Shadows of the Rift

Session Thirty-Five
Extinguishing the Flame

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11 Longday 508

The party is still ensconced outside of what they assume to be the main sanctuary of the temple of Jörn. Savaric has just been healed of his wounds, after being shot by Surm, who thought the invisible ranger was an invisible priest.

Suddenly everyone in the room is wracked with the pain of negative energy. One of the priests of Jörn is standing in the threshold of sanctuary. Mõrvar moves quickly and attacks with his sword. The figure runs back into sanctuary, skirting the large ring of fire in the room. Mõrvar casts acid spray at the running priest while Surm passes his crossbow to Rilka. The priest falls at the side of the ring of fire.

Savaric stands in the doorway and fires his bow across the ring of fire into one of the shadowy figures he sees on the other side. Suddenly the doorway is filled with a column of fire and the ranger falls. His snake, Victor, is nearly turned to char.

“Feel the fires of Jörn, infidels!” announces a booming voice from across the flames.

Rilka charges inside and starts rounding the left side of the ring of fire. She is met by two priests of Jörn. Mõrvar charges in to the other side of the ring of fire and bull rushes a priest into the flames. Furfur is flying about the room, crowing loudly.

Suddenly, a huge ape-like creature with long, muscular arms that stretch to the ground, ending in wickedly curved claws appears next to Rilka’s priests and begins attacking her! Fortunately, the Dire Ape misses. Savaric fires at the ape from the head of the room and misses. The good priests begin to pour into the room to assist. Surm enters the room and begins to skirt the wall, making his way to the far side.

Then a multicolored explosion of leaping, ricocheting energy appears in the room around Surm, Rilka, Mõrvar, and Mirka. All but Mirka are wracked with pain and Rilka is slowed by the chaos hammer. Mõrvar is met by two more priests and he begins fighting them. One of them stabs him in the appendix with a poisoned dagger. Mõrvar moves away from him and heads for the High Priest, positioned in the back of the room, standing before a large obsidian throne. Sigurd moves in and starts attacking the priests that Mõrvar left behind. He hits one with one of his hand axes. Surm surges forward and casts mage armor on his brother.

Rilka hits one of her priests with a mighty blow. The Dire Ape hits Rilka with one its long claws. One of the priests hits Sigurd. The High Priest channels negative energy, wracking Surm and Mõrvar with pain. Mõrvar hits the High Priest with his mighty sword. Sigurd swings at his priest with his twin axes, but misses. Mirka swings chants a prayer to Ulfethinn to holy smite the evil in the room—and gets more than she bargained for: Mõrvar goes down as the priests shriek in pain. Even Surm, Rilka, and Savaric feel some pain from the divine magic. Furfur caws in pain. Surm uses a divine healing scroll on Mõrvar to revive him while Savaric fires his bow at the evil priests.

The Jörnites continue to attack and the Dire Ape hits Rilka again with its claw. Rilka finally fells another priest. Mirka heals Rilka with a spell while Ivarin does the same. Surm approaches the High Priest from the rear and goes for a sneak attack—but misses. Sigurd hits his opponent with both of his axes.

Ivarin casts a spell of guidance on Rilka while Mirka hits the Dire Ape with her warhammer. Surm misses the High Priest again while Mõrvar hits the High Priest—and fells him. He then delivers a coup de grace and decapitates him.

Meanwhile, the Dire Ape claws Rilka again. Surm moves and attacks Sigurd’s other opponent but misses. Mõrvar casts ray of enfeeblement on the Dire Ape. The ape then attacks and misses Rilka. Mõrvar then moves forward and fells the Dire Ape.

All of the priests are then finished off. The sanctuary is searched and Savaric finds a secret door. The High Priest’s body is looted, as are the other priests. On the High Priest, another thunderstone is found, a suit of masterwork studded leather, a masterwork morning star, 5 daggers, a masterwork dagger with a ring of flame motif, a silver holy symbol of Jörn, a pouch with gold in it, and two vials with an unknown substance. There is also a tuning fork (which Surm determines is probably used for a plane shift spell), and a bag of diamond dust (which he also determines is probably used for a non-detection spell). The other priests have all the same belongings as the other priests encountered in the temple.

Surm determines that it is very late—probably close to midnight.

The room next to the sanctuary is a vestment room of some sort. Sitting in the center of the room is a small wooden box. Savaric checks it for traps and finds none. He opens the box to find an ornate gold collar with obsidian snakes worked into it. Rilka mentions that in the religion of Jörn, he has been known to appear to his followers as a serpent. The collar rests on a velvet lined platform within the box. Mõrvar appraises the collar at being worth 400 gold pieces. Savaric checks the room for “secrets”—he finds none.

Savaric then goes to the door in the south of the sanctuary. He checks it for traps. He finds none. He opens it. It opens into a corridor.

The party starts to follow the corridor, with Savaric looking for traps. They come to another door, which they open after checking it for traps. It opens into a full-fledged alchemy lab. There are shelves with a variety of alchemical potions and vials labeled upon it. There are several items of interest labeled on the shelf:

  • 1 lb. bag of Foaming Powder
  • 5 vials of Invisible ink
  • Pouch with 10 smoke pellets
  • 2 vials of Black Adder Venom
  • 2 vials of Greenblood oil
  • 2 vials of Small Centipede poison

After gathering up all they could in this room, and comparing the vials they gathered from the priests to the vials in this room to identify them (or not, as the case was for the vials on the High Priest), they passed through an arched doorway into a corridor into what appeared to be a dormitory. There are 10 small beds with chests at the foot of each. Each chest contains simple black robes, candles, bedding, pots of sword black, and 2 vials of Greenblood oil.

They return to the alchemy lab and find a locked door heading south. Surm disables the lock and they head inside. Inside the room is a long chest. Surm manages to disable the trap on the chest. They open to find a bevy of treasures.

  • 521 gp
  • Engraved jade scarab
  • Gold candelabra with holy symbol of Ulfethinn [Storm Cloud]
  • Gold mask
  • Ivory drinking horn with copper ends
  • Silver comb with gold handle
  • Silver holy symbol of Jörn
  • Scroll
  • Wand

The group takes their treasures back to the sanctuary and and then enters the secret door that Savaric had found earlier. They follow a long, stonework corridor that descends into the mountain. Savaric misses a trap and magical dart of ice shoots out of nowhere, striking him. Eventually, the stonework gives way to natural tunnel and they find themselves in a the broad cavern with a pond that they had encountered before. They turn around and head back to the sanctuary.

Once back in the sanctuary, they explore the one turn that they had not made upon entering the lower temple and find a storeroom full of firewood and cleaning implements. They return again to the sanctuary and then gather up the guards from the upper temple. They take up all the bodies of the fallen and gather in the sanctuary.

As the group gathers, Rilka notices Mirka eyeing Mõrvar thoughtfully. Meanwhile, Mõrvar is decapitating all of the fallen and places the head of the High Priest in his own lap. Rilka approaches Mirka, but the priestess insists that nothing is wrong. Rilka then tells Surm what she’s observed.

The group takes their rest in the lower temple, with Alasir and the party taking guard shifts.

12 Longday 508

As the group gets ready to depart the temple, Mirka casts detect magic over their treasure horde. She determines that the wand and the scroll are magical in nature. Neither Surm nor Mõrvar can make out the scroll. None of the priests have the necessary skill to make out the scroll either. The wand provides no clue to its nature.

The group, along with the party’s porters, work to haul all of their loot out of the temple. They drag some of it on tapestries. They also use the large chest to haul some of it as well. They eventually make it to the boulder blocking the trial and the priests heal Tarben of his wounds.

After a long day of hauling loot and making it over the boulder, the troupe decides to pitch their camp on the other side of the large stone.

The party is awakened that night by screams of “Dragon in the camp! Ware the Dragon!”

Mõrvar and Surm look out to see Alasir being clawed by a young white dragon on a flyby attack. Surm attempts to wake up those that have not responded. Savaric fires at the beast with his bow. It breathes icy cold into the camp. Savaric fires again. Mõrvar attempts to hit it with a ray of enfeeblement. He stirs up the magical energies so well, that doubles the amount strength sapped from the creature—but he also switches places with it. Savaric fires again at the creature. Sigurd emerges and hits it twice with his axes, now that it is on the ground. Surm, now that it has appeared right beside him, attempts to attack it, but misses it. Savaric fires once again and hits it. Alasir recovers and hits, finally slaying the beast.

Savaric goes about the task of butchering the beast as best he can as the camp attempts to go back to some semblance of order. Everyone goes back to bed and the rest of the night passes without further incident.

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Session Thirty-Four
The Temple of Jörn

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11 Longday 508

The party has just finished a battle with six priests of Jörn and “The Abbot” and are looking over the bodies for anything of use. In addition to gear and gold, the man who claimed to be an “Abbot” has a key. The party also examines the pellets found on each of the bodies. Surm takes one apart to find out what its purpose is and determines that it is probably a smoke pellet.

Now that the fight is done, the party gets a better look at the room. The room is spare and furnished only with pallets and a bell-pull hanging in the corner. There is also a door at the far end of the room. Surm redeploys the volunteers and the guards to various points in order to guard their back. Alasir is stationed between the positions in order to direct them.

The priests come forward and Holga says a healing spell over Savaric. Ivarin says a healing spell over Rilka. Mirka says a prayer over Mõrvar, as well. Furfur stops flying about the room and settles down onto one of the corpses.

Rilka readies a potion of true strike in her belt pouch for future use. The priests make another round healing spells for the party.

Then Surm and Mõrvar discuss what to do with the last, unconscious priest of Jörn. Savaric determines that the priest will probably regain consciousness (without healing) in a day. Surm wants to leave him and move on. Savaric brings up the thought of running him through. Surm reiterates his desire to move on.

Savaric checks out the door leading out of the room, determining that it is free of traps and unlocked. He quietly opens the door and peers into a corridor going left and right. The right side leads to a staircase heading down. The left continues on and ends in a portcullis. Surm redeploys the guards and volunteers to guard the approaches from this room. The party then decides to explore the archway corridor in the previous room. Savaric leads the way, looking secret doors and traps. Surm tucks a color spray scroll into his belt for easy use. Mõrvar takes the rear.

Before leaving the room, Mõrvar lingers and then slays the unconscious priest, stabbing him with his poisoned dagger in a wound he already has.

The party follows the corridor, with Savaric taking the lead. It circles back around on itself and ends in a dead end. Savaric can see two eye-holes cut into the wall that allow viewing into the first room the party encountered, the room with the secret door. The party turns itself around and then decides to head to the initial corridor that ended in a locked door. Perhaps this key they found on “The Abbot” will work on the door.

The party arrives at the locked door. Savaric checks the door for traps and finds none. He places the key in the lock, turns the tumblers, and unlocks the door. Savaric keeps the key and opens the door. It opens into a rectangular room with another door across the way. On the east wall are two holy water sconces/basins built into the wall. That wall also has some sort of mosaic—Savaric can’t make out details with his darkvision. He steps into the room and lets the rest of the party inside. With light inside, the mosaic can be seen as a depiction of the entire Northron pantheon.

Savaric checks the door for traps. The key works in this lock as well. The door opens up into a room similar to the one they just came from. There are pegs on the walls and portcullis on the eastern wall. Savaric moves forward, with the rest of the party following. The portcullis has a control on both sides. It leads into a corridor that turns to the north. Savaric listens down the corridor, but hears nothing. Savaric checks the portcullis lever for traps, but finds none. Savaric raises the portcullis and locks the lever into place with a peg left for that purpose. He then heads into the corridor, looking for traps along the way.

The corridor turns back to the east and then continues past an intersection with a door and an arched doorway to either side. Savaric opts to keep going straight.

The corridor ends in an arched doorway that opens up into what appears to be a dining room. There are two long tables in the room with benches situated on either side for seating. There are tapestries hung on the walls that depict the Northron creation myth. At the north end of the room is an arched doorway and at the other end of the room is a door. Savaric checks the door for traps, but finds none. He then checks the arched way, noting that it opens up into a large kitchen. He steps into the kitchen and finds a portcullis on the same wall as the archway.

Looking beyond the portcullis, Savaric can see a corridor going forward and an open room on the immediate left. He also gets a whiff of mold coming from the room. The party decides to backtrack and go through the arched doorway in the corridor.

The doorway opens into a room. There is a desk with a candle on it, a small bed, and a chest at the foot of the bed. Another portcullis leads to another corridor. Mõrvar, Savaric and Surm begin to search the room. Rilka stays behind to watch the approach. Savaric investigates the candle—the wax is not soft, nor is the wick warm. The candle has been used. The portcullis lever is locked with a chain and padlock. There is a lever on the other side.

Savaric checks the chest for traps, but finds none. Inside the chest is bedding, a suit of common clothes, ten candles, a set of flint and steel, a stack of blank parchment, and two vials of ink. Savaric tries his key in the padlock and it actually works. He gives the padlock to Mõrvar and opens the portcullis. He checks the area for secret doors or traps, finds none, and passes through to the corridor.

The party lines up once again and continues down the corridor. It jukes once and then continues on in the same direction. Then it turns north, goes on for quite a while, and then ends in a door. Savaric checks the door for traps. He finds none, but does discover that it is locked. The key works in the lock and he opens the door.

The door opens into a long room with a door heading south. The room is filled with barrels, crates, and bags of grain. Savaric and Mõrvar find nothing of interest. Savaric checks the door for traps, but finds none. It is unlocked. He opens it and goes through, the rest of the party following.

The door opens up into a corridor that turns and leads to the portcullis in the kitchen. They also see an open room from which they smelled mold earlier. That room is small and contains racks on the wall with cheese and breads and other larder items. The mold smell comes from the cheese.

Mõrvar is convinced that there is something in the long north-south corridor protected by the locked portcullis. So they all head to the long corridor. Savaric, and Surm all search the corridor for secret doors, each with the help of Rilka and Mõrvar’s engineering knowledge. A secret panel is found in the corridor. Savaric check it traps and finds none. The panel opens into a narrow corridor that slopes downward. The party descends down into the corridor.

As the party travels down the winding, descending corridor, the party is brought up short as arrows come shooting out of the wall, striking Rilka and Savaric. The party continues down the corridor.

They finally reach a point where the worked stone of the corridor ends and then becomes more of a cavern tunnel. It continues to slope and wind downward. The cavern walls are damp and the party can hear dripping up ahead. Savaric continues to look for traps as they continue down the tunnel. Finally, it looks like the tunnel is going to open up into a small cavern. Water drips off of stalactites into a pond in the center of the chamber. Another tunnel leads out of the chamber.

Savaric searches the area for tracks. Mõrvar tries to help him. They find one track, near the pond, of a booted foot. The track was made within the past day. The party then decides to hustle back up the corridor into the temple.

They return to where they stationed the guards and Alasir reports that there has been no activity. They then head to east-most corridor where the stairs lead down and the portcullis lay to the north. They head for the portcullis.

There is a chain and a padlock on the portcullis lever. Looking through the portcullis, they can see racks of weapons lining the walls and mannequins in the center of the room wearing suits of armor. Savaric checks the portcullis for traps, but finds none. He then unlocks the padlock with the key and opens the portcullis. Surm and Savaric begin searching the room for secret panels while Mõrvar begins appraising the weapons. No panels or traps are found. Mõrvar determines that none of the weapons or armor are masterwork; they seem to be pretty run of the mill.

They find 10 daggers, 10 short swords, 10 longswords, 3 suits of studded leather, 5 suits of padded, a chainmail shirt, a suit of scalemail, 3 light steel shields, 3 light crossbows, and a barrel full of bolts.

They move all of the gear they found on the dead priests into this room and shut it up and lock it up. They then line up and start heading down the stairs.

At the bottom of the stairs, Savaric hears a slight scuff sound in front of him. Suddenly a figure appears in front of him, stabbing him the face, through his cheek and into his tongue. He then feels weakened by poison coursing through his veins from the wound. Savaric then runs through the figure, deeper into the corridor. The figure slashes at Savaric with his dagger, but misses. Savaric then attacks the figure with Edgefrost, striking him with the cold weapon.

The figure slashes at Savaric again, but misses. Rilka steps forward and strikes at the figure with her falchion and connects. The poison continues to course through Savaric’s veins. Savaric lashes out with Edgefrost once again, dealing more damage with the freezing weapon. The figure slashes with his dagger again, but fails to connect. Rilka swings her mighty falchion, slashing the figure with her blade, and he falls.

Rilka stabs the man to finish him off and moves deeper into the hallway. The rest of the party shuffles about to move the priests to the head of the line. Mõrvar drags the dead body up the stairs and then loots the body, placing the found gear with their stash in the armory. Ivarin moves to Savaric and says a healing prayer over him, healing him of the damage done by the poison. Ivarin then says another prayer over Savaric and heals his wounds.

The line reconfigures to its previous order and Savaric continues down the corridor, leaving Mõrvar in the armory to catch up.

Savaric continues to look out for traps, secret panels, and invisible priests down the corridor. Suddenly the area fills with a cacophonous sound that damages Rilka and Savaric, and stuns Savaric, who drops his weapons and holds his ears. Up ahead of Savaric, he sees another priest appear in the corridor. Rilka pushes through Savaric, knocking him over, and attacks the priest with her falchion; Rilka essentially carves her initials into the priest. The priest then swings at her with a light mace and misses.

Rilka attacks the priest again, scoring a hit. Savaric gets up and gathers his weapons and readies himself to step up if Rilka falls. The priest swings again and misses, swinging too hard and dazing himself.

Rilka overruns the priest, knocking him over, gets on the other side of him, and attacks with her falchion, scoring a hit. The priest stays down. Rilka runs him through. Savaric and Rilka switch places in line, getting Savaric at the head of the line again. Mõrvar catches up to the line and steps over the fallen priest after debating whether or not to go ahead and loot the body or not.

The corridor turns to the right and the party continues to follow it, Savaric continuing to search for priests and secret panels. A priest appears in front of Savaric, stabbing at him with a dagger, but misses. The priest stabs at Savaric again and misses. Savaric attempts to overrun the priest, but fails to move through, opening himself up to another attack. The priest misses this attack as well. Savaric attacks with Edgefrost and deals a great deal of damage.

Savaric is narrowly missed by a dagger from the priest. Savaric attempts to overrun the priest again, knocking him down in the process. The priest slashes at him with his dagger, scoring a hit. The ranger feels poison running through his veins once again. Savaric then turns and attacks, damaging the priest again. Rilka moves in and attacks with her falchion, hitting the priest while he’s down.

Rilka attacks, but misses the priest. The priest rises, allowing Rilka and Savaric an opportunity to attack him again. They make quick work of the priest and then Rilka finishes him off.

Savaric calls for a priest to heal him. After a brief debate on whether or not they need to change the order of the line, the opt to keep going with the same order.

The hallway takes another turn. Suddenly, a disembodied dagger appears in the air before Savaric and swipes at him, missing. Then another priest appears further down the corridor. The dagger attacks, missing Savaric. The ranger determines that it is probably being wielded by a spiritual weapon spell. The corridor is once again filled with a cacophonous sound and Rilka and Savaric are damaged by the sonic attack. Savaric moves forward through the dagger, and attempts to overrun the priest to get on the other side of him. He fails. Rilka attempts to “disarm” the floating dagger and fails.

The floating dagger, following Savaric, swipes and misses. The priest fumbles his dagger and accidentally stabs himself. Savaric then attempts to overrun the priest. He fails to overrun the priest again, opening himself up to attack. Fortunately, the priest misses again and then Savaric attacks the priest with his frozen longsword, scoring a hit. Rilka holds back.

The floating dagger misses again and the priest strikes with his own dagger, cutting himself with the blade. Savaric once again tries to overrun the priest, but fails. The priest then attempts to cut Savaric again, but misses. Savaric attacks with Edgefrost, but misses.

Savaric again tries to overrun the priest, this time moving past the priest while knocking him down. The priest takes an opportunity to slash at Savaric, but misses. Savaric then attacks with Edgefrost, scoring another hit. Rilka moves forward and attacks the priest with her falchion, and he falls.

Rilka moves back through the line, looking for healing from the priests. The priests want to hold back in order to use their spells more effectively. So Mõrvar takes the lead and Savaric takes the rear. Holga channels positive energy to heal the party. Rilka also takes one of their potions to heal herself. Surm casts mage armor on Mõrvar.

Mõrvar casts light on his sword and leads the way. Savaric looks for secret doors as they go through, causing him to lose ground. Mõrvar comes to a point in the corridor where he can either go through an arched doorway or turn down another hall or continue down the corridor. There is flickering light coming from the arched doorway. Mõrvar makes his way stealthily to the arched doorway and peers inside.

In the center of the room is a stone basin, looking similar to a bird bath. Etched on the basin is a ring of flame. There are torches on sconces around the room. Mõrvar feels that more than likely this is a holy water or oil font. It would probably be used to anoint oneself before going into a sanctuary. There is a also another door at the far end of the room. Mõrvar moves inside, immediately stepping to the side of the doorway. He tells Rilka that he suspects that there is a sanctuary on the other side of that door. Surm calls forward, “What’s down the hall?”

Rilka goes to the hall and sees that it double-backs on the corridor a bit and then ends in a door. She reports this to the rest of the party.

Rilka steps into the anointing room and steps to the other side of the doorway than Mõrvar. They both start moving along the walls, avoiding the basin. Two priests appear in the corners of the room, throwing daggers into Mõrvar and Rilka. Rilka moves forward to attack and Mõrvar bull rushes forward to attack. Mõrvar rushes forward, but does not push the priest back. Rilka attacks with her falchion and misses. The priests attack with light maces, but both miss their opponents.

Rilka attacks with her falchion. and deals a good deal of damage. Mõrvar is struck by a priest with a light mace. Mõrvar roars in anger and attacks, dealing a mighty blow to his opponent.

Rilka attacks again with her falchion and scores a critical hit, opening up an opportunity to attack him again, but misses with the second hit. Mõrvar attacks with his mastercraft sword and scores another solid hit. Mõrvar begins to laugh. The priest hits Mõrvar again, but Rilka is missed. Ivarin moves in and says a prayer, makes some gestures, and points at the priest fighting Rilka. The priest gets a look of intense fear on his face, and starts looking like he wants to get out of this combat.

Another priest materializes next to the priest on Mõrvar. Mõrvar takes the opportunity to attack and hits the priest mightily with his sword. The second priest fades away as the priest falls in a bloody mess. The other priest attempts to flee and Rilka takes the opportunity to attack, scoring a hit. The priest attempts to pass by Ivarin, who stabs out with his short spear and stabs the priest, felling him.

Mõrvar loots the bodies and then listens at the closed door. He hears nothing on the other side of the door. The door is unlocked. So Mõrvar flings the door open, revealing a small five foot by five foot corridor ending in another door. Mõrvar approaches this door and flings it open. He narrowly dodges the bulk a spray of acid that springs into being in the doorway. He still manages to get caught in some of the acid, allowing it to burn him. The door opens into a room with a mosaic depicting a sly-looking young man conversing with some grotesque giants as he bestows a flame to a gathering of lowly men. There is an arched doorway across the way and a second arched doorway at the corner of the room. There is also door in the other corner of the room.

Mõrvar goes to the arched doorway across the way. It opens into a corridor. They follow the corridor down to another arched doorway. This doorway opens up into a large room. There are mosaics on the wall depicting a sly man performing various duties. There is a trough dug into the floor in the shape of the ring, about 15’ in diameter. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest. The corridor also leads back into one of the arched doorways they hadn’t checked before. They return to that room and Surm searches it out, finding nothing of interest. This leaves a wooden door that hasn’t been investigated.

Surm listens behind the door and hears nothing. The door is locked, so Surm goes to pick the lock with Mõrvar’s multitool. He hears a click and then a series of magical missiles appear in the air and strike Surm with a vengeance.

The door opens into a corridor that turns up. The party lines back up and follows it. It jukes once and then ends in an arched doorway. Mõrvar approaches the doorway. The doorway reveals a large room with mosaics depicting a sly young man stealing lightning from clouds, seducing a woman, and stealing an old man’s pouch. There is a door across the way. The party makes their way into the room and allows Savaric to search the room. Nothing else is found of interest in the room. Mõrvar goes up to the door and finds that it is locked.

Surm searches the door for traps, but finds none. He once again takes up Mõrvar’s multitool and attempts to pick the lock. He hears a click as the lock turns and then narrowly dodges as another spray of acid materializes in the doorway.

Mõrvar opens the door and peers inside. The door opens into a large room. There is a trough in the center of the room that is currently lit, creating a ring of fire in the floor. Beyond the flames, on the other side of the ring, Mõrvar can see figures, how many figures he can’t tell in the flickering of the light. Then a voice calls out, speaking in Tradespeak: “Surrender, interlopers!”

Mõrvar steps back into the previous room. He then calls out into the room, “We are here to collect weregild and are still waiting for it to be paid! How many more of you are going to die before we get it!”

Surm moves back and loads his crossbow. Rilka moves back away from the door as well.

“I have drenched myself in the blood of your templies,” Mõrvar continues, “and I will cover myself in your blood if you do not pay! So step forward and pay your fine or face justice!”

The voice from the room calls out. “Be gone from this place or face the wrath of the Sly God. If you strike us down, more will come in our place.”

Mõrvar says, “That’s just more to strike down, I guess.” He then asks the priests to channel positive energy to heal the party, which Mirka does. He then calls into the room, “This is your last warning. We’ve brought representation from the rest of your pantheon. You will pay retribution.”

Rilka runs back to the last bodies they left and fills her pocket with ten smoke pellets.

Mõrvar’s proclamation is met with silence. He continues, “We have you cut off from your food and water supply. We will outlast you. Surrender! We can stay out here for months. How long can you stay in there? I can assure you, you have no back up coming. We have all entrances guarded.”

Savaric asks Ilona to make him invisible, which she does, and he begins to sneak into the next room.

