Northern Tal'Dorei, Coast of Ozmit Sea
2nd Day of Horisal
Farington Tal, the gnomish traveling merchant, approaches the entrance to small grotto on a cold, damp, misty morning. He rides up on his pony, laden with a chest full of wares strapped to its back, holding an umbrella over his head to protect himself from the misty rain. He calls out in his resonant, deep voice, "Teyla! Teyla, my dear! It's Farington! Farington Tal! Are you there?"
Emerging from the grotto is a young woman, dark hair waving in the rain, black eyes reflecting the mist. Her blue-tinged skin seems to seep its own moisture, at the same time repelling the rain. She smiles at the gnome with his blue/white beard and long white brows, while also managing to keep her distance. "I am here," she says, her voice lilting almost musically.
Farington dismounts and approaches, smiling. Teyla can tell he wants to embrace her warmly, but doesn't out of respect for her reticence. Teyla invites to come inside the grotto to share her fire and he jubilantly accepts. The two descend into the relative warmth of the cave.
Once there, the two exchange local news—a conversation which is distinctly one sided, with Farington discussing troubles "down south" concerning the cities of Draconia, Westruun, and Emon. Apparently a conclave of chromatic dragons had banded together and destroyed the cities and taken over. Led by a great red dragon called Thordak the Cinderking, the dragons sacked the capitol of Emon. They then moved on and wove a tapestry of destruction across Tal'Dorei. Draconia was destroyed and taken by Vorugal the Frigid Doom. The city of Westruun was destroyed and terrorized the great black dragon Umbrasyl the Hope Devourer. The green dragon, Raishan, manipulated events behind the scenes, disguised as a human, and later turned on the conclave with the assistance of the a band of misfit adventurers who later destroyed the conclave's members—including great Thordak himself. But the adventurers did not trust Raishan either and found her and destroyed her as well. Now, the cities are working to rebuild from the rubble of the attacks.
Farington also mentioned that his usual journey, which takes him from Kraghammer to Fort Daxio and then to Terrah to the north will be delayed due to a news he heard of an infestation of the barrow of Larane Starshadow, which he usually passed along the way. Apparently the barrow has been infested with kobolds. In order to avoid any trouble, Farington plans on altering his route, delaying his trip by about a day.
Teyla recognizes the site of the barrow as the grave site of the prominent druid, one she respects for her independence from the nearby Earth Ashari and her dedication to natural forces. She died over 100 years ago and was interred with honor by the people in the area at the time. Teyla feels that something should be done about this infestation.
After Farington leaves, Teyla packs her things and sets out for the barrow of Larane Starshadow.
Traveling through the woods toward the barrow, the sun begins to set and Teyla begins to set a camp. She can already tell its going to be an uncomfortable night away from her familiar grotto. As she's rolling out her bedroll, her side is pierced by an arrow firing out of the nearby foliage. She cries out in pain and turns to see a goblin running out of the woods raising a scimitar in an attack pose.
The goblin attacks and Teyla manages to deflect the blade with her wooden shield. She then takes her driftwood wand and makes a downward motion. A crack of thunder follows and a wave of power flows outward, casting the goblin away from her and into a nearby tree. She sees its neck turn in an unnatural direction and slump to the ground.
Teyla waits to see if her thunder has called anything else. The birds return to the trees, but nothing more. She investigates the fallen goblin and confirms that its neck is broken—the creature is dead. She then moves her camp and sets up a make-shift trap to alert her during the night before going to sleep.
3rd Day of Horisal
The next day, Teyla continues to the barrow. Around noon-time, she approaches the clearing that houses a hill in its center. Set into the side of moss-covered hill is a opening. Teyla knows that the opening usually has a stone over it with druidic markings indicating that this is a sacred barrow—but the stone is missing. Gritting her teeth in anger, she starts to track in the area to see if anyone has approached the barrow from the outside.
Sure enough, she discovers some tracks—halfling tracks, leading inside, but not back out. Whoever was walking here was also trying to step lightly. No kobold tracks, though. The tracks are roughly two days old. Perplexed by her findings, she stealthily approaches the entrance.
As she makes her way to the opening, she spots the discarded entry stone, broken in half and cast aside. Wishing she could mend it, she leaves it behind and magically produces a flame in her shield hand to light her way going forward.
As she creeps along carefully, continuing to follow the tracks into the barrow, she follows a wide cavernous tunnel. As she goes a stone shoots out from the darkness and strikes the wall beside her. She then hers a sharp word in a language she doesn't understand and footsteps running away from her outside of her light.
Not sure what to make of that, she continues forward.
As her light creeps forward, she comes across the dead body of a kobold, its head crushed by a slung stone. Its makeshift dagger has been left behind and its sling is in its hand. Continuing to track, Teyla determines that a second a kobold was here and has moved further into the barrow, leaving this one behind. She continues on, quietly, unsure as to why the kobold was murdered.
The tunnel led to a split, left or right. Teyla could hear voices to the right, but nothing to the left. Then she heard running coming from the right as well. She waited, preparing a spell for the arrival of the assumed kobolds. And came they did…
The group of five small reptilian warriors nearly overtook Teyla, but she managed to get up an entanglement spell, entraping three out of the five. A harried fight ensued which nearly took down the young druid, where the kobolds stabbed at her with their makeshift daggers and she sprayed mystical poison into their faces. But finally, bloodied and tired, Teyla prevailed over the foul creatures. Panting in the aftermath, she hears a voice echo from further down the path, in a commoner's accent: "So, is anyone down there coming for me?"
