Campaign of the Month: September 2018

Shadows of the Rift

Session Forty-Four
Ulrich's Return


11 Transformation 508

The newly reunited entourage arrives back at Lord Cannach’s estate. There he arranges for the party’s horses to be well-cared for and for them all to be housed and cleaned up and rested after their battles. There is to be a celebration in honor of their defeat of the Lich. Dinner will be prepared and the villagers that are also staying with him will be in attendance to dine with their liberators.

At one point in the preparations, Lord Cannach takes Surm aside and asks him if they collected all of the treasure from the ruin or if a return trip is order…

Surm says, “We have returned with the most portable treasures found. There are still furnishings of an antique nature, tools and equipment for alchemical and magical creations, and a vast library of books we were not able to decipher. We have brought a sampling of books for appraisal to give you an idea of what remains. At your leisure, I would like to have your people appraise some gems, jewelry, and the books so we can agree on a valuation of what we have returned with. If our cursory appraisals match with your experts, then I have been given leave to make an offer for your consideration that I believe you will find profitable and will save time for Captain Rilka.”

“I have some people in mind to do that very thing. I’m sure we can come to an agreement," Lord Cannach says.

The two adjourn to one of the side rooms of the estate were the goods have been laid out to begin their negotiations and appraisals while dinner is being prepared.

Surm also suggests that Lord Cannach send a regiment to Leodin to secure the hamlet and mines. It is currently unoccupied making the storehouse easy pickings for scavengers. Lord Cannach reveals that he has already sent a contingent of soldiers to do just that.

In the course of the appraisals, the question of the worth of the folio comes up. The man that Lord Cannach has doing the appraising manages to break the cipher that they are written under and announces that it is written in High Acheran. He also advises Lord Cannach that the writings are "worthless, the ravings of a deranged mind. Whoever this Ulrich was, he was a sick individual and you would never be able to sell these parchments for any sort of profit.”

Surm keeps his composure at the mention of the Ulrich name and he notices no reaction from Lord Cannach.

After the negotiations for the treasure and appraisals are complete, Surm offers to take the “worthless” writings off of the nobleman’s hands as they may serve as inspiration for Surm’s re-telling of this tale. Also, if he has no objection, he would like to send some of their soldiers to retrieve a journal of similar writings that was left at the ruins that would complement the folio well. Lord Cannach has no objection to him taking the folio of the “odious” writings nor in Surm sending soldiers back to the ruins to retrieve the journal. He does take the bard aside and tells him, “A more suspicious man, a more paranoid man, than I would make more of the interesting coincidence of this villain’s name and that of my benefactor. I am not a paranoid man. I count it an interesting coincidence and nothing more. I doubt a conspiracy would be so…obvious…as that. Have no fears on that account, my good man.” And he shakes Surm’s hand vigorously and smiles.

“I appreciate your faith Lord Cannach. I assure you the name is coincidental, but, I will confess, that coincidence does drive me to attempt to make sense of his mad ramblings and shed some light on this mystery.”

Surm excuses himself and finds Mõrvar. He tells him about the folio and tells him to take four soldiers and go back and get the journal from the ruins.

Mõrvar tells Alasir to ready four of the troops to ride with him and informs the remaining six that their number one priority is to guard Surm. Mõrvar bids the others goodbye and makes ready to ride in haste back to Leodin. Savaric says he will ride with Mõrvar and makes ready to move. Alasir sends Einar, Sorcha, Garth, and Halvor to ride with Mõrvar and Savaric. The six of them leave Lord Cannach’s estate at a gallop. Lord Cannach’s soldiers probably have a four-hour head start on them.

Surm then updates Rilka on the what was found out about the folios and where Mõrvar and Savaric have gone. Rilka raises an eyebrow but says nothing.

After the dinner, but prior to the end of festivities, Surm asks Lord Cannach to join him in the parlor where the goods have been laid out, saying, “Let’s inspect our boon again, shall we?” The nobleman agrees…

Later, Surm comes to Rilka with the good news. We have been given a bonus for a job well done; in lieu of the 500 gold pieces, Lord Cannach has gifted us four magical items off the top, before the split: Savaric will receive the flaming bow, Mõrvar will receive the Rod of Wonder, I will receive the Cloak of Resistance, and you will receive the Amulet of Natural Armor."

He continues. “Lord Cannach says that he will need to wait for the sale of the items in order to cash them out. He simply does not have that much coin laying about. However he is agreeable to allowing our group to purchase from the remaining magical items before offering them to merchants in the city as I propose. He also appreciates our generosity in allowing him to lay claim to the furnishings in the lair. I waived our claim to the remaining furnishings in recognition of the cost of experts for appraisals, hauling things in and out of the city, the general hassle of collecting what’s left in the lair, and his generous gift.”

Rilka clasps Surm on the shoulder for an excellent job of negotiations. “It sounds like Lord Cannach was well pleased with our success.” She says she is interested in purchasing from the remaining magical items, as may be others in the group.

“Since half our party and guards have now departed the City, we’ll need to figure out where we’re going to stay or wait until they return. Will Lord Cannach let us stay in his keep? Set up an encampment on his grounds? I don’t want to tax his hospitality…”

Lord Cannach overhears Rilka’s concern and says that he is happy to let her and her group encamp on his estate until her other soldiers return. “It’s no trouble at all. It’s the least I can do after such a successful partnership. Besides, I have to wait and pay you until after the goods are sold anyway. You may has well stay.”

Surm asks Lord Cannach if he could recommend a trustworthy and reasonably priced sage to research an artifact for us. Surm produce the green obelisk and show it to Lord Cannach. “This we found on a our previous venture. I would like to get the writings deciphered. I believe it is an object from an ancient civilization known as the Aedonii.”

Lord Cannach seems very impressed with the obelisk and its origin. He says that he would love to hear the story of how Surm acquired such a find. As far as a sage, he doesn’t know many—doesn’t have much call for them in his business dealings. But he did run into one at a dinner party not too long ago. Eoin Clyne was his name. He has a post at the University at the center of the city. He seemed very learned on a great many things and a interesting dinner guest. Reasonably priced? He couldn’t say. But if he can’t translate your obelisk he may be able to direct you to someone who can.

“Am I able to enter the university to call upon this sage? If so, may I use your name as a referral?” Surm asks.

“You can enter the public forum of the university and ask the monitors for Master Clyne. They will fetch him for you. You may certainly use my name as a referral,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm then gives an accounting of Karak Tuvar and the mysterious chasms throughout the fortress. He plays up the web shooting terror shrouded in mystery from deep in the chasm, and their luck of stumbling on to the obelisk, “a less perceptive group would have missed it completely, and yet, one might say it wanted to be found. Was it a lucky glance or an alien power from the obelisk that drew Savaric’s eye? I hope a sage will help answer these questions.”

Lord Cannach seems to enjoy the tale.

12 Transformation 508

That morning, Surm discusses with Rilka as to whether they should invest into research on the obelisk or not. " The Aedonii are an ancient race, so who knows what secrets it may reveal. I also believe a sage will almost pay us to get to study this thing, " he says.

Rilka thinks that there could be many secrets to be found in the obelisk. “While we are in a city with sages, we should explore further,” she says.

Surm, Rilka, Alasir, and Tarben all leave Lord Cannach’s estate and head into the city to go to the University to visit with Master Clyne.

At the forum of the University, there are monitors wearing black robes fluttering about, fetching things for the sages and asking people if they can be of service. Surm flags one down. Rilka keeps watch if anyone is taking an undue interest in them or their artifact.

One of the monitors approaches and says, “How can help you, sir?”

Surm says, “I am looking for Master Clyne.”

“Very good, sir. What can I say this is regarding?”

“An ancient artifact.”

“Very good, sir. Who may I say is calling upon him?”

“Surm Ulrich.”

“Very good.”

“Sent by Lord Cannach.”

“Ah, very good, then.”

After about ten minutes, a gentleman in fine robes, handsome in a close-cropped beard, in his early 30s comes walking up and introduces himself as Master Clyne.

Surm shakes his hand and says, “I’m Surm Ulrich. Lord Cannach says you’re the man to talk to.”

“Ah, Lord Cannach. Throws a very nice dinner party. So, walk with me,” the sage says. He leads the way, walking through the grounds.

As they walk, Surm says, “I have an artifact that I need translated that is of Aedonii origin.”

“That’s very interesting, indeed,” Master Clyne says. “There’s not very many such artifacts floating around.”

“And yet, this is my second time coming across one,” Surm says.

“Indeed,” Clyne says, clearly surprised. “If I may ask, where did you find such an artifact?”

“In the abandoned fortress of Karak Tuvar in the Daggerspine Mountains,” Surm says.

“Karak Tuvar? That’s a dwarven name,” the sage says.

“Yes, I don’t believe it was part of their treasures. The fort had been befallen some sort of attack. A natural disaster. Many chasms had opened, shifting some of fortress’ foundations. In one of the chasms, we saw this obelisk sticking out. So it had been buried even before the dwarves had been there,” Surm says.

“Well. What makes you think the artifact is Aedonii?” Clyne asks.

“The writing on it,” Surm says.

“It has script?” Clyne aks.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Well, unfortunately, I am not versed in Aedonii script. However, I can tell you who is,” the sage says.

“That sounds like the information I need,” Surm says.

The name that Clyne provides is Mandreth Kerendal. He is with the University of Kalimsport. According to Clyne, he is the foremost expert on Aedonii script.

“Thank you, sir. What do I owe you for your time?” Surm asks.

“Ah, it is nothing,” Clyne says.

Then Surm, Rilka and the soldiers make their way out of the University.

13 Transformation 508

Surm, Alasir, and a couple of soldiers head to the marketplace looking for someone that is going to be heading to Kalimsport that may need protection along the way. Surm finds a merchant that is heading back home to Kalimsport. His name is Toliver Yew. He has a tent erected in the marketplace. Nearby is a box wagon. Surm and his entourage approach.

Yew is a short, pudgy man who sells a variety of brass items: lamps, trinkets, statuettes, etc. Surm makes his approach and introduces himself an asks him if he is heading back to Kalimsport soon and if he’s in need of an escort.

Yew gives Surm an appraising look and asks, “Who told you that?”

“Gentleman on the street, when I was asking around. Said you was heading back.”

“Well, I am,” Yew says, grudgingly.

“Well, will you be in need of escort on the dangerous journey all the way back to Kalimsport. I assume with a fortune from your all your recently-sold wares,” Surm says.

“Who told you about my fortune?” Yew asks, instantly suspicious.

“I’m assuming you did business well is all. No one told me,” Surm says.

“Well, yes, I did well. I’m a good salesman,” Yew says, chest swelling.

“Yes, I could tell when I walked up,” Surm says reassuringly.

“Well, I could use some guards. And I have heard your name bandied about,” Yew says. “What do you charge?” he asks, a hard look in his eye.

Surm does some quick calculations and comes up with a figure. “59 silver pieces per day. And for that, you get trained guards and expertise. Captain Rilka. Master Hunter Savaric. And Mõrvar, the White Death.”

“59 silver per day?” Yew says. “Alright. Done. I leave on the 20th of Transformation.”

“Do you want us to meet you outside the city gates or do you want us to meet you here and escort you through the city?” Surm asks.

“Escort through the city,” Yew says. “I want to be seen with the great Captain Rilka.”

“Excellent. You have hired well, sir. You will be the envy of all the other caravans headed south,” Surm says. Then he and soldiers take their leave.

When they get back to Lord Cannach’s estate, Surm takes Mahgnus aside and arranges to pay the soldiery.

14 Transformation 508

After an uneventful three-day ride from the outskirts of Aldasar, Mõrvar, Savaric, and the four soldiers arrive in Leodin in the morning. When they arrive in Leodin, they see the soldiers bearing the livery of Lord Cannach gathered around something near the center of the hamlet.

Mõrvar dismounts and instructs the soldiers to wait. He asks Savaric to do the same. He then makes his way to the gathering.

Lord Cannach’s soldiers are all dismounted and gathered around what appears to be one of their own. He appears to be dead and frozen in place, standing, with a look of horror on his face. Another of the soldiers is shaking his head in dismay.

“What happened here?” Mõrvar asks. He notices that the soldier shaking his head has pissed himself.

One of his comrades steps forward, a sergeant by the look of the stripe on his tabard. “We fanned out when we arrived early this morning, searching for any signs of interlopers. Rhudiard here,” he indicates the frozen man, “went to check out those houses.” He points to a line of houses. “He apparently encountered who he thought was an old man in rags coming out of one. He went to intercept him and ask him what he thought he was doing here when the man accosted him, yelling at him in the Court Tongue. Fortunately, working for a lord we’ve all picked some up and were able to understand him. He was yelling ‘Who robbed me? Who dared to accost my sanctuary?’ Well, Rhudiard was just standing there, shaking in his boots, but he managed to tell him it was Captain Rilka and the bard, Surm Ulrich. This seemed to anger the man further as he screamed ‘You dare mock my name!’ and then he slapped Rhudiard. Then he was stuck like this. Cilin here,” he indicates the man that’s pissed himself, “tried to come and separate the two but he got within yards of the old man and turn around and ran.”

Cilin, just shakes his head and says, “I…I didn’t know what else to do. I…just couldn’t face him. His eyes…those glowing eyes…”

“The man in rags just turned around and ran into the woods. The rest of us were trying to see if there was anything we could do for Rhudiard,” the sergeant says.

“What language did he speak?” Mõrvar asks.

The sergeant says that he spoke in High Acheran. It’s been the language of the royal courts since the days of the Acheran Empire.

Savaric dismounts and heads toward the group, ordering the soldiers to stay on alert. Once he gets to the group, he asks how long ago this happened and what direction the “old man” headed.

Mõrvar tells Savaric to track him—but do not engage. According to Lord Cannach’s soldiers, the man in rags headed almost due north. They came in from the northeast corner of the village. Mõrvar knows that High Acheran is the courtly language of the Southron nation of Achera, which used to have an empire that stretched almost all the way to Jossia. Savaric starts to track, taking his wolf Ghost with him. However, he advises Mõrvar that they will need the rest of their party. “I don’t have any magic arrows and I don’t think I can track this guy forever without being unnoticed. If he headed due north he won’t immediately danger anyone in the area. Giving us time to gather the group,” he says.

He finds a trail to follow and starts following it into the surrounding woods.

Mõrvar sends two of the soldiers, Garth and Halvor, back to Lord Cannach’s, to report to Surm that the Lich is back. They start riding back to Aldasar as fast as they can. He then has the other two soldiers, Einar and Sorcha, coordinate with Lord Cannach’s sergeant to set up a camp and form a defensive perimeter around the village. He then catches up with Savaric.

Mõrvar informs Savaric that he has the soldiers setting up a defensive perimeter because engaging with the Lich will just get them killed. “Also, this is a sensitive situation. Surm and I have recently learned this Lich is an Ulrich…..relations, I don’t know, but I must find out.” He, like Savaric, goes about trying to be stealthy in the woods.

Savaric says, “I understand you would want to look for answers on this matter, but we already killed him once. I don’t think he will be interested in a family reunion. Our best hope is that we can keep him away from any other villages until Surm figures out how to keep this guy down. As is, our only hope is to figure out where he is, where he is going, and take him down. Until then we are all in danger.”

“Don’t need to engage him unless I do. Twice I have faced him, twice I have bested him. Perhaps he will be more inclined to talk first this time. He isn’t a mindless undead, he’s intelligent,” Mõrvar says.

“This is a bad idea, we don’t even speak his language. He isn’t going to work with us, he is only going to be interested in killing us. Again, I don’t have magic arrows so this isn’t going to work in our favor. We need to retreat and regroup,” Savaric says.

“You have Edgefrost and we aren’t losing his trail,” Mõrvar says. “We can’t afford to lose him. Go back if you wish, but I’m not going to let him get away. I’m sure we will have to kill him again, but we are a week away from Surm and Rilka at the earliest. If we regroup, hell be better prepared. If I can learn anything from him before we kill him, it could help.”

Savaric then hears movement ahead of him, about a hundred feet from his current position.

Speaking in a hushed tone, Savaric says, “Quiet , Mõrvar, there is something up ahead.” He quietly draws Edgefrost as he asks Ilona to grant him invisibility. He also commands Ghost to hide.

Ilona giggles with delight and is happy to make Savaric invisible. Ghost hides in a nearby thicket. Mõrvar tries to hide.

Savaric then sees someone in black moving a hundred feet ahead, moving away from him. Mõrvar casts Message at Savaric and whispers “You sure there is something out here? I don’t hear or see anyone. I think I we need to hustle to catch up. We have a general direction. We are wasting our time and we are going to lose him.”

Savaric whispers back, “No, I see someone up head. We should silently track him. There is no way we can get the drop on him from this far back and he may hear us if you travel too close.”

The person in black has moved fifteen feet further away at this point.

Mõrvar Messages to Savaric, "Where is he? Should I keep moving or stay here? Is it him or someone just catching our attention?”

Savaric whispers, “No I don’t know, you should stay here while I try to catch up with them to make sure, just come closer to keep me in range of our link. Hopefully from back here they wont detect you.”

Savaric moves forward a bit faster, closing the gap between he and the man in black a bit. Mõrvar sneaks a bit closer in the direction he last saw Savaric and whispers his intention to do so to Savaric.

Savaric sees the form stop and turn around, facing in Mõrvar’s direction. Mõrvar now sees the form as well, about a hundred and five feet ahead of him. It turns and stares in his general direction—but not directly at his hiding place. It has baleful, glowing blue orbs for eyes and a deathly gaunt face. He is dressed in tattered black robes. He calls out something in a language neither of them understand—the only word they understand is “Ulrich”.

Mõrvar whispers to Savaric, “Stop and hold still…I see him.” He then uses the Message spell to speak to the figure first in Elven, then in Abyssal, then Leilioran, then Josslac, then Urkhani, and then Tradespeak in hopes of communicating with him. He asks him, “What is your full name?”

Then he whispers to Savaric, "Close in very carefully to just outside of his negative energy range which I think is 30 feet. Move to behind him so that if comes to attack me, you can come from the other side and be out of his spell direction. If he attacks me, attack him.”

When Mõrvar speaks in Elven, the figure responds—in High Elven. “I am called Ulrich of Barth, by those that dare utter my name.”

Mõrvar has never heard of Barth. He whispers to the figure once again, in Elven. "Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose? Answer me Ulrich of Barth, for I am not to be trifled with.”

The Lich responds, “You are insolent, mortal. I answer to no man. I am the stuff of nightmares, whelp.”

In the meantime, Savaric sneaks up behind Ulrich just outside of the thirty-foot range. As far as Savaric can tell, Ulrich has not heard him—he certainly hasn’t acknowledge his presence.

Mõrvar then casts Vanish and moves stealthily thirty feet to left of his current position. He Messages Savaric where he is and that they may be getting close to attacking him, but to stand by and wait for him to order the attack. He notices the Lich’s eyes flick over in that direction, but settle back where he had been.

He then Messages the Lich once again, in a calm and confident voice. "Ulrich of Barth, you know not who you even speak to. What exactly makes you think I am even mortal? You are an intelligent being; surely you know that even you can be destroyed, so why tempt fate? It is in your best interest to appease me and answer my questions. It isn’t wise to be hostile to an unknown entity whose abilities are beyond your comprehension. So, tell me, Why are you here? What are you looking for? What is your purpose?”

The Lich guffaws: “You use the simplest of spells to communicate with me and hide like a squirrel in the woods and expect me treat you with the respect of an equal?” He laughs. “An unknown entity whose abilities are beyond my comprehension? You are a fool with delusions of grandeur.”

Mõrvar then Messages again with a degree of cockiness: “It appears to me you were attempting to stealthily make your way through the woods I didn’t know that an all powerful immortal would need to be so careful. This squirrel has cracked your nut twice now. Your negative energy, walls of fire, fire elemental, Zombies and Ghouls have not come close to stopping me. Perhaps I made a mistake, I thought you were intelligent. It seems after facing me now on two different occasions you would have learned it is not you that should be feared. I don’t need more than simple spells to deal with you. My patience is growing short. I will give you one last chance before I turn your corpse into my nut to do with as I please. I only give you what little patience I have because you call yourself Ulrich, and I find that most interesting. I know that name very well, but not because of you. If you want to continue insulting me, then don’t say you haven’t been warned when you face my wrath yet again. So, for the last time, you can amuse me and answer my questions and satisfy my curiosity or you deal with me toe to toe. Remember, it isn’t me who attempts to hide like a coward behind a wall of fire. Now then, Why are you here? what are you looking for? what is your purpose?”

The Lich says. “By your words, I have puzzled you out. You must be one of the thieves and murderers who came to my sanctuary. Are you Captain Rilka or are you this Surm Ulrich I’ve heard about? Why would I reveal myself to criminals?”

Mõrvar whispers, “No thief came to your sanctuary, and I am neither of them yet in a way, I am both of them. Let us learn about each other.”

The Lich looks over at Mõrvar’s position, crying “No thief?!?!” He is clearly enraged.

Meanwhile, Ilona tells Savaric that he is about to become visible again. “Should I reapply the spell?” she asks.

The searing rays of fire come flying out of the Lich’s hand and hit Mõrvar’s position, striking him hard and true. Mõrvar casts Vanish and moves to the right.

Savaric attempts to overrun the Lich and knock him over. He manages to overrun him, but not knock him over. As he runs by, the Lich attempts to touch him, but misses. Mõrvar then casts Bull Strength on himself. The Lich then gestures toward Savaric and he and his gear morph and meld into a dire rat. He scurries away from the scene of the fight with the sound of Ilona in his mind saying, “Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…”

Mõrvar casts True Strike and makes his way stealthily toward the Lich. The Lich is looking around and he says in High Elven, “Come out little squirrel!” He continues to look around.

Mõrvar attacks with Deathblow twice, dealing a great deal of damage. The powerful attack seems to shake the Lich up a bit. “I am no squirrel, I am Mõrvar Ulrich, twin son of Death!” he declares. Mõrvar hits him again for a great deal of damage and intimidates him again, keeping him in a shaken state. Then the Lich casts a spell defensively—five magic missiles spring forth and do minimal damage to Mõrvar. Mõrvar heroically goes next and attacks, yelling, “You will bow to me!” He attacks and hits the Lich again, continuing to keep it in a shaken state. The Lich casts defensively again. Beams of fire spring out from the Lich’s fingers and strike Mõrvar, doing a modicum of damage as Mõrvar manages to bypass some of the flames.

The Lich then attempts to touch Mõrvar and misses. Mõrvar then attempts attack him, misses, attacks again, and hits, felling him once again. He decapitates the Lich.

Savaric, still a dire rat, comes out of hiding. Mõrvar approaches Ghost and attempts to get Ghost to follow him, but is unsuccessful. Mõrvar shrugs and says, “Come on, Savaric.” He grabs the Lich’s corpse by the leg and starts dragging it out of the woods and into the village.

Mõrvar meets the perimeter guards, who are wide-eyed. He finds Lord Connach’s sergeant. He tells him, “Sergeant, I suggest you clean that place out while you have the chance because I don’t know how long this fucker’s going to stay dead.” He goes to his soldiers and says, “You guys, we’re here to secure the journal.” He throws the body up on Savaric’s horse.

“Yes, sir,” respond the soldiers and they mount up.

“Let’s get there, let’s get it cleaned out, and let’s get the fuck out of there before nightfall,” he tells the soldiers. They start heading toward the mine and the Lich’s sanctuary.

They go to the mining camp, then into the mines and then into the sanctuary. Mõrvar has the soldiers fire arrows across the entryways in case the traps have reset themselves—they have not. Mõrvar nudges Savaric-Rat and asks him to see if he can track the Lich and see if he rematerialized here in the lair and if he came from inside here. Savaric has a hard time tracking on the stone floor of the sanctuary—but they do find a lead-lined open panel along one wall in the pentagram room.

Mõrvar goes back to the mining camp and searches through ashes of the Lich’s previous body and finds nothing but ashes. Savaric searches as well and finds nothing.

Mõrvar, Savaric, and the soldiers head by to Leodin. He goes to the Sergeant and once again urges he and his men to head out, telling him that he will vouch for them if they head out. “I will not be here to save you if the Lich returns,” he says.

“You will vouch for us with Lord Cannach?” the sergeant asks.

“I will,” Mõrvar says.

The sergeant gives the order for the soldiers to mount up and move out. The load up the paralyzed man onto the back of a horse.

So Mõrvar and his soldiers and Lord Cannach’s soldiers all start heading back to Aldasar. Along the way, Mõrvar starts trying to peruse the notes in an attempt to decipher them. Despite all of his efforts, he cannot decode the notes.

Mõrvar also takes the Lich’s body and ties behind his horse and drags it behind them. He is carrying Savaric-Rat as he rides.

15 Transformation 508

Mõrvar and the sergeant’s troupe meet the group the Lord Cannach sent to collect the goods from the Lich’s sanctuary en route to Loudin. Mõrvar holds up the LIch’s head and announces that they need to turn back, that the village is not safe. The sergeant says, “Yes, it is not safe.” The gatherers turn their carts around and they start heading back to Lord Cannach’s.

17 Transformation 508

In the morning, Garth and Halvor come riding at breakneck speed up to the estate. Rilka and Alasir go out to meet them. “Master Mõrvar asked us to come meet with his brother,” Garth says. Surm comes and Halvor reports that “The Lich is back.”

“The Lich is back?” Rilka says, incredulous.

“The Lich is back. Apparently there was an attack on one of Lord Cannach’s soldiers,” Garth says.

“We were told to ride at top speed to report,” Halvor says.

Rilka realizes that Lich’s are the masters of life and death that have rejuvenative powers, but how those powers work, she is unsure.

“Where are Mõrvar and Savaric and the other two guards?” Surm asks.

Garth says, “They sent us to make report. Apparently the Lich went into the woods. Savaric went to follow-up.”

“Follow-up?” Surm asks.

