18 Longday 509 (Yrda)
It is night in the village of Yrda. Surm and Mõrvar Ulrich teleport into the village center from Kalimsport. Surm hopes to make a dramatic and mysterious entrance—but ends up startling the two guards posted nearby. They nearly attack the two brothers, until they are finally recognized and directed to the feasting that is taking place in the main longhouse, a celebration in honor of the arrival of the rest of their troupe. Sullen, Surm makes his way with his brother to join their compatriots in the longhouse.
Inside, the majority of the village is feasting on mutton, mead, and locally-grown vegetables. There are more people than Surm and Mõrvar remember from their last visit. The room smells of roasted meat, sweat, tallow, and stale alcohol. At the head of a long table is King Sigurd, a young woman at his side, and Savaric with Mirka. Rilka has apparently not joined in the festivities—Savaric later reveals that she is holding vigil at the shrine of Bruni.
Sigurd spots the Ulrich brothers and hails them, makes them welcome. He has some of villagers move to make room for them at his table. They sit and and Sigurd asks them what they have been doing since they were last in Yrda and where they go to next. So Surm tells the tale of their clearing out of the Tomb of Secrets—an exciting tale that bends the ears of all at the table. He also says that they will be going to the shrine of Isranthr next, on a holy quest for Savaric. Everyone is very impressed and hails go up for the Crimson Cord and Savaric the “The Twice-Born.”
Soon the feasting is done and everyone disperses. Surm returns to the outskirts of the village to the Crimson Cord encampment while Savaric heads home with Mirka and Mõrvar leaves with one of the serving wenches.
19 Longday 509
Early that morning, Mõrvar is awakened in great pain—someone has stabbed him! He looks around, but sees nothing. His gear seems to be in place—but someone has definitely tried to kill him. He picks up Deathblow—who is chuckling. “What’s so funny?” Mõrvar asks the greatsword.
“The little minx in hiding in the corner,” the sword says, clearly amused.
“What?” Mõrvar asks.
“She stabbed you and is waiting for you to open the door,” Deathblow says, continuing to chuckle darkly.
The sword directs Mõrvar to the proper corner and the Eldritch Knight levels the blade in that direction. “You best come out or it will go worse for you,” he says.
The serving wench, Fala, comes charging out of the shadows with a shortspear. After a few passes with the flat of Deathblow’s blade, Mõrvar manages to knock the woman unconscious without taking any more cuts from the spear.
Mõrvar picks the unconscious woman up and carries her across the the village to the Crimson Cord encampment and deposits her in Surm’s tent. He wakes his brother up and, in an agitated manner, explains to Surm, what transpired. The two arrange with Mahgnus and the guards to have Fala bound and guarded. Savaric and Rilka are also sent for. Mirka accompanies Savaric. Surm goes into the village and gets and Sigurd, thinking that whatever justice needs to be meted should be done with his oversight.
Surm asks Sigurd what he knows about Fala—which isn’t much. He believes she’s been in the village about a year. He doesn’t really know that much about her.
After Sigurd is brought to the encampment, Surm and Mõrvar return to Fala’s home and cast detect magic while Savaric searches the place for anything of interest. Nothing of interest is found. Returning to the encampment, they cast again on Fala herself. On her, they discover that her cloak clasp is magical as well as two of her rings. Upon further examination, the rings are determined to be a ring of protection and a ring of chameleon power. The clasp is an agent’s clasp, allowing her to communicate with a handler with a matching clasp. It also broadcasts her status to that handler. Which means that someone knows that she was knocked unconscious.
Surm decides to try and scry the holder of the matching clasp with the crystal ball they acquired in the Tomb of Secrets. They go to the longhouse and view the the crystal. After about 10 minutes, the cloudy vision clears and they see a hardened human man sitting in a longhouse, eating breakfast with a couple of other men. The other men are wearing dark religious cassocks. The man pushes his food away and says the to others, “Come. We must get into position. They will be heading to the shrine of Isranthr soon.” Then the vision fades.
Clearly, Fala was able to get information to the man about where the Cord was heading next.
Surm heads out about the village to gather information about Fala from the villagers. Rilka, Savaric, and Mõrvar stay behind with Sigurd to question Fala.
Rilka prays to Bruni for healing for Fala and revives her. She looks about nervously at her captors, but says nothing. It’s clear that Mõrvar wants to torture the woman for information, but Rilka refuses. She eventually intimidates the woman into giving up her information.
The men in the cassocks are probably “inquisitors”—religious specialists that root out infidels within and without the cult. She joined the cult of Jörn (“The Sly One”) through a meeting with a blacksmith in Josemeedt that held gatherings in secret. She was told to watch for information on the Crimson Cord and when she passed on her information she was told to kill the Ulrich while she had the opportunity. She was then to go to Braith and wait for further instructions at the Laughing Ogre. She also promises that “The Darkshadow will bring you ruin for what you have done.” Further questioning reveals that the hardened man seen in the scrying is probably this “Darkshadow”—an assassin in service to Jörn. He and the inquisitors have probably been dispatched for retribution for the Crimson Cord’s actions against the cult—they had previously wiped out an entire temple of priests in the west of Jossia.
After Rilka and Mõrvar argue about whether or not Mõrvar can have some “alone time” with Fala, Mõrvar gets fed up and punches the bound woman and leaves.
Two hours later, Surm arrives and gets caught up on the information they managed to glean from Fala. Surm was only able to find out that Fala had lived in Yrda for about a year and mostly kept to herself. Most people believed that she was from “the west” and that she was fleeing some sort of trouble that people were too polite to ask too deeply about.