Everyone in the room hears someone moving out of the room. Surm fires at the sound, thinking it to be an invisible priest. He ventilates Savaric with a critical hit. They hear a thud as Savaric’s unconscious body hits the floor. Then they see Savaric lying on the floor with a crossbow bolt sticking out of him.

Mirka comes forward and prays over Savaric, administering healing magic. The half-orc ranger stirs.

“Sorry, but next time tell us if you’re going to do something like that,” Surm says, “Especially if we have invisible priests attacking us left and right.”

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Session Thirty-Three
The Approach

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10 Longday 508

Morning comes after the night’s battle and the party loads up to head further into the mountains. Savaric, as usual, leads the way, keeping his eyes out for dragon-sign. Through the day, Savaric manages to make up some time lost from being off-track the day before. The rest of the troupe follows en masse.

Late that afternoon, as they continue to trek through the Et’tir Mountains, the troupe comes upon what looks to be a pass. Surm and Savaric notice, buried in the remains of a past landslide, a post and a board—perhaps some sort of sign. The two manage to dig it out of the debris and see that it is a sign that reads, in Tradespeak, “Trespassers Beware.” Rilka and Savaric determine that the pass does not look particularly treacherous as far as landslides are concerned. Savaric determines through tracking that there has been activity on the pass in the past week. The troupe turns and takes the pass. Rilka looks for paths and boltholes in the rock walls surrounding the pass.

Savaric takes a significant lead from the troupe, going out a mile ahead of the group. Mõrvar ventures a within sight of Savaric ahead of the troupe with Tarben acting as a runner. Before leaving, Mõrvar turns to Alasir and tells him to “take care of my brother.”

Savaric sticks to the side of the pass and ventures forth, looking for evidence of a temple. As he ventures, a few miles up ahead, he finds a tripwire crossing the width of the pass. Savaric takes two arrows and places them near the tripwire cross-wise and then writes in the earth, in Tradespeak, “Tripwire.” He then steps over the wire and continues on.

Mõrvar, coming along behind Savaric, encounters the crossed arrows and the message written in the earth regarding the tripwire. Neither he nor Tarben can see the wire itself. The two decide to stay there and try to find the wire. Mõrvar attempts to send a magical message to Savaric telling him that they are looking for the wire and to respond if he hears the message; however, Savaric is too far away to hear the message.

The sun begins to set. Savaric estimates that they’ve probably traveled about five miles down the pass. Savaric holds his position to let the rest of the group catch up. Meanwhile, Mõrvar and Tarben finally spot the wire and step over it and start hustling toward Savaric.

The rest of troupe comes upon Savaric’s note about the tripwire. Surm investigates and finds the tripwire. The trap is mechanical in nature. Surm investigates further to try and determine what the trap does. It appears to be connected to a fulcrum of some sort that will swing across the pass. Surm announces that he’s going to try and disable the trap. The troupe moves back, but Rilka stays close to Surm, hoping to ensure that Surm doesn’t get hit. Surm tries to keep low to the ground to avoid any swinging death. Surm manages to avoid setting off the trap, but doesn’t disable it either. He tries again. A snap is heard and a large log swings down across the path and narrowly misses both of them.

Mõrvar has caught up to Savaric and asks why he stopped. Savaric explains that the sun is going down and they’ll need to make camp. Mõrvar has Tarben move back to the troupe and let them know about the tripwire and the stop ahead.

Surm announces that he has disabled the trap and that the troupe can move forward. The troupe begins to move when Tarben approaches from the pass ahead. “Master Savaric and Master Mõrvar are half a mile ahead.” Surm asks if we’re stopping and Tarben says yes. The troupe catches up to the others and reunites.

Surm warns everyone to keep a watchful eye on their guard shifts, as the temple of Jörn is not far. Mõrvar wants to split all of the half-orcs amongst the guard shifts so that they can see in the dark. Since the porters are not paid to guard, they decide to put Rilka and Savaric and Mirka on two of the middle shifts. Mõrvar approaches the half-orc priestess of Ulfethinn about helping with the guard shifts. She acquiesces. He then approaches Alasir to make the changes to the guard shifts. Mõrvar also adds himself to the first shift. Alasir makes the arrangements.

Mõrvar goes back to Surm and says, “I think it would be a good idea if Sigurd, being the leader of this group, took the last shift to give an extra body with Alasir and Sorcha. It would be good to have an extra set of eyes. So if you could talk to him, I’d appreciate it.”

“You want me to talk to him?” Surm asks.

“He trusts everything you say,” Mõrvar responds.

“I don’t think your request is unreasonable, but I can ask him.”

Surm makes the suggestion to Sigurd, who complies. Alasir is told and he makes a note of the change.

Camp is made in the narrow pass. It is decided that they will use campfires. They decide to try and shield the light from being seen by making tents, lean-to style, in the direction of the temple.

The night passes without incident.

11 Longday 508

The group breaks camp and continues down the pass. They continue in the same fashion as the previous day, with Savaric venturing a mile from the troupe and Mõrvar following just within sight with Tarben acting as a runner.

Savaric is traveling down the pass, looking for signs of the temple or guards when he hears a twang, followed by the grinding sound of stone upon stone, followed by a rolling sound. A boulder comes rolling down the pass, narrowly missing the ranger. It continues down the pass, missing Mõrvar, but striking Tarben in its path. He cries in pain as his leg is crushed by the boulder. It comes to a bend in the pass and stops. Mõrvar sees that Tarben is unconscious. Mõrvar sends Savaric a magical message to come back. The ranger does, sees the fallen guard, and attempts to stabilize him. Mõrvar tries as well, managing to stabilize Tarben.

The boulder effectively blocks the pass. People could climb over it, but the mule will have a much harder time.

Meanwhile, Rilka hears a faint rumbling up ahead of the troupe. She speculates that it could be another landslide. The troupe moves forward cautiously, no knowing what to expect up ahead.

Savaric moves a hundred yards further up the pass and hides, in case anyone comes from the temple to investigate. Mõrvar sticks with the unconscious Tarben.

The main group finally comes up to the bend in the pass blocked by the boulder. Surm speculates that they could leave their gear behind here and climb over the boulder. Meanwhile, Mõrvar hears the troupe approach and climbs the rock from his side.

“Tarben’s been severely hurt,” Mõrvar announces. “I’ve got him stabilize.”

“What happened?” Surm asks.

“I guess Savaric tripped another tripwire. Sent this boulder rolling down our path. Savaric got out of the way. I got out of the way. Tarben didn’t. I thought he wasn’t going to make it, but I got him stabilized. He’s in pretty bad shape.”

“Getting over this boulder is a pretty hard climb,” Surm speculates.

“It’s not easy,” Mõrvar says. “If we had a way to move it or break it up… So far I don’t think anyone else has heard, at least nobody has shown up. Savaric is keeping watch down the pass,”

They all then try to formulate a plan to get the troupe either over or around the boulder. They decide to throw up a couple of ropes to use and climb over. Mõrvar helps to secure the ropes on top of the rock. They decide to leave the mule, the porters, Mahgnus, and four of the guards (including Tarben) on the far side. The priests may be able to heal Tarben enough for him to climb over to the join the porters.

Everyone climbs the rope and scrambles over the boulder. The priests assess Tarben and Holga performs some healing prayers to get him conscious. As far as his leg, both she and Ivarin believe that they could help him with his leg in the morning. Mõrvar actually expresses fear on behalf of Tarben and concern for his condition. Alasir switches him out with Leif and Tarben scrambles over the boulder.

The troupe continues on, with Surm announcing that the main group will stop in four miles. Alasir assigns Sigrid to run for Mõrvar and he and the guard continue down the pass. Savaric emerges from his hiding place and Mõrvar catches him up on what’s going on. Savaric takes the lead again with Mõrvar and Sigrid staying behind within “messaging” distance.

As he makes his way down the pass, Savaric finds another tripwire. He marks it in the same fashion as the first one and then waves Mõrvar and Sigrid over to him and points it out. They step over the wire and continue down the pass.

Eventually, Savaric rounds a bend in the pass and comes to a steep-sloped approach leading up to an arched doorway built into the side of the mountain. Two rain-barrels sit outside the door. Savaric backs up and waits for Mõrvar and Sigrid to catch up. He tells them what he sees. Mõrvar sends Sigrid back to tell the main troupe what Savaric found.

Meanwhile, the main group comes upon Savaric’s note and arrows indicating the tripwire. Once again, the troupe backs off as Rilka and Surm stay and Surm attempts to disable the trap. He fails, springs the trap, and arrows spring out, criss-crossing the pass. Mirka heals Surm and Rilka is healed by Ivarin. The main troupe regroups and continues down the pass, stopping at the four-mile mark.

Sigrid catches up to the main group and reports to Surm that Mõrvar and Savaric are up ahead and that they have found an arched doorway in the side of the mountain. Surm calls for a scouting party. Ivarin volunteers. Rilka does as well. So Surm, Rilka, Sigrid, and Ivarin venture ahead to meet up with Mõrvar and Savaric.

At the bend in the pass, Surm and Rilka assess the situation, deciding that there isn’t any other way in. They also speculate that the priests must have some other water source deeper inside. They all discuss their various possible approaches to the arched doorway. They finally decide to send Savaric ahead, with Ilona making him invisible, to investigate the doorway. Surm casts mage armor on Savaric to help protect him. This doesn’t appear to phase Ivarin, who only gives Surm an assessing look. Savaric casts aspect of the falcon on himself, making him sprout feathers on his neck and head, but giving him more perceptive powers. He then asks Ilona to make him invisible and begins his approach to the doorway.

When Savaric gets to the rain barrels, he begins searching in earnest for traps and such. He finds no traps and determines that the rain-barrels are as they appear. He also sees within the doorway with his darkvision a figure. He wears a simple robe. He appears to be looking out of the doorway. He returns to the others and makes his report. Consulting with the others, the robes were not marked in any way to indicate rank or religious significance.

Mõrvar wants to capture the man and force information from him. Perhaps they can lure him out and Savaric sneak up behind him. Surm disagrees—he wants to get the others and have Sigurd make his demands, as Holga understood their plan to be. Perhaps Savaric could then take that opportunity to sneak inside. Surm tries to explain to Mõrvar that there is a right and wrong way to do things, but Mõrvar doesn’t take it to heart. Ivarin offers to accompany Savaric, as he can remain invisible for a short time as well.

Surm and Mõrvar go back to talk to Sigurd and approach the main group. He goes to Sigurd and says “We need to have a meeting.” The other priests and Alasir are brought in and Surm explains the situation and the plan. Holga frowns at the idea of the clandestine infiltration by Ivarin and Savaric. Surm explains that they are in a death-trap situation with their escape blocked with a boulder. Holga seems to accept this.

Sigurd confirms that the idea is for him to make his formal demand in order to lure the man out of the passageway. He will do some from a distance for safety and to force the man out. Mirka asks, “What about the rest of us?” Surm answers that everyone else will stay around the bend in the pass to shield their numbers and for safety. Mirka confirms that the range on the channeling of energy would be thirty feet, so they will stay at least that far away. Holga volunteers to go forward with Sigurd to protect him.

The main group moves forward toward the bend. They begin to plan their approach in earnest. In the course of the planning, they reconsider Ivarin’s offer to approach invisibly with Savaric as Ivarin can only go invisible the one time for a few minutes while Savaric can be invisible longer. Savaric prepares himself and leaves his snake companion behind. Mõrvar establishes a message spell with Surm.

Savaric makes himself invisible and heads up the approach first. He then sneaks his way to the entrance and hides behind a rain-barrel. Then Holga, Sigurd, and Surm make the approach. They make their way to fifty feet from the entrance. As they come forward, Surm asks Sigurd if he could do the talking to make them seem more impressive. Sigurd agrees.

When they come up and stop, the figure emerges from the archway. Savaric stealthily makes his way around the figure and into the archway. He finds himself in a narrow passageway. He continues through the hallway, looking for traps and another place to go.

The figure that emerges is an older man in simple robes. He calls out in Tradespeak, “Hail travelers. What brings you to this hermitage?”

Surm announces that this is Sigurd Danulfsson bringing grievances to the high priest of Jörn.

“We are a simple hermitage to all of the pantheon. You must take your grievance elsewhere,” the man says.

Sigurd and Holga look at each other as if to say, “This is unexpected.”

Surm says, “I would have expected a better cover from The Sly One. Enough of this stalling and send out your high priest to hear our grievances.”

The figure says, “We have no high priest here, but I am the abbot of this hermitage.”

Surm asks Holga, “Are you satisfied? I mean, they’re even rejecting who they are. They are certainly not going to pay weregeld.” Surm continues to explain the situation sotto voce to Mõrvar. Then he continues with Holga. “Clearly, unless you think the head of the temple was just standing in the door, he’s clearly not going to send out the man in charge. So we can make a demand of weregild from this guy who’s just going to deny their the temple at all. So in order to get any kind of satisfaction, we’re going to have to get rough.”

Surm turns to Sigurd, “Do you want me to make a formal demand from this ‘abbot’?”

Sigurd says, “Yes.”

Surm then turns back to the figure at the head of the rise. “Very well, underling. If you refuse to get your master, then let them know that Sigurd Danulfsson is here to collect weregild for the assassination of King Dunig and as the corruptors of Leglaf, you will pay.”

“I am afraid you have come in error. Be gone from this place,” the man says.

Everyone looks at each other with consternation.

“Then you refuse to pay?” Surm asks.

“I will not pay that which is not owed,” the figure says.

Surm asks Holga again if she is satisfied. She nods. “Is there anything you can do, because we kind of need to nab this guy for some formal interrogation.”

Surm messages to Mõrvar, “You got a bow?”

“Yes.”

“Get it loaded.”

Mõrvar casts true strike on himself and readies his bow. Rilka gets ready to charge around the corner.

Holga indicates that she can cast a beam of light at the figure that will hurt him. Surm counts off to three.

Mõrvar whips around the bend and fires his bow, hitting the abbot. Holga fires a beam of light from hand toward the figure and hits him dead center. He shrieks in pain. Rilka charges out from around the corner and hustles up the approach past Mõrvar. Then the abbot turns and goes back inside the passageway. Surm gets behind Sigurd and they move forward toward the doorway.

Meanwhile, Savaric is making his way down the corridor looking for traps. He can hear the conversation going on outside through the passageway. He comes upon a door to this right or he can continue down the passage. The door is not locked. He opens the door a crack and peers inside. He sees a series of wooden seats placed around the large room. A simple table sits in the center of the room. Tapestries hang on the wall depicting Northron men and women in poses of contemplation. He sees no people, so he moves back into the corridor and follows it around a bend and to where it ends in a locked door. He hears nothing beyond the door. He draws his longsword and takes position at the bend in the corridor, prepared to deal with anything that may come out of the locked door. He hears a shriek of pain from down the corridor. He peers around the corner and sees the abbot, his hand glowing in a light spell, go to the unlocked door and go inside. Savaric follows.

Rilka runs up the approach and arrives near the entry point.

Savaric stealthily opens the door to the room and heads inside after the abbot. The abbot goes behind one of the tapestries, manipulates a panel, and opens a secret door. Savaric follows.

Sigurd arrives inside the entryway and Surm casts dancing lights to light up the area. They are in a five-foot-wide corridor. Mõrvar runs up to the entry point to join the others. Holga approaches the entry way as well. The rest of the troupe begins charging up the approach.

Savaric arrives at the panel and attempts to maneuver the panel in the same fashion as the abbot. Suddenly a small conflagration envelops the area. Thanks to his quick reflexes, Savaric manages to mitigate some of the damage he would have taken otherwise. The panel is open, however. It opens into a lit room containing four men, one of them being the abbot. Savaric whips back around to the side of the panel and prepares to attack anyone coming through that panel.

As Savaric waits for the coming attack, he hears a step in the panel’s threshold. He activates Edgefrost. Suddenly, a man with studded leather appears beside him, stabbing at him with a dagger, missing. The man stabs again and misses. Savaric attacks two-handedly with Edgefrost and hits the man. He then attacks again, hitting the man again with the cold weapon. The man stabs at Savaric again, but fails to connect. Savaric attacks again and scores an ugly wound on the man. The man falls. Savaric finishes him off.

Meanwhile, at the entry point, Mõrvar tells everyone to stand aside and let him take the lead. He casts light upon his sword and continues down the corridor. Rilka makes her way behind Mõrvar. Word is passed from the rear from Alasir asking if Surm wishes the guards to hold position at the entry point or to enter. Surm has the guards hold position at the entry point.

Mõrvar continues down the corridor and comes to the door on the right. It is open. Peering in he sees the table and series of chairs as well as the tapestries. He also sees Savaric finishing off someone in studded armor. Mõrvar moves in and asks “Where did he go?”

Savaric says, “There’s a secret door behind this tapestry. This guy just came back through it, invisibly, and attacked me. There’s at least three more guys still in there. And they know we’re here.”

Rilka checks the downed man for a symbol of Jörn. He is holding a masterwork dagger with a ring of flame motif etched upon it—the symbol of Jörn. He has a light mace on his belt. Rilka searches him, but finds little. Savaric is recruited to try while Rilka and Mõrvar take up positions on either side of the tapestry. Savaric finds a pouch on him with two vials of some oily substance. He also has five pellets of some sort. Savaric finds five other daggers secreted upon his person as well as a bronze holy symbol of Jörn. This they give to Holga. All the priests and volunteers have arrived and filled the room.

Surm casts mage armor on Rilka and Mõrvar. He then asks is Sigurd wants to charge in there. Sigurd says “Yes”, so Surm also casts the spell upon him, advising him to third. He also tells the volunteers to watch the door. He tells Nodwick specifically to watch and see if anyone comes down that corridor behind them. He can also get word to Alasir about the ambush. Kalthin and Sadwina are to take up positions on either side of the door.

Mõrvar will go in first and break left, Rilka will follow and break right. Sigurd will follow through the door. Savaric will go in after Sigurd, followed by the priests.

Mõrvar rushes in, with his sword lit. He finds himself in a sparse room with a few chairs. The walls are bare. A door is at the opposite end of the room and an open arched doorway in the corner of the room. No one else is in the room.

Savaric is brought forward to track the injured abbot on his blood trail. Savaric finds a trail leading to the closed door. He checks the door for traps and doesn’t find any. He opens the door into a five-foot wide corridor. Savaric goes down the hall, looking for traps, finds none, and comes to a closed door. Mõrvar comes forward and opens the door. A dagger flies into Mõrvar, thrown from a crouched man. Mõrvar charges. Savaric moves out of Rilka’s way and then follows her in.

Surm takes Kalthin and sets him up to guard the open archway.

Mõrvar is wracked in pain as several courses of negative energy flow through him. He notes that there are six figures in the room. The abbot is one of them.

Suddenly, all of the attackers feel bursts of positive energy, healing them, coming from the troupe’s priests.

Mõrvar charges toward the abbot and attacks, scoring a hit on the man. Rilka enters, veers right, and attacks one of the other men in the room, and hits with a heroic effort. Savaric also goes right and attacks another priest. Sigurd enters and attacks one of the men, swinging a pair of hand-axes. He hits.

Sigurd attacks again with his axes, scoring hits against his foe. Savaric continues to swing against his adversary, striking him with Edgefrost. Mõrvar swings at the abbot, and his swing cleaves through and hits the next man. The abbot falls. Rilka attacks her foe and hits mightily, but fails to take him down. Ivarin casts a spell, but nothing happens. Furfur flies about the room. The party then feels the blessing of Saemundil descend upon them. Mirka enters the room and smacks a priest with her warhammer. Rilka’s foe attacks her, but misses. Savaric’s foe attacks as well, but fails. Mõrvar is missed as well as Sigurd and Mirka.

Sigurd attacks his foe, hitting him with his axes. Mõrvar attacks his foe with a powerful blow and fells him. Rilka attacks and hits her foe again, causing him to start staggering. Mirka attacks and knocks the breath out of her foe. Negative energy begins bursting through the room as the evil priests channel. Savaric then attacks his foe, and chops off a finger. The man falls.

Sigurd attacks his opponent, striking him hard with his axes. Mõrvar runs the two that he fell through, to make sure they don’t get back up. Then he takes a step toward his next foe. Rilka attacks again and kills her foe. She then positions herself to help Sigurd. More negative energy bursts within the room and Mõrvar goes down. Savaric moves to help Mirka and attacks her foe. He his, but the man does not go down. Holga runs into the room and prays over Mõrvar, healing him. He rises. Holga is attacked by the priest, but is missed. Ivarin fires a shortbow into the room and misses.

Meanwhile, Surm pulls the guards in and has two of the guards sit with Nodwick and Sadwina and then assigns the others to guard the archway. Looking through the arched doorway, Surm can see that the corridor turns. He looks further and finds that it turns again, doubling back toward the room.

Sigurd misses against his foe. Mõrvar then attacks from the ground against the priest on Mirka and Savaric, dealing a mighty blow and felling the man. The last priest, who is fighting Sigurd, suddenly has a second priest appear beside him that also attacks at Sigurd. This opens up an opportunity for Rilka to attack. He falls an the second priest fades away. Mõrvar runs all but the last priest to fall through.

Savaric starts searching the bodies and Mõrvar announces that he wants to question the last man. Savaric finds, on each of the priests that are not the abbot, a pouch with two vials of an oily substance and five pellets of some sort. Each of them has a masterwork dagger with a ring-of-flame motif and five other, regular daggers hidden on their person. They each wear studded leather and have a light mace. The also each have a bronze holy symbol of Jörn. Each of the masterwork daggers have an oily substance upon it. Each pouch has a sum of gold, the total being two hundred and seventy six pieces. The abbot has a masterwork light mace with the flame motif on it. He also has a masterwork dagger with an some substance on the blade. Under his robes is a suit of masterwork studded leather. He has five other daggers on his person. He is wearing a silver holy symbol of Jörn. He also has a pouch with two vials with some substance inside them, different than the oily substance in the other vials. The abbot also had a thunderstone and two hundred gold pieces.

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Session Thirty-Two
The Face of Fear

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5 Longday 508

The party spends the night in RosemeedtMõrvar in the longhouse of Yülthn with a woman named Fenla and the rest of the party back at base camp.

Alasir has the guards set up watches for the night. Rilka takes a watch during the middle of the night with Garth and Leif.

Other than Mõrvar’s amorous activities, the night passes without incident.

6 Longday 508

The porters, Kortash and Burask, begin to break down camp. Alasir comes to Surm and says that there is a woman at the camp by the name of Holga, sent from the temple of Saemundil. Surm confirms with Rilka that they were getting help from that temple. Surm tells Alasir to show her into the tent.

Meanwhile, Mõrvar says his goodbyes to Fenla and makes his way back to base camp.

A young woman comes in, dressed for travel, and wearing a fine set of splintmail. She also wears a silver-tipped horn at her belt.

Rilka introduces herself. And Surm says, “Welcome! I am Surm Ulrich.” He then sends Mahgnus to retrieve Sigurd and Mirka. When Sigurd and Mirka arrive they are introduced as Girda’s representative and an elder priest of Yrda, respectively. Mõrvar arrives and is introduced as well.

“That reminds me,” Rilka says, “We need to go to the temple of Yülthn to see if they are going to send someone.” She, Mirka, and Savaric excuse themselves to go.

Surm confirms with Holga that she is aware of what they are going to do and the nature of the quest. Holga assures him that she has been briefed by Lavandarr on the journey.

“What can you tell me of Saemundil? I know nothing of your religion,” Surm asks.

“Saemundil is the guardian. We protect the weak. He is the guardian of the gates between worlds.”

Mõrvar knows that the biggest part of the dogma of Saemundil is the protection of the weak and defenseless and that they teach self-discipline and obedience to authority.

Holga asks Surm, “Who is in charge of the expedition?”

Surm pauses and says, “That’s a good question. Well, this mission was set up in an effort to collect weregild for Girda for the loss of her husband. And Sigurd is her cousin, who speaks for Girda. So, I suppose, technically Sigurd is in charge of this mission.”

“Very well,” Holga says.

Sigurd, for his part, at first looks surprised and then looks pleased.

“I will prepare my mount and make ready for the journey,” Holga says.

“Excellent,” Surm says. “I assume we will be ready to leave as soon as they return from the temple of Yülthn.”

Meanwhile, Rilka, Mirka, and Savaric are making their way to the longhouse when they are met by a man in traveling clothes leading a horse. It is Ivarin, the priest of Yülthn they spoke to the previous day.

“Good morning,” Rilka says. “I take it this means that you are joining us?”

“With reservations,” Ivarin says.

“With reservations?” Rilka asks. “May I ask what those reservations are?”

“Well, you said that at this time you don’t have a plan because you don’t know all of your resources. I expect that to change.”

“Now we have your help, and we have someone sent from the temple of Saemundil. We are gathering more resources all the time. We’ll have a little bit of time to plan. We’ll be stopping by Valtan to take care of a Yeti problem and then we’ll be moving on. But welcome. Let me introduce you to the rest of our group,” Rilka says.

The priest is lead back to camp by the three half-orcs to be introduced to the rest of the party. Ivarin and Holga are acquainted. Introductions are made all around.

The camp is struck, everyone makes ready to go, and the troupe finally leaves Rosemeedt for Valtan.

Mõrvar sidles up to Holga and Furfur takes off, choosing to fly overhead. Savaric rides with Mirka. Alasir organizes the guards in a formation around the main group.

Mõrvar discusses religion with Holga along the way. In discussing Saemundil during the day, he gets the impression that he is a god of protection, of good, of righteousness, and that he has a role to play in the end-times—when the Grundr come, and the final battle rages, Saemundil will play a role in the battle. Until then, he guards the gates between worlds. Savaric makes small-talk with Mirka along the way, trying to be charming, as well. Surm also tries to solidify his position with Sigurd as well. Sigurd makes a point of expressing how helpful Surm has been to the family and to Girda. “It’s been my pleasure,” Surm replies.

That afternoon, the large troop arrives at the outskirts of the village of Valtan. As they come up, there is a large hill and atop it is a large wooden watchtower. A man calls out with a cry of “Hail! Well met! Welcome to Valtan!”

