Last time we left the Lone Wolf Club, they were in the heat of battle, slaying giant insects left and right as they made their way upward into the Halfling town built into the forest canopy. The daring deeds done that day might fill entire volumes… so let's skip to the interesting bits.
The LWC noticed that there were two distinct kinds of Halflings: some regularly proportioned, but simply half the size of a human (true-Halflings), and some that looked "squashed," with large heads and hands (pseudo-Halflings).
A Halfling revealed the source of the trouble to Eric the Blond: something at the very top of the trees had crashed into "the hive" and set the beetles free. The Halfling didn't know where the mosquitoes came from.
Lone Wolf himself took a break from the heat of battle to interrogate a Halfling woman, the purported mother of an apparently normal baby. But not even his astounding magnetism and charisma could charm the baby out of its mother's hands; he left with broom-handle bruises across the back of his legs.
Kell and then the other members of the party saw a pseudo-Halfling bearing a striking resemblance to King Baeden. When approached, the Halfling politely invited the party to go screw themselves.
At the uppermost level of the Halfling tree-town, the LWC discovered the source of all their troubles: a giant, man-made hive buzzing with beetles. A great crack ran down the side of the hive, which Halflings were scrambling to mend.
On the platform lay many wounded Halflings, who had clearly been battling their way past the escaping beetles and even more deadly mosquitoes. One true-Halfling with white hair and a missing arm seemed to be giving orders to the other Halflings; this was discovered to be Root, their leader. When asked whether his people stole human babies, he merely laughed and told the LWC, "We don't steal babies. We simply exchange them. This is the way of things. Sometimes a ‘Halfling' child is born to a human, and sometimes a human is born to a ‘Halfling.' Old wives' tales say we steal the true children, so often a father will come here with his misshapen child. If we have a human baby to give in return, then we make the trade. The mothers cry at first, but soon they come to see the wisdom of the thing. After all, how could a Halfling survive in the world of men – and how could a man survive in the world of Halflings?"
Using his grappling hooks, Eric the Blond climbed up the beetle hive to see what had created the great open crack. On the way up, he glanced inside the hive and saw a glint. Entering in, he found a great silver chair, engraved with floral patterns. He sat in it, but nothing happened. Continuing to the top of the hive, he found an ornate boat, like a small ship, hanging from a badly torn and deflated "bladder." After some discussion, the LWC decided that this "Montgolfier" had flown through a swarm of mosquitoes, run off course, and crashed into the hive during the panic.
Kell joined Eric on top of the hive, stuffing some Halfling garments to patch up the top of the fissure. He was soon distracted by the conversation with Root below, so it was Eric who investigated the little boat. Inside, he found a pale man dressed in fine courtly garments, the like of which he had never seen before. The man wore an ornate collar and badge of a chivalric order, a highly decorated sword, and a small dagger at his calf. He also bore a hand-drawn map. In the boat with him were a picnic basket (with some alcohol) and a single woman's shoe.
Eric approached the strange man, only to find a bloody hole in his neck. His blood had apparently been drained by one of the giant mosquitoes. But as he did so the small white stone given to the LWC by Acwellan got very hot. Taking it out, Eric touched it to the stranger's skin-whereupon he drew in a rattling breath and revived! Unfortunately, though he tried to speak, he could not; the mosquito's proboscis had permanently damaged his vocal chords. He wrote on the back of the map, but none of the LWC recognized the odd writing.
Who is this strange traveler? For that matter, what is the white stone? Has the LWC just lost their one chance to heal the king? Speaking of which, who is this pseudo-Halfling that resembles the monarch? And what of the silver throne?
Decisions, decisions, decisions…