Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


“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?”


“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.


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


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.


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.

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


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.


“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.



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.


“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.

Session Thirty
The Celebration at Yrda


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.”

“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.”


“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.”

“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?”


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.

Session Thirty-One
The Gathering Storm


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.


“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.


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.

Session Thirty-Two
The Face of Fear


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.

Session Thirty-Three
The Approach


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?”


“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.

Session Thirty-Four
The Temple of Jörn


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.”

Session Thirty-Five
Extinguishing the Flame


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.

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.

Rage and Raven: Poachers (Part One)
Part One


14 Growth 508

The The Green Lady , captained by Landon Masrath, pulls into the harbor at Crownport. Rhain, Lenoria, Alun, and Kerra have spent their time on the ship negotiating their shares of the treasures left from their adventures in Tarsas. Once they get into the city, they plan on selling some goods, and getting some magic items appraised.

The port authorities ask if they have anything to declare. They do not. There is a gate tax of four copper pieces per person. The party takes their leave of the crew and they step off onto the docks at Crownport.

It is a pleasant morning in the city. The party splits up, as Alun and Kerra actually live in Crownport with their family. Lenoria asks if there is the possibility of staying the night with them instead of paying for a room. Kerra furrows her brow, but Alun speaks up and says that “We would, but our parent’s house is quite small. You wouldn’t be comfortable.”

Lenoria and Rhain head to Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to stay the night. It is the modest inn in the market district at which they had stayed the last time they were in town. They put away their things and then head out into the market place to do business with Kerra and Alun. Once there, they find that they are in a seller’s market—Crownport is going through an inflationary period economically. Unfortunately, it also makes local goods and services more expensive to purchase.

After the general marketplace, they head to the University district to see a scriptorium about their magical scrolls. “The Dragon’s Scriptorium” is nestled between two crowded buildings there. It is furnished well with dwarven-wrought furniture and cases. It is run by a chubby half-elf. Lenoria presents three scrolls, one for Fog Cloud, which she wishes to sell, and two for Bull’s Strength, which she wishes to get a price for. She offers 16 gold for the Fog Cloud and prices the Bull’s Strength at 125 gold. Lenoria decides to go ahead and sell the Bull’s Strength scrolls to the shopkeeper. They also get directions to a potion shop called “Saerondor & Gyle’s Apothecary”.

Before heading to the apothecary, there is a discussion about whether or not to determine what their vials of potions do before selling them off. Rhain is for finding out if they are useful first. Kerra is in agreement, as are the others. The party then attempts to identify the nature of the potions they are carrying. They fail to identify one of the potions, though Kerra is pretty sure it’s water. They then draw straws and pick the potions amongst each other. Lenoria’s worship of a goddess of chance serves her well and she draws first pick. In the end, they decide not to go to the apothecary.

After their business is completed at the marketplace, they convene to split out their proceeds of coin. The remainder funds are used to purchase “rats on a stick”, street food, for everyone for the day. They see some of the sites of the city, but not King’s Lake, as it is a bit out of the way and probably costs money. Finally, Kerra and Alun say their goodbyes and the party splits up, the Lanyons going one way, and Rhain and Lenoria going another.

Rhain and Lenoria return to Silvercask’s to discuss their future plans. Do they stay in Crownport or move south to Kalimsport and look for work? In the end, they decide to look for work here in Crownport. Lenoria goes out to find information on any kind of adventuring jobs they can find.

Lenoria learns of a job in need of “discrete” workers. Inquiries can be made of a man named Stavros at a tavern called The Sly Toad. Intrigued, she and Rhain decide to check it out.

The Sly Toad is a bit of a dive bar on the Lake Road. It is marked by a sign depicting a fat toad with a lecherous wink on its face. The bar is busy, with a lot of hustle and bustle going on. Lenoria can spot several tables where “business” is clearly being conducted. Lenoria goes to the barkeep and asks, “Where is Stavros?”

The barkeep, a jowly fellow with thick mutton-chops, looks at her and asks, “Who wants to know?”

“Rumor is that he is looking for work. We may be able to help with that,” Lenoria says agreeably.

“Well, lots of people are looking for Stavros,” the barkeep says.

Lenoria makes a silver appear on the counter. It disappears and the barkeep says, “He’s at the back of the room. Big mustache.”