Everyone involved agrees that they have gotten all they can out of Fala (except for Mõrvar, who is convinced that if he only had some “alone time” with her, he could get better information out of her…). Sigurd has the woman taken to the center of the village. As she is dragged through the streets, the people begin to gather—with Surm’s inquiries earlier in the day and it being a small village, rumors of Fala’s iniquity had begun to spread. Sigurd then addresses the assembled villagers, reminding them of the adversity that they have faced at the hands of the followers of the Sly One and that this women tried to bring more woe upon them by trying to murder one of their own, a hero to the village. That will not stand. Sigurd then has her brought low and decapitates her with his axe. Her head is then placed on a pike at the village entry with a sign of Jörn placed upon as a warning to others like her who would come to bring trouble to Yrda.
The party then gathers and discusses their next plans. Will they go to Josemeedt—-where they suspect this “Darkshadow” and his inquisitors were? Will they press on to the northeast and continue to seek out the shrine to Isranthr? What will they do with this clasp? Mirka says that she has some idea where the shrine is and gives them a description—but that still gives them about 60-70 miles of forest to cover. Savaric invites Mirka to come with them, but she politely declines, citing her duty to the village. She does seem to be bothered by something though, and the two do go to her home and talk privately.
She tells him that she doesn’t think he realizes how important it is that he was brought back to life by a god; that he is god-touched. The fate of world is now entwined with his. That’s huge. It’s big. And she’s scared—because she’s had thoughts that, while she’s never asked anything of him, that maybe when he got tired of wandering, he would come back here and stay with her. But now, she doesn’t think that’s possible. Savaric assures her that anything is still possible and everything will be fine. She seems reassured but gives him a token, a simple silver necklace, to remember her by.
Meanwhile, the others have made plans concerning the return of the wet nurses to the south. Surm and Mõrvar will teleport with the wet nurses to Asdari and then to Kalimsport, buy new scrolls in Kalimsport, and teleport back. The two Ulrich’s make their preparations, take Pratha and Fionna and depart.
Rilka heads to the temple of Bruni and makes a tithing of 40 platinum pieces for the continuing defense of the village.
Savaric spends some extra quality time with Mirka.
After a couple of hours, the Ulrichs return. The party regathers and decide to set off for Josemeedt. They intend to find this blacksmith that Fala mentioned and perhaps root out the cult of Jörn there and get more information on what is going on.
As they set out, Surm decides to put on the Fala’s clasp. He immediately receives a message. “What has happened? Where are you?”
He answers, “I was captured but I escaped. I’ll have another opportunity to kill the Ulrich.”
Later, he receives another message. “Negative. Opportunity blown, fool. Your role is finished. Await orders in Braith.”
Surm takes off the clasp.
After a bit of discussion, they decide to veer away from Josemeedt and head northeast toward the shrine. Along the way, Rilka looks for ambush spots.
When they make camp that night, Surm takes out the crystal ball and scrys the man again. He sees him, his face illuminated by the flickering light of a campfire. Two shadowy forms are near him. He apparently sends two of his followers, “Ajax” and “Warnock” back to Josemeedt to intercept the “little fool” who is returning there and will likely “ruin everything.” Surm is satisfied that their ruse worked—for now.
20 Longday 509
The troupe continues to travel across the plains of Jossia. They make camp that night and plan to continue in the morning.
21 Longday 509
On this day, the troupe hits the edge of the forest to the east of Jossia. Rilka climbs one of the trees to try and get a view of the surrounding land. Savaric begins tracking. Rilka doesn’t see much from her perch and Savaric sees evidence of small game, deer, and a bear.
Savaric tracks the bear and uses his ranger abilities to communicate with it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have very useful information for him—or he doesn’t know the right questions to ask. It’s hard because the bear isn’t very smart. Eventually, he lets the creature go on about his business.
Surm scrys the man again—but the man seems to notice. While riding through the forest, he looks up at the magical sensor and smiles. Surm says to him, telepathically, “I don’t suppose you’ll tell us where you are?”
“That’s not really my style,” the Darkshadow responds. “Seen enough?” he asks after Surm pauses for a bit. Surm breaks off the contact.
When Savaric returns from speaking with the bear, Surm uses his sorcery to turn into a bird and flies reconnaissance while Savaric has Mõrvar cast fly on him while Ilona turns him invisible to do the same. Surm spots the riders some 12 miles to the north of them while Savaric spots a clearing with a hill some 15 miles to the north them—a possible shrine site. The two make their way back after making note of landmark to find their way back to what they had spotted.
The troupe regroups and rides north to follow the riders. Around sunset, Savaric flies up again and spots a thin wisp of campfire smoke coming up from the some two and half miles from them and about two and half miles from the clearing.
Surm tries a couple of times to scry and finally gets through. He sees the Darkshadow once again gathered by a fire pit with two shadowy figures. “They’re not far from here. They’ve been watching us. It won’t be long now. We’ll see it coming—they are not known for subtlety.” He claps one man on the shoulder, leaves the fire pit and clambers into a nearby tree, settles into the branches, apparently to rest.
The group then discusses various plans of attack and whether or not to strike tonight. Savaric seems inclined to bypass them altogether and go to the clearing and see if it is the shrine. But the others want to take out the threat first. Alasir says that the guards would be willing and able to help if there is light to see by—there is a lot of cover with the trees and it is night time—only the half-orcs can see. Rilka can cast “daylight” on a first approach to help.
What will the Crimson Cord ultimately do?