Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Thirty-Six

The Scouring of Yrda


13 Longday 508

Much of this day is spent in negotiations with each other in how the treasure is to be distributed. It is decided that masterwork items with the marks of Jörn are to be valued at a quarter of their market worth due to their “taint”. The villagers and Mirka will “fall under” Sigurd’s share as volunteers from Yrda. It is also decided that Sigurd will get first pick of the evenly distributed shares as he is the leader of the expedition. The rest of the principles will draw lots to decide their order. Further, the more mundane items and the poisons are taken out of the share lots, for now, until it can be determined what their worth is. Everyone agrees to the terms, though Mõrvar and Surm conduct a lot of private conversations on the matter, each hoping to get the poisons and the masterwork gear as they hope to sell it for a higher profit in the South. Mõrvar believes that Ivarin has caught on to their plan, but has chosen not to say anything. Surm is unconcerned.

During the process, Mõrvar hears a voice in his ear:

Why go to all this trouble? You have soldiers. You are four powerful adventurers—well, there’s three and then your brother. Slaughter the simpering priests, take their shares. Kill the villagers and take their shares. Keep the 500 gold. Forget Yrda. Forget being a hero. You have grander plans than sucking up to a bunch of backwoods priests who don’t like you anyway.

Mõrvar turns to the invisible Furfur and whispers, “Furfur, you’re missing the bigger picture. The priest will see me as an ally…someone who can do what they cannot, and one day, I’ll rule over them all.”

Bah, I hear grand ambition, yet see you kowtowing to their delicate sensibilities. You let your brother lead you by the nose into taking less than you deserve. I have served gods and lesser beings in my time—I know a fellow servant when I see one.

Mõrvar’s voice turns ice cold. “You obviously have not served them well my friend, because it is here with me you find yourself. Perhaps it’s your bad advice that has separated you from your Gods and lesser beings and brought you to me. Understand this Furfur, I serve no one. My brother does not lead me, he is a part of me…an extension of me as I am of him. I have had visions of truth my talkative friend, of my brother and I ruling all and we will. Your so called Gods and lesser beings you have served in the past are nothing to what we will become. As far as being a servant as you claim to be, I have found you worthless save a few moments of you shitting on some heads, and the occasional enjoyment of conversation that this is not one of. Our time will come when I decide it’s time and no one else. My patience and kowtowing to their sensibilities is what will dominate this land and the heavens, so enjoy the ride, or face my wrath, I care neither way. I grow tired of your suggestions as if you know what’s better for me than I do. It would also serve you well to know the ONLY reason you’re alive is because of me, and my protection. As long as I find value in you, which right now is very little, you are protected. The moment I decide you are worthless is the moment you become nothing more than someone’s dinner, and furthermore, the moment I find you counter productive to my desires is the moment I ensure you feel the pain of becoming that dish. So, you need to ask yourself, do you want to serve the the most powerful beings and only true Gods on their journey, or do you want to be served on a platter. If you answer is the prior, shut your beak or start making yourself useful to me without pissing me off.It’s time to make yourself valued, and not just with me, but Surm too.”

Mõrvar feels a stiffening of feathers on his shoulder, but is met with silence.

Later the party decides on the distribution of the “lesser goods”: the poisons, the smoke pellets, the remainder gold, and the invisible ink.

That afternoon, after their discussions, they decide to put some distance between them and the mountain pass. So they load up start trucking their footlockers down the pass. By sundown, the party makes to the bottom of the trail. Along the way, Savaric makes charming small talk with Mirka, and she seems receptive to it.

As they are making camp, Mõrvar feels the weight of Furfur on his shoulder, but not the talons of the bird on his shoulder. He is, once again, invisible. And he hears, whispering in his ear, “May I have a word in private.”

Mõrvar gets Surm’s attention. “I’ll be back,” he says and walks out of camp.

Once Mõrvar gets away from camp a distance, he still feels the weight on his shoulder, but he hears Furfur’s voice say. “You made a good point earlier in that I have not been useful to you. I wish to rectify this.”

“Alright,” Mõrvar says warily.

“Do you wish to know what you will find when you return to Yrda?” Furfur asks.

“If you know what we’ll find, I wish to know it,” Mõrvar says.

“Yrda has been invaded,” Furfur says, with some satisfaction.

Mõrvar grins. “Do you know how strong this force is?”

“They do not have superior numbers to you,” Furfur says.

“So again we will come to the rescue of Yrda,” Mõrvar says, thoughtfully. “This is how I’ll begin to get control of them all. It’s not always through power. Sometimes it’s through them looking at you as their champion. Eventually they will worship me.”