Rhain and Lenoria head to the back of the common room. At one of the tables they see a heavy-set Kuskar with a thick black mustache. Stavros looks up to see Lenoria smiling at him. Rhain does not. “Are you Stavros?” Lenoria asks.

“I might be.”

“I heard you might be looking for some work. People who can be discrete,” Lenoria says.

“In a manner of speaking, I’m vetting applicants,” Stavros says.

“My friend and I here are interested. What exactly does this vetting process entail?” Lenoria asks.

“Have a seat,” Stavros says, indicating the chairs, and Lenoria and Rhain take chairs at the table.

“Have either of you done any bounty work?” Stavros asks.

“Of course,” Rhain says, very convincingly.

“Not specifically,” Lenoria says. “I’m good at retrieving what I go after, though.”

“Have you performed work in which you’ve had to avoid…entanglements…with the City Watch?” Stavros asks.

“Yeah,” Rhain says. “My day to day. They charge you money to go anywhere and do anything.”

Lenoria just laughs at the question. Stavros smiles appreciatively at Rhain’s response.

“You,” Stavros points at Rhain, “I can guess at your skill-set. Tell if I’m wrong. You seem to be a bit of scrapper. A bruiser. Am I right?”

“Oh yeah,” Rhain says.

“You,” Stavros points at Lenoria," what do you bring to the table?"

“I’m a priestess of Imtiau if that helps,” Lenoria says. “So I bring the luck of my goddess.”

“I don’t know that goddess,” Stavros says.

“I’m originally from Sianae,” Lenoria says, by way of explanation.

“So you have spells?” Stavros asks.

“She’s a goddess of luck and trickery, so I have a particular set of spells and skills,” Lenoria says.

“Hmmm,” Stavros says, rubbing his chin.

“My employer has a job that requires some discretion, some working around the authorities, and involves a bounty. Are you interested so far?” Stavros asks.

“Sure,” Rhain says.

“Discretion as far as just keeping our mouths shut or as far as being unmemorable, my friend and I?” Lenoria asks.

“Keeping your mouths shut and keeping yourselves out of entanglements,” Stavros says.

“Ah, alright,” Lenoria says, satisfied.

“Alright. If you wish to hear more details and are still interested, I’ll set up a meet with my employer as you’ve been the best applicants I’ve had. I tell you what, why don’t you go to this address,” and he pulls out a small card with an address written on it, “at nine bells. My employer will meet you there.”

“Who are we looking for?” Rhain asks.

“My employer would prefer to remain nameless,” Stavros says. “Part of the discretion.”

“Anything we can know that we’re meeting the right person? That this isn’t some kind of set up?” Lenoria asks. “We’re not from here; I can’t tell if this address is the docks, somebody’s house, or what.”

“It’s an abandoned shop in the market district,” Stavros says. “I’ll be with him.”

“That works then. Nine bells it is,” Lenoria says.

Lenoria and Rhain leave. At this point it is close to seven bells. They head back to Silvercasks’s and wash the sea brine and road dust off their face with a hot bath. They then get ready to make their appointment.

Down in the common room, they notice that Eva, a former traveling companion from their days as caravan guards, is in the common room. Rhain comes up to her and says “Hey.”

“Hey!” she says and leans back in her chair.

“Can I sit?” Rhain asks.

“Have a seat,” Eva says.

“What are you up to?” Rhain asks.

“A little time between gigs,” Eva says.

“Just got back from Tarsas, myself.” Rhain says. “Imth.”

“Oh. Never been to Tarsas. Heard it was a bad deal,” Eva says.

“No, it wasn’t all that awesome,” Rhain says. “We went and raided an abandoned temple. Got out some loot.”

“Nice,” Eva says.

“Yeah, it was nice. But the locals got kinda crappy about it,” Rhain says. “They didn’t want to buy it back. It was abandoned. Nobody had gone for it. Nobody was using it. But they didn’t want to buy it. Buncha trouble. But that whole town was crappy to foreigners.”

“That’s what they say about Tarsas is that they’re not too friendly to foreigners,” Eva says.

“Nah,” Rhain says in agreement.

“So how long are you in Crownport?” Eva asks.

“I don’t know. About to go check on a gig tonight. I got a feeling it’s local,” Rhain says.