“On where the Lich had gone,” Halvor says.

“Following the Lich?” Surm asks.

“I believe so?” Garth says. “We were sent to make report. We’re not sure what happened after that.”

Rilka begins cursing in several different languages.

“When we got to the village, Lord Cannach’s soldiers were surrounding one of their own. The soldier had been paralyzed by who they had assumed to be an old man rummaging through the village. But the old man was speaking what they called ‘The Court Tongue’ and struck the soldier and he was paralyzed,” Halvor says.

“Is he alive?” Surm asks.

“We’re not sure,” Garth says. “He’s frozen in place.”

Surm knows that the paralysis could be a spell or a spell-like effect and that the man may not necessarily be dead. It may not necessarily be permanent.

Rilka tells Surm to get ready to talk to Lord Cannach and Alasir and to get the soldiery ready.

Surm goes to find Lord Cannach. He finds the jovial nobleman who greats him heartily. “Surm! Good to see you!”

“Yes, Lord Connach,” Surm says.

“Have the men already returned with your journal?” Lord Cannach asks.

“No, some of the men came back early to make report,” Surm says. “It would seem that the Lich has reappeared. And it would seem that upon his reappearance back at the hamlet, he has already accosted one of your men. But I’m told that Mõrvar and Master Hunter Savaric are trailing it.”

Surm can tell that Lord Cannach is trying to keep his composure. Surm reassures the nobleman that they will be going into the city to do research to find a definitive way to keep the Lich down and that they will stay on-task until this issue is resolved. Two of their men are already on it, at great peril to themselves. They are seeking sagely advice on how to definitively destroy this creature, since apparently removing its head and burning its body is not definitive. They will not leave this task undone.

“We honor our contacts, sir,” Rilka says.

Lord Connach takes a deep breath, nods, places his hand on Surm’s shoulder and says, “What do you need from me?”

“Right now, all we need to do is research,” Surm says.

“We’re worried about our companions, we’re worried about your men,” Rilka says.

“As am I,” Lord Connach says.

“Anything that can come back from being decapitated and ashes, we need more information about,” Rilka says. “So if your resources can help us get this information quickly, that would be very helpful.”

“Well, this is outside my usual circles of influence,” the nobleman says.

“My initial thought was to return to the University. Master Clyne. He referred me to someone with the obelisk. Maybe he knows of someone in this area,” Surm says. “And we might purchase some of those magic items now on credit, before you’ve sold everything else, before everything is sold, as some of those things may be useful against the Lich.”

“Very well,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm has Garth and Halvor report to Mahgnus to get their pay. And then he and Rilka head into the city to go to the University to meet with Master Clyne. They pass through the forum, bypassing the monitors, who attempt to stop them, but Surm waves by them and they go straight to Clyne’s office. They knock on the door and hear a voice say “Enter!” They then go inside.

They see Master Clyne at a desk look up and blink at them owlishly, like he’s been reading for a long time, and he sees them and says, “Oh, Master Ulrich.”

“In all urgency, I need the foremost, most knowledgeable person on Liches in Aldasar today. Right now,” Surm says.

“Liches, you say?” Clyne says.

“Yes,” Surm says.

“Specifically, how to make them stay dead,” Rilka says.

“Yes, because apparently cutting off their head and burning the body doesn’t do it,” Surm says.

“Here on this campus, one of the Masters on the campus is also a priestess of Cereth. Her name is Fiona Olanan,” Clyne says.

“Can you get us there immediately?” Surm asks.

“I can walk you there,” Clyne says.

“How much do I owe you for your time,”

“Well, this appears to be an emergency,” Master Clyne says.

“It is, but this is twice that I’ve come to you and you’ve sent me to other sages. I assume you have some sort of finder’s fee or something,” Surm says.

“A full fee would not be applicable for such a service, but if you wanted to pay me a gold, I would be satisfied,” the sage says.

Surm pays him the fee.

“I thank you,” Clyne says and leads them to another building on the campus.

He takes them to a small building and knocks on the door. A female voice calls, “Enter!” Clyne pokes his head in and says, “Mother, do you have a moment?” The others get the impression that ‘Mother’ is her religious title. She is probably a Prioress, meaning that if she were not also a sage, she would probably run her own church. She says, “Yes, come in.”

Master Clyne opens the door and says, “These guests have an emergency that I thought you might be able to help with.”

“By all means, come in,” Mother Olanan says. Master Clyne excuses himself and Surm and Rilka thank him as he makes his way out.

Mother Olanan is a thin woman of middle years. Her hair is pulled back in a severe bun. She is wearing white robes, trimmed in gray.

“What can I do for you?” she asks.

Surm tells the story of Leodin, of how they found the Lich and how they thought they destroyed but it has apparently returned and how they are now looking for a way to definitively destroy the foul creature.

Mother Olanan leans forward on her desk and says, “A Lich is a foul creature indeed. They have done foul deeds to achieve their form of immortality. For each Lich these acts of depravity are different. And these acts have probably driven them insane. But for all of them, on act is always the same. It has probably created a phylactery that houses its soul. And when its body is destroyed, it recreates it. The only way to truly destroy him is to find its phylactery and destroy it.”

“What would it look like?” Surm asks. “Would it radiate magic?”

“It would,” Mother Olanan says.

Surm and Rilka discuss the various items they found and whether they radiated magic or not to see if anything they found could be such an item.

“How long does it usually take?” Rilka asks.

“Anywhere from one to ten days,” the priestess says.

“What would it look like?” Surm asks again.

“It could take many forms,” Mother Olanan says, “It could be a small box, a gem, a ring.”

“Where would the body recreate itself?” Surm asks.

“Near the phylactery,” Mother Olanan says.

“Then we must not have found it,” Surm says, “Because if he recreated himself near the hamlet, then its somewhere around there.”

“He’d want to keep an eye on that,” Rilka says.

“I’d assume so,” Surm says. “But I don’t know. Is it something he’d want to keep near?”

“It’s something he’d want to keep safe,” the priestess says.

“But’s not something he’d necessarily have to keep near,” Surm says. “So whenever he died, he’d be recreated wherever it is.”

“Can it be destroyed in the traditional way? Does anything special have to be done? If it’s a gem, can we take a hammer and crush it?” Surm asks.

“I don’t believe so. It’s simply a magical container. It has scripts of paper inside,” Mother Olanan says.

“So how can it be a gemstone?” Surm asks.

“It’s part of the ritual that creates it,” the priestess says.

“It will radiate magic just like anything else radiates magic?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will it radiate evil?” Rilka asks.

“I believe so,” Mother Olanan says.

“I might be able to find it that way,” Rilka says.

“Is there anything else you can tell us?” Surm asks.

“Avoid its touch,” Mother Olanan says.

“What was reported to us from some of the guards was that another guard was paralyzed,” Surm says.

“That’s from its touch,” the priestess says.

“Is that temporary? Is he dead? How can we help him?” Surm asks.

“He is likely alive,” Mother Olanan says.

“Will the paralysis wear off?” Surm asks.

“It will not wear off, but it can be removed through magic,” Mother Olanan says.

“Do you know someone who can remove it?” Surm asks.

“I could such a thing given time to prepare,” she says.

“It will take three days to get there and three days to bring him back here,” Surm says.

“That would be time enough,” Mother Olanan says.

“Well, if you could prepare, that would be greatly appreciated. And I’m sure Lord Cannach would greatly appreciate it as well, as it is one of his men. So what do we owe you for your time thus far?” Surm asks.

“What you are doing is a service, but I, too have to provide services. My time is worth 3 gold,” the priestess says.

Surm pays her and thanks her.

“If the Lich has already reformed a body and we destroy the phylactery, does that still kill him?” Surm asks.

“No,” the priestess says.

“His soul will just go back to his body,” Surm says. “Will he know his phylactery has been destroyed?”

“He may,” Mother Olanan says.

“So he’ll just make another,” Surm says.

“He may, but the steps involved will be very difficult and costly for him,” Mother Olanan says.

“But he would be eager to do that, wouldn’t he?” Surm asks.

“He would be eager,” the priestess agrees.

“So destroying it is not enough; we have to make sure that he’s dead and then destroy it,” Surm says.

“They are difficult,” the priestess says.

“So I’m learning,” Surm says.

“So this man of Lord Cannach’s,” Mother Olanan says, “he’s being returned?”

“I’ll have to go get him,” Surm says.

“Come for me here and I will be ready,” the priestess says.

Rilka and Surm make their exit and head back to Lord Cannach’s estate. They report to the nobleman what they learned from the sage/priestess. They also tell him that she has agreed to dispel whatever foul enchantment has befallen his man. They will leave in the morning for Leodin.

Surm and Rilka exchange some magic items and Surm takes the rod of wonder into the city and sells it. Then they come back and purchase from the magic items collected on the quest. They are able to pay in cash instead of on credit.

18 Transformation 508

As preparations are being made for Rilka and Surm and the soldiers to head to Leodin, a great mass of riders approach Lord Cannach’s estate. It is the workers Lord Cannach sent, his soldiers lead by the sergeant, the remainder of the party’s soldiery, and Mõrvar, dragging something behind his horse and carrying a dire rat and a severed head.

Lord Cannach, Surm, Rilka, and Alasir go out to meet them. Rilka hugs Mõrvar and then punches him. “He came back. And so they know that we killed him, I drug his ass back,” Mõrvar says proudly.

“Where’s Savaric?” Rilka asks.

Mõrvar looks at the dire rat. “Savaric and all his items was turned into the rat. He knows who he is. He’s just a rat. No sooner than Savaric entered the battle, it happened.”

Rilka starts cursing.

Mõrvar turns to Lord Cannach. “I hope you don’t hold your men accountable for not following your orders, but I don’t think they would have survived if they had. I ordered them to come back with me. I do not think they would have been safe. in fact, one of your men has been paralyzed.”

“We have someone coming for that,” Rilka says.

“I hope Mother Olana is ready today,” Surm says.

Lord Cannach says, “I thank you for keeping the safety of my men in mind.”

“I think that was the point of our job to begin with. Protect your assets,” Mõrvar says.

Mõrvar reveals that he believes the spell cast on Savaric was Baleful Polymorph. Surm believes that it’s going to require a Break Enchantment to remove the spell.

Mõrvar tells Lord Cannach that he wanted to bring proof that he brought the bastard down. Surm says that their research has revealed that destroying the body isn’t going to work, that they’re going to have to destroy something called his phylactery that’s housing his soul and reconstituting his body.

Lord Cannach says that as far as bringing back the body, “The word of your troupe is still golden with me.”

Plans are made to burn the drug body of the Lich.

The party’s first plan of action is to fetch Mother Olanan and bring her to Lord Cannach’s estate. Perhaps she knows of someone that can cast Break Enchantment. Surm is going to need to cancel, or at least postpone, the job he arranged with Toliver Yew.

Surm takes Alasir and two guards with him to see the Ornish salesman. Rilka goes to fetch Mother Olanan.

Meanwhile Mõrvar stays behind at the Lord’s estate. He arranges to get cleaned up and get his clothes cleaned. The Lord’s staff end up putting the Savaric-Rat in one of the Lord’s kennels, as it is a disease-ridden creature. Mõrvar lets them.

Rilka heads to the University and ignores the monitors in the forum. She goes straight to the Mother’s cottage and knocks on the door. A voice calls “Enter!” and she opens the door slowly and sticks her head in.

“Mother,” Rilka says.

“Yes,” the priestess says.

“Our friends have returned and they have brought the gentleman that was paralyzed,” Rilka says.

“So soon?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes, they ran into trouble, and our friends almost immediately came back so they weren’t that far behind. They are at Lord Cannach’s estate. We were hoping you could come and examine him,” Rilka says.

“Yes, of course,” the Mother says.

“Our other companion was turned into a dire rat,” Rilka says. “Some sort of Baleful Polymorph spell. Do you know of someone we can hire to come and change our friend out of this horrible shape?”

“So he was transmuted?” Mother Olanan says.

“Yes,” Rilka says.

“I may know someone who can help,” the priestess says.

“Well, we’re hoping to get our friend transformed back before taking care of this Lich and his phylactery once and for all,” Rilka says, “So time is very much of the essence.”

“I see,” Mother Olanan says. “There is a wizard by the name Ianes Redstaff.”

“Is he here at the University?” Rilka asks.

“No, he’s in the University district, but he’s not part of the University,” the priestess says.

“Well, I need to see him. May I escort you back. And perhaps we can stop at Master Redstaff’s along the way?” Rilka asks.

“Very well,” Mother Olanan says. She collects a satchel and settles it across her shoulders and walks with Rilka to her horse and two set off. Along the way, Mother Olanan says, “That is a Northron symbol, is it not?”

“Yes, I am a cleric of Bruni,” Rilka says.

“Courage, is it not?”

“That is one of his domains. Protection as well.”

“Um. A worthy domain.”

“I believe so.”

“That, too, is something Cereth would share.”

The two discuss theology a bit while they ride through the streets until they come to a ramshackle house with a sign out front that reads, in Tradespeak, “Ianes Redstaff, Wizard”.

“Do you know Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“We are…acquaintances,” the priestess says.

Rilka knocks on the door. After a moment, the door opens and a man with long frizzy hair and a frizzy mustache and goggles stands there and says, “Yes, yes, yes!” in a slightly irritated voice.

“Master Redstaff?” Rilka asks.

“Yes,” the man says.

“I am Captain Rilka Lazarsdottir. I was hoping to find you. Mother Olanan said that you might be the wizard I’m looking for,” Rilka says. “One of our companions has fallen under a baleful transformation spell. He has been turned into a dire rat. That needs to be remedied as soon as possible. We’re actually going back there now. I’m bringing the Mother. We’re going back to Lord Cannach’s estate.”

“Lord Cannach?” Redstaff says.

“Yes, he’s the man who hired us. We’re taking care of a bit of a Lich problem,” Rilka says.

“Lord Cannach? Well. Huh.”

“Will you at least come back and examine our friend and see if there is anything you can do to help him?” Rilka asks. “He should not be a dire rat. I understand that we need someone that can cast Break Enchantment at a fairly high level. Would that be something that you might be able to do?”

He strokes his mustache. “I will help.” He goes back inside for a moment.

The Mother stands there and shakes her head. “Your mention of the lord probably did it.”

“Good. I don’t care why he comes. I need my friend not to be a dire rat,” Rilka says.

“Master Redstaff is a bit, mercenary, in his practices,” Mother Olanan says.

“Ah, so not so much on helping those in need,” Rilka says.

After a moment, the door opens and he’s got a battered wizard’s hat on his head, red battered robes, and he’s still wearing his goggles. He shuts and locks his door, drops his key in his pocket, and says. “Let’s go.” So the three of them head to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Meanwhile, Surm heads to the marketplace with the soldiers in tow. He heads to Master Yew’s tent and approaches the merchant. “Master Yew, sad news. Circumstances have arisen out our control and the last job we did was not as complete as we thought. Apparently Liches return quite frequently. However, we are going to complete the task we were hired to do for Lord Cannach, but it may interfere with your timeframe on leaving. I don’t know how set in stone your timeframe on leaving is and I cannot say on guarantee how long this will take. I am hoping we can get back by the 28th. If things go smoothly, I am hoping that we can put a final end to this creature. Because of the embarrassment this causes us and the inconvenience this causes you, then I will knock 20 silver off per day. You will still be escorted out of the city and into Kalimsport by Captain Rilka and Company. If you cannot wait, I understand. My apologies.”

Yew seems to mull this over, and then says, “Done!”

“We fully intend to find you here the 28th. If we are not back the 28th, apologies, but I will come and see if you did stay and we will honor our deal. If not, perhaps we will look you up in Kalimsport and we will regale you with tales and have a time of camaraderie. Good day, sir.”

The two groups arrive back at Lord Cannach’s estate at roughly the same time. Mõrvar has gotten cleaned up and is presentable. Lord Cannach comes out to meet his new guests.

Rilka takes Surm aside and warns him that Redstaff has been referred to as “mercenary.” She doesn’t know what he’s going to charge for his services.

Surm observes the wizard looking around, and gets the impression that he is mentally putting a price tag on everything that he sees.

Rilka channels energy to cure Mõrvar and Surm casts Cure Light Wounds on him.

The Mother says to Rilka, “Show me to the stricken man.”

Rilka goes with her to the parlor.

Redstaff claps his hands together and says, “Yeah! Show me the rat!” Surm gives him a cold look.

Surm takes Rilka aside and wants her to make it clear to Lord Cannach and Mother Olanan how much concern they have for his man. And then he says, “I go with, Redstick was it?”

“Staff. Redstaff,” the wizard says, clearly agitated.

Rilka, Lord Cannach, and Mother Olanan go into the parlor where the soldier is standing, frozen in time. The priestess goes forward and starts examining him. She steps back and says, “He’s alive.”

“Thank the gods,” Rilka says.

Lord Cannach sighs with relief.

Mother Olanan asks the two of them to stand back. She then casts a spell and suddenly the man starts moving again. He cries out, and says, “It was terrible!”

“Very glad you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“Come, Mother, let me speak with you a moment,” Lord Cannach says. And the two step aside to speak.

Rilka helps the soldier sit down and asks if she can perform a healing on him. He says she may. So she channels energy and heals him. He feels better. She sits and chats with the soldier as Lord Connach and the Mother speak privately. Rilka gets the soldier a drink of water, which he takes almost greedily.

Meanwhile, at the kennel, Surm asks Mõrvar why Savaric is in the kennel. Mõrvar says it was funny and that the nobleman’s staff insisted. Surm turns to the wizard and asks if he has a first name and that his name is Surm Ulrich. He says his name is Ianes. “So Ianes Redstuff, what do you think?”

Mõrvar lets Savaric out of the kennel.

The wizard gives Surm a side-eye, but says, “Well, he’s definitely a rat.”

“Yeah, of the dire nature. Formerly a half-orc. So can we fix that?” Surm asks, slightly perturbed.

“That’s what you’re here for, isn’t it?” Mõrvar says.

“Yeah, I can do that,” Redstaff says.

“Well, let’s do it,” Surm says.

“Well…” Redstaff says, clapping his hands together and scrunching up his face, “…my services don’t come free. So there’s a bit of business talk we have get cleared up first.”

“Let’s talk,” Surm says.

“Let’s talk,” Redstaff says. “Now Baleful Polymorph is how this occurred, at least, that’s how it was described to me, by your other half-breed woman.” Mõrvar gives him a dirty look at that description. The wizard continues. “This was done by a pretty powerful spellcaster.”

“This was done by a Lich,” Surm says.

“A Lich?” Redstaff says.

“Yeah,” Surm and Mõrvar say.

Redstaff says, “So we’re talking, this is probably going to cost about 805 gold.”

Surm says, “I was watching you as we were walking through the estate and on the estate so I know that you’re recognizing where you are and who you’re assisting right now, so, how about we cut that price down to 400 gold and we get you a better introduction to Lord Cannach than ‘hello, goodbye’ and maybe, if you’re successful and impressive, will get you on the lord’s shortlist for his magical needs. That’s half your asking price but maybe a very influential patron.”

Redstaff says, “Six hundred and your fancy introduction.”

“Alright, but that’s the final price and you do till its done,” Surm says. “If this enchantment survives your breaking, you’ll keep trying until it doesn’t, at no extra charge.”

“And I’ll stay with you till it’s done,” Mõrvar says.

“Alright, clear out of the way,” Redstaff says, and he rubs his hands together.

He stands before Savaric-Rat and makes some gestures and says some mystical words and suddenly Savaric stands before them. In his mind, Savaric hears Ilona says, “Oh thank goodness.”

Surm summons Mahgnus and he fetches 60 platinum for Redstaff. Surm pats Savaric on the back and says, “I’m glad you’re back.”

Surm escorts Redstaff to the parlor and Savaric and Mõrvar follow. In parlor, Rilka is chatting the soldier, Rhudiard. Surm goes up to him and says, “Welcome back, soldier.” Rhudiard says, “Thank you.” When he sees Mõrvar he says, “Thank you, sir, for bringing me back.”

Rilka says, “Rhudiard was conscious the entire time.”

Mõrvar puts his hand out and says, “You’re welcome.” Rhudiard takes it.

Surm introduces the wizard to Lord Cannach. “Savaric has returned to us courtesy of Master Ianes Redstuff. Lord Cannach, Wizard Extraordinaire.” Redstaff bows with a flourish and doffs his hat.

Lord Cannach says, “Thank you, Sir Wizard, for your services.”

Redstaff says, “All in a day’s work, Lord Cannach. If ever you need the services of a mystical nature, you may call upon me in the University District. My card.” And he produces a card with a flourish of his sleeve, which Lord Cannach takes.

Mother Olanan shakes her head with disapproval.

Mother Olanan says, “Well, if that is all I have work to get back to at the University.”

“Would you like me to escort you back?” Rilka asks.

“If you would,” the priestess says.

The wizard says, “I understand you have a Lich problem.” His pronouncement is met with an awkward silence.

Lord Cannach says, “Had. Had a Lich problem.”

Mõrvar grins.

The wizards says, “Well, as I said, if you ever have a problem of a mystical nature, fell free to call upon me.” He turns to Rilka. “May I get an escort back to the city?”

Rilka nods.

Before leaving, and out of sight of Lord Cannach, Rilka welcomes Savaric back and then punches him. Then she leaves with the priestess and the wizard.

Surm excuses himself and he and Mõrvar head to their tent at the encampment on the lord’s property. Surm kicks everyone out of the tent so that it is just he and his brother inside. He asks Mõrvar for the journal. Mõrvar hands him the journal and then Surm slaps him with the journal. “What the fuck are you going after the Lich for? Damn!” he cries. “Did it occur to you that you may die? Did it occur to you that you may get Savaric killed or turned into a rat?”

“This Lich is going to find out that not even he can escape death,” Mõrvar says.

“That was extremely stupid,” Surm says. “And unnecessary.”

“We stopped him,” Mõrvar says.

“You came back looking like shit,” Surm says. “Which tells me you got close to getting killed.”

“But I didn’t,” Mõrvar says.

“But if you had, what would have come of Savaric? He would be a rat in the woods, we’d have no way of knowing,” Surm says.

“He’s resourceful, I’m sure he could have figured it out,” Mõrvar says.

“Yes, I’m sure he could have survived as a rat in the woods,” Surm says.

“I’m sure he could have figured out a way to communicate,” Mõrvar says.

“If he could get to us,” Surm says. “I’m sure he scurry back into the hamlet without the soldiers cutting him down. ‘Oh a dire rat! He’s full of disease!’ You think he’s going to be able to sit there and wait on us to come back?”

“We cannot control everything,” Mõrvar says.

“You can control what you do!” Surm says.

“Yes, and I killed him,” Mõrvar says.

“Or you could have just done what you were there to do and come back and said the Lich is back and as a group we could have gone to get him,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have necessarily known where he was,” Mõrvar says. “We tracked him.”

“Which you shouldn’t have done,” Surm says.

“Savaric attacked him, he attacked Savaric, I attacked him,” Mõrvar says.

“Which would have never happened if you hadn’t have chased him down,” Surm says.

“We wouldn’t have known where he went,” Mõrvar says. “It would’ve have been another week before we’d have gotten back. How much more prepared would he have been for us? How many ghouls?”

Surm sits down with the journal and tries to decipher the notes. He tosses the folios at Mõrvar for him to look at.

Later, Surm speaks with Lord Cannach and purchases the Headband of Vast Intelligence on credit. He also tells him that if he wants to send workers to the Lich’s lair to withdraw the goods, that their troupe will escort them their in the morning.

Savaric goes into the city and buys some magical arrows. Rilka returns from escorting the wizard and priestess.

Both Surm and Mõrvar contemplate how long a wizard can retain his spells without a book. Apparently, he can retain it until he casts it. They check to see if Lord Cannach has already sold the spellbook and it turns out that he has.

19 Transformation 508

The troupe, some of Lord Cannach’s soldiers, and a group of workers head out from the estate toward Leodin in the morning. Along the way, Surm works on translating the folio and the notes.

Mõrvar warns Alasir that the Lich cannot be affected by any of the soldiers that do not have magical weapons—which is the majority of them. And he also warns them not to get touched by the Lich. Alasir nods, taking the warning seriously.

Mõrvar greets the sergeant of Lord Cannach’s men and the sergeant says that he hopes they don’t run into the same trouble as last time. Mõrvar chooses to ride point. Rilka keeps her eyes peeled and makes the rounds through the entourage. Ghost trots on the outskirts of the entourage. Surm casts Magic Missile into the Ring of Counterspells.

25 Transformation 508

The entourage arrives in the hamlet of Leodin.

Over the course of the journey, Surm has manage to translate much of the notes and the folios. The “journal” is primarily notes on anatomy, how organs react to various stimuli. It appears that he was into vivisection. The sidebars are various rants about how the voices won’t be quiet, how he’s going to get revenge on so-and-so, “they’ll see—they’ll all see!”, etc.

The folio is a bit scattershot with more rantings and ravings. various diatribes about people that slighted him in some fashion, pontifications about his impending godhood and his conquering of the North and then his sweep of south and his march on Asdari. Once he gets used to the style, Surm can make sense of the folio. There are two main sections. One is plans for the building of the sanctuary. The second is the means of a ritual—known as the Ritual of Becoming or the Ceremony of Endless Night.

In Mõrvar’s opinion, this Ulrich is the one that has caused their “taint”, he is the reason for the life that they have had, he is the reason their family outcast them, he is the reason they were forsaken by Aeth.

The ritual has three main parts: Part the First is the body, Part the Second is the soul, and Part the Third is the phylactery. Then one performs the Ceremony of Endless Night.

Surm looks for details on the phylactery. It is a sealed metal box containing strips of parchment. There is a drawing of the box. Surm shares the details of the phylactery, but nothing else of the papers.