“And sometimes use is through information,” Furfur says.

“And I agree to this,” Mõrvar says.

“The boy still lives,” Furfur says.

“Is he captured?” Mõrvar asks.

“Yes,” Furfur says. “But be careful. The invaders have a spellcaster.”

“Do you know who he is?” Mõrvar asks.

“No,” Furfur says.

Mõrvar realizes that Furfur has not been gone long enough to fly to Yrda and fly back again. “So how is it that you know this?”

“I have allies,” Furfur says with unmistakable pride.

“It’s always good to have allies,” Mõrvar looks back toward the camp at Mirka, “even if they don’t feel the same way. We will come up with a plan, without the others knowing. Surm and I will come up with an idea. This is good information. Thank you.”

Mõrvar gets a bit closer to camp and cast Message toward Surm to get his attention to have a private conversation with him. Surm makes his way out of camp; Rilka and Savaric notice Surm leaving. Savaric decides to stealthily follow him out. Surm does not notice the ranger following him.

Surm catches up to Mõrvar, who still has Furfur, invisible, on his shoulder. “I have received some information,” Mõrvar says. “Yrda has been invaded while we were gone. The boy is captive, but still alive.”

“Received information from where?” Surm asks.

Mõrvar looks to his shoulder.

“From where?” Surm asks again.

“Our feathered friend has allies,” Mõrvar says.

“First of all, we don’t have a feathered friend. He ain’t my friend. What do you mean he has allies?” Surm asks.

“He has received word that Yrda has been invaded. There is a spellcaster among them. The boy has been captured, but he’s still alive. Their forces are smaller than ours,” Mõrvar says.

“Well, who is his source of information?” Surm asks.

“I don’t know, but this is an opportunity for us,” Mõrvar says.

“Well, I’m glad we don’t walk into a trap, but how is this an opportunity?” Surm asks.

“Because we come and save Yrda again,” Mõrvar says.

“Well, it helps our reputation, but, Furfur, who’s your source of information?” Surm asks the empty space on Mõrvar’s shoulder.

The question is met with silence.

“So we don’t know if that’s reliable information,” Surm says.

“And f it is?” Mõrvar says. “Shouldn’t we be prepared?”

“Oh, we should be prepared,” Surm says. “We have to, now. You can’t throw information like that out there and us walk into it. We’re going to have to make sure. But i want to know who his source is.”

“Do we want to keep this amongst the four of us and be prepared for it so that it is even greater?” Mõrvar asks.

“So we have Holga and Ivarin,” Surm says. “And where are we going to explain how we got this information?”

“That’s what I’m saying. Don’t tell them,” Mõrvar says.

“We can’t! We can’t even ask them for help. Because I don’t even know where the information came from,” Surm says. “So, no, we’re pretty much on our own. But it’s going to look funny to the people in the group who were trying to impress and trying to have a good rep with when we’re like ‘oh let’s make sure it’s not overthrown before we go in there’ and they’re going to wonder why and when we find out its true they’re going to wonder ‘how did they know?’ It’s actually going to put a black mark on our reputation as far as these people are concerned.”

“I think that if the four of us are prepared and our men are prepared and we travel in as if we would travel in instead of being caught off-guard…” Mõrvar begins.

“No, I don’t like that. I don’t like that at all. We need a plan,” Surm says.

“How long until we get to Yrda?” Mõrvar asks.

“We got lots of time until we get to Yrda,” Surm says. “But I’m saying we need to look, we need to stake it out, we need to see what their forces are. Just because the bird that’s not speaking now, who won’t answer my questions claims this is happening, claims their forces are smaller, I’m sorry I don’t trust your bird. He won’t even talk to me. How do we know their forces are smaller? How do we know he’s not sending us into a trap? ‘Oh they have a sorcerer, but you all can take him, his forces are smaller than yours’—then we walk in and there’s 700 people? And then he flies around in a circle and laughs and then shits on my head. And don’t act like he doesn’t do that because he does.”

“So what do you want to do?” Mõrvar asks.

“I want to prepare for it, but when we get there I want to send scouts around and look and see what we can see,” Surm says.

“But how can we do that with…” Mõrvar says.

“We have to clue them in,” Surm says. “That’s what I’m saying. This is crap.”

“Maybe we stay behind,” Mõrvar says.

“And send Sigurd and his people in unprepared? No,” Surm says. “Who’s idea was that? Was that your idea or his idea?”

“I just thought it would be easier for us,” Mõrvar says. “I don’t care as much about them.”

