Phil lowers his eyes and shakes his head.Gamil wrote: "Phil, what happens to those of the court that lose their physical form? Any chance that their spirits remain in the place that they die?"
"When killed by violence, the fae folk simply cease to be. It is one of the reasons the lords of the Courts avoid outright war against each other -- with ages behind us and ages ahead, only the jaded and or the mad would risk existence as easily as mortals do."
Phil looks as if he's about to object, then stops and nods. With spidersilk and some of the herbs from her bag, Kaya wraps Willowfrond's torn wings, soothing the pain somewhat. As she finishes, Lelya moves forward and wraps the battered pixie in her cloak.Gamil looks back at Willowfrond, "Anything we can do to help her heal and recover?"
"I am a healer," Kaya says. "Though I've never tended to one of the Fair Folk."
"I might have a herb or two that'll help."
Willowfrond is overcome by the kindness, and weeps softly. Catching a tear in each palm, she reaches out to the two young women, grasping each by the hand.“This was my mother’s and always carries the fire of my family’s hearth. May it warm you.”
"Thank you, you tender things. May your hearts light the dark in that place. And maybe my tears can provide a bit of pixie luck, should you need it."
[Kaya and Lelya each gain a Benny.]
Phil nods again in thanks, then ushers the group out of the grove.
Walking swiftly, he leads the way back toward the magical toran that brought you here. And though you swear the wildwood portal was the same one you passed through previously, you find yourself on an entirely different winding stair, ice-covered branches brushing against your shoulders in place of the fire-hued leaves that shaded the earlier path.
Phil listens quietly as the group discusses possible strategies, nodding here and there.
His brow furrows into a frown when talk turns to burning or starving out Thurnbarch and his minions.
"Fire could be a useful tool, though less so if Thurnbarch is able to bring the Cold Woman's magic to bear. Might be he could stop the flames from spreading too far. And you'll need to be mindful of time -- if he's got a larder filled, your kin will be frozen and the Winter King on the march by the time he's hungry enough to venture out."
The korred pulls at his beard thoughtfully. "Not sure what would lure the ratmen out of their hole. But you might be better confronting Thurnbarch below, where he has less room to maneuver. In the open air, he can grow as large as he likes, bounding around the battlefield bringing slaughter. Inside, well, he can't swell larger than the hall will hold, and he'll be slowed mightily if he puffs himself too near to that."
Phil shivers, and you notice the air has grown colder. "He's not the sort you want to encounter in a narrow hole in the ground, that's sure, but above, on a battlefield, he's been known to grow tall as a giant and carve furrows in the ground that sprouted crops the next year, watered by all the blood that was spilled."
Any chance to respond to that is lost as Phil announces your arrival. You realize, belatedly, that the stair has disappeared behind you. Stepping through another toran, you are bombarded by howling wind and snow.
Shouting to be heard over the storm, Phil waves you on.
"We're close now. The eye of the storm is only about 30 paces on. Count your steps and don't wander and you should find it soon enough. I'm afraid I can't accompany you -- any farther, and Thurnbarch is likely to sense my presence as he did the pixies. I'll be here -- when the storm settles, I'll know you've succeeded and I'll come to you then."
Left unsaid is what happens if you don't.
Prodding with his staff if needed, he points the way and watches as you lean into the storm.
You fear you may freeze as soon as he drops out of your sight, but as promised, 30 paces farther on the wind drops off abruptly and the flurry of snow clears ahead of you. In the calm eye of the storm, a ruined tower rises between the trees before you. Ice and snow cover the worn stones, and you can see that little remains of the tower's interior. As you approach, you can see shadowed opening on the lower level, a dark threshold leading into the ruins below.
Go ahead and make a Vigor check against the Cold. The roll is -2 if you don't have a heavy winter cloak/clothing. Failure gives you a level of Fatigue. However, once within the eye of the storm you can easily build a fire among the tumbled stones, allowing anyone that needs to to warm up and remove Fatigue levels at double the normal rate (so 1 every half hour).
Otherwise, make plans and take action outside as you wish. If/when you decide to head below, we'll use the Exploration rules I outlined here. That means designating a leader/caller (Vesper is probably the default, based on how things have played out) and letting me know where your character will be in the marching order: scout (at the front), vanguard (in the middle) or rear-guard.
In addition, whoever is in possession of the brass compass: