In a lush garden beyond this world, an eladrin maiden is roused from her rest by a young girl, celebrating her nameday, and is brought before a mysterious stranger clad all in purple. He informs her that he’s pulled some strings, that she’s needed back on Qairn, that her return will fulfill a debt he’s incurred.
That is how Palune, god of trickery, freed Thistle from the afterlife, to fulfill her fey-given purpose.
The Nightowl sailed south into uncharted waters. Led by Thistle and the lute of souls given her by Belo, the Nameless Company had reunited to cross Iomeraz, the endless ice at the bottom of the world, to awaken from her slumber the daughter of Imald that she might take her mother’s place. While they were all overjoyed to be reunited, there was a slight pall cast over the group, as Vaca was now confined to a floating magical chair, following the events in the Demonmaw.
Through the aid of Zencaré’s phantom steeds, the party whisked over hundreds of miles of frozen landscape – black seas, jagged mountains, bizarre sculpture, floating islands and still stranger sights. While camping in the mountains, their campsite was beset by a gargantuan frost worm, bursting from the snow and nearly swallowing the entire party. Scrambling about the slippery mountainside, the Nameless Company made short work of the colossal beast and continued on their way, headed ever towards a green light shimmering on the horizon.
That was Iar Cedriane, a perfect copy of the crushed Nakhiti capital, shaped from the living ice. A green light shone like a beacon from the tower at its center. Wandering into the abandoned city of glimmering ice, the Nameless Company discovered two things – that the architecture of the city made no rational sense and was therefore impossible to navigate and that every hour they spent inside the city made them a year younger. While no threat to the long-lived eladrin, to Vaca, Chogaruk and Zanna this was a true existential threat.
For hours they wandered among tangled staircases, inverted orchards, tessellated statuary and other wonders of the geometrically impossible city. All the while, they inched closer to that glowing green tower, growing younger every moment. While a mass fly spell from Zencaré did help them bypass some distance, it was collective teamwork from the younger adventurers – made that much more insightful in the childlike maze – that brought the party to its goal.
Climbing that spiral tower, they discovered a massive being – a First Giant, a nascent goddess – asleep in a status, protected by a magical barrier of impenetrable green energy. Taking the lute of souls, Thistle began to play Belo’s Song and, in so doing, unleashed the 3,333 souls contained therein. The power of all that sacrifice, all those souls, created an opening in the eldritch barrier and, one by one, sucked each member of the Nameless Company inside.
They awakened in a garden – lush with topiary, chittering birds and arresting water features. While Chogaruk and Zanna grew increasingly uncomfortable here, Thistle was at ease, remembering her time spent in the Garden of Genius. While there, they had many staggering encounters, with friends and family new and old, but none more significant than their encounter with Qemba, the young child in the party dress, to whom all these festivities were in honor of. Elated at the new guests, she invited them to the song she was about to sing, a duet sung with her mother.
When her mother emerged – haggard and leaning upon a walking stick – from the shuttered mansion on the hill, her identity was unmistakeable. The song was sung, all anxiety melted away for a moment or two, and then the party sought an audience with their hostess. She explained that this was no true Garden of Genius, but rather the dream of her daughter. As
long as the dream persisted, the souls of elves and eladrin and all those devoted to Imald would find safe refuge here. When Qemba awoke, however, they – her mother included – would be vanquished for all eternity. The question of whether or not to awaken Qemba fell to the party and a debate ensued.
Many options were bandied back and forth, between awakening Qemba, keeping Qemba asleep, even storing the souls of the faithful in the lute of souls. Only when Palune was summoned and convinced to allow them rest in his astral domain, the Feast of Fools, did the whole group consent to awakening the slumbering goddess.
While she did not initially wish to awaken, she did, with some coaxing from her mother, eventually open her eyes. Transported immediately back to Iar Cedriane, the Nameless Company beheld the naked visage of a goddess and – with one exception – were nearly blinded in the process. She spoke to them, unintelligible words that were nonetheless seared on their brains ever since, and then teleported them all back aboard the Nightowl.
Bemused and shaken, the Nameless Company did not speak much as the mistico sailed northward, back towards civilization. It wasn’t until they first caught sight of Colcambria and the moon lifting slowly from the surface of the earth that they understood the gravity of what it was they had done.