“No, we’re not doing that,” Surm says. “We’ll see Ivarin and Holga on their way and then we’ll tell everyone. At least our group. And then we’ll figure out how to smooth it over. Maybe send scouts ahead and say ‘Oh my gosh! It’s been invaded!’”

“Savaric and I can scout ahead,” Mõrvar says.

“And what are you going to tell them about how you came to this information, Savaric and Rilka?” Surm asks.

“The same thing I told you,” Mõrvar says.

“No,” Surm says. “You got it from a bird that has friends? Do you know who these friends are?”

“I do not,” Mõrvar says.

“And this isn’t making you nervous?” Surm asks. “That he’s not coughing up who his friends are?”

“No,” Mõrvar says calmly.

“Uh-huh,” Surm says, skeptically. “Well I don’t like it.”

“I believe we have an understanding,” Mõrvar says.

“You do?” Surm says skeptically. “Well are there any other tidbits of information this bird gave you?”

“No,” Mõrvar says. “So we’re going to figure out a plan on the way there?”

“Yeah, we’ll have to figure out a plan on the way there, if this is actually true,” Surm says.

Surm comes back to camp, obviously in deep thought. Mõrvar follows close behind him.

Savaric sneaks his way back into the camp, having listened in on the entire conversation. Surm notices Savaric coming back into camp. Rilka gives Surm a sideways glance as he comes back into camp. Surm now sees Furfur flying high above the camp. Surm does not hide his contempt for the bird.

Savaric goes up to Rilka and whispers, “So apparently Furfur has come up with some information that is interesting to our group and, don’t look alarmed, but he’s telling us that Yrda has been attacked while we’ve been gone. And it sounds like Surm is concerned that this may be a trap. Whether it’s set up by Furfur or not is up for debate, but that’s something that might be going on as we get closer to home.”

Rilka does her best not to look upset with this information. Savaric continues, “Also it sounds like Loran (they didn’t say specifically, they kept saying ‘the boy’) has been kidnapped. So that’s also going on.” Rilka and Savaric continue to discuss what Savaric overheard of their conversation. Neither Surm nor Mõrvar approach them with any of their information at this time.

14 Longday 508

The following day, Rilka is wearing a silver holy symbol of Bruni. Surm asks what this means and she says that she has been accepted as a cleric, as one of his faithful.

“You’re now a cleric of Bruni?” he asks, incredulous. “Congratulations?” he says/asks, unsure of how to react.

“Thank you!” Rilka says, excited. “My quest was successful, so thank you.”

The other priests in the troupe congratulate Rilka on her ascension. Mirka gives her the following advice: “Make sure they pay attention to you. Don’t let them ignore you.”

Mirka continues to be receptive to Savaric’s charming repartee.

Rilka approaches a brooding Surm and asks him what’s wrong. He says, “Nothing. I’ll tell you later.”

“Alright,” she says, and leaves him alone.

16 Longday 508

Finally, after several days of journeying down out of the Daggerspine, the troupe manages to make it back down to Valtan. It is around noontime.

They are welcomed into the village with open arms as the eliminators of their former Yeti problem. The village has also been the caretakers of their horses and extra gear, all of which is still here and intact. Holga and Ivarin are pushing on to Rosemeedt. The party thank them for their services and comradeship and wish them well on their journey. “May the gods be with you,” Ivarin says and the priests ride on to the west.

Surm mingles with the people to gather information about Yrda. He hears from a traveler in the longhouse. “Ah, yes, that’s a shame,” the traveler says.

“What’s a shame?” Surm says, loudly. “Gather around friends! This man’s going to tell a story!”

“They broke the laws of hospitality, those,” the man says.

“Who broke the laws of hospitality?” Rilka demands.

“A band of adventurers,” the man says. “They invited them to stay at the longhouse, and then when they left they smelled weakness. And then they returned with hirelings from Josemeedt and took the town.”

“How long ago was this?” Rilka asks.

“The 11th of Longday,” the man says.

“Are they still there? Do they still have control of the town?” Rilka asks.

“Oh, I don’t know,” the man says.

“Well, we’re going to have to go find out,” Rilka says.

“Oh no! A tragedy!” Surm proclaims.

Rilka leans in close to him, “I still don’t like the bird,” she says.

“Well, I don’t like the bird, either,” Surm says, mystified.

Surm asks if the man knows anything about the make-up of the group. “Elves, mostly,” the man says.

“Elves?” Surm says, surprised. Elves mostly come from the far east, east of Borael. Mõrvar confirms, with his knowledge of the race, that this behavior seems out of character for Elves.

