Ep 54: "Gourdsgiving"

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The city was preparing for the Tribute Festival. It was a holiday to remember lost loved ones and fallen heroes. People dressed as heroes and monsters to reenact famous battles.The city’s residents would carve pumpkins to place ever-burning candles into, vendors sold small swords and shields made of colored sugar, and some even sold sugar monsters. For weeks, the people of Cinderhaven had been hanging small Jack-o-Lanterns in the trees of the Skyroot Forest. They would light the banyan trees on the night of the festival and guide the people through the woods for their bravery/courage trails. Every pantheon had their own traditions, but at night all the revelers would go to the water and float little balsa wood boats and rafts with candles. On every lantern, the people would write the names of lost loved ones.

Lark woke the morning before the festival, Renaris 21, in his treehouse near the goblins. Kali was nearby, waking up in Primeheart’s camp as he rolled out of the hammock they had shared. Since they had awoken outside the city, they did not find anything strange until later.

Saxi woke in her room at Pinból’s floating house and found herself surrounded by pumpkins. Unsure what had happened, she ventured out into the house and found every surface covered in pumpkins and gourds. Mari woke in her room at the Brell Estate to find a similar situation…pumpkins and gourds everywhere. Cyl, who woke in her new workshop, also discovered the pumpkins and gourds all around.

As those inside Cinderhaven looked outside their homes, they discovered that the entire city  had been covered in gourds. The orange pumpkins and various colored gourds filled windows, sidewalks, carts, and every other possible surface. Everyone in town had woken up to find dozens of pumpkins in their rooms and throughout their houses. Cyl carved one of hers to have an angry face on one side and a happy face on the other. Mari carved a flower into one of hers and then went to her shop. Saxi went downstairs and helped Mo pile up the pumpkins in his tower. Then she munched on one as she walked to the Beer Forge.

Outside Cinderhaven, Lark and Kali met in the woods and walked to the city together. As they crested one of the hills, they got their first glimpse of the hundreds of thousands of pumpkins and gourds. They saw Haley, along with other guards, talking with concerned people and trying to calm them down.

As they headed over to speak with her, Lark sensed fey energy within one of the piles. He stopped and started pulling at the pile of pumpkins. Suddenly, a small fey man with orange skin and a pumpkin top head appeared out of the pile. He introduced himself as Hazamoo Hiduboo.

Hazamoo said that he was using the pumpkins to eavesdrop on the city, because he was looking for someone. He wouldn’t say who, because he did not want to reveal that person’s secret. He told Lark and Kali that he had created all the pumpkins as a gift for the city. He continued to be evasive about the secretive person he was looking for and then disappeared back into the pile of pumpkins.

Kali, knowing Haley had not seen Mari since the transformation, tried to invite her to join them at the Beer Forge. Haley declined since she was so busy dealing with people upset over the pumpkins. Kali then spoke with Lark about Haley not knowing Mari had died and been reincarnated. Haley, somehow, heard them and immediately took off into the city. They tried to catch up, but Haley vanished into thin air.

Across town, Mari was at her shop moving pumpkins and heard something pop into existence behind her. She turned to see Haley, with tears running down her face. Mari said she was sorry and that she had not known how to tell Haley. Haley asked Mari how long it had been and recoiled in hurt when Mari told her it had been three days. Haley backed away and vanished before Mari could try to apologize or explain. Mari sighed sadly, and headed to the Beer Forge.

The Beer Forge was full of the delicious smell of roasted pumpkin. Kali and Lark arrived first to discover that Ivy had been serving roasted pumpkin with marshmallow on top. Lark sent Foster over to a pile of pumpkins and the bear began to delightedly munch on them. Mari arrived next and Kali quickly apologized for accidentally letting Haley find out about Mari’s new body. Saxi walked in happily eating away at a pumpkin that was already half gone. Cyl came in and got ready to carve one of the pumpkins at the table.

Kali and Lark told the others about Hazamoo. Lark announced that he was ordering Hazamoo a drink and, when he came back to the table, he discovered the fey had appeared. The group asked Hazamoo if they could help him look for the person he was seeking. He continued to be secretive about the person’s identity, but admitted that their secret was about what they were.

