I am attempting something a little bigger than what I've done recently. I'm going to chronicle the entire Darrowshire quest chain as they go through it, as a story. Hope you enjoy.
Winterspring was a vast improvement over the Plaguelands. Well, if you didn't mind the cold, that is.
Kaled was woken up by a kiss on his cheek. He opened his eyes to see Khaotic bending over him. "Wake up, love," she told him with a grin. "Time to see what the day brings." He grinned back at her, then hooked an arm around her waist and pulled her down next to him, mindful of her growing belly. "Oof," she said, then looked at the edge of the bed, which was right at her other side. "They didn't exactly plan these beds for sleeping double, did they?" she asked. "No, they didn't," Kaled responded. "And I had a very long, cold night last night." He kissed her soundly, then pulled back and looked at her. She smiled back at him. "So did I," she said softly, then abruptly she winced and put a hand on her stomach. "Kicking again," she said, then reached for his hand and placed it next to hers. "Feel it?" He was still for several seconds, then started grinning widely. "Yeah," he said softly.
The baby settled down soon, and Khaotic pulled Kaled out of bed and onto his feet. "Come on, love. We have to earn our keep here," she said, only half-joking, and he allowed her to help him into his armor before returning the favor for her. Finished, they went to find some breakfast.
In the inn's common room, they were approached by a young human. "Please," she asked them. "Can you help me find my family? We lived in Darrowshire, where the Plaguelands are now." Kaled looked regretfully at her. "We'd like to help, but we just left the Plaguelands not long ago. We weren't planning on going back so soon." Her face fell. "My name is Jessica Redpath. If you do go back, keep an eye out for them? Please? I'm really worried about my sister." Kaled nodded as they passed her and went outside.
Once outside, they both took a good look around. The little town was mostly populated by goblins, but there were a few others of different races; they all seemed to be keeping mostly to themselves. Khaotic stopped one goblin and asked if there was any work available. The goblin sized them both up, then said, "There's a dwarf out by the hot springs that needs help with the furbolgs here. Buggers have gotten nasty lately. Her name's Donova Snowden." Khaotic thanked the goblin, then turned to Kaled with one eyebrow raised. He shrugged. "Sounds good to me. Let's go." As they went to get their mounts and pets out of the stables, Khaotic sighed and muttered "More furbolgs."
They found Donova with no trouble. The story she told them sounded much like the problems in neighboring Felwood; the formerly peaceful furbolgs had turned vicious and were attacking anything that came near. The first thing Donova asked them to do was thin out the furbolgs nearby, as they had been keeping her from doing her research at the hot springs. Kaled and Khaotic looked at each other, then headed out.
As they picked through the belongings of a couple furbolgs they had killed, Kaled suddenly straightened up, an empty vial in his hand. "What's this, love? Looks like some sort of strange liquid." Khaotic peered at it, then shrugged. "Let's take it to Donova."
Donova's eyes went wide when they showed her the flask. "This greenish liquid... it reminds me a bit of the sludge I saw when traveling through Felwood. And I've seen some Winterfall runners passing into Timbermaw... Perhaps these things have something to do with the flask you found! There's a large group of furbolg just past Timbermaw Hold, in Felwood, called the Deadwood tribe. They have been corrupted and driven mad by the fel. Why don't you look around there and see if you can find any evidence of dealings between the Winterfall and the Deadwood?" The two hunters nodded and set out.
They found the camp with no problems; they had been there before. But this time they fought their way to the back of the camp, where they found a white Winterfall furbolg showing a few of the Deadwood something it was brewing in a cauldron. They had to kill the furbolgs to get to the cauldron, then Kaled carefully dipped out a sample for Donova, stoppering the flask tightly before stowing it in his pack. He looked at Khaotic. "If you don't mind, love, I'd rather you not touch any of this stuff." She just nodded.
They returned to Donova and gave her the sample, which she began studying carefully. Kaled and Khaotic took the opportunity to grab a quick lunch from their packs while they waited. Kaled was idly tossing bits of jerky to Kechara, watching her swoop after them and catch them, when the dwarf called to them.
