After saving Twinkle from becoming lunch, the party found itself once again rushing to save the tiny star-crossed gnome. This time a bugbear lurking in the caves of the Feywild decided that the gnome looked a tasty morsel and pursued Twinkle deeper into the cave system. Luckily for the party, Herja’s life spent in the tunnels under her home mountain allowed the party to keep up their pursuit despite the twists and turns. The path led the party to a larger cavern. As the party looked for signs of Twinkle, a landslide of rocks buried the path out of the cave.
It turned out that Twinkle had led the party right into a trap, a rather cunning one. Knowing that larger-sized people tended to not take gnomes seriously, he would lead those lost in the Feywild deep into the caves and right into a den of spiders. He made a bargain with the spiders to lead food into the caves, and once the spiders had their meal, Twinkle collected the belongings of those poor souls and sold them. The bugbear was a confederate as well – he would do the heavy lifting and would ensure that merchants bought the goods “at a fair price”.
What Twinkle did not count on was the party actually defeating the spiders. Though they suffered many poisoned bites, the party did not waver. After knocking out Twinkle, the party defeated the bugbear bodyguard and four hungry spiders looking for a meal. When the dust had settled, there was no sign of the treacherous gnome – he had played dead long enough for the party to focus on more immediate dangers and then used his gnomish magics to cloak himself and run, slipping through gaps in the fallen rock that even a halfling couldn’t make it through.
Though Twinkle had been a liar, there was one thing he had not lied about. The spiders’ cave was also the home of the “shimmy”, a very non-technical term for a place where the fabric between the Feywild and the Prime Material Plane was particularly thin. Focusing their arcane energies on the “shimmy”, Leonidas and Erias were able to “rip” a small hole in the Feywild, a portal large enough to send the party back home.
Emerging about a day’s journey from Tirion, the capital of the Sylvan Imperium, the party entered the city during a time of great celebration. The Great Hunt was officially over as Lord Brothra had brought the head of the dragon as proof of his courage in slaying the beast. Arkady Vaughn, wounded as he was from a direct exposure of poisonous gas from that same beast, was furious and marched straight to the Marble Citadel, where Domitia, the Sylvan Imperia was in the middle of a ceremony honoring Brothra for his accomplishment.
The party took umbrage with Brothra, declaring to all at the assembly that Brothra had in fact attempted to murder the party after they had slain the dragon by sending them to the Feywild and taking credit for their actions. Brothra furiously denied the claims, stating that the party was simply jealous that Brothra had succeeded where they had failed. The Domitia seemed hesitant to believe either party, but the nearly-silent Arkady invoked an ancient Sylvan right to challenge Brothra in combat over the matter. Brothra was pleased, thinking that the battle would be an easy one, but Arkady tricked him. When he went to shake Brothra’s hand to seal the combat, he also slapped the mystical jewel that allowed Brothra access to strong Feywild magicks.
Brothra was furious that his hidden advantage had been taken away. However, the jewel had amplified his power, not been the source of it. Furious at his great day of triumph being stolen from him by interlopers from outside the Imperium, he filled the air with crackling magical energy as his retainers prepared to show the party that even a depowered Brothra was still a very dangerous force to be reckoned with.