“Why are there Elves in the north? What do they want with Yrda?” Rilka asks. “This is not good. We need to get back.”

“Yes, we must get back,” Mirka says.

“Careful, we need to make a plan,” Surm says.

The party estimates that it will take them two days to get to Yrda.

Rilka makes a diagram of Yrda in the dirt and they begin to discuss plans of approach, but then all agree that it would be fruitless without scouting out the situation. They need to get closer to do that, but not so close as to alert the invaders.

Sigurd is in agreement that they need a plan and that they need to scout it out and they need to take care of this problem.

They decide that they will leave in the morning.

The villagers offer to let them stay in the longhouse or to let them set up a camp on the outskirts of the village, as there are a great number of them. They opt to set up a camp on the outskirts.

Rilka says prayers to Bruni for the safety of her father, for the safety of the village, and the safety of Loran.

Before guard shifts begin, the porters and Mahgnus are ushered out of the main tent so that the four main party members can have some privacy. And then Surm says, “So, we’ve heard the news from the gentleman in the longhouse. However, there was a reason I was asking about Yrda. Mõrvar came across some information that Yrda had been taken while we were out in the mountains.”

Rilka does not even try to look surprised at the revelation, nor does Savaric.

“He came across that information already. So I already knew that Yrda had been taken. This information comes to us through Furfur. I don’t know how Furfur came by this information,” Surm says. “He would not answer me when I asked how he got this information.”

Furfur is perched on top of the tent on the outside.

“He’s not particularly talkative unless he wants to be,” Rilka says.

“But according to Furfur, at least one of these invaders is a sorcerer and their holding the boy captive. I don’t know what kind of damage they’ve done to the town, who’s dead, who’s alive, other than according to Furfur, the boy’s alive and being held,” Surm says.

“Their forces are smaller than ours,” Mõrvar says.

“According to Furfur,” Surm interjects. “Who won’t tell me how he got his information.”

“I don’t think I’ve been particularly shy about the fact that I don’t trust Furfur,” Rilka says.

“Asking around confirms his story,” Surm says, “So we need to prepare for it.”

“There’s preparing for it, and there’s believing it. I think he has a different agenda than the rest of us,” Rilka says.

“Oh I have no doubt he has a different agenda,” Surm says.

“What I don’t want is to make assumptions based on what he has said, act on those assumptions, and then find out that what he has said is not the truth,” Rilka says.

“Which is another thing I want to bring up,” Surm says. “I don’t want to go in and start slaughtering people. I don’t know how this attack happened, or why. I would like to find out before anybody gets killed, if possible. Clearly I don’t want to put ourselves at risk to just capture people, but if we can, we can take them alive until we can find out what’s it’s all about.”

“Well, I think we can first send in scouts to assess the situation before we go in,” Rilka says and Surm agrees.

“Are we in agreement with not just slaughtering people outright?” Rilka asks, addressing the group at large.

“Well, I was hoping you were,” Surm says. “I thought you wanted to.”

“I am mad. I’m not happy about this situation,” Rilka says. “Surm, you agree. Mõrvar?”

“I don’t see how we’re going to infiltrate them, take them out, take them prisoner. I foresee this being a slaughter-fest and the element of surprise being king. If they have a sorcerer, he needs to go down—immediately. If they have any kind of spellcaster, they need to go down immediately,” Mõrvar says.

“There’s a difference between that and a slaughter-fest,” Rilka says. “Especially if we’re not entirely certain about the nature of the enemy.”

“We have it from two accounts now that the village has been taken over by people who have seen it as weak,” Mõrvar says.

“Maybe,” Surm says, and Rilka agrees.

“Unless you just want to ride in…” Mõrvar says.

“The plan we have is to send in scouts…” Rilka says.

“We can capture people non-lethally and question them,” Surm says, “which is what I thought you loved to do.”

“I am a fan of questioning,” Mõrvar says, thoughtfully.

“We need more information. We need to know why,” Surm says. “We need to know if they’re alone. We need to know if they’re an advance group. Yrda is a weird target for adventurers. It’s one thing for Northron warlords to take it for slaves and yearly tribute. It’s another for a group of adventurers to walk in and take a podunk one horse town. Because we can. It seems weird.”

