Fetin had been quiet for days.
The others would wake in the mornings and find him sitting alone in the common room of whatever inn they happened to be in that day, counting gold, his expressionless face staring at the coins. He didn’t talk to the others much, seeming to concentrate on some serious matter he didn’t wish to discuss with anyone. While concerned, his comrades didn’t bring it up with him.
The group had been heading west for days, seemingly with no clear goal. They had long since left the woods at the base of Doddin’s Line behind them, moving towards what was once the heart of the Human kingdoms. Winter was fast approaching, the temperatures working swiftly to match; snow had yet to fall, but it would not be long now.
It was the night of Naze twenty when something finally happened.
Sitting over dinner in the White Goat Inn’s common room in Gray Moor, Fetin weighing a bag of coins in his hand, the party heard the front door open. Standing in the doorway was an Eladrin in green, flanked by two heavily armored Elves, greatbows at their sides. The Eladrin scanned the room and spotted the party, causing him to scowl.
“You four,” he said, approaching. Ilfari stood warily, not liking the look in his eye, nor the tautness of his escorts’ muscles as they rested on their weapons.
Bogrin made to speak, but to his surprise, Arcaeus was already standing before the Eladrin.
“What is it that you want with us?” said Arcaeus.
“You four have caused us quite a bit of trouble,” said the Eladrin imperiously, removing his gloves and handing them to one of his guards. “According to our investigations, it is because of your motley crew that Ferricuse, beloved pet of Corellon who was under our protection, has been caused to flee his sanctuary.”
“That giant dog-lizard?” asked Arcaeus. “That was self-defense.”
“According to what our spells have showed us, it was you, Elf, who fired the first arrow at Ferricuse, causing him to fly into a rage.”
“I don’t sit around and watch as monsters advance upon my comrades without doing something. That would be folly.”
The Eladrin bristled at the word. “Ferricuse is no beast! He is a divine creature suffering from a curse – a curse, by the way, we were well on the way to removing before you simpletons chased him off. The way I see it, you owe us a favor to bring Ferricuse back to us.”
“We don’t owe you anything, now get the hell out of here.”
The two Elven guards made movements towards their weapons, but the Eladrin ceased their actions with a wave of his hand. “On the contrary, you’ll find refusing us is not an option. You and your friends have undone decades of work of very powerful mages, and they will not accept no for an answer. I would hate to see them try to resolve this matter themselves; it would be messy.” The Eladrin smiled insincerely.
“You know what you can tell your scholar friends?” began Arcaeus.
“Arcaeus,” interrupted a stern voice. Arcaeus visibly jolted. He suddenly realized that his anger was getting the best of him. He turned back to the one who called his name. “Sit down,” said Fetin, vacating his own seat.
Arcaeus sat down, eyes still upon the Eladrin. Fetin turned towards the entourage. “These events have been, to some degree, caused by our actions. What is it, exactly, that you want us to do?”
The Eladrin looked pleased. “Glad to see you are being reasonable. You see, the ones who placed this curse on Ferricuse were cultists devoted to Lolth. More specifically, the grandmaster of this cult. Tomorrow is Lolth’s Day, and a dark celebration will be held in a nearby shrine devoted to Lolth. The shrine has been abandoned for a while, but they have recently reoccupied it to prepare it for their grand celebrations tomorrow night.”
“Get to the point,” said Fetin. “What does this have to do with the curse?”
The Eladrin grimaced. “Where did all of that reasonability go? Fine, then. Curses are not supposed to last for decades, so clearly the grandmaster has some implement he is using to focus the curse and sustain it. You are going to go in there, kill him, and bring back anything on his person. Much of our work may have been undone, but we have been able to track the grandmaster to this lair, allowing us to end both his terrible tenure as well as clear this issue with Ferricuse.”
“Fine, I understand the issue. However,” he added slowly, “it is only this one favor. I don’t take well to threats, so after this is over, if I see you again, you had best flee in the other direction.”
“Oh, how frightening,” said the Eladrin flippantly. “We’ll be waiting outside of this inn tomorrow. Don’t try leaving town.” He swept through the doorway into the street, his guards following closely behind.
Fetin let out a great sigh and rubbed his head, turning towards the others. Ilfari’s face was tight and she still looked ready to leap to action, while Bogrin sat with his eyes closed. Arcaeus sat staring hard at the table, frowning.
“What was that all about?” he said to Arcaeus.
Arcaeus turned to look at him briefly. “Just thought you weren’t up to talking to them,” he answered quickly.
“I’ve never seen you get so hostile with someone before. What brought that on?”
“It’s funny you should be asking the boy that,” said Bogrin, “seeing as you’ve been moody too as of late.”
Fetin gave Bogrin a hard stare, but Bogrin was too busy with his drink to notice.
“It’s not important,” Fetin said at last. “I’m going to bed.”
“The sun is still up,” said Ilfari incredulously. Fetin went to his room without further comment.
“Let him be,” advised Bogrin. “Sometimes a man just needs time to himself.”
“And what about you?” Ilfari said, shifting focus to Arcaeus. “And don’t tell me that was nothing.”
Arcaeus shook his head. “There was just… something about those three I didn’t like.”
“All of them?” she asked. “It wasn’t just the one in the silly green dress?”
Arcaeus made a vague gesture. “Just something about them.”
“Well, I’ll be polishing my armor for tomorrow, then,” said Bogrin, excusing himself.
“I think I’ll take a walk,” thought Ilfari aloud.
Alone in the common room, Arcaeus wondered about the task before them. His eyes rested upon the food that the others had left behind, their plates being nearly full. Arcaeus’s plate itself was nearly untouched, but he suddenly found he had no appetite.