The first part of the ritual involved summoning a heresy devil. According to his notes, the price the devil imposed upon him was sacrifice of one his sons—which he paid. His son was named Ulfric. The sacrifice was to summon a warmonger devil to unleash on a temple to Azumazran. The process he went through to prepare his soul for transference into the phylactery was journeying to a magical pool, desecrating it, drinking from it, and letting the now-corrupted waters flood his soul. According to his notes, the nightmares began after that…

Surm seems to recall their Uncle Thormax mentioning an Ulfric when talking family history

The second part of the ritual was preparing his body for transformation. He had spend a lot of money on exotic herbs and such for the elixir. Then he had to prepare the herbs of unlife which are grown in the corpse of a person of noble birth slain by his own hand seeded by his own blood under the light of the full moon. Then he had to make the water of unlife by soaking the corpse of a good-aligned person, once again murdered by his own hand, in unholy water, for seven days and adding this water to the elixir. Finally he had to make a torch of souls by binding the soul of a good-aligned person to a black sapphire worth a 1000 gold pieces and this gemstone would be used to heat the elixir during the main ceremony.

Then the phylactery is made.

During the main ceremony, which must be performed on desecrated ground, the phylactery must be placed on an altar. Then the soul must be prepared for its journey by whatever method suggested by the heresy devil. Then the elixir of life is prepared and heated by the torch of souls and drank.

This is only the beginning.

While the body is being wracked with the pains of its impending death—and hopefully, undeath—the potential Lich must complete the ritual that will place his soul within the phylactery. If he fails, then all his preparations are for naught.

Both Surm and Mõrvar are disgusted by the lengths the Lich went to in order to achieve its ends and do not share this with the rest of the group.

At Leodin, the group head for the central market hall and search it out for any signs of disturbance. They also fan out and search out the village. It does appear that some of the homes have been ransacked. The storehouse seems to be fine. Surm checks the food stores for any signs of discoloration, but doesn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. He calls over the sergeant and tells him that it is suspicious that the houses were broken into but the food was not, so as a safety measure, it would probably be best if no one ate the food. The sergeant says, “Very well,” and passes the word along to the rest of the entourage.

Rilka isn’t really seeing a pattern in the ransacking of the homes—she’s not seeing a lot of stuff missing, just a lot of things pawed through.

They decide to head into the forest. They order Alasir to have the soldiers set up a perimeter at the village and then the four of them start tracking into the forest. Savaric follows the trail left by he and Mõrvar over a week before. Surm casts Detect Magic along the way in hopes of finding the phylactery, thinking that perhaps the Lich has hidden the device in the forest.

Savaric manages to find his way to site of the previous battle. There are burn marks on the trees and signs of battle. Surm detects no magic in the area. Savaric tries to find another trail leading to the northeast. Savaric follows the trail for about a quarter mile and comes to a spring. In the spring are some flat stones. One has been overturned. Surm still detects no magic. Where the stone was, there is a square indention that is now filling up with water.

The party theorizes that after he was killed, the Lich materialized with his phylactery in the sanctuary, took it with him when he left, hid it in the forest in the spring, returned to Leodin, harassed the soldiers, and was heading back to collect it when Mõrvar and Savaric came upon him and Mõrvar killed him a second time. Savaric looks around for another trail and finds two—one heading back toward the hamlet of Leodin, another toward Aldasar. The trail to the hamlet is about a week old. The trail to Aldasar is about two days old. Now they believe that the Lich as rematerialized again and gone back to Leodin first, ransacked the homes, and then headed to Aldasar—and he has a head-start on them.

Mõrvar wants to ride hard for Aldasar and find the Lich. The party discusses what to do next—leave the soldiery and pursue the Lich? Split up and track him while looking for the phylactery? They finally settle on riding as fast as they can back to Lord Cannach’s in anticipation of the Lich attacking the nobleman’s estate. They explain the situation to Alasir and have their soldiers sit tight in Leodin. “May Bruni bless you and the entire group,” Rilka says.

“I will not disappoint,” Alasir says.

Surm goes to Mahgnus and says, “If we’re all dead when you get back to Aldasar, I guess split up the group funds amongst the men and yourself.”

“Oh, don’t talk like that, sir,” Mahgnus says.

And the four of them take off back to Aldasar.

28 Transformation 508

The party arrives at Lord Cannach’s estate late in the afternoon. Nothing seems out of the ordinary. Lord Cannach comes out and looks concerned.

“What news?” he asks.

“Well, based on the Lich’s trail, we were afraid he was coming back this way,” Surm says. “So we got back here as fast as we could. We left our men with yours, cleaning out the mine.”

“We’re glad to see you’re safe,” Rilka says.

“We were afraid, that based on encountering your men earlier, and their liveries, that the Lich may come to Aldasar,” Surm says.

“That’s troubling,” Lord Cannach says, “though we’ve had no trouble thus far. With sending some of my soldiers to Leodin, I do have a reduced contingent here.”

“Well, unless your soldiers are magically armed, they won’t be much help. They need magical weapons to strike this creature,” Surm says.

Mõrvar says, “He may be out there right now, watching.”

“Let’s start making a plan, then. Our only hope is that he comes here, otherwise we have no trail,” Surm says, “And we just left the only one we had.”

The party and Lord Cannach then gather and start making plans. First of all, they have the peasants working his lands gathered up and moved to the manor house. Lord Cannach says that he has seven soldiers at his disposal, but they do not have magical weapons. They may be able to be used as eyes on the ground. Surm believes, based on his writings, that he will definitely come after them. What they’ve done to him will be considered a personal affront. This leads to the idea of trying to bait him into coming, using themselves as bait. Finally, they decide to camp outside the barn on Lord Cannach’s property, with Savaric and Mõrvar hiding in the darkness, ready to ambush. Rilka and Surm will be laughing and having a good time at the Lich’s expense, trying to lure him in. One of the soldiers will be dressed in Mõrvar’s clothes, sitting around the fire, ready to run when the attack comes. Rhudiard volunteers for this duty. Surm also has his crossbow ready with a tanglebolt loaded and ready to fly.

Everyone gets into position and the waiting begins. Finally, later that night, they all hear a voice call out speaking in High Elven, say “Hello squirrel.” Savaric can tell that the voice came from about 100 feet away. He casts Gravity Bow. Mõrvar hears the voice about 60’ away. He casts Vanish and moves 10 feet back and five feet to the right. Surm casts Dancing Lights around where Mõrvar was. Rilka casts Bless.

Rilka starts heading in the direction of the voice. Mõrvar casts Bull Strength on himself and sneaks toward the voice, still invisible from the Vanish. Surm readies his crossbow and tells Rhudiard to head for the house. The voice calls out again in the same language, saying “Captain Rilka, Surm Ulrich, come face me!” Savaric has Ilona make him invisible and he stealthily moves closer to the voice. Rhudiard heads double-time toward the house.

Mõrvar waits for Rilka to pass him so that he can see in the light of her falchion to attack. Surm holds his attack as well, as he doesn’t have a target. Rilka holds her move and attack and calls out, “So you’re looking for Captain Rilka, are you?” The figure steps forward into the range of Savaric’s and Rilka’s darkvision. The sight of the Lich causes Savaric to be shaken. He says to Rilka, “Which one are you?” And Rilka says, “Does anyone understand this guy? All he says is ‘blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…’” Surm discerns the direction that the voice is coming from and moves his dancing lights there. As soon as he’s in the light, Surm fires his crossbow and hits the LIch with a tanglebolt. Rilka moves forward. Mõrvar moves forward stealthily and attacks. “Hello, nut!” he cries as he attacks. Rhudiard exits stage left. Savaric fires two arrows at once and then fires again and again. The arrows bounce harmlessly off the Lich.

Rilka attacks the Lich twice with her Falchion and hits both times. The Lich then channels negative energy, but Rilka and Mõrvar manage to resist some of the damage. Savaric tries to command Ghost to attack and commands his bow to activate its flame power. Ghost, however, is uncooperative. Mõrvar attacks again, twice, and hits twice. Rilka notices that Mõrvar’s attacks are not as effective as they should be. Surm drops his crossbow and pulls out his Wand of Magic Missiles and casts it at the Lich. The Lich is hit with five Magic Missiles.

Rilka hits the Lich with her Falchion twice. The Lich attempts to cast a spell through the entanglement of the tanglebolt and manages it. Then he tries to cast defensively. And the Lich disappears.

Mõrvar casts Light on his greatsword. Rilka stabs the air around her to see if he just went invisible. Rilka uses her armor to fly around and look around and try and see him. She doesn’t see him. The others discuss the fact that undead can be more vulnerable to different types of weapons, slashing vs. bludgeoning or what-have-you. The Lich doesn’t seem to be bothered by piercing and Mõrvar’s slashing weapon didn’t seem to be as effective. The party then settles in to debate their next move.

Session Forty-Three
Into The Sanctuary


5 Transformation 508

It is late afternoon, on to evening, and the party has sent half the soldiery back to Aldasar with the surviving villagers to report back to Lord Cannach. The party spends this night resting with their porters and set watches.

Mõrvar brings up the possibility of allying themselves with the Lich, siccing him on villages, and then going and “saving them” from him. The rest of the party shoots him down.

The night passes without incident.

6 Transformation 508

The party prepares their spells for the day, packs up camp, and checks the market hall to see if the Lich has re-materialized—he has not. They then make the five-mile trek to the mines.

Savaric lets Burask borrow an iron masterwork battle axe. Kortash receives a greataxe from Rilka.

They find themselves in a small mining camp near a tunnel in the side of a mountain. Savaric begins searching out the camp for a map, signs of a survivors, signs of a Lich, or anything of interest. He finds a waterproof scroll case with a map inside. It shows hand-drawn diagrams of tunnels. He also finds recent tracks leading into the tunnel from the camp. They’re unusual because there are tracks leading into the tunnel, but there are no tracks leading into the camp. This gets the party to wondering why the Lich would have teleported into the mining camp instead of into the mines or the ruins.

The map does show the point where the ruins were found. They decide to follow the tracks to make sure that they go to the ruins and not some other destination or an ambush. Savaric and his wolf, Ghost, begin to follow the tracks with Rilka and Mõrvar following behind. Surm and Alasir will follow, followed by the porters and then Sorcha and Tarben. Two of the soldiers, Einar and Garth, are assigned to guard the horses.

Ghost picks up a trail—a foul, rotting, stench—and Savaric follows. The rest of the party follows them. Between Rilka’s glowing sword, Mõrvar’s casting of light, and Surm’s casting of dancing lights, the party is able to see. The trail seems to be corresponding to the path to the ruins. They come to the place where the map marks the entrance to the ruins and there is a fissure in the wall. It looks as if they were mining and their work opened up an entryway into a structure.

There is a soft, eldritch green glow coming out of a room. Savaric looks for traps in the entryway and finds none. As he gets closer, he can see that the room is octagonal in shape. The baseboards of the room are made of skulls and they are glowing in this pale green light. There are three arched doorways in the room, one to the left, one to the right, and one straight ahead. The walls are smooth stone, but painted black.

Savaric enters the room, searches it, and the archways, and peers down the archways. He finds no traps. The east and west archways open up into corridors that lead to archways at their end. The archway to the north opens up into an oddly-shaped throne room. It, too, is lit by the skull-baseboards. Sitting on the throne, with his hand on his fist, looking unperturbed at Savaric, is the Lich.

Savaric turns around and runs back into the room, screaming, “I found the Lich!” Rilka goes in. Mõrvar casts bull strength on himself and heads in. Surm heads in, casting mage armor on his brother. Suddenly, the doorway to the throne room is filled with a shimmering violet curtain of fire. Savaric is slightly burned by the heat of the fire. Rilka and Surm identify it as a Wall of Fire spell.

Savaric moves out of the heat of the fire. The party then gathers and tries to make a different plan of action. Mõrvar flattens himself against the wall of mine out of line of sight from the throne room. Then they think of shooting arrows, imbued with Arcane Strike blindly through the Wall of Fire. Another consideration is throwing flaming lamp oil in the room to distraction him from his concentration on the spell. Yet another consideration is abandoning the Lich in his throne room and exploring the other corridors. They also consider pelting the fire with cold damage to put a section of it out. Surm has his frost spells and there is also the cold damage from Edgefrost. This is the plan they decide on. Savaric will “attack” the fire with Edgefrost while Rilka and Mõrvar stand ready to run through the gap. Surm will be ready to cast his spell on the fire. Savaric will send Ghost in to trip the Lich.

Surm uses the wand and casts mage armor on his party members. Everyone readies themselves for the assault. Mõrvar casts Bull Strength again. Savaric moves toward the wall, taking damage from the heat, and shoves Edgefrost into the wall. Surm begins casting his Snowball spells. The wall comes down in the section in the entryway.

Ghost goes in. As soon as Ghost crosses the threshold, the party hears a gong. Suddenly appearing in the room before the throne room is a huge fire elemental. It nearly encompasses nearly the whole room.

Ghost attempts to trip the Lich, but fails. Savaric attacks the fire elemental, but misses. Mõrvar makes his way to the Lich’s throne room. The elemental swings at him as he goes by—and hits him hard, but he manages not to catch on fire. Rilka moves in and to the left, flanking the elemental with Savaric. Surm casts Snowball against the elemental and hits him with it. The fire elemental attacks Savaric and hits him, but Savaric does not catch on fire. With his second attack, he scrapes the side of the wall of the chamber, doing himself some damage.

Rilka then attacks the elemental, missing once, and then missing again. Savaric attacks once and misses, but attacks again and hits. The Lich attempts to cast a spell and Ghost takes the opportunity to bite the Lich and knock him prone. The Lich still manages to cast the spell and three searing beams of fire shoot out, one attacking Ghost and two attacking Mõrvar. The one attacking Ghost misses, as does one of the beams attacking Mõrvar. But one hits him and does damage. Mõrvar attacks the Lich while he’s down on the floor, hitting him hard with Deathblow. He hits him hard again as well. Ghost bites at the Lich again. The fire elemental then attacks Rilka and hits, and Rilka heroically avoids catching on fire. Surm casts his Snowball and misses.

Ghost attacks the Lich again and bites him and trips him. Mõrvar attacks the Lich again and hits, hard. The Lich falls. Mõrvar beheads him. Rilka attacks the fire elemental, hitting it once with her falchion. The fire elemental attacks Rilka and hits her twice. She manages not to catch on fire. Savaric attacks the fire elemental with Edgefrost, hitting it twice. The elemental dissipates.

They decide that they want to drag the body of the Lich out of the ruins and burn it. They drag it out into the mine camp and Surm searches the body. He’s wearing some unremarkable black robes (that are not in disrepair). Upon further inspection, there are some intricate embroidery upon them. He’s wearing a fine cloak. He has an intricate gold headband with purple and blue gemstones set within it. He’s wearing an amulet that looks like animal scales. Tucked into his robes are a couple of vials. He was also wearing a masterwork dagger. He’s also carrying two onyxes—one large, one small—and a crystal.

Surm casts Detect Magic over the Lich and all of his possession. He detects magic on the amulet, the cloak, the robes, the headband, and the two vials. He discovers that the robes are the Robes of Bones. Someone who dons the robe can detach embroidered undead creatures attached to the robes. They cannot control the creatures (unless they already have that ability). The cloak is a Cloak of Resistance +2. He is unable to figure out the properties of the amulet, nor is able to determine the aura of its school. He is also unable to determine the properties of the headband, but does determine that its magical school is transmutation. The first vial is a potion of displacement. The second is a potion of invisibility.

Rilka channels the positive energy of her god and heals the party.

Once the body is stripped of possessions, they put it on a pyre and burn it.

They return to the sanctuary and Savaric searches the throne room and finds nothing of interest. He then returns to the entry chamber where they fought the fire elemental and searches the corridor to the right. He finds no trap. Looking down the corridor, he can see a doorway at the end of the corridor. He passes through the doorway to search the corridor and hears a gong sound. Savaric gets burned as flames suddenly fill up the doorway. He continues down the corridor, searching for traps, and finds one. There is a panel that fills the corridor that, if stepped on, will trigger…something. They chalk-mark the trap to warn themselves against stepping on the panel. Then Savaric jumps over the panel. Ghost jumps over the panel. Mõrvar jumps across the panel. Alasir jumps across. Surm heroically makes across the panel. The porters, then Sorcha, and finally Tarben make it across. Savaric then checks the doorway across the way for traps. He finds none.

The arched doorway leads into another octagonal room. There are two more arched doorways leading out of the room. Savaric checks those doorways for traps. Savaric finds a magical trap in one of the doorways. The party discusses their next course of action, as they can’t disable a magical trap. Everyone gets into a position around the octagonal room and Rilka prepares to wave a dagger through the threshold of the doorway to set off the trap.

Rilka places the dagger through the threshold and a column of fire descends, catching both Rilka and Tarben in its wake. Tarben manages to dodge some of it, but Rilka takes the brunt. Mõrvar looks through the other doorway and sees another octagonal room. It appears to be an alchemical lab. There’s another doorway on the other side of the room. Rilka looks through her doorway and sees an assortment of racks with various magical accoutrements—candles, incense, chalks, wands, etc. It, too, is an octagonal room and has another doorway on its opposite side.

Savaric checks Mõrvar’s doorway for traps, but finds none. Still, the party suspects that it is, indeed trapped.

Savaric moves into the room with the magical accoutrements and searches it for traps, but finds none. He does discover that amongst the magical accoutrements there are some uncharged wands, awaiting charging with magics. But there are some that are probably magicked. Surm walks around the room casting Detect Magic and discovers that, indeed, four of the wands are magical. He cannot determine what the first two wands do, but the third one is a wand of flaming sphere. It has 15 charges left. The fourth wand he is unable to determine as well.

Mõrvar looks into the next room, which is another octagonal room. There is not a door leading out of it. And sitting in the center of the otherwise empty room is a chest. Savaric searches the doorway for traps and finds none. He still suspects that it is trapped. Savaric shoots an arrow at the chest. A gong sounds and suddenly appearing in the room that they are in is a beautiful warrior with wings stained black, a flaming composite long bow, and a rope coiled at its side.

Savaric fires his bow at the new enemy, hitting it hard with arrows. Mõrvar attacks with Deathblow and hits it hard. He attacks again, attempting to intimidate the warrior, but fails in both respects. Rilka attacks, hitting the warrior, but then misses. The warrior turns and fires at Rilka, but misses. It fires at Savaric and hits him with a flaming arrow. It then fires at Mõrvar and misses him. Ghost nips at his heels and misses. Surm heads out the door and takes up a position where he can cast a spell. He casts Admonishing Ray, but unfortunately misses his target. The soldiery then take up positions and attack. Alasir is looking a bit green about the gills—sickened from second thoughts about this fight.

Ghost attacks the warrior and misses. Rilka attacks twice and misses twice. Mõrvar attacks and connects for serious damage. The warrior falls. Mõrvar decapitates the creature.

They search the creature’s body. It has a masterwork longsword, a flaming masterwork composite longbow, and a 50’ length of rope. Surm casts Detect Magic on all of it and does discern that it all magical. Surm identifies the sword as a +1 longsword, the bow is a + 1 flaming composite longbow set to a +5 strength, and the rope is magical, but Surm cannot discern its properties without identifying the creature. Savaric asks to borrow the bow for now. The party says that he can, but if he breaks it, he’s bought it.

They enter the room with the chest. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing out of sorts. He searches the chest and discovers that the chest is locked and magically trapped. The trap is on the lock. The party tries to figure out a way to spring the trap without being near the chest. They decide to have Savaric shoot an arrow in the lock from the doorway. On the third try, Savaric makes the shot.

Once the arrow gets in place, all around the room, arcs of electricity erupt around the room for about thirty seconds. Surm casts Mage Hand and jiggles the arrow. The trap doesn’t go off again. He calls an “all clear”. They all go inside and Surm tries and tries, but can’t seem to get the lock to open. Mõrvar takes the crowbar and attempts to pry the chest open. After numerous failed attempts, he finally opens the chest.

Inside the chest is an assortment of platinum, gold, and silver, some jewelry, some onyx (some large, some small), two rings, and a rod. Surm casts Detect Magic on all of it. He detects magic on the two rings and the rod. He discerns that one of the rings is a ring with evocation magic on it. He cannot determine anything else. They count out the coins, finding 500 platinum, 475 gold, 225 silver. There is about 5 lbs. of jewelry. There are 25 large onyx, and 25 small onyx. Mõrvar appraises the onyx: he thinks the smaller onyx are worth between 25 gp and 75 gp each; the larger onyx he appraises at 100 gp each.

The party then heads back to the alchemical lab. Surm positions everyone around the octagonal room and Savaric will shoot through the doorway to hopefully set off any traps. Mõrvar warns him not to damage any of the lab in case they want to take any of it back with them. Savaric fires and a column of flame descends down into the doorway, catching Mõrvar and Rilka. Mõrvar managed to dodge, but once again, Rilka took the brunt of it.

Savaric and Surm work on trying to heal Rilka’s wounds, but to no avail. They then work on Mõrvar and manage to fix him up. They then try to work on Tarben, but don’t do much good. Rilka casts Cure Light Wounds on herself. Surm casts Cure Light Wounds on Rilka.

The party exits the sanctuary and the mine and camps for the night, resting up to return for the next day.

7 Transformation 508

Rilka starts the day by channeling positive energy for the party for more healing for the party before they re-enter the sanctuary. They return to the alchemist lab. Savaric searches it out. He finds nothing of interest other than the various pipes, bottles, and tubes that comprise the lab. Surm casts Detect Magic around the room, but detects no magic. Savaric finds no trap in the next doorway, which leads to an octagonal room lit by the glow of the skull baseboard (much like all the other rooms). In the center of the room is a gold pentagram with ancient sigils around it set into the floor. There are various magical accoutrements such as braziers, incense, candles, and holy water decanters set about the room. Everyone takes up positions around the walls in the alchemical lab and Savaric shoots an arrow through the doorway into the opposite wall into the pentagram room. The arrow ‘plinks’ on the opposite wall and nothing happens.

Surm reveals that pentagrams are primarily used for summoning of outsiders, used to hold creatures; if it is set into the floor it is probably a powerful summoning circle. Savaric enters the room and begins searching it. He finds no traps and nothing other than what is obvious. Surm casts Detect Magic in the room and detects magic on the pentagram. He doesn’t believe that’s normal for a pentagram. Savaric searches the pentagram area and finds a magical trap on the pentagram. Surm writes “Trap” in chalk to mark the trap for Lord Cannach and they move on to the other half of the sanctuary.

They return to the central “hub” room and Savaric shoots and arrow as far as he can down the corridor. The doorway fills with a pale green mist and a gong sounds. The arrow travels down the hallway and goes through another arched doorway at the end of the hall. They do not hear another gong. Eventually, the mist dissipates. Savaric leads the way down the corridor, looking for traps. Halfway down the hall, he finds a plate trap in the hallway. Surm marks it with chalk and they all jump over the plate—except for Kortash. He lands squarely on the plate and is wracked in pain as a electric arcs jump through his body. Rilka channels energy for the group and heals everyone in an effort to help.

They continue down the hall and find themselves in an octagonal room. There are two arched doorways leading out of the room. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest other than the doorways. Surm positions everyone so that if the doors are trapped in flames (as what happened before), no one will be trapped in it. Savaric shoots an arrow through the northerly doorway and a column of flame descends. He shoots through the southerly door and another column of flame descends.

Both doorways lead into octagonal rooms with arched doorways leading to further rooms. Savaric enters the northerly door and searches that room. This room contains a desk, a small bookcase, a luxurious rug, two comfy chairs, a sideboard with an empty decanter setting upon it. On the desk is a burnt-down candle in an ornate candle holder. Savaric finds a secret compartment in the desk. Inside it he finds a series of folios. They appear to have writing, but it is encrypted. Mõrvar attempts to determine what language it is written in, but fails. Surm cannot either. They take the folios.

Rilka examines the rug. It looks well-made, but well-used and ancient. Savaric takes the candleholder and Mõrvar appraise it. He thinks it’s worth 75 gold. He appraises the rug as being worth 150 gold. Surm casts Detect Magic on the room and detects none. Looking into the next room, they see another octagonal room lined with bookshelves filled with books. Surm exits the study and Savaric fires an into the floor of the library and nothing happens.

Savaric enters the room and searches. He finds a wide variety of books and he finds a secret compartment. Surm comes in and casts Detect Magic in the room. He detects no magic in the room. Savaric then checks the compartment for traps. He finds none. Inside the compartment is a book—a wizard’s spellbook.

They all then begin perusing the books trying to determine what kind of books they are. They find books written in High Elven and High Dwarven on a variety of topics: poetry, history, etc. They also find a number of books written in languages they don’t understand. Mõrvar appraises the books they understand at being worth 250 gold pieces apiece. They recognize 50 books. There are 450 books that they do not. That means the books they recognize are worth 12,500 gp.

They then backtrack and head to the southerly room. It is lit by the pale glow of the skull baseboard. There is a long stone table in the center of the room covered in bloodstains and other marks. There are chains and leather straps on the side of the table designed to hold down victims. There is a cabinet on the wall. There is a small table near the central table/bed with notes on it. The notes are written in a similar encryption as the folio. There are also anatomical diagrams on the notes. There is another arched doorway out of the room.

Savaric searches the room. He finds surgical tools in the cabinet on the wall. Other than that, he finds nothing more than what was initially seen. The arched doorway leads to another octagonal room lit by the pale skull baseboard, but he can see just fine with his darkvision. There is no door leading out of the next room. There are five sets of chains on the walls. There are blood stains on the floor.

Surm leaves the surgical room. Everyone takes up positions. Savaric shoots an arrow into the room with the wall chains. Nothing happens. He goes into the room and searches it, but finds nothing of interest.

They return to the library and collect five books as a sampling of what was found to show Lord Cannach. They then exit the sanctuary.

They then return to the hamlet, gather some food, and then start heading back to Aldasar.

