced a dagger across her leg, hamstringing her.
“I’ll get you my pretties!” she shrieked and vanished, leaving only a foul stench behind. The woods went quiet again, and they all turned to the fallen members of their party. Will lay in a pool of blood, and was clearly gone. But Nymerria was lay peacefully, without a mark on her.
“Saint Alasha aid me,” Sister Catherine murmered as she knelt beside the dragonborn, placing her hands on her chest. A faint rose-gold light escaping through her fingers. “Saint Urion, let her fate pass to me.” she whispered and a dark green light joined the rose-gold. Nymerria took a breath and Sister Catherine collapsed on the ground beside her.
“Wh-what happened?” Nymerria asked. She cried out and turned to Sister Catherine, rolling her over. there was not a mark upon her, except for a stain of rowan berries on the white of her scapular.
“Be true to each other, children,” the sister whispered, “You are bound now, and Saint Urion has marked you for something. Be good to each other. The greatest force in the Universe is…” The nun gasped one last time and was still, a faint smile on her face.
The Earl of Wealdshire’s Bounders found them a few minutes later, shocked at the bodies of goblins scattered around. It was with heavy hearts, and many questions that the party returned to the abbey that day.