“Yeah, we’re just holding over. Got another caravan gig,” Eva says.

“Caravan’s huh?” Rhain says.

“Yeah, we’re heading up into Leilior,” Eva says.

“That’s cool,” Rhain says. “Yeah, that’s where I got this sweet armor.”

“That’s pretty sweet,” Eva says.

“Yeah, took this off a half-orc jerk in the middle of the woods. Him and his party didn’t think we should be able to walk by as we pleased. I guess he thought he owned that path,” Rhain says.

“I still got the same shit, different day,” Eva says, ruefully.

“Well, if you ever want to expand your horizons, just let me know. There’s room in what we’re doing for an experienced hand. If you’re up for a little adventure. What you’re doing is steady work, but its hum-drum boring work, too.” Rhain tells her all about the elf sorcerer with claws that they encountered with the half-orc, and the archer as well.

When it’s time to go, Lenoria comes by and collects Rhain and says hello to Eva. “It’s nice to meet you again,” Lenoria says.

“You as well,” Eva says.

The two head for the abandoned shop. Lenoria looks for anyone following them. Rhain thinks Eva might follow them to take them up on the job—he thinks she’s getting tired of guard work “because it’s boring and stupid.” Lenoria isn’t sure they should include anyone else on this job, as it requires discretion and she doesn’t have a good enough sense of Eva to know if she could handle it. Rhain says he was thinking of asking Alun. Lenoria doesn’t think his sister would approve. Rhain responds that he wasn’t going to ask her. “She doesn’t bring anything that I don’t bring,” Rhain says.

They finally arrive at the address written on the card. It looks like an abandoned shop. The windows are boarded up and the door is shut. Lenoria and Rhain move quietly along a side alley—or as quietly as they can with Rhain being in armor. They make their way to the rear of the building and find a back door.

The door is not barred or locked. Lenoria opens the door and goes inside. She sees candlelight from a room at the front of the shop. Once Rhain gets inside, she shuts the door behind him and they make their way to the front of the shop.

It looks like the candlelight is coming in from the main shop area. Stavros is there holding a candleholder with a candle in it. Just outside the candlelight is another figure. Lenoria and Rhain pause.

“Stavros,” Lenoria says.

“Lady,” Stavros says. “Gentleman. This is my employer. And possibly yours.” He steps to the side and lets the shadowed figure speak.

“What I wish you to do is find a person by the of Diata the Poacher,” the employer’s voice is deep and measured. “Bring her here to me. When you have her, you can send word to Stavros. This will be your delivery point.”

“This shop?” Rhain asks.

“Yes,” the employer says.

“Is she in Crownport?” Rhain asks.

“I believe so. That is part of your job is to make sure,” the employer says.

“Do we get any sort of idea or description about this poacher person so if we get someone we actually know that’s who it is?” Lenoria asks.

“She is a half-elf. Young, dirty-blonde hair. Not as pretty as a lot of her race. She frequents, when she’s in Crownport, the Scarlet Griffon,” the employer says.

Lenoria has heard of the Scarlet Griffon. It’s a modest inn for adventurers.

“Any particular skill-sets that she has that we need to be aware of?” Lenoria asks.

“She’s a bounty hunter,” the employer says. “She’s a sniper.”

“Huh. You’re a putting a bounty on a bounty hunter?” Rhain says.

“The irony is not lost,” the employer says. “She is not…unskilled…at her job.” He says this grudgingly, with some bitterness.

“We’re being asked to be discrete and kind of out of the eyes of the watch, is she normally as well? Trying to stay out of the eye of the law? Or is she buddy-buddy with the watch?” Lenoria asks.

“Sometimes yes, sometimes no. She turns in many of her bounties to the watch,” the employer says, “to get her pay.”

“What’s the pay?” Rhain asks.

“How’s 200 apiece—100 for the job, 100 for your silence?” the employer says.

“So 400?” Rhain says.

“Yes,” the employer says.

“What sort of timeframe are we working with?” Lenoria asks.

“As soon as possible,” the employer says.

“So there’s not an end-date to this bounty,” Rhain says.

“I don’t wish it to drag on,” the employer says, warily.

“I understand that,” Rhain says, “but what I’m saying is ‘if we don’t have her by the third, it’s over.’ I want to know if I show up on the fifteenth, I’m going to get paid.”