10 Transformation 508

Surm tries to identify the magical items again along the way back to Aldasar. He identifies the Lich’s headband as a headband of vast intelligence +2. The amulet is an amulet of natural armor +1. One of the wands is a wand of hold portal with 30 charges. The other wand is a wand of magic missile with 20 charges. The final wand is a wand of scorching ray with 10 charges. Each have a caster level of 12. He also identifies the rope as belonging to an Erinyes, a type of devil. The rope is used to entwine around people and only they can use it. One of the rings is a ring of counterspells. The other ring eludes, but he discovers that the rod is a rod of wonder.

Riding toward Aldasar, the party meets the rest of their soldiery along with Lord Cannach and a few of his personal guards. He rides up to the party and says. “How goes it? I had reports of a Lich in the village. I was dispatching more men to combat it.”

“The Lich is slain,” Surm says.

“Slain? That is good news indeed!” the nobleman says.

“Took his head and burned the body,” Rilka says and Surm confirms.

“We cleared out its hidey-hole. The ruins were basically a structure it was staying in, using as a base,” Surm says.

“Well. That is definitely good news. Reason to celebrate,” Lord Cannach says.

“Yes,” Rilka agrees.

“A celebration is in order,” Surm says.

“I take it the rest of your villagers made it back okay?” Rilka asks.

“Yes,” Lord Cannach says.

“Good,” Rilka says.

“Yes, they are staying temporarily at my estate,” Lord Cannach.

Everyone turns around and starts heading back to Lord Cannach’s estate for a celebratory feast and to begin negotiating the cash out of the treasure found in the sanctuary.

Along the way, while they camp, they have some heated discussions about their future plans. Savaric wants bigger payouts and Mõrvar wants to create a base of operations. Rilka and Surm are more interested in working and building a reputation. Mõrvar has designs on uniting the North. Surm wants to negotiate on his own with Lord Cannach on their payout and makes it clear that the other’s interference will hurt the negotiations.

Session Forty-Two
Showdown at Leodin


30 Starfall 508

The party has spent the past three weeks in Aldasar retraining skills and professions. Savaric has become a Horizon Walker and released Victor into the wilds. He now has a new companion, a wolf named Ghost. Rilka has a new magic belt and new look. Mõrvar has reforged his greatsword into a magic weapon and retrained some of his skills, including his unarmed strikes under the former Shandorian monk Rohin Devasi. Surm has trained under the bard Kyril Oberon and managed to get a reference to the nobleman Lord Cannach Ma’leod, who may have a job for the troupe.

Lord Cannach owns lands right outside Aldasar and near the Slayt Mountains. Surm performed at the birthday celebration of another minor noblewoman where Cannach was in attendance. The nobleman was impressed with Surm’s tales of Captain Rilka and her troupe. He wanted to meet her and thought he might be able to do business with her and wanted Surm to set up a meeting. Surm brought the idea to the rest of the party and they all agreed that the idea held promise. So a meeting was set up and the party headed out to Lord Cannach’s estate.

Lord Cannach Ma’leod’s estate lies just outside the city of Aldasar, nestled in amongst several other estates belonging to other minor nobles. The manor house is a fine, two-story structure lying in the middle of fields of wheat and sorghum as well as an orchard. A narrow cobbled road leads up to the house from the main road out of the city.

As they approach the house, they can hear the sounds of dogs barking. When they get closer, you can see that Lord Cannach has a kennel. An older man is out feeding what look to be three wolf-hounds. The hounds begin to growl as they get closer to the manor and the man turns and says, “Good morning. You must Captain Rilka’s band. You are expected. Just give me a moment to finish here and I will let you inside.”

True to his word, the man finishes up with the dogs and lets them into the house. He directs them to a small parlor and invites them to sample the wine—it’s from Lord Cannach’s own vineyard. He says that he will fetch Lord Cannach and bids them to be comfortable while they wait.

Savaric enjoys the wine, careful not to spill or wrinkle his uniform. Surm avoids the wine and just sips water while he waits. He eyes the parlor with an eye to identify pieces as art for conversation value. He notes that all of the pieces in the room are expensive, but not ostentatious and are bought with an eye to comfort. Mõrvar assesses the exits of the room and looks to see if there are any weapons on display (there are none). Rilka sits calmly and sips her water. Savaric notes that the wine is pleasant and slightly fruity.

After about 10 minutes, Lord Cannach comes in the room. He is a handsome man in his early thirties with sandy blonde hair and close-cropped beard. He is dressed well, but not flashy. He wears a masterwork dagger on his belt.

“Welcome to my home. Surm, I hope you are doing well. This must be the Captain you’ve been telling me about.” He turns to Rilka. “I enjoyed hearing about the escapades of your troupe. Such strength and daring. I do hope we can do business.”

He sits in one of the chairs and motions for them all to sit.

Savaric happily takes a seat; complimenting the wine. Mõrvar sits. Rilka sits down directly across from the nobleman. She nods. “Thank you taking the time to see us. Your reputation speaks well of you. I look forward to possibly doing business with you..” She then makes formal introductions for the rest of the group. As she does, she tries to get a sense if he is bothered by her race or gender. She gets no sense that Lord Cannach is discomfited with speaking to her.

“To the business, then,” he says. “I have a decent parcel of land near the Slayt Mountains. I have a small mining community there that I have a man overseeing. I recently received a dispatch that a ruin has been discovered inside the mine. Not to put too fine a point on it—I don’t wish to send any of my miners into this ruin; I don’t know what’s in there. I suspect that it’s a Duindir ruin.”

Savaric knows that Duindir is a term associated with Leilior, but he’s not sure how. Surm knows that the Duindir were one of the ancient races that make up Leilioran stock. They were associated with the Slayt Mountains.

Lord Cannach continues. “So, frankly, I wish to hire more adventuresome types to explore these ruins.”

Surm says, “That’s wise. Leave it to the professionals.”

“Are you just wanting it mapped out? The depths of it plumbed? What are you hoping to find?” Rilka asks.

“Well, there may be treasures, which I would like safely removed,” Lord Cannach says.

“And brought to you, I assume,” Rilka says.

“Yes,” says Lord Cannach.

“So just for clarification, because the mine is on your lands, and the ruins are in your mine, you’re laying claim to the treasures in the ruins,” Surm says.

“That’s right,” Lord Cannach says. “Now, I would be willing to share treasures found as part of your price or if you have another price that your looking at, or there may not be treasures. That’s the risk.”

Rilka looks at Surm and Surm asks Lord Cannach, “How would you be willing to share treasure, assuming there is some?”

Lord Cannach says, “I would be willing to share fifty percent of the treasure with your troupe.”

“Is that including coin and the worth of whatever objects we may find?” Rilka asks.

“Yes,” Lord Cannach says.

“Is there a town or a base or operations we can work out of nearby?” Surm asks.

“There is a small community. A hamlet,” Lord Cannach says.

“A hamlet that will be able to support a troupe?” Surm asks.

“I believe you said you had seventeen in your troupe?” Lord Cannach. “How do you mean ‘support’?”

“Food. Housing. Do you know how big these ruins are?” Surm asks.

“No,” Lord Cannach says.

“So we have no idea how long we’ll be exploring these ruins,” Surm says. “So during that time we’ll be camped and I assume the hamlet will be a place where we can resupply. I have no idea how far the hamlet is from the mine…”

“It’s five miles from the mine,” Lord Cannach says. “It would probably be able to support you in a basic fashion. Food, water, housing.”

“Assuming we are able to find treasure, how will the shares be broken down?” Rilka asks. “What will be our ability to keep items if we desired to keep them?”

“Do you have a proposal?” Lord Cannach asks.

Savaric says that he likes the idea of appraising all of the items and purchasing each item at its value.

Surm says that he would think that would whatever artifacts were found would be appraised and their value be split as shares.

Lord Cannach says that he would be amenable to that.

Everything would need to be brought back and an agent would need to be selected that both parties would be agreeable to in order to appraise the goods.

“Was the ruin a ruin of a structure or of a city?” Surm asks.

“I’m not sure. I told my men to stay away from it,” Lord Cannach says.

“Is this just a cursory survey of the ruin or is this a clean out of the ruin?” Surm asks.

“Clean out,” Lord Cannach says.

Surm proposes that along with the fifty percent of the potential treasure that they would need 500 gold plus expenses plus food and water while at the hamlet.

After a moment’s pause, the nobleman says, “That’s fair. When do you plan on setting out.”

“We’ll need a day to supply and then we can head out,” Surm says.

“Do we need a letter or will you be sending someone with us?” Rilka says.

“I’ll send a letter with you recommending you to my man down there named Anghus Norren. He’ll know of our arrangement concerning the hamlet,” Lord Cannach says.

“Does he run the hamlet or the mining community or both?” Surm asks.

“Both. He runs both operations. He is my Reeve. The hamlet is called Leodin,” the nobleman says.

Lord Cannach stands. “Pleasure doing business with you. Hopefully there will not be too many hardships on you doing this. I wish you good journey. And hopefully we can both profit from this.”

Everyone else stands and there are handshakes all around. The nobleman exits the room and the man who escorted everyone in appears to escort them out. The party leaves the estate and heads back into Aldasar.

The party spends the rest of the day buying supplies for potential ruins and mine exploration and making preparations, including paying the soldiery.

Rilka consults with Savaric about the types of creatures that live deep in the Slayt Mountains. He tells her that they could run into kobolds, goblins, maybe even orcs. If you go deep enough, you could run into the Underdark with Drow, Duergar, Dark Creepers, and other such creepers. There are also dragonkind.

1 Transformation 508

The troupe leaves Aldasar for Leodin. There is no road to Leodin, so travel is cross-country over the plains of Leilior. The day is pleasant and passes without incident.

2 Transformation 508

Another day of travel over the plains. Up on a hill is sighted a shrine to the god Hathras, Lord of the Winds, patron of travelers. Rilka identifies the god for the others and provides the insight that people provide some bit of gear as sacrifice at these shrines to aid travelers. Savaric spots movement at the shrine and points it out to everyone else. Savaric wants to check it out, but the others are not as interested.

So the rest of the troupe ride on and Savaric rides up at an angle to the shrine. Savaric approaches the man on the horseback. The shrine is open to the sky. The symbol of Hathras, a bisected disc of blue and white hangs on the frame. The man is placing something in a box inside the shrine. He turns and sees Savaric and says in Tradespeak, “Don’t hurt me! I have nothing! I have nothing!”

“Don’t be alarmed,” Savaric says. “I just saw you from afar and wanted to see that everything was okay.”

“I have no weapons!” the man declares.

“Okay,” Savaric says. “That’s why you’re here. Are you okay?”

The man thinks for a moment and says, “Yes.”

The man has his hands up and starts backing up.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to frighten you. I just wanted to see that you weren’t in danger…” Savaric says.

He turns around and starts running, yelling, “Orcs! Orcs!”

Meanwhile, Mõrvar, Surm, and Rilka hear someone yelling, “Orcs! Orcs!” They look up to see Savaric looking confused at the top of the hill and a man running away from the shrine. Savaric returns to the rest of the group and they continue on toward Leodin.

5 Transformation 508

Based on the directions given to them by Lord Cannach, they should reach Leodin by noontime. As they are traveling through the wooded foothills, Savaric hears panting and quickly-moving footsteps out of the woods. It is probably a running man.

“Someone is coming,” he says.

The soldiers circle up at Alasir’s command and Mõrvar stands menacingly with his greatsword. Rilka and Savaric stand ready. Surm stands surrounded by soldiers.

Breaking out of the woods is a man in fine clothes that have seen better days. It looks as if he’s been running in the woods for hours. You see a blood stain on his clothing. He comes up short and says, in Tradespeak, “Turn back! It’s horrible!”

“What’s going on, sir?” Rilka says. She sees a dagger and an empty rapier sheath on his belt.

Mõrvar puts up a hand and says, “Calm yourself and explain.”

The man says, “We let it out! It killed them all! We didn’t know!” He covers his face with his hands. “We didn’t know!”

“Who are you? Where are you from?” Surm asks.

“I’m Anghus Norren. I’m the Reeve of the hamlet of Leodin,” the man says.

Rilka tells Alasir to let him approach. Mõrvar lets him approach.

“We were just coming your way. Your lord has hired us to explore the ruins that were discovered,” Rilka says. Surm produces the letter from Lord Cannach. Anghus takes the letter.

“You may be too late,” Anghus says.

“Well according to Lord Cannach, he instructed the ruins not to be explored, that why he was sending us. What happened?” Surm asks.

“We didn’t explore them. We followed his orders. But in finding them, we think we let something out,” Anghus says.

“Can you be more specific? What do you think you let out? What happened?” Surm asks. “Tell your story, man!”

“It happened last night. The screams started. And then there was fire from some sort of sorcerer. But no sorcerer like I’ve ever seen. He looked like Death. He had blue glowing orbs for eyes. His skin was withered, almost to the bone,” Anghus says.

Surm and Mõrvar are thinking along the lines of a Lich. A Lich tends to be a spellcaster that has defeated death and become undead. They are very old and powerful.

“Did someone witness him come out of the ruins?” Surm asks.

“Yes, I did,” Anghus says. “I saw him come out of the mines.”

“It killed them all? Did anyone flee? Did anyone put up a fight?” Surm asks.

“Some men put up a fight and they fell,” Anghus says. “I was lucky to get away with my life.”

“So you don’t know if others got away,” Surm says.

“I suppose it’s possible,” Anghus says, dubiously.

“How many people are we looking to account for?” Surm asks.

“Thirty-six,” Anghus says.

“Men, women, and children?” Rilka asks.

“And this is the entire population?” Surm asks.

“Yes,” Anghus says. “Plus me.”

“How far are we from Leodin?” Surm asks.

“About a mile,” Anghus says.

“So this all just went down?” Surm asks.

“Last night. I ran and I hid. And I ran,” Anghus says.

“Did you see where it went? What it did?” Surm says.

“It came out and through up a wall of fire. It threw fire, more fire, fire into buildings…” Anghus says.

“Alright Anghus, I guess we’re heading back into Leodin,” Surm says. “I’d appreciate it if you’d head back in there with us since you’re from there and can be kind of a guide, but I understand if you don’t want to. But I don’t know if you want to continue running across the plains of Leilior.”

“I’ll go,” Anghus says.

“Is it hills and woods all the way up to the hamlet?” Surm asks.

“Yes, for the most part,” Anghus says.

Rilka offers to let Anghus up on her horse with her. He accepts.

Rilka and Mõrvar confer and let the party know that their safe bet concerning hurting undead is using magic weapons, that there are a variety of things that harm them, depending on the type.

The troupe goes back to where they found Anghus and Savaric and Ghost go forward ahead of the troupe 100 feet, dismounted and stealthy, Savaric taking his magic arrows with him. They try to follow the path that Anghus took back to the hamlet with the troupe following.

As Savaric makes his way, he comes upon the top of a hill and can see down into a cleared out valley where the hamlet is. He can smell smoke and burnt meat. He sees smoldering remains of some of the houses. He can see a large market hall near the center of the town and milling about in front of the market hall are about ten people. He and Ghost stealthily backtrack their way to the troupe and Savaric reports what he saw.


Savaric thinks that there is something wrong with the people milling about. Surm says that its strange that they’re hanging around, that maybe the Lich is gone. Rilka theorizes that perhaps the Lich is in the market hall and using the townspeople as guards. Surm proposes to check out the outlying buildings for survivors, leaving the troupe in the treeline. Rilka agrees. Surm recruits Savaric to go with him to look for survivors. Savaric commands Ghost to defend Anghus and Ghost positions himself near the nervous Reeve. Surm and Savaric head down out of the treeline into the hamlet.

Surm pokes his head into houses and announces “Hey! Anybody here? We’re here to help!” in a low voice, looking for survivors. Savaric does the same on the other side of the street. In some of the houses, there is burn damage. In one of the houses that Surm pokes his head in, he sees a small bed and he spots the mattress rise and lower once. He stealthily makes his way into the house and lower his way down into the doorway and looks down under the bed. He sees a small form staring back him. It gasps and backs up toward the wall.

“Okay. I’m here to help. Anghus Norren sent me. He ran the mines. Remember him?” Surm says. The form nods slowly. “Well, I have him outside. I’ll take you to him. There’s a big group of us. You’ll be safe. You can’t stay under the bed forever. We’ve got some food. Aren’t you hungry?”

The form edges sideways out of the foot of the bed, watching Surm the whole time. Finally, the form emerges from the foot of the bed and Surm can see that it’s a little girl, about six years old.

“Are you ready?” Surm asks.

She watches Surm and comes forward. Surm sticks his hand out. She comes forward slowly and cautiously and takes his hand. He makes his way out as cautiously as he can, leading the little girl out.

Rilka spots Surm leading the little girl out of the house. She orders the soldiers to be ready. Surm makes his way back up and takes the girl up to Anghus. Savaric finishes his houses and makes is way up as well.

The girl looks around wide-eyed, takes in Rilka and Savaric and goes even more wide-eyed. Anghus informs everyone that her name is Hellyne Borwyn. Anghus asks her if her parents are down there in Leilioran, which Rilka translates. Hellyne shakes her head and says that the ghost man took them away.

Rilka says, “This changes our tactics a little bit. We’re not taking a six year old onto a battlefield.” She sighs, “So we don’t know if the Lich can just enthrall people?”

“If he’s a spellcaster, he can,” Surm says.

“So we don’t know if those are zombies down there, they could just be enthralled,” Rilka says.

“They could be in some way,” Surm says. “I’d have to look up every spell to know how, but…”

“No, if they’re enthralled in some way, not just dead, is there a way you can break that?” Rilka asks.

“There’s ways to break it, I don’t know if I can. I don’t have Dispel Magic,” Surm says.

“If he was dead, would that break it?” Rilka asks.

“If they were enthralled and he was dead, it would break the spell,” Surm says.

“I don’t know how much time we want to spend here versus taking people back to the city. I don’t know if we want to scout out the hamlet for more survivors hiding and take people back before we go to the mines if the Lich is not found here. Otherwise we’re going off of our rations for everybody to survive. I don’t know what’s left that can be scavenged,” Surm says.

Anghus says, “There are some stores in the market place.”

“I feel like we need to get this hamlet under some kind of control before we decide anything. If he does have them enthralled then he is using them for a purpose then its three days to get here and I’m sure they’re not feeding themselves or anything…” Rilka says.

“Well, they’ve only been in this condition since last night,” Surm points out. “And when we were scouting out the houses, there were no bodies.”

Rilka asks Savaric if the people in front of the market hall were injured and he says that he didn’t get close enough to tell. Rilka says that they have to get closer. Surm suggests picking a house to station troops and Anghus and the girl in that’s safe to use as a base of operations. So the troupe moves down out of the treeline and positions itself around one of the empty houses and the non-combatants go inside and hunker down, surrounded by soldiers and the party.

As Surm and Savaric make their way down, they see the crowd in front of the market hall start to wander toward the houses. Savaric wants to take a shot, but Rilka says no. Surm has the troops position themselves in a line along the road to wait for the crowd. Then he and Savaric climb up on roofs of the nearby houses to get a look at the oncoming crowd and see if they are indeed undead.

Surm sees people with extensive burns, bloodstained clothing, and very blank stares. Savaric sees a figure emerge from the market hall. The figure has long, silver white hair. It has blue glowing orbs for eyes. Savaric points the figure out to Surm. Surm sends a Message to Mõrvar that the ten people are indeed undead and that the Lich has emerged from the market hall. “Unless we’re ready to engage the Lich, we’d best hide and not engage the zombies,” Mõrvar passes the message on to Rilka and says, “Let’s take it on. I’m ready.”

Meanwhile, the ten undead are slowly making their way toward the road.

Rilka, Surm, and Mõrvar discuss plans on how to take on the zombies. Surm keeps pointing out that if they take on the zombies, that that will alert the Lich. Mõrvar wants to take the fight to the Lich.

Suddenly, a voice calls out in a language none of the party understands. The undead crowd turn around and start heading back toward the market hall. Surm Messages Mõrvar “Good hiding!” Mõrvar tells Rilka that the group is going back. Rilka wants everyone to come back and Mõrvar Messages Surm to that effect. Surm suggests that Savaric go back but that he stay and keep an eye in case the Lich comes back out. Savaric stealthily climbs down and comes down.

Rilka wonders if the zombies will revert to corpses once the Lich dies. Surm, who has an Animate Dead scroll, disavows her of that notion, informing her that the zombies would wander about attacking anything that moved or would follow the Lich’s final order if the Lich died, but they would still be zombies.

Then the party decides to talk strategy. They ask Anghus about the structure. The market hall is like a big barn. There’s a loft and a single-wide back door. There are sliding doors to the loft that are usually locked. There is access to the roof from the loft that is usually barred. First they discuss the possibility of roof access. That idea is scrapped in favor of running in invisibly. Then they come up with the idea of a diversion to draw the Lich out. Then Mõrvar can bull rush him back into the market hall and the rest can rush in invisibly. Savaric can fire upon the Lich as well from a distance. For the distraction, they can have a soldier ride out on horseback to lead the zombies around the building.

Alasir is updated on the plan. Once the party is inside the building, the troops are to take up position on the road and be ready to take down the zombies once they come back around from the distraction. Take them down rather than let them mass back up again.

Alfhild volunteers to be the distraction rider. Surm casts Mage Armor on Mõrvar and Rilka. Alfhild takes off on her horse. Mõrvar casts Bull Strength. The zombies begin following her around the corner. Ilona makes Savaric invisible. Surm casts his Invisibility spells. Then the Lich emerges from the market hall.

Savaric fires multiple shots from his position, some with magical arrows, some without. He hits him with the magic arrows. Then Mõrvar bull rushes the Lich back into the market hall, pushing him twenty feet into the room. Surm runs in and sees Mõrvar push the Lich into the room and also sees two zombies in the room. He also sees six other creatures in the room. They look like withered corpses—he can identify them as ghouls. Surm yells for Mõrvar to “Drag him out!” and casts Grease to disrupt the footing of the ghouls. Two of the ghouls fall, a third does not. Rilka gets inside the hall and channels positive energy to harm the undead.

Rilka then attacks one of the ghouls and fells it in the first hit. She then attacks one of the prone ones, dispatching it as well. One of the ghouls attacks Rilka with two claws and a bite and misses. Another three attack Mõrvar and miss him. Surm then casts Grease again, this time centered on the area around Mõrvar and the Lich. Mõrvar keeps his footing, as does the Lich, but a ghoul and a zombie fall. The zombies attempt to get back up. Mõrvar takes the opportunity to hit one of the zombies as it rises and knocks it back down. The other zombie rises and attacks Mõrvar, but misses. The Lich fills the room with a burst of negative energy, damaging everyone in the room. Mõrvar attacks the Lich with his magic sword, Deathblow. The Lich is intimidated by Mõrvar’s mighty blow and is shaken. Savaric comes into the hall and shuts the door and bars it.

Mõrvar critically hits the Lich with Deathblow. Then the Lich is intimidated again attempts to flee. He does not fall on the grease. Then Mõrvar fumbles with his attack of opportunity as the Lich tries to get away. He is now standing under the loft. Surm notices that there are corpses lined up under the loft as well. The ghouls attack Mõrvar and miss. The ghoul on Rilka attacks and misses. And then one attacks Surm and claws him once. Rilka hits her ghoul with a mighty blow and fells it. The zombie slams Mõrvar hard. Then the Lich utters a word and disappears.

Surm recognizes the spell as a Teleport. Surm and Rilka curse under their breath. Surm casts Magic Missile defensively against the ghoul in front of him. The ghoul is staggering about. Savaric shoots the ghoul that is staggered, felling it with two arrows. He then turns his attention to the ghoul next to Mõrvar. He fires on it and fells it as well.

Rilka takes a step and attacks the prone zombie. She hits it hard and takes it out. Mõrvar moves out of combat, backing away from the ghoul. The ghoul swipes at him and misses. He manage to keep his footing in the Grease spell and moves away. The ghoul moves and falls in the Grease spell. Savaric fires on the now-prone ghoul and kills it.

Mõrvar and Rilka stand in front of the door and prepare to open it. Savaric positions himself in front of the door so that he can fire out of it when the doors open. They open the doors and see six fallen zombies in the courtyard. Four of the zombies are still fighting with the guards surrounding them in small squads.

Savaric runs through Rilka and out the door and fires at one of the zombies. It begins to stagger on its feet. Then Sorcha gets slammed by a zombie. Then a zombie falls. And another. And another. And the final zombie falls.

Everyone gathers outside in the courtyard with the soldiery. Rilka channels positive energy for healing. The party then discusses whether they want to go into the ruins now to chase down the Lich while he’s down. Rilka wants to search the village and look for more survivors. Surm agrees and suggests everyone pair up in groups of four to search. Rilka suggests that the two soldiers continue to stay with the Reeve and the little girl, just in case. Then Surm adjusts his parties to groups of three.

They search out the rest of the houses and find no survivors or bodies. In the loft are the corpses of four men, four women, and four children. With the ten zombies and the undead they fought in market hall, they believe that there are five villagers unaccounted for. They bring out Anghus to identify the bodies found in the loft. He has a hard time keeping his composure, but he manages it. Surm tells him that he can only account for 32 of the 37 of the hamlet.

Discussing the situation with the party, Surm asks what they are going to do: charge in or rest up and recharge, and thus give the Lich an opportunity to do the same. Part of the problem is that they have to go through the mines, and the ruins, which they have to search, and then he’s going to rest up. Rilka wants to do something with these bodies so that the Lich can’t raise them. Surm is adamant about burning them. The Reeve will make note of the names for the records.

Savaric, in the meantime, finds six sets of tracks leading out of the hamlet. One set was Anghus’ trail leading out. The others was a pair of people, another pair of people, and a single person. Savaric takes a couple of soldiers and follows the single trail while Rilka takes a couple of soldiers and follows a double trail and Surm takes a four of the soldiers and follows the other double trail.

