We begin our latest tale with a chubby, well-dressed hobbit who is washing up from a long day of cooking and forced laughter. Her blonde curls, perfectly kept, frame her face as she looks into a mirror and sighs. She looks across her room at the beautiful silk armor hanging lifelessly from a dummy, then glances at the desk. Something there makes a wistful smile cross her face, and she walks over and picks up a small, lovely flower. She looks out her window into the night, sighs once more, than falls asleep in her comfortable bed with the same wistful smile. If you look closely, you can see the small flower clutched in one chubby, garden-weathered fist.
As the morning comes, Twink wakes up, stretches empty hands to the ceiling, and grins broadly into the sunshine peering through her window. Feeling very springy and optimistic, she begins to sing as she prepares to open her bakery for the morning rush. As she traverses down the stairs, however, she notices people coming through the front doorway soaking wet. A storm has sprung up out of nowhere in Talismonde, so it seems....
Meanwhile, Mergeddon, Kain's guide for the Quest of a Thousand Battles, uses a tarot card to pull them both into the town of Talismonde. Mergeddon needed to see a friend, so after getting rooms at a local hostel, Kain left to visit Twink's establishment.
A large, hairy figure darkened the bakery's doorway--but instead of a growl or a demand for money, as most expected, the only noise was the sound of thunder and Twink's ecstatic squealing. Twink quickly pulled him into the breakfast nook for some privacy--merely for conversation, of course, as the patrons' not-so-subtle insinuations went totally over her head. This was to the chagrin of Aglyn, Twink's grunting, no nonsense hobbit bodyguard, who watched Kain warily as he balanced darts on each of his fingertips on one hand.
Soon, however, the scent of tea wafted through the air as Sultrani entered the scene. A force to be reckoned with, she chose to appear to her long-lost comrades, silent and radiating with a quiet authority and sense of power. Not noticing this, as she never did, Twink was beside herself with happiness and almost danced with excitement. Even the grizzled Kain seemed to be grudgingly grinning. Twink took this opportunity to show her friends her accomplishments, and led them in a personal tour around her restaurant. As they approached the hearth, however, an earthquake seemed to strike the area, and a sense of foreboding hit the party as five fey seemed to appear from nowhere in battle-ready stances. They were confused for a moment, but quickly regained control as they attacked our heroes, shouting, "There he is! It's Kain! It's the target!"
Unfortunately, our heroes were, admittedly, a bit rusty. Twink, to her shame, was practically useless in the battle, and ended up being a hair's breath away from death. Kain, as well, faced a great deal of hardship. Eventually, after fending off the talented spellcasters and formation attacks of the five fey, the heroes emerged from the singularity victorious--if not unscathed. This was also thanks to Aglyn, who, Twink was surprised to discover, is a void for magic, and therefore was able to free them from their magical prison.
Later, after the crowd is done fawning and coddling Twink, the friends discuss why fey might be after Kain. He knows it is from a recent battle, but is not sure which of his legendary victories has offended the fey. He, of course, shrugs it off while Twink worries and blabbers and Sultrani silently contemplates. Kain's presence that close to the bound was what got them sucked in, as well.
Twink then shows her comrades around her sky garden, which is held in the sky by magic and absorbs a great deal of her profits from the restaurant with its magical upkeep. As some of her patrons and restaurant workers show up to remind her of all her responsibilities, she bursts into tears. They are mortified and quickly leave, but this has spurned Twink to suggest returning to Oosla Dawn to escape and relive some past glories.
They get there by using Twink's tarot card, and they quickly find that the tarot shrine is protected by massive cobwebs and entrance to the shrine is prohibited (at least for Twink.) The house is not happy with Twink and Kain, since their visits have been few and far between. While Twink cooks dinner and sends Kain in to bathe (wet dog smell is just not appealing), Sultrani meditates in her room. After a delicious dinner, some training (and flailing) on Kain's part, and a very girly slumber party (in which Twink braids Kain's hair), the group turns in for the night and falls asleep, quite content.
In the morning, Twink goes into the kitchen to begin cooking breakfast, and lo and behold--Mergeddon is at the table in a bit of a cranky mood. It seems Kain left for the night with no warning. He gives Twink some special spice smelling of cinnamon, which he received from Ella Lane (a famous chef from Telassa), and she decides to bake some very special waffles to celebrate the group reuniting.
