For the second year in a row, Elders Keep welcomed newcomers and old to its recently market, and there's a lot to fill you in on, fellow Valarians!
When travelers first showed up, there were rumors of those pesky elemental storms occurring around town, yes the same ones spotted at other towns recently. I wonder what's up with all of that. Plus, there was an army camping right outside town!
Those who had met Grand Elder Atri the previous year knew he was still in a very odd comatose state, stabilized in a strange crystallized tomb. As he was incapacitated, his brother Kozu assumed the responsibilities of Grand Elder — definitely a job I'd never take upon myself, but I suppose someone's gotta do it. Kozu led the council of elders during this market: Sino, Zephyra, Ra'Zash and Knot. Zephyra, with the help of some kindhearted adventurers, were working hard in between the markets to try to awaken Atri.
The first night of the market, they discovered a missing piece of the puzzle to awaken Atri — a map of the town that was given to him by his late mother, so naturally the map had some sentimental importance, too. However, the map was lost to the elders, who suspected it was in the ruins. Adventurers braved the ruins to retrieve the map, battling all sorts of monstrosities while encountering caves with mystical powers, it seemed. All sorts of weird things were happening in those ruins, according to my reports. They eventually discovered this map in a mindflayer stronghold, and one adventurer, Treasure, escaped with the map.
Of course, the mindflayers didn't take too kindly to their map being taken, and they pursued adventurers into town, attacking the tavern, controlling people of all sorts, and ultimately, retrieving the map. But thanks to one capable Reynald, who spoke to the mindflayer leader, the map was back in the hands of adventurers.
Oh, and it's important to note those fiends who possessed people at the first Kings Hollow market of the year also seemed to be taking over adventurers in Elders Keep. When one such adventurer who goes by the name of Robin Featherheart was possessed, he damaged part of the Air District, specifically to Elder Zephyra's home and the local Academy, both which were mostly damaged. For punishment, Elder Sino apprehended Robin, branding him and ordering him to atone. Part of that atonement means he must rebuild the damage he caused by hand. He's also offered coin and tomes from his personal library.
The second day of the market, one elemental being, later calling himself Robert, was discovered at the epicenter of a very large elemental storm, and according to my notes, the storm had a strange effect on those in the area. That happened in the Fire District, and Robert appeared to be healed by all elemental damage and could use all elements to attack the people and adventurers of Elders Keep. Adventurers, though, seem to always overcome whatever odds their up against, and this was no exception. They brought Robert to his? its? knees, and Robert vanished.
Hey, you know those weird local obelisks in the town? Well, I guess now's as good of a time as any to let you know that these adventurers and travelers collected an elementally infused moss (Have you ever heard of such a thing? I haven't!), which seemed to absorb elemental energy. With help from C.O.M.E.T. from the Ni'Dorn province (What's that?), those with the moss manipulated its composition into containers for elemental energy so they could store more energy. What a brilliant idea!
But then things took a turn for the worse when Robert appeared again at the epicenter of a large elemental storm, but this time, outside of the Stone District. And just like the previous encounter with him, he was being healed by elements and using all elements in his attacks. But this time, the storm seemed to have a different effect on those in the area, causing Robert to sustain more damage than normal? But with the handy vial adventurers made to store energy, they were able to siphon off a part of Robert's energy, and Robert vanished again, and the storm stopped.
Remember Atri? Let's visit him again. Adventurers and Zephyra performed a ritual to dream walk into Atri's mind with the map. Who knew people can walk into dreams? That's news to me. Anyway, they learned Atri's energy was intertwined with a fae, both of whom were near death and were held captive inside a gem in the center of a really, really old golem. I've heard this golem is the one who fought Ice Wyrm Kyvir last year, if that means anything to anyone. Well, as fae do, this one made a deal with the adventurer known as Treasure in exchange for her helping to free Atri and the fae from the gem. Part of this deal included that the fae would be allowed to complete its research in Elders Keep and will not harm any citizen or guest of the town.
The town, which has been dubbed by several people as a vacation spot in Valara, the second annual drinking contest was held! A newcomer, Felix LaVulpe, bested the previous year's reigning champion, Milus Silvanus. I wonder if he'll be able to take back that title next market. But before there was a chance for celebration, a very scary looking creature, being referenced as a gorgon, broke through the floor of the tavern with her army of basilisks and attacked the unsuspecting crowd. Adventurers rallied, defeated many basilisks, and chased the gorgon through the newly created hole. They ended up back in the ruins and slew the creature in her own domain.