“Or not bother coming,” Lenoria says.

“No—just as soon as possible,” the employer says.

“Okay. Because for all we know, she’s not in Crownport and we have to track her down across the country,” Rhain says. “Anything else?”

“No,” the employer says.

“And Stavros, you’re stationed at the Sly Toad?,” Rhain asks.

“That’s where you can find me,” Stavros says.

“That seems like the minimum we need to operate in our jobs,” Lenoria says.

Lenoria and Rhain exit out the front door.

“Well, that seems pretty straight-forward,” Rhain says.

At this point, it’s pretty close to ten bells, so people are still going out to taverns and inns for drinks. Lenoria asks about to find out where the Scarlet Griffon is. She finds out that it is on the north end of town. Lenoria then hails a passing carriage and they head to the north side of the city and the Scarlet Griffon. It costs her a silver piece.

The Scarlet Griffon is a lively place with a lot of adventuring types. There a couple of bards performing in a corner of common room. Lenoria tells Rhain to go buy them a drink. The bartender, a comely woman with red hair, asks Rhain, “What are you having, handsome?”

“I don’t know. What do you recommend?” Rhain asks, leaning on the bar.

“For you, I’d recommend some Ornish brandy,” the barkeep says.

“Ornish brandy. That sounds interesting. I’ll take two,” Rhain says.

“Two Ornish brandies,” the barkeep says and pours the drinks into glasses. She presents the drinks and says “Alright, that’ll be 2 silver, 5 copper.”

The brandy comes in a glass. It’s a thickish liquid with a slightly floral scent. “You sure this is fit for drinking?” Rhain asks.

“Absolutely,” the barkeep says.

“Looks like it’s for oiling engines,” Rhain mutters. He sips on it. It burns going down. It has a bit of a floral/fruity flavor, but mostly burns. For those into liquor, it tastes good. Unfortunately, Rhain is not into liquor. Nevertheless, Rhain takes some time small talk with the barkeep.

Lenoria takes some time to look around the common room and try to see if anyone matching Diata’s description is in the room. She doesn’t spot Diata, but she does spy the barkeep throwing a glass of brandy into Rhain’s face with an angry expression. Lenoria moves in to intervene.

“Were you trying to charm the ladies again?” Lenoria tells the barkeep. “I’m so sorry if he said something rude.”

“You better take your friend out here!” the barkeep says.

Lenoria tries to calm the barkeep down, but she’s having none of it. “You better take your friend out of here, now!”

Lenoria escorts Rhain out of the common room. Rhain takes his glass with him and then smashes it against the wall on his way out.

“What did you say?” Lenoria asks once they get outside.

“I don’t know. She totally overreacted,” Rhain complains. “This stuff is sticky.”

“I know. You smell fruity,” Lenoria says.

“It burns my skin like it does my throat,” Rhain says.

As they walk down the street away from the inn, Lenoria says. “Well, I did not see her.”

“I didn’t see her, either,” Rhain says.

“I think the question of whether or not we can rooms here has just gotten more interesting,” Lenoria says. “I don’t know if I can smooth that one over.”

“I don’t know what her big problem is. She flirted with me. She sent all the signals,” Rhain says.

“Do we go back to our inn to figure out a game plan or what?” Lenoria asks.

“What game plan is there to figure out? We just stalk this place, right?” Rhain says.

“Yeah,” Lenoria says. “I can continue to be here during the closing hours shift. But tonight you’re not getting back in that bar.”

“That bar wasn’t all that anyway,” Rhain says.

They look around for another tavern or inn within watching distance of the Scarlet Griffon that has outdoor seating. They spot the Ten Wolves Tavern that fits the bill.

“Is there anything else we can do besides just sit and watch this place?” Rhain asks.

“Well, I can go back in and see if I can find her. But, again, I didn’t see her, so I’d still just be keeping an eye out for her. I didn’t really want to start asking around because I don’t want her to get wind of the fact that someone’s looking for where she is. We don’t want that kind of trouble. If she’s a bounty hunter and wily…” Lenoria says.

“Well this job’s already annoyed me,” Rhain says. “Crappy bar. Rude service. And she wasn’t even there.”

“Not as of yet,” Lenoria says.

“The only thing I can think of to do right now is watch,” Lenoria says.

