The High Queen is dead.
Rumor has already spread like wildfire by the time the party manages to escape the Cave of Souls and re-enter the surface world once more. They make camp on the northern bluffs for the night, tired and exhausted from their underground travels, now heavy another member: a strange Tiefling with the ability to transform into a large, bone-plated cat. Speaking with this man, who has yet to give them a proper name by which to call him, is difficult. He speaks only a strange form of Elven and Infernal, and knows nothing about the world from above, almost as though he were born in a time long ago, long since forgotten. Little small talk or conversation takes place on the first night, the group being too tired and hungry for much conversation. Instead, they set up a night watch and go to sleep.
Naturally, sleep doesn’t last long. Spiders. Many of them. They swarm the little camp, incapacitating Valdar for much of the battle. The Guardian—the cat-Tiefling—struggles to regain control of his old magic, leaving Arula and Lyle to deal with most of the combat. As skilled as they are, they too struggle to remain fierce as wave after wave of spiders crawl forth from the rotting, decaying forest to the south. Just when it seems as though they might very well be out-matched, a volley of arrows rains from the sky.
“My name is Volke, and you lot need to get out of here”. He’s a dark stranger, dressed in deep forest greens and brown leathers, with chestnut hair and warm green eyes. He leads the party deep into the forest, much to the dismay of Arula, to a small cottage that he’s built for himself, carefully camouflaged with sticks, leaves and vines. A hot meal and warm drinks await the party as Volke asks them their purpose and relates to them the news from the city. Much has happened in the single day that the party was gone.
The High Queen of Analeise is dead, slain in a supposed revolt in the city instigated by a group of underground nomadic Tieflings. The Church of Pelor doesn’t seem to have a direct involvement, though the three grave robbers that the party encountered in the Cave of Souls seems to be connected to High Priest Ordello. He’s been searching for rare and valuable objects. When this is mentioned, Arula turns her eyes to the Guardian, and notes that he took a scroll from one of his dead brothers in the Cave of Souls. The Guardian calls it “The Song of Aelhu” and reads it to them.
Silence permeates the room for a long moment, and when next Volke speaks it is to Lyle, in a strange, code-like language that the rest of the party can’t seem to understand. He tells him to go to the outskirts of Analeise, where there is a small tent city erected. Passage into the city is barred, but the man that Lyle is sent to seek should not be within the city walls. His name is Kendrin, and he will have information both about the goings-on in the city as well as about the nature of the strange scroll that The Guardian carries.