"This is very interesting," she told them. "When this toxic substance is mixed with the water from the hot springs, it loses its toxicity, only retaining the ability to temporarily affect those that ingest it. This must be why the Winterfall protect the hot springs so fervently -- they need them to purify their firewater.
"We need to stop this -- cut off contact between the Winterfall and the Deadwood. A group of runners walks the distance between their village and Felwood. Find them and steal their shipment."
The group of furbolg, three of them, weren't hard to find. After sending in Kechara and Maelthra to distract one of them, the two hunters quickly dispatched the others, then finished off the third. They recovered the crate that one had been carrying and returned to Donova. She took the crate and set it aside, then looked at them, almost apologetically.
"You're probably not going to like this," she began. "While we still know very little about why the furbolg have been ingesting this strange substance, I do think it's best that we put a stop to it before it gets out of hand. The Winterfall furbolg are not a normally aggressive tribe, and this change in their behavior leads me to think that they must be under orders from their chief. We most likely can't undo the damage that has already been done, but I think that if their leader is slain, they will not get any worse." She took a deep breath. "Winterfall Village is to the east."
Kaled and Khaotic looked at each other, then without a word they went to their mounts and headed off. Kaled waited until they were well down the road before speaking. "Is it really necessary?" he asked. "Killing their chief just seems a little....excessive." "I think she's right, Kaled," Khaotic answered. "Without a leader they will stop the attacks on travelers, if only because they will be busy fighting among themselves to find a new leader." "But there's no guarantee of that, Veldora," said Kaled. "And when they do find a new chief, who's to say that he won't start up again where the last one left off?"
Khaotic sighed. "There is no guarantee, you're right about that," she said. "But if we leave things the way they are, the attacks will continue, and will probably get worse. Sometimes, better to take the unknown rather than suffer under an already bad situation." Kaled was silent after that. She could tell that he still didn't like it, but she had at least partly convinced him.
They had to fight their way through the village, to the cave in the back where the chief lived. They found him there, with a shaman accompanying him. Sending thier pets in to distract the shaman, they both took aim at the chief, and loosed.
Kaled looked down at the fallen chief rather sadly, as Khaotic rifled through his meager belongings. "What is this?" she asked, straightening up with a small book in her hands. Kaled took it and leafed through it. "Looks like a journal or something," he said. "I certainly can't read furbolg, can you?" She shook her head. "Donova again?" she suggested, and he nodded. "We need to let her know the chief is taken care of anyway," he said, a trace of regret in his voice.
Donova took the journal carefully and began looking through the pages. "The Winterfall are no longer a threat to me, but if you still want to find out what was driving the furbolg to create and consume this strange firewater, I think you should seek out Kelek Skykeeper. He is part of a group known as the Emerald Circle, druids that are committed to their work in Felwood, healing the land from the corruption. Kelek has much experience with the furbolgs in Felwood, and may be able to tell you more about this log." She closed the book and handed it back to them. "Thank you, again, both of you."
Kaled and Khaotic took the Timbermaw tunnels up to the Moonglade, then hired a couple wind riders to carry them to the Emerald Circle's camp in southern Felwood. They arrived at dusk and gave the book to Kelek, who promised to study it and send them word if he was able to translate any of it. After that, the two elves wandered to the edge of the camp. Kaled sat down, then gently pulled Khaotic down too. As she settled into his lap, she asked quietly, "Now what, love? Where should we go next?" He was silent for a bit, and she turned her head to look at him. He was staring off into space, his eyes distant.
Finally he said, "You remember that girl at the Everlook inn? The one looking for her sister?" "Yes," she said, and waited. "I think, maybe we ought to go try to track down her family," he said slowly. "I'd like to do something helpful, like that." She took his hand and squeezed it. "Alright, my love. We'll go do that." He wrapped his arms around her, and they just watched the woods around them until it grew too dark to see.