As the party is having breakfast in The Lyrical Goat, Finn Lenthien comes into the main hall, they and their wheelchair are battered and bloody. Finn’s nose, ribs and left arm are broken and the wheelchair’s axel is barely holding together. They call for aid with ragged breaths. After their injuries are tended to, Finn says their party was attacked in the night and they only barely made it here with their protectee. Outside of the tavern is a cart containing a dying phoenix that Finn is taking to its funeral pyrenest on the other side of the Kettlewash Fen. It’s a two day trip, arriving near sundown tomorrow. Finn doesn’t expect the phoenix to last beyond sunrise in two days time. The donkey is called Horace.
This adventure has been developed for Fantasy Age by Green Ronin.
Through the Fen
The fen is filled with water from the spring rains and is flush with fresh greenery. Dryer land is densely covered in thin trees and the peat is covered with sage flowers. Throughout the characters’ journey through the fen, if a character surpasses Hard difficulty on any perception tests they notice odd ripples and the occasional gloop from the water that seems to have no source or cause.
The first morning’s travel is okay as there are the remains of an old road that take the party along until mid afternoon. Waiting patiently at a low bridge over a culvert is a goblin riding a giant frog. Toineg is a highwayman and a dark wizard. Rather than demanding a toll of wealth she wants an object of emotional value from each character. Other than refusing to let the party pass, she’s otherwise quite friendly, chatty and very open about wanting the objects to power a dark ritual. In combat, she stays on her frog and casts shadow magic at the weakest looking character. If she runs out magic points she switches to throwing arcane blasts. The frog lashes out with its tongue that is both sticky and toxic.
The road ends at a large copse of trees that sits on a small hill rising 10 metre above the water. The ground is dry and well sheltered by the trees. No matter who is taking watch the characters all settle into pleasant dreams that then turn into nightmares. Those who pass a Hard Willpower Test wake up to find an blow glowing ethereal waspwisp feeding on the dreams.
Crossing the Deep Bog
From the copse on the hill there’s no good path through fen. To navigate and traverse through the fen, the characters will have to overcome these (Test Difficulty 13) challenges:
- Deep Water – It comes up to at least your chest and though it’s clear you can’t see the bottom.
- Sticky Shallow Mud – In addition to trapping and pulling at your feet it stinks of rot.
- Swarms of Midges – These tiny flying insects have disease filled bites and the phoenix is too ill to fend them away.
- Quickmud – Though it looks shallow, this mud will suck and pull you down.
- Magical Mist – It seems to come out of nowhere and you can barely see a few metres in front of you. Not just are you at risk of getting lost, the mist can make you feel excessively sad, fearful, angry or giggly.
Each challenge will repeat until it’s successfully dealt with, representing the long slow slog of the journey through the fen. Each failure delays the characters by an hour which pushes their arrival at the pyrenest past sundown and into the night. Very bad failures will result in lost equipment and harm.
The pyrenest is a cairn of stones 2 metres tall with a 2 metre wide bowl at the top. The phoenix weighs almost nothing despite the apparent strength of its bones. Its breathing is laboured but it does let out a gentle call as it’s laid into the pyre nest. Suddenly, only a minute before sunrise a huge water elemental surges up from the nearby water. It will focus on the phoenix unless suitably taunted or persuaded otherwise. After 3 rounds of combat the phoenix starts to increasingly glow brighter until at the end of round 6 it explodes with intense heat and force. A great fireball blasts into the sky, melts the stone of the pyrenest and sends anyone nearby off their feet. All of the characters are fully healed and any dead are revived.
In the centre of the pyrenest is a bright golden egg that’s always hotter than boiling water to the touch. It’s about the size of a sparrow’s egg and seems to be as tough as steel.
Notes on Ryzea the Phoenix
The phoenix is weak and can barely move. It’s breathing is haggard and slow and the flame feathers produce barely any heat. It will eat only small morsels of meat and charcoal. It’s voice is dark and deep but it is mostly lost in its memories, talking about things from its centuries of life. If the characters take the time to give Ryzea comfort and care during the journey, Ryzea will bestow on them a bone when it dies. One permanent scar, injury or disease will be completely healed. Ryzea has 30 health, an armour of 2 and is too ill to defend itself.