A Heartfelt Return

Aromas begin to float out from the kitchen. Silas is ready in dapper formalwear. Jericho has his plan b ready. Isabelle plans to bring in the starving villagers to hep with the challenge.

Loknir takes the group into a cave wherein a gigantic table lies, riddled with food. He declares that all those participating in the challenge must be present. With 5 minutes to prepare, Isabelle is able to bring everyone through a trump. Silas check the food and ensures it isn't poisinous. After two hours, there is no appreciable change in the volume of food.

With the help of his pattern lens, Gerhardt discovers that no one at the table was actually eating. He shared this with Isabelle. It appears that some sort of glammer has hold of everyone, and all there are doing is smelling the food and feeling full. Jericho transforms into fire, consuming the food in his own special way.

At Isabelle's request, the group joins hands. She shares the knowledge of what is going on, but their awareness doesn't solve the problem. Silas' undershadow minions eat the glammer-food, unknowing of the difference. Looking for loopholes, Lowen asks where the feast is. Loknir repeats that it is "before them".

Jericho inspects the crystal that lights and heats the room. It appears to be beaming real sunlight — transporting it — into the cave.

Silas asks to pay compliments to the chef. He comes out with his staff and Silas asks for a tour of the kitchen. They leave the room, Silas taking a drumstick in tow with him. He eats on it during the tour, but when he returns to the feast, it hasn't been eaten at all.

Jericho turns into a fire and starts to burn part of the illusory feast and even the table, to no great effect, though Loknir is impressed and comes over to comment on this development.

"How do you consume an illusion?" Isabelle asks Loknir. "That's silly. You can't consume an illusion! I would never ask you to do that," he responds.

Having decided that someone is actively causing this effect, Jericho sets out to hunt them down. He find the culprit — Loknir himself!

Silas tries to figure out what the feast IS, since it is clearly not the glammer-food. He goes to the garden and takes a flower and eats the petal. "DO NOT STEAL FROM ME!" yells Loknir. "Did you ask if you could have that? NO, you CAN'T!" The giant picks up Silas and body slams him for the gross infraction.

When he comes to, Silas unleashes his undershadow pirhanas into the cavern. They devour the garden and swarm around everyone. Loknir sees the destruction and becomes irate, demanding of Silas, "STOP! Send them back! Make this stop!" Jericho steps in from of Silas, brandishing his sword as he asks everyone to calm down.

Though he detests Loknir's overreaction to eating the flower petal, Silas defers to Gearhardt's request to stand down and agrees to send his minions back to undershadow. Loknir demands the replacement of his devastated garden, to the exact detail. Gearhardt works some kind of effect that enables him to re-create it, and Loknir is placated.

Everyone then settles back down and pass the remaining time by taking in all the sights and smells of the garden. It was truly a *feast of the senses*.

Silas sneaks over to the grandfather clock and moves it forward 7 minutes in hopes that Loknir will reveal the secret in time for them to satisfy it. Loknir checks his watch and notes the discrepancy with little more than a chuckle.

Loknir strolls over to the garden and consults his crystal of appreciation. Ding, ding, ding… It glows brighter and brighter, ultimately beaming brightly. In utter puzzlement, Loknir concedes the victory. It seems that Mab may have been "appreciating" vicariously through Gerhardt. Regardless, a win is a win.

Stabbing into his chest and prying it open, Loknir reaches inside and pulls out his heart — the Heart of Winter. He is quite put out about the whole thing, but he manages. With the heart in hand, they depart. On the way out, one of the bustier maid pulls Isabelle aside.

"Wasn't that exciting?!" says maid Brand.
Isabelle is shocked and delighted, "Are you the one that helped us?"
"Well I couldn't have you in danger. But wasn't it great?"
A little puzzled, she replies, "Yeah.. It was fun… it's better when it's not your own neck on the line."
"It's almost a shame you didn't get to see the next challenge."
"What was it?"
"To move a rock. That mountain out there."

Having won the day, the troupe returns to the Envoy, taking Gerhardt to Mab. She reluctantly trades hearts with him. Mab touches the Heart of Winter and casts a spell beside her, summoning Loknir to her side. He shrinks to her size as she caresses his face. "I told you I'd get you back." He doesn't seem too displeased.

With another adventure wrapped up, the group seeks out new trouble by going to the dead pattern in Arden. Silas , Jericho and Lowen debate its nature. Already lit 1/4 of the way by Jericho, Lowen contributes his blood and lights it over half way. Now the real debate begins, in which Gerhardt and Isabelle are notably absent. What is this pattern? How does it work? Is it a negative pattern?

Jericho ponders the situation and comes to a realization. This pattern was never fully brought into being. Each pattern is tied into some part of Amber, and this one is tied to a part that was never really used. It has some sense of death and darkness, so perhaps it was created to be some kind of balance for the Abyss.

Jericho becomes aware of the fact that his weird dreams are actually indicators of his tie to this pattern. It is draining him, and unless it is activated, it will kill him. Lowen is similarly connected now, but he can withstand the drain longer. Powering it fully would stop it from killing them…

Seeking further insight, Jericho trumps Gerhardt and asks for his assistance. Gerhardt explains that activating this pattern with the Jewel of Judgment would have a catastrophic effect. It would annihilate parts of shadow and cap the power of the Abyss.

Since this pattern hasn't been powered, the chances are few people actually know about its existence.

In a flash, Jericho dashes over and fills the rest of the pattern with his blood. It sparks and glows as it becomes fully activated. At the same time, a black storm-like circle opens overhead and crashes down on Lowen. As it hits the ground, Lowen is gone.

S:1, I:4, G:3, L:5, N:7, J:5

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