Olaf, the leader of the farmers, calls back “Hello Sven! We’re back with help!”

Sven cries, “Hello Olaf! We had another attack last night. You best get home! That’s quite a group you have there!”

“Yes,” Olaf says, and nothing more, seemingly at a loss for words at the large entourage he has found himself with.

The entourage marches its way into the village, passing farmers who are staring at the passing guards and adventurers and priests, As they make it into the center of the village, they meet a trio of people who appear to be the village elders. Rilka steps forward to meet them.

There are two men and one woman. One of the men steps forward and says, “Olaf. You were sent for help. We weren’t expecting a small army! This is unexpected. Welcome, but unexpected.”

Olaf motions to Rilka and says, “Borlaf. This is Rilka Lazarsdottir. She is a follower of Bruni. She has come and has said that she will help us with the yeti. The others have come to go on another journey.”

“Oh. Oh, I see,” Borlaf says, clearly disappointed.

" Bruni has given me a sign. A dream. That I am the one to take care of your yeti problem, " Rilka says.

Rilka reaches out her hand, and Borlaf warily takes it and says “Well, if Bruni wills, then it shall be done.”

“I hear there was an attack last night?” Rilka asks.

Another of the elders, the woman, steps forward, and says, “Yes, it was at the farm of Penwulf the Elder.”

“Is he alright?”

“It gave him quite a fright. He’s recovering; he is quite old. Apparently the beast came down and caused a ruckus. The old man ventured out to see what the ruckus was. He saw the beast making off with one of his sheep. The gaze of the beast caused quite a fright and overwhelmed the old man. The beast went back up into the mountain.”

“I guess we’ll have to go check out this farm,” Rilka says.

The third elder comes forward and says, “Your companions are free to make camp outside of the village, if they wish.”

“Thank you,” Rilka says.

Surm directs Mahgnus to set up camp. The entourage sets up their camps outside the village. Rilka asks Savaric to help her track. Surm and Mõrvar also decide to go. They all head to Penwulf the Elder’s homestead, lead by Penwulf the Younger.

At the homestead, they see a small house with a thatched roof, pens for livestock, a mangled fence with a hastily-repaired gate. Penwulf the Younger knocks on the door and yells, “Da! Get up you deaf old bat!”

A significantly older man answers the door and “Ach, son, you’re back! I was recuperating!” His voice is very loud. Everyone but Mõrvar can smell the odor of spirits coming off strong from the old man. Surm can tell that they are corn-based and probably of the home-distilled variety.

The younger man says, “We’ve brought help from the temple of Bruni, for the yeti. They want to search your property to see if they can find it.”

The old man says, “They can snoop all around as they like.”

“Alright,” Penwulf the Younger says. “Very well. Do what you need to do.”

Savaric goes to the pen where the sheep are kept and starts looking for tracks. He does see a trail leading back up toward the mountains. He starts to follow it with the others following close behind. Surm gets his crossbow out and loads it. Savaric has his bow out and read as he follows the trail. Mõrvar has his bow out as well. Rilka is looking for anyplace that looks familiar to her from her vision.

The tracks lead up to a tall rock wall. It is not sheer—it would be climbable, but it is an obstacle. Savaric checks the wall signs of yeti and does see little bits of white fur heading up the wall. They debate several ways to traverse the wall, including having Rilka use her magic armor to fly up to the top of the wall carrying them. They finally settle on using Mõrvar’s knotted rope and grapple, which he finds in his belongings. Rilka flies up and applies the grapple on the top of the wall.

Flying up to the top of the wall, Rilka sees a plateau and more trail. The area looks somewhat familiar to her. The rest of the party climbs the rope to the top of the wall. Rilka attempts to find tracks, but does not find any. When everyone gets up to the top, Mõrvar collects his rope and grapple and puts them in his backpack. Savaric fails to find any tracks. Surm attempts to find signs as well, but fails to find them. Mõrvar also looks, but fails to find any yeti sign. They all assume that the creature followed the trail. Rilka insists on taking the lead down the trail. The rest of the party follows.

Following the trail, they come to another rock wall. Savaric checks for yeti-sign and once again finds evidence that the creature climb up the wall. Rilka throws Mõrvar’s grapple up to the top of the wall and secures it. Everyone climbs up, except for Savaric, who falls, injuring himself. He tries again and finally makes it to the top of the wall.

At the top of the plateau, Rilka sees, across the way from the rock wall, a cleft in the face of the mountain. The plateau looks familiar to her from her vision.

“This looks like the plateau in my vision. I think this is where I’m supposed to meet it,” Rilka tells the others.

“Let’s get this over with so we can move on,” Mõrvar says.

“Like I said, I’m going to meet it,” Rilka says.

Across the way, from the cleft, a large white, furry hand comes out and a head emerges from the cleft.

Rilka kisses her holy symbol and starts moving forward.

Savaric readies an arrow to shoot into the yeti if Rilka goes down. Mõrvar switches from his bow to his sword and moves forward with Rilka.

The creatures emerges from the cleft. It is a large, humanoid creature, covered in white fur. Its hands end in wicked-looking claws. Its mouth is filled with sharp teeth. it bounds towards the party and stops, roaring at them, its gaze a frightful vision of ferocity. Surm is paralyzed with fear. Only through a heroic effort does Mõrvar fight off the effect. Mõrvar then returns with an intimidating roar of his own, which seems to shake the creature. Rilka then moves forward to strike at the yeti. She hits it hard with her falchion, causing it to roar in pain and anger. Rilka yells, “Leave him alone! He’s mine!”

Then Furfur caws in Mõrvar’s ear, “Fuck her god! Interfere! She’s your sister!” Mõrvar, unfazed, says, “Eh, I’m thinking about it.”

Surm, Mõrvar, and Savaric hold off their attacks to see if Rilka falls. Rilka attacks again with her falchion and scores another hit on the creature. It roars and attacks with both of its claws. Both miss, but she can feel cold radiating off of them. The creature attacks again, scoring with one claw. Rilka can feel cold shoot through her body with the hit. Rilka then hits it with her falchion again with a mighty blow. It roars in defiance and attacks again, missing with both of its claws. Rilka attacks again, her falchion glowing bright, and cuts deeply into the beast. The yeti roars and falls.

Rilka cuts off the creature’s head and then kneels down to pray.

After she finishes praying, Savaric runs up and gives her hug. “Congratulations,” he says. Rilka offers hugs all the way around.

Surm says, “I thought you had to go through a door?”

Rilka leads the way to the cleft in the cliff wall. It is about four feet wide and ten feet tall. Mõrvar lights his sword with sorcery while Rilka’s sword glows with its own eldritch light. The cave smells terrible—it reeks of sweat, feces, and blood. The cave is roundish and some twenty-five feet high and fifteen feet wide—essentially, a rocky cylinder. On one side of the cave is a pile of discarded fur and bones from livestock. The floor is covered in blood and fecal matter. Savaric, Mõrvar, and Rilka search out the room. Rilka finds a silver medallion with the runic symbol of Bruni etched upon it. She cleans it off and puts her in her pouch.

Savaric wants to loot the yeti’s corpse, but is eventually talked out of it by the party. The creature is not an animal, but a monstrous humanoid.

Everyone climbs down the rope and starts heading back to the village of Valtan. As they climb down the rock walls, Mõrvar uses his mage hand spell to retrieve the grapple. When they get to the village, Surm and Mõrvar are dismayed to discover that Rilka did not bring the yeti’s head with her. “How else are you going to prove you killed it?” Surm asks. He also points out that if they announce that they killed the yeti and another one shows up, then they really “look like assholes.”

Surm stays back at the camp, but the others hike back for the head. Four hours later, they return with the creature’s severed head. By this time, night has fully fallen. Surm has informed the others in camp of Rilka’s success.

Rilka and the others come back to the base camp when they return. Surm wants to come to longhouse with them when Rilka presents the head. The party heads to the main structure of the town.

They go inside the longhouse and see a large group of farmers gathered together, having drinks. The conversation stops as the party enters. Rilka heads toward Borlaf, carrying the yeti’s head. As she passes through, eyes go wide. When she gets to the town elder she says, “By the grace of Bruni, I was successful.”

Olaf, who is there amongst the assembled farmers, cries out, “Thanks be to the gods. Huzzah!” Some of the men take up the cheer. Borlaf says “Drinks all around!” Ale is brought out and it is insured that everyone has a mug in their hand. The party is sat down at the long table and Borlaf says, “You must tell us the tale!”

Rilka demurs and allows Surm to tell the tale. He does so, getting the point across of how Rilka protected the village by disposing of this beast. More cheers go up and everyone’s mugs are refilled. Surm notices, as he’s telling the tale, that the three elders have a whispered conversation amongst each other and when he’s finished with the tale, the old woman leaves the table. She returns with a small wooden box and places it in front of Rilka. “We are a small village and our treasures are scarce. But we wish to offer you this as a token for your bravery, as a token of our esteem.”

Rilka opens it and reveals a silver bracer with an oak branch etched upon it. “This has been in my family for a long time,” the old woman says.

“Thank you very much. This is a very honored gift,” Rilka says.

More cheers go up and another round of drinks are offered. Borlaf says, “So your band leaves in the morning, then?”

“That it does,” Rilka says. “We have other deeds to fulfill.”

Surm and Mõrvar excuse themselves and head out. Rilka and Savaric do the same soon thereafter. The farmers wish them the blessing of the gods on their journey and Rilka asks them to pray for them on their endeavors.

Once they are back at the camp, Surm says “That’s a pretty fancy bracer you have there.”

They speculate on whether or not it is magical or not. Surm asks to inspect the bracer for activation words and such. Rilka allows it, but he finds nothing but the etching and the velvety lining. Rilka puts on the bracer and waits to see if she has any magical reaction—there is none.

Rilka then leaves the camp to go pray to Bruni. She returns to camp after her prayers are done.

7 Longday 508

As preparations are being made to leave, Surm approaches the first elder he finds, the old woman, Tressa. “Is there any place we can leave our horses as we travel through the mountains? I’d rather leave them someplace safe than drag them with us.”

“How many horses do you have?” she asks.

“Thirteen horses,” Surm says.

“For how long?”

“I don’t know. Fifteen days? Assuming everything goes well,” Surm says.

“Very well,” Tressa says.

The camp is struck and the troupe make their way from the village of Valtan and into the Daggerspine. Surm encourages Sigurd to have Savaric lead the way with the directions given by the assassin back in Yrda. Savaric scouts ahead and leads the way. Mõrvar spends the day talking with Holga, making friendly conversation.

As the sun goes down, the party finds a place to pitch camp. The porters get to the work under Mahgnus’ supervision and the guards begin their shifts under Alasir’s supervision. Mõrvar requests to be placed on the last guard shift, while Savaric and Rilka take a shift in the middle of the night. Once again, Rilka guards with Garth and Leif while Savaric guards with Halvor and Jerrik. Mõrvar is with Alasir and Sorcha.

During his shift, Mõrvar spends the time trying to get to know Alasir and Sorcha better, engaging them in conversation. They are polite, but professional, trying to maintain their vigilance during the conversation.

The night passes without incident.

8 Longday 508

Once again, Savaric leads the way through the mountains as the party makes their way. The day passes as the entourage makes their way through the region, occasionally spotting creatures flying high overhead. Rilka asks if it is possible that they are griffons. Savaric thinks that it is more likely that they are dragonkind. Word is spread throughout the line to keep an eye on them. Surm grabs Sigurd and the priests and call them up to Savaric to discuss the possibility of them attacking. That depends on what type of dragon they are and if they are young or ancient—a more ancient dragon would be aggressive enough to attack a group this large. However, with it being multiple creatures, chances are better that what they’ve spotted is not an ancient dragon, but two younger ones.

At the end of the day, the troupe makes camp. Guard shifts are set up the same as before.

The night passes without incident.

9 Longday 508

As per usual, Savaric leads the way through the mountains. Rilka sidles up to Surm and asks if they have a plan yet. “If you have a plan, I’d love to hear it,” he says.

“I’d like to get an idea of what we’re going to face, I suppose,” Rilka says. “I’d also like to know how we’re going to make the formal request for weregild.”

“Honor would demand that we make a formal request,” Surm says. “Prudence would suggest not to.”

“There’s a lot of good priests in this party that were recruited specifically with the story that we were going to demand weregild,” Rilka says.

“That’s what they were recruited with? I thought it was to go crush a temple of Jörn,” Surm says.

“Nope,” Rilka says.

“Well, who recruited them with that plan?” Surm asks.

“The three of us,” Rilka says.

“Well, you’ve really thrown Sigurd under the wagon,” Surm says.

“How so?”

“Because he’s the one requesting the weregild.”

“Well, we’re not going to let him do it by himself,” Rilka says. “Well, here’s where your diplomacy may come into play. Maybe Mirka will be willing to smash in the door, but…”

“What do you want to do?” Surm asks.

“I don’t know,” Rilka says. “I would like to go in. I don’t think they’re going to give us the money. I think they’re going to cause us trouble. I’d like to neutralize them before we get in there.”

“Well, okay. Sounds great,” Surm says.

“But, it’s not just us,” Rilka says.

Surm sighs and sends Mahgnus back for Mõrvar. “Master Surm would like to speak to you,” Mahgnus says to Mõrvar.

“Very well,” Mõrvar says. He bows his head to Holga and makes his way to his brother.

“Rilka’s all concerned about a plan. That we need to have a plan about what we ought to do,” Surm says.

“I think what we ought to do is have Savaric scout the place out. He’s the one that can go invisible. Maybe even use her armor to fly,” Mõrvar says.

“She’s concerned that we need to make a formal declaration of our intent to collect weregild,” Surm says.

“That’s foolish,” Mõrvar says.

“Umm-hmm,” Surm agrees.

“And how does she expect to do that?” Mõrvar asks.

“I don’t know,” Rilka says, entering the conversation.

“You know me, I’m all about the element of surprise. If we need to make a formal declaration…” Mõrvar begins.

“She’s concerned that the good priests are going to want us to make a formal declaration because she sold them the story of the weregild,” Surm says.

“Well, that’s why everyone is coming,” Rilka says.

“Whoever is going to collect it, you can be assured is not coming back,” Mõrvar says. “You’re sending them to their death.”

“And we lose the element of surprise,” Surm says.

“That might be what people think, that might be what Mirka thinks, it might be what everyone assumes. What I don’t want is for us to get up to gates right before we go in and we don’t have unity of purpose because that’s where it’s all going to go to shit because we are relying on everyone to get us out of here alive,” Rilka says.

“We need to find who the head of the temple is, get our hands on them, and bring them back to the group, restrained or not, and then you can ask for weregild, since technically the head of this temple would be the one responsible,” Mõrvar says.

“I guess I assumed everyone was on the same page that I was on. From the get-go, I assumed we were going to slaughter this temple,” Surm says. “Because even if they say ‘okay, we’ll pay’ they’ll come back and kill people in the village. There’s no way we can let these guys live. That’s what they do. Apparently they’re assassins. So we really can’t really give them the option. I assumed we were going to come up here, scout it out, sneak in, annihilate them. I didn’t know we were going to have to convince anybody of that.”

“I’m going off of assumptions here. It’s not really been discussed. That’s how we got Mirka, that’s how she got all of these people,” Rilka says.

“I guess we need to have a powwow,” Surm says, reluctantly.

“We need to hash this out. I just think that right before we go in not the time to find out that one of these priests is…” Rilka says.

Mõrvar says, “Then we should hear everybody’s opinion, hear everybody out, and then decide what is best for us. I sure as hell am not going to go up and ask for weregild. I’m not going to become a pincushion of arrows or daggers. If any come with a sword-length of my blade, I will cut them down. These assholes tried to pin us. And that’s personal to me. I’ll be honest with you. I’m here for revenge. Nobody does that us. I’m here to make a statement. But whatever you decide, I’ll go with.”

“I think tonight when we camp, we need to have a meeting,” Rilka says.

Surm jogs over to Sigurd and asks. “Did you have a plan as to what you wanted to do when we get to the temple?”

Sigurd says, “Other than making my demands on behalf of Girda, though I do not think that they will accept them. No.”

“We’ve lost the element of surprise,” Surm says. “My gut says that they won’t pay either. Or, if they did, they would just come back in force. I really don’t see how we can leave without wiping this temple out. For the safety of the village. They don’t seem like the types to accept their responsibility, pay their debt, and move on.”

“No, they do not,” Sigurd says.

“So, then, maybe you should call for a meeting with us and the priests and then we can hash out a plan, get some more opinions in there.”

“That would probably be wise.”

“I’ll arrange it,” Surm says.

Surm has Mahgnus formally invite the three priests to the meeting that is being arranged that night with the main party and Sigurd.

That night, as camp is made, a separate campfire is set up about twenty yards away from the main camp. Here is where the meeting is to be held. Ivarin, Mirka, and Holga arrive, as does Sigurd and the main party. Alasir dispatches a few guards to set up a perimeter about the meeting.

Sigurd rises and begins the meeting with the following pronouncement: “We’re going to have to wipe these priests out.”

Ivarin, learning on his crooked staff, raises an eyebrow. Mõrvar leans forward. Rilka crosses her arms. Holga’s jaw drops. Mirka stands there blinking.

Surm says, “What I think Sigurd is trying to say is that the chances of the temple of Jörn accepting weregild are slim, and based on the reputation of the temple, even if they did, they would most likely either attack us on this path or come back to the village. It’s unlikely that they will pay and let it go, just based on what we know of Jörn.” He looks at Mirka. “I’d hate for this to come back on the village. That’s not what Sigurd wants.”

Mirka and Ivarin both nod. Ivarin says “I suspected as much before I volunteered to take on this journey.”

“When this was presented to Lavandarr, this was not presented as slaughter,” Holga says. “However noble the reasons.”

Mirka says, “But that does not make the reasons any less noble. That does not make it any less the right thing. We have to protect Yrda.”

Surm asks Holga, “Have you dealt with the cultists of Jörn before?”

“Not personally,” she says.

“Well, my limited experience with them has been assassins in the night, moving in shadows, slaying kings, attempting to frame others for the murder, sowing chaos in the village. They don’t strike me as honorable men that can be dealt with in an honorable way. And trying to do so will bring more risk instead of dealing with them like the people they are.”

She looks at Rilka and says, “Why wasn’t this presented as such in the first place?”

Rilka says, “It was trying to present it as trying to protect our village. The assassin has basically thrown our entire village into chaos…”

Surm interrupts and says, “This wasn’t our plan from the beginning. This was something that, discussing with Sigurd, he has decided is a better course of action in protecting the village. This was not a plan that was discussed with Rilka prior. But as a representative of the wronged family and of the village, he’s making the call. What would you rather see happen, Holga? This is a meeting, we’re discussing. How would you rather see it go down? Nothing is set in stone.”

“I was charged with the protection of those on this mission. And I will do so. The abrupt change in focus simply took me by surprise,” Holga says.

“We will not ask you to do something against your conscience,” Rilka says.

“That’s why were discussing,” Surm says.

“We want the blessing of the priests and priestesses on this journey,” Rilka says.

“But we also want people to live here,” Surm says, “And it seems like going up to the front door and knocking is not the best way to deal with people that shoot from the shadows.”

Mõrvar describes the negative energy powers that he and the others experienced from the priest they apprehended in Yrda. Ivarin says “They channel negative energies through their connection to their deity.”

“Well, I can tell you first hand, it is extremely painful,” Mõrvar says. “And that was just from one.”

Rilka says, “I am just a follower of Bruni, not a priest. He encourages us to be courageous and brave, but not to do things that are foolhardy.”

“Saemundil charges us to protect those who are weak and helpless. I am charged to help protect Yrda,” Holga says.

“Again, we would not ask you to do anything against you conscience,” Rilka says.

“The cult of Jörn is evil. They would not hold to the bargain,” Holga says, slowly.

“Then we all agree with Sigurd’s plan. The temple must die,” Surm says. He calls for a vote. “All for it say ‘aye’.”

Mirka and Ivarin raise their hands. Rilka raises her hand. Surm raises his hand. Sigurd raises his hand. Savaric raises his hand. Everyone stares at Holga. Holga sighs and says, “I cannot. If we were going to claim weregild, then we should have claimed weregild.”

“We are not going to be able to do that successfully,” Mõrvar says. “We are travelling with a woodsman, a thatcher, two farmers. These are types of people that the town had to send. My understanding is that this is the kind of fighting force being picked on by this place. They prey upon the weak. Aye.”

“So, Holga, you would like a formal request for weregild?” Surm asks.

“Yes,” Holga says.

“I don’t see how we can successfully do that,” Mõrvar says. “And then be prepared when they reject that.”

“If Saemundil is about protection, do you have the power to protect the messenger?” Surm asks.

Then a discussion ensues about the various priestly abilities involved to protect the messenger from various forms of attack, including arrows, poison, and the like. Mirka will be able to neutralize poison with the proper prayers.

Surm asks if Holga is opposed to them scouting the temple out before making the offer of weregild. She is not opposed to such an action.

The meeting is then adjourned. Surm talks to Sigurd, hoping to convince him that they will need to keep the good priests on board if they want to defeat the evil priests, so they will need to move forward with the plan to present the weregild. He projects confidence to Sigurd that the priests will cast protective magics upon him and that it will be an impressive showing, him demanding weregild before the evil priests, with his countrymen here to see him do that. Sigurd just looks thoughtful.

Savaric asks Ilona what she thinks about the plan. “The plan? I think perhaps you’re doing it the hard way,” the ring says in Savaric’s mind.

“I agree. This definitely makes it harder. And I’m going to need your help,” Savaric says.

“Well, we are friends,” Ilona says.

“How much do you think I can rely on you? As in, how long do I have to be invisible? And how often are you able to do that?” Savaric asks.

“I may turn you invisible seven times per day,” Ilona says.

“Is there a cool down in between,” Savaric asks. “How much time should I give you to rest in between?”

“You could burn out the seven times continuously, but then you wouldn’t have them for later,” she says.

“Thank you, Ilona. I imagine we’ll have a big couple of days ahead of us,” Savaric says.

“Excellent!” Ilona says.

“How have you been, otherwise?” Savaric asks.

“It’s been very quiet,” Ilona says.

“Usually, when something interesting happens, you have something to say about it,” Savaric says. “I suppose both of our minds have been elsewhere.”

“I suppose so,” Ilona says.

“Anything in particular you’ve missed lately,” Savaric says.

“I was just thinking of how these mountains remind me of Kuskar,” she says.

“Kuskar? Is that where you’re from?” Savaric asks.

“That’s where Matyas was from,” Ilona says.

“Where is Kuskar?”

“It’s to the south.”

“Is that someplace you’d like to go sometime? Or do you prefer the north?” Savaric asks.

“Oh, I just like to travel,” Ilona says.

The two converse with each other awhile longer, reacquainting with each other.

Everyone returns to camp and guards are posted, as per usual.

During the first watch, Alfhild and Tarben manage to rouse the majority of the camp with yells of “’Ware the camp! Troll in the camp!” People are stirring and grabbing weapons. The large, long-limbed creature is over by Sigurd, who is laying prone. Alfhild and Tarben are flanking it. Yelling a prayer to Bruni, Rilka runs toward the creature and attacks it with her falchion. Savaric gets his bow and shoots the troll twice. The first shot tears through the beast’s shoulder and the second gouges the beast. It howls in rage and then turns to attack Rilka. It hits her with one of its claws and misses her with the other. Alasir makes his way to the other side of the creature from Rilka, flanking it with her. He attacks with his short spear and misses twice. Sorcha then approaches from the diagonal attacks with her short sword, hitting it twice. Surm then fires his crossbow at it, but misses. Mõrvar then comes in from another diagonal and attacks with his greatsword, and hits, felling the beast.

Savaric reveals that trolls can solitary and also run in gangs, but that they also regenerate. Mõrvar starts running his sword through the creature’s head in an attempt to make sure it’s dead, but it starts to twitch. It needs to be disposed of by fire or acid. Rilka catches its hair on fire and its loincloth on fire, but not the beast itself. Finally, they pour oil on it and catch it on fire. It starts to rise and shrieks in the flames, and collapses.

Sigurd is holding a large bite wound. Mirka goes to him and casts a healing spell on him. The priests also cast healing on Rilka as well. Mõrvar and Savaric speculate on the possibility of tracking the troll back to its lair in the morning.

The rest of the night goes by without incident.

View
Session Thirty-One
The Gathering Storm

village_highres.jpg

2 Longday 508

After being up all day, all night, and part of the following day, Surm and Savaric are feeling fatigued.

Surm and his brother, Mõrvar, ask about after Mirka, the priestess of Ulfethinn, and find that she is at that temple, which is a small fortification on one of the hills just out side of the village. Once there, they are met by a young man, a guard, at the gate, who asks “Who goes there?”

“Surm Ulrich to see Mirka. Now, boy!”

Mõrvar gives the guard a look. The boy says, “Uh, the priestess is resting.” Surm walks away, leaving Mõrvar staring at the guard.

They then go to Girda’s house, the widow of the late king of Yrda. Her household guards let them in. They inform Surm that she has gone to rest with Loran, her son. He tells the guards to let her know that he came by and to send for him at his tent at her convenience. The brothers then return to their camp to rest.

The rest of the camp, including Rilka, settles in to get eight hours of rest.

That evening, the camp wakes up, and Rilka opens a discussion of when they are going to leave and what their next plans are. Mõrvar and Surm want to talk to Mirka about recruiting more fighters from within the ranks of village, but Surm doesn’t want to do it if it is going to cause problems with Rilka. They don’t think they’ll get more help in Valtan as they came to Yrda for help. Rilka thinks that Mirka may have contacts. Rilka seems to want to hedge on the question. She wants any able-bodied fighters in Yrda to stay. Surm and Mõrvar once again try to persuade her that sending out able-bodied fighters send a strong message, even if it leaves the village undefended.

