Shadows of the Rift

Session Fifty-Nine

Trouble at Home

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26 Changewind 508

After bidding their troupe of guards farewell, the four key members of the Crimson Cord turn and leave Soos, heading west toward Aeth.

They travel for about half a day, until the sun starts to set, and then camp for the night. The night passes without incident.

27 Changewind 508

They continue to travel west across the northern plains toward Aeth. The day passes quietly, as does the night.

28 Changewind 508

This afternoon, as they make their way west, they are met by a traveling smith, a dwarf by the name of Nimor Grayslate. He drives a square box-wagon hauled by a pair of cantankerous mules. He travels the north, mending various works of metal and performing other works of smithing for folks that may not have a smith in their village. He likes the travel, even if he doesn’t make much in the way of coin. It’s a living, which is more than some folks can say…

Mõrvar says to Surm, “Perhaps this dwarf can be of use with information on upcoming expeditions.”

“I really don’t see much opportunity with a traveling salesman. It’s not really something we should discuss with random people we meet in the wild.”

“Perhaps we should direct him to Soos, now they are preparing for war,” Mõrvar states. Mõrvar asks the dwarf, “What kind of materials do you have to forge?”

Nimor says, “Mostly pig iron, some steel, bits and pieces of other metals for mending.”

Surm waits impatiently.

Rolling his eyes at Surm, Mõrvar will say, “Soos might could use your craft.” Mõrvar will point the direction, and bid him good day.

Nimor shrugs and loads himself back into the wagon and trundles off toward Soos.

29 Changewind 508

Another quiet, cold day on the plains of Jossia

30 Changewind 508

They’ve now entered the wooded foothills of Grundr’s Teeth, the northern mountain range along Jossia’s western coast. It’s cold, as icy winds blow off of the mountains down into the foothills, though the large, evergreen trees act as somewhat of a break.

1 Awakening 509

They spend the first day of the new year traveling through the wooded foothills. It’s cold, but not as cold as it could be—or will be—when they travel more northerly still.

2 Awakening 509

They have now entered the mountains proper and are on their way to Aeth, which lies at the foot of Sigurthmun, the tallest peak in the known world.

They follow a little-used pass through the mountains that will take them to the foot of the great mountain. They are surrounded by the not-insignificant other mountains of the range as you pass through. Sheer cliffs enclose the pass like indomitable walls, broken only by the occasional shelf jutting out high above them.

As they travel through the pass, with Savaric scouting ahead, they all (except for Mõrvar, who’s busy brooding), see, up on one of the ridges above them, an 8’ long, 4 1/2’ tall white wolf, readying for a pounce. Savaric also sees a second large wolf on a ridge slightly ahead of them, also readying for a pounce.

Savaric shouts “Wolves!” as he looses a volley of arrows at the wolf directly above them. The arrows ignite as they leave his enchanted bow. After his first two shots, the wolf falls, then he turns and fires three more arrows into other wolf. That wolf turns tail and runs up into the ridge from which it came, disappearing from view into the cover of the crags.

Savaric attempts to climb the ridge to pursue the wolf, but has trouble gaining purchase. He lets everyone know that another wolf took off into the ridge, so keep their eyes peeled.

Mõrvar will confusingly say, “Wolves? Running away?" He looks around him, confused. “What it the hell are you talking about and why are you foolishly trying to climb that rock?” He is now looking at Savaric, still oblivious to everything that just happened. Mõrvar will then point to Ghost, “Your wolf is right there!”

After the party explains what happened, Mõrvar attempts to climb the ridge. Once he gets up there, he sees no sign of the wolf. He climbs down.

Savaric determines that these must have been Winter Wolves, a type of intelligent worg. What they were doing up here, he has no idea.

They decide to move on to Aeth.

They travel down the pass another couple of hours and then it narrows. At the end of the pass are two sentries and a banner depicting a black spear on a round shield with a red background—the banner of Aeth. Mõrvar and Surm ride forward to introduce themselves.

One of the sentries recognizes them as the Ulrich brothers. He allows them to enter with welcome. He also indicates that King Alrik is ailing. The other sentry clearly doesn’t recognize them.