Surm invites Mirka and Sigurd into the tent and tells them that this story is strange, that he feels this story is strange, that he doesn’t understand why a group of adventurers would hire a group of men out of Josemeedt to take over their village. Is there anything special about their village that they could be pursuing? Is there a treasure hoard? Something that would make it a target for adventurers? Mirka says that there are no religious relics or anything of that sort and Sigurd says that it is just a simple farming village. Surm relates what their plans are so far—send in scouts, find out what’s going on, and take prisoners. Sigurd immediately agrees that it is good plan. Rilka notes that MIrka agrees to the plan, while the others note that she grudgingly agrees to the plan. Savaric notes that what she really wants to do is go in kick someone’s ass, but she agrees to the plan as is.

The meeting disperses and everyone goes about the business of camping and setting up guard shifts for the night.

The night passes without incident.

17 Longday 508

That morning, the troupe thanks the village of Valtan for their hospitality and leaves the village. Surm spreads the news about Yrda amongst the troupe to keep all of the guards and porters and such informed.

Furfur alternates between being on Mõrvar’s shoulder and flying around the troupe. Surm sends a Message to Rilka and Savaric to meet him at the back of the line. The two half-orcs fall back to the rear of the line to meet with Surm away from Mõrvar and away from Furfur.

“Here’s my concern,” Surm says. "I don’t like this situation. I think this bird is manipulating every-fucking-body. I don’t know where he got his information. All Mõrvar told me was ’He’s got friends’. Bird wouldn’t tell me anything. He was invisible the whole time Mõrvar and I were talking. This bird is not only manipulating us, but maybe whoever came and did this. His friends said ‘Oh, Yrda’s an evil place. You need to conquer them and destroy them.’ They’re a bunch of people that think they’re doing the right thing and we go in and slaughter them and the bird has a good time. I don’t want to do it if that’s the case.

“I do not like that bird,” Rilka says.

“I don’t like it, either,” Surm says. “These may be a bunch of assholes that happened to show up, but it’s all very coinky-dinky after he makes his big speech to make yourself useful that he’s come up with this information?”

“I was going to suggest the same thing, that maybe Furfur set it all up,” Savaric says.

“He’s got friends in high places? Maybe,” Surm says.

“The problem with all this is,” Rilka says, “even if it turns out to be legit, I still don’t trust Furfur. I don’t trust that this is not a ’I’m your friend, I’m your pal,’ it can turn like that.”

“Anyway, that’s why I don’t want to go in and slaughter people,” Surm says. “If they’ve been manipulated the same way we’ve been manipulated, then screw it.”

“Do you think this bird is a demon?” Rilka asks.

“Yes, I think this bird is a demon. I think it’s an imp,” Surm says.

“Does that mean we need special weapons to kill it,” Savaric says.

“The information I got, I didn’t get a whole lot of information about imps,” Surm says.

“We need to do some research on the side, I don’t think his talons are coming out of him, no pun intended. This is the green gem all over again,” Rilka says.

The group spreads back out into the ranks.

Mõrvar, at one point when Furfur is on one of his flights, turns to Surm and suggests that they have Furfur do some scouting. Surm responds that he wouldn’t trust anything that the raven reported. Not until he’s willing to cough up who his ‘friends’ are.

The rest of the day goes by and the troupe makes camp. The night passes peacefully.

18 Longday 508

The troupe is a day away from Yrda. Sigurd suggests a lowland valley about 2 miles from the village in which to hide the troupe from prying eyes in the village. He leads the way.

As the sun sinks low in the sky, Sigurd takes the group to lowland. So far, there is no sign that there is anything wrong. A scouting party is selected: Sigurd, Savaric, Surm, and Mõrvar. it is decided that if the party is not back by sunrise, the rest of the troupe should go ahead and head in. Their mission is to go in and find all the information they can and come back. They are not to do anything at this time.

The scouting party head stealthily head toward the village, approaching from the west. As they approach, they see that two large tents have been erected on the outskirts of the village. Surm, Sigurd, and Mõrvar approach up to 50 feet of the tents while Savaric approaches the tents to listen and investigate.

Savaric asks Ilona to make him invisible to allow him sneak up to the tents. She says that she’s happy to help as this is very exciting. As he makes his approach to the tents, he sees a head poke out of the tent’s flap and look around, and pop back inside. Savaric approaches again and hides next to one of the buildings, which is next to one of the tents—the one that the head had popped out of. He listens in at the tent, hearing a fair amount of movement and conversation in Joslac. “Hurry up, we got to get ready and change out or she’s going to be pissed.” “Don’t know why we got to be in this podunk town, anyway…” He hears about eight voices in all.

Surm Messages Savaric: “Are you in position?”

“Yes, I’m in position. It sounds like there’s approximately 8 people in this tent alone,” Savaric whispers.