Furfur croaks “Dead men tell no tales” and laughs.

Surm wants to know if Rilka is prepared to go against the elders and recruit anyway or kowtow to the elders and not recruit. Rilka wants to go through Mirka. Rilka does not want to go against the elders if possible.

Mõrvar and Surm then decide to go to Girda’s house to apprise her of the latest events. They are met by her guards, who let them in. She greets them and says to Surm, “Oh, my friend, I am glad to see you. It has been a long, long day.”

Surm says, “I just wanted to let you know what decisions were made, if you haven’t heard already. The temple of Bruni and the temple of Yülthn will not assist in your attempt at weregild. But the temple of Ulfethinn has decided that Mirka will come with us. But the temple of Bruni will not send anyone nor will they let me ask for any help. So, we are still going to take up your request, recruit along the way, which may mean whatever we may have to be split up before we get it back depending on what kind of help we have to recruit.”

“I see.”

“But the message will be sent, which I think is the more important thing. I didn’t know if you knew of anyone who might want to take up this quest for you on your behalf, who would like to join us? Anyone who, in the name of Loran, would like to join us? I’ve got the feeling that this is your quest, not the village’s quest, that’s how it was explained to me.”

Girda says, “I have been discussing this with my household and I can send my cousin,” and she points to one of her men in the room, “Sigurd. He will go.”

Surm walks over to Sigurd and shakes his hand and welcomes him to the quest. He’s a young man, probably close to Surm’s age. “It is good that someone from Loran’s family will represent. I think we’re gearing up to leave in the morning.”

“I will be ready,” Sigurd says.

The price of the weregild is discussed. “The price, if the temple will pay it, will be 500 gold pieces, but I doubt the temple will pay,” Girda says.

“Does Sigurd speak for you on this?” Surm asks.

“Sigurd may speak for me,” Girda says.

Surm asks Sigurd if he has a horse, and he answers that he does.

Mõrvar asks him what his talents are. He answers that he is a woodsman.

Surm and Mõrvar then take their leave.

Meanwhile, Rilka and Savaric head to the temple of Ulfethinn. They are met at the gate by a young woman who asks “Who goes there?”

“Rilka Lazarsdottir, with Savaric, here to see the priestess Mirka.”

They open the gates and let the half orcs in. They are ushered into a side room off the sanctuary and are soon met by Mirka.

“Rilka,” Mirka says in greeting, smiling. “I meant to come and meet your party this evening. I had a long day and was resting. We need to make arrangements for our journey.”

“We were doing a bit of resting ourselves. I was holding vigil at the temple of Bruni last night myself. And with all the excitement, not a lot of rest. I was going to speak to you about the expedition going out tomorrow anyway,” Rilka says. “We’ve been talking about the group that’s leaving. Is it just you that is coming from the temple?”

“That’s the plan,” Mirka says. “I’m leaving behind one of the other priests to maintain the temple while I’m away.”

“Well, it becomes a matter of pride the number of people that come to represent on the journey. My companions have talked to the other two elders and we’re not sure how open they would be to asking other people to come.”

“More people from the village?” Mirka asks.

“Yes, more people from the village,” Rilka says.

“Well, no they don’t want to leave the village undefended in case raiders get word that we are in a precarious position.”

“We are in a precarious position. However, I believe that it also becomes a situation in which how can other villages show us respect if we do not send a good representation of ourselves to fix this problem,” Rilka says.

“I agree to an extent; that’s why I agreed to come,” Mirka says. “Of course, the other half of the argument is that it does us no good to have a reputation if we have no home to come back to.”

“Well I’d like to see if we can strike a balance somewhere in the middle of that.”

“That would be good.”

“Are there any other villagers that may be willing to fight? Some that we can spare?” Rilka asks.

“Well, that would be up to them? I mean, if we wanted to put out a call. . . "

“Would the other elders work against that? Leaving the village in strife is not something we want to do either,” Rilka says.

Mirka looks thoughtful. “I don’t think Jonthin would. Lazar? I would not think he would. He would probably not send his priests.”

“He has said as much.”

“I don’t think they’ll like it. But I don’t think they’ll work against it. They don’t want to pull the village apart any more than it already is either. Lazar wants order.”

“I would like to see if anyone will move on with us, but I don’t want to rip this town apart. Can you help with that?” Rilka asks.

“I am for making a call and letting people decide for themselves,” Mirka says.

“Do we need to speak to the other elders before we do this, though?” Rilka asks.

Savaric asks Mirka if she knows of other places they could possibly recruit from. She says that she doesn’t believe that anybody else has the stakes involved that Yrda does, that nobody else was wronged the way this village was.

“What about people with a sense of adventure who want to go out and do things?” Savaric asks. “What about other priests of Ulfethinn that are pretty much the enemy of Jörn?”

“We are rivals of Jörn, not their enemy. There is a slight difference,” Mirka corrects the half orc. “But, we usually try to work against the machinations of Jörn, but I have a personal stake in that this temple has wronged my village. Other villages may have people looking for adventure, but are we looking for adventure or are we looking justice?”

“We’re looking for justice, but we need help, even if that is from someone looking for adventure,” Savaric says.

“Those are that are looking for adventure may get adventure, but they may also be looking for profit. Can you provide that?” Mirka asks.

“We don’t know,” Savaric says.

“That might be problematic, but that might be possibility in recruiting along the way,” Mirka says. “As far as this quest, no one has as personal a stake as someone from this village. I can put out the call. The other elders will not like it. But I will put out the call.”

“I want to have the support of all the elders,” Rilka says.

“I do not think that this is possible,” Mirka says. “Jonthin and Lazar are both of the opinion that this is a foolhardy quest. They are both of the opinion that, frankly, we go to our death.”

“I think that honor demands it,” Rilka says.

“I am in your corner,” Mirka says.

“I know,” Rilka says with a sigh.

“We have but one life,” Mirka says, “One life to go out and mete out justice, right wrongs, and by the Thunderer’s grace, I will do so. But I’m afraid that your father and Jonthin are not of the same opinion. I don’t think that’s going to change.”

Rilka looks sad.

“Before I give you an answer for that. . .” Rilka says.

“Before you give me an answer for what?” Mirka asks.

“Before I respond to putting out the call,” Rilka says.

“Oh, I’m putting out the call,” Mirka says.

“Ah. Oh.” Rilka says.

“This is not a question,” Mirka says.

“Before I do that, I need to go to Valtan,” Rilka says.

" The village with the yeti issue, " Mirka says.

“When I was in the temple last night, Bruni showed me a vision,” Rilka says.

“Oh, that is interesting,” Mirka says.

“I will be making this trip, at least, to that village,” Rilka says. “I need to stop there first.”

“I see.”

“So we leave in the morning?” Rilka asks.

“I will be putting the word out, and if everyone can gather. I don’t know if the rest of your band can be ready in the morning?” Mirka asks.

“I suspect we can be,” Rilka says.

“Then we have preparations to make.”

Rilka and Savaric say their goodbyes and leave the temple.

Everyone meets back at the camp and Rilka explains what happened with Mirka back at the temple and Surm is surprised, being as how that was not what Rilka had originally intended to happen. In Surm’s opinion, it’s good for the party, but not good for the village, possibly representing a rift between the elders.

Rilka lets Olaf know that their group will be ready to leave in the morning. He and his group of farmers are pleased and will be ready.

Everyone then hears the sound of the dull thud of hammer striking metal in the center of the village. The party gathers with the rest of the village at the center of Yrda. A loud female voice, Mirka’s, cries, “People of Yrda, hear me!” She is decked out in full-plate armor, striking it with a warhammer. “We have been dealt a blow this past night. Some amongst us are going to go and strike back against those that would do us harm. I am leaving with those amongst us that have taken the call. I am calling amongst you for those who will also take up that call. If you will go with us against the temple of Jörn to take the blood-price for Girda, for Dunig, for Yrda, come forward.”

There is some murmuring in the crowd and someone calls out, “You go against a temple. Is this not a holy place? Do you not fear the wrath of the gods?”

Furfur starts cackling. Mirka says “I ride with the Thunderer. I have no fear. Rilka rides with Bruni.” Rilka steps forward.

Jonthin, the priest of Yülthn and Lazar, the priest of Bruni, stand on the periphery of the crowd, staring at Mirka with frowns on their faces. They say nothing.

There is more murmuring in the crowd and then Mirka says, “So, who will take up the call? Who will ride with us?”

Sigurd steps forward and says, “My cousin’s husband was slain. I will take up this call.”

More murmurs come from the crowd. Then a skinny young man with a very prominent Adam’s apple almost stumbles from the crowd and comes forward. “I will come.” There are some chuckles and more murmurs. There are also some whispers of “Yes, let Nodwick go.”

Another man steps forward. He is a broad-shouldered man, dressed as a farmer. He says, “I will go.” This pronouncement is followed by gasps and “Oooo’s”.

A woman steps forward and says, “I will go.” This is followed by more murmuring.

Mirka asks, “Who else will go?”

There are more murmurs in the crowd, but no one else steps forward. Mirka calls out again, “Who else will take up the call?” No one else comes forward.

“Those that have come forward, come with me to the temple of Ulfethinn. You have done a mighty thing. The Thunderer will bless you.” She leads the volunteers out of the village toward the temple.

Surm and Mõrvar start snaking their way through the crowd toward Lazar. Surm tells Lazar “It seems that some of your villagers have just volunteered to go.”

“It appears so.”

“Well, we’re leaving in the morning. So, that would be a fine opportunity, if you wanted to, to wish us well, give us Bruni’s blessing, and to show your support for the quest. I fear that if you continue to withhold your support that there is a little bit of division happening here. Obviously not everyone agrees that it is a foolhardy quest.”

He just looks at Surm and turns and walks away.

“You know something, brother? I’m getting the feeling that Lazar doesn’t like me,” Surm says to Mõrvar.

Mõrvar says, “That’s his problem, brother.”

“Well, that hurts.”

“Well, if it helps, I like you.”

“Thanks. I imagine someday I’ll rescue Lazar from a warlord and then he’ll like me,” Surm says.

Meanwhile, Rilka follows Mirka and the volunteers to the temple of Ulfethinn. Everyone is let inside the sanctuary. Mirka performs a blessing upon all of the assembled. She says that the Thunderer will be “looking upon us all as we join this quest to bring justice back to Yrda” and that the temple of Ulfethinn has a few things to provide these volunteers.

Sigurd says that he has his own gear, but the other three come forward. These are introduced as Nodwick, Kalthin, and Sadwina. These three are given short spears and suits of padded armor. Mirka tells them to report to the encampment of Rilka and her band in the morning, from where they will be heading out. She also tells them to round up whatever provisions they can. The volunteers leave the temple and Rilka returns to the encampment.

At the encampment, guards are set and Rilka announces that she is going to the temple of Bruni to pray for the night. They then discuss their level of provisions and the need to re-provision in a larger settlement. They also, once again, discuss Rilka’s decision to take on the yeti problem on her own and how Surm and Mõrvar think that is a bad idea, despite the interpretation of Rilka’s vision.

The biggest settlement is Josemeedt, which is east—the opposite direction. However, eventually, they hit upon the idea of going to Rosemeedt, which is actually not very far from Valtan. So Rilka can go on her yeti quest after they re-provision in Rosemeedt and then they can move on into the Daggerspine where the temple to Jörn is.

Rilka goes to the sanctuary of the temple to Bruni to pray for courage and bravery in the task that lays before them. When she finishes her prayers, she looks up and sees Lazar standing in the doorway.

“Father,” she says.

“Daughter.”

“I had hoped to see you.”

The two meet and embrace. Rilka says, “May I have your blessing?”

Lazar says, “As a father, I ask you, don’t do this.”

“I’m doing this because of my faith.”

“I don’t think you understand what you’re walking into. These men are dangerous.”

“I know.”

“There are many of them.”

“I know. But I believe our gods go with us,” Rilka says.

“I cannot give you my blessing in this, but I can give you my love,” he says.

“Then I will take your love.”

“Tomorrow, for the sake of the village, for the sake of unity and order, I will go and place the blessing of Bruni upon your band,” he says.

“I am glad,” Rilka says. “I love you and I will return.”

“I hope that you do.”

Rilka embraces the priest again and heads back to the encampment.

02-vari-cloudtocloud.jpg

3 Longday 508

As the encampment makes preparations to leave, the village is stirring and gathering near. Mõrvar attempts to look as intimidating as possible as he makes his preparations. Olaf and his farmers have arrived and gathered, as well as the volunteers and Sigurd. Surm has Mahgnus take an inventory of the provisions being taken by the volunteers. Everyone is apprised of the plan to travel to Rosemeedt.

The elder priests, Jonthin and Lazar, arrive and Jonthin says aloud, “People of Yrda. The gathered here go to avenge and to bring back the blood-price for our fallen king. They shall go with the blessings of the gods upon them.”

Furfur alights from Mõrvar’s shoulder and shits in the center of the gathering as Jonthin finishes the blessing of the All-Father.

“And for courage,” Lazar says, “which the party will need in the presence of the enemy, Bruni will provide his blessing.”

Once again, the raven deposits a load of bird shit in the center of gathering as the priest completes his blessing. Furfur then returns to Mõrvar’s shoulder.

The two priests leave to allow everyone to finish their preparations.

Mahgnus tells Surm that the volunteers each have seven days of non-trail rations to sustain them—bread, cheese, that sort of thing, and a waterskin. Sigurd has two weeks of trail rations, but he also mentioned that he was a hunter.

Mõrvar introduces himself to the three other volunteers and asks them what their talents are. Nodwick is a thatcher. Kalthin is a farmer (pigs, specifically). Sadwina is also a farmer, though of vegetables and grain. He asks if they have any skills outside of their profession and Sadwina volunteers that she can sew. Mõrvar asks if any of them have wielded a weapon before and Kalthin says that he does done some militia work for the town. Mõrvar then asks if any of them have had to take a life. No, they haven’t.

The three volunteers do not have horses and Olaf and the farmers from Valtan do not have horses, so the troupe will be traveling at walking speed toward Rosemeedt.

Finally, with all preparations made, the troupe moves out in a large caravan to the west.

According to the questioning they did of the Jörnite priest, there is a fifteen-mile pass in the mountains about thirty-five miles from Rosemeedt. Surm uses this information to figure out how many days of provisions they need to buy once they get to that settlement. Based on the fact that some of their band is walking, and that they can’t take their horses through the trackless mountains, they figure it will take four days through the mountains and then another three through the pass.

Surm and Rilka discuss, once again, Rilka’s plans take on the yeti on her own. Surm insists that he can’t just watch her get pummeled by the yeti. Or the yeti’s family. Or the ogres that live near the yeti. The rest of the party wants to be involved in the quest. Rilka insists that when it comes to fighting the yeti, that the others need to step back and let her face it. “But what if you’re losing?” Surm insists. Finally, Rilka relents and says that if she’s losing, the others can step in. But she wants to show bravery before her god; she wants the chance to take it on one-on-one.

Mõrvar, on the other hand, interprets her vision as the party being her sword and that they all should take on the yeti.

Along the way, Savaric speaks with Mirka, complimenting her on her speech and making small talk. She thanks him for the compliment and converses with him.

The troupe travels through the day and as night falls, people start making camp and guard shifts are established.

The night passes without incident.

4 Longday 508

The troupe breaks camp and begins traveling once again to the west toward Rosemeedt.

Savaric offers his horse to Sadwina, but she politely declines as she does not know how to ride, being more familiar with draft animals.

Mirka rides with Savaric as they travel, conversing with him throughout the day. Savaric asks her how she got into the priesthood and about her life. She answers that she grew up in Yrda as an orphan, raised in the temple of Ulfethinn, grew to embrace the Thunderer and longed for a quest to prove her prowess.

The day passes without any other events and as the day comes to a close, the troupe begins to make camp.

The night passes without incident.

5 Longday 508

On this morning, the troupe arrives at the palisade of the settlement of Rosemeedt.

The settlement is busy, with Tradespeak and Roslag being spoken frequently by the people of the settlement. Much trade is being done by various peoples camping both inside and outside of the settlement.

The party once again discusses the possibility of hiring on more guards. Surm and Mõrvar are for it, but Rilka and Savaric require a bit more convincing. Eventually they decide to get the opinion of their existing guards. Surm has Mahgnus talk to Alasir and Sorcha to see if they feel they need more help. The valet returns and reports that both guards feel that they would agree that they do not feel overworked, but that more numbers would make it easier to perform in a manner in which they would be able to protect the party as opposed to being just an extra sword arm. The way that Alasir put is that he feels that he is less of a guard and more of an extra sword, that with extra men that he could actually guard. Sorcha agreed and brought up the incident the other night at the village in which they tried to surround the thief with only two people.

Mõrvar wants to have a total of ten guards. Surm agrees and wants to promote Alasir, a former militiaman, to sergeant. Savaric asks Mahgnus’ opinion and he demurs; he is merely a valet and is reporting what the professional soldiers have said. Rilka and Savaric are finally convinced.

Surm summons Alasir. “We have decided to hire more guards. You are going to join in hiring guards, interviewing and hiring them.”

“I see.”

“I’m putting you in charge of that. We’re also putting you in charge of those guards. I believe you have soldiery experience?” Surm asks.

“I was part of a militia.”

“You’ve been with us for a little while. We like you. You have militia experience. So, we’re putting you in charge.”

“Thank you!”

“Let’s go hire some guards.”

Surm and Mõrvar go to buy provisions and recruit guards, while Rilka, Savaric, and Mirka go to the longhouse of the temple of Yülthn and the watchtower of Saemundil to see if they can recruit priests.

The longhouse of Yülthn is the largest longhouse in Rosemeedt. There is a raucous common room filled with long tables with men and women hoisting mugs of ale and mead. The three half-orcs are met by a serving wench who bids them welcome. They ask to see a priest and the wench takes them through the common room to a table toward the back of the common room where they see a man sipping from a large tankard, his crooked staff of office leaning against the table. He’s wearing a simple robe. He looks up and the wench says, “Ivarin. Strangers to see you.”

Rilka says. “I am Rilka Lazarsdottir, follower of Bruni. This is Mirka, priestess of Ulfethinn. And this is Savaric, Master Hunter. We wish to speak with you of slightly sensitive matters. Is there a place we can speak with you and not be overheard?”

Ivarin looks at them and says, “Three half-orcs in one day. That’s a record.”

“We are nothing if not eye-catching,” Rilka says.

He gives them an amused smile and says, “Very well. Come with me.” He takes them into a back room of the longhouse and shuts the door. It’s a simple room. He sits in one of the chairs and motions for the others to the same. “What can I do for a fellow priest and follow of the gods?”

“We are freshly come from Yrda,” Rilka says.

“Never heard of it,” Ivarin says.

“It’s a small village to the east. I originally hail from and Mirka actually lives there and is one of the elders. Three days ago our king was assassinated by those involved with the temple of Jörn. Our king’s wife has asked for weregild. We travel that way,” Rilka says.

“For the assassin’s family?” Ivarin asks.

“The assassin has no family so the weregild is being levied against the temple,” Rilka says.

“The temple? That’s unusual,” Ivarin says.

“Since the actual assassin didn’t have any family, we felt that his closest relation was with this temple, and seeing as how grieved his wife was and how passionate his wife was for weregild, we felt we had no choice but to tax this temple for it,” Savaric says.

“So, my village is small, but we are going for the honor of our village, for the honor of our queen, to help demonstrate that our village is not easy prey for any warlord to come and destroy,” Rilka says.

“I see,” Ivarin says.

“We’re hoping to find any other priests that might wish to join us,” Rilka says.

“And so you come knocking upon my door,” Ivarin says.

“This is the temple of the All-Father,” Rilka says.

“The All-Father’s son has been naughty,” Ivarin says. “And you want to see if the All-Father will give him a spanking.”

Mirka says, “Of course, it is not just the three of us against this temple. We are gathering a force to take them are. We know where they are. We have representatives from our villages. We seek to gather others along our path. The Thunderer is with us, as is Bruni. We seek justice, nothing more.”

Ivarin asks, “How big is this force?”

“There are nine of us thus far,” Rilka says.

“Do you know what kind of force you’re facing?” Ivarin asks.

“Nineteen,” Rilka says. “I don’t know if they’re all priests or if some are acolytes.”

“Nineteen? I can see why you’ve come to me,” Ivarin says. “I’m not sure about you’re odds, but do you have a plan?”

“To succeed. With courage,” Rilka says.

“Bravery and courage are one thing, but do you have a plan?” Ivarin asks.

“It’s a work in progress,” Rilka says. “At this point, it’s difficult to plan if we don’t know all of our resources.”

“That’s fair,” Ivarin allows.

“At this point, I don’t think they’re going to pay us the weregild,” Rilka says.

“I think that’s a fair statement,” Ivarin says. “How long will you be in Rosemeedt?”

“Right now we’re re-provisioning. Why?” Rilka asks.

“Well, I’d like some time to think on it,” Ivarin says.

“If we come by in the morning, would that be alright?”

“That would be time enough,” he says.

The half-orcs rise and Rilka asks who heads the temple of Saemundil.

“Lavandarr,” Ivarin says.

The three make their way out of the longhouse and head to the watchtower of Saemundil.

The watchtower of Saemundil is located in the center of the settlement. The three half-orcs approach the gate and are met by a guard. Rilka asks to speak to Lavandarr and they asked “On what business?” Rilka responds “On protecting the weak.” The guard doesn’t seem to respond and Rilka continues. “I am Rilka Lazarsdottir, follower of Bruni. This is Mirka, priestess of Ulfethinn, and this is Savaric. We come on behalf of our village.”

Mirka steps forward. “By the Thunderer, you will let us in!”

The guard gulps and says, “Very well,” and then lets the three half-orcs into the watchtower. They are let into an entry chamber and asked to wait. The guard returns to his post outside and another guard is sent to fetch Lavandarr. After a few moments, a woman in a long gown with a silver-tipped horn at her belt comes in. She says, “I am Lavandarr.”

Rilka says, “We come from the village of Yrda.”

“I’ve never heard of it,” Lavandarr says.

“It’s a small village. There are about a hundred of us. It lies due east. About three nights ago, an assassin sent by the temple of Jörn killed our king, leaving a very small boy and a grieving wife. Since the assassin has no family, the wife has decided to claim weregild against the temple,” Rilka says.

Lavandarr raises her eyebrows at that. Rilka continues. “We go to also ensure that our town does not appear to be weak. We are worried that having such a young boy and no king that we will be easy prey for warlords coming through. And so we go. We stopped here to re-provision and hopefully to find people to join us. We have spoke to Ivarin of the temple of Yülthn and he shall be giving us an answer in the morning.”

“To seek weregild against the temple is an unusual thing, but to seek protection for your village is something I can understand,” Lavandarr says.

“We are a force of nine, as of now,” Rilka says. “The priestess, myself, a few others. We could not spare many from my village; we do not have many fighters. We must leave behind a force to protect those that are there, the queen and the young heir.”

“The cult of Jörn is an evil, evil thing,” Lavandarr says.

“I’m not sure they’ll be very receptive to our claim,” Rilka says, “We shall see.”

“No, I do not think so,” Lavandarr agrees.

“This is something that we must do. I do not want my village to be vulnerable. It must be protected and safe,” Rilka says.

“So you seek the assistance of my temple in this?” Lavandarr asks.

“Yes. I am a worshipper of Bruni, but I am no priestess. Mirka has the power of Ulfethinn on her side. I suspect that if we are going against priests of Jörn, then we will need more assistance from the divine,” Rilka says.

“How far is this temple?” Lavandarr asks.

“The pass is thirty-five miles from here and the pass itself is fifteen miles long. We are also escorting a group to Valtan. They have a yeti. I have sworn to help. As soon as that is dealt with, then we are heading for the temple,” Rilka says.

“You will have the protection of Saemundil on your journey,” Lavandarr says with conviction.

Rilka takes her hands and says “Thank you. Shall we come by in the morning?”

“Is that when your band leaves?”

“That is currently the idea, although that is when I shall hear from the temple of Yülthn. Regardless, we will be leaving tomorrow.”

“Then we will be ready tomorrow.”

Rilka and the others head back to meet back up with the rest of the group.

Surm asks Mahgnus, in his opinion, what kind raise Alasir needs. Mahgnus says that he should get a 2/3 raise, but not a double raise. Surm calls Alasir in and informs him that he has received a raise of two more silver per day, that he is now a sergeant and is in charge of all of these new recruits and that he needs to pick a second. He’ll need some time to assess the recruits before picking a second, but he’s fine with the new responsibilities and the raise.

Rilka assesses the hirelings based on her experience as a soldier and finds that they are experienced and competent warriors of varying degrees. Most of them are of similar experience to themselves, some are even more so.

Rilka reports on her success with the temple of Saemundil and the upcoming news with the temple of Yülthn.

The party decides set up a camp within the palisade of the settlement and then head to the hall of Yülthn for some drinks. But first they get some hot baths.

After baths, they head to the longhouse of Yülthn. The common room is made up of a series of long tables with men and women drinking tall tankards of mead and ale. Once they get in the longhouse and get a place to sit, Savaric makes sure he is sitting next to Mirka. He buys her a tankard of mead and makes conversation, trying to ensure that the priestess has a nice evening.

Mõrvar, for his part, scopes out the room for the prettiest female he can find. He spots an attractive woman drinking mead and conversing with a group of men and women. He makes his way over to her and asks if she would like to have a drink with him. She looks at him and says “There’s room at the bench,” and invites him to sit down with her. He sits and begins to chat her up. Her name is Katya and she introduces Mõrvar to the rest of her party.

Meanwhile, Savaric tells Mirka, “Watch this. It might be funny. It might be hilarious. This could be the event of our night.”

Mõrvar introduces himself to Katya and flirts with her and tries to get in good with her, hoping to draw her away from her party for a rendezvous. After a while, Katya seems to be paying more attention to her friends than to Mõrvar and he excuses himself, looking for other prey.

