While the party was shopping, they were approached by a contingent of guardsmen, who insisted that they come to talk to the Duke RIGHT AWAY. It hadn't been 24 hours, and some of them were waiting on stuff.
"Oh, I'll go," Kit volunteered.
Guards: "Are you the leader?"
Kit: "Apparently. Last time we needed a leader, I was voted in."
Of course, the last time they needed a leader it was *also* to have a sacrificial lamb go face down the big bad guy, but that didn't mean this wasn't an equally appropriate time to pull rank.
Fortunately, the Duke didn't want the adventurers arrested as nationals of the enemy empire. He wanted them to help some 'Seekers' follow a prophecy that would lead them to a magical cure for the plague that would otherwise wipe out the town of Service. If they succeeded, they'd be rewarded if the Duke was somehow still alive -- the town was already surrounded, beseiged and about to fall to the enemy, which explained why the merchants had been so keen on selling them mountaineering equipment at a discount.
Before leaving with the Seekers to meet the others -- the seekers knew a secret way out of the city supposedly, and also knew the prophecy, so they were going with -- Kit offered the Duke the blessing of Inari, which was of course Kit eating his anxiety. Unfortunately, his magical prowess had grown but his reserves of sanity hadn't, and he came fairly close to driving himself (temporarily) insane in the process... but not quite, not this time.
So, the seekers were brought to meet the rest of the party. The Seekers were the militant paladin wing of the Church of Starlight, which was at odds with (and currently, apparently, at war with) the Church of the Eternal Void which Bob was a member of. But! Bob had stolen the body of a CoS spy, and managed to read the secret recognition codes from his mind, so the paladins reluctantly agreed to accompany one of their mortal enemies because the mission was so important (and they thought he was really one of their spies).
The tunnel was long and boring and dark and narrow, and blocked on the other end by a blackberry thicket, which Kit animated and had stand aside to let them past, after Cho failed to disintegrate it quickly enough.
Seekers: "So, we're looking for the Pale Lady, which we pass through to reach the place where the fountain is hidden."
Bob: "According to my sources, the fountain is located on the exact spot where the city's well is, only not in the city."
Cho: "How about that ghost inn? It had a lady innkeeper, and ghosts are kind of pale..."
With no better ideas, they headed there, and spent the rest of the day camping out (they'd been up all night, and now had camping gear) and waiting for the moon to rise. When it did, sure enough the inn reappeared.
Kit: "Hey, innkeeper. You had a drink called a zombie... do you have one called a Pale Lady?"
Innkeeper: "You deadbeats are back? Give me my money!"
They tried to explain the situation ("Ah, you're changelings." "We are not!") but eventually had to pay the innkeeper off (a 5x penalty is still petty change for adventurers, even poor ones) and got a 'Pale Lady' for everyone.
Of course, there was no way to tell if it had worked, since the moon was still up, and likely to be up for hours. Leen decided to summon a blizzard to obscure the moon, but it didn't work -- there was a blizzard, but the clouds didn't come in thick enough to block the moonlight.
Oh, and the snowflakes were all perfect, identical, and *warm*.
Kit tried some experiments with his magic, which went *totally* haywire, and the party ended up being tossed all over the landscape by mischievous gravity spirits. Bob used his throwing spikes to grab hold of something, Kit had a tree grab him and anyone else nearby, and most of the others acted really boring until the spirits got bored... one of the Seekers wasn't that smart, and got carried off to god knows where.
Kit: "Well, the spell should only last for a minute anyway, he couldn't have gone too far."
Bob: "Stop casting random spells!"
Kit: "They weren't random, I was going down the list testing the effects on this alternate plane."
Seeker: "Are you sure we're really on the alternate plane? I mean, we're still in a forest."
Leen: *glanced meaningfully at the warm symmetrical snow*
Cho: "These bunnies aren't... normal."
Kit: "Either we're in the fairy world, or we're all really high."
When they got to the fairy city, they realized two things. One, either they were really in the fairy world, or the beseiging army they couldn't see had for some reason decided not to kill them. Two, Kit had forgotten to buy a drink for his dog, which was therefore nowhere to be seen.
The fairy city was fairly packed with polite fairies politely insulting the party for their crude dress and general lack of fairness... but they ignored them, because the fountain was in sight.
Kit's test of the water: Scoop up some in a canteen, dip one of the cold-iron nails they'd bought from the market on the Seekers' suggestion in it to dispel illusions, and see if it was still magical. Result: No, it turned to ash. Conclusion: This fountain was illusionary, and the 'water' they were scooping up was really just ash from the burned ruins of the city.
Bob's test of the water: Drink some. Result: The personality of the body he'd stolen awoke, and was given equal control over it. Conclusion: No, this really is the magic water, of 'balance' instead of 'life' this time, and your cold iron is just destroying it you idiot. Also, fuck.
The remaining Seeker (the one carried off had never been seen again) figured that it *might* be the right water, and filled all his canteens.
Then the party dispersed into the fairy marketplace, where Kit tried to sell someone his curse. There were a few interested parties, but no one was willing to make a deal on the spot.
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