“This tent?” Surm says.

“This tent,” Savaric confirms. “They don’t sound like they want to be here.”

“Like they’re slaves?” Surm asks.

“No, these are probably the people they hired. But they don’t understand why they came to this podunk town,” Savaric says.

“What’s in the other tent?” Surm asks.

Savaric moves around the south end of the longhouse to Ulfethinn and sees a man, a warrior, walking in his direction. Savaric hunkers down and hides. His invisibility due to Ilona wears off. He watches as the warrior round the corner of the longhouse and start heading toward the tents.

Meanwhile, Surm turns to Mõrvar and says, “I’ve lost contact with Savaric.”

“Should we go in?” Mõrvar asks.

“I don’t know. Because he didn’t tell me what he was doing or follow the plan,” Surm says, annoyed.

“I guess we better go check the tents. I didn’t hear any commotion,” Surm continues.

Surm and Mõrvar discuss their plans while Savaric continues to sneak deeper into the village to get a better view of the village center.

At the village center, Savaric sees a group of six men heading toward the west end of the village. He also sees two more men posted at the entrance door to the main longhouse at the south end of the village.

Surm and Mõrvar still haven’t heard from Savaric, but have also heard no commotion from the village. Mõrvar casts Vanish on Surm, who runs to the closest tent and hides and listens. He hears conversations in Joslac, “We better get out there,” “Oh, hi Sven. We’re almost ready” “Well, you better get ready. She’s in a bad mood.” There’s a lot of movement. Surm heads from the back of this tent to the back of the other tent. He then Messages to Mõrvar that this tent is not talking about a half-orc.

He listens at the other tent. He hears nothing at first, but then hears a single set of footsteps heading into the tent. Surm then lifts up the bottom slightly to try to get a view inside. He sees the flickering of lantern light. He sees multiple bedrolls on the floor—seven. He sees a pair of boots and someone taking them off. Smells like someone that’s been in boots all day.

Surm Messages Mõrvar again. “Nobody seems to care about Savaric. But there’s a chick in charge. They keep talking about a ‘she’.”

Meanwhile, Savaric attempts to hide near the longhouse. One of the guards yells out “Who goes there?!?”

Surm hears the guard yell this out. He tells Mõrvar, “I found Savaric. Somebody yelling at the longhouse. He is way out of position.”

Savaric goes invisible. The men that were in the village center start running in his direction.

“Sigurd. Go get the army,” Mõrvar says. And Sigurd starts hustling the two miles back to the main troupe.

Savaric hears the voice that yelled before issue the order “Fan out!” Surm and Mõrvar hear the order as well. The invisible ranger heads south out of the village, hopefully far enough to be out of earshot of the searching guards.

Mõrvar and Surm decide to head around the outskirts of the village and head toward Girda’s house at the north end of the village.

A female voice calls out in Tradespeak, “There will be no changing of the guard. You will all be on duty until we find out what is going on! Patrol the village!”

Savaric then fires a whistling arrow up toward the village. He then takes off running toward the west.

Surm and Mõrvar hear a high-pitched whistle go off over the town. They recognize it as whistling arrow. They’re unsure if the invaders are signaling someone or what is going on. Lights start to come on in some of the homes. People start to stir. They see guards with torches gathering at the poles near the center of the villages.

No guards have come out of Girda’s house, nor have any lights come on. The back door to the cottage is facing Surm and Mõrvar. They decide to make their approach by Mõrvar casting Vanish on them and quickly making their way to the back door. Surm will approach first with Mõrvar following closely behind.

As Surm makes it to the door, and Mõrvar is slightly behind, two guards turn around the corner, looking around. Surm uses his remaining time to sneak attack one of the guards while Mõrvar moves behind the other.

Surm’s victim is hit with a sneak attack. Mõrvar cleaves through his opponent and hits both guards with his great sword. Then Surm casts Admonishing Ray defensively. Mõrvar then cleaves his opponents once again, hitting the first guard and then critically injuring the second, opening him up for a second attack. The first guard falls unconscious and then the second guard falls. Surm stabs the first guard until he his dead and then Mõrvar decapitates them both.

Surm goes up to the back door of Girda’s house and attempts to open the door, but finds that it is barred. He tries, unsuccessfully, to jimmy the bar. He keeps trying until he finally opens the door to find Girda in her housedress holding an axe.

“Shh!” Surm says and he and Mõrvar drag the bodies inside the house. Surm then kicks dirt over the blood outside the door.

“Do you know how many there are?” Surm asks Girda. “Why are they here?”

