"A Test of Worth" (E1x05) is the fifth episode of Exandria Unlimited Prime. As the adventurers make their way into the jungles of the Rifenmist, inner and outer conflicts begin to surface among the members of the party...
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Previously on Exandria Unlimited
The five of you made your way south from Emon and, led by Fearne's instincts, ended up at the portal that she used to cross from the Feywild into Exandria proper. While you were there, the portal began to shimmer, and things began to move and come through. Before a true fight could break out, you were intercepted by a strange woman of flame and great purpose named Fy'ra Rai, who believed with her entire being that she was meant to be with you and to lead you wherever you need to go.
Ya'll fought some shit, you beat it, and you met some elves from Syngorn that had taken it upon themselves to try to drain the world of this excess energy using these large spikes run through with channels of residuum. You continued on your path farther south and made it to Opal's hometown of Byroden, just in time for a festival and maybe the most amazing pageant that this little town by the side of the road at the edge of the world has ever seen. You crushed it, you cooperated, you made some new friends, and Opal was able to shine once more for not only her hometown, but for everyone.
In the morning, Fy'ra Rai warns the group that Qoniira is a very special set of ruins that will want to know what they want of it. As they all chat, the opal pendant at Opal's neck begins to slightly glow and pulse, and it falls from her throat. When Fearne repairs it, she feels loving warmth emanating from it, and Fy'ra Rai tells Opal she should tell her sister anything she needs to, because life is short. Opal talks to Ted, thanking her for her powers and their return, and asking where Ted is, but there is no answer. They set off southward into the jungle on what promises to be a month-long trek.
During the night, Dariax wakes to see sickly green stars behind roiling clouds, and arcs of strange purple lightning. He hears the voice of the Spider Queen telling him he's still asleep, and urging him to stop running from the Circlet of Barbed Vision. She is "so close", and she had picked him to aid her. Dariax protests that he doesn't want to disappoint his friends, and he didn't know what he was getting into when he agreed. He wants to wake up now.
When he wakes, he feels stronger, and as if he has a choice. He wakes Dorian and tells him he had a nightmare. They settle to sleep back-to-back, but Dorian feels an electric shock sensation from the circlet Dariax is carrying. Dorian admits that in his dream, the Spider Queen spoke to him, and their voices wake the others. Fy'ra uses her Gift, learning she should "hold and watch", as the decisions being made in this moment are important. She tells the party about her own younger twin sister, Fy'ra Kai, whom she was unable to protect from death. She will protect the party with her own life.
Dorian tells her that the Circlet is a Vestige of Divergence that they stumbled upon, and they also share that they are being pursued by Poska and the Nameless Ones. Fy'ra Rai tells the party she has been following them for a while to see if they needed help. Fearne offers to carry the circlet for a while. Suddenly, Dorian's nose begins to bleed and he begins taking continuing psychic damage. The ringing in his ears grows louder each time Fy'ra Rai approaches him, and it increases again when Fearne comes near with the Circlet. A spider drops down onto Fearne's shoulder and her fingertips begin to go black, and when Opal knocks it away she finds two spiders on her own forearm and more on her backpack.
They decide to put the circlet on a rock in the center of the group and go back to sleep. Dorian suddenly awakens into the darkness, where he sees Fy'ra standing in front of him, joined by points of light like stars, being enveloped by tendrils of blackness. He shouts out, and the voice of the Spider Queen responds, suggesting that this is a lost memory from the week the group spent together in Emon that none of them remember. She asks what he would be willing to give to have the memories restored, and he replies, "Almost anything." She is interested. She wants a champion. Dorian is not willing to give her any of the party members, but when she suggests Poska he agrees, if she will agree to leave the party alone. The Spider Queen is amused that he would be willing to sacrifice the people of Emon to save his friends, and Dorian senses his alignment shift from chaotic good to chaotic neutral. She welcomes him to the team.
As she leaves, Dorian remembers the missing week. They have met Fy'ra Rai before, outside the gates of Emon, and they all entered a stopping-over place between Exandria and the Feywild together, where they fought. Fy'ra traded herself to let all of them leave, and she remembers.
