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.
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.
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.”
“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?”
“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?”
“The priestess of Ulfethinn.”
“You think she’ll agree with you on the need for weregild?”
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.
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.”
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.”
“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?”
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.
“It’s not been taking people has it?”
“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.