Mari asked if he was looking for a Nikosta. He was surprised the group had heard of Nikosta and asked if the group knew them. Cyl asked why he wanted to find the Nikosta and he explained that he wanted to know their secrets in order to find the Baba Yaga and get her secrets as well. He also wanted to know where Nikosta came from. He said that the Nikosta must have had a catastrophic event occur a few days before and that it had revealed the Nikosta to him.He was eavesdropping around the town, via the pumpkins and gourds, to try to find the Nikosta. He said good day to the party and disappeared into a pile of pumpkins.

Suddenly, there was a loud scream from outside. The group rushed outside and saw that a gigantic tentacle had erupted from the ground in the middle of the road a few streets over. They ran toward it just as Oisin was making his way toward the Beer Forge from the opposite direction. They all met at the tentacle and began attacking.

Oisin, Saxi, Kali, and Mari attacked from the street level. Meanwhile, Cyl and Lark went into the sewers and attacked from below. Lark got the “killing” blow and sliced through the tentacle, but it immediately began to shrivel. The shrinking tentacle pulled stones with it as it disappeared back down the hole it had created. It left behind a ten foot wide hole leading down into a seemingly endless pit below the city.

The group dropped an ever-burning candle into the hole and watched it fall. It seemed to be swallowed by magical darkness. Saxi, wondering what would happen, rolled one of the large pumpkins into the hole and waited.

Nothing happened at first, and then pumpkin vines began to grow rapidly up toward the street. Mari tried to cast dispel magic, but it was counterspelled. The vines filled the pit in just a few minutes and then they group saw something climbing up.

A large snail with multiple eyestalks made its way up the vines with surprising speed. It had a saddle and rider on its back. She was blue skinned with an elven appearance, white marks on her skin, and extra long ears. She had small snowflakes flitting around her as well.

Cyl tried calling out to the woman, but was ignored repeatedly. The snail rider eventually acknowledged the group and asked if they knew the Nikosta. The group, shocked, said nothing and the woman turned to leave.

Oisin called out to her in elvish and asked why she wanted the Nikosta. The woman, realizing that Oisin might know something, came back and spoke with the
m. She said that she wanted the Nikosta for the same reason as everyone else. She wanted the Nikosta in order to find the Baba Yaga. She tried to get Oisin to admit something they desired so that she could offer it to them. She told Oisin that she was the Snow Queen.

The Snow Queen then turned to the others in the group and told them she could tell they must know the Nikosta based off Oisin’s reactions. Cyl immediately claimed to be the Nikosta and distracted the Snow Queen.

The Snow Queen wanted to take Cyl “home” to the Feywild and she said that Cyl could bring her “servants” if she wanted. Cyl continued to debate and asked a few questions. Then the Snow Queen realized that Cyl had no hair and handed the Goa a knife to prove she was a Nikosta. Cyl, sadly, reached up to cut her hat as though it were her hair, but Mari stopped her.

The Snow Queen demanded that Mari go with her, but Mari refused. Mari did not want to go with the fey queen and refused the Snow Queen’s demands repeatedly. Mari was asked more questions, but she refused to answer them or give the other woman any  more information. The Snow Queen, undeterred, announced that she would be back the following day to ‘collect’ Mari. She then disappeared back into the pit.

Hazamoo then appeared from behind some pumpkins. He was surprised to learn that Mari was the Nikosta and admitted that the reason the two fey wanted her had to do with a bet. He was from the Autumn Court and the Snow Queen was from the Winter Court. The Fey Courts all had a bet over which one would find the Baba Yaga first, but only he and the Snow Queen had made it through to look for Mari. They needed a Nikosta to find the Baba Yaga. He also revealed that Mari would be killed somehow if she went with them to the Feywild. He said that he too would be back to “collect” Mari the next day.

Saxi, concerned for her friend, suggested that Mari stay with her and Oisin at Pinból’s home. Mari agreed that this was a good idea and he group split up as they worked their way toward Mo’s Tower and Pinból’s

Saxi and Mari went to look for Haley, but she wasn’t at the guard house and was not at home either. Mari found that some of Haley’s clothes were missing from the house and that she had left roughly three months worth of rent behind. Mari took a moment to process this and then went with Saxi to Pinból’s.

Lark and Cyl went through the city smashing all the pumpkins they could. They went to Mo’s tower and began to clear out all the pumpkins. Mostly by having Lark roll them down the slide and Cyl destroying them with her hammer at the bottom. Oisin went up to Pinból’s and began removing all the pumpkins there as well. When Saxi and Mari arrived, Saxi used the bag of holding to move the pumpkins more quickly. They all cleared out the last of the pumpkins and prepared for the next day.

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