“Fine,” Rhain says, annoyed.

“We can either both watch across the street, or I can go back in and just try to keep an eye out until the bar closes and come back if we want to do this as a split-up sort of thing,” Lenoria says.

“Fine, I’ll stay here,” Rhain says, despondent.

“Okay. And when the bar closes, I’ll come back out,” Lenroria says.

The midnight bells start ringing. Lenoria goes back into the Scarlet Griffon while Rhain waits outside the Ten Wolves Tavern.

Inside the Scarlet Griffon, Lenoria checks upstairs to see how many rooms the inn has. It looks like it has about a dozen rooms. Otherwise, she takes a seat and watches and listens.

Outside, Rhain spots a small group of adventurers head inside the Scarlet Griffon. The group is made up of a half-elf woman, a half-orc male, and an elven female. The half-elf fits the description of Diata the Poacher. Rhain elects to maintain his post, waiting to see if they come out.

Lenoria notices the group come into the inn’s common room. They take a table and start speaking together in low voices. Lenoria makes her way closer to them so that she can eavesdrop. She also summons a Bit of Luck from her goddess to help her attempt.

She hears Diata saying, “We’ve got to get him to come out. He’s holed up in there.”

The half-orc says, “I don’t know how we’re going to do that.”

Diata says, “He’s worth a thousand gold pieces. For a thousand, we’ve got to get him out.”

The elf says, “But he’s got those seven others.”

“They’re worth fifty a piece,” Diata says. “Three-fifty more. For three-fifty more, we can take them out as well. It’s worth it.”

Then the half-orc says, “So how do we smoke him out?”

Diata says, “I don’t know. I’m working on it. Let’s get some drinks.”

Lenoria continues to listen in and observe them. Diata has a rapier at her side and a masterwork composite longbow at her shoulder. She wears masterwork studded leather. The half-orc is carrying a masterwork greataxe and is wearing a masterwork breastplate. The elf is wearing a rapier at her side and is carrying a masterwork longbow. Listening to their conversation, Lenoria confirms that the half-elf is Diata, the half-orc is named Uther, and the elf is named Serenia. They are staying here at the Scarlet Griffon. They also talk about going back to “the site” tomorrow night.

Lenoria heads out to check in with Rhain. She sits next to Rhain at the table.

“I saw them go in,” Rhain says.

“I saw them in there,” Lenoria says. “I overhead a bit of their conversation. They’re staying there. They’re still in there hanging out. It sounds like they’re on a job right now. A very lucrative job.”

“Oh yeah?” Rhain asks. “How lucrative?”

“Whoever their going after, they’re going to get a thousand for,” Lenoria says.

“No way,” Rhain says, impressed. “Who are they going after?”

“They didn’t say. Apparently they’re going to have a hard time getting him to come out. He’s holed up somewhere. Diata is the half-elf. Uther is the half-orc. The elf is Serenia,” Lenoria says. She then relates the particulars of the conversation she overheard. “She’s working on a plan. And they’re fairly well-armored,” she says, finally.

“Let’s grab them after that job,” Rhain says.

Lenoria laughs. “We could ask who she’s going after. A thousand’s nice. Apparently they’re going back to the site tomorrow.”

“We’ve got to find out. We’ve got to follow them,” Rhain says. Lenoria agrees. Then Rhain says, “We’ve got to team up with them.”

Lenoria looks a bit dubious at that proposition.

“What?” Rhain asks.

“Why would they want to team up with us?” Lenoria asks.

“Well, if they’re going after some guy and seven others, they need more people. It’s just the three of them, right?” Rhain says.

“As far as I know,” Lenoria says. “How’s that going to fit into our plans?”

“Well, once all that is taken care of, we knock her in the head and take her in,” Rhain says. “See? Double pay day.”

“There’s a lot of variables there,” Lenoria says.

“Just two. An elf and a half-orc,” Rhain says.

“There’s also the ‘why should they trust us?’ and sometimes our relationships with people sometimes go ‘drink in the face’,” Lenoria says.

“Only with crazy psychos,” Rhain says. “Didn’t she strike you as a psycho? I have trouble reading psychos. Psychos send mixed signals.” Rhain continues. “I’m not much at following people.”

"I"m okay at stealth," Lenoria says. “I can go invisible for a time, which will help.”