Mõrvar finally finds a willing accomplice named Fenla. He secures a room for the night and takes his companion with him, leaving the party back in the common room.

The rest of the party heads back to their base camp.

View
Session Thirty
The Celebration at Yrda

village_highres.jpg

1 Longday 508

The celebration at Yrda takes place in the central longhouse, the largest structure of the settlement, able to house nearly the entire population, roughly a hundred people. The King and the elder-priests of the village are seated on a raised platform, along with Rilka, Surm, Mõrvar, Savaric, and Leglaf Alefsson. Along with the guests is Olaf Randafsson, a representative of a contingent of farmers from the village of Valtan, twenty miles to the east. The rest of the village and the guest’s entourage are seated at long tables below. Mead and roasted meats are served to all in celebration of the return of the prodigals.

Olaf Randafsson is there to represent his village in asking for aid from the Temple of Bruni. It appears that their settlement has been beset by a yeti and need help in eradicating the menace. He often tries to engage Lazar Gonlafsson, the elder-priest of Bruni, but right now he only has time for his adopted daughter, Rilka.

Leglaf is fairly close-mouthed about his trip to Saemundiljeim, saying only that the trip was as arduous as one may imagine and that he did, indeed, receive a revelation, but that it is private. It is recalled, fondly, by Jonthin Coulthinsson, the priest of Yülthn, how Leglaf used to spend all of his time in the Hall of Yülthn, listening to stories of All-Father. Leglaf dismisses his old habit as the “folly of youth”, much to the consternation of the priest.

Rilka excitedly talks to her father about what has transpired since she left Yrda; how she came to meet her group of friends and the adventures they have had together, how he has been and about any events that have happened in the village. Rilka also tells her father why she has returned to Yrda. She has felt a need to return to the temple and pay homage to Bruni. She believes Bruni has been watching over her as she’s faced dangerous foes and situations and she hopes He’s been pleased with her courage.

Lazar suggests that Rilka hold a vigil at the heart of the temple—to both pay homage to the god and see if the deity has a message for her as far whether he is pleased with her courage. Perhaps after the celebration, she could go to the temple and begin her vigil. Lazar would be happy to accompany her to the temple, but she would need to hold vigil in the sanctum alone. Rilka accepts her father’s offer to accompany her to the temple where she will hold vigil that night. She also lets her friends know of her plans to hold her vigil.

Surm, at his end of the long table, recalls stories of slaying “the two Bloodbeasts of Stavan”, of retrieving griffon eggs, of hunting down dire wolves, and of the evil temple filled with ghostly shadows and gibbering mouthers. He is careful not to use the “Captain Rilka” persona as they are in her hometown. He also makes sure that Olaf Randafsson is listening when he tells the stories of their heroic exploits.

Olaf listens to the tales with interest, while Leglaf dismisses them as “longhouse talk, mead-tales that grow with the telling.”

Furfur has been very quiet throughout this whole affair.

Surm and Savaric compare notes about yeti. They are creatures of the high mountains, humanoids covered in thick white fur, fairly mysterious and rarely seen. They sometimes come down from their heights taking livestock and humans as prey leaving only their monstrous tracks in the bloodstained snow. Yeti are also known to have a frightful gaze that leave men paralyzed in fear and also to radiate cold. Sometimes particularly violent yeti can be exiled from their tribes.

Rilka has noticed that Leglaf used to be a lot more friendly and lot more open before his pilgrimage. It is apparent that his journey has changed him.

Mõrvar attempts to size up the villagers to see if there is anyone as “dangerous” as he. He notes that there are many able-bodied warriors in the village.

Lazar lets Rilka know that the party is welcome to camp in the village or families may be found that would be willing to put them up for the night. They opt to camp in the village while Rilka takes vigil in the temple of Bruni.

The party sets up their pavilion tent late in the night after the festivities are done as people begin to stumble out of the longhouse. They establish a watch schedule and settle in for the night.

Savaric, Surm, and Mõrvar discuss whether or not they want to involve themselves in Valtan’s “yeti problem”. Surm and Savaric think that it may be an opportunity for fame and glory and Surm points out that a happy village at the base of the mountains where they’ll be adventuring anyway would be advantageous. They will have a place they can fall back to and a place to take care of them if they get hurt. Mõrvar points out that one of these days, when he finally decides to plan roots, that it would help to be known. He wants to build his own village, his own kingdom. Surm is skeptical, but Mõrvar is adamant that he can build a place that people like “us” are accepted.

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Meanwhile, Rilka is escorted by Lazar to a sanctuary in the center of the fortification that makes up the temple of Bruni. She settles in for the night and begins her vigil, focusing her attention on the rune of Bruni. As the night goes on, her eyes begin to burn and sag and she grows tired. Then, she is wide awake and sitting on a mountain plateau. The sky is a deep blue and the sun shines brightly. She prepares her weapons for battle, sharpening and polishing her blades. A shadow falls over her and she looks up to see a huge yeti looming over her. In the center of its forehead is the symbol of Bruni, burning brightly like fire. It roars and she readies her weapon and she meets it, blade to claw. After a brief battle, it falls, and Rilka is covered in its blood. As it falls, behind it she sees a door, the rune of Bruni burning on its face like a brand. Then she feels herself waking up, continuing her vigil in the sanctum of the temple.

Back at the rest of the party’s tent, Savaric is on watch. He is on patrol outside of the tent when he hears the sound of tent-cloth being cut. He makes his way around the tent quietly and starts to draw his sword. When he gets around the corner he sees a humanoid form crouched by a rent in the tent. Their face is covered, but he looks wary, like they are listening.

As Savaric approaches, the form looks up at him. Savaric yells to try and rouse the tent and rushes the form to try and tackle him. The figure turns and runs so Savaric decides to take an opportunity to try and hit him with his sword. He misses him. Savaric gives chase, yelling “Thief!”

Inside the tent, Surm and Sorcha wake up. Surm goes to wake up Mõrvar while Sorcha takes up her sword. Surm wakes his brother and apprises him of the situation. Savaric catches up to his prey and grapples him, attempting to pin him to the ground.

The figure attempts to break free from Savaric, but fails. Savaric then attempts to pin the figure ground, but fails. Mõrvar then moves out of the tent, telling Sorcha to guard Surm, and starts yelling for Savaric. He sees people stirring from their houses, but he sees no sign of the half-orc. Surm is yelling for everyone to wake up and goes to wake up Alasir.

Surm tells Sorcha to go after the thief and continues to yell at everyone to wake up and wakes up Mahgnus. The figure attempts once again to get out of Savaric’s grip, but fails. Mõrvar yells for Savaric and Savaric responds so he runs around to the other side of the tent and down the path to see Savaric in grapple with another figure. Savaric once again tries to pin the other figure and fails. Sorcha catches up to Mõrvar.

The would-be thief tries once again to slip from Savaric’s grasp, but fails. Sorcha asks Mõrvar what his orders are. He says to surround the thief, so she moves to the other side of the grappling opponents. Mõrvar, in his best intimidating manner, tells the thief to surrender. This seems to shake the man up,

Meanwhile, Surm has woken up Mahgnus and is waking up the two half-orc porters.

Savaric then finally pins the man to the ground. Once pinned, he pulls a set of manacles from his pouch and secures them to his wrists. The man once again tries to break free, but fails. Mõrvar reaches down and pulls away the cloth wrapped around his face, revealing the face of Leglaf.

A crowd has gathered with torches, shedding light on the situation. Gasps run through the gathered villagers as Mõrvar stands him up.

Surm has managed to wake everyone up and is having Mahgnus take an inventory of their gear to make sure nothing was taken by the thief. He wants to know how he got inside.

Outside the tent, Sorcha is guarding the secured Leglaf while Mõrvar and Savaric drag him back to their camp. Mõrvar starts trying to question him as he drags him. “Why were you trying to rob us?” The gathered villagers follow.

At this point, a woman’s scream echoes through the village.

Surm grabs the porters and says “Let’s check that out,” and starts to head out of the tent.

Villagers begin to murmur. Savaric hears one of them say that the scream came from the king’s house. He tells Mõrvar that something is happening at the king’s house.

Mõrvar tells Sorcha to find out what’s going on and to make sure Surm’s okay. They continue to drag him to the campsite.

Sorcha meets Surm and the porters as they are heading out and says “I was told to find out what’s going on and return to the tent.”

“Good,” Surm says. “Come with me.” He leaves the porters at the tent and takes Sorcha with him to find out the source of the screaming. More villagers are heading in that direction as well.

Mõrvar and Savaric continue to drag the thief to the campsite. They do see Surm and Sorcha emerge from the tent. After a brief discussion, they decide to take the thief them to the king’s house. They drag the man with them down the dirt covered lane to the king’s longhouse.

There, in front of the longhouse, they see the woman they recognize from the feast as the king’s wife. She is holding her head and wailing that the king is dead, the king is dead.

The villagers continue to murmur amongst themselves and gasp. Mõrvar grabs their prisoner by the hair and asks if he had anything to do with this. The man spits in Mõrvar’s face. Mõrvar gives him a grave touch and says “We’ll try this again. Did you have anything to do with this?” in his best intimidating manner.

In the meantime, Surm starts to get the attention of the crowd, specifically to find out who is in charge. Savaric starts to frisk the body of their prisoner.

Jonthin Coulthinsson, the priest of Yülthn, steps forward. “Someone needs to be in charge.”

“So, are you investigating this?” Surm asks. “It just so happens, we have Master Hunter Savaric right here. I don’t know if you heard about the Beasts of Stavan. . . We also caught this man breaking into our tent like a common thief under the cover of darkness. I don’t know if that is tied in to what is going on here, but it is suspicious timing.”

“Leglaf?” the priest says, dismayed.

Savaric starts disarming Leglaf, laying out his belongings and giving them to the guards. He has a short sword, two daggers on his belt, two daggers in his boots, He notices a bulge in his tunic. Mõrvar scares the man into lifting up his tunic, revealing a bloody dagger tucked into his pants beneath his garment. Gasps go up amongst the assembled people.

“Leglaf, why would you do this?” Jonthin asks.

Leglaf says nothing and just stands there looking demoralized and shaken.

“Take him inside and bind him further,” Jonthin says. Mõrvar drags him inside the king’s house, hitting every bump along the way. He strips him bare naked and binds him with every binding he can find. He also goes through his hair to make sure he has no tools for escape.

Cries of “Murderer!” and “The king has been murdered!” are taken up by the crowd. Surm attempts to comfort the king’s wife. He assures her that the perpetrator of this foul deed has been found and is at her mercy. He continues to try to get in good with the king’s wife, trying establish the party as a insiders.

Meanwhile, Lazar interrupts Rilka’s vigil and announces that something is happening in the village. Rilka tells him that she would like to discuss what she saw with him later. “Then you saw something?” he asks. “Yes,” she says. But the two march down to the village.

Mõrvar looks at the belongings he’s stripped away from the prisoner and notices a small iron token that looks like a ring of flames. It is the symbol of Jörn, the Northron god known as the Sly One. He is known for trickery and sowing chaos. He claims to be the son of Yülthn, though Yülthn has never confirmed nor denied this. He holds the other gods in contempt, thinking that he is smarter than them.

The priest agrees about the symbol and says “This is bad business, if he is associated with Jörn.”

Mõrvar asks, “Why would Jörn want your king dead?”

“It is his way to sow chaos wherever he goes. A dead king throws the village into an uproar.”

“What purpose does this serve for somebody from this village? There’s always got to be a motivation behind it. There’s got to be a motive.”

“I do not know. But we will find out.”

Mõrvar says, “If you need help finding out, let me know. It seems that he was going to try to blame us for this. I would like to know why.”

Rilka and Lazar arrive at the king’s residence where there is a crowd gathered with torches and lights. Lazar and Rilka push their way through and see Surm comforting the king’s wife, with the two guards looking on. Rilka hears whispers of “The king is dead” and “His son is but a child” from the crowd. Rilka asks Surm what happened and he catches her up on current events. She and Lazar head inside.

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Rilka sees a stripped down Leglaf and the others looking at him. “He works for Jörn,” Mõrvar says.

“You’re pathetic,” Rilka spits out at Leglaf. “And a betrayer of our people!” She kicks out at him. “You get the chance to go out and commune with gods and get visions and this is what you do? Come back and kill our king?”

“We can hold him in our temple, if we need a place to hold him,” Lazar says. “We have a dungeon.”

“I guess that’s your decision, not mine,” Mõrvar says to the priest of Yülthn.

“He will be placed in the center of the village on the center pole. There he will be bound for three days. Or until he confesses why he did such a thing,” the priest says.

“And if he doesn’t confess?” Mõrvar asks.

“Then it will be for the king’s family to decide his fate.”

Mõrvar drags him by the hair out of the house. The priest of Yülthn announces to the gathered crowd. “He will be bound to the center of the village. A figure of ridicule. An example to those that would do harm against us. If he will confess his crimes, why he did such a thing, then he may find mercy in front of the gods.”

The people cry “Murderer! Murderer!” and spit upon him as Mõrvar drags him toward the center of the village.

The king’s widow warms up to Surm a bit and he assists her inside once the tumult dies down. He makes her some tea.

Mõrvar secures him to the pole. As he does so, he is whispering in Leglaf’s ear, intimidating him to confess, because in three days his brother will ensure that he will get to torture him for longer than that. He assures him that he will take him to the very edge of his life and bring him back again and again. He then applies his grave touch once again.

A shudder goes through his body and he says, “I confess.”

“Louder,” Mõrvar says.

“I CONFESS,” Leglaf says.

The crowd is rapt with attention. “Answer the priest’s questions about why,” Mõrvar commands.

“Why would you do this, Leglaf?” Jonthin asks.

Leglaf says, “It is my initiation.”

“Your initiation?”

“Into the cult of the Sly One.”

Gasps ripple through the crowd.

“But I have failed, so do your worst,” Leglaf says.

Jonthin asks, “Is this what you saw in Saemundiljeim?”

Leglaf says, “No. I never made it to Saemundiljeim.”

More gasps rock the crowd.

Savaric asks “Are there more coming here? More initiates?”

“No,” Leglaf says

“How are you supposed to report back?” Mõrvar asks, “Unless you have somebody here watching you.” He and the others start to scan the crowd.

Meanwhile, back at the king’s house, the widow excuses herself to check on the king’s son. Surm waits in the kitchen.

“Was this your life’s goal this entire time to get into this cult? When did this happen?” Rilka asks.

“I was made an initiate in my journeys,” Leglaf says.

“Where were you?” Rilka asks.

“In the Daggerspine.”

“Where in the Daggerspine? Do they have some sort of temple?” Rilka asks.

There is a whipping of air and an arrow protrudes from his chest. Everyone turns to see where the arrow came from. Rilka can see that it came from the top of one of the buildings. She draws her falchion and starts heading that way, everyone heads that way. Rilka then activates her celestial armor and takes to the air and flies. Mõrvar yells for Furfur to fly at the figure, but the bird just sits on his shoulder and laughs.

Rilka sees a dark figure scrambling down the other side of the building and yells to her friends, “He’s on the far side!” Mõrvar and Savaric go around the building on each side to surround the figure. Flying down and with her glowing falchion, Rilka cuts quite an impressive figure and lights the area. Rilka goes to drop in front of him, Mõrvar rushes behind him, and Savaric goes to shoot him.

Pain wracks all of their bodies as negative energy courses through them. Then Mõrvar hamstrings the figure with his sword, knocking him prone. Rilka goes to hit him with the flat of her blade, but misses. Savaric then switches tactics and moves in with Edgefrost and strikes him a bleeding wound. The man falls.

Savaric stabilizes his wounds so that they can question him later and they collect the unconscious man and carry him back to the village center. They also collect the longbow that he dropped.

They discover that the arrow was poisoned—Leglaf is dead. They start stripping down the captured man. No one in the village seems to recognize him. The man has five daggers—one of them has the symbol of a ring of flames. He also had a quiver with nineteen arrows. He was wearing studded leather armor. He had a belt pouch with two vials. He’s also wearing a token of Jörn around his neck.

Rilka tells Jonthin, “He’s alive.”

Mõrvar says, “He’s hurt pretty bad, but perhaps we can get some answers from him when we wakes up.”

Jonthin turns to Lazar, “Perhaps we can make use of that dungeon you mentioned. Let’s take him to the temple of Bruni.”

Mõrvar picks him up and starts to carry him toward the temple. Once everyone gets to the temple, Lazar directs everyone to a small chamber in the basement and directs Mõrvar to place the man inside. He does so, and then checks his mouth and hair for any tools. They leave the man inside and shut and bar the door.

Jonthin says, “I could revive him.”

Rilka says, “Well, my companion is very good at getting people to talk.”

“So I’ve seen.”

At Mõrvar’s urging, they go back in and put manacles on the prisoner.

Rilka asks if he’s able to have access to his powers without his holy symbol. Mõrvar answers that without his symbol, he will not be able to channel energy, and he should not be able cast most of his priestly spells.

Meanwhile, Surm continues to try to be a comfort for the king’s wife. He offers to do anything for her and she says that the only thing she wants is justice for her poor Dunig, the king. Others are in the house, household guards, watching for improprieties, but finding none.

Savaric goes to find Surm and returns to the king’s house. He updates Surm on current events, with the assassination of Leglaf and the capture of the assassination.

Surm asks Girda, the king’s wife, if there is anything she would like now, with this new turn of events. He offers to get more information from Jonthin on what is going on. She would very much appreciate that.

Surm heads to the temple of Bruni, announcing to the gathered crowd that Girda and young Loran, the king’s son, are fine.

Back at the temple of Bruni, Jonthin goes inside the cell and touches the manacled prisoner, saying a prayer. The man starts to stir and the priest changes places with Mõrvar. Mõrvar hovers over him an intimidating look on his face.

The man appears to be shaken by his wake up call. Mõrvar then proceeds to continue to intimidate the man into talking. Mõrvar looks to the priest and Jonthin asks the man about his temple. He says its in the Daggerspine and gives some rudimentary directions. As far as anyone can tell, he appears to be telling the truth. The priest then asks why the man has come to their village, why have they plagued us so? And the man says that it was for the young one’s initiation, to sow chaos in his homeland. If he was successful, he would be initiated into the ranks. If not, then he would be dealt with. Jonthin asks if there are more of them waiting in the shadows, waiting to murder us? “No, we came alone.”

Rilka asks, “How many are in this temple?” The man says “There are twenty of us.”

“Nineteen, not counting you, I assume?”

“I suppose.”

“This one should be kept here until what he said can be verified,” Mõrvar says, “Then I still want to have my conversation with him in private.”

The man seems frightened. “Is there anything else you want to tell us?” Mõrvar asks.

“I have nothing else to say.”

Mõrvar flexes victoriously and walks out with Rilka following.

2 Longday 508

Meanwhile, Surm arrives at the temple of Bruni as his brother and Rilka are exiting. “I’m going in to find out what’s going on,” Surm says.

“We just got him to give up where they are and how many are left of their little club,” Mõrvar says.

“Oh really,” Surm says.

“Yeah, there’s nineteen. And they’re in the Daggerspine.”

“And what did the priests say?”

“They asked all the questions,” Mõrvar says.

Rilka says, “What do we do with all the information?”

“Jonthin!” Surm calls out, “What’s your plan? What are you going to do now that you know where this temple of Jörn is? Girda sent me to find out what is going on.”

Rilka gives him a side eye and raises an eyebrow.

Jonthin says, “The All-Father is indeed testing us. To attack a temple, a holy place is a dangerous proposition. Twenty priests is a dangerous task indeed. Though, thanks, to your companion, I believe what he said about this being an initiation rite for young Leglaf. I’m not sure we would be further targets for them. Their grudge was not against us, but merely something for Leglaf to accomplish. He failed. I’m not sure I wish to bring down the wrath of their cult upon us by attacking their temple. I feel we should pass judgment upon the one man we have and we call that just.”

Rilka looks to Lazar, who seems to be nodding in agreement.

“Are we not worried they are going to cause trouble for other villages and towns?” Rilka asks.

Jonthin says, “As priest of the All-Father here in Yrda, it is my responsibility to see to Yrda. I feel that provoking them further will endanger this village. You may tell Girda that her husband’s murderer is dead. And that we, the elder priests of the village, will decide the fate of this other man.”

Surm and Rilka go to find Mõrvar and Savaric at the pole in the town center. Surm asks how they want to handle the situation. The town seems to want to let it lie. He wants to know how Girda should handle it—how he should influence her to handle it. It’s Rilka’s hometown, how does she feel? In the meantime, Furfur alights on top of the Leglaf’s head.

Surm believes that this is a great opportunity to get in good with the village if they take out the Jörnites. Mõrvar took the attack as a personal affront and is more than willing to kill them. Rilka is reluctant to have shit come back on this village. Rilka also reveals her vision from her vigil to the group. They also discuss the precarious political situation of the village—the hereditary king of the village is only 10 years old. The village elder priests would likely rule until the boy comes of age in six or seven years—if the village manages to hold out against other warlords until then.

Rilka says that she is more interested in doing what her god wants than going after Jörnites at this point. She just wants her village to be safe. Surm would rather make a name, and that means going after the Jörnites. And, in his opinion, making the village safe means making a show of force against the temple. Mõrvar sides with his brother after first being indifferent. Rilka finally agrees to allow Surm to convince Girda to want to attack the temple.

Surm goes back to Girda and updates her on the death of Leglaf and the capture of the assassin. She says it’s not her place to say anything about what the priests do, concerning the fate of the assassin, but Surm senses a degree of frustration on her part. He tries to build on that by suggesting that perhaps the temple is responsible for her pain, that perhaps recompense is due to her by this temple. Perhaps she would like to make a strong showing in Loran’s name as the new king?

“Leglaf has no family, so there is no one to pay the blood price,” she says.

“Well, he was an initiate of Jörn,” Surm prompts.

“Do you think you can persuade the priests to take the blood price from this temple?” Girda asks.

“I can do my best,” Surm says. “Are there other people of influence in the village that would be inclined to agree with you?”

“Perhaps Mirka.”

“Mirka?”

“The priestess of Ulfethinn.”

“You think she’ll agree with you on the need for weregild?”

“Yes.”

Surm gets information about Mirka and says that he will talk to her. Girda says that she is one of the elder priests and that she may be going to the temple of Bruni to speak with the other elder priests.

Mõrvar sees Surm emerge from the house of the late king and he meets up with his brother and gets updated on the latest information.

Meanwhile, Rilka heads to the temple of Bruni. She finds the three elder priests in conference in the central sanctuary. As she approaches, Mirka, the priestess of Ulfethinn, says that “The Sly One must not be allowed to get away with damaging our village.”

Jonthin says, “Even if we were inclined to take a fight to this cult, we don’t have the manpower.”

As Rilka comes in, Lazar says, “Well, daughter.”

Rilka says, “I have to agree with Mirka.”

The priests all turn to her with looks of surprise. “My apologies. I feel fairly passionate about it.”

Jonthin says, “Yes, well, as we’ve been discussing, we simply do not have the capability. We must keep the village defended.”

“I know of some people who might be interested. This is my home. I’ve been traveling for quite some time. I feel quite passionate about my home. About this place being protected. I know if I’m willing to do something to help protect it, my friends would be willing to come with me,” Rilka says. “I’ve seen what happens to towns when the warlords come. I don’t want that happening here.”

Jonthin says, “Which is why we can’t spare men for such a journey. But you said you and your friends would be willing to take such a journey. Six against twenty.”

“We are quite mighty.”

“What of the wrath of the other Sly One’s cults?”

“Against my friends?”

“Against the village.”

“How will they know this village had anything to do with it? If anything, it seems like it would come back to myself and my friends.”

Mirka gives you an appraising look. “Six against twenty are long odds. Your friends are this mighty?”

Rilka tells the story of liberating the village of Aeth (leaving out the twins’ sorcery).

Lazar says, “Are you sure that you know the difference between courage and foolhardiness?”

“Yes,” Rilka says, looking him in the eye and standing straight.

At this point Surm and Mõrvar arrive at the temple of Bruni and see the three priests and Rilka conversing in the central sanctuary of the temple. Rilka is visibly upset. Mõrvar puts a hand on her shoulder to comfort her.

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Surm announces that he has a request from Girda. The priests all turn to look at him and he says that Girda is requesting that the temple of Jörn pay weregild for the murder of the king. He explains that she wants Loran to have a strong showing as king, not to be a show of weakness, with his lawful claim of weregild.

Surm gets some raised eyebrows at that. Jonthin says, “It is her right to demand weregild, but against the priests of Jörn is unusual. . .”

“I believe the reasoning is that Leglaf has no family and as Leglaf became an initiate into that temple, he became their responsibility,” Surm says.

Mirka nods, “Were it not for the Sly One’s manipulations, her husband would be alive.”

“They did corrupt one of Yrda’s children and use him to kill their king,” Surm says.

Jonthin says, “Rilka has indicated that your band would be willing to take on this cult. Is this true?”

“Rilka is my family,” Mõrvar says, “I will follow her anywhere she needs to go.”

Surm says, “If there are no men of courage from this village, we will stand in for Loran.”

Lazar says, “It is not a matter of courage, it is a matter of resources. The village must be protected. Especially now.”

Jonthin frowns hard. Rilka notices that Mirka is looking closely at Surm like “I see what you did there.”

Jonthin says, “The rest of you should leave us. The three of us need to consult with one another.”

Mõrvar leaves and hangs out front of the temple. Rilka goes to one of the side sanctuaries to wait for her father. Surm approaches Rilka and says, “Sorry if I offended you.”

“When?” Rilka asks.

“When I called your dad out.”

“You did what needs to be done. I’m going to be here for a while.”

Surm leaves and joins Mõrvar and Furfur outside. Savaric stays will Rilka.

“We’re going to need more people if we’re going to take on twenty priests,” Surm tells Mõrvar.