As if that's not enough action for one market, this one had a third day, during which Robert returned for a third time, though in the Air District mountains. In addition to its normal elemental powers, this time it appeared as quick as lightning, zipping past adventurers in the blink of an eye, similar to how it had weird powers in the previous storms. It rambled incoherently during this fight though, and left many confused. But once again, those fighting it were able to use a container to store part of its energy, causing it to vanish, and the storm dissipated.
Remember that army that was outside the town? Well with all the commotion over the past couple of days, those at the market learned it to be the Grottoes Battalion and Lightning Corps of the Sacred Shield. They started a war against local spirit guardian Lupa, and the adventurers launched a call to arms. The entire town rallied to protect Lupa while others negotiated with the leaders of the armies, convincing them to stand down. But this attack did not go unnoticed by C.O.M.E.T. from the Ni'Dorn province, and seekers called local inquisitors to get things under control. Adventurers, however, vouched for the Sacred Shield, despite its attack, and all three parties reached an agreement: The Sacred Shield and adventurers had until sundown to quell the source of the elemental storms, or C.O.M.E.T. would have no choice but to intervene and force the Sacred Shield out of Elders Keep.
That led to adventurers preparing a ritual to create an immense elemental storm in the Water District, in hopes of luring Robert to the area, which was successful! But that meant the adventurers had to fight waves of elementals before fighting Robert, which this time, in addition to his elemental abilities I've already mentioned, seemed to harm adventurers by its aura of iciness instead of moving with the speed of lightning or sustaining massive amounts of damage. Robert also seemed to be struggling to regain his sanity, and eventually, was able to communicate with adventurers. That's when they learned his name was Robert, and he used to be a farmer on the outskirts of Elders Keep. Adventurers then helped Robert regain his humanity by siphoning off more of his energy and helped him recall his humanity, thus he was able to gain control of his new powers and helped adventurers fill the remaining container with elemental energy.
It's important to note that each district sustained significant damage from the elemental storms over the course of the market, specifically the ones that Robert seemed to have caused.
With all the elemental energy being gathered, the elders met with the adventurers in town to discuss if they should honor the fae deal in an attempt to save Grand Elder Atri's life, or if it was better to let both the fae and Atri die. Adventurers, of their own volition, decided to try to save Atri and came up with a plan: They asked for help from the spirit guardians, Robert, Faekyn and even the mindflayers. (Oh yeah, they became allies of the adventurers after Sinoa established a truce with them that helped the mindflayers gain control of a part of the ruins in exchange for help.) All parties agreed to help save Atri by creating a barrier around the Elder Council Room, the room where Atri was encased in that odd crystal. Robert created the barrier and remained the anchor of a ritual while mindflayers assisted the ritural to use faekyn heritage and adventurers' essence to allow the barrier to prevent the fae teleporting to Ereholme.
Simultaneously, other adventurers poured the collected elemental energy from the containers into the gem that was in the center of the golem in order to start the process of freeing both Atri and the fae, however, immediately before the process is complete, the crystal around Atri vanished, his eyes opened, and he shouted in the room, "I am Grand Elder Atri, and you are no longer guests of Elders Keep." Unfortunately, that nullified the safety provided to adventurers according to the fae deal... The fae then emerged from the gem, and Atri was motionless on the ground. Adventurers threw everything they could think of at this fae in an attempt to ensure he would not be able to escape and cause harm to Elders Keep or Valara, but it seemed luck was not on their side this time.
The fae, said to have a blue face, horns and a crown of ivy, was absolutely mystified by Robert, and immediately knew he was the anchor to the barrier. The fae fought off adventurers and weakened Robert, still new to controlling his powers, causing him to lose focus on the barrier and allowing the fae to escape.
Atri, who never woke up during the battle, walked with Lady Death that night as a somberness I couldn't even give justice to surrounded the town and its people. Grand Elder Kozu, along with the other elders, adventurers and townsfolk, continue to mourn the loss of their beloved friend and founder of the town, the town that he envisioned as a safe, peaceful place for all Dragonkyn.
— A follower of the Nameless