It’s always the gnomes. Always.
Young Alritch was enjoying himself at the Vernal Equinox Festival in Silverbriar, having as much fun as he could before the school year’s scheduled start on the 22nd of March. Wanting some giant plushies for his and Benedict’s little sisters, Alritch found a game he thought he would be good at, trying to double his tokens in the cup game. Being gravely unsuccessful, however, he took up with Thrag, son of the late hero Ulfar “Wolf” Axforger, who had the strength and acumen with thrown weapons to dominate the games, and the generosity to allow Alritch to take the giant plushy prizes for the little girls. Alritch, as is his way of things, did his best to compensate his Dwarven friend for his generosity.
The festivities were punctuated by regular BOOMS! A truly archetypal gnomish ride, apparently powered by a combination of explosive powder, mechanics, and spring tension, and eminently perilous, featured amidst the amusements for those with the courage and short-sight to strap themselves into it. Suitably, another friend of Alritch, Jingles the Halfling, thought it was a rip-roaring good time. Thrag joined Jingles, and also enjoyed the ride in spite of, or perhaps because of, his being injured by the straps coming loose. Cousin Oakley tried as hard as he could to cajole Rich into joining him on the ride. A momentary salvation was found in the Treant rides, a veritable Tree of Life when contrasted with the Contraption of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which so tempted the tweens to taste and die.
While riding the friendly Treant with Oakley, Thrag, Dosta, and Lindel, Jingles predictably managed to find trouble. 20 miles off, in the ruins of New Haven, where obviously silly rumors have it the former population ate each other, Jingles noticed 3 white plumes of smoke, though it took Alritch and most of the group quite some time to make them out amid the clouds. After notifying Seth about the smoke, the group ate lunch. Jingles managed to overhear talk of a sizable group of goblins appearing near there, which Franziska and Zen were going to investigate, and mentioned this to the group. During lunch, Alritch gave the giant plush Chimera to his little sister Annie, and the giant plush Gynosphyx to Sophie, who were elated.
After lunch, the sweet little Sophie managed to strong-arm, or soft-arm, Alritch into riding the gnomish perversion. Anticipating the ride upsetting the young girl’s stomach, Alritch took advantage of his peculiar gift to fortify her constitution enough to keep her lunch down. As such, she had an excellent time, and the reticent Alritch likewise rather enjoyed his ride, though not so much that he lost his reason. Jingles was next in line. Poetically, the forces rendered him unconscious, and he yet again came loose from his straps, crashing down full-force into the deployed airbag with quite a thud, an impact Alritch wisely discerned could kill small children. In response, the young prince heroically and responsibly took a stand for safety and good sense, calling guards over to arrest the reckless gnomes and shut down their dangerous invention. Though this earned him some ire from his intellectual inferiors, the young prince is proud to have protected the children of Silverbriar and Thunder Rift.
Following this, he took the girls to the goat show, and tried quite an assortment of goat cheeses. At some point during the show, Jingles came along and said that Franziska, Zen, and a group of 24 guards were going to New Haven, which piqued the interest of Alritch and the others. After annoyedly dancing with Sophie at the closing bonfire, and putting her and Annie to bed, Alritch and the group, along with Benedict, decided to camp outside of the city that night, and to go investigate the goings-on in New Haven themselves the next day. Ben, however, never made it to the group with the promised mules, Uncle Sardi delivering them while Oakley slept on watch.
After awaking, the group was attacked by a giant demonic owl, and a flock of smaller demonic owls. Alritch was badly injured, nearly dying and nearly losing Sapphire, his mule, in the process. Alritch wanted to return to the city after this, but went along with the rest of the group’s desire to continue on their way to the former New Haven. During the trip over, Alritch remained quiet, processing as best he could his near-death experience, and clinging to his pride as a prince and a prodigy to shore up his courage.
As they neared and entered the ruins, a wafting smell of death blew past them. Then, Lindel, Jingles, and Oakley all disappeared, along with Radvinr, though Oakley’s familiar, Grim, remained. Because he was able to summon Radvinr from another plane, Alritch was able to piece together that the others had likewise crossed into another plane. Unable to do anything else, he, with Trag, Dosta, and Grim, investigated the circular scorch marks, which contained runes referencing Niflheim, and disrupted them to the best of his ability. During this process, a mysterious shadow attacked the group, but Dosta’s Sacred Flame easily dispatched of it. Grim began to seem troubled by nearby goings on, so Alritch used his peculiar gift to communicate with Grim to ask him what’s going on, deeply confusing him. Quickly, however, Grim suggested having Dosta blast a newly-appeared prismatic outline of a second shadow. After she did so, easily dispatching that one as well, the other group members reappeared, which brought great relief to Alritch. However, they had a nearly dead guard with them, who Alritch quickly examined, to little avail, and advised to go to sleep.
Following this, Alritch and the others made haste back home, Alritch and Oakley chatting about their branched adventures. Upon arriving back in Silverbriar, Alritch informed Zen what had happened, and then proceeded to cry himself to sleep. The pain and trauma might have been worth it if he’d found any treasure, but all he has are some new scars, and a deep worry about Franziska’s safety.