“I know. And they have this negative energy. And it hurts bad. And I’ll be honest with you, I got in a good shot and Savaric got in a good shot, but if we hadn’t I’m not sure what would have happened. We need some cannon fodder.”

“I don’t know if we can get anybody from this village.”

“Nope.”

As Rilka waits in the side sanctuary, Lazar approaches her. She turns and faces him. “If you and your band wish to pursue the blood price for Girda, we will not stop you. If you wish, Mirka has said that she will journey with you.”

“I will have to talk to my companions. I cannot imagine that a priestess will not be well received,” Rilka says.

“I hope I did not bring embarrassment to you,” Rilka says.

“You have never embarrassed me, daughter,” Lazar says.

Rilka asks him to sit with her and she tells him about her vision during her vigil. Savaric steps outside. Lazar says “Were I you, I would speak with Olaf. I believe that that should be your path. I believe that if you face this challenge alone, you will receive your pathway, if you show courage.”

“I try to show courage in all that I do.”

“I know.”

“Alright. So you think I should do this alone?”

“Yes. I think this would be a mark of courage.”

Rilka gathers up the her friends out in front of the temple. She tells them what Lazar said, that if this is the path they want to take, that they won’t stop them and that Mirka will come. Surm and Mõrvar are incredulous the other priesthoods, especially Bruni, are not sending anyone and not getting involved. Rilka also brings up the quest indicated by her vigil-dream and her belief that she needs to do it alone. Mõrvar says that that doesn’t sit right with him, that as far he’s concerned they are all “one body”. Rilka says she believes that they are a family as well, but she may need to face the yeti alone. In the end, it is decided that Surm and Mõrvar will go talk to Lazar while Rilka and Savaric will talk to Olaf.

At the temple of Bruni, in one of the side chambers, the brothers are met by Lazar. Surm begins the conversation.

“Rilka informs us that you would not stop us from getting the weregild?”

“The elder priests, no,” Lazar says.

“But that didn’t really sound like you were in support of it.”

“I think there is a difference between foolhardiness and courage.”

“And that Mirka was going to go.”

“She said she would.”

“So I just wanted to know, is the temple of Bruni going to represent in this at all?”

“We are staying to protect the village.”

“We are going to make a claim on behalf of your village,” Surm says.

“You are going to make a claim on behalf of Girda,” Lazar says.

“The wife of the slaughtered king of your village, or did he not represent your village.”

“The king did represent the village, but he is also the man of her bond. The elder priests are not in support of sending are defenses in support of this mission.”

“You realize you’re showing weakness, right?” Mõrvar interrupts. “You’re inviting trouble. I know. We’ve seen it. We had to defeat a warlord, a demon, and a witch. And our home was not much stronger than this. And I our king was alive.”

“All the more reason to defend it.”

“You can’t if you don’t show power. If you don’t prove a point. You have no chance.”

“And while all our defenses are traipsing off into the mountains…” Lazar says.

“Not all, a representative.”

“We are going up against a temple of twenty priests. You are sending Mirka as the only priest,” Surm says.

“We are not sending Mirka.”

“You’re right. Mirka volunteered on her own to go. You are sending no one.”

“Because we are defending the village.”

“You can’t spare one priest from your temple?”

“All I have are initiates.”

“A priest is a priest,” Surm says. “You saw my brother intimidate two different prisoners to go against their loyalties and better judgment. Are you sure the reputation of Jörn is doing the same here?”

“That’s what it looks like,” Mõrvar says. “Which makes you an easy target.”

“I truly do not see how sending one of my initiates to their death is going to save my village,” Lazar says.

“You think we have no hope,” Surm says.

“I think it is a foolhardy mission.”

“You’re sending your daughter,” Surm says.

“My daughter chooses her own path.”

“May we talk to your initiates and let them choose their own path?”

“No.”

Mõrvar says. “Your king was murdered. Your next in line has six or seven years before he can take charge. Another temple is the cause of it. You’re going to show that you’re susceptible to invasion and you won’t do anything about it when you are attacked so when the first warlord comes in even if you do defend there’ll be the next one because you’re weak and then the next one not to mention you still don’t know if you have a problem with Jörn or not. You won’t show any initiative. You won’t show strength. You open yourself up to attack. Just by sending a representative or allowing them to decide whether they’ll represent you or not you’ll at least show that you’ll not tolerate or stand for attacks. Your king was slaughtered in your town. You couldn’t stop this town from being taken from anybody right now. You couldn’t stop the attack you just had because you’re not willing to. If you don’t take initiative, if you don’t prove a point for an effect, you’ve already lost the village. If you’re content with that. . .” Then he turns around and walks out the door.

Surm leaves as well.

Meanwhile Rilka and Savaric find where Olaf and his contingent of farmers have been camping. They approach Olaf, who seems wary, but she introduces herself and indicates that he mentioned that he had a yeti issue and he notices the symbol of Bruni around her neck.

“There’s not too much more to tell. Our village has had some livestock destroyed. The beast has come down from the mountains for the past two weeks or so. Penwulf the Younger here,” he points at an old farmer, “seen it and was struck dumb with fear of it.”

“Penwulf can speak now, correct?” Rilka asks.

“Oh, yes.”

“It’s not been taking people has it?”

“Not yet.”

“If you’re willing to help, we’ll leave whenever you like and lead you there. If the tales your companion told at the longhouse are true, you should be more than ready to handle our problem.”

Rilka essentially makes arrangements with Olaf that they will take care of their yeti problem, but they must make preparations first. They may be able to leave in the morning. They shake on it.

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Rage and Raven: Temple of Vengeance (Part Four)
Part Four

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3 Growth 508

The hostile adventuring party has been dispatched and their belongings distributed amongst the party. Lenoria uses her ability to detect magic to determine that the vials are all magic and to sort the vials, like to like. They load the excess onto the new riding horse and the mule and start continuing on toward the temple.

After traveling for a bit through the woods, they find a place to make a camp and settle in for the night. Lenoria channels positive energy to heal the party before they go bed.

The night passes without incident.

4 Growth 508

After eating breakfast of the food taken from the hostile adventuring party, Lenoria casts read magic and reads the scrolls she found on the strange elf they fought the day before. She determines that two of the scrolls are scrolls of bull’s strength and that the third is a scroll of fog cloud. They are arcane scrolls, so she will have to use her skills to cast from the scrolls. The party then loads up and continues on toward the temple.

Late in the morning, the party emerges from the woods and into the foothills of the Et’tir Mountains. Lenoria and Rhain spot a plume of smoke rising from a valley up ahead—a valley in which the party had fought hobgoblins a few days ago. Rhain calls out from the rear, “There’s smoke ahead!”, alerting Alun and Kerra of the sight. They all halt and regroup, no longer traveling in single file now that they are out of the forest. After a brief discussion, they decide to proceed and approach the valley, and then to let Alun scout it out and determine what is going on.

After traveling a couple of hours, Alun calls a halt about a mile from plume. Lenoria gives him a “bit of luck” from her goddess and he sneaks away from the party. Rhain determines from the smoke that the fire is bigger than a campfire. He climbs a nearby hill, crawling when he gets to the top, to see what he can see. He can’t make out much more than it is billowing more smoke than a campfire would. The fire is definitely coming from the valley, not the hills surrounding it.

Alun eventually returns and reports seeing about twenty hobgoblins. They flew a banner and were burning bodies down in the valley. He didn’t get close enough to see who. Rhain reveals that hobgoblins are a very organized and militaristic race and must be on the march. Their numbers persuade the group to detour around the valley and avoid the hobgoblin band.

Other than that, the day goes by without incident. They settle in to make a camp for the night, keeping an extra eye in the direction of the hobgoblin band. The night also passes without incident.

5 Growth 508

Traveling through the day, the hills give way to a mountainous trail. As they make through way along the trail, Rhain and Lenoria both hear a sound of movement in rocks near Rhain. Lenoria calls a halt while Rhain turns to face the rocks. Jumping from those rocks is a goblin. It attempts to grapple Rhain and fails miserably. Rhain takes the opportunity to attack the goblin with his axe, but misses him. Rhain then attacks again, hitting it with his greataxe, and killing it.

“You okay back there?” Lenoria calls back.

“It was a goblin. Apparently a desperate one,” Rhain responds.

All the goblin has is a loincloth. Rhain kicks the corpse of the creature and then the party moves on.

That afternoon, the party arrives at the narrow pass that leads up to the temple. Once again, they see the three large statues of Shazira that dominate the courtyard and they make their way inside the temple sanctuary. After reviewing where they’ve been in the temple, they vote to go to the right-hand door at the temple altar. They proceed with Alun looking for traps along the way and Lenoria in the middle casting light. Rhain takes up position behind Alun, while Kerra takes rear guard.

The door is unlocked and opens into a plain, narrow hallway leading south. The hallway is long, running nearly the entire length of the sanctuary, and opens up into a square room. Across the room is another door. In this room is a wardrobe, its doors open and hanging off their hinges. Old religious vestments are hanging in tatters inside. Alun begins to check the room for secret panels while Lenoria checks the room for magic. Neither find anything of interest. They proceed to the next door, which is unlocked.

This door leads to a larger, rectangular room, with another door across the room. There are four bunks. At the foot of each are chests that have been opened. The mattresses of the bunks have been slashed. Once again, Alun searches for secret panels while Lenoria detects magic. Neither find anything of interest. They proceed to the next door, which is unlocked.

Alun opens the door and everyone sees the light of Lenoria’s pendant reflect on a multitude of eyes as Alun quickly shuts the door again and utters, “Spider!”

Lenoria readies her crossbow while Alun readies his bow. Kerra gets ready to attack the creature when it enters the room. Rhain positions himself to throw open the door and come behind it when it enters the room. Lenoria casts bless upon the party before the door is opened.

The door is thrown open and Alun fires his bow, hitting the giant spider in the doorway. Lenoria then fires her crossbow, missing the creature. The monster then closes the distance and attacks Kerra, but misses. Kerra attacks the creature but misses. Rhain then approaches from the rear, flanking the creature, and attacks. He hits the creature hard with the greataxe, causing it to curl up in death.

They go inside the room and find a small dining table with four chairs and a ransacked sideboard. There is a set of double doors across the way. Alun searches the room for secret panels while Lenoria seeks to detect magic. Neither are found. The doors across the way are unlocked.

The next room is a kitchen. Old utensils, wooden spoons, etc. litter the floor. In the corner of the room is an old, decayed pallet—probably used by a scullery. On the wall near the pallet is a set of shackles. There is a larder attached to the kitchen with hooks for hanging meat. It still has the lingering smell of rot. Alun checks the area for anything unusual and Lenoria checks for magic but neither are found. There are no other doors than the ones they came in. They decide to return to the sanctuary and try the left door.

Once again, the door opens into a narrow corridor that follows the length of the sanctuary. It opens up into another square room with a wardrobe that’s been ransacked. There’s a door on the far end of room. Lenoria detects no magic and Alun finds nothing unusual. They move on to the next room.

Again, there is a matching room with four bunks with slashed mattresses and foot chests. Lenoria detects no magic and Alun finds nothing unusual. There is a door at the far end of the room. They move on to the next room.

Like the other side of the temple, they find a small dining room with a table with four seats and another ransacked sideboard. There is a door at the far end of the room. Alun finds nothing of interest and Lenoria finds nothing magical.

The final door leads into another kitchen that is as ransacked as the previous one. Nothing else of interest is found within it.

The party decides to do a more thorough search of the crypt area to see if there are any secret areas that were missed before.

They descend down the secret staircase to the crypt and begin searching the various dead ends. Alun finds a secret door. He does not find any traps upon it, so they proceed through it, with Alun leading the way. He opens the door and a PHISP is heard. He says “Ow!” and pulls a dart out of his hand. “I feel woozy. . .”

Lenoria gives him a “bit of luck” to help him with his resistance to whatever poison entered his system. They then go through the door, which leads into a narrow passage. Alun continues to look for traps as they go.

As they proceed through the passageway, the floor drops from beneath Alun and Rhain. Rhain manages to not get caught in the drop, stopping just in time. Alun drops and turns, catching the edge of the pit with his fingers. Looking down, they see that the pit is ten feet deep and has spikes at the bottom.

Alun pulls himself up and joins Rhain on the near-side of the pit. At Lenoria’s prompting, Alun attempts to reset and disarm the trap—but to no avail. The pit remains.

The party then decides to get one of the stone lids from the crypt and place it over the spikes in the pit. They then prepare to long jump across the pit. Rhain jumps across pit gracefully. Lenoria gives herself a “bit of luck” and leaps across competently. Kerra takes a running leap and makes it across. Alun then makes a Rhain-worthy leap across. They then continue down the passage.

The passage ends at an iron door. Alun checks it for traps and finds none. Then he goes to pick the lock. Everyone hears a click as the tumblers of the lock turn. Another click sounds and the floor drops beneath Alun and Rhain. Rhain falls into the pit, hurting himself on spikes. Alun manages squirrel around and hang off the edge of the pit by his fingertips.

Alun scrambles up to open the door as Lenoria channels positive energy to heal Rhain. Rhain jumps up and climbs out of the pit. Alun attempts to reset the trap on his side and the floor is restored. The others walk across it to the chamber on the other side.

The party finds themselves in a sizeable room with only a few items within it. There are two small chests, a three-feet high obsidian idol of Shazira (in her flame-haired woman aspect), a masterwork scimitar with flames etched on the blade sitting on a wooden pedestal, a suit of masterwork leather armor with a flame motif, and two scroll cases propped on the chests.

Lenoria detects magic in the room and detects it on the scroll cases. Lenoria gives Alun a “bit of luck” and Alun looks for traps in the room. He finds none. They then check out the chests. Alun finds no traps and finds that it is unlocked. He opens the chest and sees an assortment of gemstones and some silver and gold coins. He checks the second chest, which is also trap-free and unlocked, and finds a bloodstone and five obsidians and some silver and gold coins.

They count the coinage and discover that each chest has fifty silver and fifty gold. The first chest has five agates, three azurites, and two blue quartzes.

The party discusses the distribution of the goods and decide to offer to sell the temple goods to both the Shazirans and the Irthani. They will see what temple will give them the better offer. But first they have to get everything out of the temple.

They load the contents of the chests into backpacks and carry the rest. Making their way back to through the passage, they leap across the pit. Kerra misses and hits the stone lid hard, but climbs up the other side. Alun also misses and hits the stone lid, and attempts to clamber up the other side. He finally makes it. Lenoria channels energy and heals their wounds. They continue down the passage, make their way out of the crypts, and camp in vestment room off the left-hand passage from the sanctuary. Lenoria brings the mule and horse in from the outside and secures them in the sanctuary.

The night passes without incident.

6 Growth 508

Alun appears to have recovered from his illness.

The party loads up and heads out of the temple. Along the way, they discuss the fact that the dealers in Imth are only inclined to be “angrily indifferent” toward them and not give them a particularly good price. Rhain brings up the possibility of stashing their goods until they can get a good deal—and not be taxed as dealers. There is also the possibility of being accused of looting a temple.

As they travel through the mountains, they come across what appears to be the scene of a recent skirmish. There are a couple of hobgoblin bodies laying on the ground. There is a broken banner depicting a bone sawed off at the end. Rhain analyzes the scene, determining that two groups of hobgoblins met each other on the field of battle. There was a melee and one group fled into the surrounding rocks. The other group marched away, heading deeper into the mountains, due east.

The bodies they found have been stripped of weapons, armor, and loot. Alun recognizes the banner from the band he saw during their approach to the temple. They decide to get out of the mountains before the hobgoblins return.

Nightfall finds them out of the mountains and into the foothills. Camp is made and watches set up, as per usual.

The night passes quietly.

7 Growth 508

The party travels through the hills toward the forest.

Lenoria wants to try and conceal their goods for sale before they get to the city in order to smuggle them inside. Again, Rhain reiterates that he thinks they should stash the idol outside the city before negotiating with the temples as far as to whom they are going to sell it. Lenoria agrees.

That afternoon, they leave the foothills and enter the forest. The day is passes quickly and quietly, as does the night.

11 Growth 508

After several uneventful days of travel, the party arrives at the outskirts of the city of Imth. They look around in the area outside the city, a few hundred yards from the wall, for a hollow in which to hide their idol. Alun and Lenoria find a hiding place and stash the idol and the flame-motif armor.

Rhain suggests they go to the good temple first, Irthani, and then go to the temple of Shazira, and then see who offers them more. Lenoria has reservations about the temple of Irthani because they are in decline—they may not have much to offer. Rhain doesn’t care—he’s for seeing what they can offer and going from there. Everyone endeavors to remember their hiding spot, and then they go to head inside through the city gates.

Once they arrive at the gates, they are charged the traditional gate taxes and are ushered through with the throngs of people awaiting to get through the aperture. The guards are surly, but pass them through without charging them additional taxes.

The party heads for the temple of Irthani first. It is an ancient, slightly run-down building with the statue of the Eudaimon outside. They find a priestess inside, her head shaved, wearing blue robes trimmed in green. Lenoria approaches her and asks to speak to the Light of Ja’hana. The priestess is taken aback a bit and Lenoria presses and introduces herself as Lightbringer Lenoria and says she would like to speak with her on a spiritual matter.

The priestess says, “If you wait here, I will see if the Light will see you.”

Lenoria thanks her and the party waits in the sanctuary. After a time, the priestess returns and says that the Light will see them. The party is taken deeper into the temple, into a back chamber. Another shaven-headed older woman greets them. She has blue robes trimmed in gold. She motions to some low couches that are situated in the room and everyone sits.

“I am Lauron,” she says. Lenoria introduces herself and the rest of the party.

“You are the Lightbringer?” the priestess asks.

“Yes,” Lenoria says.

“It is unusual for one of the Sianaean faiths to visit one of the Tarsian faith on a spiritual matter,” Lauron says.

“Well, my friends are adventurers. We travel, track down rumors, find items, legends, things of an interesting nature to us. We had recently heard of a temple that had been abandoned, a temple that had been taken by your faith about a century ago. My understanding was that there were some items that were never found. Well, we may have found something of interest to you,” Lenoria says.

“This is increasingly sounding like something that is not a spiritual matter,” Lauron says.

“The spiritual matter is the fact that what we may have found is sacred to a particular faith,” Lenoria says, “and we know, at least at one time, people of your faith were particularly looking for these items. And to be frank…”

“Please,” Lauron says.

“We are foreigners in this town,” Lenoria asks Rhain to see the flame-motif scimitar, and he displays the weapon for Lauron to see. “I think the temple of Shazira would be interested in getting their hands on some of these. This is not a conversation for the public space.”

“So what are you proposing?” Lauron asks.

“We’re hoping to sell them,” Lenoria says.

“So, to parse what you’ve said, you’ve discovered a temple of Shazira…,” Lauron begins.

“We’ve discovered a temple of Shazira that was in the mountains. The temple of Irthani was up there, at least according to the legends that I heard, about a century ago, cleaned it out, never found the hidden chamber, was looking for an idol and perhaps other artifacts,” Lenoria says.

“And you have found this idol and the artifacts and you wish to sell them to us so that we may dispatch as we may wish,” Lauron says.

“We assumed that you would want them,” Lenoria says.

“You wanted them a hundred years ago,” Rhain says.

“We assumed you might pay well for them today,” Lenoria says.

“I see,” Lauron says. “A hundred years ago, we were a much richer temple.”

“I know about temples being in decline and those being in power,” Lenoria says. “I think the temple of Shazira would pay well for these as well. However, I don’t know how much we can trust them.”

“You can’t,” Lauron says. “So what artifacts have you recovered?”

“This scimitar. A set of armor that matches it. An obsidian statue of Shazira,” Lenoria says.

Lauron says, “You put me in an interesting predicament.”

“How so?” Lenoria asks.

“I wish to take these items off you hands. I do not wish to see them go to the temple of Shazira…” She begins.

“Then let’s make a deal,” Rhain says.

“But I’m not sure, in all honesty, I can give you a fair price for them. You put me in the position of buying objects that we will turn around and destroy,” Lauron says.

“Perhaps you have something of equivalent trade?” Lenoria asks.

“You don’t have the idol with you?” Lauron asks.

“No,” Lenoria says.

“So I do not know its worth,” Lauron says.

“It’s obsidian,” Rhain says.

“We can describe it,” Lenoria says. “Are you solely interested in the statue, in the idol?”

“Mostly interested in that, yes,” Lauron says.

Rhain puts away the scimitar.

“I can offer you either a hundred platinum or a very special bag,” Lauron says.

“What’s special about this bag?” Lenoria asks.

“It can hold more than an ordinary bag,” Lauron says.

“So that is your best offer?” Rhain asks.

“That is my best offer,” Lauron says.

“We will need time to discuss,” Lenoria says.

“I see,” Lauron says. “I would caution you against doing business with the temple of Shazira. They are aligned with the powers of darkness. They are corrupt.”

The party makes their way out of the temple of Irthani and gather outside.

“Does anybody have an opinion? I don’t think that’s enough,” Rhain says. “First of all, the bag doesn’t help us; we can’t split that.”

“But it sounds really interesting,” Lenoria says.

“But we can’t split it up,” Rhain insists.

“I know, but that’s what makes it sad because it sounds really interesting,” Lenoria says.

Alun says “If we can get more, let’s get more.”

“I’m with Alun, we should go to the other temple,” Rhain says.

“I’d rather get something than have something taken from me,” Lenoria says.

“Well they can’t take it from us because we didn’t bring it with us,” Rhain says. “They’re going to have to deal with us if they want it. Right now, all they can take is a scimitar. Does Kerra have any input?”

“Well, we didn’t give our word to this other priest,” Kerra says. “But I don’t like what he said about this other temple being corrupt.”

“Of course he said that, he’s playing for the opposite team,” Rhain says.

“I want to ask a more neutral third party as far as what she said,” Lenoria says. “If this temple is know for hauling people out in the middle of the night…”

“What neutral third party are you going to ask? Who do you know?” Rhain asks, incredulous.

“Our innkeeper. She’s a foreigner. She’s been assimilated for a little while. She’s also an innkeeper so she’s heard a bit of gossip.”

“Alright then,” Rhain says. “To the inn!”

The party heads to the Naked Shepherd Inn to speak to the innkeep, Phamea, and to secure rooms for the night. The party also sells off their horse and mule and the accoutrements that came with them. Fortunately, Lenoria’s diplomacy brings the surly salesmen from a hostile demeanor to a merely indifferent one. Lenoria and Rhain secure baths and then head down to the common room. Alun and Kerra meet them down there.

Lenoria approaches Phamea at the bar and slides a silver coin toward her. “I’d like to ask you some questions about the political lay of the land, but some that may need to be asked in a private setting. Is there a back room we can talk in?”

Phamea says, “Okay, come with me.”

She takes Lenoria and Rhain to her back office. “We are trying to debate on whether we want to do business with the temple of Shazira. Someone else that we don’t know very well cautioned us against it. I’m more curious on how they do business with people. We’re foreigners here. We have no legal standing.”

Phamea says, “You don’t want to cross them.”

“Well, they are the ones in power. I know they are not known for being a very charitable group,” Lenoria says. “I mean, do they have a bad reputation? Do they kidnap people? Do they tend to take rather than to bargain? How heavy-handed are they with their actions here? You’ve heard rumors here at the very least.”

“They can be very heavy-handed on Contemplation Days,” Phamea says. “They’ve been known to drag people out of their homes and drag them to the temple.”

“Is this a thing where a lot of people end up missing or what?” Lenoria asks.

“They’re made examples of,” Phamea says.

“For doing what?” Lenoria asks.

“Blasphemy,” Phamea says.

“What is considered blasphemy here, exactly?” Lenoria asks.

“The rejection of the self. The rejection of order,” Phamea says.

“The rejection of the self? What does that mean?” Rhain asks.

“I’m not really sure,” Phamea says. “But I think rejection of one’s urges.”

“As in their advocating rejection of one’s urges or encouraging one’s urges?” Lenoria asks.

“Encouraging,” Phamea says.

“They’re really against anything that’s not orderly, then,” Lenoria says.

“That seems kind of contradictory,” Rhain says.

“All of it is up to the interpretation of the priests,” Phamea says.

“They want you to indulge your urges, but in an orderly fashion,” Rhain says.

“Or just do what they say,” Lenoria says.

“Would you do business with them, if you had something to sell?” Rhain asks.

“Directly with them? I try to avoid them. I try to avoid their notice,” Phamea says. “I just don’t want any trouble. They tend to bring…trouble.”

“If we wanted to sell something discreetly, where would we go?” Rhain asks.

“I don’t really know, that’s not really my line,” Phamea says. “I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” Lenoria says.

The four squeeze into Alun’s room and Lenoria and Rhain relate what they learned. “I don’t want to get anywhere near that church, that’s for sure,” Lenoria says.

“Why?” Rhain says.

“They reject anything that isn’t orderly? If they know my religion, which is tattooed on my face, they aren’t going to like me at all,” Lenoria says.

“You don’t have to make the deal,” Rhain says.

“I don’t want to be there,” Lenoria says.

“Alright, you don’t have to be there,” Rhain says. “I still say that’s our best bet for more money.”

“I don’t know,” Lenoria says.

“You don’t think they’ll give more money?” Rhain asks.

“I worry they’re just going to take it,” Lenoria says.

“They don’t have it,” Rhain says.

“But they’ll have us and we know where it is. Heavy-handed people who drive people out of their homes. That bothers me. I want to be able to get on a ship and get out of here. But I wonder if we can take it with, if we can get flat out collector’s item value for it somewhere else.”

“We don’t have any idea how much that is,” Rhain says. “It has great than just collector’s item value to the temple of Shazira. It seems like something that they would really, really want bad.”

“I do not doubt that,” Lenoria says.

“Well, I say we go and make an offer and see what they will give us. That’s my vote. Approach Shazira for more money,” Rhain says.

“I don’t want to approach them. I’d rather take it elsewhere,” Lenoria says.

“I thought your religion was all about risk-taking,” Rhain says.

“No, it’s all about trickery,” Lenoria says.