Rilka follows her trail and sees two figures trying to hide themselves in some foliage. “Hello, villagers,” she says.

A man and a woman emerge from the brush. “You’re not going to kill us are you?” the man asks.

“No,” Rilka says. “I’m here to take you back to Anghus. Your lord sent us to check out the mines. Obviously something bad came out of it. We chased it off. We’re trying to get it back together. So far we have a young girl named Hellyne. And Anghus. And now you two.”

The woman says, “It’s dead?”

“No, we chased it off. We think it went back into the mines. Tomorrow we will kill it,” Rilka says.

“We will come with you,” The man says.

Rilka introduces herself and the soldiers. The man and the woman are Tolan and Livia. Rilka places them in the middle of the formation and they march back to the hamlet. Rilka gets them hooked back up with the girl and Anghus.

Surm follows his trail and spots a couple of sleeping forms in a natural overhang. As they approach, he calls out, “Hello in the shelter!”

The forms stir, and one says, “Who’s there?”

“I am Surm Ulrich, sent by Lord Cannach to investigate the mines. I encountered Anghus Norren on the way here and he awaits your return to the village.”

“We can’t go back there!” one of the people, a man, says.

“The Lich has fled,” Surm says, reasonably. “Under our mighty show of strength.”

The people come out of the overhang, a couple. “Very well, we will return.”

Surm tells them how safe they are, much safer than wandering through the woods. And he leads them back to Leodin.

Meanwhile, Savaric follows his trail with Ghost and two of the soldiers and he comes to the end of the trail and he sees no other sign.

“Hello? We were sent by Lord Cannach. There were some problems with the mines. If you’re out there, We’re here to help.”

A face emerges from the foliage. A man says, “Lord Cannach sent you?”

“That’s right! We ran into Anghus Norren. We heard what happened to the hamlet. We’ve dealt with the Lich momentarily. It’s fled from the battle for now. So we were looking for survivors,” Savaric says.

“Alright, let’s go,” the man says and steps out from the brush. “I’m Kando.”

Everyone converges back on the hamlet with their survivors. Mõrvar has been watching the village in case the Lich returned. It has not. He also makes sure all the bodies get burned.

The party has a group meeting away from the villagers. Surm thinks they need to take the villagers back to Aldasar. Savaric asks how they’re doing on food. Surm reminds them that they can use the stores here in the hamlet for food. Surm and Rilka are afraid these villagers are just going to be targets for the Lich if he returns. Surm thinks he’s going to return. Rilka suggests sending a small group of soldiers with the villagers while the party stays behind and puts pressure on the Lich. Surm agrees, saying that that what he was going to suggest.

They will send five guards, with Mahgnus and the seven villagers, back to report to Lord Cannach. They will equip the leaving party with enough food to cover them for their journey. Alfhild will lead the soldiery contingent, made up of Halvor, Jerrik, Leif, and Sigrid. Mahgnus is given orders to report how things were found and how the party rounded up all of the survivors. Surm allows them to use his horse so that they can all have horses to ride.

Session Forty-One


27 Longday 508

The party is still in Karak Tuvar and have just defeated a cloaker and collected its treasure. They have retrieved the journal that they have came for and are debating whether or not to explore the rest of the complex. They decide that they do want to explore.

They backtrack and take one of the corridors to an area that they have not explored yet. Savaric leads the way looking for traps and Mõrvar unsticks any doors along the way with the crowbar.

In one of the rooms, they encounter murals depicting dwarves fighting against Drow—the dark-skinned, evil elves of the Underdark.

After encountering several empty rooms and other empty corridors, they finally come upon something different. As Savaric is searching one of the hallways, an incorporeal dwarf with glowing red eyes appears in the corridor before him. It distorts itself and starts coming at the ranger. Savaric draws Edgefrost and goes to meet the apparition. Victor retreats from the spirit.

The wraith attacks Savaric and misses. Savaric attempts to overrun the wraith and the spirit takes the opportunity to attack the ranger, hitting him with negative energy. Savaric makes it past the wraith, setting Mõrvar up to flank the spirit. Mõrvar attacks the wraith, doing a respectable amount of damage. Savaric attacks the wraith as well, doing a modicum of damage. Rilka channels the energy of her deity to harm the undead. Surm casts Magic Missile against the wraith, doing respectable damage. The wraith then attacks Mõrvar, reaching out and touching him, making him feeling the chilling touch of negative energy.

Rilka once again channels positive energy and damages the wraith. Savaric attacks the wraith with Edgefrost and hits. The wraith then hits Mõrvar once again with negative energy. Mõrvar then returns the favor by hitting the wraith. Surm casts Magic Missile again and dissipates the wraith. “Surm the Wraith Slayer!” Surm crows.

They speculate about the nature of wraiths. Mõrvar reveals that they are creatures born of evil and darkness that drain life force and are shadows of their former lives. Rilka adds that they could roam and that they could become, through an unholy transformation, a Dread Wraith. Mõrvar is concerned that whatever created the wraith is here and that they are unprepared to handle it, that they need more healing. So Rilka channels more positive energy and heals the party slightly. Mõrvar drinks the Cure Moderate Wounds potion as well. Then he drinks two Cure Light Wounds potions. Then they continue down the hall.

The hall opens up into a room with a mosaic of painted stones on the ceiling. There is another doorway leading out of the room. Savaric searches the room and finds a loose floor tile. Beneath it, he finds a chest. He finds no traps associated with it and so Mõrvar helps him haul it up. Savaric checks the chest for traps and finds none, but the chest is locked. Surm steps forward to pick the lock, but checks it for traps himself first. He finds none. Surm uses his tools to open the lock, hears a click, and suddenly an acid arrow appears and launches itself at Surm. Fortunately, it misses him. Surm opens the chest, finding it full of coins and gemstones.

The doorway leads into another room with a chasm and two more doorways. Savaric searches the room on this side of the chasm and finds nothing of interest. The door on this side not trapped and is unlocked. Suddenly he hears a shriek and an incorporeal dwarf appears in the room. Surm screams “Ah! It’s another wraith dwarf!”

The wraith attacks Mõrvar and misses. Mõrvar swings at the wraith and connects, doing a substantial amount of damage. Surm casts Magic Missile at the wraith doing decent amount of damage. Savaric critically hits the wraith. Mõrvar hits the wraith and the wraith dissipates.

Savaric sneakily opens the door. It opens into a corridor. Savaric follows the corridor, searching, finding nothing of interest, until it curves up into a door. He searches the door and finds no trap, but the door is slightly askew and stuck. Mõrvar comes forward and unsticks it. It opens up into a room they’ve been in before: there is a mural of priests of Skondir placing blessings upon various dwarves and two Morlock bodies lie on the floor.

They backtrack and go back to the room with the chasm and decide to cross it. Mõrvar ties a rope to his body and jumps across. Or tries to—he falls through the chasm and everyone holds the rope. He misses the edge and smacks the edge of the chasm, cursing, and the rest of the party haul him up. He tries again this time makes it.

Mõrvar checks the door on the other side and finds that it is stuck. He calls for someone to come over to other side with him. Rilka reluctantly jumps—and misses. She catches the rope, but smacks against the side of the chasm. She curses and uses the rope the climb across. She readies her sword and Mõrvar forces open the door. It opens into a room with a door and several doorways. There is also an old forge with old tools laying scattered about.

Surm jumps across the chasm, as does Savaric. The porters are left behind. Savaric and Surm search the room. Mõrvar puts the rope away. Savaric checks the door. Nothing of interest is found. The door is not trapped and it is unlocked. The doorways open into corridors that connect to each other. Savaric and Surm search the corridors for secret doors and find none. They do find a pile of debris, but nothing else of interest. The door opens into a corridor that connects to the others. This frustrates Mõrvar to no end—he’s certain that there’s a secret door here, but none is found.

They all jump back across the chasm and make their way out of Karak Tuvar.

It’s afternoon when they emerge and the encampment is gathered around something that can’t be seen by the party. Alasir is saying, “Einar. Alfhild. Why don’t you drag this thing out of camp.”

“What is it?” Mõrvar asks.

Everyone turns and Alasir says, “Oh! Sir. It’s a troll.”

Alfhild and Einar start dragging the corpse out of camp. Mõrvar follows to make sure it doesn’t get back up. The party assess the soldiery to make sure they’re alright. It looks like Garth has taken quite a beating. Rilka goes to Garth and casts Cure Light Wounds. He thanks her.

Mõrvar commends Alfhild and Einar on defeating the beast. Einar says that they were fortunate enough to get it surrounded. Mõrvar says, “Now let’s burn this bastard.” And they burn the body and Mõrvar sticks around to make sure the body burns.

Mahgnus and Alasir come up to Surm. Alasir says that there is nothing more than the troll attack to report and Mahgnus confirms what Alasir says. Surm says, “Very good.”

The party decides to continue to camp here and leave the following day.

They open the chest and find that it has 98 gold pieces, 18 silver pieces, and 90 copper pieces. It also has an aquamarine, two pieces of ivory, a piece of jade, a saltwater pearl, a sard, a topaz, and a zircon.

Mõrvar spends his time at camp appraising the various gemstones that they collected in the outpost.

Rilka tries to get a sense of how happy the soldiery are—but doesn’t really succeed.

After appraising the gemstones, Mõrvar moves on to the items.

Surm plans the party’s route back to Aldasar to meet with Kragar Stoneanvil to return the journal. He also pays Mahgnus to distribute pay to the soldiery. Surm also casts Detect Magic on the longsword and chainmail to try to discern its properties. He determines that the longsword is +1 and the chainmail is +2.

1 Starfall 508

The party arrives in Rosemeedt around noon. The steward of Rosemeedt welcomes the troupe back to the settlement as a way of checking in. The troupe pitches a camp at the settlement, but takes a high-end meal in the hall, courtesy of Surm. They get cleaned up and Mõrvar tries to improve his relations with the soldiery. Then he goes out to find female companionship. He finds a willing lady, but later finds that she requires three gold pieces for her services. He tries to renegotiate and she finds new companionship.

Meanwhile, at the hall, everyone is in high spirits. Rilka sits next to Kortash. The soldiery is pleased with their meal. All is right in the world.

5 Starfall 508

Surm tells the troops that he is happy to meet his contractual obligation to pay them at every city along the way. Otherwise, he will pay them when they arrive in Aldasar. Alasir discusses the matter with the soldiery and passes word through Mahgnus that they are fine with waiting to get paid in Aldasar.

That morning, the arrives at a point outside the gates of the city of Braith in Leilior. A crowd has gathered, circled around facing something. Mõrvar rides forward to see what’s going on. Rilka follows him. They can see over people’s heads as they are on horseback.

They see a man with livery depicting three hawks. They also see a man dressed in black with a large greatsword. There is also a bound man on his knees, with his head hung down. Rilka asks a nearby man what is going on. The man looks at her kind of warily and says, “The execution of a thief.”

“What did this man steal?” Mõrvar asks.

“Silver. From the lord’s home,” the man says.

Rilka asks about the man with the three hawks. “That’s Lord Colbyn,” the man says.

Mõrvar has heard of Lord Colbyn. He owns lands outside he city of Braith. He is known to be a vassal of the Lord Mayor of Braith and has a reputation as a harsh man.

“How much silver is worth an execution is worth an execution?” Mõrvar asks.

The man shrugs, “I don’t know how much was stolen. It’s worth a man’s life.”

The man in the livery proclaims, “This man has been found guilty of theft. Of his betters. It is not the first time this man has tried to steal from me. Let all those know that would steal from Lord Colbyn be met with swift and harsh justice.”

The man in black puts his foot on the back of the bound fellow. The rest of the troupe has now arrived and is drawing looks from the crowd. The man in the livery looks at the troupe and quickly says. “Master Executioner. Please carry out this sentence.”

The man in black takes his greatsword and brings it down on the man’s neck and decapitates him.

There are gasps in the crowd. Some people catcall, “No thieves!” “Justice for Colbyn!”

The man in the livery turns toward the crowd and says, “This crowd needs to disperse! There’s nothing more to see here.” He looks warily at Rilka and Mõrvar as he says this. Mõrvar smirks and turns and moseys back to the troupe along with Rilka. Both can feel the lord’s eyes on their backs as they ride away.

They report what they saw to Surm when they get back to Surm. The troupe continues on toward the gates of Braith. Rilka turns and looks to see if the lord is still staring, but he has apparently moved on.

After a lengthy discussion of whether or not the troupe would enter the city, they decide to stop as food vendor and see if would sell the troupe his food while the troupe camps outside of Braith. So Surm approaches a man with food in his wagon.

“Excuse me, good sir,” Surm says.

“Yes, what can I do for you,” the man says.

“I was wondering if you would come and sell my group some fresh food before you enter the city,” Surm says.

“Well, I was taking this load to the Scarlet Charger, an inn. I guess if you are willing to buy some food, I’d be willing to sell it to you,” the man says.

“I’d be willing to buy some food for seventeen people,” Surm says.

“Oh my,” the man says, surprised.

“I don’t know how much food you have,” Surm says.

“Well, that will probably take care of my load,” the man says. “I can sell this to you for five silver.”

“Are you are a cook?” Surm asks.

“No, I just sell the goods,” the man says.

“Do you have the means to cook all of this?” Surm asks.

“Not with me, no,” the man says.

“Not with you, but do you have the means?” Surm asks.

“At home, sure,” the man says.

“Well, could you go get it? How long would that take you? And how much would that trouble cost you?” Surm asks.

“For 5 copper?”

“Alright sir. Go get your stuff, come back, and cook my army up a meal. I’ll pay you,” Surm says.

“What’s your name, sir?” Mõrvar asks.

“Selwyn,” the man says.

Surm gives Selwyn 10 silver so that he can leave his cart there and he can go home and get his gear and come back and be quick.

The troupe encamps outside the city gates. They can see some movement by the city militia out on the city gates, watching them.

After about half an hour, Selwyn comes back with his gear and with his wife. They set up and start cooking. Mõrvar chats with them and the troops while they cook. Rilka watches the campsite.

The food is eventually prepared. Kalia (Selwyn’s wife) and Selwyn serve it up. Mõrvar chats up the couple. Selwyn mentions that he has a farm on Lady Balyn’s land. She’s a good mistress—she only takes what is her due and they take the rest to market. After the meal, Selwyn and Kalia pack up their gear and start to head back home. Mõrvar tells them that if they ever need anything and they are around, don’t hesitate to ask.

After their meal, they pick and move on.

6 Starfall 508

Around midday, the troupe can see the gates of the city of Skeene. After a lengthy discussion, the party decides to bypass Skeene and move on.

7 Starfall 508

The troupe bypasses the city of Kivley.

8 Starfall 508

The troupe arrives outside the city of Aldasar around midday. The party discusses how they want to handle the time off for the troops. Surm calls Mahgnus and Alasir forward and informs them that while they are staying in the city, the troops will be on duty, but room and board will be paid and Alasir will be setting up a rotation of when the troops will be on duty and off. At night, everyone will be reporting back. Everyone’s behavior while off-duty will be reflecting on the group. There needs to be a buddy system and the troops will want the party to know if they get into trouble. Alasir has no problem with the orders.

The troupe approaches the gates and are asked by the guards at the gate who is in charge of the troupe. Surm dismounts and walks up to Rilka’s horse and says “Captain Rilka is in charge.” He says, “Very well,” and then announces the various gate taxes and fees and asks if they have anything to declare as far as the selling of wares. Rilka says that they are looking for a place to stay and if he has any recommendations. He says that they could find an inn with a common room. He says that there is Umbergrow and Waigh’s or Uilliam’s Resting Place. They pay the gate taxes and head inside.

Aldasar is the capital of Leilior, with many sights to see. It has a very busy marketplace and the streets are crowded. The troupe heads toward Uilliam’s Resting Place to meet with Kragar Stoneanvil.

Uilliam’s is a comfortable, modest, inn in the market district. The troops wait outside while the main party heads inside.

The inn doesn’t seem as busy as the last time they were in. There are still patrons, but it seems more subdued. Surm goes to the innkeep to arrange lodging for the seventeen members of their party. The inn has seven rooms and two suites, which each hold four. The rooms will hold two, if pressed. They don’t normally make their common room available for lodging. They take the two suites and six rooms. Surm manages to talk the innkeep into charging the troupe half-price for the rooms as they’ll be staying there for an extended amount of time and stabling their horses. Alasir makes the room assignments for the troops. Surm then gives Mahgnus funds to pay the troops.

While the party is conducting their business at the front desk, Savaric notices a dwarf standing at a table trying to get their attention. Surm notices that it is Kragar Stoneanvil, waving frantically at them.

Surm goes to meet Kragar. The dwarf smiles at the Northron. “So, you’re back from the North?”

“We are back from the North,” Surm says.

“Excellent, excellent. Were you able to find the outpost?” Kragar asks.

“We were able to find the outpost,” Surm says.

Rilka looks about for eavesdroppers, but doesn’t notice any.

“So, were you able to find the journal?” Kragar asks.

“We were,” Surm says.

“Excellent! That is good news indeed,” Kragar says, clearly pleased.

“Are we conducting business here?” Surm asks.

“I have a room. It looks like you just purchased rooms here…” Kragar says.

“I think our rooms will be too small,” Surm says.

“Well, yes, we can go to my room. I have a suite,” Kragar says.

As Kragar heads to his room, Surm flags down Mahgnus and has him fetch the journal and the other items with the seal of Karak Tuvar and the symbol of Skondir. Rilka and the others follow as well.

Kragar’s room is very neat. As he chats with Surm and the others, he unlocks a footlocker. “I hope the journey was not too arduous. Obviously it was not too much to handle as you were successful.”

“Do you know what caused all of the earthquakes around Karak Tuvar?” Rilka asks.

“No, I don’t actually. I’m hoping the journal will shed some light on that,” Kragar says.

Surm tells him about the various things they encountered in the ruins. Kragar is particularly disturbed about the wraiths, as they have not moved on to The Maker. “They have now,” Surm says.

Mahgnus arrives and knocks on the door. Surm takes the items and thanks Mahgnus, who excuses himself and leaves.

“This is more than a journal,” Kragar says.

“Oh, we found more than a journal,” Surm says, “But I didn’t know if you’d be interested in what we found.” He hands the dwarf the journal.

“Thank you,” Kragar says and hands Surm a small pouch with fifty platinum inside.

Surm shows him the gold and silver cups with the seals of Karak Tuvar. He also shows the dwarf the symbols of Skondir and the candelabra with the symbol of Skondir. By Rilka’s estimation, the dwarf is looking at the items with a cool expression on his face. By Surm’s estimation, he is only playing it cool and is very interested in them.

“These are all very interesting pieces,” Kragar says.

“I thought you might like them. They’re very dwarfy,” Surm says.

“Yes, very dwarfy,” Kragar agrees.

“That’s why I’m offering them to you before they hit the streets,” Surm says.

To Rilka, he doesn’t seem worried. Surm thinks he still trying to play it cool.

“I appreciate that,” Kragar says.

“I’m going to check on Mahgnus. Why don’t you peruse these things. I’ll be back in a moment,” Surm and Mõrvar exit the room and leave Rilka and Savaric with the dwarf.

Once outside, Surm quickly asks Mõrvar how much the dwarven items were worth. Mõrvar gives him his estimates, but he’s not sure how much the gold cup is worth.

Meanwhile, Kragar is looking over the goods. Mõrvar and Surm return.

“I would be interested in these pieces,” Kragar says. “For the lot, I’d be willing to spend 75 platinum.”

Surm does some figuring in his head, and says “I was thinking more along the line of 90.”

“90? Ouch,” Kragar says.

The two negotiate and Surm sticks to his guns about the 90 platinum and Kragar finally relents and pays the 90 platinum.

“Enjoy your dwarven antiquities,” Surm says.

“Thank you, I will,” Kragar says. “Obviously The Maker smiles upon you. You were very successful.”

Hands are shaken all around and everyone leaves the dwarf’s suite.

The party regroups at their own table in the common room, towards the back of the room, to talk business. They pull Alasir into the conversation as well. Rilka checks out the patrons of the common room to try to ascertain why business is so slow, but doesn’t notice anything obvious. Surm goes to ask the innkeep if there’s a private meeting room they can use. He also mentions that things are kind of mellow around here since the last time they were in—is there a reason business is so slow? There is no meeting room and there’s a scarcity of luxury items which is driving up prices—including liquor and tobacco—which is driving away business.

The party discusses the distribution of masterwork and magical weapons and armor acquired in Karak Tuvar. After the items are claimed by the party, other items are offered to the soldiery, with the offer that if they take it’s theirs if they turn in what they already have to be sold. Alasir will distribute the weapons and armor offered.

They also discuss the distribution of the other items found in the outpost, including the possibility of keeping the Aedonii obelisk. They also discuss the distribution of personal shares and retraining plans while they are in the city. They will be staying in Aldasar for approximately twenty days.

Session Forty
Exploration and Discovery


26 Longday 508

The night passed without incident and the party awakens refreshed in the chamber of Karak Tuvar in which they camped.

Rilka and Mõrvar work on unsticking the doors while Savaric watches the open door. Surm watches the porters. Eventually, the doors are unstuck and they elect to go through the southern door, which opens into a corridor. In the corridor is another chasm to cross, indicating some sort of seismic shift.

Mõrvar theorizes that the earthquakes may have been caused by some unleashing of great power within the structures. Looking at the multiple chasms that they have encountered, he thinks that either there were multiple earthquakes or the cause of the earthquake was within the settlement. Savaric mentions that the Daggerspine is known to have earthquakes.

They all go to jump over the chasm. Mõrvar, Sum, and Savaric make it across. Next come the porters. Kortash jumps and makes it, but his brother, Burask, nearly misses, and catches the edge with his hands. The others help him scramble up. Rilka jumps and makes it.

The party then comes up to a pile of debris they must climb to move on. Everyone eventually makes their way over the pile, some scratching their armor on the debris in the process. They continue down the corridor.

This corridor is very long and ends at a turn to the north. There is another chasm near the corner. The party secures a rope around them to help in case of falling. Mõrvar makes it across, then Savaric tries. He misses the other side of the chasm, but manages to catch the rope and scramble across. The others then make it across as well.

They head up the corridor, finding no doors or traps, but do find more scratched in demonic faces on the wall. They move on.

This corridor leads up to a door and has another corridor that moves off of it which also ends in a door. Both are askew from their foundations and are not trapped. They work on unsticking them; Savaric in the side corridor and Mõrvar at the end of the long corridor.

After Savaric forces open the door, a Morlock screams and throws himself at the doorway, narrowly missing the ranger. Two are in the doorway, ready to attack Savaric.

Meanwhile, at the end of the long corridor, Mõrvar opens into a large room with murals depicting dwarves mourning their dead. Mõrvar hears the cry of the Morlock attacking Savaric and turns to head that way to help. Surm casts dancing lights into the room to light it up.

One of the Morlocks hits Savaric with a club, while the other tries to bite and misses. Savaric overruns through the doorway, knocking both the Morlocks prone in his wake. This opens up the possibility of Rilka attacking. She swings her falchion at the prone Morlocks. She hits the Morlock mightily with her blade.

The Morlocks rise to attack. Rilka takes the opportunity to attack one of the Morlocks again, felling him with her falchion. Savaric swings at the other and hits. The Morlock then tries to bite Rilka, but fails. Rilka then attacks the Morlock, decapitating him. Mõrvar turns around and heads back to the door at the end of the corridor. He reports the slaughter to his brother.

Savaric then goes and gets Mõrvar and Surm to help search the room that he and Rilka have discovered. The room has murals depicting dwarves in various scenes of family life. Savaric and Surm search the room, finding nothing but the obvious pile of treasure distributed in the various piles of Morlock filth in the room. In amongst the filth, they find thirty gold pieces, 120 silver, a malachite, a piece of pyrite, a sard, a silver comb with an ornate handle, a masterwork heavy wooden shield, two scrolls, and a wand with a suit of armor etched upon it.

Surm casts detect magic on the pile and finds that the scrolls and the wand emanate magic. Surm deciphers one of the scrolls to determine that it is a scroll of Erase. He tries to decipher the other scroll, but fails. He identifies the wand as having conjuration properties, and then ascertains that this is a wand of Mage Armor.

Surm checks the one other door out of this room and determines that it is untrapped, not askew, and unlocked. They decide to go back up to the room where they left Mõrvar. Savaric searches that room and finds nothing of interest. Surm searches as well, but more thoroughly. Nothing of interest is found, but from the archway in the north of the room, movement is heard—bone scraping the stone ceiling. Surm ascertains that it must be the bone tail of a cloaker.

Mõrvar moves in, accompanied by Rilka. Surm hovers at the archway with his crossbow. When Mõrvar gets to the archway, the party hears a moan come from the room. Burask, Surm, and Savaric run in panic from cloaker. Mõrvar and the cloaker face off. The cloaker attempts to bite Mõrvar, but misses. Mõrvar critically hits the cloaker and does a substantial amount of damage. Mõrvar then attacks again and hits, doing a fair amount of damage. The cloaker attacks and misses again. Rilka drops her falchion and picks up Surm’s crossbow. She fires over Mõrvar’s shoulder and hits the cloaker for a modicum of damage. The cloaker bites Mõrvar hard. Savaric runs back into the room, as does Surm. Rilka drops the crossbow and picks up her falchion. Mõrvar critically hits the cloaker for massive damage. The creature falls and then Mõrvar runs it through.

“It bit me!” Mõrvar calls out indignantly.

Savaric looks into the arched doorway. In the next room is a group of desiccated corpses and some other unidentified objects. He also sees movement on the ceiling—it looks like two more cloakers are up there. Savaric goes to shoot, but before he can fire, the cloakers moan. However, Mõrvar and Savaric manage to keep their composure and not vomit in the face of the infrasonic moan. Savaric fires two arrows into a cloaker and moves into the room. Mõrvar moves in and attacks, but misses. Rilka moves into the room and attacks a cloaker, but misses. Mõrvar attacks again and misses. A cloaker then bites Savaric. The other cloaker misses Mõrvar. Savaric fires at his cloaker, felling it with several arrows in its hide. Surm casts Magic Missile at the remaining cloaker, doing a respectable amount of damage. The cloaker bites at Mõrvar but misses. Surm casts another Magic Missile at the cloaker, felling the creature. Mõrvar walks over and runs it through.

