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You stop at a tavern in a remote town. Some armed guards, enjoying a meal with drinks and talking merrily, see you and quieten; nudging and whispering to each other. Approaching, they ask you to accompany them to their lord, who seeks to pay adventurers for a vital task.
If you agree they lead you to a large manor overlooking the town. Once inside, you are greeted by an exhausted man in rich, but clearly slept-in attire. He tells the guards to ‘get the boy’. They leave while the noble explains that, when children enter the nearby woods, they disappear. Any adults who enter become lost, and somehow always find themselves back on the outskirts again.
The guards return, bringing a small peasant boy with tear streaks down his face. ‘That boy,’ the nobleman says, ‘cruelly dared my daughter to go into the forest and now she is gone. I do not know whether she is dead or alive…’ he swallows suddenly, pausing. ‘But I will pay my fortune to get her back. She is the last thing I have left of her mother. Do this, please. The boy will help—tie him to yourself and I don’t think you’ll get lost.’
Should you accept, the boy will go with you meekly. If you ask him whether he really wants to help, he will insist that he does. But once you are deep within the forest, he will begin to cry and explain how he was kidnapped and told to help, or his family would die for what he did to the noble’s daughter. She was his friend and he didn’t think she would actually do his dare!
If you continue you will suddenly fall through a weak spot in the ground and land in an ancient buried temple. It is overgrown with flowers, fed by sunlight filtering through holes in the ceiling. Surrounding you are fae and they are not happy adults have found their way here.
WHAT’S HAPPENING? Fae take the children who wander into the forest and lead them here, before making them drink from a magical wellspring that wipes their memories. Eventually, after they have been given much more to drink over the cycle of a moon, they too become fae.
The fae will tell you that you are welcome to take the girl so long as she wants to go with you, but of course she doesn’t—for she has already drunk the water. She wishes to stay with her new “family”. You can forcibly take her, but the fairies will fight to defend her. Once you kill a third of them, however, they will surrender and spitefully bid you take the child and never return.
The girl is not the same as she was before. She constantly tries to escape and return to the fae, and when you get her home to her father, he will be heartbroken. He’ll give you a chest of gold and gems (his family’s fortune), though he won’t give up hope. He’ll chain his daughter to him, before taking some guards, supplies, and horses to pilgrimage to a fabled healer.
If you escorted the boy who guided you to his home (he will shyly ask you to do this after seeing off his friend), you will find guards leaving the house just as you arrive. His family, safe and well inside, are crying tears of joy to see their boy again. They embrace him in tight hugs, then beg you to accept what little they can spare as heartfelt thanks for returning him safely.
They will also tentatively request your protection in fleeing the village to another town, if you can spare it. After this ordeal, they are leaving. The noble has always hated them because his daughter insisted on playing with his son, despite them being peasants.
If you leave the noble’s daughter with the fae and return alone, the heartbroken nobleman will attempt to grab the boy and take him with him and his group of armed men to find his daughter in the forest. He’ll leave one behind with orders to ‘kill the family’ if they don’t return.
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