“Maybe we should go by the bounty office and see which one is worth a thousand,” Rhain says.

“Maybe get an idea of who they’re going for,” Lenoria says. “Yeah, because if they’re going off a posted on the City Watch board kind of thing, that might give us an idea where they may be going.”

“He did say she sometimes worked for the City Watch,” Rhain says.

The two head back to Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to spend the rest of the night.

15 Growth 508

Lenoria and Rhain head to the headquarters of the Commander of the Watch. There are quite a few posters up around the entry chamber. Lenoria and Rhain pore through them looking to find one that fits the bill. Lenoria manages to find one that seems to fit—a bounty of one thousand gold for Kraven the Crow and bounties of fifty gold each for his seven cohorts. Kraven is wanted on a whole slough of crimes against the crown of Ornis. He was last seen in the vicinity of Crownport.

Lenoria goes out and tries to gather some information from the seedy underbelly of the city about where Kraven the Crow may be hiding out.

Recently, there was a civil war in Ornis. As a result, there are some abandoned manors on the outskirts of the city. According to the information Lenoria received, Kraven is most likely holing up in one of these abandoned manors. Now, which one, she doesn’t know. The east gate is their best bet, and the manor houses sit on abandoned farmland surrounding the city.

Lenoria and Rhain move from Silvercask’s Nimble Cartwright to The Ebon Hound at the north end of town. They then look into paying to borrow horses for the day. They discover that if they go to a livery stable, they can pay 10 gold for a day, but they also have to pay a 25 gold deposit to borrow a horse for a day. So the two of them borrow a horse and go riding into the estates surrounding the city.

As Diata and her compatriots were not on horseback, Lenoria and Rhain figure that the “site” must be one of the closer manors. They ride out and look for abandoned manors that may be used as hideouts for a wanted brigand. They find a couple of sites that have potential, so they approach the outskirts of those properties cautiously and Rhain attempts to track those areas to see if there are any signs of movement. He finds none.

Rhain then checks to see if any of the abandoned sites have smoke coming out of the chimney. Sure enough, one of them does have smoke coming from the chimney. He tries tracking again at that site and finds some booted footprints—enough for eight people.

“There’s a crowd at this one,” he tells Lenoria. “So, what we can do is go introduce ourselves to these people, let them know who’s hunting them, and get their help at nabbing her. Or number two, we can hide and watch and hope our stealth keeps us from getting caught when Diata and her goons show up. Or three, we can ‘stake out’ Kraven, and when Diata shows up we can tell her that we are competing bounty hunters and that it is in her best interests to team up rather than work against each other. Then we team up, let them take the brunt of the fight, betray them, and collect it all. Or team up, take our share, party in town together, then nab her in the night and disappear. Turn her over and get our reward for her and when the half-orc comes and says ‘Hey, have you seen Diata?’, we’re like ‘No, man, I haven’t seen her since she was wasted on the table.’”

“I’m trying to figure out which of those plans has the best chance of survival,” Lenoria says.

“Well I can tell you what I think,” Rhain says.

“Okay,” Lenoria says.

“I think that trying to stealth our way through this is our least chance of survival. Because I am not much in the way of stealthing around so we are pretty sure to get caught spying on them,” Rhain says. “But if they catch us spying on them” he points toward the manor, “then they’re less likely to get suspicious. The bounty was up on the wall for everyone.”

“That’s true,” Lenoria says. The plan does appeal to her trickster nature. “To be perfectly honest, they’re a tight-knit group. We’re probably going to have to look out for them as well, even if we pretend to work together. They would much rather split 1300 gold three ways rather than five.”

“You think they’re that kind of bastards? They’d turn on us?” Rhain says, appalled.

“Well, that’s pretty much what we’re saying we’re going to do,” Lenoria says.

“I know what kind of bastards we are. I am asking if they’re that kind of bastard,” Rhain says.

“I don’t know,” Lenoria says. “But a lot of gold makes people do funny things. I can see less reason for whoever’s holed up in there to work with us. Your whole thing about seeing if we can get whoever is in there to work with us, I don’t know.”

“Well, if he doesn’t know that she’s out here, then we’d be bringing him information,” Rhain says. “Maybe he thinks he’s well-hidden and doesn’t think he has anything to worry about. I don’t know. I’m just throwing out scenarios. Something other than us hiding in the woods and getting spotted and everybody’s trying to kill us.”