Surm and Savaric search through the room, finding nothing but what is obvious in the center of the room, which is filth, desiccated bodies, and loot. There is also a door at the north end of the room. Surm searches it and determines that it is not trapped and it is not askew.

The loot in the center of the room is comprised of 39 gold pieces, 150 silver pieces, an agate, an azurite, a citrine, a fresh-water pearl, a hematite, a lapis lazulie, a malachite, a peridot, a zircon, a masterwork greatsword, two vials, and a scroll.

Surm casts Read Magic on the scroll. It is a scroll of Elemental Aura. One of the vials contains oil of arcane mark. The other contains a potion of reduce person. Surm then casts Detect Magic on the greatsword, but does not detect magic on it.

Rilka goes down into the previous room and checks out the arched doorway to the south and sees that it leads to a short corridor blocked by a chasm. There is a door on the other side of the chasm.

They decide to go back around to the door in which they fought the Morlocks and take the northern door. There they find a room that connects to the corridor with the chasm that Rilka found. In it is a statue of Skondir and murals depicting that god bestowing blessings upon various dwarves. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing unusual. In addition to the door leading to the chasm, there is a door to the north and a door to the south. Savaric checks the door to the north and finds no traps or locks. It opens into a corridor that leads into the room before the cloaker room and also jags toward another door. Savaric checks the southern door and finds that it opens into a long corridor.

They decide to take the northern door from the cloaker room. It leads to a corridor that ends in a door and has another corridor branch off of it. Savaric checks the door while Rilka watches the corridor. The corridor is secured while the door is cleared. Savaric opens the door onto a small room. There is a small circle of upright stones in the center of the room. There are cracks/chasms in the floor, walls, and ceiling of the room. There are also five man-sized crab-like creatures that have taken notice of Savaric in the room. They start crab-walking toward the ranger in the doorway.

Rilka casts Bless. Mõrvar waits for Savaric to move. Surm casts Mage Armor on Mõrvar. A crab-creature attacks Savaric and misses with two claws. Savaric moves back down the hall. Rilka follows. Mõrvar moves back as well, executing a plan to catch the crabs in a bottleneck. Surm moves back down the hall out of the way. The crabs start moving down the hall and one attacks Rilka—which misses mightily with two pinchers.

Mõrvar attacks and hits the crab hard. It falls. Surm casts Magic Missile at the next crab. Rilka waits for the next crab to approach, as does Savaric. It does so and Rilka attacks—it falls.

Savaric fires on the next crab with multiple arrows, missing with some, hitting with others. Rilka attacks and kills it. Mõrvar moves up and attacks the next one, blocking the path. Rilka starts cleaning her falchions. Mõrvar kills the crab and steps up to the final creature coming his way. It attacks and misses. It attacks again and misses. Mõrvar then attacks and hits it critically. It wobbles on its legs, staggered. It then tries one last attack, misses, and falls. Then Mõrvar finishes it off.

Everyone climbs over crab bodies to check out the room. The room has a series a stones covered in dwarven runes in the center of room. Savaric recovers his arrows while Surm deciphers the High Dwarven runes as calling upon the protection of Skondir. Surm and Savaric search the room and find nothing of interest other than the cracks in the floors and the ceiling. Mõrvar asks Rilka if this could be the source of the seismic activity in the ruins. She thinks that this was the source of some seismic activity, but whether it was the source of the all the seismic activity, she couldn’t say.

Mõrvar casts light on a pebble and throws it down into one of the cracks. About a 100 feet down, a filament shoots out from the wall and catches it and sucks it in. It got sucked into a hole in the chasm wall. They decide to leave the room and close the door after speculating on the fate of the dwarves of Karak Tuvar.

The party then take the corridor that Rilka was watching and discover that it leads up into the initial room of Karak Tuvar—the entry room with the mosaic seal of the settlement. They decide to exit the dungeon and recuperate a bit in their camp before going back in to explore some more.

Once in camp, Surm checks in Mahgnus to see how camp has been. Camp has been largely uneventful. Alasir has been keeping guards on rotation. It’s been quiet and they have been just awaiting the party’s return. Surm lets him know that they will be camping this evening, but then they will be going back in in the morning because they have yet to find the journal that they are looking for.

Surm also checks in with Alasir to make sure everything is ship shape and to see if there is anything he has to report that Mahgnus didn’t. There is nothing more to report. The porters unload the party’s loot and the party prepares to relax for the evening.

27 Longday 508

Everyone awakens refreshed and ready for the new day. Surm attempts to decipher the scroll of Cat’s Grace, but cannot. Surm decides to take in the bag of Foaming Powder, just in case.

Concerning the standing stones calling upon the protection of Skondir, Mõrvar speculates that they were most likely erected by priests of Skondir to enact a major communion with that deity.

After discussing their game plan, the party returns to Karak Tuvar and begins exploring once again. They return to one of the rooms that they hadn’t yet explored.

Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest. Rilka guards the arched doorway. Looking through the arched doorway, they see another room with a large slate hanging on the north wall. Stone benches line the floor facing the slate. There are three more doors exiting that room. They go into the classroom.

Savaric searches the room, but finds nothing of interest. The doors are not trapped. One is askew but none of them are locked. Savaric sneakily opens one of the doors. He sees a large room with an alcove on the east wall with a balcony. Up on the balcony are two Morlocks. On the floor, near a pile of loot and crap are three more Morlocks. They don’t appear to have noticed Savaric at this time.

Ilona whispers to Savaric that she can help him. Savaric tells the others what he sees. They discuss what they want to do. Savaric sends Victor in. Then Savaric moves in and fires into the balcony. Then Mõrvar charges in. Rilka follows soon after.

Savaric slays a Morlock with two arrows from his bow. Mõrvar attacks one of the Morlocks on the ground while Rilka attacks one of his companions. Surm casts Ray of Frost on the remaining Morlock in the balcony, but misses it. Mõrvar fells his Morlock and carries through his attack to another Morlock, but swings wildly past him. Rilka attacks her Morlock, destroying him, and then attacks the remaining Morlock on the ground, doing a respectable amount of damage to him. The Morlock on the balcony leaps down and rushes Savaric, but misses. The other Morlock attacks Rilka and misses. Savaric draws Edgefrost and attacks the Morlock, hitting him with cold damage. Rilka finishes off her Morlock with a critical hit. Surm casts Ray of Frost again at the Morlock Savaric is fighting and hits it for a modicum of damage. The Morlock misses Savaric with a bite. Mõrvar then attacks the remaining Morlock and finishes it off.

Surm and Savaric search the room, finding only a stash of stuff in amongst the filth in the center of the room. In amongst the filth they find 225 gold pieces, 800 silver pieces, 70 copper pieces, an agate, a hematite, some ivory, a jasper, a rose quartz, a saltwater pearl, a topaz, a carved ivory scroll case containing 3 scrolls, a gold cup with the seal of Karak Tuvar, a silver comb with a gold handle, a silver cup with the seal of Karak Tuvar, a silver hand mirror, a silver holy symbol of Skondir, and a leather-bound book with the seal of Karak Tuvar on the front—the journal that the party has been looking for.

Mõrvar casts Read Magic on the scrolls. They are a scroll of Command, a scroll of Detect Magic, and a scroll of Enlarge Person. Surm attempts to decipher them and can decipher them all but the third one.

The party then decide to start checking out places that they have not already been, so they begin back-tracking and checking out errant hallways and doors. Along they way they have to unstick askew doors and search empty rooms. They find no traps along the way.

Along the way, Mõrvar busts open a door and the party hears the low moan of a cloaker. Surm and the porters flee the scene. Rilka calls out to let her by, but holds her action. Mõrvar tries to bull rush the cloaker, but fails. Savaric fires on the cloaker. with whistling arrows, through Rilka and Mõrvar. He misses with one, but hits with the other. Then the cloaker envelopes Mõrvar and then attempts, but fails, to bite him. Rilka then moves forward and attacks the cloaker and misses twice.

The cloaker attempts to bite Mõrvar again, but can’t penetrate his Mage Armor. Savaric fires on the cloaker and does damage to both the cloaker and to Mõrvar. Mõrvar touches the cloaker, casting Chill Touch on it. Rilka holds off on her attack.

Mõrvar drains another point of strength from the cloaker while Savaric holds off on his attack. Rilka holds off. Surm runs back, no longer under the affect of the cloaker’s moan. The cloaker misses Mõrvar again.

The cloaker bites Mõrvar, finally. Mõrvar drains another point of strength from the cloaker. Savaric and Rilka continue to hold off. Surm tells Savaric to touch the cloaker with Edgefrost to do the cold damage while Surm cast Ray of Frost—Mõrvar is unaffected by the cold damage due to his undead heritage. Savaric touches the cold sword to the cloaker as directed.

Surm casts Color Spray from a scroll at the cloaker. A vivid cone of clashing colors emerges and stuns the cloaker, causing it to drop Mõrvar. Mõrvar attacks the cloaker and fells it. He then runs the creature through. He then kicks it and spits on it. “I told you I’d kill you if you bit me,” he says.

There are corpses of past adventurers in the center of the floor, as well as loot, including two masterwork longswords, a suit a chainmail, a vial, and a scroll.

Surm casts Detect Magic on the items and determines that one of the swords, the suit of chainmail, the vial, and the scroll are magic. The scroll is a scroll of Draconic Reservoir. The vial is a potion of Shield of Faith.

There are also 217 gold pieces, 113 silver pieces, 57 copper pieces.

Mõrvar searches the room and finds nothing else but filth. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing else of interest.

Session Thirty-Nine
Doors and Cloakers


25 Longday 508

The party is still within the abandoned dwarven outpost of Karak Tuvar. They are in a chamber with murals depicting dwarves going to battle against goblins and orcs. Mõrvar is guarding a door in the eastern part of the chamber. Rilka is guarding an arched doorway in the southern part of the chamber. Surm and Savaric search the room and find nothing of interest. There is a door in the western part of the chamber and they have entered through a door in the northwestern portion of the chamber.

Savaric checks the western door for traps and finds none, and discovers that it is unlocked. Savaric cautiously opens the door and peers inside. It appears to open into a short corridor connecting to a door they have encountered before, confirming their suspicions. Savaric searches the corridor for secret doors or corridors and finds none.

Savaric then scouts down the corridor that Rilka is guarding. It, too, connects to a chamber where the party has already been. Rilka asks Mõrvar if he has heard anything from beyond the door he’s guarding and he responds that he’s heard nothing. Savaric checks the door for traps and finds nothing, but does find that the door is a bit off-kilter.

Mõrvar takes the crowbar and heroically forces open the stuck door. The party then passes through the door with the two porters, Burask and Kortash, in tow.

Savaric enters an oddly-shaped room. There are more doors in the room, as well as an archway. There is filth covering the floor and a stench in the room. There are murals on the walls depicting dwarves in solemn contemplation. Savaric and Surm notice something glinting off the light of Mõrvar’s Light spell in the filth. Rilka goes to guard the archway. The rest of the party moves toward the filth, Surm hanging back, ready to shoot with his crossbow.

Leaping from the filth, are a group of Morlocks. One leaps at Mõrvar and misses. Another leaps at Savaric and misses. There are four in total. Rilka moves in and attacks one of the Morlocks, felling it in one stroke. She attacks another, doing massing damage. Surm fires on one of Morlocks on Mõrvar, hitting it critically, nicking an artery and making it bleed. Savaric shoots the Morlock on him with two arrows and fells him. Then he fires on one of the Morlocks on Mõrvar. That Morlock falls. That leaves one Morlock left for Mõrvar. He hits the Morlock, and causes it to stagger.

The Morlock makes a break for it. Mõrvar swings at it, but misses. Rilka strikes it on its way out and kills it, and Surm finishes it off with a Ray of Frost. Mõrvar finishes the others off.

Savaric searches the room and the filth to see what he can find. Rilka guards the archway. Mõrvar and Surm guard he area. Amongst the filth, Savaric finds rotted humanoid corpses and gear. He also finds 96 gold pieces, 320 silver pieces, and 1100 copper pieces. He also finds an aquamarine, a freshwater pearl, a hematite, a piece of ivory, a piece of pyrite, two rose quartzes, a saltwater pearl, two sards, a sardonyx, a tigereye, three pieces of turquoise, a decorated silver plate, a gold and silver hand mirror, a gold holy symbol of Skondir, a gold mask, an ivory drinking horn with copper ends, a silver candelabra with the holy symbol of Skondir etched upon it, a silver hand mirror, and a scroll.

Surm casts Detect Magic on the items and only detects magic on the scroll. He deciphers the scroll and determines that it is a Scroll of Burning Gaze.

Once the loot is gathered, Savaric scouts through the arched doorway. The next room is dominated by a large statue of Skondir. There is another door exiting the room. Savaric searches the room and the statue and finds nothing of interest and the door is trap-free and unlocked. He stealthily opens the door. It opens up into a hallway. The party follows it, with Savaric checking for traps. Savaric finds none and the hall ends at a door. He checks the door for traps, and finds none, but does note that the door is askew. Mõrvar is brought forward to force the door open, but fails to budge it. Everyone tries to move it, but eventually it is finally moved by Mõrvar on a subsequent attempt.

The door opens up into a large room with a geometric pattern painted upon the ceiling. Savaric searches the room, and finds nothing of interest. There are several doors leading out of the room. Savaric checks one of the doors for traps—he finds no traps, but does determine that it is stuck. He also determines the same for another door.

Rilka opens one of the doors on the third try. Savaric goes through the door to scout ahead. It opens into a corridor. There is a collapsed stairwell resulting in a deep hole off to the side. There is a also a door off of the corridor. Savaric stares down the hole—he can see sixty feet down and can tell that the hole keeps going. He checks out the door, finding no traps and that it is unlocked. He stealthily opens the door into a largish room. In the center of the room is a dry fountain. Around the fountain, at its base, are four statues of dwarves in various states of battle-readiness. Around the fountain, are desiccated corpses.

Descending from the ceiling, as they enter the room, is a large stingray-like creature with a toothy maw and glaring red eyes. It has a long tail of segmented bone. Rilka moves forward quickly and attacks, doing a great deal of damage. Surm casts Mage Armor on Mõrvar. The creature then emits an infrasonic moan. Savaric is panicked, dropping his items and fleeing from the creature. Mõrvar attacks the creature for massive damage, felling the aberration. Savaric is retrieved.

Rilka guards the open doorway while Mõrvar guards one of the doors. Savaric identifies the creature as being a Cloaker. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing secret. However, inside the fountain, he finds a pile of treasure. The porters begin collecting it. They find 99 gold pieces, 243 silver pieces, 423 copper pieces, a piece of amber, a freshwater pearl, a piece of ivory, a milky quartz, a rhodochrosite, a topaz, a masterwork long spear, and a masterwork warhammer. Surm detects no magic on any of the items.

Rilka checks the open doorway and finds that it leads into a room full of more doors, but that one of the new arched doorways is actually one of the doorways they’ve encountered before, so the dungeon is starting to circle back on itself in some fashion. Savaric checks one of the doors for traps and finds that it is trap free and unlocked, but that it is off-kilter. He searches the room and finds nothing of interest. He searches another door and finds no traps and that it is unlocked. He opens it stealthily and finds that it opens into a corridor that turns. He also sees a chasm that opened up near the turn that is probably nearly 3 to 4 feet wide. He goes and peers 60 feet down and sees no bottom. Savaric searches the corridor for secret doors and finds none.

They return to the large chamber and check the door that Mõrvar has been guarding. Savaric finds no traps on it, and finds that it is unlocked. Savaric opens the door into a corridor that turns. He can see where another chasm has opened up at the turn.

The party then goes to another of the stuck doors and try to unstick it. They each take turns at it and eventually Savaric forces it open. The door opens into a corridor. It travels along until they encounter a pile of debris that must be climbed. Savaric scouts ahead, climbs the debris, and finds a door at the end of the corridor connecting to a part of the outpost that has already been explored. The ranger returns to the rest of the party.

The party continues to explore, opening stuck doors, traversing down long corridors, and finding empty rooms. None of the doors appear to be locked, but some are off of their foundations and stuck, evidence of a seismic event of some sort. Savaric continues to find no secret doors or stashes.

As they make their way down one of the long corridors into another room, Savaric and Rilka hear a moan. Savaric is nauseated by the infrasonic attack, falling prone and sick. Descending from the ceiling is another Cloaker. Rilka attacks the creature with her falchion. She misses with her first hit, but hits critically with her second hit. The Cloaker then attempts to engulf Rilka in its ray-like wings, but misses her. Surm moves into the room and casts Admonishing Ray at the creature, but it misses and hits the wall. Mõrvar charges in with his greatsword and attacks, hitting the creature mightily. Rilka attacks again, felling the creature.

Surm starts to search the room and notes that there is an antechamber to the room. He calls for someone to accompany him to the antechamber. Rilka and he scan the antechamber and see nothing of interest, but do hear a pair of moans and see a set of Cloakers descend from the ceiling of the chamber. Surm is panicked and drops his weapon and flees from the scene.

Mõrvar charges into the antechamber and attacks—but misses. Rilka attacks and hits twice with her falchion. A Cloaker engulfs Mõrvar and tries to bite him, but misses him. The other Cloaker also engulfs Rilka but fails to bite her. Savaric sends Victor in to attack one of the Cloakers. Then he casts Summon Nature’s Ally to bring forth a Small Fire Elemental to combat the Cloakers. Victor bites the Cloaker, injecting poison into the creature.

The Cloaker on Rilka bites her, while Mõrvar is missed. Victor bites his Cloaker and the Elemental misses his. Mõrvar breaks free of his Cloaker and attacks mightily. Rilka fails to break away from the Cloaker. Savaric fires at Rilka’s Cloaker. First he misses, then he hits. It sags against Rilka, slain. He then redirects his remaining shot against the other Cloaker and misses.

The Elemental misses the Cloaker again. The Cloaker moans again, Everyone manages to fight off the effects of the infrasonic attack—except for the Elemental, which doubles over in nausea. Rilka moves out from beneath the dead Cloaker and strikes out at the live one. She hits it strongly and it falls.

Now that the Cloakers have fallen, Surm returns. The party can see the remains of desiccated corpses and various treasures on the floor. Savaric re-searches the room that Surm searched before and then searches the antechamber with the treasures. The antechamber has murals depicting dwarves going to battle against duregar—evil dwarves from deep beneath the earth.

On the floor, there is 96 gold pieces 558 silver pieces, 148 copper, a malachite, a pyrite, a tigereye, a masterwork chain shirt, a masterwork heavy crossbow, a masterwork long spear, a masterwork longsword, a vial with a liquid inside, and a scroll. Surm casts Detect Magic on the items. He detects magic on the vial and on the scroll. The scroll is of Prestidigitation. He samples the vial and determines that it is a potion of Goodberry.

Rilka looks down a corridor and sees another collapsed stairway. Savaric is brought to the lead and the party takes the corridor. Surm collects his dropped weapon before they leave the room.

The corridor leads to more doors which are not trapped, but are askew. Mõrvar manages to unstick the doors. These lead to more empty rooms and corridors with more non-trapped doors that are often off-kilter in their frames that have to be forced open. Savaric searches the rooms and corridors for secret doors and stashes and finds none.

Down one long corridor is another narrow chasm, beyond which are more doors. Another turn off of the corridor leads to a corridor that has already been explored. Rilka and Savaric discuss the dungeon design and decide that the corridor beyond the chasm will probably lead to someplace they have not been so far. So they decide to leap over the chasm and continue on.

Each party member, including the porters, take their turn to leap over the chasm. Surm stands ready with a Feather Fall spell in case something goes awry. Everyone makes across without incident.

More rooms and corridors await the party on the other side of the chasm. None of the doors are trapped, but some are off-kilter and have to be forced open. Savaric once again searches the rooms and corridors for secret doors and stashes and finds none.

One long corridor has yet another narrow chasm crossing it. Burask points toward the chasm and says, “What’s that?” Now that he points it out, Rilka sees a green gemstone wedged in the side of the chasm about five feet down. Mõrvar and Rilka grab Savaric’s ankles as he dangles down the chasm and grabs the gemstone. Now that he’s down there pulling it out, he discovers that it is less of a gemstone than a foot-long green obelisk with glyphs etched along the sides. He manages to pull it out of the earth and haul it up. They pull Savaric up with his prize.

Examining the glyphs, it doesn’t appear to be written in any language they know. Surm believes that it is probably an ancient text and that it may be one of the scripts of The Aedonii. Surm detects magic on the obelisk and detects no magic upon it.

They all leap over the chasm and continue down the corridor. Mõrvar and Savaric continue down an extremely long corridor to a door that is a off-kilter. Mõrvar opens the door and sees a Cloaker descending from the ceiling. He shuts the door and covers his ears. Savaric runs back down the extremely long corridor to get the others.

Meanwhile, Mõrvar prepares to cast True Strike in case the door starts to open. Indeed, the door starts to open and the warrior casts his spell. He sees the creature’s segmented tail is wrapped around the door’s knob and it’s leering maw is coming toward him, but it misses. Mõrvar attacks and hits, doing a respectable amount of damage. Then Mõrvar attacks again, but misses. The creature attacks Mõrvar, but misses. Mõrvar attacks again, but misses, but the creature misses as well. The creature attacks again, but takes a bite out of Mõrvar. Mõrvar attacks, but misses. The creature attacks and bites Mõrvar again.

Meanwhile, Savaric makes it to the rest of the group and reports what’s happening. They all jump over the chasm and start running down the long corridor toward Mõrvar.

Mõrvar attacks and strikes the creature again, but the creature is still standing. The creature bites Mõrvar again. The Cloaker bites at Mõrvar again and misses. Mõrvar attacks the creature again and misses. Then Mõrvar attacks again and hits for mighty damage, felling the creature. He issues a victory yell that echoes down the hall.

When the others catch up, they gut the Cloaker to make sure that Channeling Positive Energy doesn’t have any effect on it and then Rilka does so to heal Mõrvar’s injuries.

In the room, they see more murals of dwarves going to battle against duregar. There are desiccated corpses. There are also several more doors into and out of the room. They decide to set up camp in the room and to continue exploring the next day…

Session Thirty-Eight
Trolls, Chokers, and Morlocks


22 Longday 508

The party arrives in Rosemeedt and begins to sell off various mundane goods and conduct business in the settlement. It is a particularly hot morning and there is a lot of hustle and bustle in the marketplace that day.

Before leaving Yrda, Surm said personal goodbyes to Girda, Mirka, the three volunteers, and to King Sigurd. Rilka said goodbye to Sigurd and Mirka as well. Before leaving, she takes a wooden ring that belonged to her father. Savaric said his farewells as well, paying special attention to Mirka.

In Rosemeedt, while at the longhouse of Yülthn, they meet a woman by the name Yanna Sorensdottir who is a cleric of Bruni in search of a temple in which to serve. She had been asking about Yrda because she had heard there was a temple there, but rumor had it that the temple had been routed by raiders. She would be happy to restore the temple and serve the village—she sees this as a great opportunity.

Surm also speaks with Ivarin at the longhouse of Yülthn. He says the he, personally, is content with staying in Rosemeedt, but that he knows of one of the younger priests of the All-Father, a man by the name of Valkan Lucansson, that would probably be interested in taking up the post at Yrda. He introduces Surm to the young man, who is extremely earnest and charming, and yes, would be interested in maintaining the post at Yrda.

As far as the dwarven outpost they are seeking out, Surm also speaks with an old woman by the name of Helma there in the longhouse. She says, “Oh, you must be talking about Karak Tuvar.”

When pressed for more she says, “Oh that old outpost has been the death of many a man seeking dwarven gold and treasure. They say it sank into the mountain and got infested with things. Creeping things from the underdark. Chokers and dark creepers and more besides. And that it’s haunted to boot.”

Mõrvar and Surm also notice that Furfur has not been seen since they arrived in Rosemeedt. Mõrvar has also not felt him on his shoulder. Surm speculates that he might be in trouble since they killed a worshiper of Morria that he had sent to mess them up. Mõrvar thinks that it was his pronouncement that he would kill him slowly if the bird was counter-productive.

Surm also meets with horsetraders and gets the soldiery mounted.

Alasir approaches the Ulrich brothers and says that the Steward of the settlement would like to speak with whoever is in charge of this force. “Show me to him,” Mõrvar says and the rest of the party follows Alasir to a heavy-set, well-dressed Northron fellow with his long hair tied in a braid waiting outside their camp.

“Hail and well-met,” the Steward says.

“Well-met and hail,” Surm says.

“I am Tolkar Waltansson,” the Steward says. “I wanted to get a sense if you were intending to bivouac your force her within the walls.”

“We intended to stay within the walls, within our own encampment,” Rilka says.

“I see,” Tolkar says. “And you’ll be responsible for your troops then, should any troubles…”

“There’ll be no troubles from our troops,” Mõrvar says.

“Good! That’s what I want to hear,” Tolkar says. “Well then, have a good day in the settlement.” And the Steward makes his way off into the settlement.

Surm figures that they will travel twenty-five miles north along the Daggerspine and then through a pass another twenty-five miles.

After the day of commerce, Alasir sets watches in the encampment. The night passes without incident.

23 Longday 508

The day is windy and cooler than usual, though still the height of summer. The troupe breaks camp and leaves Rosemeedt and travels north along the foothills of the Daggerspine. The mountains loom to the west, spiky against the sky.

Savaric continues to train his snake, Victor. He also advises Rilka on the training of her new, combat-trained horse.

