We reconvened this morning for an epic tale of love and questing across the breadth of Brightwood. Jennifree and Sarah continue their adventures and we see a little more of what lies beyond the borders of their forest. We had a little talk beforehand, reprising the second session and talking about which flower they represented as 'Lady of Flowers'. It was decided that Sarah the Pooka would be Lady of Bluebells and Jennfiree the Pixie would be Lady of Snapdragons.
The adventure began in mid-Spring with the announcement throughout Brightwood that Queen Leanan was holding a spring ball in honour of all Ladies of Flowers. J&S prepared for the ball, making sure they had the correct flower hat, contributed some decorations and had a gift for the Queen. Soon, an escort arrived and took them to the castle where the party was well underway. All of the Ladys of Flowers were there as well as a load of noble Sprite knights. Some of the knights asked them to dance. Jennifree did but Sarah was more interested in launching into some more ... boisterous dancing and was soon rocking the party!
The festivities were brought to a close by the arrival of the Knight of Spiders (remember him?) escorting the Lady of Firelilies (the only flower that can grow in Darkwood). She presented the Queen with a fiery rock which burst into an image of animals and faeries performing the solemn act of trading a boon. The Knight of Spiders announced that through a great deal of trading, the Goblin King had secured that most precious of commodities - a boon over Queen Leanan. In enacting it, he has requested a tournament be held in one month. Knights alone could enter the tournament (barring his enemies, J&S) and the winner would have the hand of the Queen's guest of honour - who was then introduced as Gossamer, the Lady of Orchids from Silverwood, the third of the four woods in the Great Forest (the fourth being defined as Greenwood)
Leanan was furious with this, and the ball ended there and then. J&S were approached as the party disipated by the Captain of the Guard. He revealed that he was in love with Gossamer and desperately needed to win the tournament. However, he would need many magical items to defeat the Knight of Spiders but his duties here at the castle prevented him from getting them. He therefore wished to use the boon that he gave Sarah in the last adventure to request she get the items for him. She accepted and he gave her the list of items, a golden star that would pay for any travel they needed and a flower with thirty petals - one of which would drop off each day until the tournament.
Under the clock, they headed off to retrieve the first item - a coat of Golden Leaf Armour from the Hall of the Mountain King. They walked for days towards the Middle Mountains, which sit between the four forest kingdoms. As they scrambled up the rocks they saw evidence of goblin battles. Negotiating entrance with the rock spirit that guarded the massive golden doors to the Dwarf lands under the mountain, the continued in the dark. They were then aware that they were being watched by hundreds of small goblins. What were they doing in the dwarf lands? The goblins began pinging at them with dart-like arrows and soon they were surrounded with slavering, hungry goblins arguing about which spice to use when they ate them! Drums began to sound and horns and loud banging. S&J were convinced that they were facing trolls, but then dwarfs appeared and rescued the faeries, putting shields of iron between them and the goblins that ran off into the darkness. Taken to the old dwarf king, who remembered Leanan fondly, it was revealed that the goblins have been tunnelling into the dwarf lands and some of their tunnelling had caused some rock collapses. These had trapped some of the rabbits that the dwarfs used as friends. The dwarf miners had informed them that any further digging would cause more collapse. What they needed was something small that could rescue the rabbits. If the faeries could do it, he would grant them the armour. Jennifree is small enough to fit through the gaps between the rocks and Sarah turned into a mouse, slipping through. Jennifree then (after spending an essence point for a clue) used her pixie dust to shrink the rabbits down, leading them home whilst Sarah watched for further rockfalls. Delighted, the King granted the faeries the gift of the armour (golden armour coat made of tiny golden oak leaves, ala scale mail) and performed a ritual informing the spirits under the mountain that J&S would be allowed free and easy passage through the mountain in the future.
The next part of the mission was to find a suitable mount for the Captain of the Guard. The Knight of Spiders has a giant dragonfly. The Captain wanted a specially trained Hummingbird from Bobbit, a Pooka who lives in the fetid swamp known as the Stinking Meadows. The faeries travelled by boat down river from Brightwood Village along the boarder between Brightwood and Darkwood, to the small rivertown of Stench. There they heard the story of Stinking Meadow, a once beautiful field that was filled by the Goblin King with sewage, mud, slurry and effluent so that he could have somewhere to grow his Smelly Things - the spies of his dark army. J&S punted out into the swamp, incredulous that the locals had grown accustomed to the smell. The crossing was problematic because the smelly things tried to drag the punt down, slap the faeries with mud and drag Sarah under into the mire. They nearly succeeded but Jennifree performed a feat of strength and determination that would be more likely to come from her companion and rescued her. Jennifree also used her pixie dust to get rid of the smell from Sarah.