“They are looking for a way to get these guys. They hadn’t figured out a way as of last night. So they may be more willing,” Lenoria says.

“If we were super-stealthy, I’d say hide in the woods, and when they take their positions, nab her and leave the other two to figure it out later,” Rhain says.

“Chances are if she’s a sniper, than she’s not going to be running up front,” Lenoria says.

“That’s right. She’s going to take position and use her bow,” Rhain says.

“We just need to have a plan if we need to run,” Lenoria says. “But I think what has the best chance of working is trying to see if we can get close by saying that we’re bounty hunters and trying to work together.”

“The other piece is getting her back into the city,” Lenoria continues. “It will be very difficult with us and these two horses here.”

“To get in at night, yeah,” Rhain says.

“Yeah, at night,” Lenoria says. “Also even during the day. It’s not like we can tie her to the back of the horse and take her in. I think the description for part of this discretion was required. And to avoid City Watch.”

“We can stake out the gate and wait for her to come in. Grab her in the city,” Rhain says. “We can help them do their job here. Collect all these bodies. Betray them. Stuff her body under all them bodies. Say we’re hauling them in for the bounty. Are the guards going to go through a cartful of bodies?”

“I don’t know,” Lenoria says.

“If they get down to the bottom and see her, we say ‘Oh that’s our friend, she didn’t make it,’” Rhain says. “But if we’re going to nab her in the city, let’s wait until they get paid. And before they spend it. Or store it.”

Finally they decide to find a place to ‘stake out’ the manor and meet up with the bounty hunters and see if they can join up with them. Rhain tracks around the area and finds the location where the half-elf and the others most likely were watching the manor the day before. There are three sets of footprints—two small, probably female and one large, probably a half-orc. They decide to plant themselves there to meet up with the bounty hunters. They hobble the horses about twenty yards back and take up position.

As the sun is going down, Lenoria hears approaching footsteps. She touches Rhain’s leg to get his attention. “There’s someone out there,” she whispers.

“Well, try to act surprised,” Rhain says. Then he strikes up a conversation with Lenoria. “So how long do you think before they go to sleep?”

“I don’t know. I don’t think they go to sleep just at sundown,” Lenoria says.

“Maybe we ought to get up there and scout it out, get the layout,” Rhain says.

“I guess that’ll be me,” Lenoria says.

Then they hear a female voice behind them say, “Well what in the hells do we have here? And they call me the poacher.”

Lenoria and Rhain jump around to face the voice and see Diata, Uther, and Serenia.

Lenoria says, “Who do you think you are, the game warden? We’re not poaching anything.”

“This one’s mine,” Diata says, pointing to the house.

“I don’t think there’s a such thing as dibs in this business, do you?” Lenoria says.

“Look here, sweetie, you’re about to make me mad,” Diata says.

“I’m not trying to make you mad,” Lenoria says, “No need to get all hostile. There’s just someone over there we’re interested in. And I take it you and your friends are interested in the same person?”

Serenia says, “You look familiar…”

“I don’t know, I have that kind of face? Do I have that kind of face?” Lenoria asks Rhain.

“No,” Rhain says.

“Like I’m going to buy that it’s a coincidence you’re at the exact spot we were in yesterday. You’ve been following us,” Diata says with heat.

“You seem to think very highly of yourself,” Lenoria says. “I’m interested, we’re interested, in who’s in there. That’s a lot of cash sitting in there. My friend and I are interested in having some of it. Seems a waste that all that cash is just sitting in there, doing nothing, when it could be in our pockets.”

“Well, we were here first, so beat it,” Diata says.

“There wasn’t anybody here when we got here,” Rhain says.

“I didn’t see anybody here, did you? No,” Lenoria says.

The half-orc pops his neck muscles and says in a deep voice. “This is going to get ugly, isn’t it?”

“I don’t think it needs to get ugly,” Lenoria says. “But obviously you’re claiming some sort of ’we’ve been here for ages watching this house’ sort of thing so if you’ve been here all this time, how come you haven’t made a move on it.”

Serenia says, “The same reason you haven’t, I’m sure.”