Everyone but Mõrvar notices that Furfur is still not there. “Has anyone seen that bird?” Rilka asks.

“Last time I saw him, I told him to let me know when that halfling came back around,” Mõrvar says.

“We haven’t seen him since before Rosemeedt,” Surm says.

“An unseen Furfur is more unsettling than a seen Furfur,” Rilka says. “How much do we think that he was an evil critter? Do we think that he gave off an evil aura? I could cast a Detect Evil tomorrow.”

“He didn’t much care for the good-hearted priests,” Mõrvar says.

“I’m pretty sure he was evil,” Surm says. “I don’t have a problem with you doing that. In fact, I prefer it.”

“Thank you,” Rilka says.

In the evening, camp is made and watches are set.

The cool, windy night passes quietly without incident.

24 Longday 508

That morning, no one sees Furfur. Rilka casts Detect Evil on the area and detects no evil in the vicinity.

“I think Furfur’s buggered off,” Rilka says.

“You all had a problem with him, I didn’t have a problem him except when he’d try to tell me what was best for me,” Mõrvar says.

“So we’ve released him on to the world,” Savaric says.

“I found some of his antics kind of funny,” Mõrvar says. “I didn’t dislike him. He gave us some information about Yrda. Some people think he set Yrda up, but that bitch had her vision before we arrived. According to the interrogation.”

“If Furfur was the reason Yrda got attacked, then I’ve got a bird on my list to kill,” Rilka says.

The party packs up camp and carries on toward the pass, where they arrive at midmorning. They decide to press on through the pass.

The pass winds and narrows and widens throughout the day and eventually they come to place with two wide alcoves in which they can pitch their large tents to make camp.

During the first watch with Mõrvar, Alfhild, and Tarben, a fog rolls in from the mountains. “Did you hear that?” Alfhild says.

“What?” Mõrvar asks.

“Scraping of rock,” Alfhild says.

“What direction?” Mõrvar asks.

“Not sure. In the fog,” Alfhild says.

“Prepare to wake the others,” Mõrvar says.

Suddenly out of the fog come two claws that rip into Mõrvar and then rend him, causing him much damage. He looks over as he sees Alfhild getting the same treatment from a second Troll. Alfhild screams out in pain and Mõrvar roars in anger.

Surm Rilka, and Savaric are awoken by the screams. Mõrvar attacks his troll, hitting him with his sword for a some serious damage. Tarben attacks the one Alfhild with minimal effects. Rilka moves double-time to get into position to attack a troll. Alfhild attacks her troll and misses. The troll on Mõrvar misses him with both claws, as does the troll on Alfhild. Savaric grabs his bow and arrows as he heads out of the tent. He runs by the campfire, picks up a flaming log from the campfire, and swings on the troll twice with it, missing it. Surm runs out into the camp and assumes a position to take on a troll and casts Burning Gaze on a troll—but nothing happens.

Rilka faces off against a troll and sees some of its wounds close up. She swings with her magical falchion and misses and then misses again. The troll on Mõrvar hits him with one claw. The troll on Alfhild misses her. Mõrvar hits the troll for a serious amount of damage, but the beast does not fall. Surm moves up closer to Mõrvar and hits him with the final charge in their wand of Cure Light Wounds. Tarben attacks Alfhild’s troll again for a modicum of damage. Savaric swings and hits with his fiery log on the troll. The troll shrieks in pain from the flames. Alfhild attacks her troll for damage as well.

The party then hears the twang of light crossbows and a long composite bow come from the large tents as Einar, Halvor, Leif, and Jerrik fire on the trolls.

Savaric swings on the troll with his fiery log, first missing, but then hitting. Mõrvar then critically hits the troll, causing it to bleed profusely. The creature falls in a puddle of greenish-black ichor, pumping blood continuously. Surm stares at the other troll with his Burning Gaze, but nothing happens. Rilka attacks the trolls and hits it with her falchion, striking mightily with her first hit and then missing with her second strike. Tarben misses with his attack and Alfhild strikes hit and it falls.

They drag the bodies of the fallen trolls away from the camp and catch them on fire to burn them. Then Rilka takes Mõrvar and Alfhild aside to channel positive energy to heal them. Savaric offers to put them under his care as a healer to help them heal faster naturally.

The rest of the night passes without incident, though the lingering stench of burnt troll bodies hovers over the camp.

25 Longday 508

The troupe continues traveling down the pass as Savaric continues to look after the wounded Alfhild and Mõrvar.

Victor has completed his training.

Rilka channels energy again to continue healing the wounded as well.

About midafternoon, the troupe is following the pass and the map and they come to a fissure in the side of the pass going into the rock where the map says is the entrance to the outpost. Part of the fissure is worked stone, part of it is debris. Savaric is elected to check it out and see if it is safe.

He moves forward and checks it out and, as far as he can tell, the tunnel looks stable. He can see some phosphorescent fungus on the sides of the tunnel. He can see deeper into the tunnel and see that it ends in a pile of debris that will have to be climbed over to get deeper into the complex.

Savaric relays that information to the others and then starts looks for traps in the immediate entryway. He finds nothing out of sorts in the entry. He tells the others that as far as he can tell, it looks safe so far.

Alasir asks if the soldiers are making camp outside and is told yes. So he goes about getting the soldiers set up.

Burask volunteers to go in with them and is handed a sack to carry with equipment.

They head into the tunnel single file; Savaric, Rilka, Burask, Surm, and Mõrvar.

About fifteen in, they have to climb over a pile a debris to continue down the corridor. Mõrvar casts light on his sword to light the human’s way. They come to a place where they can either continue ahead or turn to the right and Savaric elects to turn to the right. The corridor continues this direction a while and turns again to the left. As they go, they notice a series of demonic faces scratched into the walls.

After a while, they come to a door. After a discussion of the possibility of demons being on the other side, Savaric checks it for traps, with the Guidance of Bruni. Savaric tries to open to door, but discovers that it is stuck—the doorway has apparently shifted a bit and the door is jammed. He uses a crowbar and attempts to unstick it and it does not budge. Rilka tries—but without success. Mõrvar tries—but fails. He tries again—and fails. He tries again—and fails. Mõrvar tries again—and this time pulls a muscle and injures himself. Burask tries—and fails. Rilka tries again—and fails. Rilka heroically tries again—and finally opens the door.

The line readjusts itself back into its previous configuration, though with Rilka holding the door.

Rilka looks inside a rather large room, unusually shaped. She sees in the center of the room. it is small, hunched over, sort of humanoid. It’s long, pliable, tentacle-like arms end in five claws. She recognizes it as a choker. It’s a small aberration. It looks like it’s been caught by surprise. She also sees the outline of another one further in the room in shadowy glow of the fungus.

“There’s some choker’s in there,” Rilka announces.

It sees Rilka and charges at her, screaming.

Rilka moves to meet it and swings at the choker and hits—it falls in a spray of blood.

She feels two tentacle-like arms try to grip at her from the darkness behind her. She turns around and attacks the choker behind her. She critically hits the creature, spinning it around and felling it. Savaric enters the room with his bow and sees two of these wretched creatures. He fires his bow into one them at point blank range. He then attacks the other as well. Burask moves in. Then Surm moves in. He sees two of these wretched creatures behind Savaric and another at the far end of the room, keeping to the shadows, but not out of Surm’s sight. He casts Magic Missile at one of the ones behind Savaric, hitting it hard and felling it. Mõrvar then moves in. He sees one between Savaric and Surm. It falls.

Mõrvar doesn’t see anymore in his light and announces as such. Rilka doesn’t see anymore either. She does see the entire oddly-shaped room. She sees an alcove with a statue of a strong dwarf with flaming hair and beard carrying a mighty warhammer. The floor is a mosaic with a seal of twin warhammers with crescent moons. Written in High Dwarven is an announcement proclaiming this place to be Karak Tuvar. On the floor are some rags, bones, coins, gems, and other treasures.

Surm announces that there is another one and to fan out and find him. Mõrvar douses the light and everyone starts looking around. Savaric spots him and shouts out, “There he is!” and shoots at him. He hits and staggers him. Savaric fires again and fells him.

The party turns its attention once again to the treasures in the center of the room. Mõrvar takes up a position guarding the open archway leading out of the room. Rilka takes up a position guarding the door out of the room. Savaric searches the room for secret doors and traps and finds none. In the center of the room, he finds rags, bones, rusted, rotted equipment. He finds a masterwork breastplate on one of the corpses. There is a masterwork greataxe and rapier on the floor as well. Savaric gathers it all up and takes it to Rilka, who casts Detect Magic upon them. She finds auras of magic on the greataxe and the rapier. There are 31 platinum, 273 gold, 30 silver, an amethys, 2 bloodstones, a freshwater pearl, an opal, and a smoky quartz. She determines that the rapier is a +1 rapier, but is unsure about the greataxe. Surm determines that it is a +1 greataxe.

Through the archway, Mõrvar sees that the corridor almost immediately turns. Savaric travels around to the turn and takes a look. It’s a long hallway that takes another turn. Rilka, for her part, listens beyond the door and hears nothing. Savaric checks the door for traps and finds none.

Rilka relates that the statue is a depiction of the dwarven god Skondir, the Maker. Skondir created the dwarven people to be lawful and good. He teaches the value of making goods that last, of loyalty to clan and people, of meeting adversity with stoicism and tenacity. It is the influence and example of The Maker that drives dwarves toward excellence in craftwork and staunch defense of what is theirs. Savaric checks the statue for secrets—and finds none.

They enter the next room through the door. It is another oddly shaped room. There are two arched doorways that Rilka and Savaric immediately go to check. There are also a closed door as well.

The upper arched doorway leads into a corridor. The lower arched doorway leads into a room.

Rilka suggests checking the next room leading from the arched doorway. It leads to another oddly shaped room. This room has murals on the wall depicting dwarves carrying gold and gems up from the mines. There is another arched doorway leading to another room, and two more closed doors.

A debate ensues as to whether or not to bring in the soldiers, or perhaps the other porter. Savaric is thinking perhaps the some of the corridors will start connecting, but Surm is not as convinced. Surm thinks if we go get the other porter, that perhaps they should start over with the original turn.

They decide to turn back, get the other porter (Kortash), take what treasures they’ve found back, and instead of turning, go straight down the corridor coming back. They will also tell Alasir that this is a big complex and to give them plenty of time before giving up on them.

Following the corridor straight this time, they come to another wall of fallen debris. Savaric has a hard time climbing over it, but eventually gets over the top. Finally, the entire entourage makes their way over the debris and continues down the corridor. The hallway turns twice and then ends in a door.

Savaric checks the door for traps and finds none. He then opens the door and gazes inside. It is a large, oddly-shaped room with murals on the walls depicting dwarfs celebrating victory in battle and crafting. There is a an arched doorway at the north end of the room. Savaric goes in with his bow ready searching for hidden enemies. Surm follows behind searching the room. Mõrvar follows next and goes to guard the arched doorway.

Nothing of interest is found in the room.

Mõrvar sees shadowy movement within the next room. Savaric heads to the arched doorway. Mõrvar casts Light onto Savaric’s arrow. Savaric looks in and sees movement on the ceiling. He fires on it. The area is lit and he sees a creature with skin as pale as a slug’s belly. Eyes huge and bulging. It’s clinging to the ceiling. Savaric fires again and hits. It hisses at Savaric and Savaric can see two others in the room.

Savaric fires again knocks the creatures off the ceiling. He fires again at the next creature, hitting it as well. The creatures hiss and go to leap toward Savaric. One gets caught up in his own legs falls to the floor. The other one makes it to Savaric and attempts to bite him but misses.

The creature attempts to bite Savaric again from the ceiling, but misses. The one on the floor picks itself up and attempts to bite Savaric but fails. Savaric steps back and to the left while Mõrvar and Rilka form a choke point for the creature. The creature takes the opportunity with Savaric’s step to attack, but misses. Surm starts a game of jacks with the porters.

Coming around the corner is the wretched-looking humanoid, blinking in the light. Another waits in the doorway. Rilka attacks and kills the creature. Mõrvar moves into the doorway, attacking the creature, but missing.

Rilka dances impatiently as the creature attempts to bite Mõrvar, successfully taking a bite out of him. Mõrvar swings on the creature and fells him. Mõrvar chops off their heads. Savaric identifies the creatures as Morlocks, degenerate, subterranean, cannibalistic creatures.

The room in which the Morlocks were found has the remains of old adventurers on the floor as well as 109 gold, 130 silver, and a 1000 copper pieces, a rose quartz, a vial, two scrolls, a wand, and a masterwork rapier. There is an open hallway as well as two doors.

Mõrvar casts Read Magic on the scrolls, identifying them as a scroll of Cure Light Wounds and a scroll of Ant Haul. Surm cast Detect Magic on the vial and determines that it is magical and is a potion of Magic Fang. He also determines that the wand is a Wand of Mount.

Savaric checks the doors for traps and finds, but does find that the foundation has shifted and that they may be hard to move. Mõrvar pulls another muscle attempting to move one of the doors. Savaric manages to shift the northmost door with the crowbar.

It opens up into another large, oddly-shaped room. Murals on the walls depict dwarves going to battle against goblins and orcs. There is a doorway to the south, a door to west, and a door to the east. Rilka goes to guard the doorway to the south. Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest. Mõrvar guards the door to east.

Session Thirty-Seven
A Well-Executed Plan


18 Longday 508 (Nightfall)

While the sounds of battle carry on from the south of the village of Yrda, Surm, Mõrvar, and Savaric stealthily make their way along the west side of the longhouse of Yülthn toward the main longhouse of the village.

Savaric and Surm, as they make their way between two of the houses, notice a guard patrolling, coming from the opposite direction. He does not appear to have noticed them. They continue on their way, quietly, letting the guard continue on his.

The three come at the longhouse at a right angle and as they approach the rear of the longhouse, they see two guards that were posted there come together and consult and then start heading around toward the front of the longhouse. They continue to hear the sounds of battle coming from the south of the longhouse.

Mõrvar moves in to attack while Surm casts Admonishing Ray. Savaric raises his bow and fires. One of the guards is hit hard with Surm’s ray. Savaric fires at the guard with two arrows and hits and then fires again hits and then fires again and misses. Mõrvar approaches the other guard strikes him mightily.

Savaric fires again two arrows again and fells the guard. He fires into the second guard and misses. Surm moves to the back window and listens at the shuttered window. He hears movement on the other side, but not much else. He then tries to open the shuttered the window. It opens inward in a flap-like action and he peers inside. Mõrvar attacks the second guard again mightily again. The guard then returns the favor and attacks Mõrvar, hitting him with a longsword.

Surm sees that the longhouse is lit by oil lamps and such. It is mostly empty except that seated on a large seat, sideways, toward the rear of the longhouse near the window, is a female half-elf in a spiked breastplate with a raven motif painted upon it. Sitting on her knee is Loran, the son of Girda. Two elves flank the seat. One is in a breastplate and is holding a composite longbow, arrow nocked and ready, and is watching the door of the longhouse. The other is dressed in robes and a cloak, also watching the door, with an expression of watchfulness. He does not see a halfling.

The guard swings twice on Mõrvar and misses. Savaric fires on the guard with two arrows and hits. The guard falls.

Savaric collects his missed arrows. Mõrvar chops off the head of the second guard and collects it. Surm closes the window and signals for the others to be quiet. He then looks around the corner of the longhouse to survey the battle. They all see their troupe, being led by Rilka, heading around the opposite corner of the longhouse toward the front. Amongst the troupe, Mõrvar and Savaric notice Nodwick, Kalthin, and Sadwina prodding a prisoner.

Surm sends a Message to Rilka. She hears a Surm’s voice in her ear tell her “Don’t go in! Look behind you!” Rilka turns the troupe around and heads toward the rear of the building and meets Surm. Mõrvar, not sure of what is going on at this point, decides to discard his severed head and loot the dead bodies of the guards.

Once Surm and Rilka reunite with the troupe, Rilka says, “You’re safe. I’m glad.”

“Yes, well, there was an issue with sticking to the plan,” Surm says, his eyes shooting daggers toward Savaric.

Mõrvar makes his way back to Surm.

“What we’ve learned is that they’re holding the boy. He’s in the longhouse,” Surm says. “I’ve looked through the window. The main baddies are in there. He’s sitting in her lap, so she has him, right now.”

“That’s going to take a bit of finesse,” Rilka says.

“Yeah. What we found out from Girda is that there’s this lady that’s in charge. She’s got two elves and a halfling with her, and she hired all these guys in Josemeedt. One of the elves is a wizard or sorcerer. One of the elves is wearing a breastplate and has a long composite bow, she’s sitting in the throne and wearing a breastplate that’s all spiky and has a raven painted on it. She’s got the boy in her lap,” Surm says.

“Where’s the halfling?” Rilka asks.

“I didn’t see him, but I think that’s his purpose,” Surm says. “They’re sitting there in the longhouse, watching the door, waiting for us to come in.”

“Well, how are going to do this, then?” Rilka asks.

“That I don’t know. That’s why I brought everybody together to discuss what to do,” Surm says. “And according to Girda, they came to this town, partook of their hospitality, then they went to Josemeedt, got these men, came back and declared herself Queen and demanded tribute. They flogged, they killed…people.” Surm seems to realize who’s he’s talking about and gets quiet.

Rilka gets suspicious and demands to know what people. “That flogged and killed who?”

Mõrvar pipes in and says. “The important thing is that we get in there and get the kid.”

“No it’s not,” Rilka says, undeterred. “Who?”

“Well I know they took the priest of the All-Father,” Surm looks to Mirka for his name, “Jonthin? They held him in the public square and flogged him until he died. According to Girda. I assume as an example to scare the people.”

“And my father?” Rilka asks.

“He died in battle,” Surm says quietly. “I know that there are other guards patrolling the town.”

Mõrvar says, “We saw two at the longhouse that we killed.”

“We saw one along the way, patrolling,” Surm says. “Alasir, keep your eyes open, because there are still some people roaming.”

“They will pay for this affront to the gods,” Mirka says.

“I need a plan and I need a plan right now about how we’re going to get into this longhouse,” Rilka says.

“Okay, well it’s a longhouse and its one big long room,” Surm says. “They have one door and they’re watching it and they have the boy in her lap.”

“So do what they won’t expect you to do,” Mõrvar says. “Get ready to sneak in through the window, set the damn thing on fire, and get ready to get the kid when they try to escape. They’re not going to want to be in a burning building. They’re not going to expect us to do that.”

“No, I don’t imagine they’re going to expect us to burn down the building with the kid inside,” Surm says.

“Just be ready to save the kid,” Mõrvar says.

“Well that just adds a burning building on top of the four people we have to deal with to get the kid. It just makes our job harder,” Surm says.

“Can you make anyone invisible?” Rilka asks Surm.

“I can’t,” Surm says.

“I can, but for a very short period of time,” Mõrvar says. “In fact, my plan was to go invisible, charge in and gain the element of surprise.”

“How many charges do you have left on your ring?” Rilka asks Savaric.

“Just know, that if they even hear us coming, she’s holding that child and they’ve already shown that they have no qualms about slaughtering people in the streets,” Surm says.

“She’s got the kid. As long as she has him, she’ll keep him alive because that’s her only chance to live,” Mõrvar says.

“We don’t know that,” Surm says.

“Does she have him restrained in any sort of way?” Rilka asks.

“She just has him in her lap. I wouldn’t say he was restrained, but he’s right there with her. I would say he’s in a coup de grace position,” Surm says.

“What about spells of confusion? Color spray, anything we can throw in there. That way if someone can be invisible and get close, then something can be done during the confusion, the kid can be grabbed and then run. They don’t need to kill any more of us,” Rilka says. “Do you have anything that can cause confusion?” she asks Mõrvar.

“I can spray a lot of blood everywhere,” he says.

Mõrvar calls his brother and he and Surm walk away from the troupe and speak privately.

Savaric says that he could go invisible but that they’ll realize he’s opening the door. Perhaps if Surm were to be talking to her and he can slip in behind him, then they wouldn’t realize he’s there.

Sigurd points out that she’s not the only one in there. There are others that may notice.

Mõrvar and Surm return and Mõrvar says to Rilka, “We should let Surm negotiate for the life of the child.”

Rilka asks, “What kind of negotiating is there?”

“Well, she’s got him as a bargaining chip for her life,” Mõrvar says. “At some point, you’ve got to ask yourself what’s the important thing here. I do not see anyway of taking her down and saving the child. Now, you can convince her that she has a chance of walking out of this place alive by releasing the child. That might be her only bet.”

“And what’s to stop her from just coming back?” Rilka asks.

“I didn’t say what condition she’d be released in. And I can promise you that sorcerer won’t come back….”Mõrvar says.

“You’re saying two different things,” Rilka says, “If we release her, then she is walking out of here…”

“Then I will chase her ass down,” Mõrvar says.

“I don’t imagine we’re going to say ‘You know we’re going to let you go if you let go of the kid’ and she’s going to say ‘Okay’. I imagine she’s going to keep a hold on him until they’re all well on their way out of here,” Surm says.

“Unless somebody’s got a better idea…” Mõrvar says. “The only thing I can think of is we go in and see what happens. But I’ll tell you right now, my primary objective is to get rid of that sorcerer. I think that is the most threatening person in there.”

Neither Sigurd nor Mirka seem to like the negotiation idea, but have no idea how to get the boy out and get the four adventurers.

Surm pulls the party and Sigurd and Mirka away from the main troupe for a private conversation. He opens with “So how bad do we want to do this? Are we prepared to sacrifice the boy?” He looks at Sigurd and Mirka. “Is he an acceptable loss in order to accomplish this? Because that may be a negotiating tool as well.”

Rilka asks for a diagram of the longhouse and one is drawn in the dirt. There is a single entrance and four windows along the long sides of the building. There is a hearth along one of the sides of the room. There are two long tables in the center of the room.

“I need to know as we’re making our plans. Is losing the boy unacceptable? I understand that we wouldn’t want to, I’m not saying let’s kill him ourselves, but it affects our plans. How bad do we want these people? If it will save a life, do they all walk free?” Surm asks.

Sigurd seems to be considering all that Surm says very deeply. Mirka says, “We need to get these people, but we should save the boy as well.”

“We can’t! We’ve either got to focus on saving the child or focus on killing them. With the situation, there is no way to accomplish both,” Mõrvar says. “One may be the byproduct of the other, but we’ve got to focus on one or the other. Do we go in to negotiate to save the boy’s life or do we go in to apprehend them and hopefully save his life? Personally I think these people need to be apprehended so that you can make an example of them so that you can so the rest of the warlords that might want to come to Yrda that you’re not weak.”

“I don’t trust them to negotiate with them,” Rilka says. “They’ve proven themselves to be beyond ruthless people. So let’s say I’m trying to say we’re going to bargain with them to let go of the boy. They’re not going to let go of the boy until they’re safe and I don’t trust them to let him go.”

“What I’m hearing is let’s just go in and take them out and hopefully save the boy, that’s what I’m hearing,” Mõrvar says.

“What I’d like to do is go in, yes,” Rilka says, “have someone or somebodies, be their job to specifically target getting the boy.”

“Like I said, my goal is two things, get to the spellcaster and take them out and get to her and take her out,” Mõrvar says.

Mirka says, “If we go in, let me concentrate on the boy, and the rest of you concentrate on them.”

“Which brings me to my question, do you want me to concentrate on her or on the spellcaster? Because she may be a badass, but we all know that spellcasters can be nasty, nasty, nasty,” Mõrvar says.

“I want to hear what Sigurd says,” Surm says.

Sigurd says, “For the good of Yrda, these invaders need to die.”

They then discuss the possibility of Savaric taking arrow shots from the now-barred window in the back of the longhouse. He could dip his arrows in poison as well to do his victims even more harm.

Mõrvar says, “I think if we can get him [Savaric] in position to take poison arrow shots, place guards at all the other windows so they can’t escape out the windows, and we go in through the front doors, to negotiate and try to catch them by surprise…”

“If we’re running in and shooting, I don’t think…” Surm says.

“No, you’re going in to negotiate, I try to come in invisibly behind you. I attack her. He takes shots. The rest charges in…” Mõrvar says.

“We’re not going to know when you’re in position,” Surm points out.

“You will when I strike her ass,” Mõrvar says. “I’ve got twenty-four seconds. My attack will be the signal to go.”

Rilka channels energy to heal people.

Sigurd brings up the guard that they saw head inside the longhouse. No one is as concerned about the hired guards.

Savaric, Surm, Sigurd, and Mirka turn toward the longhouse where they hear a voice call out: “The Emissary promised me a fight! What is the delay!”

Mõrvar orders all the guards to cover the windows. Surm has Alasir deploy the guards.

Surm says that they now need to take her alive so that they can find out who this Emissary is. Savaric will go to the back window with poison arrows ready. Mõrvar will be coming in after Surm, invisible. His attack will be the signal to begin. Sigurd will open the window and hold for Savaric to allow him to shoot. Then he will come in after the shooting is done. The others will be at the front door and charge in after the attack begins. Mirka will concentrate on rescuing the boy.

Surm asks Mirka if she has a spell to help him avoid arrows. She offers to give him a Shield of Faith to give him a general protection. He says he’ll take it.

Furfur is flying in circles over the troupe.

Mirka gives Savaric 4 vials of Greenblood OIl to use. Savaric applies the poison to his arrows.

Alasir is stationed at the door.

Surm casts Mage Armor on Sigurd, Mirka, Rilka, and Mõrvar.

Mirka casts a Shield of Faith on Surm, encasing him in a shimmering glow.

Once he gets into position, Savaric casts Gravity Bow.

Once everyone gets into position, Mõrvar casts Bull’s Strength on himself, then Vanish and proceeds to follow his brother.

Surm cracks open the door to the longhouse and calls out, “Hello in the longhouse!”

He immediately hears movement just inside. He then hears a female voice call out in Tradespeak, “Welcome!”

“May I enter to speak?” Surm asks.

