“Round and round and round they walked. Araxia’s sense of smell was being tricked, and Harbard’s sense of direction was being sent haywire. An unusual enchantment indeed, but Harbard kept putting one foot in front of the other, not knowing the magic that kept directing his steps off the wrong way. Eventually, however, he finally spots a clearing in the trees, and a small bungalow in the center. He spots the figure of an elven woman, taking a hoe to a small fenced field in front of the home. Araxia growls, and the head peaks up, now brandishing the hoe like a weapon.”
So after Harbard set off from the Temple, he set out to meet Caelynn Amakiir far in the woods. I set out to have Caelynn’s woods be hidden by “an ancient magic” spell passed down to her that made Harbard wandered around for hours on end until he made a certain amount of Wisdom saving throws. By the way, “Ancient Magic” is how I’ve taken to referring to specific magical effects in the campaign that aren’t necessarily in the player’s handbook rules. So let’s just say, any time that is said, it’s not in the rulebook, and I wouldn’t necessarily grant my players access to them except through a very strong ritual or plot event.
Harbard finally arriving, and meeting the half-elf arcane mage that was obsessed with nature and her lack of ability to really interact with it was something new for me. I’ll be honest, I’m a terribly bad writer in many things. I have a tendency to steal plot points, mimic characters, and really not always the best about character actions. I’m pretty bad about thinking that I know what people are going to do, but am surprised each time by real life people, so how do I think I can flesh out. That’s why I wanted to try real hard to make Caelynn a living breathing person, even though I only intended her to be a quest giving NPC.
Of course, Caelynn didn’t trust Harbard so when he came, saying he had been sent by the priest, she instead had him do odd jobs instead of what she felt she really needed help on. Caelynn was a woman of the forest intent on her research, so… “No, Shawn, not even a natural twenty seems to be making aware of how charming you are, shirtless, and digging up the ground for her garden.” I mean, not every girl’s going to be immediately swoon over shirtlessness. But him assisting did help in opening up Caelynn to the idea of Harbard actually helping her.
So a few garden rows, fixed fences, and hunted meats later, Caelynn finally told Harbard what she actually needed. Accosted by gnolls during her travels, she lost her box containing foods, ingredients, and some books to them as she ran away. Now, she didn’t care much about the lost food and ingredients, it didn’t matter. She wanted the books back.
So as Harbard hunted them down via Shawn’s Survival checks, he found the idiotic gnolls mockingly using the chest while wandering around the mountain. I was scared, because I honestly thought that four gnolls would be too much, but I was trying to account for Araxia’s unusual status. I mean yes I was controlling her, but she was still an extra party member whose CR addition didn’t really fit in the table. Turns out I was wrong, some rage and a few missed die rolls on my part resulted in Harbard by himself brutalizing three gnolls while Araxia simply held off one in a DM missing rolls free-fest.
Bringing back the books, especially one fairy tail book that Caelynn held dear to her heart, she rejoiced and rewarded Harbard and Araxia with a home-cooked meal. She told Harbard some information she wanted, that Lothrok had ascended to king of the ice giants in Gull, but she had no idea where his base of operations was. She directed him to the city of Shieldstone, where one might perhaps meet someone with information about the cruel giant. Harbard thanked her and asked for the rest of her retrieved books if she didn’t want them. “Shawn, you’re barely smart enough to read those.” But Shawn insisted, saying he could at least read, so I relented saying he could read them, very, very slowly and may not understand everything in them.
Lastly, I rewarded Shawn with something that I thought would break some monotony of his travels being a solo adventurer and all, and something regarded. Thinking he must be lonely walking alone with a direwolf, she Awakened Araxia, so that Harbard could have a traveling and a talking buddy. I figured Shawn didn’t have to spend his travels in game just always wandering around. If he wanted a conversation during his walks and treks, he had someone by his side. I mean come on, talking wolf right. A night of telling stories continues, and Harbard and Araxia set out in the morning.
“And as the Goliath man spoke with the she-wolf, learning her true name, they bid farewell to their new acquaintance. They headed east and out of the Mountains, their eyes set to the gray walls of Shielstone.”