“Let’s trick them into taking it!” Rhain says.

Alun says “I definitely don’t want to join these guys, but I’m for getting some more platinum. Yeah, I’m for giving it a shot.”

Kerra says, “I think it’s too risky.”

“What?” Rhain says. “Vote with your brother! What about the family bond? Blood is thicker than water!”

“Sometimes Alun doesn’t have a brain in his head,” Kerra says.

“So what is her vote then? Go back and take a bag and we can all sit in circle and stare at it?” Rhain says.

“We can find a different buyer,” Kerra says.

“I don’t see how we can do that in this town,” Rhain says.

“Or we go elsewhere,” Lenoria says.

“It’s an idol of the god of this nation. If we go to another nation, nobody’s going to give a crap. Here it means something,” Rhain says.

“Or we take the other option,” Kerra says.

“We are getting cheated here!” Rhain says in disgust. “That’s what this temple does. They cheated Alun with their fake cure. They charged him money and then sent him home to heal.”

“What they charged us for was stopping the poison, not healing him,” Lenoria points out.

“Well then they overcharged,” Rhain says.

“I don’t know. It’s not something I can do, so I don’t have a set rate for it. Once I can do it, I’ll let you know. I guess I’ll charge a hundred and fifty gold,” Lenoria says.

“But that other temple is not even interested in the armor and the sword,” Rhain says. “Shazira would be. The vote is split. How will we determine what we’ll do?”

“I don’t know. Let’s figure out what we have right now,” Lenoria says.

“Well, let’s not sell off the gear and the gemstones here because the best we hope for is indifference. Let’s only worry about the stuff that’s specific to this area,” Rhain says, and Lenoria agrees.

“Why don’t Alun and I go to the temple of Shazira and feel them out? That way you do don’t have to go?” Rhain says to Lenoria and Kerra.

“Why don’t you tell them that there will be no counter-offer allowed. If they tell you 50 platinum, I don’t think you can tell them someone else will give you 100. I don’t think it’s going to work that way,” Lenoria says.

“Whatever. I’m going to bed,” Rhain says, exasperated.

“Me too,” Lenoria says.

Everyone heads to their room and beds down for the night.

12 Growth 508

Rhain comes down to the common room to eat breakfast and sees Kerra come down from her and Alun’s room. She looks around the common room, doesn’t see what she’s looking for, and then heads back upstairs. Rhain continues to pout and eat his eggs.

Meanwhile, Lenoria casts read magic and determines that the scrolls they found in the temple were cure light wounds and the other is bane. She heads downstairs and joins Rhain.

Kerra comes back downstairs and reports to the others that Alun is gone.

“Alun’s gone?” Lenoria asks.

“Well, he’s wasn’t in the room. He’s not down here,” Kerra says.

Rhain didn’t see him leave. Lenoria and Rhain ask if there was signs of a struggle or if his stuff is gone. She says there was no sign of a struggle and that his backpack is still there, but his weapons are gone. So he took his weapons with him. Lenoria starts asking around to see if anyone in the common room has seen him. Phamea says that she saw him leave earlier this morning. He didn’t say anything, he just left.

Lenoria asks is that’s normal and Kerra says, “No. He’s up to something.”

“What do you mean, ‘up to something’?” Rhain asks.

“He’s probably got an idea in his head,” Kerra says. “Idiot.”

“You don’t even know the idea. It might be a good idea before you call him an idiot,” Rhain says.

“I have a feeling we need to start looking at boat passage,” Lenoria says.

“I’m sure he’ll come back here. He left his stuff,” Rhain says.

“Kerra, are you alright with waiting for him while we try to arrange a boat?” Lenoria asks.

“That’s fine,” she says.

“I assume you’re ready to leave this place,” Rhain says.

“Yes,” Kerra says.

Rhain and Lenoria leave to head to the docks. They ask about for ships heading back to Crownport. Lenoria hears of a ship called The Green Lady, captained by Landon Masrath, heading for Crownport. Exploring the docks, they find a fine ship with a green figurehead in the shape of a comely woman. Workers are loading her up with cargo. Lenoria inquires about passage and is directed to the captain. She and Rhain are brought aboard and brought to a red haired and red bearded man, Captain Masrath. Negotiations are made and a price is settled upon (much to Rhain’s dismay). The ship is bound to leave in the morning.

The two promise to come back once they get word from their compatriots.

When the two get back to the inn, they see Kerra sitting by herself; Alun is not back yet. They catch Kerra up on what they found out about booking passage and decide that they need to find Alun.

A young man enters the inn wearing black robes with black clothes beneath them. His head is shaved in the manner of a priest. The man comes into the common room and announces in Tradespeak that he is looking for Kerra Lanyon. Kerra raises her hand and the young man comes up and hand hands her a scroll and then bows. He waits.

Kerra reads the scroll. Then her eyes narrow and she mutters, “Idiot,” to herself. She hands Lenoria the scroll. It is written in Tradespeak. Lenoria sits close by to Rhain and holds it between the two of them to read it. It reads: “We have Alun Lanyon. We expect the idol in return. You have until dawn. The Flame of the Goddess.”

Lenoria curses under her breath in Sianaean. Rhain and Lenoria then look to the priest and he says, “Do you have a return message?”

“I do, but he’s not my brother,” Rhain says. “Are we just supposed to bring it to the temple? It’s pretty vague on the particulars.”

“If you have the item, I’d be happy to relay it,” the priest says.

“So, where are we supposed to take it?” Rhain says.

“I can give you directions to the temple,” the priest says.

“Unless you have Alun with you. Do you have Alun with you?” Rhain asks.

“No.”

“Then I’m not giving you shit,” Rhain says. “You can pass that message along.”

Kerra looks like she’s steaming.

“There’s no return message at this time,” Lenoria says.

“Very well,” and the priest turns and walks away.

“We should probably jump him in an alley and kill him,” Rhain says.

“Why?” Lenoria asks.

“Because. I don’t like him. I don’t like the look on his face.”

Lenoria crumbles up the sheet of paper. “So there’s our answer for wanting to do business with this temple in future. Let’s not.”

“We know where the temple is. I say we go case the joint,” Rhain says.

“To what end?” Lenoria says.

“Finding a breaking point. Breaking in and getting him out,” Rhain says.

“Strangely enough, the only one of us remotely good at breaking into places, and we saw how good he could do that, was Alun,” Lenoria points out. “Unless you have talents I’m unaware of.”

“I break stuff good,” Rhain says.

“I don’t think going against an entire temple of priests…” Lenoria says.

“But we don’t know how big it is. It could be a small temple. Maybe there’s twelve or less.”

“I don’t think that’s the case,” Lenoria says. “I don’t think you think that’s the case, either.”

“I don’t want to give them the idol because they’ve done pissed me off,” Rhain says. “I’d rather go sell it to that other guy for a bag than give it to them, now. That’s not how you do business.”

“Two people warned us…” Lenoria begins to say.

“Nobody warned us,” Rhain says, “That’s bullcrap.”

“Two people warned us, and Alun didn’t pay attention,” Lenoria says.

“I didn’t hear anybody warn us,” Rhain says.

“That’s selective listening.”

“There’s that one guy, but he’s an opposing religion, of course he’s going to say ‘I wouldn’t do business with them’,” Rhain says.

“And the innkeep here,” Lenoria says. “She says she wouldn’t.”

“She also said she didn’t know where to sell stuff discreetly, that it wasn’t her business. She wasn’t in the business of doing business with anybody.”

“She gave plenty of warning,” Lenoria says.

“We can’t just leave him there,” Kerra says.

“I didn’t say leave him there,” Rhain says. “I think we ought to bust him out.”

“I think Alun’s share is coming out of his ransom money,” Lenoria says.

“That’s pretty harsh,” Rhain says.

“Well, I don’t want to leave him there,” Lenoria says.

“I don’t think we ought to leave him there, but I don’t know about his ransom money coming out of his share, that’s all,” Rhain says.

“I’m just not pleased,” Lenoria says. “I was hoping for an uncomplicated exit from this city.” She looks at Kerra and says, “I don’t think we’re leaving your brother here.”

“What are we going to do?” Kerra says.

“I say we go case the joint. Figure out what we can do. Sneak in. Sneak out,” Rhain says.

“I’m not particularly sneaky,” Kerra says.

“Take out guards along the way,” Rhain continues. “Loot their treasury. Make them regret ever kidnapping Alun. And then bust the idol up and leave it in powdery obsidian in the sanctuary floor. A big F-U.”

“That sounds like the type of plan you tell over drinks. I just don’t think it’s going to work,” Lenoria says.

“Well, what is your suggestion?” Rhain asks.

“We have two options. We either bust in or we give them the idol,” Lenoria says.

“Okay, what is your suggestion? Your suggestion is we have two options?” Rhain asks.

“Let’s go look at the temple and see what’s there,” Lenoria says.

The three leave the inn and follow the directions to go to the temple of Shazira. The temple is in an affluent neighborhood. It is a square structure, large, but not huge. At the four corners are looming statues of Kakodaimoni. Columns mark the entrance of the building, which is built primarily of obsidian and basalt. Black robed figures come in and out of the structure. The three stand outside of temple for awhile watching and determine that about a dozen priests come in and out of the temple, along with other people. They also observe a fairly heavy city watch presence in the neighborhood.

“We should go in and look around the inside,” Rhain says. “Other people are walking in and out besides priests.”

“I can’t go in. I stick out,” Lenoria says.

“Well, Kerra?” Rhain asks.

“Let’s go inside,” Kerra says.

“Alright, let’s go in,” Rhain says. And he and Kerra go inside.

They are inside a large sanctuary area with many columns filled with carvings, similar to carvings on the columns in the temple they had come from in the mountains. Priests are milling about with the public, answering questions and ministering to crowd. At the end of the room is an altar and statue of Shazira in her aspect of the warrior woman with the scimitars and flaming hair. Beyond that is a single door.

Kerra and Rhain are approached by one of the priests. He says in Tradespeak, “Welcome to the temple of Shazira. I was told to look for you.”

“You were told to look for me?” Rhain asks.

“For the two of you. There was a third?” the priest says.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. We were heading over to that altar.”

“Do you have the object?” he asks.

Rhain looks at Kerra, who says. “Not yet.”

“That is a shame,” the priest says.

“We’re here to make you actually have Alun and that he’s alive,” Rhain says. “We demand to see him before any transactions take place.”

“That may be possible. Wait here,” the priest says and goes to the door behind the altar.

“Kerra, quick, do you want to follow that priest and jump him?” Rhain asks.

“We don’t know where he’s going,” Kerra says.

“That’s why we’ve got to move quick! What do you want to do?”

“Alright, let’s go.”

The two head for the door the priest went through. They open and can left, right, or straight—but can see the priest straight ahead, rounding a corner. They follow. They see him stop by another door in a hallway and rap on it.

“Kerra, are you ready to rush him?” Rhain asks.

“Alright,” Kerra says.

“When that door opens, I say we bolt,” Rhain says.

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

The door opens and Kerra and Rhain spring forward to attack. Rhain rushes through the door, knocking over the priest who they were following. He finds himself in an office facing another priest in black robes trimmed in red. Kerra follows.

Kerra moves in to attack the priest, hitting him with her longsword, yelling, “Where’s my brother, you bastard!” The priest raises his hands to cast a spell and Kerra and Rhain take the opportunity to attack. Both of them hit him with their weapons and the spell fizzles in his hands, Rhain hits him with his axe again and the priest is still standing. Kerra swings with her sword and misses. The priest in the red trim then grips his holy symbol and a wave of negative energy fills the room, wracking everyone in pain. Rhain enacts his barbarian rage and attacks the priest with his axe. The priest falls.

“Kerra, shut the door!” Rhain says.

Kerra moves the man out of the doorway and shuts the door. That priest starts to stir and Rhain drops a knee to his back and puts a dagger to his throat. “Don’t make a sound.” The man is compliant.

“Kerra,” Rhain says, “Check the other guy. Is he dead or alive?”

Kerra does so. “He’s alive.”

“He’s alive?” Rhain turns to the priest they followed in. “Who’s he?” indicating the fallen priest.

“The Flame of the Goddess.”

“Well, he’s alive right now. Whether or not he stays that way depends on whether or not you help us,” Rhain says. “We want her brother. Where is he?”

“He’s down in the dungeon.”

“Can you get him?” Rhain asks.

“Yes.”

“Without raising any suspicion?” Rhain asks.

The man thinks for a moment. “I don’t know.”

“Alright. This is what you’re going to do. You’re going to take her with you. You’re going to go down there. You’re going to tell them that we brought the idol and that the Flame has ordered his release and she’s going to be right there with you. If you try anything funny, or anything bad happens, she’s going to yell out, and the first thing I’m going to do is chop this guy’s head off. And then I’m going to come down that hall looking for you. But there’s no way he makes it out alive.”

Rhain asks him where the dungeon is and he says “down below.”

“Duh, down below, but how do I get there?”

He gives specific directions down the hallways for the dungeons.

“If you give me bad directions to the dungeons or you don’t lead her to them, she’ll call out and I chop off his head.”

Meanwhile, Lenoria has noticed a flurry of activity going on outside of the temple. She goes and hires a coach and brings it around to the outside of the temple and has it waiting.

Rhain and Kerra open the door and Rhain reminds the priest that if anything goes wrong, the Flame dies. The priest says he understands. The priest and Kerra head down the hallway and Rhain shuts the door and listens for any commotion. Then he searches the room for anything flammable. He does find a bottle of liquor. He shoves the body under the desk and douses the tapestries and desk in liquor. He then positions himself to listen for trouble.

Lenoria, outside the temple, sees two city watchmen being lead into the temple.

As Rhain impatiently waits, he hears a knock at the door of the office. He goes over to the desk and answers with a loud, “Hmmm”. Through the door, he hears Kerra’s voice “Rhain! It’s me!” He opens the door and sees Alun, the priest, and Kerra. Rhain then hears a set of footsteps coming down the hall. He quickly ushers everyone inside the office and puts a dagger to the throat of the priest. Then a knock comes at the door.

“This is the city watch come to speak to the Flame.”

Rhain prompts the priest with a jab of the dagger. “Yes?”

“There were reports of a disturbance down this hall.”

“No. No, there was no disturbance.”

“Then the Flame is fine?”

“The Flame is fine.”

The guardsman says, “Very well. Carry on,” and walks away. Rhain listens to make sure he actually walks away and hears footsteps moving away.

“Do they know what the Flame looks like?” Rhain asks.

“Some of the guards men do, some don’t.” the priest says.

Rhain strips the hooded robes of office from the Flame and throws them to the priest. “Put these on; you’re walking us out of here.”

“I can’t put these on. It would be a blasphemy!” the priest says.

“Is it a blasphemy to let your Flame die? I don’t know, these are spiritual questions I don’t know the answers to. You should put those robes on,” Rhain says. “It’s almost over, friend. It’s almost over.”

Reluctantly, the priest puts the robes on.

“You don’t speak to anyone. Anyone approaches you, you just grunt and wave them away. Got it?” Rhain says.

“Very well,” the priest says.

“Don’t you yell an alarm. Don’t you do it. I’ll knife you and then I’ll come back here and knife him,” Rhain says, and gives the priest a crazy-eyed look.

Alun and Kerra go first, “The Flame” goes next, and Rhain follows last. They are approached several times by other priests, but these priests are waved off by “The Flame.” Finally, the small group makes it to the front door. Once outside, the group is approached by a closed carriage. The door opens and Lenoria is inside. Alun, Kerra, and Rhain load up inside, leaving “The Flame” outside.

“Be careful when you start shouting alarms, my friend. You might want to change clothes first, blasphemer,” Rhain says, before the carriage takes off.

The priest takes off running back inside the temple.

The carriage starts running toward the Naked Shepherd so the group can pick up their gear. Lenoria promises the driver a good tip based on how quickly they can make their destination. Rhain says that they need to get their gear and get on the ship and go and Lenoria brings up that they may need to pay extra to get the ship to leave today. Rhain says that all the more reason to go sell the statue for 100 platinum and then glares at Alun when he realizes that they may not have time to sell the statue now.

Glaring at Alun, they now notice that he has been roughed up substantially. Kerra looks at him and says, “Idiot.”

At the Naked Shepherd, the group gathers up their stuff while Lenoria gets pen and paper from Phamea to write a message to the Light of Ja’Hana at the temple of Irthani. Essentially, she gives directions for the location of the idol and indicates that the temple owes them 100 platinum for the artifact, and that the party will collect at some point. She makes arrangements to have the message delivered. Phamea is also to tell any priests of Shazira that come by that the party has left the city. They then load up in their carriage and high-tail it for the docks. Along the way, Lenoria administers priestly healing to Alun, Kerra, and Rhain.

Once they get to the docks, they alight from the carriage and Lenoria tips the drivers handily. The party boards The Green Lady and Lenoria goes to the address the captain and attempt to talk the captain into leaving a day early. “As we’re loaded up and you’ve paid up front, and I can hardly blame you for wanting to get out of Tarsas, and I can’t say no to a lady, I suppose we can weigh anchor.” The captain begins issuing orders and the ship starts making ready to set sail.

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Rage and Raven: Temple of Vengeance (Part Three)
Part Three

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24 Awakening 508

The party has made their way out of the catacombs of the temple and back into the large sanctuary area. It is late in the day and the party is wounded from their various fights with the ghouls. The party decides to head out of the sanctuary and camp outside of the temple. Lenoria channels energy from her goddess and heals the party of their wounds.

The night passes without incident.

25 Awakening 508

The following morning, it is noticed by Rhain and Lenoria that Alun is not looking at all well.

Rhain asks if the young man can continue. He says that he can. Kerra gives her brother a chastising look and asks “Are you sure?”

“Yeah, I can keep on,” he says.

However, Lenoria determines that the cause of the problem is ghoul fever, brought on by the bite of one of those foul creatures in the catacombs. It is potentially fatal, and if he succumbs, he could become one of those creatures.

Alun and Rhain turn white with fear. Lenoria is rattled by the information she has brought to light, but Kerra brings up the fact that there must be some good gods in Tarsas if the evil temple they’ve been exploring was rooted out by them. The party decides to return to Imth to seek out a priest to heal him.

The party travels down the mountain trail into the foothills of the Et’tir Mountains. Late in the afternoon, the party finds itself about to enter an area between two foothills. Lenoria notices the glint of the setting sun off of metal at the top of one of the hills.

“There’s metal ahead of us on the hill ahead,” she says as she draws her morningstar. The rest of the party readies themselves as they hear the TWANG of a bowstrings coming from the hills. Alun is hit with an arrow, as is Lenoria.

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Alun takes off running around the side of one of the hills. Kerra hustles forward to confront one of the archers on the rise, a hobgoblin. She decapitates her opponent in a mighty slash of her longsword. Kerra is shot with a longbow. Lenoria casts magic weapon on Rhain’s axe. Rhain hustles closer to the next archer, falling ten feet short of the other hobgoblin.

Alun darts between the hills. Kerra hustles to the next hobgoblin and attacks, missing the hob. Rhain moves forward to confront the hobgoblin and attacks, missing the hobgoblin as well. The hobgoblin drops his bow and draws a longsword, attacking Kerra and missing. Lenoria leads the mule towards the site of battle.

Alun sneaks behind the hobgoblin and stabs him hard with his short sword. Rhain attacks and misses. Kerra moves in and attacks, hitting him her longsword. Lenoria continues to lead the mule forward. The hobgoblin attempts to attack Kerra and misses as well.

Alun stabs the hobgoblin with his short sword and the creature falls. Rhain looks perturbed that he didn’t get slay the creature. Lenoria moves forward and channels energy from her goddess to heal the party, and in the process, causes the hobgoblin to rise once again. Rhain rushes forward to deliver a coup de grace to the dazed hobgoblin, severing his spine and slaying him once and for all.

The hobgoblins are looted of armor, weapons, and coin. Then Rhain decides to see if can track where these two hobgoblins came from. He finds a trail that leads deeper into the hills, away from the direction that the party is headed. They decide to abandon the trail and head to Imth, but to lay out the hobgoblin bodies to mark the trail.

They travel on for the rest of the day, camp for the night, and the night passes without incident.

26 Awakening 508

The party travels through the forest throughout the day. The trees are thick and close together, blocking much of the springtime sun.

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Late that afternoon, as the party makes its last push before settling in to make camp, everyone hears a rustle in the underbrush as an angry boar emerges from the underbrush, approaching Rhain. The party makes ready with their weapons. Alun throws one of his daggers at the beast while the boar gores Rhain. Lenoria calls down a blessing from her goddess while Kerra lashes out with her longsword, injuring the fierce beast. Rhain deals a mighty blow to the creature, that by all accounts should have felled it, but the creature fights on.

Alun throws another dagger, misses the creature. Rhain then deals the creature another mighty blow, but fails to still the raging beast. The boar tries to gore Rhain again, but misses him. Lenoria touches Kerra to bestow a Bit of luck upon her, which was fortunate, as Kerra was able to finally kill the beast.

The party decides to go ahead and camp and butcher the boar for meat for the day.

The night passes without further incident.

27 Awakening 508

The next morning, Alun is decidedly worse. The party continues traveling for Imth, traversing through the forest. At the end of the day, Alun and Rhain hold up short, having heard a noise in the underbrush. The sound is near Lenoria, who did not hear. Rhain draws his axe and approaches the underbrush, investigating with it. He moves aside a branch and uncovers a dirty-faced dwarf. One side of his head is shaved.

“Come out of the brush,” Rhain says.

Emerging from the brush is a dirty-faced dwarf with one side of head shaved. His dirty clothes have obviously been caught on brambles and been torn. He is unarmed and wears no weapons.

“I don’t want any trouble,” he says in Tradespeak.

“Good, I don’t want any either,” Rhain say.

“If you can spare it, I can use some water,” the dwarf says.

“Why are you running around in the woods without water?” Rhain asks.

“I escaped a mining encampment in the mountains with just the clothes on my back,” the dwarf replies.

Lenoria offers the dwarf her water. He takes a pull off the skin and hands it back, saying “Thank you.”

“I have no love for the Tarsians,” Lenoria says.

Rhain asks her about that and Lenoria explains that her people have been at war with Tarsas before, that there’s a history between the peoples.

“If I’m ever in a position to do you a kindness, my name is Tannic Stonehaven,” the dwarf tells Lenoria.

Lenoria introduces herself. “Where do you come from originally, Tannic?”

" Originally, Khazak-Ur " the dwarf says.

“You just going to run through the forest, or are you going to run to a town?” Rhain asks.

“I’m going to run to the city and try to stowaway on a ship,” Tannic says.

“Stowaway?” Rhain says, incredulous.

“It’s not my favorite way to travel, but I’ve got to get out of here,” the dwarf says.

The party discusses trying to shave the dwarf’s head to throw off any suspicion that he’s a runaway slave. Tannic acquiesces and is thankful that they are willing to help.

“You do me much kindness. Thank you all.”

They also give him 25 gold pieces and 11 copper from the money they got off the hobgoblins. Alun seems to balk, but he is outvoted.

“Do you know anything about the Tarsian churches that are around here? We’re looking for one that can cure disease,” Lenoria asks.

“Cure disease?”

“Yes. Our friend here is sick.”

The dwarf takes a step back away from the group.

“It’s not that kind of disease,” Lenoria reassures him.

Tannic says, “There’s a huge temple to Praathi in the city.” Lenoria is able to identify that faith as the Queen of Dusk and Twilight, a goddess of the balance and neutrality. “There’s also a temple to Irthani.” Lenoria recalls that Irthani was the faith that cleared out the evil temple they were exploring.

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They go to part ways with the dwarf when he brings up the fact that they are both heading to the city and suggests that they go together. At first the party balks, thinking that someone is hunting the dwarf. He says that he has seen no sign of hunters in three days. They decide that that is long enough and allow him to travel with them to Imth. He agrees to part ways with them before they go through the gates.

Lenoria asks him if he knows anything about mules and Tannic replies that he has had little experience with mules.

As this was getting toward the end of the day, the party decides to make camp. They also share food with Tannic.

The night passes without incident.

28 Awakening 508

Alun is still looking and feeling poorly, though Lenoria tried rousing him with a Bit of luck. He looks as bad as he did the day before.

The party and Tannic continue on through the forest a short while and emerge at the walled city of Imth. The pennants of gold with the scorpion emblazoned upon them snap in the breeze. They see a line of merchants and other folk waiting to get into the city.

The party gets in the line, parting ways with Tannic. When they get to the guards, one of them points at Alun and asks “What’s wrong with him?”

Lenoria steps in and says, “He’s always been sickly. He’s not as strong as you are.” The guard says “Very well.” They pay their gate fees. Another guard asks her “What about all this equipment on the mule? Are these goods for sale?” Lenoria says “It’s for back-up. My friend breaks a lot of weapons.” The guard eyes her suspiciously, but lets them pass without charging them duties on goods for sale. Finally, they’ve made it into the city.

Lenoria and the others all ask about for the temple of Irthani. Kerra manages to get someone to give them directions to the temple.

Following the directions, they arrive at an ancient building that has clearly seen better days. Out in front of the building is a stone statue of a Eudaimon, its stone weathered and worn.

The party go inside the temple. The edifice is supported by many stone columns. The columns bear many carvings and mosaics of Eudaimoni combatting Kakodaimoni in the sky and on the ground. Milling about are men and women with shaved heads wearing blue robes trimmed in green. One of the blue robed men approaches the party and says something in Tarsian. Rhain asks if he speaks Tradespeaks and the man nods.

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“Our friend here is sick,” Rhain says.

“Oh?” the man, presumably a priest, says.

“Ghoul fever,” Rhain elaborates.

“Can one of your order fix that?” Lenoria asks.

“Forgive the indelicacy of the question, but usually there is the matter of a donation to the temple for the services rendered. Usually the donation would be a hundred and fifty gold.”

Lenoria looks to Alun and Kerra. Alun looks a bit more pale, but his sister nods in agreement.

