I am the worst Paladin alive.
Today I allowed my charge to come to harm, abandoned my god, and found myself trapped by conflicting oaths. I have undertaken a new Quest, and set about to do more Good in this world, but I fear that the best I can hope for is to prevent things from becoming even worse than they already are.
We awoke this morning to the sound of dogs, still pursuing us from our escape after the Trial by Grossly Unfair Combat. Mistress Ren was able to spy a shortcut through the woods, and Steve went behind us to confuse the trail. There he must have come across an old sounding-horn, but I did not notice it when he returned, because I am a foolish knight who does not pay enough attention to his surroundings.
We made our way to a high point, to reconnoiter, and found a small group waiting there; an old man in wizard’s robes, two men-at-arms, and an archer with an unkind look to him. They seemed willing enough to let us on our way until they spied Steve’s horn, and then they bartered for it. As my companion handed it over I recalled myself and sought out their Ill Intent, only to realize too late that the wizard practiced the dark arts. If I had thought sooner all of this might have been prevented, but instead a skirmish broke out. I dove to Mistress Ren’s protection and Steve quickly bulled through the guards, but not before the sorcerer had begun a foul ritual. Steve and I quickly dispatched him, and I debated whether to destroy the horn, but hesitated. In this one case my hesitation proved fortuitous, for Mistress Ren quickly realized that the horn was necessary to reverse the ritual. She began her preparations but not before a great door opened in the sky and a strange eight-legged dog forced its way out. Steve busied himself with this strange beast while I moved to protect Mistress Ren, but our earlier delays had cost us dearly, and a group of faerie-knights, clad in crystalline armor, rode forth from the portal. In my haste and ignorance I had allowed the Wild Hunt to be unleashed.
Still more fae hounds poured forth, surrounding Steve, and I threw myself into combat against the knights only to immediately realize that I was hopelessly outmatched. They were mounted while I was afoot; they bore enchanted arms when I did not; and they outnumbered me five to one. As I flailed against them, my holy symbol shattered; though whether from my opponent’s efficacy or my own lack of devotion to Kane I know not. The situation was hopeless and so I seized at the only hope I could see: I surrendered and threw myself at the mercy of their commander, hoping to spare the lives of my companions.
But Queen Heela had a different outcome in mind, it seems. She spared my life but bound me in servitude to her, commanding me to retake the horn from Mistress Ren. Fortunately Steve shook off enough of the faerie-hounds to oppose me, and we grappled for a time while Mistress Ren finished her ritual. Ren is clever, far cleverer than I, and she seized on an opportunity to twist the circumstances to her advantage. She crept to the black wizard’s corpse and stole from it an object of some power, which she used to rework the ritual, binding the Wild Hunt to her service. Queen Heela cried out in dismay and attempted to take her own life, rather than owe fealty to another, but she was prevented and struck unconscious.
It was at this time that our pursuers from town caught up with us, and wisely let us be.
And so it stands. Heela is bound to Mistress Ren; and her knights (including me) are sworn to obey. A dryad has come to us, seeking aid; it seems that some demons have possessed the trees of her companions, and in doing so driven the other dryads to their mad will. We ride out now, three mortals and five faerie, to oppose them, but I do not know how long our band can keep without turning on itself. Perhaps we will be able to continue our quest to slay the seven sinful dragons, and keep Heela’s attention diverted, but I fear for what will happen when all this is done.