As she waffles finish, she patters through the house calling for Kain and Sultrani (Kain insists she picks some flowers for Mergeddon to appease him), and the four sit down to breakfast. The waffles are so good that no one can resist, and soon they all scarf them down. Afterwards, they discover from Mergeddon that the spice Twink used has the ability to change your destiny...
Following breakfast, Mergeddon takes Twink to clean out the tarot shrine. As they do so, he tells Twink that he can no longer be Kain's guide, and he offers her the job. As she stands there, shocked, she sqeaks, "Is there anyone else who can do it?" Mergeddon looked at her grimly and responded, "Yes, but I can tell you that the alternative will not be good for him." With such a response, how could our gentle-hearted Twink say no?
As Mergeddon prepares to leave, he informs Kain that he cannot be his guide any more. While Kain is disappointed, Twink tries to pantomime to Sultrani that she's the new guide. Mergeddon breaks out some ages-old wine to toast to their futures, however, and Twink (being a light weight if there ever was one), blurts to Kain happily, "I'm your new guide!"
Kain's face, at this point, is utterly priceless. His jaw drops, his dark eyes widen, and he stands there shell shocked and speechless. The speechlessness, however, doesn't last long. "You're WHAT??" he cried, looking bewildered to Mergeddon. Mergeddon confirms this, and then takes a hasty exit.
"It'll be great!" Twink gushes. "I'll be your guide and tell you all my visions and we'll work together!" She continues to babble happily as Kain buries his head in his hands and moans. Sultrani smiles broadly behind her upraised tea cup.
That night, Twink dreams that she is on a ship, and a storm begins beating down onto the water. The ship capsizes and she begins to drown...
Clawing at the air, Twink gasps and wakes, and quickly patters her little feet to Kain's door. She awakens the cranky beast, then tells him her dream and proceeds to meditate in his room as he grumbles and goes back to sleep. Twink then gets a vision: Jain is on a beach--a rocky coastline facing a sinking ship. On the ship is a black flag with a golden lion design. Jane tries to speak to Twink, but the storm is providing too much interference to be understood properly. Twink snaps out of the trance and hurries to shake a now very cranky Kain awake. She acts out everything that happened in a very dramatic and excited fashion, and at Jain's name, Kain snaps to attention.
******(At this point, if Mark wants to add the visions in detail, he is more than welcome. I don't have them in my notes, and I know he took detailed notes on this part.)******
After many other confusing, disjointed visions--all of which Twink reenacted quite amusingly for Kain and Sultrani--it is clear that Kain needs to aid Jain in her battle against the undead Kelpie. After Twink's latest vision, a wicked storm brews outside the house and Sultrani's "special little wind friend" (that she still hasn't really told us about) becomes extremely agitated and goes outside, feeling very hostile. He battles the storm elemental and loses, and Sultrani uses her mile-step to pull him from danger.
Meanwhile, Kain and Twink use the tarot Mergeddon left in the shrine to travel to the stormy, cold beach in which Jain is battling the undead horse. It is covered in the same tattoos as an elf in one of Twink's visions, so clearly the Kelpie is a puppet. In his sixteenth battle, Kain defeats his disgusting foe, and Twink learns that Jain is also going to help with Kain's journey. She is going to take a part in his guidance, much to Twink's relief. The waffles of fate--ha!--changed Jain's destiny, and she was able to come back from death. They also learn that the creature controlling the storm is called Shaelme, and he--it?--is a foe to be reckoned with. Her final words are for Kain: "Look for the green blade!"
When Twink and Kain return, the house (using a very cool sandbox) helps them to locate Sultrani. Twink takes an herb that allows her to become a kick-ass elemental and she and Kain travel the mountains in the distance until they find her. As they reunite, an elf with a raised eyebrow asks them politely what they're doing on his front step. Sultrani offers a brief, non-detailed (of course) explanation, and they are invited inside his home. He introduces himself as Bran, and as they share a Twink-prepared meal,
After a sharing of tales, it is clear Bran is more than originally thought. Twink leaves him an herb--Green Gods, that she used to get up the mountain--and he, in turn, leaves her all he possesses in his minimalist lifestyle: a memory.