“I hear there’s a few of them,” Lenoria says. “Sounds like eight in total. Me and my friend were planning on going for it anyway. Unless you thought you needed some help in this matter.”

The half-orc says, “Yeah right, you’re were going to take it on your own.”

“You got more people with you?” Rhain asks. “So you were going to do it with three? But it’s so unbelievable we’re going to do it with two.”

“Obviously I’d much rather have all the money for my friend and I. But for better odds, I might take half,” Lenoria says.

“If you all are able to calm down and be reasonable,” Rhain says.

“Half for two my ass,” Diata says.

“Could be even, that’d do. There’s still a lot to go around divided by five,” Lenoria says.

Diata says, “Alright. Five equal shares. So what was your two’s bright ideas on the approach?”

“Well, we haven’t scouted it out yet. But you’ve been staking it out longer. What’s your bright idea?” Rhain says.

“He’s got four men patrolling the grounds, so we try to take them out first. There’s a balcony on the manor house. I was going to try and get into the house through the second story,” Diata says.

“These are four men out of the seven he has with him?” Lenoria asks.

“Right,” Diata says. “That’s as far as I got.”

“Have we been able to scout around the entire building? Do we know how many entries and exits there are? What is on the ground floor?” Lenoria asks.

“There are windows. The main entry way. There’s a door in the back. And an entry on the balcony,” Diata says.

“Do you have any idea where in the house he is?” Lenoria asks.

“I haven’t been able to get close enough to the house to figure that out,” Diata says.

“The guys patrolling just guards? Are they huge? Are they massive brusier kind of people?” Lenoria asks.

“Are they the same four guys or are they changing from time to time?” Lenoria asks.

“They change from time to time. They’re not on a set schedule,” Diata says.

“Torches? Or do they have light? I imagine they have to be rather subtle about squatting here at night,” Lenoria says.

“Yes, but they’re human so they have to see at night,” Diata says. “That’s why we were going to strike at night.”

Rhain points out that even the half-elf and elf need light to see, but Diata says that they don’t need as much light.

Lenoria points at the half-orc, “You’re more of a get up-close and hit them something sharp sort-of thing. And the two of you just want to sit back and try to take pot-shots at them?”

“Or sneak up a bit closer and take pot-shots at them,” Diata says.

“Sounds like the base of a plan, doesn’t it,” Lenoria says.

“So the idea is for all of us to get close and attack at the same time?” Lenoria says.

“I think so,” Diata says.

“So was everyone going to come in through the balcony?” Lenoria asks.

“No, I was going to go in through there. Uther was going to go in through the front door, with Serenia behind him. After we took out the patrolling guards,” Diata says.

“Well, two of us could go in through the front door, two of us could go in through the back, and one of us could go in through the balcony,” Lenoria says. “Does that work for you?” she asks Rhain. Rhain nods. “Alright. When were you wanting to move?” she asks Diata.

“I planned on moving when we got here and into position,” Diata says.

“Are you ready then?” Lenoria asks Rhain. Rhain nods.

“First we’ve got to take out the four patrollers,” Diata says.

“That we do,” Lenoria says.

“As soon as we take out one, they’re going to start yelling, so we may need to this quickly,” Diata says.

“Quicker is going to be better,” Lenoria says.

“Alright, I guess we’ll go to try and take out the first one. If they start yelling, everybody else come forward and help with the others,” Diata says.

“So who are the stealthy ones in your group?” Lenoria asks.

“That would be me and Serenia,” Diata says.

So Diata, Serenia, and Lenoria attempt to sneak up closer to the outmost patroller. Uther and Rhain hang back and listen.

Diata, Serenia, and Lenoria cautiously make their way through the untended farm growth toward the patroller. The three fan out a little bit. Lenoria can see the two other women nock arrows to their bows. The guard is carrying a torch and a longsword. The moon is a high in the sky and almost full. All is quiet—until Serenia steps on a twig. SNAP!

Diata fires her bow. The man screams.

Uther and Rhain hear the scream. Rhain looks to the half-orc, who starts jogging out into the field. Rhain follows him out there.

Lenoria casts Stunning Barrier around herself and then charges into the field.

Lenoria hits the guard with her morning star. The guard swings at Lenoria and misses. Diata takes the man out with an arrow. He drops his torch as he drops to the ground.

Two more guards with torches and longswords come running toward that position…