As the two ride through the village, it has clearly been growing since they left. Buildings are being reinforced and there are more of them. They head for the King’s longhouse at the center of the village. When they arrive, they hear a voice call out behind them: “Well, what in the Underworld is this?”

They turn and see their brother, Ren, coming to greet them. After they embrace and hail each other, Ren inquires as to whether or not they have seen their mother yet. They say they have not, as they have business with the King. He urges them to do so as soon as they complete their business—she’d love to see them. Then he leaves them to it.

They are recognized by the sentry at the longhouse door and admitted inside. There are a couple of the local warriors conversing in the longhouse near the area that is the King’s residence. They look up as the Ulrich’s come in and great them with welcome. They discuss the King’s illness a bit with the warriors, who speculate that since he took a wound in their last battle, he simply hasn’t recovered due to his advanced age.

Surm knocks on the door and they hear the King call for them to enter. They see the once-hale man propped up in a great bed, looking much older than the last time they saw him. A pretty young woman sits nearby, knitting quietly.

Alrik greets the Ulrich’s warmly and bids them come closer. After they exchange pleasantries, Surm gets down to business. He tells them of their plans in Soos, of the raid against the frost giants, and the plan to unite the villages of the far north. He also tells him of their need to capture the Skull of the Viper God for their own purposes.

Alrik appreciates the audacity of the plan and the cunning of having their own motives coupled with those of their allies. He also likes the idea of Aeth participating—there will be much glory for the village. He tells Surm and Mõrvar to go to the people Aeth and ask for volunteers to go on the expedition. He would be willing to spare 50 of their warriors for the journey. Surm can tell that, despite the old man’s bluster, he is sad that he is too weak to go out and make the call himself.

After Surm and Mõrvar leave, they speculate on the nature on Alrik’s illness. Mõrvar is convinced foul play is involved. Surm is not so sure. They then head to their mother’s home.

Hilda Ulrich greets her sons warmly. Mõrvar acts awkwardly nonetheless. He did kill her husband, his father, after all. The three chat for a bit and they learn that Ren is doing well, even thriving, despite having lost his arm. This is largely due to the woman in his life, Sulva.

Meanwhile, Savaric and Rilka ride into the village and head toward the center. They are warmly greeted by the villagers they helped liberate.

That night, the village has a great feast in honor of the party’s homecoming. King Alrik is brought in and propped up in his great chair. The Crimson Cord is seated to his left and right. There is a skald present who retells the story of the village’s liberation at the hands of the party that is now known as the Crimson Cord. Plenty of mead is shared as well as good food.

When the proceedings start to lull, Alrik signals Surm and he rises and gets the attention of the room. He then makes his proposition regarding the frost giant raid. He speaks of the glory to be had in the expedition, the success rate of the Crimson Cord, the partnership and bravery of the Soodthyngs, and the ability to boast of slaying frost giants.

After he is finished, a burly, slightly drunk warrior stands, holding onto the long table. “I, Karthan, will go.”

A woman rises. “I, Brythia, will go.”

In all, 57 Aethyngs stand up.

Alrik nods his approval to the party and the celebration begins in earnest again.

Soon, the King starts to fade a little and a couple of warriors nod to each other in understanding. They rise and lead the King out of the main hall and gently guide him back to his residence area.

The party approaches the village’s priest of Yülthn and consult with him about the King’s illness. He confirms the speculation of the warriors that spoke earlier—he took an injury in a previous raid and never quite recovered from it, probably because he is quite old. Yülthn could probably heal him, but the priest would need to have a hundred gold pieces worth of diamond dust to complete the ritual—which is more than this poor village can afford.

Surm takes the party aside and presents a plan. He wants to use their greater teleport scrolls to teleport to Kalimsport, get the needed components, and teleport back. While in the city, he can purchase another set of greater teleport scrolls to use as their contingency plan in the frost giant stronghold. It’s an expensive proposition, but will buy them a lot of goodwill in Aeth,. The party decides to go for it. They will do so first thing in the morning, before the volunteers gather to march to Soos.

The party separates to their respective places to spend the night in the village.

