The most recent episode of CaptCprajus' D&D campaign saw the party traveling further north through desolate and game depleted territory. A large wolf pack was stalking them at a distance until hunger, and the urgings of their Winter Wolf leaders drove them to attack the party just miles from the elven city they sought.
The pack leader, a large snow white creature, moved into our path and stood snarling, daring us to come closer. His pack mates then began to close in from the sides and rear, revealing two other winter wolves and a dozen or so common wolves, all of them leaner than normal.
And that is when the Surprise Elves showed up, crossing between realities to partially surround the party. In the ensuing conversation they admitted to having observed our fight, but decided not to help us because we seemed to be doing fine on our own. Surprise! (Translated from elven - expend your powerful resources before we show up so we're less likely to get killed if we decide you aren't welcome on our snowy turf - foreigner.)
Would they have been more inclined to help if we were fighting a dragon? Somehow that seems unlikely.
Sophia revealed the artifact she carried and the surprise elves suddenly became much more welcoming. (Oh crap, they brought back our happy fun ball!) Surprise right back at you!
The party was led into the heart of the elven city and presented to their queen, to whom Sophia presented the magic Snow Flake of That's Right, We Recovered What You Lost.
The elves became sincerely friendlier now that they understood that the party were trustworthy despite being a foursome of murder hobos. In fact they became so much friendlier that they presented deli counter numbers 4 and 5 together.
You want us to what?
Ok, so we were very close to a portal that would get us back to the surface world and out of the Hollow World. But . . . there's always a catch.
It turns out that about 100 years ago, the elven garrison near the portal was attacked and driven off by a dragon which is believed to lair in the attached cave complex. Sometimes you just cannot choose your neighbors.
We were asked to investigate the ruins of the keep and see if it could be returned to elven control.
She saw a male and female embrace, obviously in love, and then saw another male come around a corner and start a discussion. Could there be an exploitable love triangle among some of the giant tribe? Would they be friendly enough to allow the party safe passage through the portal? Would a toll be charged? Had the giants killed, cowed, or allied with the dragon whose lair entrance was only 100 yards away?