“There’s fifteen,” then she looks down, “thirteen,” she says.

“Fifteen total?” Surm asks.

“Yes, I think,” Girda says. “Of men.”

“Of men? There’s a woman,” Surm says.

“Then there’s the Elves and the Halfling,” Girda says.

“How many of those?” Surm asks.

“There’s two Elf males, a Half-Elf woman who leads them, and a Halfling,” Girda says.

“Man or woman? I don’t know if it’ll matter, but…” Surm asks.

“Man,” Girda says.

“Are there any spellcasters?” Mõrvar asks. “Which one? Or ones?”

“Oh yes,” Girda says. “One of the Elves.”

“Not the Half-Elf?” Mõrvar asks.

“Not the Half-Elf,” Girda says. “Not the leader.”

“Where’s your son?” Surm asks.

“He’s in the longhouse,” Girda says.

“Do you know why they’re here?” Surm asks.

“She has proclaimed herself Queen of Yrda and wants to take taxes and tribute,” Girda says.

“They just showed up?” Surm asks.

“They came first and partook of our hospitality. Then they came again with soldiers,” Girda says.

“Demanding tribute,” Surm says.

“They’re fixing to meet their betters,” Mõrvar says.

“Hopefully our people are coming soon,” Surm says.

“Where are the priests?” Mõrvar asks.

Girda just shakes her head.

Surm and Mõrvar exchange glances and argue about who’s going to tell Rilka.

“The priest of Bruni led the defense. He died gloriously in battle. The priest of Yülthn was taken prisoner and was then horsewhipped in the center of town. His throat was then slit,” Girda says.

“Holy crap. So much for trying to keep these people alive,” Surm says.

“So now can we just kill them all?” Mõrvar asks.

“Yeah,” Surm says.

“Thank you,” Mõrvar says, happily.

“Do you know where in the longhouse he is?” Surm asks.

“The Half-Elf keeps him with her,” she says.

“So you know that one of them is a magic-wielder. Do you know anything about the others? The Half-Elf, the other Elf, the Halfling? Are they walking around with plate armor? Or stealthing around everywhere?” Surm asks. “Are any of them priests?”

“I don’t think so. The Halfling, he keeps to the shadows. The other Elf, he’s an archer,” Girda says.

“This spellcaster. Where does he tend to stay?” Mõrvar asks.

“They all stay in the longhouse,” Girda says.

“So we’ve got to go to the longhouse,” Mõrvar says. “Our first target’s got to be the spellcaster.”

Surm and Mõrvar start dousing lights and taking up watchful positions in Girda’s house. Mõrvar loots the bodies of the guards.

Mõrvar asks Girda what kind of spells this spellcaster used. She tells him that he called lighting against the doors of the temple of Bruni. With that information, Mõrvar figures out that the spellcaster is of a formidable level.

Meanwhile, Savaric has made his way back to his scouting party’s initial position. Surm, Mõrvar, and Sigurd are not there. Savaric finds Sigurd’s tracks heading back toward the main troupe as well as Mõrvar’s tracks heading around the outskirts of the village and Surms tracks heading toward the tents. He begins to follow the tracks toward the tents.

As Savaric sneaks toward the tents, he sees a figure emerge from between the buildings. It’s a guard, carrying a torch in his shield arm. Savaric sneaks away from the figure and continues to follow the tracks around the outskirts of the village, toward the north end of the settlement.

Rilka, back at the main force, sees Sigurd hustling his way toward the troupe. “Sigurd, what’s going on?”

“Lost contact with Savaric. Told me to come get the army,” Sigurd says.

“Alasir, load up. The army’s moving in,” Rilka tells Alasir. “I want all of our guards to double up as best as we can. The porters and villagers and Mahgnus can stay back.”

Kalthin says, “You want us to stay back?”

“Is there room for them on a horse? Can they double up?” Rilka asks Alasir. "They can come but they need to double up. I want the porters and Mahgnus to stay behind. "

Sigurd says, “They volunteered for Yrda.”

“Well, it’s the porters and Mahgnus then. Everyone get packed. They’ll wait here. Some of us will be riding double,” Rilka says.

The force gets mounted as fast as possible and gets riding the two miles to Yrda.

Meanwhile, Savaric has followed the trail that has led to one of the houses in the north end of the village—he recognizes it as Girda’s house. He recognized that the trail he was following met up with another and two men made it to the house. He listens at the back door and hears the faint sounds of movement within. He looks for a place for Victor to enter the house, but finds none.

