Now free of the mountains travel became less strenuous. Still, after the past several days the group decided on covering most of the distance on foot, leaving their horses to serve the role of beasts of burden instead of mounts. Two weeks in and on the verge of entering the range of the elven patrols of Xairus the party turned north, heading out of the cover of the woods and hoping to approach the city from a less conspicuous route.
Following the signs of the trappers that used these woods to make their living they came upon a nameless fort settlement. The walled town could hold up to 500 people, but given the nature of such a place most of its residents were probably camping out in the woods at any given time. And though the group stayed the night they kept mostly to themselves. The exception being whichever personality was in command of the sword at the time. It seemed to think a massive longtooth shifter was worth approaching for possible recruitment.
Moving on the group made much better progress, moving from trapper settlement to trapper settlement until reaching the primary road along the Tear of Ashin. Using this massive and well maintained thoroughfare they made even better time, entering Xairus shortly after noon, roughly 5 weeks since leaving Wyenn with Tavitha. With arrangements still being made regarding long term lodgings the party was left to their own devices, time they decided would be best spent getting to know the city they were being asked to conquer.
Upon the Merchant Rise, the first level of the plateau city, the party used an advertising board to piece together an overview of Xairus, looking in particular for properties available for rent or purchase that could prove useful. Once they had a good idea of the lay of the city they returned to the main road, securing rooms at a moderately expensive inn to cover their lodgings for the next several days. The Sun sisters had apparently beat them here and would get in touch once they had finished preparations of their own.
Wishing to examine the elvish sections of the town in more detail the group decided to split up, leaving the dwarf and half-orc behind with the dragonborn. Tavi was to stay behind as well, but she was insistent that she be allowed to go. No one feeling up to arguing with a goddess of chaos, they quickly acquiesced.
Upon entering the elven district, a section of the Arien Taur proper, Lord Ember felt a mental… thickness. Nothing debilitating, but a sense that projecting a thought to the others took just a bit more effort. Upon mentioning it the The Haunted Blade of Sylvaneft could sense it as well. The Arien Taur seemed to have an affect on Tavi as well, her mental focus appearing to have evaporated. Even Ryu’ Ve-Ke’rehl was able to sense a natural energy around the place, though he could not feel the mental pressure the others were experiencing. Discussing theories it took little time to piece together the probable cause. The legends of the Arien Taur being itself a sentient thing were likely true, the forest given awareness during the gap between when the dragons fell and the gods ascended. But other than trying to understand it the group did nothing about it. There seemed no need to.
Over the next several hours the group toured the Arien Taur, the Arien Tor and the Wrought Plateau (the second level up and home to most of the wealthy; the wrought iron fences protecting most of the homes how this rise got its name). Though there were still two more levels to see, the sun was setting, prompting the party called it a night and return to their lodgings.
For the first time since Kaevic the group enjoyed a quality inn with good food and drink. Even entertainment was on hand. An unfortunate coincidence though saw an old family friend of Ember’s from Saijn staying at the same location, calling him out by name in the crowded establishment, a whore on each arm. And though the conversation was benign, Ember revealing nothing of value and Ashantis Luxan being oblivious to the deception, the repercussions of having his identity exposed like this were as yet unclear.