We made our preparations and made our way to the city gates. As agreed upon, when asked what business we were on, I answered, “The Queen’s business. We are off to deliver an important message to the Court of Spring.” As expected (or perhaps just hoped for), they opened the gates and let us depart without another question. Swiftly, we found our way back to the Safehouse portal, and went through. Once at the Safehouse, we rested briefly before setting off again. During our rest, Daniria told us the story of her missing sister, which had obviously been weighing on her mind for some time now. It was the first time I had heard this story, and could not help but feel that it sounded eerily similar to the disappearance of Sollee. Someone brought up the question of whether or not the candle would point us in the direction(s) of our missing loved ones, so we tried it. It did indeed illuminate a path for both of our inquiries, and the same path: directly into the Fall portal. This left us in quite a predicament. This was the first time either of us had had a hard lead as to the possible location of our loved one, but came at a point in time that was critical in our other quests. This left both of us with the impossible choice of whether to go after our hearts, or to continue on our path attempting to save the Summer Court, the Living Gate, and presumably the world as we know it.
After much discussion, we both agreed that it was a difficult thing to do, but that saving our loved ones would be pointless if the world itself was lost because of that choice. The only logical thing to do was to stay the course and continue on to the wedding of Mae Ri Ahh and the Prince of Hearts. We slipped through the Spring portal, and found ourselves just outside of the wedding festivities, already taking place. The fey celebrate not only the day of the wedding, but for some time leading up to it, and this was all well under way. We began to discuss how to handle finding the Prince and what our plan of action might be, but at that moment an arrow struck Nikolai directly through his heart and nearly dropped him. Ariadne took him in her arms and tried to make for the portal to go back to the Safehouse, but he was struck by another arrow in the face, and then a black Shardmind-like creature emerged from the earth and enveloped Nikolai in its black crystal and began to pull him back into the ground. Ariadne managed to hold on to his body tightly, but his limbs were being ripped from their sockets and pulled down. I heard Nikolai desperately whisper in my mind “Get the card. FAST!” Ariadne and Heath both tried healing him, while Daniria and Balasar focused on the assassin who was in a nearby tree. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I quickly healed Nikolai as well, grabbed his knapsack, and bolted for the portal, leaping through to make it back as quickly as I could. In the briefest moment before I passed through the portal, I heard the ground rumbling violently behind me, and both Ariadne and Daniria shouting, and I immediately knew that our attempts to save Nikolai were in vain. I arrived back in the Safehouse, landing face first on the ground, and clutching desperately at the blood-stained pack I had ripped away from Nikolai’s body.