On meeting Bobbit, a rather pompous and self important pooka waxed lyrical about the value of his highly trained and expensive hummingbirds. Did they realise how long it took to train one? How difficult it was to get nectar into the swamp? How it was necessary to train the hummingbirds in the swamp so that they could handle the nastiness of facing the Goblin Kings forces? Did they have anything worthy of trade for such a magnificent beast? After some attempts with mundane items like swords and flutes, they remembered that they had acorns holding magical lucky nectar, given to them by Queen Leanan after their first adventure. They surrendered this nectar to the pooka and he handed over a blue hummingbird, that was soon delivered back to Brightwood.
Finally, and most difficultly, they needed to get the Captain a sword from a old sprite called Flynn who lives at the end of a moonbeam far to the west!! Luckily, Brightwood Village has a moonbeam express station - a massive toadstool that sits in the middle of the town (a town which now has a small port, a castle and a toadstool in it - rapidly growing!!) At it's base are shops selling goods from all Four Kingdoms, further up are the perches for the mounts of the Sprite Knights and at the top a family of Brownies runs the moonbeam transport. Once per month, on a full moon, faeries can travel on a moonbeam to anywhere they want. However, they only have until sunrise to catch the beam back, or they will have to wait a month for the next one! If J&S were tardy in this mission, they would never get the sword back in time.
After some comedy lean forward-lean back 'fast travel' stuff and some shaking off the moondust they find themselves on a series of floating islands in the middle of nowhere, far far to the west of the Great Forest. J&S discovered Flynn at his forge. Apparently they are not the first faeries to have come here asking for a weapon. The Knight of Spiders had already been, having his thorn sword enchanted. Flynn then produced a slender rapier which he said he would happily contribute to the cause of love if J&S could get him the liquid to temper the final heating of the blade - the water that collects in the starcup plants that bloom on the highest island in the chain. Jennifree takes a waterskin and flies up to get the liquid but when she is out of sight, Flynn remembers that he should have warned her about the dragon. Doh!
Jennifree collects the liquid but she also disturbs the dragon. Lots of bellowing and growling and blowing of smoke as the dragon demands that she leaves his sweet water and gets off his island. On hearing this below, Sarah changes into a swallow and speeds to her friends side, just in time to get her shield (which Jennifree makes fireproof using pixie dust) between a massive gout of flame and her friend. The dragon decides he is going to eat them and Sarah looses her temper with the dragon bully and smacks it on the nose. Hard. No really very hard. Hard like only the luckiest person I have ever seen with open ended rolling can smack. Blinking back tears, the dragon is confused as to why it is being attacked by such a small thing and tells them to take the water and go! And they do! The sword is forged and they make it back on the correct moonbeam, fulfilling their mission with almost a week to go.
The day of the tournament came about and the forces of the Goblin King arrived to be met by the shining horde of Leanan's sprites and their Captain (resplendent in his golden armour, shimmering blue hummingbird and star-touched rapier). At the end of the tournament it came down to the Knight of Spiders against the Captain of the Guard. The Knight drew his thorn sword, dripping with green poison from the enchantment by Flynn. The Captain whips out his star rapier and slices across the Knight of Spiders, shattering his thorn sword. Knowing when he is beat, the Knight and his retinue beat a hasty retreat, foiled again by Jennfiree and Sarah.
The Captain of the Guard and Gossamer, Lady of Orchids are reunited and she is so pleased that she grants each of the faeries a boon. Sarah returned home to find one of the rabbits she had rescued had followed her home, and now wanted to live with the kindly pooka, under her vegetable garden.
They are then summoned to see Queen Leanan, who reveals to them through her scrying mirror, a Queen in the Lands of Man, holding her stomach as she is with child. The child will need guardians when it is born... faerie godmothers. Are J&S ready for the responsibility?
To be continued...
The session was delayed a couple of times due to wholly adult pressures and this caused it to take quite some time to get them settled down. Emma (Sarah) was particularly excitable during the entire session. I tried to make the session as cohesive as possible, linking back into the actions of previous adventures. However, one of the joys of playing with kids is that they are a lot more forgiving with some more out-there plot elements (like hummingbirds in swamps). And by way of explantion - the damned rabbits. Emma wants a rabbit but cannot have them because of the two dozen cats living in the street. Not a great place for a rabbit. So she wanted a rabbit friend in the game but she thought she could just have one by asking (which was what Lara did with her squirrel companion, but that was authored in, rather than as a whim). So this was a way to get her a rabbit (no reason why she should not have one) but making her work a little for it. No silver platter.
Another thing came up in talking during the game. The characters have no apparently family which both girls find quite bizarre and want something doing about. Oh and they want a map too. Looks like I have my work cut out for me....