Teyla carefully makes her way down the passage, still lit by her druidic fire. "Anyone there?" the voice continues to call. Finally, the passage opens up into a large chamber. The light pours over a chest tucked into a corner and also the bound body of a small halfling dressed in worn traveler's clothes. The halfling has long brown hair, tied in a pony tail and has sharp, androgynous features. The halfling looks at Teyla and says. "So, you prevailed against those kobold buggers. Good. You going to let me go?"
Teyla, never the trusting sort, exchanges a few words with the halfling, who seems equally distrusting of the genasi druid but the two seem to come to an accord. The halfling apparently is a ranger who came to venerate "Lady Starshadow." They discovered the kobolds and tried to do something about them but was captured. They didn't seem to know what to do with the halfling. The halfling says that if Teyla will help them get their gear—which is being held in the next chamber—that they'll help her with why she came to the barrow. Teyla agrees and cuts the halfling's bonds with her scimitar.
The two head to the next chamber together—quietly (though the halfling is much quieter than the druid). They manage to surprise the two kobolds in the chamber. Teyla sprays one in the face with her druidic poison while the halfling punches the other in the face and then kicks it squarely in the testicles, laying it out flat. The halfling cracks their knuckles and goes to collect their stuff, which includes a handaxe.
There is also a chest in the room. Cautious about raiding a tomb of a fellow druid, Teyla examines the chest but determines that it is newer than the age of the barrow and probably just a holder for the loot of the kobolds. She opens it and finds an assortment of coin inside. After making sure that the coins were not the halfling's, she tells the halfling that they help her rid this barrow of kobolds, she'll split the take of these coins with them. The halfling accepts.
They return to the large chamber where she found the halfling and check out the chest in there, finding another assortment of coin. They fully explore the chamber and find, at its outer extremity, a narrow passage blocked by vibrant brambles. She decides to wait to explore this until the rest of the barrow has been cleaned out.
They both head back to the tunnel that Teyla entered the chamber through and head the other way. The two head through several other chambers, encountering several more of the kobolds, but the two manage to take them down with a combination of the halfling's fighting prowess and Teyla's poison spray. They also find two more chests full of coin.
Another find is a dug out tunnel in one of the chambers—presumably where the kobolds entered the barrow. Neither Teyla nor the halfling can collapse the tunnel so they regretfully leave it, consoled only by the thought that the brambles should hold against any interlopers to the inner sanctum of the barrow. Speaking of which, they decide to return to the brambles.
Examining the brambles with her knowledge of arcanic and druidic lore, Teyla determines that the brambles are the result of some sort of druidic ward, probably triggered by the arrival of the kobolds. It could probably be breached by the recitation of a druidic prayer asking for the blessing of the druid Larane Starshadow to visit her barrow.
Teyla stands before the barrier and recites a prayer in druidic, calling upon the blessings of Larane Starshadow to enter her barrow and pay her respects. The brambles untangle enough to allow Teyla passage into the chamber. She passes through and the brambles retwine behind her, shutting the halfling out.
The chamber is large and is dominated by an underwater lake. In the center of the lake is a island which is topped by an ancient stone sarcophagus covered in druidic runes. As Teyla reverently approaches the lake, a shimmering, blue apparition emerges from the waters and begins floating towards her. The apparition is of a woman with long, wavy hair. She wears a antlered headdress and a shimmering gown. Her eyes are a dark blue and she is smiling. She holds draped in her arms a garment. Teyla looks upon the apparition not with fear, but with awe.
The apparition comes close to the Teyla and lies the garment in her arms. When the shimmering garment touches her flesh, it becomes material—a brown, hooded cloak, highlighted in green.
"You will need this on your journey," the apparition says, and then sinks back into the lake.
Teyla stands there a moment, perplexed, not knowing of what journey the apparition speaks. She then takes some time to contemplate in the sacred chamber before turning and leaving the room. The brambles part before her and allow her to leave.
The halfling is pacing outside. "Where have you been? Are you alright? Were there more of those blighters in there?"
"No—the chamber is clean. I was…communing." She describes what she experienced in the chamber.
The halfling seems suspicious, noting the new cloak she is wearing. "Look me in the eye and tell me you didn't raid this tomb?"
Teyla looks offended and says that she did not, but does say that she appreciates the halfling's concern. The halfling seems reluctantly convinced. and calms down. "Oh…alright then. Well, what do you say we get out of this dank place?"
The two make their way out of the barrow and reconvene out front. The evening sun is dropping below the horizon through the clouds. Teyla thanks the halfling for their help and introduces herself. The halfling thanks Teyla for saving their life and says that she may call them "T."
T indicates that they may be going to Emon, or maybe Westruun, to help with the relief effort there. Regardless, there's good work to be down. And if Teyla needs to go on a journey, T is willing to accompany her. The gods often communicate with us in ways we don't always understand and we need to listen and T intends to listen. They're convinced, between Teyla's saving their life and her reaction to the kobold's desecration, that she's a good person. While Teyla may not trust T yet—and she's wise to reserve judgment—T guarantees that T will prove to be trustworthy if given a chance.
Teyla gives this some thought and decides that the only journey she knows to undertake is to find Farington and pay him back for some goods she owes him. He was heading for Terrah so maybe she head toward there and try to find him. And she will take T up on their offer. The two shake hands start heading north to Terrah.