As the columns of bees erupted from behind the pavilion, the crowd turned riotous in their panic and began frenetically trying to escape. I, along with Heath, saw that our most effective course of action would be to evacuate everyone through the portal back to Badgermole and so we began ushering people through. A single mage started launching fiery attacks at the column of bees closest to the wedding goers, trying to create a small distraction so everyone could exit unassailed. We managed to get about twenty people through, including our party, an odd talking badger, and Zandril who had nonchalantly returned to our company as though he had never been gone. The wizard we saw shooting fire at the bees came tumbling through the portal, being pushed by two of the wedding attendees, but as the three of them stumbled into the room the portal fell silent. No one followed them, although there should have been at least 30-40 more (including the Prince and Princess), and its usual shimmering appearance seemed to fade and then freeze. The talking badger and mysterious wizard began experimenting on the portal; it had become unresponsive to touch and to all the spells used on it, with a slight visual effect when put to flame.
Heath and I began making accommodations for the folks that had escaped. We took them to the mess hall first, to try to find them food and a comfortable place to sit while the arrangements were made. We found the pixie and tree ent caretakers and checked to see if we had the room available for such a large party, and indeed we did. We also inquired about the portal room and what we needed to do to fix it. The ents told us that the wizard Maeron was the person responsible for most of the enchantments around the Safehouse, and that we would need to travel to Senaliesse to find him. Heath gave a brief speech to reassure the refugees and received many well-wishes and even a kiss from Lumi. Time being of the essence however, we left caretakers to attend to the guests and made our way back to gather a party for our excursion to the Summer City. We pulled together Drakon, Zandril, Irdrikus the Wizard, and Ergul the Badger, explained what we had to do, and quickly made our way through the Senaliesse portal.
We were greeted on the other side by an even closer line of battle than we had seen on our previous arrival. The chain demons were pushing the Summer lines even farther back towards the city. The Summer forces were slowly starting to either dwindle or be spread farther apart. We hastily escaped the war zone and made a beeline for Senaliesse’s gates. Using Cyrell’s seal to enter the city, the group immediately began searching for Maeron the one way we knew how: the candle. We consulted it and, to our surprise, it led us in two separate directions – his favorite tavern the Rabid Badger and the Library/temple district. Heath and Drakon went to the Rabid Badger while Zandril, Irdrikus, and Ergul made their way to the temples and Library with the candle. Meanwhile, I went to Tiandra’s castle to find any information available there.
I did not find anything particularly useful regarding Maeron’s location at the castle, but I did pass Ariedne who had come back to Senaliesse to purchase and find a number of items for our group. I left her to her tasks after sharing brief pleasantries, and set off to rendezvous with Heath and Drakon.
The temple group had no luck, as it was pretty late at night and Maeron had already left the Library for the day, and continued to follow the candle in the direction of the Rabid Badger. By the time they arrived, Drakon and Heath had already found Maeron, explained the situation to him, and convinced him to come back immediately. Upon our regrouping, Maeron noticed the candle and gave a sly smile. He asked if we had any trouble finding him and, when told about the split paths, he smugly took credit for the enchantment of the candle and for that little failsafe that would make him more difficult to find than most. We immediately departed back to the Safehouse.
Upon our return, Maeron studied the portal room and the Spring portal itself. He asked what measures we had already attempted, and whether or not we had checked the hidden runes upstairs dedicated to the portals. We had not, so he took us to the room one floor above and told us we would have to get through the heavily-trapped door to reach the runes. He explained the traps and the lock, and Zandril disappeared. Moments later, we heard a scratching on the other side of the wall and knew Zandril had begun work on the magical trap Maeron described. After that ceased, we heard a couple creaks followed by a click noise, and we guessed he had disarmed the nonmagical trap as well. He then unlocked the door and let us in. Maeron hurried over to the Bellis portal, and saw quite plainly that his assumption was correct – someone had damaged the runes with a series of huge gashes in the floor, rendering the portal broken.
Maeron attempted to fix the portal but was unsuccessful. He then opened a new portal, but said it might not be to the correct location. Heath asked the candle to lead us to Mae Ri Ahh, and it shone its path through the newly-opened portal. The party leapt through the portal quickly, with me remaining behind to oversee things from the castle. As Maeron continued working, the portal he had opened shut back down, and he asked me to fetch a few books for him from the study. I found them with some help from an ent, and quickly made my way back to the portals. The book of the most interest to Maeron, it seemed, was THE SPRING COURT AND THEIR PARTIES: A GUIDE TO BELLIS AND THE VAERIAN GARDENS. Apparently, its maps and descriptions of the wedding grounds were unparalleled and incredibly helpful in his opening the portal in the correct location.
He continued his experiments, and eventually re-opened the portal to its original location beside the bridge. I hurried through when he said it was safe, and took in the scene. The bees had now converged into one huge swarm that was only being held off by a handful of mages creating a fire wall to try to corral it. The Prince and Princess were out of sight, but I soon learned they had been escorted to a safe place underneath the pavilion (some secret exit, I assumed) and were out of harm’s way. I did not see Heath or Zandril or any of the party members yet, so I began trying to get wedding-goers back to the portal and find my way to the Princess.