“Okay then,” Lenoria says.

“Come with me, young man,” the priest says. Alun follows the priest. “If the rest of you will wait here in the sanctuary.”

“How long will this be?” Rhain asks.

“Not long.”

Lenoria looks around and sees a wide range of folks in the service of Irthani, young and old, men and women.

After a relatively short amount of time, the priest returns with Alun in tow. Alun doesn’t look better, but the priest says that he will not succumb to the disease. Kerra hands the priest a small pouch of coin and says “Thank you.”

Rhain asks Alun if he feels any better. Alun says no, but that they explain to him that they removed the disease so that he would no longer succumb to its effects. Rhain thinks that maybe he was already healing from the disease and that the priests just took the money. Despite Rhain’s reservations, they decide to move on and let Lenoria diagnose the disease with her magic in the morning.

They move on to the marketplace to negotiate the sale of their goods. Lenoria negotiates the sales. They are not met by friendly merchants, but are not met with hostility either. The markets in Imth appear to be stable. They get a fair market price for their goods. They then split the proceeds with each other fairly and head to the Naked Shepherd to stay the night.

Phamea at the Naked Shepherd recognizes and welcomes the travelers. The Lanyons share a room and Lenoria and Rhain share a room. They all get baths and go down to the common room for a meal. After their meal, they retire to their rooms for the night.

29 Awakening 508

Alun looks a bit better. Rhain insists that the priests didn’t do anything and offers to get Kerra’s money back. She still wants to wait and see what Lenoria says. Lenoria prays over Alun to determine if he is diseased and determines that he is disease-free. He still doesn’t feel very well. He wants to rest another day before heading back to the temple.

They all pay for another day at the inn and chip in for the stabling of the mule. Alun and Kerra stay at the inn while Lenoria goes out to look for work. Rhain wanders the streets of the city, seeing what he can see and complaining to himself, as he doesn’t want to do “chump work”.

Lenoria gets some work as a transcriber of business texts from Sianaean to Tradespeak. She ends up getting five gold pieces for her trouble.

Rhain is walking down of the crowded, busy streets and hears one of the citizens call out in alarm. He is gesticulating in Rhain’s direction. Others start looking in Rhain’s direction. Rhain starts looking at them. The people looking in Rhain’s direction are looking hostile and the crowd is growing. Rhain turns and starts hustling away. As he turns a corner, he feels a hand on his shoulder. Rhain turns and sees a big man in laborer’s clothes. He says something to Rhain that he doesn’t understand.

“I don’t know what you’re saying, but back off,” Rhain says. The barbarian takes a few steps back.

Then the laborer says in Tradespeak “Did you take this man’s purse?”

“No.”

“He says you did.”

“He’s either mistaken or a liar. I stole nothing.”

The laborer says, “I believe you. But watch your step. Some people don’t like foreigners around here.”

“That would be everybody.”

Rhain turns and adds the incident to his litany of complaints as he wanders the city once more. He eventually makes his way back to the Naked Shepherd.

Lenoria pays for dinner and a pitcher of wine for everyone to enjoy. There is music playing in the background of the common room. Lenoria gets up and finds a dancing partner and dances on the floor. A few others follow suit. The bards follow with a lively tune. Lenoria’s dance partner has wears the braids and beads in his hair of a member of the merchant class. A pleasant evening is spent by all.

30 Awakening 508

Alun is feeling a bit better than yesterday and says that he is ready to go. Lenoria feels that he will probably be at a hundred percent by the time they get to the temple. Kerra says that she is for resting. Alun thinks that resting is costing the party too much and that he is ready to go. The party leaves the inn, with Phamea wishing them good journey, and heads for the mountains and the temple once again. They travel through the forest for the day and set up camp for the evening.

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During the first watch, which is Alun’s, Rhain and Lenoria are awakened by the sound of Alun screaming “Spider!” Rhain moves into action and sees Alun being menaced by a giant man-sized spider perched in the branches of a tree above him. Rhain attacks the arachnid with a powerful attack, but the spider still stands. Alun stabs the spider with short sword and it falls out of the tree, dead. Lenoria lights up the trees and sees webbing but nothing else.

Rhain kicks Kerra awake. “Don’t worry, we got the spider. Go back asleep.”

Eventually, everyone goes back asleep and the night passes without further incident.

1 Growth 508

The party travels through the forest and camps that night. The night is quiet.

2 Growth 508

Traveling through the forest, the party encounters an old man looking for herbs. As the party approaches, he stops, watching the party warily. Rhain says “Hello, old man.” The man says, “Good morning.” The party moves on.

That night, the party makes camp and the night passes without incident.

3 Growth 508

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Making their way through the forest still, the party hears the sounds of hooves clomping though the forest coming their direction. Lenoria takes the mule to one side and Rhain moves forward, taking up a defensive position, announcing that a horse is approaching. Alun and Kerra stand their ground and wait.

Emerging from the trees ahead, they see a half-orc leading a horse. He is wearing a breastplate and wielding a great axe. With him is a hooded figure with a nocked long composite bow and a rapier at his side. A third figure follows close behind, a lady elf with taloned claws for hands. She wears a longsword at her side.

The half-orc assess the party, motions for the two with him to halt and says, “Ho, ho. What do we have here?”

“We’re travelers. What’s it to you?” Lenoria says, belligerently.

He chuckles. “You have spirit, woman.”

“Thank you.”

“What’s on the mule?” he asks.

“Our belongings. What’s on your horse?” Lenoria asks.

“Usually me, if I wasn’t in this gods-forsaken forest,” he replies.

“The forest makes it slightly tricky, doesn’t it?” Lenoria says. “Been a lot of spiders around here. I don’t know if you’ve run into any. Watch the trees at night. That’s my advice to you, my friend. And for hobgoblins too.”

“You talk a lot, woman,” the half-orc says.

“That’s because you’re not saying anything, my friend. It makes us nervous what your intentions are.”

“Then I’ll make it simple for you. Why don’t I take that mule off your hands and then we’ll be on our way.”

“Aren’t you cute. I don’t think so,” Lenoria says.

Rhain throws his axe at the elf with claws for hands, hitting her with the hurled weapon and then runs for her. This throws the rest of the party into combat mode and everyone begins to attack.

Alun throws a dagger into the man with a bow. Lenoria touches Alun and gives him a “bit of luck” and then casts Copycat on herself. Kerra then steps up to the half-orc and attacks him. The half-orc then swings on Kerra with his greataxe and hits her mightily. The man with the bow then fires on Rhain and hits. The elf then murmurs something and touches herself. Rhain then moves in to trip the elf, but fails.

The half-orc attacks Kerra again with his greataxe and misses. The bowman fires and misses. The elf utters a word and casts a spell, pointing at Rhain, Rhain takes the opportunity to attack the spellcaster with his fists, but misses. The sorceress gets her spell off and Rhain feels momentarily shaken to the core with fear. Alun throws another dagger and strikes the bowman. Rhain attempts to trip her again, and succeeds despite his fear, making her prone. Lenoria then moves away from the archer and casts cure light wounds on Kerra. Kerra then attacks the half-orc, dealing a critical hit on the leader of the other party and knocks him back.

Rhain attacks the prone elf on the ground with his mace, fumbling his attack and hurting himself in the process. Kerra pursues her enemy, the half-orc, and attacks, hitting him with her longsword. Alun loses his grip on his weapon. Lenoria moves in and gives Rhain a “bit of luck”. The half-orc attacks Kerra and misses. The bowman fires at Alun and misses. The clawed elf then attempts to attack Rhain with her claws. Rhain takes the opportunity to make a strike with his mace. She misses with her claws.

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The half-orc smashes himself in the head with his greataxe. The bowman hits Alun with his bow. The elf rises from her prone position, which Rhain takes advantage of to strike her again with his mace. He feels the crack her skull as she falls. Lenoria casts Copycat on herself and then Bless on the group. Kerra then attacks the half-orc again. Alun moves up on the hooded bowman and attacks him with his short sword. Rhain moves and attacks, flanking the half-orc. The half-orc falls.

The bowman starts backing away from Alun. Alun and Kerra take the opportunity to attack. Kerra misses, but Alun hits. The bowman is holding himself and staggering, and he says “Take your mule and go!”

Alun moves up and attacks, but misses the man. Rhain attacks with his light mace and fells the man. Rhain coup de graces all of the party members to make sure they don’t get back up. Lenoria collects the mule while Rhain reveals the bowman’s face as that of a male half-elf. He begins to strip their bodies.

The half-orc was wearing a masterwork breastplate, was wielding a masterwork greataxe, had a sap tucked into his belt, was wearing a gold necklace around his neck, had a pouch of 124 gold pieces, and a pouch with 3 vials. The bowman had a masterwork composite longbow (not set to strength), a rapier, masterwork studded leather, quiver with 15 arrows, a pouch with 73 gold pieces and 4 vials (2 of which appear to be the same thing). He also wears a hooded cloak along with standard adventurer’s clothes. The clawed elf wears a masterwork longsword. She has a pouch with 10 gold pieces. She has a pouch with two vials and a scroll case tucked into her belt with three scrolls in it. The riding horse has bit, bridle, saddle, two saddle bags, 30 days of trail rations, 3 water skins, and 4 javelins.

Lenoria attempts to detect magic on the various goods they find, detecting magic from each of the vials and the scrolls.

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Rage and Raven: Temple of Vengeance (Part Two)
Part Two

22 Awakening 508

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Lenoria has been revived with the help of a potion provided by Rhain. The party is surrounded by the bodies of three fallen hobgoblins. Alun, Rhain, and Kerra strip the bodies of gear, including studded leather armor, shields, longswords, longbows, and arrows. Lenoria casts healing spells on herself and on Rhain. Finally, the party is ready to continue through the foothills of the Et’tir Mountains. They unhitch their mule and march on for the rest of the day.

That night, the four take watches. First Alun, then Lenoria, followed by Kerra, and finally Rhain. The night passes without incident.

23 Awakening 508

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The party emerges from the foothills and into the mountains proper, following a narrow pass. As the band passes through a particularly narrow portion of the pass, they are ambushed by another band of hobgoblins. Two archers surround them on the ridges while another approaches from the front and another approaches from the rear. Lenoria places the blessing of her goddess on the party. Rhain takes care of the hobgoblin approaching from the rear while the archers continue menacing the party from the ridges. After felling the rearmost hob, Rhain rage-climbs the ridge nearest him and spirits of his ancestors attack the archer. Alun continues to throw daggers at the other archer while Kerra takes on the foremost hob. Lenoria gives Alun a “bit of luck” in the form of a spell while Rhain grapples his foe to the ground and continues to shiv him with a dagger. Lenoria takes out her light crossbow and trains it on the other archer. Meanwhile, Rhain has slain the first archer and is calculating his next move. The foremost hobgoblin takes off Kerra’s ear as Lenoria takes out the second archer with her crossbow. Rhain runs and jumps from the ridge, miscalculating slightly, and jumps over the foremost hob. However, this puts him in a flanking position, with the hob between him and Kerra. Lenoria emits healing energy over the whole party as the last hob is slain.

These hobgoblins are stripped of armor and weapons and the party continues down the pass. The pass eventually widens and the group is able to make a passable camp.

The night passes without incident.

24 Awakening 508

At mid-morning, the pass begins to incline and narrow into a footpath. The party comes to a stone courtyard in front of a large structure on top of a plateau. The courtyard is dominated by three large columns of carved obsidian depicting Kakodaimoni confronting their archenemies, Eudaimoni. There is also a 10’ obsidian statue of Shazira in her aspect of a woman with a face of smoke and a long-hafted axe. There is a also an open set of double-doors into the structure at the head of the courtyard. Alun is elected to check out the courtyard and the double-doors.

As he carefully approaches the double-doors, a swarm of bats suddenly emerges from within and engulfs the young rogue. He cries out in pain and in alarm. Rhain lights a torch while the others ineffectively try to beat off the swarming creatures. Rhain eventually manages to scare off the vermin with fire, but not before Alun’s face and arms are covered in tiny bits and scratches. Alun continues to search out the courtyard and finds nothing of interest.

They stake the mule out on the plateau and approach the building. Alun takes the lead, with Rhain close behind with a torch and his axe. Lenoria follows with Kerra in the back with Light cast on her sword.

The doors open into a long, high-ceilinged sanctuary. The floor is of tiled stone. The ceiling is supported by broad pillars of obsidian collared in gold. The pillars are carved with more Kakodaimoni warring with Eudaimoni. The walls are painted with depictions of the goddess Shazira in all of her aspects, the smoke-faced judge, the flame-haired warrior, and the red-beaked raven of death. The party’s footfalls echo in the wide, high room.

The room ends in a wide a platform approached by a series of steps. Atop the steps is a toppled brass statue of the flame-haired goddess behind an altar with chains on it. Beside the altar are two cold braziers. There are also two large pillars flanking the statue. On either side of the platform are two doors, one on the left, one on the right.

Before checking out the doors, it is decided to check out the platform and the statue. Alun moves forward to do just that, approaching the toppled statue. He moves around to check it out when the party hears him say, “Guys, a little help!”

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Rhain runs around the other side of the platform and sees a spider, the size of a man, menacing the young rogue. He also now sees its large, funneled web set up behind the statue. It strikes at Alun, biting him. Rhain, in turn, strikes at the spider, doing it a great deal of harm. Alun attacks it with his short sword, also doing it a bit of damage. Finally, Rhain takes it down, it turning over onto its back and its legs curling up in its death throes.

Alun continues his search and finds a secret panel in one of the pillars. It hides a spiral staircase leading down. They elect to follow it.

Heading down the staircase, they emerge into a sizable room with an open door leading west and a door leading south. They decide to go south. They move into a smaller room with two barred double doors—one set leading south, the other leading west. They open the southern doors and see that they lead into a hallway and some catacombs. They head back up and take the open door to the west. This leads into a room that appears to be a series of opened cells. The room ends in a closed door. Alun checks it out and finds no traps and that it is unlocked. Opening it, they discover another sizable room with chains on the walls and bolted to the floor. There are no other exits from the room.

They return to the room leading into the catacombs and search it out. Sure enough, Alun finds a secret door leading into what was probably a treasury—and now only contains a few (eleven, to be exact) copper coins.

At this point, they elect to go into the catacombs.

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As they explore the grid complex of the catacombs, Rhain hears movement. Alun is then surprised by a gaunt figure that emerges from around a corner—a gaunt figure with sharp teeth and claws. As Alun engages with the creature, Rhain flips over and around Alun to get to the other side of him in the hallway. Alun finds himself paralyzed by some sort of toxin exuded by the creature. Lenoria blesses the party. Rhain manages to slay the creature and then whacks its head off with his axe for good measure. Alun recovers from his paralysis after a few moments and decides to search the catacombs for baubles with Kerra while Rhain and Lenoria take point.

Eventually, the four catch up to each other and, once again, movement is heard up ahead. Rhain stealths ahead with everyone following quietly behind. Then Rhain attacks around a corner where the movement was heard. Soon, another of the creatures is dispatched. The party explores the grid pattern of the catacomb, Rhain and Lenoria in the lead and the Lanyons in the rear, and finds nothing of interest. They head back upstairs into the sanctuary.

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Session Twenty-Nine
Spirited Arrivals

25 Ardor 508

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The party goes back to the Whistling Spirit after their night at the fights, slightly dispirited after Rilka’s announcement that she would no longer be participating in the shenanigans. Everyone heads back to their rooms for a night of rest.

Surm is awakened by a moaning sound that fills the room. He wakes his brother, Mõrvar, who stands in front of the door with his great sword, Deathblow. Surm illuminates the room with dancing lights. Nothing in the room seems to be making the sound. Surm searches the room for a source of the sound. His thoroughness is rewarded—a worn portion of one of the support beams reveals that a metal rod has been inserted into the beam.

First the two brothers decide to head to the room above them, so they go upstairs—then they change their minds and go downstairs to the common room. They light their way with a light spell cast on Mõrvar’s sword. They head into the kitchens and Surm sees movement near a door at the rear of the room. He casts dancing lights to illuminate the room and catches a serving in the light. Brandishing his dagger, Surm demands “What are you doing here?”

“N-nothing. What are you doing here?” the boy responds.

Mõrvar intimidates the boy into submission. “What are you doing here?” he demands to know.

“I just do what the innkeep says!” the boy squeaks.

“And what is that?”

“Guard this door.”

“Take us to him,” Surm says.

The boy goes to the door and knocks twice, opens it, and leads the two brothers down a staircase into a basement lit by lantern light.

The innkeep is at the bottom of the staircase, along with a series of support beams with pins sticking out them. He greets the boy before he sees the two armed Northron men. “Torny what’s going on?” Then he sees the brothers. “What’s going on?” he demands. “Why are you not in your rooms?”

Surm explains that they heard moaning and came to investigate and that now he’s caught red-handed. The innkeep continues to bluster, but between Mõrvar’s intimidation and Surm’s diplomacy, he is persuaded to give the brothers a full refund of the party’s stay at the inn. The innkeep takes them to his small office and gives them the coin for the refund. Before leaving, the innkeep is told to keep up the moaning sounds for the two half-orc companion’s rooms, however.

The brothers head upstairs and Surm proceeds to wake up Savaric and Rilka, asking them if they heard the moaning. Sure enough, there is moaning in their rooms. It seems to be alternating back and forth between the two rooms. Mõrvar convinces Savaric to look upstairs. In the meantime, Rilka stays in her room and listens.

While Savaric is upstairs and Rilka stays in her room, Surm and Mõrvar stack the furniture in Savaric’s room.

Surm casts ghost sounds of moaning moving down the hall and hangs out of his room. When Rilka pokes her head out to investigate, he asks if she heard that moaning. She continues to stand in the doorway listening when Savaric returns, having found nothing of interest upstairs.

The two half-orcs decide to sneak downstairs and see what they can see. When they get to the bottom of the stairs, they surprise the innkeep, who blurts out “It’s not my fault!”

Rilka demands to know what he means by that, though he demurs, saying that it was just a reaction to being startled. Savaric says “We hear it too. We’re trying to find it for you.”

Meanwhile, a wailing begins to take place upstairs. People begin opening their doors to see what the fuss is about and then shutting them and locking them as the wailing begins to grow.

The wailing seems to unnerve the innkeep. He says, “Look, I’m just doing what I was told.”

“What were you told?” Rilka asks.

“To make the moans! Look, I already gave you people a refund.”

“Who told you?”

“The two Northrons.”

At that, Rilka goes upstairs and confronts Mõrvar and Surm, chasing Surm around his room. Savaric and Rilka eventually return to their rooms to find their furniture stacked in ways that no human being could possibly stack them. . .

26 Ardor 508

The next morning, Savaric tips the innkeep ten gold pieces—but Surm gives the man a look and admonishes him until he gives the half-orc the money back. Rilka buys everyone a nice breakfast, congratulating the brothers on being clever last night. After a hearty meal, everyone loads up and gets on the road to Aldasar.

Along the way, the party discusses the possibility of hiring out porters and guards to oversee the party’s camp. Various pros and cons are hashed out. Regardless, nothing can be decided until they get to a city.

They arrive at Aldasar, the capitol of Leilior, at sunset. After paying the gate taxes, they head to Umbergrow and Waigh’s, a posh inn near the city’s center. After paying for rooms, baths, etc., they come down to the common room in their “fancy” clothes. Mõrvar, Savaric, and Surm discuss the possibility of going to find another underground fight and try to persuade Rilka to come along. They eventually persuade her to come.

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They change out of their fancy clothes and head to the docks to gather information about the underground fight scene. They discover that there is a certain warehouse where such fights occur. A burly half-orc guards the door and questions them about their intent. He warns them that there is a door charge of five gold pieces each. When told that there is a contender among them, he tells them to find Cairicol. He can usually be found near the betting booths.

The half-orc lets them in and they enter a makeshift vestibule where a man flanked by two burly guards is collecting the five gold piece cover charge. Once the cover charge is collected, the party enters the warehouse proper. There are three fighting circles set up with a spectators watching and a row of betting booths lined up along the far wall. It doesn’t take long to find Cairicol, a human who seems to be directing much of the action.

Surm introduces himself and points out that he has two contenders here that would like to fight. One is undefeated and one needs to be broken in. He asks if they do pairs fighting. Cairicol allows that they do, when they have the pairs worth doing it with. Mõrvar makes a point to act nervous, to get into the part of a new fighter, hoping to drive his odds up. Cairicol gives them 1 in 4 odds and will work them in tonight. Have them ready in half an hour. Remember: no armor, no weapons, and no magic. Surm and the promoter shake on it and Cairicol goes to make the arrangements.

Surm makes his way through the crowd, trying to get a sense of who their going to be fighting. He hears that they are going to fight a set of twin half-orcs by the names of Kortash and Burask. Surm tries to convince some of the nobles in attendance to come watch the fight with him, but has no luck.

The fighters are fairly evenly matched. Nevertheless, Mõrvar and Savaric are victorious. As the party are collecting their winnings, Cairicol approaches Surm about having Mõrvar fight more often, asking how long they’re going to be in the city. Surm demurs, saying that they are not going to be staying in the city and don’t know when they’re going to be back. Surm once again tries to work the room, but fails. In the meantime, Mõrvar and Savaric invite Kortash and Burask out for drinks.

The party and the two half-orc twins all go for drinks at a dive tavern called The Dented Mug. The twins are originally from Leilior and work on the docks here in Aldasar, when they’re not fighting. They’ve been in the city for five years. The party tells stories of their adventures. During the evening, Kortash subtly moves his chair closer to Rilka. During a lull in the evening, Surm goes to leave. Mõrvar shakes hands with the half-orcs and goes to leave as well. Savaric takes the hint as well. Rilka and Kortash have an exchange, where he says that she has plenty of men to walk her back to her inn, though she says she wouldn’t mind another. So Kortash walks her back to the Umbergrow and Waigh’s.

Once at the inn, Rilka and Kortash have another drink while Mõrvar attempts to flirt with the innkeep—and is shot down. Rilka and Kortash chat for awhile and finally she asks him if he wants to come upstairs he does and they do.

Mõrvar manages to have no companionship this evening. He goes upstairs and wakes up Surm to discuss the possibility of hiring Kortash and Burask as porters. Surm doesn’t want the bother of hiring more half-orcs into the party.

27 Ardor 508

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Rilka and Kortash head downstairs for breakfast. Everyone (save Kortash) is dressed in their fancy clothes as they have breakfast. Surm asks Kortash to step away for a moment, and he does. The party then discuss the possibility of hiring Kortash and Burask as hirelings. Surm is still against it, but most of the others seem to be for it. It is finally decided to ask if they would be interested. They bring Kortash back over and make the proposition. He says it sounds like a good deal, but would have to talk to Burask about it first. He excuses himself, kisses Rilka’s hand, and exits.

Rilka stays at the inn to wait for Kortash and Burask while Savaric goes shopping at the armorer and Mõrvar and Surm go looking for a job.

Savaric manages to secure a masterwork agile breastplate.

Rilka greets Kortash and Burask, who return to say that they are “in” and would like the job.

Surm gets word that there is a dwarf by the name of Kragar Stoneanvil at Uilliam’s Resting Place who is looking for adventurers. So he and his brother head to that inn to inquire about the job. Kragar is there and is the only dwarf in the common room. The quest is to go to Jossia, to the Daggerspine, where there is an abandoned dwarven outpost. The outpost is overrun by creatures of the Underdark. Kragar wants the outpost’s leader’s journal/logbook. The leader supposedly never made it out of the outpost alive. There is little in the way of dwarven treasure left there, as the outpost was abandoned, but the party is welcome to whatever is found. Kragar just wants that journal. He will pay 500 gold pieces, 250 now, 250 upon delivery. Surm manages to talk him up to 1000 gold. They will know the journal by the seal of the outpost prominently on display on the journal. Kragar will be waiting for them at Uilliam’s Resting Place. Kragar takes 500 gold from his strongbox at the inn and pays the brothers half the agreed rate.

Once the brothers return to Umbergrow and Waigh’s, they see that the two half-orcs have arrived and are willing to be hired on as porters. There is talk of drawing up a contract, but it is agreed that their word, and the party’s word, will be their bond. Pay day will be when they arrive in a city. Their new job will start tomorrow. With all in agreement, the half-orcs take their leave to make their final arrangements.

Next Surm returns to the marketplace and hires a footman and two guards. Mahgnus will oversee the camp while Alasir (a former city guardsman) and Sorcha (a former mercenary) will guard it.

Once those arrangements are made, Surm returns and the party makes various plans for provisioning, including tents. After all the arrangements are finally made, the party beds down for the night.

28 Ardor 508

The entourage gathers downstairs at the inn. Once all the gear is gathered, the party rides out of Aldasar toward the north.

The day passes without incident. In the afternoon, the city of Kivley looms in the distance, but the party decides to bypass it.

The night passes warm, but quiet.

29 Ardor 508

The day passes warm and without incident. The city of Skeene is passed in the afternoon.

That night, Surm is attacked by a dire wolf, but the creature is eventually dispatched by the party. Rilka and Mõrvar drag the corpse out of camp and Savaric collects the creature’s teeth. Alasir finishes Surm’s watch, as he’s too traumatized to finish.

30 Ardor 508

This day is passed without incident as well. The party rides around the city of Braith at the end of the day. Rilka reorganizes the guard shifts to ensure that Surm doesn’t guard alone anymore.

1 Longday 508

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The party travels northwest into Jossia and arrive in Yrda by sundown. The people there openly stare at the stately entourage that enters the rural village. The group is eventually met by the King and the elder-priests of the village, as identified by Rilka. One of the priests, Lazar Gonlafsson, is Rilka’s adoptive father and priest of Bruni. The two embrace and greet each other. The King welcomes them to Yrda and says that this is indeed a great day of homecoming, for another of their prodigals have come home. Leglaf Alefsson has come home as well. There will be a celebration in the main hall. The party is led to the center of the village to the main longhouse. . .

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