“You may,” the voice says.

Surm opens the door wide and enters. In the glow of the lantern light, he sees to guards who step to the side to allow him entry. He sees the same elven tableau that he saw before from the other side.

Mõrvar has cast Vanish and is stealthily making his way along the other side of the longhouse while his brother is talking.

“May I know who I am addressing,” Surm asks in a loud voice.

“I am Queen Doralia of Yrda,” the half-elf says.

“I am Surm Ulrich and you spoke of an Emissary promising you a fight? Is that why you came to Yrda?” Surm asks.

“I received word from Morria that a fight was to be had here,” Doralia says.

“I am unfamiliar with Morria. Who is Morria?” Surm asks.

The most Rilka and Mõrvar know is that it sounds like a Midron god.

“Lady Battle,” Doralia says.

“And she told you there was a fight here in Yrda? Don’t you feel like you were misled?” Surm asks. “Was there much of a fight for you?”

She laughs, “Not much so far.”

“If you came for battle, why do you hide behind a little boy?” Surm asks.

Then Mõrvar strikes with a furious yell, doing a great deal of damage. Surm rolls under the table.

Sigurd throws open the window, and Savaric fires at the sorcerer with poisoned arrows. The sorcerer falls. He fires at the bowman as well, and hits.

Rilka runs in toward the back of the longhouse, blowing past the guards, who attack her as she runs past, but miss.

Mirka runs in toward the back of the longhouse on the other side of the tables, and is also missed by the guards.

“You wanted a fight, bitch. I’m here,” Mõrvar says.

The half-elf rises from the chair, spilling Loran to the floor. Mõrvar takes the opportunity to strike her again and does so, mightily. She then attempts to impale Mõrvar on her spikes, but fails. Mõrvar attacks her mightily again and she falls into the chair, bloody. He screams victoriously.

Savaric fires into the archer another three times, and he falls. The guards drop their weapons. Savaric looks for the halfling to fire his final shot, but doesn’t see him. Rilka runs forward and collects the crying Loran. She also does not see halfling.

Surm climbs on top of the table. “Surrender, halfling; it’s your only chance to survive.” He, too, does not see the halfling. But a voice calls out from the shadows, “I want your priestess’ to swear on their gods you won’t kill me.”

“Come out or we’ll find you and we will kill you,” Mõrvar says. “There is no way out. Every exit is covered.”

“He’s asking if you’ll swear an oath to your gods that he’ll surrender,” Surm addresses Mirka and Rilka.

“What option does he have?” Savaric says.

“He doesn’t,” Mõrvar says. “That’s why I said what I said. It’s only a matter of time before we find you. And if we have to find you, you’re going to die,” he calls out for the halfling’s benefit.

Rilka takes Loran out of the longhouse in case the halfling decides to take a pot-shot at him. Mõrvar casts Light on his sword and starts walking into the shadowy nooks of the longhouse. “You better surrender before I find you. Or I’ll do to you what I did to her…” Mõrvar starts describing all the unpleasant things he’s going to do to the halfling if he finds him and if he doesn’t surrender. “I will paint this room red,” he finally says.

A form emerges from the shadows with a small hand crossbow. “Maybe you’re a little bit smarter than I thought you were,” Mõrvar says.

“I didn’t even like those assholes,” the halfling says.

“Good, now drop your weapon,” Mõrvar says.

“I just want to back out of here,” the halfling says.

“Not going to happen,” Mõrvar says. “You can get out of this alive or you can be drug out dead. Now drop your weapon.”

Surm comes down off the table and walks toward him in a non-threatening manner, explaining that that’s not how surrender works. When he surrenders, he drops his weapons and becomes their prisoner. That’s his only option. The halfling sets down the hand crossbow. Mõrvar puts his sword away. Surm takes the halfling by the shoulder and directs him to Alasir.

“Alasir, this is our prisoner. Search him and secure him,” Surm says. Alasir takes the halfling and begins that process.

Mõrvar turns to the priests, “You might want to check and see if they’re still alive,” motioning toward the fallen invaders near the throne.

Savaric and Sigurd head toward the front of the longhouse to join the others. Surm dispatches Nodwick to get Girda. He sends two of the guards with him in case there are any other mercenaries out and about.

All of the prisoners are escorted to the temple of Bruni to be placed in the cells beneath the fortress there. Rilka calls out into the village: “Village of Yrda, we have taken out the elves, the half-elf, and the halfling. Hired men, the people that hired you are now dead or incapacitated. Now’s your chance to surrender or join your dead brethren.”

Nodwick returns with Girda and she reunites, tearfully, with Loran. Mõrvar checks the half-elf to see if she is still alive, but is unsure. Surm has Alasir post guards on the prisoners, create a small patrol to go through the village looking for the missing mercenaries, send two guards with Surm to go to the battlefield to see if any of those fallen are still alive. Two will be sent to fetch Mahgnus and the two porters. Savaric will strip the bodies in the longhouse and place their belongings on the table. Savaric also checks to see if the bodies in the longhouse are dead.

The half-elf was wearing a masterwork spiked breastplate with a raven motif painted upon it. She was also wearing a nice cloak pinned to the breastplate. She also had, set to the side, a masterwork heavy wooden shield. She also had a leather belt pouch with 310 gold pieces. Mõrvar says, “Huh. This stupid bitch doesn’t have a weapon.” Girda says that when she came into town she had a lance with her horse. “I just overthrew a queen,” Mõrvar says.

Rilka asks Mirka if she has heard of Morria; it is apparently a Midron god. Mirka says she has heard of Morria. She’s also known as “Lady Battle.” She’s a goddess of war, death, and conflict.

The sorcerer has three scrolls tucked into his belt. He’s also wearing a nice cloak. He’s wearing a nice ring. He’s also got a leather belt pouch with 375 gold pieces. He’s also got a spear.

The archer has a small vial. He’s wearing a masterwork breastplate. He’s armed with a masterwork composite longbow. He has a masterwork elven curved blade. He’s wearing a nice cloak. He also has a quiver with 35 arrows. He also has 5 alchemical silver arrows, 5 cold iron arrows, 5 well-made arrows. He has a leather belt pouch with 67 gold pieces.

The halfling is stripped down. He had 3 vials. He was wearing masterwork studded leather. He had a masterwork shortsword at his side. He had a masterwork hand crossbow with 20 bolts, a set of masterwork thieves’ tools, and a leather pouch with 60 gold pieces.

Savaric checks the half-elf to see if she’s alive and determines that she is and stable. She will probably be awake in two day’s time. He checks the sorcerer, but is unsure of his status. He checks the archer and determines that he is alive and stable.

Mõrvar casts Read Magic on the scrolls to decipher them. He determines that they are a scroll of Fly, a scroll of Gaseous Form, and a scroll of Levitate.

Mõrvar picks up the half-elf and the archer and carries them to the cells at the temple of Bruni. When he gets there, he sees the priest of Jörn they had left behind. He cowers in the corner upon sight of Mõrvar carrying the two bodies into the cells. “How does it feel to know that you betrayed Jörn and caused the deaths of your fellow brothers?” He returns to the longhouse.

Mirka determines that the sorcerer is alive and stable. Rilka asks if there is a free guard to take him to the cells. All the guards except for Alasir are occupied. She and Mirka take the prisoner to the cells.

Rilka asks Girda what happened to the initiates in the temple. Most fell in the defense, but a few are still in the temples. She asks Girda what happened to her father’s body. Girda says that he lies entombed in the temple awaiting a pyre. Jonthin’s body is still out in the public square—the half-elf wouldn’t let them collect it. Rilka and Mirka head to the center of town to cut down Jonthin’s body and place it in the longhouse of Yülthn.

Meanwhile, Surm and Alfhild and Sorcha are checking the battlefield fallen. There are seven fallen forms that are alive and stable, but definitely out for the duration. He and the soldiers return to the longhouse.

They then decide to send Mõrvar to interrogate the halfling. He walks into the of the temple with the two large cells where they are keeping the prisoners and walks up to the area with the halfling. “Alright halfling, it’s time for us to have a little chat. This can go one of two ways. Either you answer me, or I do to you what I did to him,” and he points to the priest of Jörn in the other cell. “…and you’ll tell me anyway. Do we have an understanding? Now, personally, I take pleasure in doing things my way. But you have an opportunity for me not to.”

“Well, what do you want to know?” the halfling asks.

“Let’s start with your name,” Mõrvar says.

“Tobos,” the halfling says.

“And the skank?” Mõrvar asks, pointing to the prone body of the half-elf.

“Doralia,” Tobos says.

“The pathetic excuse of a spellcaster?” Mõrvar asks.

“Dardaniel,” Tobos says.

“And this other worthless one,” Mõrvar says.

“Barthiel,” Tobos says.

“How many guards did you have? How many did you hire from Josemeedt?” Mõrvar asks.

“Fifteen,” Tobos says. He doesn’t seem surprised that Mõrvar knew from where they hired them.

“Are those the only guards you got? Is it only you four and those fifteen?” Mõrvar asks.

“That’s all,” Tobos says.

“Where are you from?” Mõrvar asks.

“Me? I’m from the Vale,” Tobos says, rather surprised.

“Let’s try this again. Be specific,” Mõrvar says.

“Melnys Vale is where I’m from,” Tobos says.

“Where are they from?” Mõrvar and begins the interrogation of the halfling. He sends a guard to tell Rilka that there are fifteen guards.

Rilka performs a count of the fallen and the prisoners and comes up with fourteen. Savaric goes out to try and find signs of the missing guard. Rilka tells Surm that they’re missing a mercenary. Surm theorizes that he probably ran. Rilka wants to search houses for the missing man. Surm’s not sure the people of the village are going to go for that and is pretty sure the man just ran off.

After a while of the halfling’s telling of the elves and his life stories, Mõrvar gets the impression that Tobos is holding back what he really wants to know. “I gave you a chance,” he says. “I guess I’m going to have to do things my way.” Mõrvar goes into the cell to intimidate him. His very presence makes the halfling frightened enough to flee from him. Mõrvar talks about all the nasty things he’s going to do him if he doesn’t answer his questions.

The four of them were in Jenna. Doralia is a follower of Morria. She received a vision from somebody she called an “Emissary”. Nobody else saw this vision. The vision said that if she went to this vision in the north she would receive a fight worthy of her. She convinced the rest of them to come north with her. This was around the first of Longday. This corresponds to roughly the same time that the party first arrived in Yrda. Why does he follow her? Mostly because she made them money and he’s loyal. Barthiel is an archer, a warrior. Dardaniel is a sorcerer. None of them are related—none of them talked about family, especially Doralia. They traveled primarily in the Midron countries. Tobos says he likes to borrow things. He was hoping to join a guild some day.

Mõrvar turns to the priest of Jörn and says, “All dead. All dead,” and makes his way out of the fortress and returns to the longhouse.

Surm lets Girda know that he’s glad that she and Loran are reunited and that they were successful against the temple of Jörn. Girda embraces him in thanks.

Mõrvar finds Rilka right outside the longhouse and relates what he found out from the halfling.

Savaric goes to where they saw the guard patrolling earlier and starts to track him. He follows the tracks to the rear of one of the houses at the back of the longhouse where they stop momentarily. Then they pick back up and head west out of town toward the tents. They head into a tent. Then they come out of a tent. Then they start heading out of the village heading north, on foot. Savaric heads back to the longhouse and reports to Rilka what he found.

Rilka reports to Alasir that it looks like the final mercenary has left town.

Surm asks Sigurd that since Jonthin’s dead, who is organizing the town? He says that he is not sure, that they have not been without a priest before. There is Mirka and, he looks outside, there may be Rilka, if she decides to stay. Surm says he doesn’t think that she’s going to decide to stay. Sigurd says that there’s Mirka, then. And Surm says “And you.”

Sigurd says, “Usually I’m out on the trails.”

“I don’t know if you have that luxury anymore,” Surm says.

Everyone convenes inside the longhouse and makes their various reports to Surm. Surm asks if Girda wants to take Loran home these conversations and she says she would like to go home. So Surm summons Nodwick, Kalthin, and Sadwina to take Girda home and to guard, just in case there is any more trouble.

“Are we going to ride this guy down or not?” Mõrvar asks, referring to the mercenary who Savaric tracked down.

“A hired merc? It wasn’t personal for him,” Surm says.

After Mõrvar reports what he learned from Tobos, Rilka asks Mirka if Morria’s symbol is a raven, based on the fact that she had it painted on her breastplate. Mirka and Mõrvar confirm that Morria’s symbol is a raven clutching a black spear.

Surm asks Sigurd and Mirka what their intentions are toward the prisoners. Sigurd looks at Mirka and Mirka heaves a sigh and says, “The mercenaries we can release stripped of their gold and their weapons as the spoils of war. The elves, they showed no mercy to Yrda, we show no mercy to them.”

“The halfling?” Mõrvar asks.

“The halfling?” Mirka says. “Strip him of his weapons and his gold an send him on his way with the mercenaries.”

“Do we want to find out his role in it first?” Surm asks.

“He hasn’t been tried yet,” Mõrvar says. “We know the mercenaries were hired after the hospitality breach. It’s my recommendation that we get information from the town on the involved and we put him on trial.”

“As far as the halfling goes, I want to know was he out there gleefully killing people like everybody else or was he here for the money,” Rilka says.

“Really, when it comes down to it, do we know if the elves were responsible for the killing?” Mõrvar asks.

“Not really. That’s why I say question the town before we execute them,” Surm says.

“I think we need to bind and gag the sorcerer and her,” Mõrvar says. “If she’s receiving visions, we need to bind and gag her.”

“It’s a simple thing. I will talk to Girda,” Surm says, and leaves.

He goes to Girda’s home and speaks with her and asks her who did the whipping and killing of Jonthin in the public square. Girda says that it was the half-elf. Does she remember the halfling? Was there any great offense that he committed? There was no great offense he committed. He fought in the battle, but there was no great offense. Surm returns to the longhouse with that information.

Surm asks Sigurd if he’s going to make some sort of announcement in the village about what’s been decided. Mõrvar asks about the fate of the Jörnite priest. “Oh, I think that’s clear,” Surm says. Mõrvar just figures if there are to be executions that they might as well do them all. Sigurd says that he and Mirka will make an announcement in the morning. Mirka gives Sigurd a sideways glance and an approving smile.

The unconscious mercenaries are gathered together and all of the gear is stripped and gathered together in the temple of Bruni. Manacles are placed on the three unconscious adventurers. In the livery stable, four horses are found. One is a heavy horse with a military saddle and a masterwork lance and a set of masterwork studded leather barding.

When Surm and Mõrvar are alone together, Mõrvar asks how they are going to split up all this stuff when they cash in. Surm says they are going to wait and see how it is doled out to them. Mõrvar is incredulous. “If it wasn’t for us, they’d all be dead!”

“I expect we will get a big portion. They’ve had a lot of losses. It’s good relations,” Surm says.

“They wouldn’t have had near the losses if they had done what we said,” Mõrvar says.

“And the people we would have rubbed that in their faces are dead,” Surm says.

Surm and Mõrvar stay at the temple of Bruni that night while Rilka holds vigil with her father’s body in the crypt. Savaric goes to the longhouse of Ulfethinn and attempts to spend the night with Mirka. She politely declines, but he does spend the night in that long house.

While staying in the longhouse of Ulfethinn, Savaric notices a conversation between Sigurd and Mirka. He uses Ilona to go invisible and sneaks his way closer to listen in. Mirka says, “You should consider it, at least for a time. Until he becomes of age.”

Sigurd says, “I’m not sure that’s not more of the purview of old men and priests.”

“Old men started off as young men doing what needed to be done,” Mirka says. “Right now, the village needs young men doing what needs to be done. I don’t think Rilka is going to stay. We don’t have a council of priests.”

Savaric tries to sneak back to where he was before.

“I’ll take what you say under advisement and I’ll talk to Girda about it,” Sigurd says.

“You should do that,” Mirka says.

“Did you hear that?” Sigurd says.

“No,” Mirka says.

“I thought I heard something,” Sigurd says.

Savaric stealthily makes his way into his room without further mishap.

19 Longday 508

At dawn, Mirka goes the area around the center of town and starts calling for the village to rise and come forward. Surm rouses Rilka from the crypt—she looks haggard. Mõrvar comes out to meet the day. Savaric comes out.

People start to gather and Sigurd and Mirka come forward. Girda and Loran are there as well. Mirka says, “People of Yrda. Our village has fallen on dark times. But the hand of the Thunderer has come and has parted the clouds and justice will soon be done. We have in the stocks, perpetrators of a grave injustice to our village. They spat upon our hospitality. They brought invaders to our homes. These elves will pay for what they have done with their lives.”

There are some cheers and scattered muttering in the crowd.

“Their mercenaries will pay in gold and in weapons for their crimes and be sent on their way packing,” Mirka says.

There is scattered muttering in the crowd—in anger at the mercenaries.

“The priest of Jörn that we have been holding shall pay with his life to complete the journey that we have brought against those that have started this madness against our village. For we have returned victorious against the temple. Those priests are gone!” Mirka says, smiling.

A cheer goes up from the crowd.

“That priest will also pay with his life,” Mirka says again, with satisfaction. “For crimes against our king, against Girda, and her family.”

Surm has the porters bring the chest with the weregild and the holy symbols of Jörn for Girda . Surm presents it and opens it with a flourish. “Your weregild. Paid in full.”

A cheer goes up from the crowd again. And Girda embraces Surm.

Sigurd comes forward. “I’m not much for words People who know me know that, I’m not a talker. These—fuckers—came into the village. They’re going to get theirs. But the village has good spiritual leadership in Mirka here. Though the village has lost its priests, we still have the Thunderer to thank for justice and I’m thankful that we have Mirka. And I’m thankful that we had a new priest of Bruni, Rilka, in our fight, so the gods have not abandoned us. But the village needs a king to decide things. And I have been…Loran is a good boy. But he’s a boy. I’ve been talking with Girda. And if the village will have me, I would be that king until Loran comes of age. And if anybody else feels that they can do a better job, then come forward now. I went on the expedition to take care of the priests of Jörn. Nobody else did.”

A hushed muttering falls over the crowd. Mõrvar comes foward and extends his hand. “You’re the right man,” he says. Sigurd takes his hand.

Surm attempts to sway the crowd in his favor with talk of his excellent leadership on his quest to the temple, his role in the demand for weregild, his pivotal role in the reconquest of Yrda, etc. He also calls out Nodwick, Kalthin, and Sadwina and how they were helpful in the quest as well and to confirm how helpful Sigurd was. Nodwick and Sadwina go along with the plan without a hitch, though Kalthin goes a long a bit grudgingly.

Rilka goes up and stands next to Sigurd as a show of support.

Mirka says, “If no one steps forward, then I say let it be the will of the people.”

Girda says, “Hail King Sigurd!”

“KIng Sigurd!” The crowd responds.

“We’ll need a feast!” Girda says. And this starts to warm the crowd up. People start to hustle about making preparations.

Surm takes King Sigurd by the arm and they all head to the longhouse.

Once they get inside, Rilka begins. “We have two priests we need to set pyres for. We have prisoners to release in some sort of order. We have people to execute.”

“I say as the mercenaries wake up, you send them walking,” Surm says. “That keeps them from clustering again.”

“I say drag them out unconscious to wherever and dump them,” Mõrvar says. Everyone disagrees with this as the mercenaries need to know what happened so that they don’t come back. Rilka thinks that Mõrvar should be there when they wake up to make that point.

“The other thing is, with this money the village has, it may be time to look to hiring people of your own to protect the village, for a little while anyway. Is word going to be sent to get new priests for this town?” Rilka asks.

“We can send word to Josemeedt,” King Sigurd says.

“I think you need to shore up your defenses as much as possible,” Rilka says.

“When we liberated Aeth, the mercenaries there have been held for a year under servitude for a year. Why not do the same with these men?” Mõrvar asks.

No one seems to think that will work in Yrda due to the fact that Yrda doesn’t have the force to back it up.

Mõrvar is concerned that the village is sending the mercenaries out with no repercussions as a sign of weakness and that they will be reconquered once again by another warlord. He says that he has a vested interest in Yrda because it is “the home of his sister.”

Surm reminds him that there are some repercussions because the mercenaries will be losing their gold and their weapons. Mõrvar thinks there needs to be a stronger message.

Surm suggests offering the three that surrendered a years servitude as guards or warriors in return for a full pardon or we let you go without weapons or gear or money and if we see you in Yrda again, we kill you. That way they get three more warriors and its a stronger sentence. It gives them a choice. They obviously had no vested interest in conquering Yrda.

Surm and Rilka do not want to draw a lot of attention to Yrda right now—either as being weak or as “don’t mess with us”.

Surm offers to make the offer to the prisoners, but Sigurd says that he will make the offer. He goes to speak with the prisoners and all three take the offer. It’s not the most elegant of offers. but it is made and accepted.

Rilka suggests having Alasir posts patrols through the village while they release prisoners.

Surm goes to speak to Tobos. “Tobos. We’re letting you go. All your gear is forfeit. It’s the cost of doing bad business.” The halfling hangs his head. “You need to go south. You are banned from Jossia.”

“You better pray I never find you in Jossia,” Mõrvar says. “The only reason why I let you walk is because you cooperated. If you got something to say, say it.”

“Nothing to say,” he says, forlornly.

Mõrvar escorts him through town and points him south. While they’re walking, he tells the halfling, “You’ve seen what we’re capable of. Don’t cross us again. We have an understanding?”

He nods.

“Then be on your way.”

The halfling keeps walking.

As some of the mercenaries wake from unconsciousness and are escorted out of town, Mõrvar lets it be known that if he sees them again, he’ll kill them.

The elves and half-elf are brought out into the public square and beheaded by Rilka “For crimes against Yrda, and for my father,” she says as she brings down the blade on their unconscious bodies.

The priest of Jörn is brought out, kicking and biting the whole way. Mõrvar tells him, just so he can hear, “I beheaded all the other ones. You’re the last.” Then Mõrvar beheads him.

The bodies are disposed of out of the village.

Pyres are built in the center of town for the priests Jonthin and Lazar.

Surm goes to the longhouse and casts Detect Magic on the belongings they got off of the adventurers. He detects magic on the spiky breastplate, on the cloak the half-elf was wearing, on the 5 well-made arrows, on one of the vials that the archer had, on the archer’s cloak, on the halfling’s three vials, on the halfling’s short sword, on the sorcerer’s cloak, and on the sorcerer’s ring.

Surm further determines that the breastplate is a 1 breastplate, the sorcerer’s cloak is a cloak of resistance (1 to all saving throws), one vial is a potion of cure moderate wounds, the archer’s cloak is another cloak of resistance, the archer’s arrows are +1 arrows, two of the halfling’s vials are cure light wounds potions and the other is a potion of invisibility.

Surm asks Sigurd what his plans were as far as divvying out this gear. Sigurd says that as far as he’s concerned, the party slew the invading adventurers so they can divvy up their gear.

Rilka spends the day talking to the initiates of Bruni as the pyres are being built.

By nightfall, the pyres are built and the priests’ bodies are carried out and placed upon them. Mirka says some words over Jonthin’s pyre, about his being accepted into Nifenjeim and how he will appease the goddess Eydis in the underworld.

Rilka steps up to her pyre and speaks: “You know Lazar Gonlafsson as a priest of Bruni. As a holy man. As a trusted voice in Yrda. As a man who would lay down his life to protect this village from harm. And, indeed, he did. All that is true. However, I knew him as something else. A father. A man who took in a half-breed child and raised her as his own, and who saw the heart of that young girl and knew her potential for great things. I stand before you as a priest of Bruni. I would not be here if not for Lazar, for his love of me and my love of him. I commend his soul to Bruni. May he forever lie in the Brave One’s favor.” Then she lights the pyre.

The fires are lit and the people gather for somber contemplation before them. After a while, people start making their way to the longhouse where feasting awaits both in mourning for the priests and in celebration of the new King. Rilka stays at the pyre. Mõrvar stays with her.

The feast is a mixture of celebration and somber reflection. Surm mingles with the people. Savaric approaches Mirka and apologizes for last night. He didn’t mean to make things awkward between them. Mirka says that it is alright, it’s an awkward time.

Eventually the feast dies down and the pyres burn down and people start heading home. Rilka pats Mõrvar on the shoulder, but he gives her a hug. She tells him thank you. She heads for the temple of Bruni and Mõrvar follows. Surm heads to the temple of Bruni as well. Savaric heads to the temple of Ulfethinn with Mirka. He makes another attempt to go with Mirka, but she’s much more receptive. She smiles and let’s him into her bedroom.

20 Longday 508

Surm tries to Detect Magic again on the magic items collected from the adventurers in order to identify their properties. he fails to identify the properties of the half-elf’s cloak, but does identify the sorcerer’s ring as a ring of protection +1. He does determine that all the cloaks give off a faint abjuration aura.

Rilka tries to do the same thing with her magic as well. She identifies the halfling’s short sword as a +1 short sword. That leaves the half-elf’s cloak as the only unidentified item.

The party spends the morning deciding what items to split up and what items to sell. They split up the goods and the treasure and the magic items.

Mõrvar asks Furfur if the halfling kept traveling south. Furfur responds that he hasn’t been watching the halfling. Mõrvar tells him to let him know if the raven happens to see him.

Surm pulls Alasir in and offers to let him distribute the masterwork heavy shield, the spear, the masterwork breastplate, the masterwork agile breastplate, masterwork studded leather, and masterwork composite longbow to the guards. Alasir declines the heavy shield and the spear, but takes the rest. He also receives 20 arrows to go with the bow. They exchange their armor with the new armor and give their old armor back to the party.

Surm also summons Mahgnus and pays the soldiers and porters.

The party then makes preparations to leave the village for Rosemeedt. Once there, they plan on selling off their mundane gear, sending word to the priests to send priests to Yrda, and to look for rumors of the dwarven outpost they seek.

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…

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.