Technically, "to the inn" was an overstatement. The party flew down from the spot where the "forest in a cloud" vanished, and returned to the attacked hamlet. The locals had scattered leaving only their dead behind. Presumably they went to outlying farms and ranches and would return the next morning with armed friends to ensure the settlement was safe. Nightbow reopened his shadow path and everyone began the trek back to Birchbrew.
Shortly after entering The Dark Snow began asking about Glorath and the warnings given by the small fey. Nightbow and Leaf decided that the fey was not likely to be correct in his estimation that the greenspawn’s master, the drake who was smart, magical, and physically enough like a dragon to be mistaken for one, would come after them. Mostly because if Glorath ever found out what that servant had possessed (the only flying fortress in the entire world) and that it had been lost so casually, and used so wastefully, that drake would be slain by Glorath, and in no position to come after the party seeking revenge. Just what Glorath and his minions hoped to gain by using such a powerful tool so wastefully, no one could answer. Nightbow speculated that it was futile to try and understand what his motives were, since he had not too long ago risked huge resources in an attack on Sombrus with the intent of kidnapping a stable boy.
Then followed a short discussion about the different dragons, their lands, and their heritage. Snow and Leaf were very concerned with spawn of Jet being loose despite the wards placed on her tens of thousands of years ago by the other dragons, but Nightbow mentioned that whomever Jet was (he had never heard the name, as Jek mentioned long ago that Toxin was the first human he had ever met who had heard of her) her mountains were always loaded with dragon spawn. They pointed out that the dragons were only about 700 years old based on their sizes and some words said by the Avatar of Knowledge when Winter and Snow visited her in heaven. He pointed out that that just means the wards hold Jet and not her spawn or offspring. Nothing more could really be determined from the presence of the dragons. He seemed more concerned that there were five of them rather than only the four that he had known about.
Leaf decided that would be a good time to play tag with Avenger, Snow’s bodyguard. He tagged her and proclaimed her "it". She looked down at her body and explained that no, she was still a "she not an it". Leaf laughed and said, "no you’re it" and ran off down the trail. Snow, Winter, and Moon Circle tried to explain that it was a physical challenge to a contest of speed and agility. Avenger replied that then he was being foolish as Snow needed to be guarded while in such dangerous terrain and this was clearly not the appropriate time to be challenging a bodyguard. Stifling laughter the group agreed. Snow’s little angel followed off after Leaf down the trail and the two of them arrived back in Nightbow’s quarters at the inn. Leaf went down to the main room to wait for everyone, while the angel wandered off around town randomly blessing people.
The rest of the group arrived five or so minutes later. The inn keeper looked everyone over, taking in the obvious signs of battle and injury and asked, "So, good news or another defeat?" Nightbow smiled and turned to the room shouting "A round for everyone on Councilor Prey Chaser!" then told the inn keeper to dip into the funds he (Nightbow) had stored at the inn, and to pay for anything anyone ordered all night from them. And to send a runner to announce this largess to the whole town. A rather large party broke out in response.
Spoon and Winter started drinking immediately. Squall pulled an accordion out of who knows where, gathered many drinks around his chair, and started telling the story (greatly altered) of their triumph in very poorly rhymed couplets. Leaf went and sat out on the deck showing off his invisible sword and telling people a much more accurate version of the story. When anyone might be harmed by his invisible blade, the little angel would reappear and ward them with a force field, and or place itself between their hands and the edge of the blade. Eventually, he had to shoo it away and it went off to pester a harp player who was trying to accompany Squall.
Moon Circle tried to tell how he helped only to be half-way through the moment where he lit up two of the enemy when Squall got to that same bit, but left Moon Circle out of it and claimed credit for downing those enemies himself. The women Squall was hitting on, of course, assumed that he’d been caught lying and he sulked in his booth for a while after.
Snow and a few other musically inclined folk joined in Squall’s atrocious singing and playing, making the evening much more enjoyable.
Spoon and Winter entertained themselves getting their fanboys to drink themselves unconscious.
The local Topaz Knight came by and spoke to Leaf about the warrior traditions of the fey nobles, how some fey were emotional and some were stone cold. How those from the Dark and those from the Spirit Wood were all mixed up now due to Oblivion’s war, and a little about the history of the area and the dragon spawn.
When Squall finished singing, he joined the girls at the bar. Snow’s little angel began to plague him by hiding in his beer mug and firing beams of light out of it. When he would go to look in, it would quickly teleport behind Winter. Winter and Spoon kept egging him on to try and drink to keep the game going longer.
As everyone partied themselves out and moved on to sleep, Spoon passed out on the bar, Nightbow went up early, and Snow decided to ambush Winter with another pillow fight. This one went better thanks to Winter’s curse. But after quite a good opening, Snow was forced to heal herself. Winter responded by catching her offguard and beating her unconscious with rapid hard blows as soon as Snow gave that opening. Then Winter went up to sleep. Snow’s bodyguard Avenger carried her up to her own room.
Early the next morning, Leaf was the only one awake when Nightbow and another one of Prey Chaser’s men whom he didn’t recognize came by his room and offered to teleport him back to her estate. When he arrived he found that everyone else was already there and still in bed, they having been transported in their sleep. Moon Circle was the last to arrive and Leaf watched him appear directly into a hammock and a servant cover him up.
He scouted the area a little, then did his morning workout. While practicing he saw the changing of the servants and Prey Chaser come out for breakfast. He joined her and slowly so did everyone else. She teased them about disobeying her orders and solving the whole problem putting her in a bad spot as she now had to come up with a decent reward for them.
Then she went on to tell them about the four rumors she had heard that might be linked to their real task. The first two were reports coming from the Storm Lord in Nightmare’s End. A tribe of pygmies very far away from Pile of Skulls was also using necromancy and undead in its raids. They were not taking large numbers of slaves, but only a minimal amount for food. Also, they were stealing as much metal as possible, even breaking up wooden construction to get at the metal. A tribe of nomads off the southern steppes who were known to dabble in necromancy had stepped up to much higher levels, and were wielding pygmy alchemy. These two were almost 800 miles apart, far too far for pygmies to trade. Even the natives would need to be using magic of some kind for a journey of that length. But even so, it begs the question of what the two groups have in common that they trade with such remote partners instead of closer ones. And especially in the case of the pygmies, why are they trading at all instead of taking as normal.
The third was that the fish folk who Juak’hiim lead in raids against the Coral Kingdom were being sighted in the waters again. Only one conflict had occurred, and in it a few of them destroyed a fishing vessel before being driven off by others. The numbers were all very small, compared to the earlier hordes, and they were being cautious.
Last was the news that some Alven from Psysk had gone south to visit the Oracle, been granted an audience, and returned to their kingdom. The party decided that was the rumor that interested them the most and they began to lay in plans to travel there. Prey Chaser mentioned that they could not ask questions of the lady which belonged to anyone else. Moreover, they could not accept "unnatural" aid in getting to the lake itself. That means that Leaf could certainly teleport because it was his preferred mode of travel. But Moon Circle could not. He could, however take a shadow road, which Snow could not. They also discussed the dangers and virtues of the Lake and its guardians. Prey Chaser then warned them how to recognize the Powrie, the warriors of Psysk who were brutal killers and despite their tiny size much harder to kill than many large dinosaurs.
And that’s where we broke off for the evening.