Following some aerial reconnaissance, where it was revealed that the weather and terrain had shifted (again) to temperate and pine-forested, along with the addition of towns and at least one squat fortress, the party made landfall on the mysterious demiplane.
Luvanar informed the members of the party who had not been here before that teleportation effects would not work here, and they proceeded. As always, there were halflings greeting the party, but this time there were lots of them, and they were all what they appeared to be. Luvanar conducted most of the discussion with the mayor about the Moonspeaker, which revealed that these halflings were farmers and shepherds with the odd habit of taking their sheep out to graze under the light of the moon- it made their coats shiny, but recent predations by wolves had forced them to change their ways, and enlist the aid of “some of the boys a couple towns over.”
Sierrafinia didn’t believe this, but further investigation revealed that the otherwise normal (aside from being prime specimens of sheepdom) animals had a silvery tinge to their wool. Sierrafinia bartered a coil of silk rope for a sweater and a large pair of socks, and the halfling hosts invited them to dinner, which like everything else around here was luxurious- except to Dogar, who didn’t trust it at all, instead refusing to go inside and preferring to eat rations, though he couldn’t help but notice how nice things were here, and Caden, who felt that things were pretty normal.
After eating and getting what information they could, the party left, and began casting spells to find where the Moonspeaker was. She was in the Deep Woods, which didn’t help overmuch, but they were able to locate her through a combination of Eilonwy’s ability to move through the deep undergrowth unhindered faster than a horse can run on open ground, and more of Luvanar’s magic. Sierrafinia found some tufts of hair that turned out to belong to legendary monsters known as brachyuruses, these monstrous wolves were thought to be the progenitors of modern wolves, and are known for knocking down their victims and ripping them apart. The party proceeded with caution after this information was passed around, for the wolf tracks and spoor only got more profuse the further into the Woods they went.
They approached the clearing where the magic showed her to be, and were almost immediately beset by wolves that sprang from the dense bushes. The party seemed to be in dire straits- Luvanar unleashed his most potent magics and the attacking wolves were hurt, but not killed, Caden was overrun, and that damn kiloren archer was too busy bowing and scraping to the Moonspeaker (who seemed to be having some cognitive difficulties, as far as Manriki could tell- she lacked the noble bearing that the portrait had) to be any use at all.
To compound matters further, a small band of halflings was creeping into the clearing from the opposite side; they were melting from cover to cover, clearly stalking the Moonspeaker. A crystal amulet that the silver dire wolf wore cried out “you there, get me off of this bitch and take me back to my ship!” just as Kayla’s Luck pointed out to Sierrafinia that there was a magic item nearby that she miiiight want to avoid. Eilonwy channeled her love of nature into soothing the savage beasts, and Sierrafinia told them (as it turned out that the brachyuruses, but not the Moonspeaker, could speak and reason) to mind the halflings, who suddenly thought better of the situation, as their element of surprise was lost, and fled.
The Moonspeaker seemed to be acting like a beast. Manriki approached her, and she became angry and afraid, as a feral dog might when approached. The brachyuruses were not to be swayed by Luvanar’s diplomacy; they insisted that they would kill the party if they tried to remove the Moonspeaker from the place. Manriki pointed out that something was wrong with her, and Sierrafinia suggested that she’d been in her animal form too long.
Dogar, realizing that Luvanar was more interested in retrieving the amulet (the Starshard) than the woman, darted in, relieved the Moonspeaker of the object, and almost got away with it, except that he was within charging range of the brachyuruses. With a cry of “You are thieves!” battle was rejoined, wolves pouring out of the underbrush and filling the clearing nearly to capacity. People were pulled down, Dogar had his throat torn, which left a terrible bleeding wound and all seemed lost. Caden called to Rambler for help, and the ship mobilized, appearing overhead, weapons at the ready.
Eilonwy cast some sort of spell that forced the Moonspeaker to resume her elven form, but not its intelligence. Luvanar wished that she would (as close to verbatim as I can remember) “gain the intelligence of [some elven deity] and realize the pointlessness of this conflict.”
The wish worked.
Luvanar felt the magic slipping out of his control, and saw [some elven deity] sitting in her divine realm when suddenly, the tapestry of reality unraveled behind her, revealing a rapidly thinning curtain of golden sand. The goddess turned, a look of purest shock and horror on her face as a scarred nightmare bearing rider who held aloft a red sword bore down on her, malice and triumph in his eyes. Luvanar was able to splice another _wish _ into his first, at a significant cost.
The curtain of golden sand was renewed, and the Rider thwarted, but Luvanar aged more than a hundred years in an instant. The Moonspeaker’s intellect was restored, however, and she was able to use her empathic command of wolves to stop her would-be defenders and keep the party from getting killed.
This change of state didn’t alter the brachyuruses’ stance on things, however, but Eilonwy cheated the laws of the plane (and of physics) by casting transport via plants to transport everyone to Rambler’s terrarium. Before the wolves could react, the ship was racing out of the atmosphere and back to the river of sand.
The Starshard, while somewhat grateful for its rescue, was more than derisive of the methods employed. It belittled the methods of propulsion that Rambler employed, the materials of its construction, and everything in between, saying that its ship was much better in every way. Sierrafinia tried to get it to reveal what its ship was like, but the crystal was evasive to her.
The party bent their combined will to push Rambler through the river of sand…
14 months earlier than when they had left the world.