Savaric taps lightly at the door. Surm and Mõrvar and Girda are on their guard at the sound. Girda grips her axe while Mõrvar takes up a position on one side of the door with his sword. Savaric tries to open to door, but finds that it is barred. Surm watches the front door. Savaric taps at the door again. Mõrvar Messages Surm to be ready because he’s going to open the door. Surm gets ready to Admonishing Ray anyone at the door. Mõrvar unbars the door and holds the door shut. Savaric whispers “Girda!” at the door, but no one can hear him beyond the thick wood of the door. Mõrvar looks at Girda, who just adjusts her grip on her axe. Mõrvar throws the door open to see Savaric crouched behind the door. Mõrvar grabs him and pulls him inside.

“You guys are so loud,” Savaric admonishes as Mõrvar and Surm give him the evil eye.

The three argue for a few moments about the broken plan until Surm goes back to the window to watch for guards. He does see some wandering warriors in the streets.

Rilka and the rest of the force are galloping toward Yrda, approaching from the west. They swing around to the south, approaching the main longhouse, and then stop, dismounting in formation. Rilka, Sigurd, and Mirka lead the way. Rilka places the Blessing of Bruni upon them.

Savaric, Surm, and Mõrvar are discussing their future battle plans against the Elves and Surm is getting increasingly frustrated with Savaric’s inability to grasp the plan. As a result, he cannot hear the approaching hooves of their main force. Fortunately, Savaric can, and warns them of their approach. They warn Girda to bar the door behind them and they all go to sneak between houses and the longhouse of Yülthn toward the village’s main longhouse, hoping that the approach of the main troupe will distract the guards enough to draw attention away from them. They start to hear shouts of alarm coming from the guards in the village.

Four men coming charging out of the village toward Mirka, Sigurd, and Rilka. Rilka swings and misses against her opponent. Mirka hits her opponent with her warhammer, while Sigurd swings with his twin axes, striking a critical blow with the second one. The invaders hit Sigurd, but also manage to fumble one of their many attacks.

Rilka finally hits her opponent. Mirka misses hers. Sigurd hits his opponent as well. Rilka is hit, Mirka is missed, but Sigurd is hit, and then fumbled against again.

Another group of four invaders approach as the more of Rilka’s main force approach as well. Alasir comes up to deal with one of the two on Sigurd. Alfhild orders Halvor, Jerrik, and Leif to ready the crossbows. The rest of the guards are deployed against the other four approaching invaders.

Rilka’s opponent sticks his sword in the ground and has a hard time pulling it out. Mirka was hit by her opponent. Sigurd goes down under a mighty blow. Alasir attacks twice, doing damage with each blow. Mirka

Mirka takes a critical wound, meaning a massive amount of damage and her strength is affected. She is hit again for a great deal of damage. Alasir is hit twice by his opponent as well.

Rilka does some damage to her opponent. Mirka casts a healing spell on herself, defensively, gaining back much of her energy. Alasir deals some damage to his opponent as well. Sigurd manages to stabilize himself.

Mirka calls down the lightning of the Thunderer on her foe. Rilka is hit by her opponent for a small amount of damage. Mirka is hit hard by her opponent once again, as is Alasir. Rilka fells her opponent and then steps around to flank Mirka’ s opponent. Alasir attacks his foe and does a great deal of damage.

Rilka does critical damage to Mirka’s foe. Alasir attacks his foe once and then does critical damage to his foe, bringing him down. Mirka’s foe is hit by more of Ulfethinn’s lightning. She is then hit with minimal damage by one of her foes.

Rilka continues to flank Mirka’s foe and attacks. Mirka is attacked again. Alasir fells one of Mirka’s foes. Then Mirka once again calls down the lightning on her final foe, and he falls.

This leaves the battle with the guards versus the remaining four invaders of this wave.

Mirka and Alasir haul Sigurd’s inert form back to get a healing burst away from the fallen bodies of the invaders while Rilka presses forward to the next line of the fight. The guards, along with the Yrdan volunteers, have set up a flanking attack of the enemy line. Three of the guards are firing crossbow bolts into the line as well.

After only two more rounds of combat, the enemy line falls, one man after another. The lone enemy left throws down his weapon in surrender. Rilka calls out, “Subdue him!” Alfhild holds a sword on him and commands the mercenary to get on his knees. Mirka, Alasir, and the newly rejuvenated Sigurd return to the troupe. Rilka spies a guard at the longhouse running inside it. She has the mercenary’s weapon collected and has the three village volunteers guard the mercenary at the rear of the troupe and leads the group toward the front of the longhouse.


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