Dorian wakes. It is near dawn, and he moves toward Fy'ra to speak to her, noticing that the Circlet has fallen slightly off the rock they left it on toward Dorian. When the others wake, they continue their journey. They soon reach a point where the road becomes impassible for the wagon and abandon it, leaving the horses to find their way home. As the party travels through the jungle brush, they come across a clearing with man-made piles of rock and an intricately rune-carved tower.
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The runes on the obelisk appear similar to those on the newly risen plateau. They approach cautiously. As they do, Fy'ra Rai hears the voice of the Wildmother in her head asking if the others of the party can see the truth or not. Fy'ra assures her they are good-hearted and will do the right thing.
An invisible Dariax approaches the obelisk through pollen-shooting mantrap plants. When he gets close, the voice asks him what he wants. Dariax's explanation is confused but truthful, and the Wildmother tells him that if they go further, they will find more: a lost place of knowledge. Dariax replies that if it will help the others, he'd be willing to keep going, and the voice tells him to do so. He notes down the runes on the obelisk anyway.
Fearne then hears the same voice asking what she wants, why she is here, and telling her there is more, further. The ruins are a lie, to protect the truth that they are not all that's left. There is more. Fearne replies that they're just trying to help, and the Wildmother says she will ask the others, as well.
Dorian's response is that if they are prevented from getting what they need, he wouldn't allow it. When the Wildmother asks Opal why Ted and she are both here, she protests that Ted isn't present, and she's here to make a name for herself. The Wildmother tells her that Ted is within her, and there are more answers if they just keep going. Orym pledges to keep going on both "for him" and "for them". Falling leaves gather on the hilt of his sword and he feels something warm there.
When Dariax finishes copying the runes on the obelisk, a giant fey crocodile enters the glade and attacks. Opal tells them to get it on its back so that it will become docile, and after a brief battle she succeeds in Misty Stepping on top of the croc and using her whip to pull the croc onto its back as she leaps off. The croc is incapacitated, and Dorian ties its jaws closed.
By touching the obelisk, they learn that the civilization that once lived here had a population of more than a million, and following the guidance of the voice of the Wildmother, decide to keep going forward. Along the way, they discuss possible party names. Suggestions include the Tummy Rubbers, the Glitter Shitters, the Odd Lot, God's Folly, the Irregulars, the Hot Ash Holes, Hot Machina, and Dorian Storm and his Blades of Fury. They decide to think about it.
Dorian offers to carry the circlet for a while, and when Dariax tosses it to him, catches and holds it without any of the problems that have beset him in the past. When he packs it away, Orym confronts him, saying that if he doesn't give it back to Dariax, they're going to have a problem. Reluctantly, Dorian gives it back to Dariax. Orym sees a glint of spider silk shining on the back of Dorian's hand, and Dariax sees the same thing on his eye.
When they bed down, Opal sees Ted in her dreams and asks if Ted is dead. Ted denies it, but seems unsure about where her body is or what she was doing before she was here. Fearne dreams of a dark mirror showing herself sooty and dark like the forlarren they fought earlier, but without the circlet. It urges her to put on the circlet, saying she could use its power to "find them, bring them home." Fearne declines, saying she likes this version of herself better. The party sleeps.
Myr'atta Niselor moves through the jungle. She is battered, broken, bloodied, but undeterred. Lives have been lost against this shifting, shrieking terrain. But what's one more life when there is so much to be gained? Eyes forward, she moves her purple cloak to the side and pulls out another residuum spike. And the entire jungle, Melora's sacred place, shudders.
- Dariax: I haven't been this far south, so I'm a little confused.
Fy'ra Rai: Well, in fairness, you seem to be a little confused much of the time.
Dariax: You're not wrong.
- Dorian: A lot of us have family or friends or people we care about where we're from, but out here we're all alone. You have something that connects you to someone special.
Opal:I know I should feel that way, but sometimes, doesn't it feel good to be alone? Make your own way?
Fy'ra Rai: No.
Fy'ra Rai: No.
- Fy'ra Rai: I do know this place. I know this jungle. I know this land. And I know that there is something very special about all of you. I know that you are meant to be here. And I know that I, whether you like it or not, am meant to protect you.
- The Wildmother: The world is big and wide and terrifying and bright. And you're never going to figure it all out. All you can do is take one foot, put it in front of the other, and keep going.