3 Awakening 509

Early the next morning, Surm and Savaric use the greater teleport scroll to travel to the campus of the University of Kalimsport. They then travel to the Bank of Kalimsport and withdraw some funds. Then, to a scriptorium to purchase two more greater teleport scrolls. Next, they go to the market and purchase the diamond dust spell component. Savaric makes a stop off to buy more arrows. They then find a secluded spot in the city from which they can make their return to Aeth.

Meanwhile, the volunteers begin to gather at the village center. After a series of boring speeches wishing the volunteers well and praising their bravery, Surm and Savaric make their arrival and head to the King’s longhouse. They grab the priest of Yülthn along the way.

They give the priest the diamond dust he needs and they go in to visit the King. The King wonders why they aren’t out seeing the volunteers off and Surm says that it would be better if the King did that. The King demurs, citing his health. Then the priest comes forward and completes his restoration prayer. Immediately, the King looks more hale and smiles, saying that perhaps he could come out and see them out after all.

King Alrik comes out and greets the volunteers, to many cheers and bellows of “Hail King Alrik!” He gives them a rousing speech and the column starts heading out of Aeth, east, toward Soos.

10 Awakening 509

After nearly a week of travel, the only thing of note this day is that the party see a great eagle flying overhead. Is it an omen? It is difficult to say. The column moves on…

11 Awakening 509

This evening, as the party makes camp, Savaric finds a holy symbol of Jörn buried in the earth where he is helping to pitch the tent. After the initial panic and wild speculations, the party decides to keep it and Mõrvar puts it in his backpack.

13 Awakening 509

As the party is making camp on this night, Surm encounters a hidden bear camp in the area. He disarms it and casts it aside.

14 Awakening 509

The column from Aeth finally makes it to the village of Soos. There are other encampments established outside of the village proper, flying a variety of war banners.

It is decided that Surm and an Aethyng named Brythia will represent Aeth in the war council being gathered in Soos.

Surm and Brythia head into the longhouse where the leaders of the other clans have gathered. After a couple of hours, a plan of action is formed: The war bands will attack the harbor at Jarlheim head-on while the Crimson Cord, with an elite team of Aethyng warriors, depart during the chaos, and try to (1) cripple the heart of the frost giants by taking on their leadership and taking their war banner and (2) find the artifact that they are looking for. Surm is able to sell the other war leaders on the Crimson Cord portion of the plan and they agree. They are to leave at first light in the morning.

Before bedding down for the night, the elite squad of Aethyngs are selected: Karlthar, Dagmar, Svenlars, Wulfram, Tjarl, Hrolf, and Larna.

15 Awakening 509

The ships of the united coalition of Northron villages sets off from Soos toward Jarlheim at first light.

That night, one of the warriors on the crew of the longship spots an approaching craft. As the rest of the crew witnesses its approach, cries of fear begin to go up. The ship is a longship, constructed in the Northron style, but made entirely of bones. It cuts through the cold waters slowly, but inexorably, toward the gathered coalition. As more warriors gaze upon it, more cries of fear and calls that it is a “bad omen” go up.

For it’s part, the ship itself poses no other threat than its eerie presence. No undead warriors or monstrous threats appear on its shadowy decks. It just slowly passes by, bringing despair and consternation in its wake. Savaric is not immune to the fear the ghost ship cause and is shaken by it, himself.

Finally, the ship of bones passes into the night. Kremlach does what he can to restore order and morale on the ship, but some of the warriors are shaken by the sight of the apparition.

16 Awakening 509

A sudden blizzard blows up on the water, blinding the navigator and slowing all of the ships as they cut their way through the Swordwind Sea to the north. After a few hours, it abates and the ships continue on their way toward Jarlheim.

17 Awakening 509

After a day of high winds, which accelerated the fleet toward its destination, the coalition of Northron raiders see the harbor of the frost giant settlement.

The Northron ships begin to ship into the narrow harbor of the city. The ship from Soos veers toward the east so that they can deposit the Crimson Cord and their elite Aethyngs away from the main force.

As they approach, they see three frost giant warriors on the shore. Savaric begins firing at them as soon as he gets within longbow range. He fires an impressive volley of arrows and one of the giants falls.

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